NRA vs. Hunters

NathanNewman.org picked up an interesting split forming between the NRA and hunters. Go read.

A Question for Kerry

The Bush campaign said this in an ad back in March:
"The 30-second ad labels Kerry "wrong on defense" and says the Massachusetts senator did not support bills that would have ensured troops had body armor and earned higher combat pay, and that would have given reservists and their families better health care."
Bush is STILL saying this:
"On issue after issue, from funding our troops who are on the battlefield, to involving parents in important decisions of their minor daughters, to supporting faith-based and community organizations that are helping those in need, the senator is out of step with the mainstream values that are so important to our country."
Bush himself said this.

My question is, why doesn't Kerry come out and say that Bush is LYING? I mean, look straight at the camera, use that word, make it a big challenge. Obviously this has not been effectively answered, since Bush still feels free to say this. And obviously this is a huge opening for Kerry to challenge Bush on this issue. BUSH SAID IT HIMSELF YESTERDAY.

What Washington campaign strategery is going on with the Kerry campaign, allowing Bush to get away with repeating that Kerry is against funding our troops? Is it the usual Washington Democrat cowering, because they are afraid that Rush Limbaugh will say bad things about them if they fight back?

Bush personally lied about Kerry when he said that Kerry is against funding our troops in the battlefield. Kerry continues to let him get away with this. This makes Kerry look weak, and Bush look strong. AND IT IMPLIES THAT BUSH IS TELLING THE TRUTH!

Kerry should say Bush is lying and that he will not tolerate Bush lying about THIS. Especially not THIS.

What is Kerry afraid of? That Rush might say something bad about him?

Update - Kerry did say this:
"The value of truth is one of the most central values in America and this administration has violated it", Kerry said in an interview aboard his campaign plane on Friday. "Their values system is distorted and not based on truth."
and this
"We have not stood up and attacked our opponents in personal ways," Kerry said.
And that is my point. The first is said Kerry-style. Haughty. My point is that the particular people that Bush is playing to with his accusation are even MORE turned off to Kerry by this kind of response. Kerry should look straight into the camera and say that Bush is LYING, and lying about supporting the troops is too important to allow the miserable coward to get away with, and he'd better stop it.


Questions at The Left Coaster, Too

The Left Coaster: Will Bush/Cheney Use Terrorism Once Again For Political Gain?:
"So it should be troubling to see that Ted Olson is leaving his job as Bush’s Solicitor General to return to his law practice (the same firm from which he argued Bush’s case to shut down the recount). But note from this Washington Post piece today that both Olson and Miguel Estrada are working at the same firm, and in the Crisis Management team and constitutional law area of the firm. Are they getting ready their arguments for a Supreme Court hearing to suspend the election and seek extraordinary powers for the Executive Branch in a time of national emergency this fall?"
My comment: "Is it that a terrorist attack might happen - or that a fanatical CHRISTIAN is going to be talked into driving a truck full of explosives into the Dem. convention, to save The One Chosen By GOD from the Liberal Evildoers?"

We're ALL wearing tin foil hats, now.

A "See the Forest" Exercise

OK class, here's a classic exercise in seeing the forest -- seeing the big picture and ignoring the distractions. From today's news, Bush snubs NAACP, cites leaders' remarks.

Trees -- distractions:
"President Bush ... said Friday he did so because of harsh statements about him by leaders of the venerable civil rights group."
Forest -- big picture:
"He is the first sitting president since Herbert Hoover not to address the group."
He also refuses to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus.

So, are we going to get distracted and argue about whether the NAACP is mean to the poor guy? Or are we going to ignore the cover story and see what's going on here. And that is that this President considers himself to be the President of The Party. Everyone else can, as Vice President Dick Cheney says, ... well, you know what he says.

And, of course, in ANY story about - or action by - the Bush administration, there are the lies:
"White House officials initially said scheduling conflicts prevented Bush from making the journey to Philadelphia or addressing the conference via satellite, as he did Thursday to the League of United Latin American Citizens convention San Antonio."

Election futures market, trial run

OK, here it is. I am willing to bet five different people $10 that this fall, one of the following will take place:

1. The voting doesn't take place as scheduled in one or more states, or the votes are not counted.

2. Kerry is elected, but is not able to take office as scheduled in January.

3. The election is decided by some sort of borderline-legal fiat (as in 2000).

4. Many in the conservative movement, including some in significant official positions, refuse to accept the legitimacy of President-elect Kerry.

I'll keep lowering the odds every week until I get five takers. (Eventually we'll have to choose a judge for #3 and #4, which might end up being judgment calls.)

Any takers at 1,000-1: my $10 against your $10,000? Easy money, guys!

My definitive bet is here.


Will there be an Election? (Part III)

OK, here come the clarifications and waffling:

My point earlier was not to predict a dire event. What I was saying was that, to begin with, we need to shoot down a raft of trial balloons. We have to get the commitment that McClellan was not willing to make: that we're going to have an election this fall even if there's a terrorist attack. In Israel the elections go ahead regardless, and we should follow their model on this.

Second, we have to get a public concession from everyone that if Kerry is elected, the election is still legitimate -- regardless of the circumstances of his election. The thinking behind David Brooks' column delegitimizing the Spanish election has to be publicly rejected.

Third, the Democrats have to suck up their guts and get the message out that next time, we're going to demand that things be done right. The Brooks Brothers goon squads and the Scalia court cannot be allowed to steal another election.

And my fourth point is just to say that I do indeed believe, based on what happened in 2000 and what I've seen of this administration since then, that the Bush team is capable of anything.

One correspondent offered to bet me $100 that the election would take place as scheduled this fall. Since I had never predicted that it wouldn't -- what I did was to send out a warning and propose preventative action -- his response was not completely appropriate.

But it got me thinking. My feeling is that a 10-1 bet against the election taking place wouldn't be a good one, but that a 100-1 bet probably would be. Perhaps this is a time to start a futures market.

Crooked Timber: At a suitable level of abstraction ...

Crooked Timber: At a suitable level of abstraction ...:
"The big advantage of the "he's implying this without saying it" critique, and the main reason I use I myself so often, is that since he isn't saying it, you can chosse for yourself what you want to claim he's implying."

I think that we should have a Presidential election this year

Note - see also Election futures market, trial run, and Election Futures Market, II

While we're working to win the election, we should also takes steps to make it more likely that we'll have one. There have been lots of trial balloons put up about cancelling an election in the event of terrorism, and lots of suggestions that al Qaeda plans to disrupt the election, and suggestions that al Qaeda wants Kerry to win. Furthermore, even without al Qaeda, the Diebold mess is a disaster waiting to happen, as is the wrongful disenfranchisement of supposed felons in Florida and probably elsewhere.

Democrats should put the Republicans and the media on notice that this time around we will fight just as hard as the Republicans do. We should assemble squads of staffers to go to problem areas to agitate if necessary -- just as the Republicans did in Florida last time. Everyone should know that we will not accept an unfair count this year, and that we are prepared to respond if we don't get one.

This has to go beyond one funky little website. The idea has to circulate widely, and ultimately elected officials and Party leaders will have to be involved. If we allow the election to be stolen again, it will be.

(Be sure to also read Dave Johnson's post immediately below this one: "White House Won't Guarantee Elections in November."

"It was crazy to go ahead with an election a mere three days after the Madrid massacre..... But I do know that reversing course in the wake of a terrorist attack is inexcusable."
(David Brooks, March 16, 2004)

"The government needs to establish guidelines for canceling or rescheduling elections if terrorists strike the United States again, says the chairman of a new federal voting commission. Such guidelines do not currently exist, said DeForest B. Soaries, head of the voting panel."
(AP, June 25, 2004)

"A steady stream of intelligence, including nuggets from militant-linked Web sites, indicates al-Qaida wants to attack the United States to disrupt the upcoming elections, federal officials said Thursday."
(AP, July 9, 2004)

"Osama bin Laden could have made a good living as a political consultant if he did not choose to kill babies instead. The al Qaeda/Ba'ath Party strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan is, at core, a political one. They seek not just to pull Iraq into chaos, but to defeat President Bush as well."
("Terrorists for Kerry", Dick Morris, NY Post, June 5, 2004)

"'While a political resolution to the election might not be quick and might be a brawl, Souter argued that the nation would still accept it,' Kaplan wrote. Souter tried desperately to get Kennedy to vote with the minority, according to the book, but he wouldn't flip. 'He thought the trauma of more recounts, more fighting — more politics — was too much for the country to endure,' Kaplan wrote." (Kennedy had been intimidated specifically by the "Brooks Brothers Riot" of paid Republican staffers which ended the recount in Miami-Dade County; that was the only actual violence that there had been, though a number of Republicans had stated their unwillingness to accept a result which made would put Gore in the Presidency).
(Story: AP/CBS, Sept 10, 2001)

"Not only is the country's leading touch-screen voting system so badly designed that votes can be easily changed, but its manufacturer is run by a die-hard GOP donor who vowed to deliver his state for Bush next year."
(Salon, Sept. 23, 2003)

White House Won't Guarantee Elections in November

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan:
"Q On Ridge's security warnings, can the President today guarantee Americans that no terrorist attack can upset the U.S. elections this November, that they will go ahead as planned?

MR. McCLELLAN: Ann, I don't think anyone can make guarantees. But the full intention is to move forward and hold those elections. I don't know specific information related to election day or any other of the high profile events that we have coming up. What we can guarantee to the American people is that we will continue to take strong steps to make sure that we are doing a better job every day of protecting the homeland and enhancing protective measures in certain areas of the country. And we will continue waging the war on terrorism, on the offensive, to defeat the terrorists. That's what we will continue to do.

These are threats that we need to take seriously, and that's why it's important to keep the American people informed. "

Blog Hero Award - Brad DeLong

A much-coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero Award to Brad DeLong:
"And this whole 'working for the government' shtick.... On my way in, I passed local government at work: three police cars in front of a house, a serious road repair and reconstruction crew, and our local public school. It looked like they were all working hard. And I'm not working for them: they are working for me. "
Good for Brad.

Is that ...? Nah.

Running with the bulls

Destruction of military records enrages White House.

The White House responded furiously when it was found that some of Bush's long-sought military service records had been destroyed. These records would have verified beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bush had completed his military service satisfactorily.

"We will get to the bottom of this if we have to put the whole FBI on the case. Just who destroyed those records? This cannot be an accident -- it had to have been someone who was trying to harm our President during this election year", said Scott McClellan, in an unaccustomed burst of frankness. "While we all know that there never was a real problem, we were counting on those records to lay the issue to rest for good."

In other news, O.J. reports that he's still looking for the real killer.

Pentagon reports that microfilm records of Bush's service were destroyed (July 7, 2004)

"Associated Press Assistant General Counsel Dave Tomlin told me yesterday that AP reporters began trying to get the documents back in February, but hit roadblock after roadblock. Tomlin said the AP has been informed that the microfilm in question does indeed exist. Tomlin said that because paper records can vanish and be tampered with, the microfilm "would erase any questions". (June 25, 2004)

STF'rs ancient and creaky (at least relative to the rest of the blogosphere)?

According to an article on SiliconValley.com, "Teenagers turn Internet blogs into a new social scene where they can hang out, flirt and share their thoughts":

In terms of sheer numbers, the blogosphere is dominated by teens and young adults. According to the research firm Perseus, 52 percent of all bloggers are teenagers, and an additional 40 percent are in their 20s.

I think this is the survey in question: "The Blogging Iceberg - Of 4.12 Million Hosted Weblogs, Most Little Seen, Quickly Abandoned"

Do the math: that means that of us over thirty (and I'm pretty sure that this includes all four of us writing for STF) consist of approximately 8% of the total blogosphere. We're dinosaurs. :)


"political opposition from the Bush administration"

AP has an article entitled "Iraq Insurgency Far Larger Than Thought".


  • this is not a "Jihadist" war
  • the folks fighting it are not foreign to Iraq
  • the primary objection of these folks is to the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq
  • there are a lot more of them (up to 20,000 full and part time fighters) than we've been lead to believe
  • the fighters consist of a much broader cross-section of Iraqi society than Baathists alone
  • the official line from the Bush Administration has nothing to do with reality (but we knew that, didn't we?)

A few excerpts:

The developing intelligence picture of the insurgency contrasts with the commonly stated view in the Bush administration that the fighting is fueled by foreign warriors intent on creating an Islamic state.


Most of the insurgents are fighting for a bigger role in a secular society, not a Taliban-like Islamic state, the military official said. Almost all the guerrillas are Iraqis, even those launching some of the devastating car bombings normally blamed on foreigners — usually al-Zarqawi.

The official said many car bombings bore the "tradecraft" of Saddam's former secret police and were aimed at intimidating Iraq's new security services.

Many in the U.S. intelligence community have been making similar points, but have encountered political opposition from the Bush administration, a State Department official in Washington said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

Civilian analysts generally agreed, saying U.S. and Iraqi officials have long overemphasized the roles of foreign fighters and Muslim extremists.

Such positions support the Bush administration's view that the insurgency is linked to the war on terror. A closer examination paints most insurgents as secular Iraqis angry at the presence of U.S. and other foreign troops.


These is seriously disturbing information. The President and his closest refusing to even acknowledge information provided by the military and intelligence communities about the true nature of the conflict in Iraq, for purely political reasons -- the effect of which is to undermine the conduct of the war (or, it could be argued, a peaceful resolution). You might even say that they have effectively provoked elements of the American government to engage in a "rebellion" of their own! What else can you call it when people are forced to resort to anonymous interviews with the press in order to get their point of view heard? Makes me wonder where this could eventually lead...

--Thomas Leavitt

Ken Lay : Bush's best friend

Enron's Kenneth Lay, just indicted for fraud and conspiracy, was George W. Bush's biggest supporter over the years. I've gathered a lot of stuff about Bush, Lay, and Enron here.

AP, today:

US President George W. Bush walks away from a briefing with the media, refusing to answer questions after he was asked about Enron and the reported indictment of former CEO Kenneth Lay, who was a close adviser and fund-raiser for Bush and his father, earning him the presidential nickname of 'Kenny Boy.'

Who's Ken Lay? Bush barely even knew him.

A video exists of both Bushes at a wild Enron party.

Facsimiles of the Bush-Lay correspondence.

What Lay knows about Bush.

The Financial Times on the Lay indictment.

Forbes: Lay is doomed.

Forbes: Lay fights back.

The Enron people seemed to enjoy burning "Grandma Millie".

Jason Leopold on the "Grandma Millie" tapes.

Much more on Enron and "Grandma Millie".


Rep. Waxman was already on the case in 2001.

In 2002 Waxman was stonewalled when he tried to get information.

Democrats had tried to slow down the deregulatory rush leading to the Enron collapse.

In 2002 the Republicans tried to blame Clinton, of course.

Blaming Clinton II.

Sam Parry's Enron summary.


The Houston Chronicle's collected Enron coverage -- comprehensive and searchable.

Enron Chronology.

Bear Left's collection of Enron Links.

Timing II

As I said before, in politics timing is everything!

Watching CNN, the news of this new "terror threat" followed a new Bush commercial, talking about the terror threat and Bush's magnificent God-like leadership, and INTERRUPTED a story about Edwards' work for injured victims before running for the Senate.

The Bush campaign strategy is becomming clearer and clearer. Ken Lay indicted just as Edwards is chosen. (Don't expect a conviction.) Expect big news during the Democratic convention. And, of course, in October watch your backs.

Bush declares Edwards "unqualified"

No, that's not an "Onion" headline.

Has there ever been a less-qualified President than George W. Bush? He spent a couple of years as the governor of a weak-governor state, he was a silent partner in successful baseball franchise, and he started several business ventures which his father's friends ended up having to bail out. That's his whole record, unless you count giving up booze, dope and whores when he turned forty.

I really don't know much about Coolidge or Harding, but every President after them had had quite an extensive political or administrative career by the time they took office. Bush even makes Reagan look experienced.

The boggling thing is that they had Bush deliver the message himself. If it had been Cheney, people might not have made the connection.


Michael Moore says, "Elect a Green"


last on the list:

Elect a Green

Sometimes when the Democrats suck, they really, really suck. And sometimes, you gotta teach 'em a lesson. And hey, it's not like the Republicans would be overjoyed either. We can crack the two party system.


Michael then goes on to endorse Pat Gray, who is running against Tom Lantos, a conservative, pro-war Democrat in the SF Bay Area that I've heard people of all stripes describe as "horrid", and Bob Kinsey, who took on Republican Marilyn Musgrave (sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment in the House) after Colorado's state Democratic Party organization wrote off the race as unwinnable and appeared likely to not even bother fielding a candidate!*

Moore describes these two races thusly:

"Here are some elections where the Democrats have all but surrendered to their opponents or are equally conservative, leaving you the option of voting your conscience without feeling guilty."

Do you buy that? If not, why - and at exactly what point does this logic become valid (if ever)?

--Thomas Leavitt

* Here's a case of the Democrat's "spoiling" a race, and "splitting" the vote... Kinsey was doing well enough that local Democratic clubs were even inviting him to speak at party events and trying to discourage the state from running a Democratic candidate. So what do they do? Convince a reluctant retread (he lost by 25,000 votes last go around) to run again.


In politics, timing is everything!

Over at Drudge

Headline: Couple have sex on stage during concert ** Warning Graphic Photos**...

Do you think it got any hits?

And no, I WON'T provide a link to Drudge.

Hamilton Burger doesn't like Kerry/Edwards

The legal profession as a whole always bats .500. There are two sides to every legal case, and one side always loses.

The way these statistics worked themselves out, Perry Mason won every single time, and Hamilton Burger never did. (What are the chances of that!)

One imagines that Burger did not like Perry Mason very much. And a lot of corporate lawyers don't like John Edwards, either. Strange, eh?

Perry Mason vs. Hamilton Burger: let's run with it!

Kerry/Edwards vs. all the fat, whining corporate lawyers in the world.

A great big cold greasy overcooked hamiltonburger on a stale bun doused with rancid ketchup sitting out overnight for the cockroaches..... well, maybe I've had a little too much coffee.

Two Wrongs Make a Right

I'm a big "two wrongs make a right" guy. So let me explain.

First of all, Moore is less dishonest than Bush and Cheney themselves are, and much less dishonest than the Republican surrogates who kept the Clinton impeachment going. He's got a few howlers in there (statistics, dates) and a few stretches (Afghan pipeline). But he doesn't have any equivalent of "The Clinton Death List" or "Hitlery the lesbian killed her lover Vince Foster."

And remember -- that stuff wasn't just seen in marginal sources; it percolated up to Safire, the Wall Street Journal, Newt Gingrich, Pat Robertson, et. al. Of those involved, almost no one has been punished or repudiated. The most vicious surrogates (e.g. Ann Coulter, Gary Aldrich) are still well-paid and hard at work. Pat Robertson remains a central Republican figure. And Newt Gingrich, who I think played the biggest single role in the debasing of American political discourse, revolutionized American politics and ended up as Speaker of the House.

To return to Moore: as I've said, Moore's film is impressionistic and insinuating, and does not make a logical, factual argument the way a Chomsky film, for example, would have (and in fact, the ZNET people have already denounced it). But to me this is a good thing. Moore's film reaches people whom wouldn't otherwise have been reached, and whom the Republicans have been flim-flamming for decades. The main reason for the screams of rage you're hearing is the fact that Moore's film has been very effective.

There is such a thing as "prevailing community standards" or "the way the game is played", and Moore's work is comfortably within those standards. These have been so low for so long that almost nothing could really violate them except physical brownshirt attacks on the opposition.

Now let's try another way of making my point: who has standing to protest against Moore's movie? I don't see how any Republican can say anything. During the worst days of Gingrich, when the Republicans used the most abhorrent tactics to gain control of the House and the Senate, no major Republican (except Jeffords) ever stood up and said "This has to stop". Not all of them played the game, but only a single Senator ever publicly opted out.

The same goes for media people who helped the Republican slime operations along, or who sat quietly and watched. That means almost all of them, including the SCL New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN. All of them have relayed Republican smears and lies, usually without ever retracting them, and their protests against Republican dishonesty, inaccuracy, and viciousness have been extraordinary feeble and few.

That leaves the nice, high-minded liberals who've been slamming Moore. Maybe some of them are as good as they think they are. But there's a big pre-defeated anti-populist streak in the Democratic Party, and I think that that's what we're looking at here.

High-mindedness has not worked. Mondale, Dukakis, and Gore all stated their intention of talking sense to America and treating Americans as adults, and they all lost. The impressionistic Boston Harbor / Morning in American / Willie Horton strategy has been triumphant. (Clinton was just a speed-bump, and he gave away half the farm anyway).

The uproar about civility, polarization, and "lies" only started when Democrats started fighting back by playing the game that the Republicans have been playing for ten years or more. It's really too late for the bought, intimidated referees to say anything. And frankly, I think that the high-minded liberals should be ever-so-politely elbowed out of the way.

Only after the defeated Republicans have been forced to renounce their nastiest operatives should we start talking about civility.

(Developed from a comment on Matt Yglesias. 10:42 PDT: Please forget earlier premature postings.)


$10,000 Reward For Factual Errors in F-911?

Maybe soon. CNN.com - The world according to Michael:
"He also hired the former chief of fact checking at the New Yorker magazine to comb the film for inaccuracies. 'There's lots of disagreement with my analysis of these facts or my opinion based on the facts. But,' he insists, 'there is not a single factual error in the movie. I'm thinking of offering a $10,000 reward for anyone that can find a single fact that's wrong.'"
Analysis, opinion - but no factual errors.

Cnn Says Kerry Lies

I just got to the hotel - and I do have a broadband connection!

So I turn on CNN Headline News, and they just said that Kerry lied by saying he waited until today to make up his mind. 6:06pm Boston time.

The Right Guy -- Gone For A Few Days

Kerry picked the right guy.

I'll be gone for three days, to speak at the American Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA) convention in Boston. So I probably won't be posting, unless the hotel has a broadband line in the room. (Kerry is scheduled to speak, too. Maybe that will change...)

I'll post my remarks after I get back so you, too, can know what trial lawyers know!


Go Get Mad

Here's a right-winger's web page saying that Moore's movies is full of lies, Fifty-nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 911, and here is the first in the list of lies:
"Fahrenheit 911 begins on election night 2000. We are first shown the Al Gore rocking on stage with famous musicians and a high-spirited crowd. The conspicuous sign on stage reads "Florida Victory." Moore creates the impression that Gore was celebrating his victory in Florida."
Well, do you know ANYONE who thought this showed Gore "celebrating his victory in Florida?"

Guess what, this guy is a professional. The end of his web page says:
"Dave Kopel is Research Director of the Independence Institute and an NRO columnist."
The Independence Institute is funded by Coors and Koch, AND the guy works for National Review.

So go get mad and learn what the Right is about.

Another Letter-to-the-Editor Complaining About Unions

This is from a a letter-to-the-editor today, titled, How about real world pensions?,
"[ . . . ] I have worked as an electrical engineer for over 40 years and when I retired a year ago it was without any pension and just my 401(k) money that I had saved. I would love to be living now with 85 percent of my salary every month.

The pensions these people get are just called greed."
I thought engineers were supposed to be smart.

HEY BONEHEAD! Instead of complaining about how people in unions have it so much better than other workers, and saying they shouldn't, WHY DIDN'T YOU JOIN A UNION!


Your Tax Dollars Promoting Bush!

I came across this today, while looking for budget documents that will tell me for the amount of interest that we pay on the national debt each year. (They have made this number very hard to find, and now report "net" interest, which subtracts all the interest the government receives from all sources, which makes the impact of Bush's borrowing look less severe.)

Here is the headline at the House Budget Committee's web page. Tell me if you think this is using our tax dollars to POLITICIZE our government, to the benefit on one political party? House Budget Committee: "Yes, America is Better Off Today."

When you click this link, you get this:
Yes, America is Better Off Today
Today – in 2004 – we are better off than we were at the end of 2000.

Homeland Security: Since 2000, we've greatly strengthened our homeland security. Today, America is better prepared to prevent, disrupt, and respond to terrorist attacks than ever before.

  • We've more than doubled funding for Homeland Security since September 11th, 2001.

  • We created the Department of Homeland Security.

  • With the improved resources, we've increased presence at key foreign ports, improved visa and inspection processes, strengthened seaport security, and improved security technology at airports and border crossings.

  • The BioWatch program now protects many large U.S. cities by monitoring the air for biological agents that could be released by terrorists. Additionally, Project BioShield is developing and acquiring more advanced vaccines and treatments for biological agents.

  • Over 500,000 first responders have been trained in weapons of mass destruction awareness and response since September 11th, 2001.

    Defense: Over the past three years, we've made great strides in correcting the defense deficit begun in the early 1990s, and continuing , including:

  • Increasing the Department of Defense annual budget by over $110 billion to prosecute the global war on terrorism and carry out military transformation.

  • Greatly improving military quality of life issues: we've increased basic pay alone by 21 percent. Out of pocket housing expenses for the troops will reduce to zero in 2005.

  • International Terrorists on Defense – Not Offense: In 2000, the Taliban and Saddam were free to aid international terrorism through their despotic regimes.

  • Today, the Taliban no longer rule Afghanistan, and Saddam Hussein no longer rules Iraq. These former sources of international terrorism are under Coalition control.

  • Even Libya – a long-time supporter of terrorism – recently renounced aid to terrorism.

  • Libya is now working in partnership with the United States and United Kingdom to implement a commitment to eliminate all of its ballistic missiles and chemical and nuclear development programs.

    Economy: The economy is growing strongly now in 2004 - the best in 20 years - not on the verge of a recession as in 2000.

  • Real GDP growth is at its highest pace in 20 years; in contrast, over the last 6 months of 2000, real GDP grew at an annual rate of less than 1 percent and even declined 0.5 percent in the third quarter of 2000.

  • Payroll employment is growing strongly now - up over 1.1 million jobs over the past 8 months, and up by 867,000 over the first 4 months of this year. Over the last 4 months of the Clinton Administration, payroll jobs growth was slowing as the economy was entering recession, up only 284 thousand jobs.

  • Manufacturing jobs are increasing now - up 37,000 over the past 3 months. Over the last 3 months of the Clinton Administration, manufacturing payroll employment fell by 120,000 jobs.

  • The unemployment rate is falling now - down 0.7 percentage point from June of last year to April of this year. In contrast, 4 years ago, from January 2000 to January 2001, the unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage points as the economy was on the verge of recession.

  • Housing markets are the strongest in 20 years - and housing values are at record highs.

  • Unemployment insurance claims are falling, recently down to as low as 318,000; 4 years ago, in the last week of 2000, unemployment insurance claims were up to 350,000 and rising toward 400,000 as the economy entered recession.
  • This is entirely a (dishonest) campaign document, posted on a government website, created by a Congressional committee. Someone should go to jail for this.

    Michael Moore One More Time

    I'm on a mission to keep saying this everywhere, even though I realize that I have become a monomaniac. A lot of people still haven't seemed to have gotten the word.

    In the political game as it is played today (and really, during every period) you need to have some way of getting your message out to intuitive gut thinkers who don't pay close attention to facts and logic. You know, the salt of the earth types and the fuckups.

    Michael Moore is able to do that, whereas the Democratic party itself has been pitifully weak in this regard.

    The Republican machine, including its surrogates, has been masterful at this job: this is one of the defining factors of the last 25 years or so of American political life.

    Conservatives have profited enormously from the Republicans' impressionistic propaganda. Whether or not they listen to the Republican surrogates, and whether or not they praise them, conservatives are all implicated with Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and any number of other equally sleazy but less famous characters. (Not to mention the egregious William Safire and George Will -- but that's a different story).

    When conservatives make high-minded statements of outrage about Moore, unless they can point to a track record of consistent rejection of the comparable Republican flaks, they show themselves to be partisans pure and simple, and they discredit themselves -- except as more or less effective political operatives.

    "Two wrongs doesn't make a right", they say. Yes it does, in a competitive sport. Both sides get to play by the same rules. If reaching in or pushing off or palming the ball or travelling or standing in the lane is allowed for one team, it has to be allowed for the other.

    Michael Moore's film is impressionistic, propagandistic, polemical, and not really fair. It is NOT especially dishonest or inaccurate. His film should be very effective in convincing a lot of ill-informed whim voters.

    I.e., voters the Republicans thought they owned.

    Versions of this rant were posted in the comments on Matt Yglesias and Kevin Drum.


    Pandagon: "Just Sickening"

    Ezra writes about a new Bush ad, titled, "Yakuza." Go see it. Ezra writes,
    To spend 30 seconds bashing Kerry's book The New War because it doesn't mention bin-Laden or Al-Qaeda without admitting that it was written in 1997 and was about organized crime is just absurd. It's like criticizing a book on obcenity from 1998 for ignoring Janet Jackson who, as we know, bared her breast in 2004.
    The background is that Kerry had pointed out that back in 1997 he had referred in his book to terrorism as a major problem. He did, it's in the book. Also Kerry did refer to Arafat as a "statesman" -- after he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994..

    Middle-Class Estate Tax is 100%

    This story in today's NYTimes got me thinking. As Bills Mount, Debts on Homes Rise for Elderly:
    "As a result, the cushion that could provide financial security for older people -- their homes -- is no longer so secure. People reaching retirement age are now less likely to own their homes free and clear than their predecessors, according to an analysis of government housing and Census data."
    So the low interests rates old people receive on their savings have forced them to take out reverse mortgages for money to live, meaning they've handed their homes to the banks.

    Meanwhile there is huge prescription drug, medical bill and nursing home tax.
    Why is this happening, given that over all the elderly are financially better off today than in any previous generation? In various consumer surveys and bankruptcy studies, heavy health care expenses are consistently cited. "It's always medical bills - and credit cards to pay for medical bills," said Barbara May, a consumer bankruptcy lawyer in Arden Hills, Minn., and a board member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

    She described one of her current cases, involving an elderly couple who have amassed $44,000 in credit card debt largely for medications to treat heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, among other ailments. Ms. May described the couple's adult son weeping in her office.
    And if you have a parent who has been through this, you really know what I am talking about. If you end up in a nursing home your assets are taxed at 100% -- every penny you ever saved, and your house, and everything else goes away to pay the nursing home.

    These add up to huge - maybe 100% - taxes on the elderly. But the government is not collecting these taxes. These taxes go to the banking or drug or nursing home corporations.

    Union Bosses

    This letter was in yesterday's San Jose Mercury News:
    The power of big unions

    Thanks for insightful reporting into abuses of the California prison guard union. For all those who bemoan the corruption of "big business," let's remember there is just as much corruption in "big union." For every Enron, there is a California prison guard union. For every Republican in the pocket of some capitalist fat cat, there's a Democrat beholden to a union boss.
    I sent a letter in response:

    Scott Abramson complains (Saturday, July 3) about "big union" corruption. He writes, "For every Republican in the pocket of some capitalist fat cat, there's a Democrat beholden to a union boss."

    Let me explain the difference. The result of Republican politicians being in the pocket of corporate fat cats has been that working people LOSE their pensions and health care. The results of Democrat politicians being beholden to unions has been that millions of people GET pensions, and health care, and raises, and weekends, and overtime pay, and vacations, etc.


    Dave Johnson
    Let's hope they publish my letter.

    A Simple Question

    I have a simple question, probably get me in a lot of trouble.

    Bush Extols American 'Values' in West Virginia:
    "Bush described the United States as 'the world's foremost champion of liberty' and said 'terrorists' cannot be negotiated with."
    Why not?

    And what is the definition of a "terrorist," anyway?

    OK, two questions. Both cause a lot of trouble. Never ask questions. 4th of July.