Saturday, October 02, 2004

Newsweek Declares: "Kerry's Comeback"


Among Registered Voters -

With Nader

Kerry/Edwards: 47%
Bush/Cheney: 45%

Without Nader

Kerry/Edwards: 49%
Bush/Cheney: 46%

Without getting into other specific numbers, Kerry is now seen as more intelligent and well-informed, having a better command of the facts, more confident, more personally likeable, more honest, and a stronger leader than Bush. And these are the results after the debate that was supposed to play to Bush's strengths.

The next debate is on the economy, where Kerry was expected to be more in command. Let's see what the people have to say about that.

Where Kerry clearly leads is on domestic issues, which will be the focus of the third debate on Oct. 13, in Tempe, Ariz. The Democrat is preferred to Bush by double-digit spreads on who would be better at handling the economy (52 percent to 39 percent), foreign competition (54 percent to 36 percent) and health care (56 percent to 34 percent).
This thing isn't over, but we only have to keep this up for about a month. And by 'keep this up', I mean show voters that Kerry's awesome and that Bush is a doofus.

Don't laugh -- it's harder than it sounds.

posted by Scott | 10/02/2004 | |

Friday, October 01, 2004

Faux News... Literally

Fox News HQ should be boarded the hell up.

Posted earlier at, emphasis mine:

Rallying supporters in Tampa Friday, Kerry played up his performance in Thursday night's debate, in which many observers agreed the Massachusetts senator outperformed the president.

"Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" Kerry said Friday.

With the foreign-policy debate in the history books, Kerry hopes to keep the pressure on and the sense of traction going.

Aides say he will step up attacks on the president in the next few days, and pivot somewhat to the domestic agenda, with a focus on women and abortion rights.

"It's about the Supreme Court. Women should like me! I do manicures," Kerry said.

Kerry still trails in actual horse-race polls, but aides say his performance was strong enough to rally his base and further appeal to voters ready for a change.

"I'm metrosexual — he's a cowboy," the Democratic candidate said of himself and his opponent.

A "metrosexual" is defined as an urbane male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle.
Josh Marshall is on this thing like white on rice, as is almost everyone else, but this is one story that needs to be hammered home. And you GOPers can spare me the Dan Rather crap. Rather didn't forge the memos. He just reported on them. Carl Cameron at Fox News literally made this all up.

Let's get this straight people. Fox News is not just biased any more. They're flat-out lying.

But once they were caught, they cowered:

Editor's Note

Earlier Friday, posted an item purporting to contain quotations from Kerry. The item was based on a reporter’s partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice.
I believe that about as far as I can throw Brit Hume. But the credibility of their apology aside, just think about what it means that A) the "reporter" who's supposed to be covering Kerry thinks this kind of garbage is funny, and B) the editors at though that this story passed the smell test.

And in case you missed it, the reason behind the made-up quotes that Fox gives in their apology -- fatigue -- is the same reason Kerry gave for making the comment about voting for the $87 billion before voting against it. This crew is about as subtle as a freight train.

When is it safe to stop calling it spin and start calling it what it is -- propaganda? And how long is it going to take David Brock to get Carl Cameron fired? Something tells me Cameron's going to be a tougher one than Luntz was...

posted by Scott | 10/01/2004 | |

Kerry's Closing Statement

The closer closing tonight's debate:

My fellow Americans, as I've said at the very beginning of this debate, both President Bush and I love this country very much. There's no doubt, I think, about that.

But we have a different set of convictions about how we make our country stronger here at home and respected again in the world.

I know that for many of you sitting at home, parents of kids in Iraq, you want to know who's the person who could be a commander in chief who could get your kids home and get the job done and win the peace.

And for all the rest of the parents in America who are wondering about their kids going to the school or anywhere else in the world, what kind of world they're going to grow up in, let me look you in the eye and say to you: I defended this country as a young man at war, and I will defend it as president of the United States.

But I have a difference with this president. I believe when we're strongest when we reach out and lead the world and build strong alliances.

I have a plan for Iraq. I believe we can be successful. I'm not talking about leaving. I'm talking about winning. And we need a fresh start, a new credibility, a president who can bring allies to our side.

I also have a plan to win the war on terror, funding homeland security, strengthening our military, cutting our finances, reaching out to the world, again building strong alliances.

I believe America's best days are ahead of us because I believe that the future belongs to freedom, not to fear.

That's the country that I'm going to fight for. And I ask you to give me the opportunity to make you proud. I ask you to give me the opportunity to lead this great nation, so that we can be stronger here at home, respected again in the world, and have responsible leadership that we deserve.

Thank you. And God bless America.

posted by Scott | 10/01/2004 | |

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Allawi: Puppet Or Not?

Bush on the American-appointed Iraqi interim Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi:

Now, my opponent says he's going to try to change the dynamics on the ground. Well, Prime Minister Allawi was here. He is the leader of that country. He's a brave, brave man. When he came, after giving a speech to the Congress, my opponent questioned his credibility.

You can't change the dynamics on the ground if you've criticized the brave leader of Iraq.

One of his campaign people alleged that Prime Minister Allawi was like a puppet. That's no way to treat somebody who's courageous and brave, that is trying to lead his country forward.
But maybe there's something to the argument that Allawi is an American puppet. Here's Millbank and Allen in this morning's Washington Post:

The unusual public-relations effort by the Pentagon and the U.S. Agency for International Development comes as details have emerged showing the U.S. government and a representative of President Bush's reelection campaign had been heavily involved in drafting the speech given to Congress last week by interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Combined, they indicate that the federal government is working assiduously to improve Americans' opinions about the Iraq conflict -- a key element of Bush's reelection message.
And let's not forget that Allawi, prior to being appointed Prime Minister by Bush, was a long-time CIA asset. The puppet charge, even if damned by unfortunate wording, is certainly not as unfounded as Bush would like us to believe.

posted by Scott | 9/30/2004 | |

Blogging The Debate - Live

We're going to see how this works tonight. I'm all set up with the TV, the laptop, a bag of chips and a drink, ready to politi-nerd the night away. It's like the Oscars for dorks. I'm not really a big fan of blogging live, but this debate promises to be pretty sterile, allowing me to watch, think, and blog at the same time.

Here goes nothing...

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This backup buzzer thing scares me a little bit.

I feel like I'm watching a game show.

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Is it just me or does Bush look like he's blushing?

Of course Kerry thinks he can defend America better than Bush. If he didn't, he wouldn't be running for President.

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Crap. He's running long.

Way to wrap it up fast, though...

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Bush is dodging the question as to whether a Kerry election would make us more likely to get hit. He's kind of fumbling this one.

The people know where I stand. Didn't we dispel that myth already?

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Holy crap! The cameras just caught Bush eye-rolling!!!

Let's see if the media actually runs with that.

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Both Bush and Kerry have mixed up Osama and Saddam so far. I don't think it really says anything, but it's funny as hell.

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Bush has been talking about 10 million registered voters in Afghanistan. This is nothing new. He and his lackeys have been bragging about that for weeks now. But here's what Matthew Yglesias has to say about that...

While it's quite true that over 10 million Afghans have registered to vote (10.35 million, to be exact), there are only 9.8 million eligible voters in the country. What we're seeing isn't an unprecedented outpouring of democratic enthusiasm, it's massive fraud. Registration cards are selling for as much as $100 a pop.

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Bush's smirk is like a camera magnet, but he's trying really damned hard to hide it.

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My wife, who can't watch this stuff, just walked into the room. Her comment?

"Oooh... Bush looks flustered."

Exactly, honey. Exactly.

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"We didn't need that tax cut. America needed to be safe."

Go get 'em, Kerry!!!

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"I made a mistake in how I talked about the war. The President made a mistake in how he conducted the war. Which is worse?"


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I'm finding this fact incredible right now...

From Reuters yesterday:

Fox News Channel, whose turn it is under a rotation system to operate the "pool" cameras for all the networks in the first debate on Thursday in Coral Gables, Florida, said it would follow its own editorial judgment in operating its cameras.
The cameras cannot stay off Bush! He was smirking but now he's pissed. And it isn't cute.

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One of these men looks Presidential.

It ain't the President.

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Kerry is talking about policy. Bush is talking about not sending mixed messages and emotional claptrap. I hope to God the media reports this.

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How the other half lives. From National Review's The Corner:

ON SUBSTANCE... [Jonah Goldberg]
I think Kerry's definitely the better debater so far. Bush is doing very well, but he so clearly gets ruffled by Kerry. I fear that makes him look less presidential and Kerry more presidential. Kerry's also being very clever in how he tweaks Bush to tick him off.
Posted at 09:29 PM
Wow. Nice to see we all agree.

Well... almost, anyway.

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I reject the notion... and I'm not saying that my opponent says this... that Muslims cannot be free.

Uh... then why did you just say that? Could it be because you just realized, mid-sentence that your own campaign talking points are lies?


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I'm stunned that in 2004, this election might hinge on what happened at Tora Bora in December of 2001. It's not a bad thing, though, as it means that important issues cannot just be swept under the rug.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Bush just froze for a noticably extended period of time. He literally froze for a few seconds -- his whole body. It looked like someone just put the tape on pause.

Not Presidential.

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I'm kind of falling off, aren't I? It's harder to watch and write than I thought.

Bush still isn't impressing me, though. He doesn't sound like a total moron, though. While they are both throwing out facts and figures, Kerry seems to actually have a good grasp of what he's talking about.

Bush? Not so much.

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"He was a threat. That's not the issue. It's what you do with the threat."

Out of the park.

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"I'm not talking about leaving... I'm talking about winning."


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Kerry ending his speech with the comment about freedom over fear was brilliant. The first thing that Bush did in his closing comment was try to insist that Kerry will leave us less safe. If that's not fear mongering, I don't know what is. It makes Kerry's point that much more clear.

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Ron Reagan just declared Kerry the winner on MSNBC. That's the first inkling of conventional wisdom I've heard tonight. Let's see if it keeps up.

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Joe Scarborough: "John Kerry's best performance ever... If you're scoring this thing, the professor won on points..."

posted by Scott | 9/30/2004 | |

Biased Media Declares Bush Debate Winner Before The Debate

Bush Seen Edging Kerry in Debate Over Iraq, Terror
There's that liberal media bias in action again! To be fair, the actual article is slightly less biased, but only slightly.

President Bush's ability to stick to a scripted defense of his policies on Iraq and terrorism should give him an edge over Democratic rival Sen. John Kerry in Thursday's presidential debate, analysts say.

The war in Iraq, which has plagued the administration with escalating violence and intelligence lapses, is widely expected to produce the most heated rhetoric of the 90-minute face-off over foreign policy and homeland security.
I obviously disagree with that, but I guess when you frame it as something "analysts say," it's hard to argue with. That is, after all, what their analysts say.

If nothing else, this represents a complete failure by the Bush campaign to manage expectations for their candidate heading into the debate. It was their job to make Bush look like a bad debater and turn Kerry into a rhetorical ninja. But in playing up the idea that Kerry can't articulate his thoughts, they've made him look like a tongue-tied nutty professor.

As Matt Lauer pointed out on this morning's Today Show, Bush is now the President. Low expectations from the American public is not something a President can really count on. In response to that, Tim Russert pointed out (I'll try to find a transcript when one is available) that one of the only debates Bush is clearly thought to have lost was his held during his re-election campaign for Governor of Texas in 1998.

If he couldn't manage expectations in a debate as Texas Governor, how can he be expected to do so in a foreign policy debate now that he's the War President?

posted by Scott | 9/30/2004 | |

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Bush Supporters Misinformed

PIPA, the Program on International Policy Attitudes, has released the results of a new poll indicating that Bush supporters are not even clear on what policies their candidate supports. Kerry supporters, on the other hand, are pretty well-informed on their candidate's stands.

I'd have to say this confirms what I already thought about Bush voters, based on my utterly dismaying interactions with my otherwise intelligent and well-informed father and a few others I know. Outside of hardcore neocon true-believers, no one who actually knows anything about Bush's policies really supports the guy. It's an amazing testament to what kind of job Rove & Co. have done muddying the waters this year.

Here's a large chunk of the study's findings. All emphasis is mine.

As the nation prepares to watch the presidential candidates debate foreign policy issues, a new PIPA-Knowledge Networks poll finds that Americans who plan to vote for President Bush have many incorrect assumptions about his foreign policy positions. Kerry supporters, on the other hand, are largely accurate in their assessments. The uncommitted also tend to misperceive Bush?s positions, though to a smaller extent than Bush supporters, and to perceive Kerry?s positions correctly. Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments: ?What is striking is that even after nearly four years President Bush?s foreign policy positions are so widely misread, while Senator Kerry, who is relatively new to the public and reputed to be unclear about his positions, is read correctly.?
The conventional wisdom on Bush is that you know where he stands. If you doubt that, just Google it. As it turns out, you only think you know where he stands. So much for Kerry not being able to articulate his positions. But I digress...

Majorities of Bush supporters incorrectly assumed that Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (84%), and the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the International Criminal Court (66%), the treaty banning land mines (72%), and the Kyoto Treaty on global warming (51%). They were divided between those who knew that Bush favors building a new missile defense system now (44%) and those who incorrectly believe he wishes to do more research until its capabilities are proven (41%). However, majorities were correct that Bush favors increased defense spending (57%) and wants the US, not the UN, to take the stronger role in developing Iraq?s new government (70%).

Kerry supporters were much more accurate in assessing their candidate?s positions on all these issues. Majorities knew that Kerry favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (90%); the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (77%); the International Criminal Court (59%); the land mines treaty (79%); and the Kyoto Treaty on climate change (74%). They also knew that he favors continuing research on missile defense without deploying a system now (68%), and wants the UN, not the US, to take the stronger role in developing Iraq?s new government (80%). A plurality of 43% was correct that Kerry favors keeping defense spending the same, with 35% assuming he wants to cut it and 18% to expand it.

Many of the uncommitted (those who say they are not very sure which candidate they will vote for) also misread Bush?s position on most issues, though in most cases this was a plurality, not a majority. The uncommitted incorrectly believed that Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (69%), the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (51%), the International Criminal Court (47% to 31%), the land mines treaty (50%), and the Kyoto treaty on global warming (45% to 37%). Only 35% knew that Bush favors building a new missile defense system now, while 36% incorrectly believed he wishes to do more research until its capabilities are proven, and 22% did not give an answer. Only 41% knew that Bush favors increased defense spending, while 49% incorrectly assumed he wants to keep it the same (29%) or cut it (20%). A plurality of 46% was correct that Bush wants the US, rather than the UN, to take the stronger role in developing Iraq?s new government (37% assumed the UN).
It's amazing what you can accomplish when you're able to mislead an entire nation so effectively. And it's also nice to have such an uncritical media as your lapdog. This study is incontrovertible proof that the media has completely failed in covering the Bush administration over the past few years. They should be ashamed.

posted by Scott | 9/29/2004 | |

Beinart Belatedly Endorses Dean

Oh man, this is classic! Peter Beinart, Editor of The New Republic, has come out in Time with a woulda', coulda', shoulda' piece claiming that Democrats should never have abandoned Howard Dean they way they did after Iowa, that it was Dean who was more electable than Kerry all along.

Nevermind that TNR endorsed Joe Lieberman for the Democratic nomination. Nevermind that TNR promoted a Jonathan Chait blog called "Diary of a Dean-O-Phobe", dedicated to the writer's "intense dislike" of Howard Dean due to the fact that a Dean nomination would lead to "a Bush landslide, and the end of modern liberalism as we know it." Nevermind that Beinart himself wrote that a Dean "candidacy is likely to inflame the culture war enormously..."

Mind you, this isn't to say that I don't agree with Beinart's commentary in Time. Much of what he writes is very insightful.

Political punditry is harder than it looks. That's what a lot of Democratic voters must be thinking right about now. Last winter Democratic-primary voters played political consultant. They tried to step inside the minds of swing voters and figure out which Democratic presidential candidate could beat George W. Bush. With an eye cast coldly on November, they rejected the man who had first won their hearts, Howard Dean, and flocked to the more "electable" choice, John Kerry. Among New Hampshire voters who said beating Bush was their biggest concern, Kerry beat Dean by a whopping 52 points.
I never bought the claim that Kerry was the most electable of the Democratic candidates. I certainly understood the argument for it, but it just didn't seem to hold water with me. "Electability," as measured during the Democratic primaries, was apparently something determined on paper -- not in reality.

As Molly Ivins has written, successful politicians all have a certain "Elvis" about them. Clinton certainly had a ton of really obvious Elvis. While it doesn't appeal to me, George W. Bush's swagger and innate Texas-ness give him his Elvis. Kerry's got a decent amount Elvis, to be sure. But Howard Dean undeniably has the John McCain/Jesse Ventura-brand of maverick Elvis that voters nowadays seem to love.

So while I thought just about all of the Democratic candidates were electable -- I'm leaving out the ones I didn't so I don't piss anyone off -- I never found Kerry to be any more electable than anyone else. But then, I never really thought it mattered that much, anyway.

Beinart's points about the advantages Dean would have had over Bush are true enough. Dean consistently opposed the Iraq war. Dean doesn't have 20 years of Senate votes to defend. Dean's "blunt, no-nonsense style" makes him appear to be more of a "straight shooter." But I also think it's a little early to be writing a long-term 'what if?'-style post-mortem on the election. The first debate is still over 24 hours away. Maybe Dean would have been a better opponent for George W. Bush, but that doesn't mean that Kerry won't also be able to take him on.

Both Matt Yglesias and Atrios take on Beinart's critique from the standpoint that the GOP would have labeled any candidate a flip-flopper, not just Kerry. Yglesias even managed to dig up a GOP press release headlined, "Dean's Flip-Flopping Away" from September '03.

While I agree that the GOP would manage to come up with an effective smear for Dean as they have done with Kerry, it would not have been that he was a flip-flopper. After two press releases in early September calling Dean a flip-flopper, the GOP gave up. The charge just didn't stick. Anyone can be labeled a flip-flopper. After all, everyone changes their mind sometime. But Dean did not come off like a flip-flopper.

Instead, the GOP shifted course (flip-flopped?) and started working to brand Dean a loony lefty conspiracy monger. If you'll remember, that is the charge that wound up sinking Dean after Iowa. The GOP kept pushing the 'Dean's nuts' meme at the media until they bought it. "The Dean Scream" was never really all that nuts, but after absorbing months' worth of Dean is nuts memos from the GOP, this one little incident seemed like proof. Had Dean not gotten trounced in the primaries, is it possible that he could have overcome the crazy image and beat Bush on the issues? Maybe.

But second guessing history is the job of historians. And historians wait until the passing of time gives them some perspective before pronouncing what could have been. Beinart, by doing his Monday morning quarterbacking in a publication as huge as Time is lending credence to the current GOP meme that Kerry is a flip-flopper.

And besides, if the editor of The New Republic really wanted to save Howard Dean's reputation and help him beat Bush, there were a million and one things he could have done a long time ago. But he didn't. He was too busy endorsing Joe Lieberman. So I guess Beinart really means it when he says, "Political punditry is harder than it looks."

posted by Scott | 9/29/2004 | |

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Where Nader Stands

I've managed for some time now to just completely avoid discussing Ralph Nader. As I've admitted in the past, I voted for him in 2000 because I lived in the 'safe' state of New Jersey -- something I now regret anyway.

I like the idea of Ralph much more than I like the reality. His insistence that there is no difference between the Democrats and the GOP is nonsense. His refusal to see how his candidacy in 2000 hurt Al Gore is Bush-grade stubborn. His promise to run hard in swing states this year is nothing short of megalomania and I fully expect him to be punished for it in the polls and in future fundraising for his pet causes.

Still, I'm not crazy about the way the Democratic Party has fought Nader tooth-and-nail this year. I was -- and still am -- an advocate of the theory that we should kill him with kindness. It seemed that was the direction the Kerry campaign was taking early on, engaging Nader publicly. But that was quickly abandoned in favor of attacks. That kind of strategy only reinforces Nader's intellectually weak belief that the Democratic Party is somehow a tool of Corporate America, which is inexplicably still out to get him.

All of that said, Nader's open acceptance of GOP help around the country means that he really is little more than a right-wing pawn this year. In an ideal world, I'd love to see a system of instant runoff voting in which the electorate could vote both their hearts and minds without taking a chance of handing winner-take-all votes to extremists.

But this is not an ideal world. With that in mind, here's a brief rundown of Nader's ballot status in tight states across America.

Florida: On the ballot.
Michigan: On the ballot.
Minnesota: On the ballot.
Nevada: On the ballot.
New Hampshire: On the ballot.
New Jersey: On the ballot.
New Mexico: On the ballot.
Washington: On the ballot.
West Virginia: On the ballot.
Pennsylvania: On the ballot. The state Supreme Court is hearing challenges, however. Up in the air.
Missouri: Off the ballot.
Oregon: Off the ballot. The Supreme Court rejected his challenge. Case closed.
Ohio: Off the ballot. GOP Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell found that only 3,700 of the needed 5,000 signatures for needed for ballot access were real. The rest were forged. The case will go to the courts.
Wisconsin: Off the ballot. A judge kicked him off, but the state Supreme Court will hear an appeal. Up in the air.

If I'm missing anything, please let me know.

Like I said, I think the way Nader has marginalized himself and refused to listen to some of his staunchest former supporters means that he will not get anywhere near the percentages he received in 2000. However, the ballot access question is something to consider. In the tight states that Nader makes it onto the ballot, Democrats need to work extra hard to mobilize progressive Democrats and also to reach out to Nader-Kerry undecideds.

So my message hasn't changed. I may want to smother Ralph with kindness, but it should be clear to all that I want him smothered.

posted by Scott | 9/28/2004 | |

Crawford, Texas Paper Endorses Kerry

The Lonestar Iconoclast of Crawford, Texas has endorsed John Kerry for President in a scathing indictment of their own George W. Bush.

Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration: his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding Iraq.
And lest you think the Iconoclast is some raving lefty rag, the paper's first Presidential endorsement went to George W. Bush (it was founded in 2000). Likewise, it's current editor, W. Leon Smith, was in 2000 the editor of the Clifton Record, which also endorsed George W. Bush. More recently, Smith had been a guest of the BBC, where he defended the decision to go to war with Iraq.

But the endorsement isn't just about Bush's failures.

Kerry's four-point plan for Iraq is realistic, wise, strong, and correct. With the help from our European and Middle Eastern allies, his plan is to train Iraqi security forces, involve Iraqis in their rebuilding and constitution-writing processes, forgive Iraq's multi-billion dollar debts, and convene a regional conference with Iraq's neighbors in order to secure a pledge of respect for Iraq's borders and non-interference in Iraq's internal affairs.
John Kerry has 30 years of experience looking out for the American people and can navigate our country back to prosperity and re-instill in America the dignity she so craves and deserves. He has served us well as a highly decorated Vietnam veteran and has had a successful career as a district attorney, lieutenant governor, and senator.

Kerry has a positive vision for America, plus the proven intelligence, good sense, and guts to make it happen.

That's why The Iconoclast urges Texans not to rate the candidate by his hometown or even his political party, but instead by where he intends to take the country.

The Iconoclast wholeheartedly endorses John Kerry.
The site seems to be down -- it is a small town weekly paper with a subscribership of about 400, after all -- but the story is quickly making the rounds on the web.

Expect this to open a lot of eyes around the country in the coming days.

posted by Scott | 9/28/2004 | |

Pelosi Stops CIA Interference In Iraq Election

Sometimes I get paranoid about silly things. Then I wonder how paranoid I can possibly be. And then I find out that I wasn't paranoid enough.

It turns out that the White House was until very recently considering using the CIA to influence the Iraq elections in January. Intervening on behalf of pro-American candidates in foreign elections is nothing new for the CIA. But with Team W making the January elections such a centerpiece of their 'success' in bringing democracy to the Middle East, the very idea that they sought to exert any clandestine influence through the CIA is mind-boggling.

The Rovian spin is apparently that the CIA would be working to counter similar efforts by Iran. However, the Bush administration should be working with the international community to keep Iran out of the Iraqi election process, not giving up and trying to balance things out from within.

Fortunately for the long-term credibility of the United States, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi "came unglued" when she learned of the plan. After she had it out with Condoleezza Rice, the White House plan was scrapped and quickly swept under the rug. There are already indications that the brief piece on the matter in TIME is only the tip of the iceberg.

This story is far from over.

posted by Scott | 9/28/2004 | |

Monday, September 27, 2004

A Word On Blogging

I seriously feel like the entire blogging community was assigned a book report this weekend. Respond to Billmon's piece in the LA Times and/or Klam's piece in The New York Times Magazine. I've actually had a few readers ask why I haven't yet responded. Honestly, DemWatch wasn't mentioned in either piece, so I thought I was off the hook. But apparently not.

Billmon's piece in particular did stick with me. See, I come from the world of punk and indie rock, where comments like this are not uncommon:

Even as it collectively achieves celebrity status for its anti-establishment views, blogging is already being domesticated by its success. What began as a spontaneous eruption of populist creativity is on the verge of being absorbed by the media-industrial complex it claims to despise.

In the process, a charmed circle of bloggers — those glib enough and ideologically safe enough to fit within the conventional media punditocracy — is gaining larger audiences and greater influence. But the passion and energy that made blogging such a potent alternative to the corporate-owned media are in danger of being lost, or driven back to the outer fringes of the Internet.

Such is the world. If you're a Marxist historian, you're likely shrugging your shoulders, wondering how this qualifies as a unique point. That was my reaction, not that I'm a Marxist historian.

But I've been here before. For a musician, seeing your friends on TV or hearing them on the radio is shocking and even a bit disquieting... the first time. And then you get used to it. Suddenly, it doesn't feel like the end of the world that your friend's band is getting sponsored by Ernie Ball guitar strings and Converse sneakers. They aren't writing love songs about girls in Converse and naming their kids Ernie.

I've seen a lot of bands who didn't get rich and famous lose their integrity and creativity. You can't say they sold out. They just started to suck. It happens, big money or not.

I got into blogging for the same reason I got into music. I felt something in me and had to let it out. I briefly wrote as a warblogger post 9/11 (no, that site doesn't still exist). I then joined up with some of the folks in the early days of Dean Nation. DemWatch started up right around the same time and I left Dean Nation to focus on this site. I've been at it for a year and a half then, and I'm pretty happy with what I've accomplished.

I don't make any money doing this. I don't take ads (yet). I still work a 8-to-5 day job. From time to time, bodies larger than myself have linked to my work. Yahoo's election site. The Guardian. The Wes Clark campaign. Daily Kos (once upon a time...) The DSCC. At no point have I ever felt the need to hold my tongue or temper my words for anyone's benefit.

Granted, that's not really the same as being owned by Microsoft, but you get my point. But even then, has Mickey Kaus censored himself at Slate? I feel like I used to see a lot more of Christopher Hitchens in the media when he was primarily a fire-breathing lefty from The Nation. His worldview has since changed, but I don't think it can be argued that he sold out.

This is a process every new form of expression goes through. There are indeed some growing pains, but anyone who thinks that blogging is dead just because the lights have been shown on us is dead wrong. And besides, who says all the light is such a bad thing, anyway?

posted by Scott | 9/27/2004 | |

Teresa Gets Tough

Not long ago, when Sue Niederer rose in protest of the Iraq war, my wife wondered out loud how Teresa Heinz Kerry would handle a protester in the crowd. Would she ignore the protest, as Laura Bush did, or would she engage the protester?

Now she has her answer.

On Friday afternoon, at a campaign stop in Pueblo, Colorado, a heckler stood up to ask Teresa about the votes for and against the $87 billion funding package for Iraq and if 'for and against' would sum up his leadership style. Clearly the guy was an idiot, but he gets points for cojones. But he's not the only one...

According to the AP, she didn't miss a beat:

...she told him that Kerry had supported $60 billion in military appropriations for Iraq, but would not vote for the full $87 billion because he considered it a "blank check." Kerry was one of 11 Democrats to vote against the bill.

"And we knew they'd already given Haliburton millions in no-bid contracts," she snapped, referring to the company formerly led by Vice President Dick Cheney.

"If you want to say (Kerry) flip-flopped, just say so, don't try to hide," Heinz Kerry scolded.
Forget Andrew Sullivan's harping that Teresa is a huge drag on the ticket. This is one of the quickest answers to the $87 billion meme I've ever heard.

Go get 'em, THK!

posted by Scott | 9/27/2004 | |
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