28 October 2004

So this is what it takes!

George W. Bush's latest campaign ad, titled "Whatever it takes," answers its own question. When you don't have enough troops, just cut and paste more in!

The ad is on www.georgewbush.com, and the scene is 3/4 in.



Click here for larger image.

(Image from Aaron Harnly's website. Alt image links: small, and medium versions)

Update: Reuters - President Bush's campaign acknowledged on Thursday that a television ad depicting soldiers listening to Bush speak had been doctored so that some of the faces of the soldiers appear more than once.

My Election Analysis: Undecideds do not favor the challenger

DailyKos found a fascinating challenge to the conventional wisdom that undecided voters on election day vote for the challenger over the incumbent by 2 to 1. The My Election Analysis weblog takes a look at polls and voting for presidential elections from this century and finds that undecided voters, whether undecided in the summer, in the month before, or even in the week before the election, do not tend to favor the challenger.

My Election Analysis: Whither The Undecideds: "The fact is, there's no compelling evidence for such a trend. Since the advent of modern polling in 1936, there have been 12 Presidential elections where an incumbent ran. The good folk at Gallup have provided us with nice trendline charts for each of these years, which summarize their polling results: 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1956, 1964, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1992, and 1996."

27 October 2004

American Conservative: Vote Kerry

Alex, I'll take surprising presidential endorsements for $1000.

American Conservative Magazine, in their latest issue, endorses Kerry for President. Here are some excerpts from their article, "Kerry's the One."


Bush has behaved like a caricature of what a right-wing president is supposed to be, and his continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for generations. The launching of an invasion against a country that posed no threat to the U.S., the doling out of war profits and concessions to politically favored corporations, the financing of the war by ballooning the deficit to be passed on to the nation's children, the ceaseless drive to cut taxes for those outside the middle class and working poor: it is as if Bush sought to resurrect every false 1960s-era left-wing clich� about predatory imperialism and turn it into administration policy....

During the campaign, few have paid attention to how much the Bush presidency has degraded the image of the United States in the world....In Europe and indeed all over the world, he has made the United States despised by people who used to be its friends, by businessmen and the middle classes, by moderate and sensible liberals. Never before have democratic foreign governments needed to demonstrate disdain for Washington to their own electorates in order to survive in office. The poll numbers are shocking. In countries like Norway, Germany, France, and Spain, Bush is liked by about seven percent of the populace. In Egypt, recipient of huge piles of American aid in the past two decades, some 98 percent have an unfavorable view of the United States. It's the same throughout the Middle East.

These sentiments mean that as long as Bush is president, we have no real allies in the world, no friends to help us dig out from the Iraq quagmire. More tragically, they mean that if terrorists succeed in striking at the United States in another 9/11-type attack, many in the world will not only think of the American victims but also of the thousands and thousands of Iraqi civilians killed and maimed by American armed forces. The hatred Bush has generated has helped immeasurably those trying to recruit anti-American terrorists?indeed his policies are the gift to terrorism that keeps on giving, as the sons and brothers of slain Iraqis think how they may eventually take their own revenge.

26 October 2004

Thai PM not winning any friends

New York Times: Thailand Acknowledges Prisoner Deaths During Transit: BANGKOK, Oct. 25 - At least 78 people died from suffocation while being transported in overcrowded military trucks after a violent demonstration in Thailand's largely Muslim south, government officials said today.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra appeared to have little sympathy for the victims. Referring to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is now under way, he said: 'This is typical. It's about bodies made weak from fasting. Nobody hurt them.'

ABC: Kerry: Bush Won't Own Up to Bad Decisions

I called it. Now what do I win? Bush's mistake in the third debate, which was to say he's never made a mistake, has come back to bite him (third debate video here).

But it's not that Bush made a mistake in the third debate. He's used the same answer in the past.

Rather than a debate error, I believe this is the single greatest weakness of Bush and his cabinet. This hubris - this enormous lack of humility - leads to their inability to believe they could make mistakes. And this is the root of so many of the severe miscalculations that they have made, not just with Iraq, but across the board. By believing themselves incapable of error, they have no reason to heed advice, and no reason to fix their plans when faced with evidence that they have made a mistake.

That there even could be a mistake is so foreign, they cannot see the evidence.


ABC: Kerry: Bush Won't Own Up to Bad Decisions: 'When the president is faced with the consequences of his own bad decisions, he doesn't confront them, he tries to hide them,' Kerry said. 'The truth is, President Bush isn't leveling with the American people about why we went to war, how the war is going, or what he is doing to put Iraq on track.'

US failed to secure Iraq's Manhattan Project

The media is reporting that the Iraqi Al Qaqaa facility is unguarded and that hundreds of tons of high explosives have been removed.

To me, this is a minor story. Al Qaqaa was Iraq's nuclear weapons research lab, Iraq's version of the Manhattan Project. Leaving this facility unguarded was insane. Who knows what design documents, equipment, and specialized machine tools were looted and are now furthering some other nation's nuclear ambitions?

Here's the Boston Globe's take:


''This is not just any old warehouse in Iraq that happened to have explosives in it; this was a leading location for developing nuclear weapons before the first Gulf War,' said Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project, a nonprofit organization that has followed Iraq's attempts to procure weapons of mass destruction for more than a decade. ''The fact that it had been left unsecured is very, very discouraging. It would be like invading the US in to order to get rid of [weapons of mass destruction] and not securing Los Alamos or [Lawrence] Livermore [National Laboratory].'

The article goes on to quote David Kay, the US weapons inspector who led the search for nuclear weapons following the invasion:

''The military did not view guarding these sites as their responsibility," Kay said, recalling that he witnessed US troops guarding the gates of the Tuwaitha nuclear facility while Iraq civilians carried away radioactive pipes and metal drums through other exits.

25 October 2004

NY Times: Thousands of GOP members to challenge voters in Ohio

Imagine Florida 2000 repeated several times over, as Republicans challenge voters in every swing state not just after the election, but at the polls. Is it to late to call in the UN to monitor this fiasco?


NYTimes: Big G.O.P. readies 3600 to challenge votes in Ohio:

Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots.

Party officials say their effort is necessary to guard against fraud arising from aggressive moves by the Democrats to register tens of thousands of new voters in Ohio, seen as one of the most pivotal battlegrounds in the Nov. 2 elections.

Election officials in other swing states, from Arizona to Wisconsin and Florida, say they are bracing for similar efforts by Republicans to challenge new voters at polling places, reflecting months of disputes over voting procedures and the anticipation of an election as close as the one in 2000.

Ohio election officials said ... they were scrambling yesterday to be ready for disruptions in the voting process as well as alarm and complaints among voters. Some officials said they worried that the challenges could discourage or even frighten others waiting to vote.

Republicans said they had enlisted 3,600 by the deadline, many in heavily Democratic urban neighborhoods of Cleveland, Dayton and other cities. Each recruit was to be paid $100.

Republican officials said they had no intention of disrupting voting but were concerned about the possibility of fraud involving thousands of newly registered Democrats.

'The organized left's efforts to, quote unquote, register voters - I call them ringers - have created these problems,' said James P. Trakas, a Republican co-chairman in Cuyahoga County.

24 October 2004

Criticism for Bush from fiscally conservative Republicans over latest corporate tax cuts

It still surprises me that the Bush administration ignores Republican fiscal conservatives.


Reuters.com: Without fanfare, Bush OKs corporate tax cuts: Without fanfare, President George W. Bush signed into law on Friday a nearly $140 billion corporate tax cut bill derided by both Democratic presidential rival John Kerry and Republican Sen. John McCain as a giveaway to special interests.

The White House had marked the signing of Bush's other major tax bills with lavish public ceremonies. This one was marked with a one-paragraph statement by the press secretary.

[The bill] included many special interest provisions sharply criticized by public interest groups and fiscal conservatives, which congressional aides said explained Bush's decision to sign it in private.

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who is campaigning for Bush, had called the measure 'the worst example of the influence of special interests that I have ever seen.'

The bill includes a $10 billion industry-financed buyout for tobacco farmers and tax breaks for U.S. multinational companies, some of which critics say will encourage companies to ship jobs overseas.

A one-year tax holiday for multinationals was included that will allow them to return billions of dollars in profits back to the United States at a dramatically lower 5.25 percent rate instead of the normal 35 percent top corporate rate.

Close election will lead to massive litigation

A close election in 2004 is likely to be far more heavily litigated than the 2000 election. The main factors:

  1. Karl Rove sues when losing

  2. More states are close than in 2000

  3. Unlike 2000, the Democrats aren't going to roll over

CNN.com - Preparing for post-election chaos by John W. Dean, Findlaw columnist and former counsel to President Nixon:

Look at the swirling, ugly currents at work ... a GOP history of going negative to win elections. There is Karl Rove's disposition to challenge close elections in post-election brawls. And there is a new unwillingness among Democrats to roll over.... Finally, look at the fact that a half-dozen lawsuits are in the works in the key states and more are being developed.

And it won't only be the Democrats heading to court. Indeed, in Florida in 2000, it was Bush who sued first -- while later falsely accusing Gore of starting the litigation.

[S]uing is a standard operating procedure for Karl Rove when he is losing (or has lost) a race....Make no mistake: If Bush loses, and it is very close, Rove will want to litigate as long as possible, going to the U.S. Supreme Court again if possible.

....

It may be days or weeks, if not months, before we know the final results of this presidential election. And given the Republican control of the government, if Karl Rove is on the losing side, it could be years: He will take every issue (if he is losing) to its ultimate appeal in every state he can.

Seattle PI: Prepare for litigation-filled post-election by Mary Deibel:

It's dawning on Americans that they may go to sleep Election Night, Nov. 2, and not know for weeks who won the presidency.

Close polls, technical glitches, human error and legal challenges threaten a nightmare replay of the 2000 race.

"We could have five or six Floridas including Florida itself, given the number of legal issues surfacing in one state or another so far in the 2004 race," says law professor Burt Neuborne, who spearheads voting reform efforts at New York University.

"If the issues are significant, the election could wind up in the Supreme Court, which broke the ice four years ago with Bush v. Gore," the 5-4 ruling that ended the 36-day Florida recount, effectively giving Florida's Electoral College votes and the 2000 presidential race to George W. Bush.

The justices sought to minimize Bush v. Gore as a one-way ticket not good for future trips. It was "a one-of-a-kind case," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said later. "I doubt it will ever be cited as precedent by the court on anything."

That was wishful thinking to George Washington University constitutional scholar Jeffrey Rosen. He predicted early on that the ruling would prompt a flood of election-related lawsuits for local, state and federal office.

"Bush v. Gore exponentially increased the legalization of politics," Rosen told a recent gathering. "We might see weeks of uncertainty as a result" in the 2004 election cycle.

"Before Bush v. Gore, litigation wasn't a successful way to challenge an election; if legal challenges occurred, they were distant from an election's outcome and affected only future elections," says Vanderbilt law professor Suzanna Sherry. "Bush v. Gore opened the door to real-time lawsuits and arguments not previously available."

The campaigns aren't waiting. The Democratic National Committee will have 10,000 lawyers in battleground states Election Day, with six "SWAT squads" ready to deploy on orders from nominee John Kerry. The Florida team is headed by Steven Zack whose law partner, David Boies, argued Al Gore's case in Bush v. Gore.

Team Bush has similar plans with attorneys headed to 30,000 key precincts to challenge any voter whose registration seems suspect. The Republican National Committee is coordinating efforts through state parties, and Attorney General John Ashcroft has told all U.S. attorneys to stand by for fraud investigations.

21 October 2004

MSNBC - No flu vaccine shortage at Capitol

WASHINGTON - While many Americans search in vain for flu shots, members and employees of Congress are able to obtain them quickly and at no charge from the Capitol's attending physician, who has urged all 535 lawmakers to get the vaccines even if they are young and healthy.

...

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.), a heart surgeon, sent letters urging his 99 colleagues to get the shots because they mingle and shake hands with so many people...

Eisold "is a big believer that members of Congress are at high risk, because they shake hands with a lot of people" and then visit veterans centers and other concentrations of susceptible people, his spokesman said. Because lawmakers can be both victims and spreaders of flu, he said, Eisold urged all 535 to get the shots.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), 62, said in an interview yesterday: "We're not in the priority category" set by the CDC. "But I think the [Capitol's] doctor makes a good case. We can pick it up and spread it" through interactions with constituents.

OK, I understand that with all that hand-shaking and baby kissing, Senators think they should line up for the vaccine the rest of us can't get. But where does that leave us subway riders who pack in with thousands of people every day. Don't we rate?

20 October 2004

Preview of the electronic voting experience

Boom Chicago thinks the electronic voting experience in Florida will look something like this: Quicktime / Windows Media Player.

Swift Truthful Vets

Brilliant parody of the Swift Vote attack ad.

19 October 2004

The Bush campaign is losing it

AP: Bush Adviser Lays Under Air Force One:

Returning to the aircraft after Bush's foreign policy speech, the two men traded words. As Bush climbed the stairs, his top political adviser set his briefcase down in front of the tires and stretched out on the ground with his back to the wheels.

Rove stood back up moments later; a smiling Bush waved from the plane and they both got aboard.

'It was a humorous moment on the campaign trail,' was all Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel would say about Rove's antic."

The New York Times: Voters think Bush is a flop, Kerry is a flip-flop


The New York Times Surveys: Poll Shows Tie; Concerns Cited on Both Rivals: Mr. Bush's job approval rating is at 44 percent, a dangerously low number for an incumbent president, and one of the lowest of his tenure. A majority of voters said that they disapproved of the way Mr. Bush had managed the economy and the war in Iraq, and - echoing a refrain of Mr. Kerry's - that his tax cuts had favored the wealthy. Voters said that Mr. Kerry would do a better job of preserving Social Security, creating jobs and ending the war in Iraq.

But a majority of Americans continue to see Mr. Kerry as an untrustworthy politician who will say what he thinks people want to hear. More than half of respondents said they considered him liberal, reflecting a dominant line of attack by Mr. Bush this fall.

It's a testament to Bush's shameless campaign that his team has managed to paint Kerry as lacking in truth or resolve. To get a sense of Kerry, listen to him in any of the three debates. Then, compare this with his Winter Soldier testimony in the documentary Going Upriver (torrent). This guy is ramrod-straight in his willingness to speak difficult, unpleasant truths.

Compare this with Bush, a guy who says he's never made a major mistake as President, thinks Iraq is going well, says our troops have enough equipment, that an insurgency our own military cannot suppress will be dealt with by an Iraqi police force that does not yet exist, and that Iraqis are happy we are in their country.

17 October 2004

Political video torrent roundup

Here, in one place, are the most interesting recent political video torrents:

First presidential debate
Second presidential debate
Third presidential debate
Richard Clarke on 60 Minutes
Seymour Hersh on the Daily Show
Going Upriver (documentary of Kerry's time in Vietnam)
PBS Frontline: The Choice 2004

If you have links of your own, post them here in the comments for this entry. I'll update the list with the best suggestions.

You'll need Bittorrent to use these. Free download from this link.

Update: you can get many of these videos as direct downloads from Underground Clips.


New York Times enthusiastically endorses Kerry

The New York Times endorsed John Kerry today while simultaneously damning President Bush, saying Kerry ...

... has the capacity to do far, far better than President George W. Bush.

We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.'

There is no denying that this race is mainly about Mr. Bush's disastrous tenure. After the Supreme Court awarded him the presidency, Mr. Bush came into office amid popular expectation that he would acknowledge his lack of a mandate by sticking close to the center. Instead, he turned the government over to the radical right.
In addition, the Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Atlanta Journal-constitution, Philadelphia Inquirer, Detroit Free Press, and Dayton Daily News also endorsed Kerry.

OK, so the Boston Globe wasn't a shocker.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Tulsa World and Mobile Register have endorsed President Bush.

Update: direct link to NY Times editorial.

14 October 2004

Mary Cheney

Andrew Sullivan says what I've been thinking about Kerry and Edwards mentioning Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter Mary in the debates. It's important to know that not only is she out, she was the gay and lesbian public liason for Coors. Kerry mentioning Mary Cheney should be no more offensive than Bush mentioning Kerry's daughters.

Here's an excerpt from Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish:


There's something about Mary: I keep getting emails asserting that Kerry's mentioning of Mary Cheney is somehow offensive or gratuitous or a 'low blow'. Huh? Mary Cheney is out of the closet and a member, with her partner, of the vice-president's family. That's a public fact. No one's privacy is being invaded by mentioning this. When Kerry cites Bush's wife or daughters, no one says it's a 'low blow.' The double standards are entirely a function of people's lingering prejudice against gay people. And by mentioning it, Kerry showed something important. This issue is not an abstract one. It's a concrete, human and real one. It affects many families, and Bush has decided to use this cynically as a divisive weapon in an election campaign. He deserves to be held to account for this - and how much more effective than showing a real person whose relationship and dignity he has attacked and minimized? Does this makes Bush's base uncomfortable? Well, good. It's about time they were made uncomfortable in their acquiescence to discrimination. Does it make Bush uncomfortable? Even better. His decision to bar gay couples from having any protections for their relationships in the constitution is not just a direct attack on the family member of the vice-president. It's an attack on all families with gay members - and on the family as an institution. That's a central issue in this campaign, a key indictment of Bush's record and more than relevant to any debate. For four years, this president has tried to make gay people invisible, to avoid any mention of us, to pretend we don't exist. Well, we do. Right in front of him.

13 October 2004

Gallup: Kerry defeats Bush in third debate

In a Gallup poll of likely voters, Kerry was the winner of the third debate, beating Bush by a 16-point margin. More details on CNN.

Military Times: Soldiers will vote for Bush

The Military Times says that 73% of soldiers surveyed would vote for Bush if the election were held today, while 18% would vote for Kerry. The survey is not random, so it is likely to be biased, but it does strongly suggest that soldiers are happy with President Bush.

See the article on Military.com and a good discussion about the survey and other supporting and detracting data on Plastic.

Economics heavy hitters against Bush

50 big-name business and economics professors published an open letter to President Bush saying that his policies have done great harm to the US economy.

The 50 signers include a large number of chaired professors from Harvard, MIT's Sloane School, Wharton, and, coming as close to career suicide as tenure allows, several from UT Austin.

Here's the opening:

As professors of economics and business, we are concerned that U.S. economic policy has taken a dangerous turn under your stewardship. Nearly every major economic indicator has deteriorated since you took office in January 2001. Real GDP growth during your term is the lowest of any presidential term in recent memory. Total non-farm employment has contracted and the unemployment rate has increased. Bankruptcies are up sharply, as is our dependence on foreign capital to finance an exploding current account deficit. All three major stock indexes are lower now than at the time of your inauguration. The percentage of Americans in poverty has increased, real median income has declined, and income inequality has grown.

The data make clear that your policy of slashing taxes - primarily for those at the upper reaches of the income distribution - has not worked. The fiscal reversal that has taken place under your leadership is so extreme that it would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. ....

Although some members of your administration have suggested that the mountain of new debt accumulated on your watch is mainly the consequence of 9-11 and the war on terror, budget experts know that this is simply false. Your economic policies have played a significant role in driving this fiscal collapse.

Wal-Mart -- one more reason for music labels to go digital

Rolling Stone has a great article on music sales and how Wal-Mart is changing the economic landscape for labels:

"[M]aking sure Wal-Mart is happy remains one of the music industry's major priorities. That's because if Wal-Mart cut back on music, industry sales would suffer severely -- though Wal-Mart's shareholders would barely bat an eye. While Wal-Mart represents nearly twenty percent of major-label music sales, music represents only about two percent of Wal-Mart's total sales. 'If they got out of selling music, it would mean nothing to them,' says another label executive. 'This keeps me awake at night.'

... Gary Severson, Wal-Mart's senior vice president and general merchandise manager in charge of the chain's entertainment section, did allude to the dispute about music prices. 'The labels price things based on what they believe they can get -- a pricing philosophy a lot of industries have,' he says. 'But we like to price things as cheaply as we possibly can, rather than charge as much as we can get. It's a big difference in philosophy, and we try to help other people see that.'


Wal-Mart appears to have far more leverage than all the music labels combined when it comes to pricing. Wal-Mart is 20% of music sales in the US -- music labels believe their CDs must be carried by Wal-Mart to be multi-million copy hits.

However, only 2% of Wal-Mart's sales come to music, so Wal-Mart could tell the labels to drop dead if it chose.

At least, that's what the labels think. But it's possible that Wal-Mart's position is weaker than the labels realize.

By cutting music sales, Wal-Mart would lose customers who are drawn in by CDs. Not just any customers, but the high-profit ones -- the ones who buy stereos, electronics, and other new-fangled high-margin gewgaws.

Second, by cutting music sales, Wal-Mart stores could become less efficient and more expensive to operate. Here's how; the 2% in music sales is high-turnover, and each CD takes a tiny amount of shelf space. Cutting into music sales would lower inventory turnover, a key Wal-Mart metric, while forcing Wal-Mart to put something in the shelf-space now empty of music, and whatever it is, it is likely to sit on the shelves longer, take up more room, and just be a dog compared to CDs. This would increase Wal-Mart's inventory costs (it would have lower margin or lower turnover items replacing music) which would in turn hurt its stock price.

At the same time these internal problems are occuring, Wal-Mart's dropping music or only carrying a fraction of its current music titles, would give its competitors (Target, K-Mart) an enormous advantage.

If I were a major label exec, I would would persuade the other labels of Wal-Mart's weak position and suggest strongly that I intended to call Wal-Mart's bluff if pressed.

12 October 2004

Nuclear weapons components in Iraq unguarded, missing

The UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency say Iraq's nuclear material has gone missing, the UK Guardian reports. Earlier stories, dating back to the fall of Baghdad, said that these sites were not secured by coalition troops.

Equipment and materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons have disappeared from Iraq, the UN's nuclear watchdog warned yesterday.

Satellite imagery and investigations of nuclear sites in Iraq have caused alarm at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The agency found that in some cases entire buildings housing high-precision nuclear equipment had been dismantled; equipment that could be used to make a bomb, such as high-strength aluminium, had vanished from open storage areas, the agency said.

Unicorns Against Bush

Election observation #23: your campaign is in trouble when happy magical creatures turn on you.

Unicorns Against Bush: "we believe that electing John Kerry in November will allow us to return to the very happy, magical state to which we are accustomed"


11 October 2004

You'll never walk alone

Wired News: People Are Human-Bacteria Hybrid: "Most of the cells in your body are not your own, nor are they even human. They are bacterial. From the invisible strands of fungi waiting to sprout between our toes, to the kilogram of bacterial matter in our guts, we are best viewed as walking 'superorganisms,' highly complex conglomerations of human, fungal, bacterial and viral cells.

That's the view of scientists at Imperial College London who published a paper in Nature Biotechnology Oct. 6 describing how these microbes interact with the body. Understanding the workings of the superorganism, they say, is crucial to the development of personalized medicine and health care in the future because individuals can have very different responses to drugs, depending on their microbial fauna.

The scientists concentrated on bacteria. More than 500 different species of bacteria exist in our bodies, making up more than 100 trillion cells. Because our bodies are made of only some several trillion human cells, we are somewhat outnumbered by the aliens. It follows that most of the genes in our bodies are from bacteria, too."

Mystery Pollster: The Second Debate

Mystery Pollster has a very nice analysis of the second debate; Both candidates played to their respective bases, and "independents perceived Kerry as the winner on all three surveys."

10 October 2004

Washington Post: Bush's non-answer

Just after the second Bush Kerry debate, I wrote that Bush's weakness was his inability to name a single major error he'd made. The Washington Post now says this may be a major issue for undecided voters:


When this campaign is over, Linda Grabel may become famous.

Grabel was the citizen-questioner at Friday's debate who asked President Bush an interesting question that may well set the tone for the rest of this campaign.

Noting that the president had made "thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives," Grabel sensibly wanted this piece of information: "Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it."

The president's answer was notable in two ways. First, he spent many words not answering at all. He spoke vaguely about how historians might second-guess some of his decisions and that he'd take responsibility for them. He also asserted: "I'm human."

Second, when Bush finally did admit something, he said this: "I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV."

There, in brief, are the core reasons why polls suggest that undecided and independent voters are having a problem with this president. His tactic of never admitting mistakes is backfiring in light of events. And when asked to take responsibility, his first instinct was to direct attention to others by speaking of his supposedly mistaken appointments.

....Bush's refusal to admit mistakes matters. It suggests his belief that voters, even at election time, have no right to a clear and candid explanation of what went wrong, and why.

Excerpt from ... and Bush's telling non-answer (Washington Post)

09 October 2004

Video of second Kerry vs Bush debate

TV Torrents has the second Kerry vs Bush debate.

Going Upriver movie -- free download

The makers of the documentary Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry have made it a free download via Bittorrent (Bittorrent client here).

There is a fine line between art and pornography

There's a fine line between art and pornography, and then there's this. I don't know what it means, but I really don't want it for my living room.



Full story over at BBC News.

Electoral Votes: Kerry 280, Bush 248

Electoral-Vote.com says that if the election were held now, Kerry would have 280 electoral votes vs Bush's 248. These numbers do not reflect the second presidential debate, as most of the state surveys were complete or nearly so before the debate began.

A Gallup Poll of registered voters found that the second debate was close. 47% felt Kerry won, while 45% chose Bush (compared to 53% vs 37% for the first debate). Both candidates played well to their core voters: 83% of Republicans called it for Bush (up significantly from the first debate) and 87% of Democrats called it for Kerry. However, independents chose Kerry by a 16-point margin: 53% to 37%.

Based on these numbers, I think my initial impressions were right. Kerry picked up more undecided voters than Bush, while both candidates kept their core voters.


08 October 2004

More post-debate analysis

The Edge has a nice analysis of Bush's response to the question "what are three mistakes you've made during your administration?"

Bush TOTALLY dodged the question as to what he thought his mistakes were and I think that's very revealing to his character. The one thing he sort of came up with were some 'appointments' which is basically saying he made a mistake because some other people screwed up their jobs. If I were President and I was asked that, I would at least give a straight answer to appear the bigger man in this debate. Honestly, he had a real opening on that question and his stubbornness took hold of him and screwed it up."
I thought Bush could have scored points with undecided voters by showing some humility here.

The same site also has part of the debate video on line via BitTorrent. Video here, BitTorrent client here.

Update: The American Prospect has a similar take on Bush's answer:

MISTAKES. I think George W. Bush's dodge on the mistakes question is even more revealing, and unflattering, than at first glance. Think about the only thing he pointed to as a mistake: appointments. That is to say, the only mistake he made is some other folks screwing up their jobs. Even his single mistake is someone else's fault. And then, the way he tried to tell the audience member that he knew the real reason she was asking her question -- that he knew the insinuation she was trying to make: "When people ask that question, they're really talking about Iraq". Who the hell is he to explain to an ordinary citizen what she meant by her own question? (And let's remember, the lady went out of her way to say explicitly to Bush that "you've made thousands of decisions as president that have affected millions of people," and then ask out of all those thousands of decisions what are three that were mistakes; how was that obviously a question about Iraq?) Bush's arrogance, his defensiveness, the insularity, the delusions -- it's all nicely encapsulated in that one answer.

I think Kerry missed a big opportunity in his follow-up by actually taking up the question itself and rehashing all the mistakes the president actually has made over the war. He should have simply stood up, pointed to the president, and said "Look at that. You asked him directly, and he answered sincerely, he doesn't think he's made a single mistake."



Bush vs Kerry, Round Two

I missed the first 30 minutes of the debate, but based on the last hour and the news coverage between the end of the debate and now, this one was pretty close. Bush gave a much better performance than in Round One, while Kerry gave about as good as the previous outing. The two politicians seemed to be in their element, striking fairly strongly at each other while making statements that should have pleased their core constituents.

In the end, I'd say Kerry came out slightly better because he seemed to be more in control of himself and more connected with the audience. There were only a few times where I felt Bush was speaking from the heart, saying something he truly believed in. One of those was his response to the question about the Patriot Act. Here, he sounded like he genuinely believed it was the right thing. The rest of the time, he seemed peeved, unhappy, and somewhat unfriendly. At best, he sounded pleased to be able to score a point, rather than someone who believed in what he was saying (for example, he didn't sound genuine when speaking against stem-cell research). He sounded like a guy under pressure.

In the end, Bush supporters are happy, Kerry supporters are happy, and I suspect a few more undecided voters will lean towards Kerry than Bush.

St Bernards on the way out

According to Reuters, St Bernard rescue dogs are on the way out.

Switzerland's St Bernard rescue dogs, known for centuries for saving avalanche victims from snowy Alpine graves, are to be sold by their monk owners as helicopters and heat sensors take over their work.
Photo
Reuters Photo



At St. Bernard's hospice, cradle of the breed, Augustinian monks want to devote more time to needy people and less to the 18 dogs -- which will be sold only to new owners who promise to bring them back each year.

"They (the dogs) need a lot of time and energy. There are only four of us monks now," said Brother Frederic, perched on a rock with a St Bernard by his side.

The dogs, which eat up to four and a half pounds of meat a day, have not rescued anyone for 50 years.

The dogs' history is entwined with that of the pass, where the Romans first built a temple to Jupiter as they marched north to conquer Europe, and where Charlemagne, Hannibal and Napoleon all left footprints in the snow.

St Bernard himself built a hospice on the spot in the 11th century, and a community of monks formed to aid travelers and rescue avalanche victims.

But with the progress of modern mountain rescue technology, the dogs have been pushed out of their traditional role in the mountains of Switzerland.
(via Monkeyfilter)



It's a race again

Electoral Vote is an addictive site. The site is a snapshot , updated daily, of how the election would go were it held now. Electoral Vote updates their state-by-state maps daily as new statewide polls come in.

Based on the latest state polls, Electoral-Vote.com says the Presidential race is a dead heat, with neither candidate having the required 270 Electoral College votes to win. Prior to the first Kerry / Bush debate, Bush was up by about 100 votes over Kerry. Now, it's 253 Kerry, 264 Bush.

The site also provides daily analysis of polls and issues. Here's an excerpt:

More results on the vice-presidential debate from Survey USA. In 8 states, Cheney won; in 5 states, Edwards won. California was a tie. In cities, Cheney did better. He won 17 of the cities polled vs. only 4 for Edwards. These results are clearly different from the instapolls available right after the debate.

Kerry's post-debate surge is continuing, with him taking the lead in Pennsylvania according to polls from West Chester University, Survey USA, and Franklin and Marshall college. Neither candidate now has the 270 electoral votes needed to win, and many of the states are statistical ties. Michigan and New Hampshire are exact ties. If Kerry wins Michigan and Bush wins New Hampshire, then Kerry wins the election 270-268.

Gallup ran a poll on whether U.S. involvement in Iraq was a mistake. The country is evenly divided on this issue, with 51% saying it was not a mistake and 48% saying it was a mistake.


07 October 2004

Cheney to world -- D'Oh!

From a mailing list:

So apparently, when Cheney referred to factcheck.org, he accidentally called it factcheck.com, which was, until recently, not used by anyone.

Until recently, I said ... www.factcheck.com

Advantage: Soros.

Fire cripples Canadian sub

A Canadian submarine is critically damaged. A fire broke out on the HMCS Chicoutimi as it was making its voyage from Scotland to Nova Scotia. At least one crew member is dead, and the submarine is without power.

CNN has the story:


The HMCS Chicoutimi caught fire on Tuesday morning about 100 miles (62 km) northwest of Ireland as it was making its first voyage as a Canadian ship from Scotland to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

British forces mounted a comprehensive operation to go to the Chicoutimi's rescue, after the captain of the vessel called for help at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, but have been battling against "treacherous" weather conditions.

...

The blaze happened just over a week after The Times newspaper reported that Canada might sue Britain over the purchase of four second-hand submarines -- including the Chicoutimi -- after they had been plagued by "serious malfunctions and corrosion."

Canada.com has more:

"HALIFAX (CP) - A British tug pulled alongside HMCS Chicoutimi off Ireland early Thursday as the race began to attach a line to the crippled, fire-damaged Canadian submarine."

The sub's crew had reportedly restored hydraulics on the boat, allowing them to use the rudder to reduce some of the rolling and battering Chicoutimi has received since the incident began. The vessel was still without propulsion, however.

Chicoutimi is one of four used diesel-electric submarines Canada has leased from the Royal Navy.

The fire, which at first was described as minor, damaged key electrical cables, leaving the sub dead in the water.

By Wednesday, the military had confirmed the fire, which is believed to have started between the commanding officer's cabin and an electrical room, was more serious than first thought.

...

The used vessels were built for the Royal Navy in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The British subs were mothballed in 1994 when Britain decided to stick with an all-nuclear submarine force. A deal to replace Canada's old Oberon-class boats was reached in 1998.

05 October 2004

Men pulling corks

I used to think that The Library of Congress, with its cataloging system for every book and every subject, was rather obsessive. I now know that librarians have got nothing on corkscrew collectors. Donald Bull's Virtual Corkscrew Museum has a postcard section divided into over 50 topics, including "Men pulling corks."




(Images from The Virtual Corkscrew Museum, site recommendation from Metafilter)

China's great leap forward



(Image from Spiegel Online via JWZ)

K words are funny

Some band names are bad, and then there's Klingon Klezmer. "K words are funny. We've got to call it Something Klezmer. Guys, anyone got a good K word?"

At least they didn't call themselves Klusty Klezmer.

(via Metafilter)

04 October 2004

Scratch that, forget all about Poland

Poland, one of the few nations to commit over a thousand troops to Iraq (full list on Globalsecurity) was less than happy about the whole thing. In 2003, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski had this to say about operation Iraqi Freedom: "They deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction....We were taken for a ride." (full story at Australian Broadcasting Company).

The guns of the Matrix

Madogre has a wonderful, insanely obsessive article on the guns used in The Matrix that describes even the guns used by minor supporting characters. Halfway through the article, the armorer for the movie breaks in to talk about exactly what it was Mouse was firing.


Mouse breaks out an odd pair of guns when the Agents cut the hard line after Neo sees the same cat twice. These guns are in a crate filled with .50BMG rounds... making some believe these guns are .50 calibers. This isn't true as that would be impossible.

Mouse's guns really were ... well, see the article.
(Image from Madogre)

Director of Iraq's Science and Technology Ministry assassinated

Bloomberg reports that a director of Iraq's Science and Technology ministry was assassinated today in Baghdad.

"Iraq's Science and Technology Ministry along with a female civil servant were shot dead in Baghdad, where two car bombs also exploded as insurgents stepped up attacks on Iraqis working with U.S. forces, officials said. At least 21 people were killed, the Associated Press said.

``Thamer Abdel Latif, one of the directors at the ministry and a civil servant, Ikhlas Ghalib, were shot dead at 7:30 a.m. in the center of Baghdad,'' said Adnan Abdel Rahman, a spokesman for Iraq's Interior Ministry in a telephone interview from Baghdad. No more details were available.''

SpaceShipOne captures X Prize


According to CNN, SpaceShipOne just made its second successsful run to space, winning the $10M X-Prize for the first privately funded vehicle to do so. More details on Space.com. Congratulations to Burt Rutan and his team.

Saddam to run for President of Iraq

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Saddam Hussein intends to run for President of Iraq.

Hussein's lawyer has told a Danish newspaper that the ousted dictator will run in Iraq's general elections with the view to becoming president again.

Giovanni di Stefano told Berlingske Tidende there was no law preventing Saddam from appearing on the ballot for the interim national assembly. 'Saddam has no chance to be tried before the elections,' Mr Di Stefano said. 'No international law prevents him from coming forward.'

The elections, which are scheduled for January, are parliamentary, so Saddam would not have to run nationwide, only from a district, presumably Tikrit. Even nationwide, Saddam seems to be making something of a comeback. Mr Di Stefano said a recent poll indicated that 42 per cent of Iraqis wanted Saddam back."

03 October 2004

Worst place for a five-finger discount: CIA headquarters

Reuters, via Yahoo News, reports:


Michael Kostiw, picked by new CIA Director Porter Goss to be the agency's executive director, has not received final clearance to take the job, although he had been scheduled to be sworn in Monday, the newspaper reported, citing a friend of Kostiw whom it did not identify.

Citing past and current agency officials, the Post said Kostiw was caught shoplifting in late 1981 at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. He had been an officer for 10 years at that point.

You, have you ever kissed a girl?

William Shatner recently reprised his role as the evil Captain Kirk (Episode 37, The Enemy Within), last seen in the classic Saturday Night Live skit where Shatner says to a Trekkie:


You, have you ever kissed a girl?

This time, according to the Iowa City Press Citizen, Shatner conned a small town in Iowa into thinking he was filming a new Star Trek movie when instead he was making a reality TV show about, well, gullible small-town Trek fans.
During a Tuesday night town meeting Shatner revealed there was no movie and that the small community had been unwitting stars of a reality series for Spike TV to air early next year. Not everyone in town shares Simon?s sense of betrayal. Many are just as thrilled by the hoax as they were the movie, and many simply enjoyed the experience.

At the town meeting, Shatner gave Riverside $100,000 for being such a good sport and the cast and crew donated $12,000 for the Riverside Elementary School Book Fund. Tuesday night, and at a press conference Wednesday morning, Shatner and producers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick assured townspeople they won't be made fun of in the series.

Shatner and producers said the purpose of the trip to Riverside was to document how a small town would react to a big Hollywood film coming in. They also said they created their own little soap opera where Shatner pretended to be a jerk to his cast and at least one actress, "Max," pretended to be vicious to get residents' reactions.

At one time, Shatner told the Rev. Rich Adam of St. Mary's that he wanted to blow out the church's 100-year-old stain glass windows just to get his reaction. At another time a voice actor pretended to be Sean Connery on a speakerphone, and made outrageous demands.


Trebek, I'll take the rapists for $400
That's therapists, Mr. Connery

You forgot Poland

I suspect Democrats will be using the "you forgot Poland" soundbite rather more times than Republicans in the coming weeks. Here's Warblogging's take on this classic debate moment:

How could John Kerry forget Poland in naming President Bush's "allies" in the invasion and occupation of Iraq? It's not like there are so many you can't keep track.

Note, of course, that Kerry and Bush were talking about countries that actually contributed to the invasion of Iraq. There were only a few of those. America. Britain. Australia. Poland. That's it. Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and others simply offered their empty "moral support" or a few bucks. In exchange for a few bucks more in US foreign aid, generally.

(Image from youforgotpoland.com, naturally)

SpaceShipOne team's philosophy of risk

The Houston Chronicle has an interesting article on SpaceShipOne's shot at the stars. Because they are a small, privately funded team, they are able to make more intelligent decisions about design and risk:

The pilots and engineers in this new race to space embrace danger in a way that NASA can't afford.

With less than $30 million to work with, compared with NASA's $29 billion to develop the shuttle, [team leader Dick Rutan] charted a fast track.... "Our program has been driven by what makes sense in the risks we take, technical as well as financial," said Rutan.

Worst. Name. Ever.

Vivisimo launches their new search engine, Clusty.



Tags:

Sanrio's solution for the sluggish economy

I imagine Japan's METI and Sanrio decided the Hello Kitty debit card would be a great way to bootstrap the global economy.



(Image from Sanrio)

Fierce warrior race strongly backs Democrat

According to Oregon's Willamette Week, John Kerry is the candidate of choice among the most warlike of voters:

Even as John Kerry struggles to establish national-security credentials nationally, an exclusive WW straw poll shows his campaign dominating one skeptical, warlike demographic: Klingons.

The poll, conducted when the DVD release of the Star Trek fan documentary Trekkies 2 attracted Portland's Klingon community to Tower Records on Southeast 102nd Avenue, may spell trouble for President George W. Bush.

According to the poll of eight local Klingons, a whopping 75 percent support the Democratic nominee.

The Klingons also offered advice on how to resolve the election, should it be as close as the 2000 race between Gore and Bush:
"On the home world ... the honorable thing would be for Gore to kill Bush," explained Khraanik (Earth name: Jason Lewis), a 38-year-old from Southeast Portland. "Or the other way around. And then ascend to the head of the High Council."

Gallup: Kerry Wins Debate

Lead story on Gallup:

John Kerry won the debate Thursday night, 53% to 37%, according to a random sample of 615 registered voters who watched the event. Almost half of the viewers said they felt more favorable about the senator because of the debate, and 60% said Kerry expressed himself more clearly than did President Bush.

The article goes into more detail, breaking down results by party and issue. 93% of Kerry supporters thought their man won the debate - no surprise - but among Bush supporters, the number drops to 68% for their candidate.

02 October 2004

Seymour Hersh: Chain of command

Seymour Hersh's new book, Chain of command, just came out. Hersh is the New Yorker writer who broke nearly every major story about US failures in the war on Al Qaeda and also the war in Iraq, including the first published account in the US of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. He's a great writer who methodically collects evidence and links it together into an irrefutable presentation. He made his reputation breaking the My Lai massacre story in 1969, and shows no signs of slowing down.


His track record is, in a word, astonishing. I hope more journalists are inspired by his example.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America

Jon Stewart's Daily Show on Comedy Central does a better job of giving a narrative to current events than any news program. This is on my list of must reads.

It's almost Darwinian - news shows have moved so far from actual news into entertainment, that it was inevitable that entertainment shows would rush in to fill the vacuum and begin covering the news. The Daily Show puts news into perspective in a way that CNN, Fox, and even the New York Times should. Stewart and crew are willing to say that the emperor has no clothes, and he looks silly naked.

Preview of the split-screen VP debate

Just a guess, but Karl Rove is going to make sure the VP debates won't be split-screen.


(Edwards image from Ibsys, Cheney image from Evote)

MSNBC: Bush's lead has vanished

A solid majority of voters concluding that John Kerry outperformed George W. Bush in the first presidential debate on Thursday, the president's lead in the race for the White House has vanished, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll.

The split-screen format did not favor Bush.

http://www.majorityreportradio.com/weblog/Shorty1.jpg


A picture is worth a thousand words. Wonder why people who saw the splitscreen broadcast of the debate didn't favor Bush? This is why.



(Image from Majority Report Radio).

War Bowl - who knew cool could be so disturbing?

Courtesy of MocoLoco:

mosleymeetswilcox_war_bowl_thumb_apr_04.jpg

Bowls made of melted toy soldiers.
War Bowl is actually a series of three bowls made by melting toy soldiers, ninjas and knights. Dimensions are 10cm H x 44cm D. �99 on the Mosley meets Wilcox website. MMW also makes the lifelike Nimbus cloud light and some other truly unique lamps and accessories.

DESIGNER: Steve Mosley, Dominic Wilcox
MANUFACTURER: mosleymeetswilcox.com

High quality split-screen debate video on-line

The Edge is hosting a BitTorrent (client here) of the split-screen CSPAN debate broadcast video (700MB). This video is much higher quality than what any of the news sites are currently serving up.

Some of you probably know there is a presidential debate tonight. Lucky for me I've got an ATI TV Tuner that lets me record straight to divx/mp3 compressed .avi files. I scheduled it to record starting at 8:55pm on CSPAN which is probably going to have least amount of partisan commentary than any other network. I'll be starting a torrent file for the debate and putting it up on some lucky tracker and then handing it out to all the blogs I can find.

I'm doing this because the Democrats are blissfully ignorant of the Republican propoganda machine set to go in motion at 9pm tonight. The Associated Press was caught writing post-debate analysis more than 6 hours before the debate has actually begun. And the Daily Show already mocked all this last night.

In other words, no matter what happens, everyone will think Bush won and all those 5,000 sources will drown out any false statements Bush might have made. So I'm going to help the fact checkers on a large number of blogs (check my sidebar) by giving them all a video to analyze immediately after the debate. This will hopefully prevent the GOP from gaining an upper hand through such propoganda and keep the focus on the facts (which is good for everyone).

01 October 2004

Don't blame me, I voted for the metrosexual

Talking Points caught a major Fox News gaffe today:

This morning on the Fox News website, Fox was running a post-debate story about Kerry with several apparently fabricated quotes meant to disparage the Democratic candidate.
Fox yanked the article and ran a retraction, but not before Talking Points got screenshots. The item had Kerry saying "I'm metrosexual, he's a cowboy."

Fark gives the debate to Kerry

Initially, I saw only the last ten minutes of the debate and thought Kerry was pretty weak. However, I went back and watched the whole thing, and Kerry came across as presidential while Bush just seemed exasperated and wanting to be anywhere else but on stage. As one person said later, "Bush looked like Nixon, but 15 degrees hotter."

Karl Rove is not having a good day today.

Immediately after the debate, all the news sites I checked: Fox, CNN, Reuters, LA Times, Washington Post, and the NY Times, called it a tie or gave it to Kerry by using Kerry's "colossal failure" soundbite in the headline or the lead sentence.

I then turned to Fark. Fark is a website known for three things:

  1. photoshop contests,
  2. beer related newswire stories,
  3. images of breasts.

Based on 2 and 3, I claim it's representative of the "regular guy" vote.

According to Fark posters, Kerry trounced Bush. Here's a link to the discussion, with some of the real-time debate commentary:

  • Bush sounds like he's trying to squirm his way out of a bad drug deal. He's making all those weird facial expressions and hand gestures, his voice is squeaking and he's kinda sweaty.
  • good Lord bush is getting PWNED
  • bush is stuttering, angry... he's gone defensive. he can't hack this. kerry is solid, assertive.
  • Wow, I feel bad for Bush... He has no idea.
  • Bush is getting farking spanked.
    How much you want to bet the Bush camp tries to cancel the next two debates after this one blows up in their face.
And my favorite:
The real tragedy here is that there are two more debates after this ... two more savage beatings. Somebody call the secret service,the president is in danger!

Not silly as in muppets silly ...

Gizmodo has a great take on the Navistar CXT SUV (slogan: putting the consume back in "consumer vehicle.")

The CXT, the new monster pickup from heavy truck maker Navistar.
The new CXT truck is "not just Muppets silly, it's like 'I
can't believe he killed the whole human race,'" kind of silly. The new 21.5-foot truck weighs seven tons and gets about 6 to 10 miles to the gallon. It's essentially a semi-truck scaled back to be a consumer vehicle - but it's still going to cost over $90k.
More details on CNN Money.

This is a feature?

FAA blames failure to conduct routine check on computer shutdown in West

LOS ANGELES: Failure to perform a routine maintenance check caused the shutdown of an air traffic communications system serving a large swath of the West, resulting in several close calls in the skies, the FAA and a union official said Wednesday.
The article continues:
A required 30-day maintenance check on the primary radio and voice communications system was not performed," the agency said. "This system turns off if this check is not performed.

Just brilliant.