Thursday, September 30, 2004

The First Debate

If Americans who tuned into last night's presidential debate were waiting for one of the candidates to catch the other in a fatal error, or leave him stammering, the event was obviously a draw. But if the question was whether Senator John Kerry would appear presidential, whether he could present his positions clearly and succinctly and keep President Bush on the defensive when it came to the critical issue of Iraq, Mr. Kerry delivered the goods.

George W. Bush is famous for fierce discipline when it comes to sticking to a carefully honed, simple message. Last night he reiterated this campaign message once again - that "the world is safer without Saddam Hussein" and that things are, on the whole, going well in Iraq. The confidence with which Mr. Bush has kept hammering home those points has clearly had an effect in the polls, encouraging wavering voters to believe that the president is the one who can best lead the country out of the morass he created.

But last night Mr. Bush sounded less convincing when he had to make his case in the face of Mr. Kerry's withering criticism, particularly his repeated insistence that the invasion had diverted attention from the true center of the war on terror in Afghanistan.

Mr. Kerry found the most effective line of argument when he told the audience that "Iraq was not even close to the center of the war on terror" and that the president had "rushed the war in Iraq without a plan to win the peace." It is the strongest and most sensible critique of the administration's actions. Of course, it left Mr. Kerry open to rejoinders by Mr. Bush that Mr. Kerry had sounded far more warlike about Iraq in his pre-campaign persona. That's a fair comment, and one the senator simply has to live with in this campaign. "As the politics changed, his position changed," Mr. Bush said.

But when Mr. Bush jabbed at the senator with a reminder about his infamous comment on voting for a war appropriation before he voted against it, Mr. Kerry had finally found an effective answer. While saying he had made a mistake in the way he had expressed himself, the senator added: "But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?"

Both men made errors that appeared to be mainly a matter of misspeaking under the pressure of the moment. But Mr. Kerry scored an important point when the president made a more significant slip and talked about the need to go to war because "the enemy attacked us." The person who sent planes smashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Mr. Kerry reminded the audience, was Osama bin Laden, who was operating from Afghanistan, not Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush, whose body and facial language sometimes seemed downright petulant, insisted, again and again, that by criticizing the way the war is being run, Mr. Kerry was sending "mixed signals" that threatened the success of the effort.

Before last night's debate, we worried that the long list of rules insisted on by both camps would create a stilted exchange of packaged sound bites. But this campaign was starved for real discussion and substance. Even a format controlled by handlers and spin doctors seemed like a breath of fresh air.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Some Men Are Changed By History... Others Make It

Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry

Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry is a feature length documentary about character and moral leadership during a time of national crisis. Loosely based on the best-selling book Tour of Duty by Douglas Brinkley, Going Upriver examines the story of John Kerry and the key events that made him a national figure and the man he is today. The film places particular emphasis on his bravery during the Vietnam War and his courageous opposition to the war upon his return.

The film traces Kerry’s early life as a young man who chooses to enlist in the Navy and to go to Vietnam. The film reveals intimate, first person accounts of Kerry’s war service through his own private letters, his eloquent journal, and the vivid memories of the men who served at his side. When Kerry came home disillusioned by the war, he and his fellow Vietnam Veterans challenged Congress and the Nixon administration. As Kerry became a nationally known anti-war activist, the Nixon White House plotted to discredit his leadership, but significantly could find “nothing on him,” as Colson reveals via Watergate tapes. Despite Nixon’s attempt to undermine John Kerry’s political career during his 1972 unsuccessful run for US Congress, Kerry persevered, eventually winning election to the Senate and receiving the Democratic nomination for president in 2004.

Going Upriver director George Butler (best known for his highly acclaimed films Pumping Iron, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition) first realized Kerry’s importance to his generation and began documenting his journey in photographs in 1969, covering Kerry's leadership of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), his early political campaigns, as well as intimate moments of his personal life. The film weaves together Butler’s extraordinary photographs with archival film, interviews with Kerry’s closest associates, and more contemporary images of the Senator at home and abroad.

As a Vietnam War hero and anti-war activist, Kerry’s story is at the center of a defining era in American history. More than a biography of John Kerry, Going Upriver is the story of an American generation that came of age in the tumultuous sixties and that has now come to national leadership at the beginning of a new century -- when issues of war and morality once again hold center stage.

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Effect of the War in Iraq On America's Security

Today Senator Ted Kennedy delievered a speech at GW University on the "effect of the war in Iraq on U.S. security. Here are his closing remarks:

"You can't pack all these reasons why America is not safer into a 30-second television response ad or a news story or an editorial. But as anyone who cares about the issue can quickly learn, our President has utterly no credibility when he keeps telling us that America and the world are safer because he went to war in Iraq and rid us of Saddam.

President Bush's record on Iraq is clearly costing American lives and endangering America in the world. Our President won't change, or even admit how wrong he's been and still is. Despite the long line of mistakes and blunders and outright deception, there has been no accountability. As election day draws closer, the buck is circling more and more closely over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Only a new President can right the extraordinary wrongs of the Bush Administration on our foreign policy and our national security.

On November 2nd, the American people will decide whether or not they still have confidence in this President's leadership. When we ask ourselves the fundamental question whether President Bush has made us safer, there can be only one answer: no, he has not. That's why America needs new leadership.

We could have been, and we should have been, much safer than we are today. We cannot afford to stay this very dangerous course. This election cannot come too soon. As I've said before, the only thing America has to fear is four more years of George Bush."

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Kerry Ad Labels Bush Politics 'Despicable'

Presidential candidate John Kerry — responding to a Republican group's ad that portrays the senator as soft on terrorism — accused President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney of "despicable politics" in a new commercial that the Democrat's campaign rolled out Saturday.

Kerry's ad claims that the Republican ticket is "using the appalling and divisive strategy of playing politics with the war on terror, a strategy that undermines the efforts to combat terrorists in America and puts George Bush's own ambition ahead of the national good."

The ad responds to one running in Iowa and Wisconsin by Progress for America Voter Fund, an affiliate of a group created by longtime Republican consultant and former Bush aide Tony Feather. The fund's ad shows Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and references terrorist attacks in Russia, Spain and the United States. "Would you trust Kerry against these fanatic killers?" the ad asks.

Kerry's campaign called the fund "a right-wing front group doing Bush's dirty work." Kerry's campaign also released one statement from former Sen. Max Cleland calling on Bush to condemn the "un-American" ad and another from former Sen. Bob Kerrey vouching for Kerry's "commitment to protecting America and strengthening our intelligence."

Friday, September 24, 2004

Kerry Scores First Two Iowa Votes!

Kerry Picks Up 2 Votes in Iowa Balloting

By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer

DES MOINES, Iowa - Presidential candidate John Kerry was a double winner Thursday when two Iowans — both young Democratic Party activists — cast the state's first votes of the 2004 election.

Andy and Jana Heiting-Doane, both 22, were at the doors of the Polk County election office when it opened at 8 a.m. They filled out two absentee ballots, later telling reporters they had voted for Kerry, as part of an event carefully choreographed by the Iowa Democratic Party.
Under Iowa law, the state's 99 county auditors were required to make absentee ballots available Thursday. Requests for absentee ballots have been flowing in all summer. By Monday, Polk County election officials had received 32,600 requests for absentee ballots, most coming from Democrats. In Linn County — the second largest — there were 17,000 absentee requests.
Those totals are near the absentee vote in the 2000 election, with more than a month left before the election.

Thirty-two states allow for some form of early voting. Both the GOP and the Democratic Party have urged prospective voters to cast ballots early rather than wait until Nov. 2, not wanting any supporters to miss out because of unforeseen circumstances or Election Day lethargy.
In Iowa in 2000, early voting paid off for Democratic candidate Al Gore. While Republican candidate George W. Bush received more votes on the day of the election, Gore earned more in early voting and won Iowa by just over 4,000 votes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Doctor Supporting Kerry is Not "Man Bites Dog"

The blogosphere has been closely following the on line debate I'm involved in over at Point of Law:

To a considerable degree, many find it curious that a lawyer is backing Bush and a doctor is backing Kerry. As I hope to show in the debate, there is nothing strange about a doctor supporting Kerry as Kerry's plans are better for the medical profession on many issues, including malpractice reform.

The following entry gives an example of how much attention is being paid to this debate:

Welcome debate readers
Posted by Walter Olson

Our highly illuminating debate between Dr. Ron Chusid of Doctors for Kerry and our own Ted Frank has now gone for five energetic rounds (Chusid/ Frank/ Chusid/ Frank/ Chusid) with more to come. We're happy to say it's also attracted links, praise and many visitors from some of the most visible sites in the blogosphere, especially its medical and legal sectors. Among them: National Review Online's "The Corner", Eugene Volokh, Steve Bainbridge, Legal Affairs "Debate Club" (see left column), MedPundit (and again), KevinMD, GruntDoc, the official (comments) and unofficial Kerry for President blogs, and of course Overlawyered. Our thanks to everyone who's linked. If you'd like to read more about the medical liability system, try our page on Medicine and the Law, or Overlawyered's (in three series: most recent, earlier, earliest). And if you're interested in electoral politics, Overlawyered has a page on that too.

Posted at 12:25 AM | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Right's Double Standard On The Press

CBS was misled, and admitted their mistake. Not that it justifies CBS's mistake, but their underlying story was accurate. Witnesses verify that Killian made these statements, even if this was not put in writing. Even if Killian's statements are excluded along with the memos from consideration, the case against Bush remains strong.

The accusations of the Swift Boat Vets for Character Assasination had far more holes in them, as they contradicted the testimony of eye witnesses, the military record, and even their own prior statements. Despite this, the right wing media reported them as fact.

CBS admitted their mistake, but we are once again seeing a double standard from the right.

Fox News and the rest of the right wing media regularly distorts the news, and there is no doubt this is intentional. Right wing beliefs are regularly reported as fact, and the John Kerry they report is quite different from the real one.

Surveys verify that viewers of Fox News are much more likely to believe that Saddam had WMD and ties to al Qaeda. Or as Al Franken put it, "the more you watch Fox, the dumber you get."

Forged memos aren't even the first incidence of faked hard evidence. We've seen the faked pictures of Kerry next to Jane Fonda. Where was the outrange on the right in response to this?
We've seen both the Swift Boat Vets for Character Assasination and the Bush campaign itself take video clips and alter them to make a point (with Kerry's Vietnam testimony and interview with Chris Matthews respectively).

CBS made a mistake. I'm far more worried about all the distortions of news which are intentional.

Four More Wars?

Bush has been shot down in his claims that his invasion of Iraq was justified based upon WMD or terrorism. He still claims that John Kerry voted for his war, despite Bush's own statements at the time that the vote did not mean that war was inevitable, but that American stands together. Kerry has made it clear that there is a distinction between receiving authorization to use force if necessary and recklessly using that authorization after the inspectors were back in and military force was no longer necessary.

With his justification for the war disputed, and not being able to blame going to war on John Kerry, Bush is left scrambling for reasons to justify his Iraq policy. Today he is left with claims that the war was justified because Saddam was a brutal dictator. Bush is attacking Kerry for being unwilling to have removed this brutal dictator--contradicting his own claims that Kerry supported him on the war.

It is a hypothetical question as to whether Saddam would still be in power. Kerry warned about Saddam in the past, but would have used methods to contain Saddam without invading if at all possible. If necessary to invade, he would not have done so in the reckless manner as George Bush did. He certainly would not have allowed Saddam to distract him from the greater threat from al Qaeda.

When George Bush makes his claims that under John Kerry Saddam would still be in power, I note this may be true (assuming he could be contained) but instead Bin Laden would not be. The choices Bush made tell a lot about his true dedication to the war on terror.

With the debates coming up, I have one further question for George Bush, and he may even use a life line to answer:

President Bush, if invading Iraq was justified solely because Iraq under Saddam was a brutal dictatorship, how many more dictatorships do you plan to attack during your second term?

We do not dispute that Saddam deserved to be removed from power. This alone does not justify unilateral military action.

Does Four More Years really mean Four More Wars?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The Real Story Remains: Where Was George?

It is amazing how the right wing noise machine has managed to cover up the real news about George Bush's National Guard service by putting all the attention on one small aspec. We see Fox News ranting about "memogate" and pretending that this is the real story. At present it is still not known if the Killian memos were real or something created based upon what he said verbally, but there is a lot that we do know.

Regardless of the validity of these particular papers, we do know that the content was an accurate representation of what Killian was saying at the time. This would not excuse the forgery of documents (if this occured), but the questions raised about George Bush remain.

We have two different issues here. One is whether CBS was conned, and it is undeniable that if they were this would be an interesting story. Even so, it would represent one incident, and not a total reflection upon CBS. Even if their story is wrong, this is trivial compared to the falsehoods spread by outlets such as Fox News on a nightly basis. More importantly, if CBS was conned, the result would be to reduce the risk of this happening in the future. Fox News will continue its Pravda imitation and continue to present their propaganda for the Bush Administration disguised as news.

The more important story remains that of George Bush's character. The story was present before the Killian memos and does not depend upon them. Other journalists have come to similar conclusions using entirely different sources. Bush has still not produced any evidence to the contrary.

For those interested in this story, a collection of articles is present at the Kerry 2004 Reference Library at:

Bush Wrong for America, Right for al Qaeda?

John Edwards made the following statement in response to claims by Dennis Hastert (repeating claims made by other Republicans in the past) that al Qaeda wants John Kerry to be President:

“One clear sign of weakness and failed leadership is when a politician stoops to
the politics of fear. In the last twenty-four hours Dennis Hastert, the Speaker
of the House, has joined the fear mongering choir. Last night, he said something
to the effect that Al Qaeda wants John Kerry to be President of the United
States. Let me say this in the simplest possible terms: when John Kerry is
President of the United States, we will find Al Qaeda where they are and crush
them before they can do damage to the American people."

It would not be in good taste for Edwards or Kerry to bring this up, as we don't stoop to their level, but if al Qaeda has any preferences, Bush is their man. Bush gave Bin Laden exactly what he wanted in his response to 9/11.

Bush gave Bin Laden plenty of time to get out of Afganistan, or go into hiding, before attacking. Bush never gave the amount of attention to capturing Bin Laden as he did to Saddam. Bush left Afganistan before the job was done. Attacking Iraq (which would be like FDR attacking Brazil after Peal Harbor) help al Qaeda to both increase their own influence in Iraq, and improved their recuritment throughout the Arab World. Bush's statements about al Qaeda having influence in Iraq were false before the war, but are certainly true today, thanks to his own actions.

While Cheney is correct that al Qaeda doesn't care about our "sensitive side" (to repeat his misquotation of Kerry), we do need to remain sensitive to how the people feel in moderate Arab countries. Due to the invasion of Iraq we are now losing the battle for hearts and minds in potential allies in the Arab world such as Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan.

While Bush's actions have benefited Bin Laden, I still don't believe it is fair to assume that Bin Laden is backing Bush for reelection. Journalists who have covered bin Laden's statements report that he hates all of America equally and does not differentiate between political parties. That is probalby the most realistic view.

Debate on Malpractice Reform

From Point of Law:
A Chance to State our Point of View

Next week: Election 2004
Posted by James R. Copland

Next week, will have an Election 2004 special as its third featured discussion. In this space, we've certainly criticized the Dems for their trial lawyer ties, especially those of former personal injury lawyer John Edwards (see here, here, here, here, and many others). But we're concerned about policies, not politics, and we certainly want to hold the GOP accountable, too (see here).

For next week's discussion, we're excited to host two contributors who are very well-versed in the topic of tort reform but come down on the opposite sides of the political fence. Dr. Ron Chusid, founder of Doctors for Kerry, finds much wanting in our status quo legal system, but argues that the Democratic ticket is more likely than the Republicans to enact meaningful tort reform (in the vein of Nixon-to-China, Clinton-welfare-reform, perhaps?). Our own Ted Frank will make the GOP's case. I expect that we'll actually see a lot of common ground here, so this forum should offer the opportunity to see beneath the political posturing and get some real insights. Bookmark us here, so you can join the discussion next week as it develops!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Tell the World: Bush Distorted The Truth

Today John Kerry released a statement responding to George Bush's remarks by saying, "Today, we heard more of the same distortions from the President about the situation in Iraq." I wish this was a verbal, televised comment rather than a written statement, but I am glad he pointed out that George Bush is distorting the truth.

Just as the Republicans keep repeating their false claim that Kerry flip-flops, Kerry and our surrogates need to keep repeating the fact that George Bush is distorting the truth. To some degree this could sound like whining, such as Bob Dole's request to quite lying about his record. However, since distortions of the truth are the basis of Bush's campaign this is unavoidable. The voters must also be made to realize that all the stories they are hearing about John Kerry are simply not true. Without hearing denials, many are accepting the lies as fact.

Kerry needs to keep hammering Bush for distorting the truth--and then give the truth. Perhaps a better phrase than distorting the truth can be substituted, but however it is phrased I'd repeat this over and over. Here are just a handful of examples where this can be done.

As John Kerry said today, George Bush is distorting the truth about the situation in Iraq, and then he told what is really going on.

George Bush distorted the truth for his reasons for going into Iraq--there was no WMD and we were not at an imminent risk. Going to war unnecessarily diverted funds Kerry would have used for both the real war on terrorism and for solving our problems at home.

George Bush distorted the truth about Kerry's vote on authorizing force in Iraq. Kerry voted to authorize force as a last resort so that George Bush could go back to the UN and force Saddam to allow the inspectors back in. Once the inspectors were back, there was no longer a need to invade as Bush did. John Kerry thought George Bush needed to carry a big stick, but didn't think he was so foolish to use it when no longer needed. Before the vote, George Bush himself stated that "approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable." It means that "America speaks with one voice."

George Bush distorted the truth on John Kerry's vote for the $87 billion dollars for the Iraq war. This was a dispute over how the money would be funded, not a disagreement over supporting the troops. Kerry approved of the $87 billion initially, but voted against the appropriation when the manner of funding it changed. George Bush threatened to veto this same bill if the manner of funding it changed--would this mean he did not support the troops? Point out that John Kerry supports the troops, but George Bush is the one who has been cutting their benefits.

George Bush distorted the truth when he said John Kerry's health care program would be a government take over. Kerry's plan gives tax benefits to business--something George Bush usually backs. There is no new government bureaucracy in Kerry's plan.

George Bush distorted the truth when he says his plan will put doctors and nurses in charge of medical decisions instead of people in government. It is George Bush who is interfering with stem cell research which could provide cures for problems such as Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, and diabetes It is George Bush who has tried to force seniors into Medicare HMO's where they (and their doctors) would have their decisions second guessed by HMO employees. Having medical decisions made by HMO's is no better than having decisions made by government. John Kerry opposes both.

You get the idea. Combine the point that Bush is distorting the truth with Kerry's actual beliefs.

Monday, September 13, 2004



As Ralph Nader campaigns in swing state after swing state, a large group of prominent endorsers from Nader 2000 is calling for support for Kerry in those states in order to oust Bush.
Four years ago this month, Nader convened news conferences in several cities to unveil his personally-selected "Nader 2000 Citizens Committee" of leading supporters. Today (Sept. 14), more than 70 members of Nader's 2000 committee joined in issuing a statement that urges "support for Kerry/Edwards in all swing states" because "removing George W. Bush from office should be the top priority in the 2004 presidential election."

Signers of the statement include Noam Chomsky, Ben Cohen, Phil Donahue, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jim Hightower, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Cornel West and Howard Zinn. The statement and a current list of signers can be viewed at:
The statement and list will be widely circulated, especially via the Internet, to reach as many progressive or disaffected voters in swing states as possible between now and Election Day. This effort is not coordinated in any way with the Kerry Campaign or the Democratic Party.

The statement reads as follows:

Nader 2000 Leaders United To Defeat Bush

We, the undersigned, were selected by Ralph Nader to be members of his 113-person national "Nader 2000 Citizens Committee." This year, we urge support for Kerry/Edwards in all "swing states," even while we strongly disagree with Kerry's policies on Iraq and other issues. For people seeking progressive social change in the United States, removing George W. Bush from office should be the top priority in the 2004 presidential election. Progressive votes for John Kerry in swing states may prove decisive in attaining this vital goal.

David Barsamian, Author, Radio Interviewer
Juliette Beck, California Citizens for Fair Trade
Herbert Bernstein, Professor of Physics at Hampshire College
Thomas Berry, Author, "Dream of the Earth"
Wendell Berry, Farmer and Writer
Norman Birnbaum, Author and Educator
Grace Lee Boggs, Detroit Activist and Writer
Blase Bonpane, Office of the Americas
Theresa Bonpane, Office of the Americas
Eric Brakken, Former Staffer United Students Against Sweatshops
Ira Byock, Palliative Care Physician, Author of "Dying Well"
Edgar Cahn, Founder of Time Banking
John Cavanagh, Director of Institute for Policy Studies
Noam Chomsky, Author and Professor at MIT
Steve Cobble, Strategist, Jackson '88, Nader '00, Kucinich '04
Ben Cohen, Co-founder of Ben & Jerry's
Peter Coyote, Actor and Writer
Ronnie Cummins, Director of Organic Consumers Association
Herman Daly, Professor at University of Maryland
Iris DeMent, Musician/Songwriter
Phil Donahue, Former Talk Show Host
Mark Dowie, Journalist, Former Editor/Publisher of Mother Jones
Barbara Dudley, Former President, Greenpeace and National Lawyers Guild
Troy Duster, Professor at New York University
Ronnie Dugger, Co-founder of Alliance for Democracy
Barbara Ehrenreich, Political Essayist and Social Critic
Richard Falk, Center of International Studies, Princeton University
Jim Goodman, Organic Dairy Farmer
Rebecca Goodman, Organic Dairy Farmer
Doris (Granny D) Haddock, Senate Candidate, Reform Activist
Paul Hawken, Author, Economist
Randy Hayes, Founder, Rainforest Action Network and Director of Sustainability, City of Oakland
Jim Hightower, Author and Commentator
Wes Jackson, The Land Institute
David Kairys, Law Professor at Temple University and Author
Ynestra King, Ecofeminist Writer/Activist
John Kinsman, Family Farm Defenders
Philip M. Klasky, Co-director, Bay Area Nuclear Waste Coalition
David Korten, Author of "When Corporations Rule the World"
Frances Korten, Director of Positive Futures Network
Saul Landau, California State Polytechnic University
Rabbi Michael Lerner, The Tikkun Community
Theodore Lowi, Political Scientist, Author
Howard Lyman, Former Rancher, Vegetarian Activist
Joanna Macy, Author and Scholar
Jerry Mander, President of International Forum on Globalization
Manning Marable, Institute for Research in African American Studies, Columbia
Redwood Mary, Plight of the Redwoods Campaign
Robert McChesney, Professor University of Illinois
Carolyn Merchant, UC Berkeley Professor of Environmental History
Peter Montague, Environmental Research Foundation
Gus Newport, Former Mayor of Berkeley, California
Ruth Ozeki, Novelist
Frances Fox Piven, City University of New York
Bonnie Raitt, Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter
Sheldon Rampton, Co-author of "Banana Republicans"
Marcus Raskin, Author
Tim Robbins
Vicki Robin, New Road Map Foundation
Susan Sarandon, Actor and Activist
John Schaeffer, Founder of Real Goods Trading Company
Michelle Shocked, Musician
John Stauber, Co-author of "Banana Republicans"
Andrew Strauss, Professor at Widener University School of Law
Charlotte Talberth, Max and Anna Levinson Foundation
Meredith Tax, Writer and Human Rights Activist
Studs Terkel, Author, Oral Historian
Tom Tomorrow, Cartoonist
Sarah van Gelder, Editor of YES! Magazine
Eddie Vedder, Musician, Pearl Jam
Harvey Wasserman, Author of "Harvey Wasserman's History of the US"
Cornel West, Professor, Author of "Democracy Matters"
Sheldon Wolin, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University
Howard Zinn, Historian and Author

Check out the entire list -

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Bush Bonce Already Evaporating

Bush's lead in the Newsweek poll, which showed a greater bounce than most polls, has dropped considerably in the last week. While most polls showed Bush up by 2-4 percent after four days of vicious lies about Kerry's positions at the Republican National Convention, Newsweek showed Bush with an eleven point lead. It was noted that the poll did contian a larger number of Republicans than were present in the general population, giving Bush a considerable edge.

This week Bush's lead is decreased to five points in a two way race and six points in a three way race. This remains a greater lead than most polls are showing, but the movement over the last week does sound very significant.

Keep in mind when reading any national polls that the election is really fifty separate elections, and Bush's gains were primarily in states that were already safely going for him. Kerry has concentrated on the battle ground states, which paid off with the Zogby battlegorund survey showing Kerry ahead in the electoral college even when behind in the overall popular vote.

This week's results of the Newsweek poll are at:

Web Site Refutes Bush Lies on Kerry's Iraq Positions

A new web site summarizes John Kerry's statements and votes regarding Iraq to refute the Bush claims that Kerry has changed his position or has not voted to support the troops. The site is at:

The site contains quotes from John Kerry which explain why he voted to grant the President authorization to use force as a last resort--which is quite different from voting to go to war. Other quoted statements show how Kerry would have handled the situation quite differently.

The quotes show that Kerry has been consistent in his position on Iraq in contrast to the claims for the Bush campaign. Of course Bush is forced to run a campaign based upon distorting Kerry's positions as he cannot run on his own failed record.

The site also looks at the vote for funding the war, refuting the charges that Kerry voted against weapons systems or has failed to support the troops . I find this falso charge from the Bush camapign particularly ironic considering that it is George Bush who has repeatedly supported cut backs in support for the troops and veterans.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Bush Again Outed as Chickenhawk

W for war but eager
to avoid it, prof recalls


President Bush' former Harvard Business School prof says his ex-student supported the Vietnam War but wanted somebody else to fight it.

Yoshi Tsurumi said yesterday that Bush told him his father's connections got him into the Texas Air National Guard. "But what really disturbed me is that he said he was for the Vietnam War," said Tsurumi, who has also taught at Baruch College and the City University of New York. "I said, 'George, that's hypocrisy. You won't fight a war that you support but you expect other people to fight it for you.' He just smirked."

Tsurumi, who crossed paths with Bush in the early 1970s when the future President was studying for his MBA, previously has criticized Bush's economic policies and described him as a mediocre student who "believed people were poor because they were lazy."

But Tsurumi's new volley comes as Bush has been battling allegations he got preferential treatment at the height of the divisive Vietnam War. Bush, according to Tsurumi, "had no sense of guilt" about getting into the Guard while others wound up fighting in Vietnam.

"He was very casual about it," the professor said. "I said, 'Lucky you, how did you manage it?' He said, 'My dad had a good friend who put me at the head of the waiting list.'"

The White House declined to comment on Tsurumi's recollections, but Bush has denied that his father, who was a congressman at the time, pulled strings to get him a much-sought-after berth in the Guard.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A Disgraceful Campaign Speech

A Disgraceful Campaign Speech
Published: September 9, 2004

There are some things a presidential campaign should steer clear of, through innate good taste, prudence or just a sensible fear of a voter backlash. We'd have thought that both the Kerry and Bush camps would instinctively know that it would be appalling to suggest that terrorists were rooting for one side or another in this race. But Vice President Dick Cheney seemed to breach that unspoken barrier this week in Des Moines. If John Kerry was elected president, Mr. Cheney warned the crowd, "the danger is that we'll get hit again." In a long, rather rambling statement, he said the United States might then fall back into a "pre-9/11 mind-set" that "these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts."

At the very best, Mr. Cheney was speaking loosely and carelessly about the area in this campaign that deserves the most careful and serious discussion. It sounds to us more likely that he stepped across a line that the Bush campaign team had flirted with throughout its convention, telling his audience that re-electing the president would be the only way to stay safe from another attack.

There is a danger that we'll be hit again no matter who is elected president this November, as President Bush himself has said on many occasions. The danger might be a bit less if the current administration had chosen to spend less on tax cuts for the wealthy and more on protecting our ports, securing nuclear materials in Russia and establishing an enforceable immigration policy that would keep better track of people who enter the country from abroad.

Immigration and homeland security strategies are policy fights, fair game for a political campaign. What's totally unacceptable is to tell the American people that the mere act of voting for your opponent opens the door to a terrorist attack. For Mr. Cheney to suggest that is flat wrong. There was a time in this country when elected officials knew how to separate the position from the person. The American people, we're sure, would like to return to it.

Is the News Media Finally Doing Its Job?

I've felt that the Bush years have beenmuch like the Nixon years with one important difference. During the Nixon years we had the news media actively work to expose Nixon, until he was driven from office. During the Bush years, the media has been acting more like Pravda than a real news media.

Dan Rather is finally remembering how he did hiis job during the Nixon years. (For those too young to remember, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw were the White House correspondents for CBS and NBC, with CBS being the major player in television news.)

Dan Rather and CBS are finally dong some investigations into Bush's background:

CBS showed how Bush did receive preferential treatment in getting into the National Guard:
"I would describe it as preferential treatment. There were hundreds of names on the list of people wanting to get into the Air National Guard or the Army National Guard," says Barnes. "I think that would have been a preference to anybody that didn't want to go to Vietnam or didn’t want to leave. We had a lot of young men that left and went to Canada in the '60s and fled this country. But those that could get in the Reserves, or those that could get in the National Guard - chances are they would not have to go to Vietnam."

This is the first time Barnes has told his story publicly, but for years, the president has been hounded by questions about how he got in the National Guard.

"Any allegation that my dad asked for special favors is simply not true," said Mr. Bush. "And the former president of the United States has said that he in no way, shape or form helped me get into the National Guard. I didn't ask anyone to help me get into the Guard either."

CBS also obtained documents written by Bush's squadron commander, Col. Jerry Killian, which provide further evidence of Bush avoiding his duties as a member of the National Guard:

But 60 Minutes has obtained a number of documents we are told were taken from Col. Killian's personal file. Among them, a never-before-seen memorandum from May 1972, where Killian writes that Lt. Bush called him to talk about "how he can get out of coming to drill from now through November."

Lt. Bush tells his commander "he is working on a campaign in Alabama…. and may not have time to take his physical." Killian adds that he thinks Lt. Bush has gone over his head, and is "talking to someone upstairs."
The memo's also provide some information on Bush's missed flight physical:

One of the Killian memos is an official order to George W. Bush to report for a physical. The president never carried out the order.

On Aug. 1, 1972, Lt. Bush was suspended from flying status, due to "failure to accomplish his annual medical examination." That document was released years ago. But another document has not been seen until now. It’s a memo that Col. Jerry Killian put in his own file that same day. It says "on this date, I ordered that 1st Lt. Bush be suspended not just for failing to take a physical….but for failing to perform to U.S. Air Force/Texas Air National Guard standards."

He goes on: "The officer [then-Lt. Bush] has made no attempt to meet his training certification or flight physical."

While I do not think that Bush's Vietnam record is what is going to decide this election, it is only fair that the media expose the truth about Bush's record after spending so much time on the now-discredited attacks on John Kerry's record. Hopefully they'll also start taking a closer look at an even worse scandle--George Bush's record over the last four years.

Molly Ivins Refutes GOP Convention Attacks

Molly Ivins | Trying to find facts within the GOP fiction

The wire services are reporting that we just lost seven Marines in Fallujah.

To use Linda Ellerbee's line, "And so it goes ..."

The way it does not go is as claimed last week at the Republican convention. I feel like the janitor in that photo of Madison Square Garden after the party, facing a sea of garbage that needs to be collected and thrown out. Even after several days and with alert bloggers to help, it's hard to catch all the lies.

The number of things John Kerry is supposed to have said that he never said was the largest category.

Kerry never said we need to have a "sensitive war." (Bonus points if you can find Bush's references to our need for more sensitivity.)

Kerry never said we need other countries' permission to go to war.

Kerry has never failed to "support our troops in combat."

The whole list of defense programs Kerry supposedly voted against mostly came out of one vote against a huge defense package in 1990 -- he supported a smaller package, as did then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney at the time. I especially like the inclusion of the Apache helicopter in the list of weapons opposed by Kerry -- that's the one that kept crashing.

The United States has not gained jobs under George Bush. The net job loss is 1.1 million jobs, according to the Bush Department of Labor.

Special bonus points for the novel charge by Cheney that Kerry wants to "show al-Qaida our softer side." Showing real imagination there.

Then we have what can most kindly be called differences of interpretation.

Well, last week's news was not all about lies. This investigation of alleged spying for Israel out of Douglas Feith's office has now broadened to include Harold Rhode, also of Feith's office, David Wurmser of Dick Cheney's office and Richard Perle of the Defense Policy Board.

I am indebted to several bloggers for the reminder that Gen. Tommy Franks, according to Bob Woodward, once called Feith "the dumbest (expletive) guy on the planet."

Perle had an especially bad week, having been blasted to smithereens by the new report on the Hollinger Inc. media debacle, in which Lord Conrad Black and Perle both engaged in looting the company.

Let me put in a word of caution here about any so-called "spy charges."

Recall that we have a bad habit of charging people who are quite innocent (Wen Ho Lee) and missing those who are quite guilty (Aldrich Ames and the FBI's Robert Hanssen).

In fact, what we're looking at across the board is evidence of massive incompetence. Turns out the Justice Department can't even prosecute terrorists straight. It has always seemed to me a bad idea to put a party full of people who are against government in principle ("Government is not the solution, government is the problem") in charge of running it.

They just don't seem to do a very good job.

In case you hadn't noticed, we have gone from massive surplus to massive deficit, and the only people who really benefited were the richest 1 percent of Americans. That leaves the other 99 percent of us worse off than we were four years ago.

I really had to take a deep breath after Bush declared that he wants to "get government on your side." Where has he been for the last four years?

Almost every program he mentioned, saying he wanted to build them up, he has already cut, including job training. And I am truly dazzled by "the noive of him" in claiming that No Child Left Behind, which is massively underfunded, has somehow mysteriously become a great success. If you believe that, have I got a bridge for you.

His peculiar contention that our policy in Iraq is a triumph is close to bizarre.

What we have there is dangerous chaos. Does anyone honestly think this occupation is going well?

I thought the saddest theme was about how Sept. 11 had united us -- and then, for reasons never explained (except by Zell Miller at his worst), half the country and most of the rest of the world just sort of drifted away.

How could that have happened?

Could George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have had anything to do with it? For example, did they tell us a lot of things that aren't true? Republicans seemed to find it all a great mystery.

Helpful hint to Cheney: Oratorically speaking, when the call-and-response segment of your speech consists of getting your audience to boo, you are probably not on a positive track.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Kerry Retains Lead in Electoral College

The "bad news" on the polls keeps looking better and better. August was certainly not a good month, but it was also not as bad as it first appeared.

Many Kerry supporters were shell shocked by polls from the weekly news magazines showing Bush with a double digit lead--until Zogby showed these polls included more Republicans than are present in the voting population and questioned their validity.

The news continued to get better as the Gallup poll showed Bush up by only one percent among all registered voters, although the headlines concentrated on his larger lead among predicted likely voters. My bet is that the greater intensity seen in Kerry supporters will translate into higher than expected voter turnout, making the final result closer to polls for all registered voters as opposed to projected likely voters. We see similar results from Rasmussen's daily tracking poll which shows that Kerry pulled back into a tie with Bush on Tuesday (

Much of Bush's improvemnt in the polls came in red states, and doesn't help him pick up further electoral votes. The Zogby battleground report shows that Bush did close the gap in some states, but Kerry remains in the lead in the electoral college, leading in 12 of 16 battleground states. Currently Kerry leads in the Electoral College 307-231.

Bush did pick put some ground after several days of grabbing the headlines with attacks on Kerry which based upon distortions of his positions. This gave Bush a larger bounce than was expected, but the bounce is already showing signs of disappearing. If Kerry continues to hit Bush hard and force him to defend his record, Kerry should be able to regain the remainder of the ground he lost in August.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Photos of Coal Country is Kerry Country & More...

(REUTERS/Jim Young)

(AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

(AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

(AP Photo/Mark Genito)

(AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

"The 'W' Stands For Wrong"

"The 'W' stands for wrong," Kerry said of Bush's middle initial. "Wrong choices, wrong judgment, wrong priorities, wrong direction for our country."

In Pennsylvania, Kerry said the race is about Bush's policies that "have taken America backward" on the economy, wages, health care and the environment.

"This race is about the last four years and the next four years," Kerry said. "They've made the wrong choices. They've got the wrong policies. They're moving in the wrong direction."

"George W. Bush wishes he and I had the same position on Iraq but wishing doesn't make it so."

"I have said repeatedly that when it comes to Iraq, I wouldn't have done just one thing differently, I would have done almost everything differently. George Bush's wrongheaded, go-it-alone Iraq policy has created a quagmire, costing us $200 billion and counting. As a result, George Bush is shortchanging America on everything from education to health care to job creation - making it more difficult to meet our needs here at home." - John Kerry

Saturday, September 04, 2004

"United For A New President"

There is no shortage of activities in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, to keep Kerry volunteers active. On Friday evenings, the Neighbors for Peace and Justice have recently gotten into to the spirit, by unfurling their huge 50 foot banner that reads: "United For A New President.”

Last night, there were more than 60 people with the banner, handing out bumper stickers and flyers for an upcoming Kerry Volunteer Action Meeting. People driving by in cars were cheering and blasting their horns. We even got a siren blast from an L.A.F.D. Fire Engine and then soon after an L.A.F.D. Rescue Truck! For more info about getting volunteering in the San Fernando Valley, visit

Neighbors for Peace and Justice meet every Friday night at 6:00 pm in Studio City, CA.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Kerry Vows to Be President Who Tells the Truth

NEWARK, Ohio (Reuters) - Democrat John Kerry on Friday dismissed the Republican convention as "bitter and insulting" and promised to be a president who would tell Americans the truth.

"Every time they open their mouths they can't tell the truth," Kerry said at a rally. "It's time for us to have a president of the United States who can look you in the eye and when he does, you know you're being told the truth."

The newly combative senator from Massachusetts said he would not allow President Bush or others to question his fitness for the White House.

"Not gonna do it, not gonna happen," Kerry said. "I will not have my commitment to defending this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they had a chance and I will not have it questioned by those who misled this nation into war in Iraq."

Neither Bush nor Vice President Dick Cheney, who scathingly attacked Kerry's national security credentials at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, fought in Vietnam. Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard and Cheney obtained five draft deferments.

Kerry, a decorated Navy lieutenant who commanded gunboats in the Mekong Delta, has been criticized for failing to react quickly or strongly enough to advertisements challenging his service and his qualifications for the presidential role of commander-in-chief. On Friday, he assailed Bush for a "record of failure" on everything from jobs to Iraq.

He listed some of Bush's reasons for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq -- weapons of mass destruction and connections to al Qaeda -- and added after each: "That wasn't true."


Kerry said Republicans had distorted his 20-year record in the U.S. Senate, including his vote authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein and his subsequent vote against $87 billion to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He predicted voters would reject cynical politics when they went to the polls on Nov. 2.

"All this negative advertising, blah blah blah," Kerry said. "It turns people off."

After ceding much of the political stage to the Republicans this week, Kerry hit the campaign trail with a two-day bus tour of Ohio, a critical battleground state hit especially hard by manufacturing job losses.

"There seems to be such a great gap, it's as big as the Grand Canyon, bigger, between the kind of things they talk about and the problems that are represented in people's lives," he said.
Kerry ridiculed the Bush administration's "celebration" of the August job numbers released on Friday that showed the unemployment rate had dropped from 5.5 percent to 5.4 percent with the creation of 144,000 new jobs.

"At the rate that this administration is creating jobs, you're not going to have a net plus-one job in the state of Ohio until the year 2011," he said. "I don't think this is something to celebrate. I think it's something to get to work on."

Kerry aggressively criticized the just-concluded Republican convention in New York that formally nominated Bush for re-election, although he said he "listened to zero of it."
"I read the speech last night of the president and I guess I'd sum it up in just four words: all hat, no cattle," he said.

"What we've learned now is that the president and the Republican Party will say anything and do anything in order to try to get re-elected -- anything except really take care of middle class American families that are struggling in this country."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

With A Little Help From Our Friends

With all their attacks as opposed to discussing the issues, the Republicans did give one issue which we could use against them--our relationship with other countries.

Once we clarify that Kerry does not plan to "ask permission" of France, Germany, or the UN to defend us, as they falsely claimed, there remains a real issue here. It should be easy to convince people in the middle that we can more effectively fight the war on terrorism with allies at our side.

American defends itself when needed--but has always done so with allies when needed. France supported us in the American Revolution. Democratic Presidents won two world wars in the 20th century with allies. Our allies in NATO helped win the cold war. It will also be easier to beat terrorists if we don't try to do it alone.

We would have also been better off in Iraq if we had allies fighting with us. Even Bush's father understood that. While I doubt we would have been in Iraq if Kerry was President, imagine if it had still come to war. Under Bush, we quickly went thru areas, defeated the Iraqi army, and moved on. We now face the consequences of this as this allowed for anti-American forces to become established.
We would have been much better off if we had German or French peace keeper troops to stabilize these areas.

If we are to win the war on terrorism, a goal which Bush has flip flopped on recently, our chances are much greater with assistance from other nations. History has taught the lesson of what happens to empires which become over-extended. Of course, we know that George Bush does not read history (or much of anything else more complicated than My Pet Goat).