Sunday, October 31, 2004

Tom Horne uses children for voter initimidation

AZ Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne (R) is getting in the GOP's nation-wide voter suppression bandwagon by using chimerica threats to our children's safety to inimidate voters coming to the 1/3 of AZ polling stations which are located on public school campuses. Anything and everything goes, including checking voter's ID and/or making them sign in to access the polls, contrary to both state and federal law.

Nice to see Horne is polishing his Darth Vader cred for a run athigher office at the expense of voter's constitutional rights.

Florida Federal District Court Gets it Dead Wrong

The FL District Court ruled against 10,000 FL voters disenfranchised by a failure to to both check a box and sign an affirmation that they are US citizens eligible to vote. This ruling is wrong on it face. Sec. 1971(a)(2)(B) of the Voting Rights Act was raised in the complaint and briefed by both the parties. You will not find the word "1971" in Judge King's 19 page opinion dismissing the complaint.

The section provides that:

No person acting under color of law shall -
deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election;

Since there is no actual question whether these people have attested to their eligibility to vote, and only made an error or omission of the type this section covers, there is little doubt this case will be reversed on appeal. The attorneys for the plaintiffs have already indicate their intent to appeal this obviously erroneous ruling.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Howard Dean: Why I am Voting for John Kerry

  By Howard Dean
  Tuesday 26 October 2004

  I decided long ago that John Kerry would be a better president than George Bush. We need a new president because we need to change the course of this country. We need a new president because we need our country to be fiscally healthy with more jobs that pay better. We need a new president to ensure that everyone in this country will have health insurance. And, we need a new president because George W. Bush has not been truthful with the American people.

  America ought to join every other industrialized country in the world and have health care for all our people. As a physician, I am concerned that over the past three years, a larger number of Americans are finding it more and more expensive to buy less and less health care. I am concerned that 43 million Americans still do not have health insurance and since George W. Bush has been president, the cost of family health insurance has increased by more than $3,500. John Kerry has said that one of his first priorities would be to focus on the health care crisis. He has a realistic plan that will provide affordable health care for 95 percent of Americans, including every child. For example, he wants to cut prescription drug costs and allow drugs from Canada to be easily obtained. And, he wants Americans to be able to have a greater choice of health care plans, just like members of Congress. John Kerry's plan is not full of empty promises - it is practical and affordable.

  America has to stop the "borrow and spend" philosophy that is so prevalent in Washington. Not one Republican President since 1968 has ever balanced a budget. John Kerry, like Bill Clinton before him, will give our children the fiscal discipline we deserve, which will lead to job growth. President Bush ran up the largest deficit in American history, therefore forcing our children to be financially responsible for his senselessness. John Kerry will balance the budget. He has an extensive plan to cut the deficit in half in four years. In order to accomplish this, one thing he will do is to reverse the special interest tax cuts President Bush implemented that only affected big corporations and families making more than $200,000 a year. John Kerry will ensure that future generations do not have to pay for George Bush's mistakes.

  America can restore its moral leadership at home and abroad with John Kerry as our president. At his core, John Kerry is a truthful person. He has told us what he thinks, sometimes to his detriment, but we know what he believes. George W. Bush has not been truthful with the American people. He has endangered America by creating a crisis in Iraq where there was not one before we invaded. He has misled us on the deficits, on jobs, on health care, on public education and on prescription drugs for the elderly. He appears to stand for little that is not dictated by polls.

  America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth. We are a great people - Republicans as well as Democrats, conservatives as well as liberals. America deserves the kind of leadership that will give us back our position as a moral leader in the world. I believe that President Kerry will be that kind of leader.

Part 6: The Rise of Psuedo-Fascism

The final instalment of Dave Neiwert's 6 part series on the American fascist movement is now online. Very strongly recommended!

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Renzi-Harris Act For the Tittlation of CSPAN Viewers

Ever seen two Congresscritters crawling all over each other? Well, it might just put you off flirtation and petting permanently. Especially when the critters involved are Virginia... er, Arizona Congressman Dick Renzi and Florida's favorite bitch queen... er, Congresswoman Catherine Harris. While the action is not exactly Pay Per View, it would certainly piss me off were I one of these giggling lovebird's spouses.

The New Yorker Endorses Kerry, Slams Bush

For this first time in 80 years, The New Yorker endorses a Presidential candidate. It may be the most eloquent statement of the reasons to vote for Kerry and against Bush I have yet read.

Bush covered up theft of high-explosives from iraq

Soldiers dying from EIDs and car bombs? Why yes, they are. Ever wonder why those techniques have been so efficient? Of course. Wonder no longer. A lot of the roadside bombs that have killed hundreds of US troops and maimed thousands have been made of HMX and RDX, as suggested by how infrequently the guerrillas have blown themselves up in planting them. HMX and RDX are favored by terrorists because they are stable and will only explode via a blasting cap.

380 TONS of HMX and RDX explosives, some of the strongest conventional explosives in existence, disappeared while the Administration was trying to find it's ass in Iraq according to a new New York Times report. That much high-grade explosive could fuel terrorist attacks for years to come. Thanks Bush... and thanks for hiding it.

Incredibly, the International Atomic Energy Commission and European Union officials warned Bush before the war that these explosives needed to be safeguarded. Josh Marshall is suspicious that this major screw-up has been known to the Bush administration for some time, and that it may have pressured the Iraqi government not to mention it. It is irony itself that Bush, professing deep concern over WMD in Iraq failed to secure a key component of such capabilities. Thank God there were no WMD in Iraq or the invasion may well have placed them into the blackmarket where they could be acquired by terrorist networks. If Bush cannot even protect our troops from explosives at a sensitive facility in a country he had conquered, how is he going to protect the American public from terrorists who have not even yet been identified?

Bush's Legal Response to Terrorism: A Hot-House Policy

Tim Golden of the Lakeland Ledger has provided the long-sought answer to my quandary of just how indefinite detention, denial of access to counsel, and off-shore gulags with military kangaroo courts became major features of American anti-terrorism policy. It boils down, as do so many of this Administration’s failures, to Bush’ negligent management style. He allowed a small group of young ideologically passionate lawyers from his Justice Department’s Office of Legal Council to run roughshod over the various institutional players in the State Department, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Department, who would normally have had considerable input into the policy formation process. Instead, memos were secretly passed around within informal working groups and withheld from key players in the Administration, including Powell, and even Rice. What evolved was a legal doctrine for dealing with terrorism related detainees that was as draconian as it was unnecessary. This flawed policy process bore the evil fruits of Guantanamo, prisoner torture and homicide, the indefinite detainment of several classes of persons, some of them Americans, and an unworkable tribunal system lacking any international legitimacy; in sum, a monstrously self-righteous, fear-based policy which has made America appear petty, weak, and tyrannical.

The young Turks tasked with shaping a legal strategy for combating terror had radical ideas about what was needed to keep America safe. They barely considered adapting the civilian courts to deal with terrorism cases, as Europe has done, nor did they seriously consider the Nuremberg model; they wanted something as streamlined and controllable as possible. They found what they wanted in Ex Parte Quiren, an obscure and odd little piece of WWII legal ephemera. In Quiren, the Court acquiesced to Roosevelt’s creation of what clearly amounted to a kangaroo military tribunal lacking all assurances of basic civil rights, in order to try 8 specific uniformed German soldiers caught during a sabotage operation on American soil. The task group extrapolated out of this one, limited holding, an entirely novel, highly secret, and extremely repressive justice system to handle the cases of people accused of terrorist activities whose identities, nationalities, numbers, and crimes, were, as yet, entirely unknowable. Fortunately, their notions kept bumping up against the reservations of other institutional actors in the Executive branch - consulting with Congress was hardly even considered, as almost surely they would have ameliorated such zealous invention. So, instead of compromising and working out a consensus, their main strategy became isolation and secrecy. Working only with those who already agreed with them and headed by White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, the effort to shape a legal response to 9/11 ran seriously off the rails because of a lack of any reality check from outside the small working group. Essentially, this small group of unelected lawyers, along with the VP and the President, decided to abrogate the Constitution in a head-spinning number of ways. When the President was presented with the Presidential directives that resulted, he just signed them at the urging of Cheney.

The hubris and sheer arrogance to think that you know how to deal with a historical moment better than anyone else is, I suppose, a requirement of high office such as the Presidency. But the President outsourced even that job. Instead of demanding a platform of reforms which most could agree were needed and warranted to deal with the threat, he allowed a bunch of hot-house ideologues to shred the Constitution behind closed doors, with no need to demonstrate efficacy, and signed off on the whole debacle as policy. Decisions are often slow and painstaking when they proceed through the normal process of proposal and critique, conference and reconcile, negotiate and compromise between the various interested branches of government, but they tend to not have giant holes in their logic, and not to depart too far from what is achievable, rational, represents the institutional values we cherish. Casting aside that process with secrecy, Gonzales’ group managed to hit all the marks: illogical, unrealistic, unattainable policy which embarrasses the American government to this very day and trashes our values in full view of the world.

Perhaps that most damning aspect of this whole sad tale of hubris, secrecy, fear, and retribution is that after all this, the tribunal system is still not functional, still unable to penetrate the operations and membership of terror cells, as its architects has hoped. What America has gained by birthing this travesty is far less than the worth of the self-respect, and prestige, we have lost as a result of it. Perhaps President Kerry, who was a prosecutor, will be able to forge a initiative to prosecute terror suspects which is fair, expeditious, and legitimate in the eyes of the world and, more importantly, consistent with our values as Americans.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Bush's 1973 'volunteer' service was mandated community service

Former workers dispute Bush's pull in Project P.U.L.L.

Though the White House is of course denying it, former workers at project P.U.L.L. in 1973 admit that George was there as a mandatory community service arranged by Bush's father, who was an honorary co-chair of the foundation. This time period coincides with Bush's precipitously terminated Guard service, and seems likely to have been related to the cause of Bush's loss of flight status and disappearance from his unit. It seems quite possible that some sort of deal may have been struck for some alternative service in order to avoid prosecution and publicity as result of Bush's fecklessness.

This story should percolate into public consciousness early next week. It will be interesting to see how much effect it has of the election and if reporters energetically pursue answer for the questions raised by this new information about Bush's lost year.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Bush's Incompetent Terror War

The Washington Post has an interesting article by Craig Whitlock which closely examines the strategies, tactics, and successes and failures of Bush's policy for combating global terrorism.

Bush has largely focused on a decapitation strategy that has generated diminishing returns. Bush's debate claim that 75% of known Al Qaeda operatives have been killed or captured remains obdurate to any fact checking. It is becoming ever more clear that we are not dealing with a single modality of command and control, or a unique group of leaders, but rather a mindset, a grievance, and broad set of capabilities that the post-modern world makes widely available even to groups with comparatively modest resources. The global terrorist threat of the jihadi movement would not be possible without modern technology and globalism. As French Arabist Gilles Kepel said, "Without the Internet, Al-Qaeda would not exist. Without Arabic-language satellite television channels, Al-Qaeda would not exist either." And therein lies the rub, we have progressed to the point where we can no longer ignore the discontents of the vast numbers of mankind's poor; they can and will take out their anger and hopelessness on us. Currently, the problem seems largely confined to Muslims and animated by Islam, but that's not likely to last. Islam is just the fuse, not the explosive. The explosive is poverty, hopelessness, imperialism, and resentment. Any number of creeds, ideologies, or religions could serve as the fuse, and thus any population of poor and oppressed people could serve as a recruiting ground for global terrorism.

What this article makes obvious is that Bush's strategy cannot deal with the 'franchising' or 'metastasis' of jihadi terror. It over-relies on military options, has failed to properly prioritize theatres of combat because of domestic political considerations, and has failed to fully utilize the diplomatic, cultural, and financial power of America to remove the underlying causes and infrastructure of terrorism. Bush acts as though one can defeat terrorism like a conventional military threat, though his Freudian slip in admitting the war on terror is not winnable says he believes otherwise. Terrorism can only be managed; the explosives and the fuses kept separate by wise, forward-thinking policies which prevent under-developed populations from evolving sub-cultures supportive of terrorist attacks on the West. Nor is the war on terror a clash of civilizations between Christianity and Islam. That's an absurd view of the conflict, though a politically useful one for the GOP. This is a class conflict between the wealthy and powerful and the poor and powerless carried out by religious fanatics. The terrorists don't hate our freedoms, as Bush often claims; they hate their own lack of it, and our consequent power over them. A fundamental misunderstanding of the motives for global terrorism, its use as the weapon of the powerless, and it’s potential as a universal asymetric strategy, are what makes Bush's terrorism policy a failure.

Bush Keeps Misleading

Why is this not a lie?:

Bush on Telemundo on the reletives of those who have died in his wars, "I would tell them the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war against those who caused the deaths on 9/11 is necessary." Now, parsed carefully this could be read as true if you believe that Afghanistan was chiefly responsible for 9/11; he does at least use the singular 'war' instead of 'wars'. However, the clear intent and effect is conflate the two wars as both being justified by 9/11. Otherwise, Bush is tacitly admitting that Iraq was NOT necessary. He says 'the war... is necessary', not 'are necessary'. Thus, the clear inference is that Iraq, in contrast to Afghanistan, was not necessary. Though Bush is seldom clear, what is clear is that, in Bush's mind, Iraq and Afghanistan are one thing. His choice of the singular verb 'is' is the tell-tale that Bush considers both wars justified by 9/11 and both wars to have been necessary.

Ah, the joys of naturally mangled syntax. No one can ever be sure if you mean what you say, despite your constant avowals that you mean what you say ('cause America must mean what it says), because no one can figure out what you mean when you say it. Bush is a shameless marble-mouthed misleader.

Coulter demostrates agility with something other than falsehoods

The video of Ann Coulter being narrowly missed (unfortunately) by thrown pies during her visit to U of A. Remember that she was sponsored mainly by Jim Click, a Bush Pioneer, next time you are shopping for a car or a loan.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Tort Reform Hussle

The medical malpractice (med-mal) insurance industry, some politicians, and even some uncritical doctors, have of late been misleading the public about the efficacy of caps on med-mal awards, a.k.a. ‘tort reform’ for health care cost containment. They are telling the public that med-mal awards are driving the disastrous cost inflation in health care seen over the past several years. Exploiting consumers’ concerns about the affordability of health care, they are misleading the public into supporting the curtailment of their own right to seek full compensation for damages due to malpractice. High rates of inflation in health care costs are the primary cause of increases in med-mal payments, not a symptom; using tort reform to contain health care costs is like trying to make the tail wag the dog.

Although premiums for med-mal insurance have risen sharply in the past few years, this increase is not due to an ‘explosion’ in insurance payments to victims of medical malpractice. In fact, the increase in med-mal payments conforms closely to the overall rate of medical inflation. Increasing premiums are instead a function of the current poor investment environment. Because insurance companies depend on financial investments for the bulk of their profits, premiums for med-mal insurance have historically risen sharply in response to economic downturns. When interest rates and the equity markets are down, insurers increase premiums to preserve industry profitability. Current calls for tort reforms are reminiscent of those heard during the recessions of the mid-1970’s and mid-1980’s.

Med-mal torts do not constitute a significant share of health care costs. Even with recent inflation, the average doctor’s premiums are less than 4% of his revenues and malpractice claims amount to only 1/2 of 1% of total healthcare costs. The average claim is a modest $140,000, and the average settlement is just under $30,000. Less than 5% of awards top one million dollars (and about 3/4 of those are reduced by the courts to an average of $250,000), and though only 1 in 8 injuries due to malpractice are filed, more than 3/4 of filed claims are dismissed. The cost savings realized by eliminating incentives for physicians to practice ‘defensive medicine’ is sometimes cited as a reason for tort reform. But the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has found no statistically significant difference in per capita health care spending between states with and without limits on malpractice torts. Defensive medicine costs are illusory.

To reduce the number and expense of med-mal claims, the most sensible approach is to improve the quality of healthcare, not to arbitrarily limit the payments to people who have suffered grievous injuries. Properly compensating victims according to a jury’s award isn’t causing a crisis in malpractice insurance; the real problem is a break-down in self-regulation of the medical profession. It is really a small number of incompetent doctors who cause most of the suffering and expense. Fewer than 5% of doctors are responsible for more than 50% of all med-mal claims, but, of those 5,000 doctors who have paid four or more med-mal awards, fewer than 15% have been disciplined by their state boards. Physicians need to more stringently police their own, so that they aren’t in the same risk pool with incompetents who are harming their patients.

Tort reform is not a workable solution to the problems of our health care system. Cost containment will come from comprehensive reform in how we deliver health care services, not tort reform. Several states already have caps on non-economic damages in med-mal cases, including Texas, California, Florida, Missouri, and Nevada. Given that some of the most populous states have caps, one would think that this would have some effect on med-mal premiums nationally, or at least within those states, but states with caps continue to see their premiums go up, even as awards to victims have gone down. Tort reform is a means of helping insurance companies cushion their business cycles, not a means of containing the run-away costs of our health care system. Reforms are certainly needed where high med-mal premiums are driving some physicians out of vital, high-risk specialties, such as surgery or obstetrics, but general caps on non-economic damages don’t address the real needs of these market segments. Government reinsurance assistance, carefully considered legislative reform of medical tort liability in problem specialties, expert pre-litigation review boards, and other creative, targeted approaches will produce real results. Tort reform is just more pork for big insurance at the expense of severely injured patients.

Welcome to the new corporatism

IHaveAnIdea presents a briefing on American fascism (Quicktime) which is quite an eyeopener.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Arizona is in play

Oliphant on Arizona. Why Arizona is looking quite purple in these weeks prior to the election. Strongly suggested reading.

Part 5: The Rise of Psuedo-Fascism

David Neiwert's lastest installment on the Conservative Movement is up. This installment examines the use of psychological and information warfare against the American people by the GOP.

Bush rejects Arab troops for Iraq

Achieving the geo-strategic goal of stabilizing Iraq under a legitimate government and withdrawing our troops holds primacy over the complete domination of Iraq for the Bush Administration. Bush's refusal of an offer of troops from a coalition of Muslim nations because command would not rest with American officers clearly reveals an utter divorce from reality. Colin Powell was able to negotiate a compromise which would have placed these badly needed, culturally literate troops under command of the unelected Iraqi government. But even that was insufficient for Bush. The resistance will not abate and the world will be unwilling to help extricate our troops so long as an Administration which is not part of the 'reality-based community' and is bent on imperial domination of Iraq is in power.

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Bush Supreme Court

Imagine America if George Bush chose the Supreme Court. States would become theocracies, using taxes to prosthetylize. Getting or performing an abortion would become a crime. Homosexual's homes would be raided by police looking for deviant sex. Prisoners would be freely beaten and abused by guards in the United States (instead of just Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan). The Americans with Disabilities Act would be gutted, as would the Family and Medical Leave Act, enviromental protections, and election reform. And that is just touching the high-lights. Welcome to the 21st Century in America (a wholly owned subsidiary of The Project for a New 15th Century, Inc.).

The Politburo Strikes Back

In the latest attempt to chill political debate, Ed Gillespie, Komissar, er... Chairman of the RNC wrote a letter threatening the 503(c) status of Rock the Vote (PDF) because of their discussion of the possibility of a draft. Rock the Vote wrote back refusing to be silenced. RtV President Jehmu Green wrote, "By your logic, there should be no debate about anything that you disagree with. There's a place for that kind of sentiment (and your threats), but its not here in our country."

Meanwhile, the Administration is unable to give any satisfying answer about how they are going to remedy the extreme over-extension of the military. And it is hardly only Rock the Vote and the Kerry campaing who are talking about the prospect of a draft. Non-partisan Iraq veterans' group Operation Truth is also speaking out about the possibility of a draft and other force enhancers. This issue is not an 'urban-myth' as Gillespie labels it, it is a legitimate and troubling possible response to this Administration's misuse of the military. It seems the Administration would much rather attempt to intimidate its critics than engage in an open and honest discussion of the issues. But, really, what's new about that?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

GOP dynasties for Kerry

Why are many more states are up for grabs than polls indicate, and swing states much less close that current polling would suggest? One reason is because of high-level defections from the Bush bandwagon like this one. Ballard Morton of Kentucky, a member of a dynastic political family that has included U.S. Congressmen, Senators, cabinet members, and party chairmen, has dumped Bush. As the possibility of Bush gaining a second term draws nearer, more and more traditional Republicans are starting to fight to keep control of their party. They know that the GOP will be dominated indefinitely by the religious right and neo-cons if Bush is re-elected. They are not going to let that happen. The steady trickle of public defections is a critical mass event. At a certain point, the trickle will become a stream will become a torrent. Kerry is going to whomp Bush on November 2nd.

A Consversation with Howard Dean

Quoting "Rev. Gerry Straatemeier:

Good morning, my friends,

Last evening I had an amazing treat. I had dinner with Howard Dean. I don’t mean I attended his dinner. I mean that I was privileged to sit with him for an hour at dinner in conversation, at his right side. An informal guy, he did not sit at the reserved table, and so I was able to have this extraordinary experience. Please bear with me, this is a bit of stream of consciousness writing, but I really want to share.

First, I have to say that it was not like you would imagine, sitting with someone who has had such a major effect on us all. He laughed and joked, enjoyed the meal, went back for seconds, talked about issues raised by people at the table, his wife, Vermont, and the decisions before him as leader of DFA and its 600,000 very activist members. I want you to know he is really a nice guy, and sensitive.

At the rally, he had said that the Bushies wanted to talk about guns, God, and gays. He wants to talk about jobs, health care, and the economy. He said (no surprise but well worded ) that the Bush gang were a bunch of cold idealogues who care more about ideology than about people. Any people.

He asked everyone to vote TODAY and emphasized that here in Arizona, the party that gets its votes in first, wins. He came at the invitation of Raul Grijalva, who, while not facing a tough race himself, is working tirelessly, as we all know, to get out the vote in support of everyone else. He urged everyone to go to Raul1s website and put in the $10 and $25 donations needed to help make that happen. So, I think that1s a good idea. He also asked us each to work tirelessly for the next 18 days to talk to people, walk, knock on doors, make phone calls etc. He says the numbers are closing and we actually have a chance to win Arizona (Slate this morning has Arizona as Bush Close rather than Bush Solid)- IF we can get all those newly registered voters to the polls, early, in fact as quickly as possible. He anticipates some late dirty tricks, and having especially our new votes ‘in the bank’ is vital. (also see this: GOP Theft of Our Election Is Under Way)

BTW, our Democratic candidates for corporation commission, Nina Trasoff and Mark Manoil, spoke about the environmental costs to Arizonans in building plants to sell energy to California - and the fact that our Republican Only corporation commission is not supporting our development of renewable energy (here in the sunshine capital of the West) and the fact that we must vote for ONLY them if we want them to win. VOTE FOR ONLY TWO. In a runoff election, any vote for any Republican is a vote against them. VOTE FOR ONLY TWO (Trasoff and Manoil) for corporation commission!

At dinner, Gov. Dean told us that we would be in Iraq for a very long time because of the mess Bush has created over there, that Kerry can extricate us but not any time soon. (being out-of-touch idealogue, Bush wants to use Iraq as a long term base for middle eastern control, which rightfully upsets those who live there; Kerry is not interested in PAX Americana - but the situation is very bad. Like a ninny, I forgot to ask about Israel. Believe me, I am kicking myself this morning. He did tell me, in an aside, that Bush is right about John Kerry being a liberal, that although like everyone in Washington he has had to take all sides of every position, Kerry1s voting record is genuinely liberal. (If not anti-war. gs) Coming from Howard Dean, this endorsement was reassuring to me. He said that, as an example, Kerry’s vote against the $87 billion was principled, based on the fact that Bush was unwilling to pay for it by rolling back tax cuts for the rich.

He spoke about DFA and the role it has taken on to find and support progressives running for office. He spoke about a recent decision he made not to support a Democrat who asked to be a ‘Dean Dozen’ candidate. He was in a tough but winnable race with a really demented Republican in Oklahoma, but because the Democrat supported the ban on gay marriage and did not support women’s reproductive rights, Dean did not support him. He said it was thankfully not our job (as DFA) to be sure Democrats were elected just because they were Democrats and he felt it would have been a betrayal of the trust we 600,000 have put in his stewardship of our energy and dollars to elect another Democrat who didn’t act like a Democrat.

It is our job in DFA to be sure people were elected, of any party, who reflect our values, and to persuade people with progressive values to run for every office from PC to school board to president. (BTW, Go Claudia Ellquist - please vote for a very competent, activist Green candidate for County Attorney, who stands against the death penalty)

Dean said that many true conservative Republicans and most of American business are very uncomfortable with the current state of affairs because of the deficit, because they are finally beginning to understand the ideological, non-economic roots of Bush foreign policy, because of the fall in consumer spending, and because government has no business in people’s personal lives. He said that, sadly, Ralph Nader seems to have genuinely lost himself and is not the person he was even four years ago.

He spoke about our work after Nov. 2. He said both at the rally and at the dinner table that Kerry winning is a necessary but not sufficient condition for progressive values to predominate in the party. He discussed with us the decisions we face as progressives in the event that Kerry wins, and in the event that Kerry loses. He also said that it was it was an amazing thing when the progressive wing of the Democratic party can be represented by a centrist such as he, and a symptom of a party that has truly lost its way. He has asked his supporters in the past to become active in our party, to become PCs, to run for office, and begin to make our voice heard within the party. He had said at that time that we cannot expect our views to carry if we aren’t even at the table when decisions are made.

If John Kerry wins, our role is clear. We continue to find and support progressive candidates and issues and to be active in the ways listed above. John Kerry assumes the leadership of the DNC, whose major role is to keep him and other elected Democrats (of every stripe) in office. We hold Kerry’s feet to the fire to uphold our values in the many ways we can and more we will dream up. Dean is very supportive of the Progressive Democratic Caucus which many of us have joined, smiled broadly when I brought it up, and in fact spoke at the PDA convention in Boston.

If John Kerry loses, he says, then there will be a battle within the party for control of DNC, between those who want to take the party even further to the right, hoping to win back the ‘moderates’, and those who want to return to and expand upon progressive principles, knowing that we will only win when Democrats stand for something again. He predicts the fight will be very bloody and ugly. He wants to know if he and we (DFA) should enter it directly, or stand aside as an independent voice. He proposed that we act
as a focus group and tell him what we think. We are Arizonans, an unruly lot, and so we advised him to stay independent, although some were less sure, because who controls the DNC is certainly important for all of our future. Some at the table discussed forming yet another party, but that didn’t get far.

I think the question he raises is one that many of us have struggled with personally - what is the fastest, and/or most effective route to lasting change for peace with justice in America and around the world? To work within the Democratic party structure, moving up through the ranks to try to change its policy dynamics, and if so, in what manner to do so? To create a semi-independent, very identifiable, progressive wing of the Democratic party? To build up a third party and live through the years of neo-con Republican control until that party collapses of its own deadly errors, leaving a multi-party system of moderate Republicans, conservative Democrats, Libertarians and Progressives, whatever name we would all be called, who would of necessity form coalitions by issue? To work for peace and justice at a global level, using the model we used in S. Africa, until it no longer matters so much what a rogue America does and stands for? All of the above? Something else?

My friends, I know that the planet and all of humanity is evolving towards another level of compassion and justice, with us or without us. The question is, beyond blessings of love to our planet, what role in action do we play to midwife this new happening for the optimal wellbeing of all concerned during the birthing process, and with what speed can we being this vision to term? I would be very interested in your comments.

For a world that works for everyone,
In peace,

Rev. Gerry Straatemeier (

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Happy Halloween!

NYT Magazine is running a profile of Bush by Ron Suskind, author of The Price of Loyalty (registration required). There is a passage which is very good and sums up the article nicely. This section will coagulate your blood and freeze your marrow. You could seriously wear these paragraphs as a Halloween costume:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'

These people are totally gapped out on power. They don't even live on the same planet as the rest of us anymore. Wanna be afraid of something this November 2nd? Be afraid of this.

The Conservative Case Against Bush

Former Secretary of Commerce in the Reagan Administration, Clyde Prestowitz, presents a bill of particulars against Bush that is a veritible script for calling Republicans for Kerry or for convincing that bone-headed brother-in-law or father that Bush is not the friggin' messiah. Old fashioned conservative horse sense from one who obviously was flexible enough to support Reagan, but will not support Bush. Good stuff.

VoterGate Update

Nathan Sproul, whose company is accused of voter fraud in two states so far, has close ties to BC'04's PR flacks in Arizona, Gordon C. James Public Relations. Their staffs crossedover and comingled on the ill-fated "No Tax Payer Money for Politicians" initiative and the effort to put Nader on the ballot in Arizona. The ties between the two firms are likely only begining to be unearthed - they also happen to be officed right next door to each other in Phoenix. The ties between Sproul and BC'04 are so far deniably tenuous, but Sproul did receive 625K from the RNC this year to fund his nefarious activities. No doubt the smoking guns will only emerge after the criminal investigation roadshow Sproul's minions have touched off rolls into Arizona. That is, unless the shredders and degaussers are already running full time.

This should be front page news, but for some reason the investigations are not getting the media focus they deserve, even here in Arizona. It certainly puts to rest the myth of the So-Called Liberal Media; were these scandals to involve Democratic operatives with close ties to KE'04 and the DNC, there would be an echo chamber for this story in the SCLM already. At least one stalwart has written to the Star's editorial staff about their coverage of this issue as they printed a letter today about their coverage, so they are aware they are not paying enough attention. Keep up the pressure, these stories deserve to be covered closely in all Arizona and national newspapers, but only your complaints will create action.


Flu shots save lives. Three years ago, medical experts warned George Bush that a dangerous shortage loomed. Instead of fixing the problem, production of the vaccine was outsourced to a factory overseas - the vaccines were contaminated. Now Bush wants Canada to help, even though his own policies make it illegal for us to import medicine from Canada. Meanwhile, there isn’t enough vaccine for seniors, children, and pregnant women. Another mess caused by George Bush’s wrong-headed priorities. It's time for a new direction. Bush can’t even handle the flu, can we trust him to handle a biological terrorist attack on the United States

-- About 36,000 Americans Die from Flu Each Year. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Fact Sheet: What Everyone Should Know About Flu and the Flu Vaccine," 10/6/04,

-- Up to 180 Million Americans Could Benefit from a Flu Shot. (Washington Post, 10/13/04)

-- Vaccination Cuts Flu-Related Deaths by 70-80 percent Among Seniors. (World Health Organization, "Influenza: Overview," Fact Sheet No. 211, Revised March 2003,

-- 2001 GAO: "No System to Ensure that High Risk People Have Priority When the Supply of Vaccine is Short." (General Accounting Office, "Flu Vaccine: Supply Problems Heighten Need to Ensure Access for High-Risk People," GAO-01-624, 5/15/01, p. 3,

-- GAO: Shortfall by Even One Manufacturer "Can Significantly Impact Overall Vaccine Availability". (General Accounting Office, GAO-01-624, 5/15/01, p. 22,

-- GAO: Still No System to Ensure that Vaccines Reach Neediest in the Event of a Shortage. (Janet Heinrich, Government Accountability Office (GAO), Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, 9/28/04, p. 11,

-- Contaminated Vaccines Discovered at U.S. Vaccine-Maker's British Plant. (Washington Post, 10/6/04)

-- Bush: "We're Working with Canada". "We're working with Canada to hopefully -- that they'll produce a -- help us realize the vaccine necessary to make sure our citizens have got flu vaccinations during this upcoming season." (Bush remarks, Third Presidential Debate (Tempe, Arizona), 10/13/04)

-- Bush's Own Health Secretary Said "Doubtful" Vaccines from Canada Would Be Approved in Time. (Orlando Sentinel, 10/15/04)

-- Bush Administration Policy Prohibits Americans from Importing Low-Cost Drugs from Canada. "H.R. 2427 (to allow the re-importation of prescription drugs) is dangerous legislation. It would expose Americans to greater potential risk of harm from unsafe or ineffective drugs..." (Office of Management and Budget, SAP on HR 2472, 7/23/03,

-- Congressional Research Service Reports Have Concluded Canadian Drugs Are Just as Safe as Those in the US. Congressional Research Service issued reports in 2001 and 2003, concluding both times that the Canadian drug supply was safe for importation to the US. It found that medications manufactured and distributed in Canada meet or surpass quality control guidelines set by the FDA. (New York Times, 6/21/03; Knight Ridder, 11/27/03; USA Today, 8/12/03)


No, it's not a new gizmo from Apple, it is a new PAC devoted to IP law issues. This is a great thing. We need to bring sanity to intellectual property issues. Artists and media creators shouldn't have to have a lawyer on call to do their daily work. Might be good for the legal profession, but it's bad for society.

In the current American political milieu, the first step in getting politicians to pay more attention to the interests of media consumers and the public interest must be to speak that international language mandated by Buckley v Valeo - la lengua del dinero.

Swift Boat Vindication

ABC News sent a crew to Vietnam to retrace Kerry's famous Silver Star battle. The result of interviews with Vietnamese who were there that day corroborate Kerry's citation report.

What is truly surprising is that the ABC discovered people claiming to be swift boat vets were there earlier this year asking the same questions - and got the same answers. The SBVFT knew their charges were lies and broadcast them to America anyhow. This isn't a difference of perception, it is a vendetta against a good man. These scumbags are pulling the repute of the Republican party through the mud. How much longer will honest Republicans put up with such ethical prostitution at the highest levels of their party?

Friday, October 15, 2004

CD 6 tag team

Matt Salmon, failed GOP candidate for Governor and former Congressman for CD 6 is once again running for that Congressional seat in 2006. Jeff Flake, formerly head of the Goldwater Institute, currently holds the CD6 Congressional seat and made the same 6 year term limit promise as did Salmon when he was elected in 1994. Thus it looks like Salmon is calling on Flake to keep his promise or face a primary challenge.

This raises the interesting possibility of two Conservative politicians having their cake and eating it too. This tag team approach to term limits by swapping back and forth a safe seat on a 6 year schedule allows these two to use the seat as a high-profile launch platform on the way to challenging for higher offices, as Salmon did in 2000. This is not the purpose of a term limits pledge. The purpose is to ensure that political offices do not become dynasties, but are made a short-term public service of talented citizens, or the launching point of new political careers, not a time-share for professional politicians.

Reagan Memorial

With the Conservative push to slap Reagan's name on anything not moving, the pressure is on to get Reagan on our currency. There has been alot of noise about taking FDR off the dime and replacing him with Reagan. That will never happen, but here's some plausible possibilities.

In order to get people to adopt dollar coins, we should stop printing 1 dollar bills. The new coin should be the size, weight, and edge type of the Sac Buck, but in a silver toned metal with Washington on the obverse and a tribute to a figure from American history on the reverse which changes every year. They could start with Reagan.

In addition, Reagan could have his own coin in the form of a regularly minted bi-metal 2 dollar coin. This would be especially appropriate as the Canadians call their 2 dollar coins 'loonies'.

Finally, we could honor the memory of Reagan's Presidency by naming that financial institution after him which he did more than any previous President to build and nourish. Though for awhile at the end of the Clinton Presidency it looked as if this important institution would be shortsightedly abolished, George W. Bush rescued it from possible oblivion. Without further ado I introduce to you - The Ronald Reagan Memorial Federal Deficit. May his memory compound forever!

Registration Fraud Scandal Deepens: What Is the Solution?

Sproul & Associates are at center of voter-registration probe in Nevada by the FBI and in Oregon by the Attorney General. I have high hopes that, if nothing else, some whistleblowers will emerge out of Sproul's criminal enterprise.

Whatever happens, the ciritical issue is whether the victims of this alleged widespread fraud will lose their Constitutional right to vote. What sort of judicial rememdy is going to be available to all those voters who have been violated by these thugs? The only equitable solution would be to allow these voters' registration despite any state deadlines. I don't see such relief being granted to what could potentially be thousands of voters in the next two weeks. Whether such a remedy would even be available is an open, and very troubling, question. There likely will still be litigation pending on this matter at the time of the election. The actual harm will not come, nor will that harm be particularized, until these citizens go to vote and find that they have to vote a provisional ballot because they are not on the voter roles. Only when that provisional ballot is rejected because the voter is not registered would a judicial remedy - such as forcing the state to count that voter's ballot - become available. This could be days, even weeks, following the election. If the vote is close in a state affected by this fraud and neither candidate is able to achieve 270 without that state or states, we are in another 2000 debacle. We saw at that time that the nation has no patience for an extended election dispute process in a Presidential election. People want certainty sooner, not later, and are less concerned about an election's legitimacy than they are about its speed and finality. Another clouded and illegitimate election could spell disaster for the American political system, but that is a risk the GOP is more than willing to take if it gives them another bite at the apple in race they've lost narrowly.

One thing is certain, the GOP knew where to most effectively strike to make an election contest difficult to sustain legally and politically. Voter registration is clearly the achilles tendon of the system, and a spot on which no one had their hairy eyeball this cycle. E-voting, and purge lists topped the agenda for those who were interested in electoral integrity this cycle. Not voter registration, except for the kooks convinced that illegal aliens where voting fraudulently in large numbers.

America is very odd in the way it places the burden of registration on the citizen. We only create a presumption in favor of upholding voter's right to vote once the voter takes an affirmative step to register. Most advanced democratic nations place the burden on the state to register all eligible voters as soon as they become eligible to vote. In other words, there is no voter registration as we know it; requiring private parties or voters to expend resources and efforts to register voters is unheard of. Everyone who is eligible to vote by citizenship and age can walk into any polling place any time after their majority and be assured that they can excercise thier most basic constitutional right. Why can't you do that here? Because the vast majority of those who are not registered to vote would vote Democrat. The Republican party would cease to be a viable political force on the day a law requiring the states to take responsibility to register everyone took effect. Such laws could pass in Democratically controlled states, but not GOP controlled ones. There is a step short of such an state-responsible system however, and that is Elections Day Registration. EDR allows the citizen to register to vote at the polling place on election day, ensuring that no one eligible to vote is every involuntarily disfranchised by a failure to register early, or by the sort of fraud that Sproul and his gang seem to have carried out. Legislators in every state should introduce EDR bills across the nation in a coordinated campaign. It's time that half of America stopped being ineligible to vote by design.

Busting the Caps

Only a day after castigating Kerry in the final Presidential debate for lacking "fiscal sanity" because of his alleged votes to raise the Federal debt caps, Bush will have to raise the debt caps in order to keep the governement afloat. The GOP will likely postpone the embarassing vote until after the election by raiding civil service retirement fund until the lame duck November session.

Once again Bush proclaims loudly to the world, "Do as I say, not as I do!"

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Why we fight now

The First Lieutenant of a platoon stationed halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border called Seymour Hersh with a harrowing story. His unit had hired 36 local men as guards for a grainary. He and the men in his unit came to know and like these men who they worked with. Then one day the orders came from Baghdad to "clear" the village. Another platoon from the soldier's company came and executed the Iraqi guards. One by one, every one of the guards were killed in cold blood.

He and his platoon, and the local villagers, of course, went nuts. Hysterical with grief and outrage, he went to his Captain to report this atrocity. The company Captain told him "No, you don't understand, that's a kill. We got 36 insurgents. Don't you read those stories that say we had a combat maneuver and 15 insurgents were killed?" That is how the body count is fulfilled.

Hersh told the Lieutenant to keep his mouth shut and his head down and to come back without a dying of a 'friendly fire' incident. Good advice. And that's why we are fighting in Iraq.

Fuck 'em if they can't take a bullet. Vote Bush.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

This Cycle's FL Voter Purge

Via DailyKos: Breaking news from several swing states indicate that Nathan Sproul, the former Executive Director of the AZ GOP and the AZ Christian Coalition, and current principal of Sproul & Associates, a leading Republican political consultancy, is at the heart of a nation-wide initiative, funded by the RNC, to do non-partisan voter registration under the name of Voters Outreach of America and America Votes. They also helped Ralph Nader collect petition signatures to get on the ballot in Arizona, and possibly other state's ballots.

Laudible on its face, the operation has recently been charged by whistleblowing employees of destroying Democratic registration forms intentionally and selectively. In several swings states, potentially thousands of Democratic voters stand in danger of being disenfranchised by these potentially criminal acts. Luckily, Minnesota and Wisconsin have Election Day Registration (EDR) and those intent on voting are unlikely to be disenfranchised, but in other states where Sproul's minions were active, such as Oregon, Nevada, West VA and Pennsylvania, and even Arizona, Democratic voters may be denied their right to vote by Sproul's organization.

We still don't know the extent of the damage. We do know that employees have made charges and produced evidence that registration forms were intentionally destroyed in Nevada, and there is evidence in Minnesota of large scale misprisonment of Democratic registration forms, but this story is still emerging and allegations abound in several swing states. Much more will be known as the press sinks its teeth into the story, more whistleblowers come forward, and the authorities begin to investigate the charges and hand out indictments.

Operation Truth

Operation Truth has begun. It is the very media savvy iteration of the Winter Soldier hearings. Iraq veterans who saw the reality of Bush's Mistake are telling the truth directly to the American public. Go and help them air their first ad.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy

Over 700 Scholars from around the world have signed an open letter condemning the foreign policy of the Bush Administration. Among these are our own Arizona scholars Tom Volgy, Spike Peterson, William Dixon, Carolyn Warner, and many others. Here is the body of the open letter:

An Open Letter to the American People:

We, a nonpartisan group of foreign affairs specialists, have joined together to call urgently for a change of course in American foreign and national security policy. We judge that the current American policy centered around the war in Iraq is the most misguided one since the Vietnam period, one which harms the cause of the struggle against extreme Islamist terrorists. One result has been a great distortion in the terms of public debate on foreign and national security policy—an emphasis on speculation instead of facts, on mythology instead of calculation, and on misplaced moralizing over considerations of national interest. We write to challenge some of these distortions.

Although we applaud the Bush Administration for its initial focus on destroying al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan, its failure to engage sufficient U.S. troops to capture or kill the mass of al-Qaida fighters in the later stages of that war was a great blunder. It is a fact that the early shift of U.S. focus to Iraq diverted U.S. resources, including special operations forces and intelligence capabilities, away from direct pursuit of the fight against the terrorists.

Many of the justifications offered by the Bush Administration for the war in Iraq have been proven untrue by credible studies, including by U.S. government agencies.  There is no evidence that Iraq assisted al-Qaida, and its prewar involvement in international terrorism was negligible. Iraq’s arsenal of chemical and biological weapons was negligible, and its nuclear weapons program virtually nonexistent. In comparative terms, Iran is and was much the greater sponsor of terrorism, and North Korea and Pakistan pose much the greater risk of nuclear proliferation to terrorists. Even on moral grounds, the case for war was dubious: the war itself has killed over a thousand Americans and unknown thousands of Iraqis, and if the threat of civil war becomes reality, ordinary Iraqis could be even worse off than they were under Saddam Hussein. The Administration knew most of these facts and risks before the war, and could have discovered the others, but instead it played down, concealed or misrepresented them.

Policy errors during the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq have created a situation in Iraq worse than it needed to be. Spurning the advice of Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki, the Administration committed an inadequate number of troops to the occupation, leading to the continuing failure to establish security in Iraq. Ignoring prewar planning by the State Department and other US government agencies, it created a needless security vacuum by disbanding the Iraqi Army, and embarked on a poorly planned and ineffective reconstruction effort which to date has managed to spend only a fraction of the money earmarked for it. As a result, Iraqi popular dismay at the lack of security, jobs or reliable electric power fuels much of the violent opposition to the U.S. military presence, while the war itself has drawn in terrorists from outside Iraq.

The results of this policy have been overwhelmingly negative for U.S. interests. While the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime was desirable, the benefit to the U.S. was small as prewar inspections had already proven the extreme weakness of his WMD programs, and therefore the small size of the threat he posed. On the negative side, the excessive U.S. focus on Iraq led to weak and inadequate responses to the greater challenges posed by North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programs, and diverted resources from the economic and diplomatic efforts needed to fight terrorism in its breeding grounds in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the Middle East. Worse, American actions in Iraq, including but not limited to the scandal of Abu Ghraib, have harmed the reputation of the U.S. in most parts of the Middle East and, according to polls, made Osama Bin Laden more popular in some countries than is President Bush. This increased popularity makes it easier for al-Qaida to raise money, attract recruits, and carry out its terrorist operations than would otherwise be the case.

Recognizing these negative consequences of the Iraq war, in addition to the cost in lives and money, we believe that a fundamental reassessment is in order. Significant improvements are needed in our strategy in Iraq and the implementation of that strategy. We call urgently for an open debate on how to achieve these ends, one informed by attention to the facts on the ground in Iraq, the facts of al-Qaida’s methods and strategies, and sober attention to American interests and values.

Several of the scholars offered personal comments along with their signature. Many of these demonstrate a wisdom and insight all too lacking in this Administration. All of them demand a reading, but a few are outstanding in my mind and I will reproduce them here.

Robert O. Keohane of Duke University:

“We should draw seven lessons from the U.S. experience in Iraq, and remember them in the next crisis.

  1. Base policy on analysis, not fixed beliefs.

  2. Always have a Plan B. The State Department prepared a much more realistic assessment of the problems that would face the United States in the aftermath. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld not only rejected the plan; he sought to prevent anyone associated with it from being involved in postwar planning for Iraq.

  3. Remember that military power is not sufficient to achieve most political objectives. It does not assure that we will win the peace. To achieve political objectives, it is essential to be able to persuade people that our values and interests are consistent with theirs.

  4. The first principle of foreign policy is to match goals with resources. The key goal of American foreign policy - to fight terrorism - has been undermined by the attack on Iraq.

  5. Occupations almost always generate mobilized opposition.

  6. War is dangerous for democracy. This administration has claimed virtually unlimited authority to arrest and prosecute, without normal guarantees of due process, anyone it accuses of involvement with terrorism, inside or outside the United States. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," and is especially needed in wartime.

  7. Dismissing international law is detrimental to our capacity to lead.

More generally, we should remember how misleading, indeed deceptive, have been the claims made by the United States government about Iraq over the last two years. As a free people, we need to be wary of what our government tells us, even - or especially - in time of war. “

Richard Samuels of MIT:

"Sometimes, when intelligence is sound and accepted, leaders can avoid holes in the road ahead. Now, alas, all that is left is for the rest of us to exhort the Administration, which is already in a deep hole, to stop digging."

Avery Goldstein of University of Pennsylvania:

"A wise national security strategy demands more than toughness and persistence. It requires a grasp of vital interests, a realization that resources are inevitably limited, and a recognition that strong beliefs, sincere intentions, and great power alone do not ensure success. The war in Iraq is unwise
precisely because it diverts attention from our most important interest in crushing anti-American terrorist groups, wastes blood and treasure needed for the difficult global struggle against these stateless enemies, and aggravates concerns about the care with which the US will wield its unprecedented global power."

The letter is an impressive effort, and an extraordinary concordance of expert opinion. One would be very hard-pressed indeed to generate an open letter of support for Bush with anything approaching the breadth and repute of this group of scholars. History is not on Bush's side; it is on ours.

The Race Transformed

Now that the Presidential race dynamic has been transformed and all indicators point to a close victory for Kerry, the question we need to answer is what we are going to do when Bushies try to steal the election, as they surely will?

This time we have to be tougher and more forceful than the Bushies in pressing our claim to the Presidency. We need to be in the streets, in their faces, and never give in. If we must, we must bring this nation to a full stop. We cannot allow Bush to retain the Presidency. Each of us needs to plan our course of action if the Bushies try to steal the election again. Hopefully the race won't be close enough for the Bushies attempts at theft to threaten Kerry's election, but we can't count on that.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Juan Unloads

Juan Cole unwinds a rhetorical haymaker on BC'04. It is an awesome and inspiring thing when a well-informed person drops all pretense of being politically correct and nice and slams the Right as they so richly deserve to be slammed. Read it. It's good for the soul.

Osama wont be an October surprise

The London Times is reporting the commanders on the ground in Afghanistan are de-emphasizing bin Laden in the operations. The lieutenant commander of the mission says, "we don't want to focus too much on bin Laden," giving the distinct impression that neither bin laden or Mullah Omar are the focus of anti-terror efforts in Afghanistan at this time.

Whatever Rove might be cooking in his ratfucking kitchen, it doesn't appear to be the carcass of either of the men primarily responsible for 9/11.

The Apocalyptic One-Party State

Part 4 of David Neiwert's series on American Pseudo-Fascism in up, and well worth reading. This section documents the drive of the conservative movement to transform America into a totalitarian one-party state. Neiwert skillfully weaves together the political, institutional, media, and phsychological strategies of the movement into a unified putsch for dominance of America.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Party Down: The Decline and Fall of the GOP

Benjamin Wallace-Wells writes in the Washington Monthly of the decline and fall of the GOP. His argument is refreshingly similar to my own sense that the GOP's quotidian use of power has diverged too far from its fundamental ideology. The cycle has turned full circle and we Democrats now stand on the threshold of realignment as fundamental as that of 1980. You may be skeptical that the GOP is headed for a fall, but as Ben points out, it is often at the peak of their power that American parties self-destruct as the ideas which drove them become untenable and irrelevant and disfavored by voters. Such a time has certainly come for the GOP. The small government, low-tax mantra no longer appeals to the American electorate. The voters prefer the moderate policies of the Democratic party in domestic economic affairs by a wide margin.

The Bush Administration has many interesting parallels with the Carter Administration, which Ben explores in some depth, but the key one is a widespread loss of confidence within the party for the foriegn policy approach of the Administration due to a humiliating defeat abroad. There are also telling contrasts. In domestic policy, Carter struggled against the boondoggle spending and identity politics of his party which where the mothers milk of Democratic politics of the day, while Bush gladly enables his party's subrogation of the national interest to the special interests of corporationd and the wealthy and the puritanical demands of the religious right. It remains to be seen whether Bush can avoid Carter's fate by carefully glutting his base with the red meat they crave. Either way, however, the steam has gone out of movement conservatism and a realignment within the party seems already under way as Republican moderates quietly strike their tents and pitch them on the Democrat's patch this election cycle. Effectively exploiting this crisis in the GOP to regain control of governmental power in America over the long term is the challenge for the Democratic party over the next several years.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Debating Credibility

The modern televised political debate isn’t about issues so much as it is a cross-examination of the men who would be President with American voters as the jury. Since the advent of televised debates, style has consistently won out over substance. Kennedy beat Nixon on style and composure, despite Nixon’s rhetorical strength in the debate. Reagan beat Carter due mainly to his simple homiletic appeals, though Carter clearly had a much better grasp of the complexity of the issues. One might expect the debate to therefore favor Bush, with his more basic and unequivocal messages, his down-homey style, and often charming persona - but you would be wrong.

Kerry is clearly out-performing Bush in the debates. MO’s town hall format was kinder to Bush than FL’s stationary talking head foreign policy debate, but Kerry still emerged with a clear edge. Kerry seems certain to sweep all three debates since the domestic policy AZ debate is universally acknowledged as a likely cakewalk for Kerry, and a problem for Bush. Bush will be on the defensive, with little fact on his side other than historically high home ownership rates, which are due mostly to historically how interest rates designed to stave off recession, not a super economy. Kerry will be on the attack, having plenty of ammunition against Bush-onomics, and laying out his alternative vision for how to run America Inc.

But there is a dynamic at work in these debates that goes much deeper than just the candidates’ positions. The intangible criteria are what most people are looking for, despite what they may claim. It is personality and credibility that win debates, not 4 point plans. Ultimately, people understand that we aren’t hiring a policy as President, we are hiring a man (or woman). We want to know we can believe what the President says, and trust him or her to make the right decisions in a tough corner. We want a President to be admirable, ethical, trustworthy, and credible.

It is for this reason that the same criteria and the same behaviors that jurors look for in witnesses at trial are the key to success or failure in the now traditional televised debate. When a witness is on the stand, or an advocate is in the well, it is the directly observable appearance and behavior of the speaker upon which the merits of the argument or testimony is judged. After all, two competing versions of reality are being presented and one much be chosen. Humans have evolved to make life and death evaluations of others based on such superficial information. For that reason, we do it quite well. It is uncanny how often we can peg a liar purely from watching demeanor. The jury system is a powerful means of determining truth not for the deductive powers of a group of people, though that is part of it, but because it hard to dodge around a dozen evolutionarily successful bullshit detectors.

For many voters, these debates are the only time they will see the candidates in action at the same time, or even for more than the length of a sound-bite or a televised speech. The format of these debates is inadequate to simulate a true cross-examination dynamic, testing automatic responses and poking at holes in logic and fact, but it is enough to get a very good sense of the candidate’s personality, response to pressure, and credibility. On all these points, Bush is being found lacking.

The personality test is clearly turning in Kerry’s favor. The candidates’ likeability ratings have switched places since the first debate, with Kerry now polling as more likeable than Bush. Voters are discovering that, far from being cold and prickly, Kerry is a genuinely decent, thoughtful, and deeply compassionate man. Meanwhile they are discovering aspects of Bush they don’t care for. He comes across as a shrill, condescending, dogmatic, whining, irresponsible, panderer.

Bush is rude, interrupting others and being inappropriately combative, like when he charged at the moderator and shouted him down to demand an extension of time in the town hall debate. He is offensively repetitive. It is fine to stay on message, but at trial, being overly repetitive on a simple point is insulting and annoying to the jury. Bush tests our patience and charity with repetition of bromides like "it’s hard work", "we’re working hard" and "we’re making progress". He is arrogant. Bush’s petulant assertions that he knows how the world works, or that he’s right because "it’s just so", or because "that’s reality", are offensive and condescending. Such assertions depend entirely on his credibility, and that is being utterly destroyed by his stubborn refusal to the acknowledge the reality we see everyday in our lives and in the media.

Bush’s over-rated humor is being shown to be unpleasant and uncomfortable. His sense of humor is cruel and inappropriate, not funny. He made a joke at last night’s debate about Supreme Court justices, stating how he hoped that they would all vote for him, which was about the worst possible thing he could say given the 2000 election. People laughed, but it was that social anxiety laughter that people engage in to cover an uncomfortable and telling moment, not enjoyment.

The contrast with Kerry couldn’t be more telling. Kerry is calm. He speaks with conviction, but not with the wheedling, imploring tone of Bush. Kerry is reassuring. He points out that we may have problems, but that we can address them. He is affable and courteous. He always extends appropriate and articulate appreciation of those who are helping to make the debates happen. Bush seems pro forma, back-handed, and stilted by comparison. Kerry is relaxed. He seems to move and even wait with a greater poise and composure than Bush. Bush stalks around compulsively, hunched over with his head jutting forward like an upright badger when speaking, and sits frozen like a marionette whose strings have been cut when Kerry talks. Kerry is always attentive when Bush is speaking and is relaxed enough while answering questions to remain still if he chooses. When one can compare the candidate’s voices side by side, it is obvious that Kerry’s is deep, mellifluous, calming, and articulate, while Bush’s is insistent, with a whining basal tone, choppy in delivery, with a supercilious, even condescending, tone. The cumulative effect is the difference between the respected older uncle whom you are always glad to see, and the insecure, annoying little brother who is always demanding your attention so that he can show you a dead bug, getting you in trouble with your parents, and punching you when you aren’t expecting it. One is mature, worldly, with nuanced and informed opinions, and a respect for the opinions of others; the other is petulant, self-absorbed, parochial, with limited and inflexible views, and disdainful of other views and experience. People are beginning to see that in a complex and dangerous world in which we must cooperate with others to build security and prosperity, Kerry’s personality is superior. Kerry is the sort of person prudent people trust, Bush is sort you keep on a short leash.

Kerry is also winning the war for credibility. Half of the people in this country are already convinced that Bush can’t be trusted to call the sky blue. Now every day his credibility slips further and further, never to be recovered. The ‘perception management’ efforts of this Administration cannot stand up to critical inspection. Of course, this is the reason that Bush has been appearing only before pre-screened audiences for almost two years, and holds so few press conferences: open challenges to the emperor’s nudity destroys the illusion.

A great example of how the Bushies have gotten so contemptuous of the public is their ‘global test’ spin. Before the debates, Bushies could probably have gotten away with taking a comment from Kerry out of context and fashioning a mythological meaning to it by running it in a few million bucks worth of ads. But it is just painful and stupid to try it when you are going to be meeting the opponent in debate in a few days where he can call you on it, and when tens of millions hear the context of those words themselves. Bush did it again during the town hall debate. He actually stood up at the town hall and accused Kerry of submitting to a ‘global test’ before defending America. It was a stunning show of disdain for Kerry and the audience’s intelligence, and Kerry disposed of Bush’s premise effortlessly. The Bush team’s credibility is being decisively undermined by this contempt for the facts.

Another example was presented by VP debate. Cheney made several factual claims that were simply false, and were easily demonstrated to be false. He said he never claimed a connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Untrue, and proven to be untrue almost before the debate ended. He claimed he had never met Edwards before that night. Untrue, and proven with photographic and anecdotal evidence within an hour. Such body blows to credibility, even if on matters of little importance can be decisive. I personally don’t think it was decisive, but the GOP and the media made much of a misstatement of Gore’s about being with a certain person at a certain event, when it turned out to be another event at which he was with that person. Even that small deviation from the facts, if credibly portrayed as being intentionally done for political gain, is destructive to credibility. How much more damaging, even among staunch supporters, are such obvious and self-serving lies?

Of course, the credibility gap for this Administration is largest on Iraq. Their nothing-to-see-here prognostications and rose-colored blinkers regarding the dangers in and future of Iraq is not only losing the American people’s respect, but that of many key Republican allies and even former military leaders and Administration officials. It was the cognitive dissonance induced by the conflict between the Administration’s version of reality and the reality perceived by everyone else that threw Bush so badly off kilter in the first debate. Bush seemed not to believe his own rhetoric, or if he did, he was thereby rendered incredible because of his separation from reality.

The Administration’s repeated demand for the American people to suspend their disbelief, ignore the evidence of their own senses and those of their fellow citizens, and line up behind the piper is quickly destroying their credibility in the eyes of all citizens. The constant twisting of reality and taking data out of context to make false claims has only one logical end in a reasonably free society with a media which is even marginally free. When the history of this election is written, it will be the debates which turned the tide and made the critical difference. Scales are falling from eyes across the land as people judge the candidates side by side. Justice will be done.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The meme that keeps on giving

Jonathan Chait of the Los Angeles Times seems to agree with me that in an odd way, Bush richly deserves to be re-elected. Chait argues that Bush should clean up his own financial and foreign policy disasters just as the onus should be squarely upon the Republican Party for causing those disasters. If Kerry wins, four years from now the GOP will be arguing that everything is Kerry's fault because he didn't follow Bush's glorious example. Even the Supreme Court is brushed aside as a reason not to re-elect Bush; Chait points out that the result of extreme appointments would be to reinvigorate the pro-choice movement in the states, and the Court would probably chicken-out of overturning Roe anyhow.

I'm personally convinced that Kerry is going to win, (dangerously optimistic and public prediction: Kerry wins with 290+ in the electoral college) but in a very real way, re-election is possibly the worst thing that could happen to Bush and the GOP. Left to his own devices, Bush may well end the GOP as a major party in this country given another four years to deftly and wisely lead his party. That might be worth another four years of hell. But probably not.

The end of Delay

Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, is about have the House come crashing down around him. Rumors are blowing around Texas like a twister that prosecutor Ronnie Earle is about to lower the boom and file an incdictment against DeLay. Earle is a career prosecutor who has ended the career of many big, crooked political operators in Texas, and he likens the coming indictment to 'WWII' compared with the 'Grenadas' of his past. What else could he mean other than he is about to dethrone one of the most powerful figures in the GOP right before a pivotal Presidential election.

Ah, justice is sweet. Hug a prosecutor today.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Terrorists for Bush

Imad Khadduri, Iraqi nulcear scientist and former head of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission for thirty years, claims that he translated the whole message from bin Laden transmitted following the attack on Spain of 3/11. The second half of that message was not reported in the West, according to Khadduri, despite being distributed widely to Western media outlets. In the message, bin Laden ordered that Al Qaeda operatives not carry out any attacks on the United States before the November elections. Apparently, bin Laden hopes that Bush will be re-elected and thereby run the American Empire aground with his incompetence, thus speeding the goal of Al Qaeda of freeing the Islamic world from the domination of the West that much faster.

I have to admit that I have sometimes been guilty of the same sorts of thoughts myself. I have contemplated how much worse for the GOP it would be for Bush to be re-elected. The backlash against the policies of this Administration would then fall squarely on the correct parties. There is a strong case to be made that Democrats would make stronger and faster gains in Congress with Bush governing for a second term. American's dislike for unified government, confirmed by the past two years, would mitigate against giving Congress back to the Democrats with Kerry in office. Overturning Congress would be the only way to slow the Bush agenda and return to divided government, motivating many to work and donate to Democratic Congressional candidates in the by-elections of 2006. Also, many of the scandals now held in abeyance by sheer political will until after the election would come home to roost, thoroughly discrediting the Administration even to many of its current supporters. Lame duck would be an inadequate description of how wounded Bush would be in a second term.

The problem with re-electing Bush from my viewpoint is that Bush can do a lot of damage to our nation in the meantime. Most specifically, he would able to appoint as many as 3 Supreme Court justices; that's simply unacceptable. For Ossama bin Laden, the factor he fails to consider is that Bush has access to the world's largest stockpile of WMD. Bush could, and possibly would, use WMD against the people of the Middle East if pressed. The power to vaporize and poison the Ulema in the hands of moral coward with terrible judgement, unfettered by the need to pander to any constituency for re-election, should give him pause. Not that I want his endorsement for my favored candidate, but from a purely logical viewpoint, bin Laden has miscalculated in choosing to back Bush's re-election by granting Americans temporary freedom from attack. Bush may do far more damage to the Muslim world given a second term than he could ever do to the American Empire.

To hell with polls

Via TomDispatch:

I hate polls. They are innacurate at best, a deliberate means of misleading the public at worst. They have never called a close election accurately, and so many invalid assumptions are built into most commerical polls that they are downright malpractice on the part of pollsters. If you wish to preserve your peace of mind, ignore all polls until after this election. They aren't going to be right anyhow.

"Three things are worth remembering, if you can't kick the poll-watching habit:

(1) Any individual poll can be off by 15%.

(2) Any collection of honestly conducted polls, looked at together, will show a very wide range of results and you won't be able to tell which of them is right.

(3) Even the collective results of a large number of polls probably will not give you an accurate read on a close election.

From these three points comes the most important conclusion of all -- don't let the polls determine what you think or what you do."

This is what happened to many Democrats during the primaries. They allowed polls and prognostications to dictate their votes; that's always a mistake.

These past weeks many Dems have be discouraged or dispondent because of bogus polling showing Kerry far behind Bush. It seems the debate evened things out, but it's not so. This is only a story line to sell newscopy, not reality. The electorate is not that fickle and mercurial.

Kerry is and has been for some time tied with or ahead of Bush. Keep in mind that, historically, no President having hard re-elect numbers less than 50% has ever been re-elected. Bush has been in that territory for months on end. He will NOT be re-elected. The only way for Kerry to lose this election is for the GOP to steal it.

Buck up. Sign up to monitor a local polling place if you are voting early. If not, just go out and vote and make sure that everyone you know who might vote Democratic does so, as well. Then we'll win.

TomDispatch has a lengthy article on the subject of polling which is well worth reading.

The Pseudo-Fascist Campaign

Dave Neiwert's Part 3 of his series on American Fascism is online. This installment reveals how the Neo-Conservative movement draws from fascist traditions. Strongly suggested reading.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Cheney on the ropes

John Edwards didn't stomp Cheney in a quivering mass, as did Kerry Bush, but he none-the-less rammed the K - E message down Cheney's lying throat and make him swallow. He won on style, he prevailed on foreign policy by sticking to message and forcing Cheney to back off, and kicked holy ass on domestic policy.

Cheney lied repeatedly and continued the Pollyanna denial that anything is wrong in Iraq, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Edwards made him appear out of touch and unrealistic. Edwards also landed many puches on the VP regarding his relationship with Halliburton that all Cheney could do was deny.

But it was all Edwards on domestic policy. Cheney was limited to twisting facts, such as the creation of 1.7 million jobs in the past year, and attacking K & E's voting record (whereupon Edwards smacked around Cheney with his own record). On jobs, health care, Rx, taxes, education, and trade, John was up one side of Dick and down the other. K-E's message is more powerful, not only from a factual and macroeconomic standpoint, but simply because Cheney had to defend a record of failure while Edwards only had to flash the new and pretty shiny baubles for the voters to gawk at.

The closing statements summarized the night. Edwards was closing the deal with every sentence and presented a powerfully motivating message of change and hope. Cheney delivered a dour, frightening and hubristic monotone of doom. There was no contest in my mind; Edwards sealed the deal that Kerry started in the first debate. But if you are a security-obsessed, frightened, cowed, proto-facsist worm, Cheney may have been impressive to you. But you're not one of those, are you?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

George Soros on Iraq

Soros' blog has the fourth chapter, The Iraqi Quagmire, (pdf) of his book "The Bubble of American Supremacy" online for free. It is an insightful analysis of the march to war and what it has cost us all.

The Fear Factor

Bush is dangerous. Another four year of his disdainful unilateralism and aggressive hegemonic appetites, could land America in seriously dire straights. But the threat is not just of more draining and divisive regional guerrilla war, Bush’s policies stand a fair chance of causing wider wars, and even the use of nuclear weapons, either of which could cause mass casualties on American soil. Can an Administration who rushed into an ill-advised war, against all reasonable warnings and has endangered our national security, possibly for decades to come, be entrusted with the full force and horror contained in America’s nuclear arsenal? Is it wise, or even sane, to allow people proven to be reckless to the point of blindness the power to control the most devastating forces known to humanity?

Voters should be afraid. But as yet, Kerry has not communicated to voters the urgent threat to world peace which Bush and his Administration’s policies and doctrines represent. During the foreign policy debate he touched upon the issues of Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) and developing a new generation of small, earth penetrating nuclear weapons, or bunkerbusters. These are, respectively, a giant hole in our security policy which the Administration has shamefully neglected that could allow terrorists ready access to nuclear weapons, and a provocative invitation to a new arms race which increases the likelihood of theater-level use of nuclear weapons.

The Bush Administration is also aggressively developing "star wars," and have conflated Theater Missile Defense (TMD, such as the Patriot systems) and National Missile Defense (NMD, including early warning and tracking and land, sea, and space borne interception systems), into a Global Missile Defense (GMD) concept which is being pushed on our allies, has already caused significant shifts in nuclear doctrine and upgrades of nuclear capability in both Russia and China. To pursue GMD, Bush deliberately destroyed the ABM treaty. Russia still awaits a new legal framework to govern the development of anti-ballistic missile technology, and the world faces the prospect of another round of wasteful spending on new generations of ICBMs and interceptors. Bush accused Kerry of being opposed to the missile defense program. Kerry is opposed to those portions of the program which are destabilizing to the military postures between the major nuclear powers and will lead to the militarization of space, but not to TMD. The purpose of the system should be to protect against accidental single launches, launches from ‘rogue’ nations and terrorists, and be designed and deployed for those purposes. Instead, Bush pushes ever onward at ruinous cost, chasing Reagan’s cocktail napkin dream of an impenetrable shield protecting America from missile attack. The systems being deployed don’t work, providing nothing but a false sense of security and jobs in key districts.

Democrats are loathe to use fear as a political weapon; it is tainted by the Bush team’s illegitimate uses of it. But it is reasonable to be afraid of mad dogs and Englishmen, as they say - some things every rational person is afraid of. That fear is a gift of self-preservation. It is time for Democrats to play their own fear card in this Presidential campaign and appeal to voters to protect themselves against Bush’s madness. The GOP preaches retaliation against those who step out of line by means of terrorism, but Democrats fear appeal should be based on fear what the Bush Administration would do with the new weapons it is creating, and whether we will be further embroiled in more wars. Democrats should use people’s rational fear of what Bush would do to the American character and economy, to American standing in the world, and to our fellow citizens’ rights if given four more years. As in the 1964 campaign against Goldwater, when voters are exposed to the real Bush, they will know fear, and vote accordingly.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Hart in Tucson Tommorrow

Via The AZ Daily Star:

Gary Hart wrote a wonderful opinion article on how pursuit of Empire can cost America one of our greatest stregths: our principles. Hart again shows the sort of leadership in a complex and dangerous world that marries wisdom with realism. Gary Hart will be in Tucson tommorrow at the Border's bookstore on Oracle to speak and sign his book, The Fourth Power. Following is the full text of Hart's article:

Are we now, or are we in the process of becoming, an empire? As the world's sole superpower, America confronts a historic crossroads concerning our role on the global stage.
Adrift and unfocused until the first terrorist attacks in September 2001, the "war on terrorism," which surfaced doctrines of pre-emption and preventive wars, has become the catalyst for American action.
As we are finding in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, pre-emption and regime change - or, stated more directly, government overthrow - inevitably require prevention of chaos and eventually prolonged nation-building in the aftermath of invasion.
Nation-building requires continued occupation, a long-term military presence, interim administration (sometimes for a good deal of time), considerable financial and economic assistance, rebuilding infrastructures, providing social services, arbitrating among rival factions and endless entanglement.
All these are hallmarks of even the most benign empires. And this is exactly where we now find ourselves in occupied Iraq.
To which the inevitable question arises: What principles of a democratic republic are sacrificed when it assumes the role of empire?
Principles are violated or abandoned less in the abstract and more in their application. As with an individual, if the United States applies its power contrary to its principles, it risks its political, and eventually its moral, authority.
As a republic - in contrast with an empire - we should resist hegemony without seeking hegemony. We should ally with nations of good will to prevent any other power from exercising its dominion.
But we should not seek dominion for ourselves. This notion must become the centerpiece of U.S. diplomacy and international relations.
Coalitions are formed by roughly commensurate nations with equal purpose, not by token contributions from lesser nations to the designs of the dominant power.
The argument here is not strictly for principle over power in foreign policy. It is a more positive brief for incorporation of America's highest principles into the range of its powers, the more familiar military, economic and political powers, applied to achieve an early 21st century American strategy.
Where some have seen American ideals as an inconvenience at best and an outright hindrance to the exertion of American power abroad at worst, America's core principles, its canon of beliefs, are a fourth power, a positive advantage, in achieving the nation's larger purposes in the new century.
Who we are gives us our strength. We start with natural advantages in the world, given the desire of most of the world's peoples to share our norms, albeit in their own cultures where possible.
They do not necessarily want to become us. They want to share what we have, what we have achieved, as much as possible under their own terms and conditions.
They readily understand our prosperity and material success are in large part the product of our political system, our political standards and beliefs.
When we abandon our principles for short-term political or economic advantage, we abandon one of our greatest strengths.
For America to act imperially, expediently or ignobly is to weaken rather than strengthen itself.

Arizona Republican Women Rejecting Bush

"Republicans for Kerry" often seems a forlorn hope rather than a actual constituency. But there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of Republican women in Arizona who are disgusted with Bush and are deciding, quietly and privately, to vote for John Kerry. This disillusionment is not confined to Arizona, either.

This President's actions have precipitated a crisis of conscience among an increasing number of Republicans. Men and women of conscience and faith are increasingly having trouble putting their vote to the service of the Bush/Cheney Radical Right agenda.

Will these quiet, often secret, converts to Kerry from the Republican party be enough to swing Arizona and other marginal swing states into Kerry's column? If a majority of undecideds and independents pitch their tents in Kerry's camp, I'm looking for joy on election day.

The strategy (and it is a strategy as pollsters know very well that many major polls following the RNC Convention are heavily skewed toward Republican opinion) of using misleading polls in the national media which are showing and 8-12 point race, is going to backfire. Because the race last week was really a 3 point race for Bush according to John Zogby (the only pollster to correctly predict Gore's late break and popular vote victory), and will narrow over this weekend to a dead heat, the appearance to voters will be of Kerry skyrocketing back into the race; moving up 8 to 12 points, seemingly overnight. The momentum of the Kerry campaign will be the major story next week which will further encourage fence sitters to step off into Kerry's patch.

The intense focus of the end of a campaign always seems to favor Kerry. He's shown that he and his team know well how to exploit momentum and opportunities at the end of a campaign. The increasing opportunities for voters to see Kerry and Bush in unscripted exchanges will certainly favored the polished and commanding Kerry over Bush's lackluster stumbling, as did at Thursday's debate.

As volunteer activity on the ground accellerates over the coming weeks, the race is going to be strongly affected by the GOTV efforts of the compaigns and their allies to get early ballots in the mail, convince last minute deciders, and get their voters to polls. Here again Democrats have the advantage, having registered new voters on an unprecedented scale. First time registrants vote at a very high rate, and existing Democratic voters are very motivated to turn the existing Administration out.

Help is on the way.

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