Friday, September 24, 2004

Republicans and the politics of Fear

The rethoric from Republicans seems to push the talking point of Kerry being allied with terrorists. So basically, in the Republican view, dissent is un-american and un-patriotic.

The only response one could give to something like that is one that would come from an unimpeachable american. How about Thomas Jefferson:
Dissent is the highest form of Patriotism.
Don't like Jefferson. OK... How about Ben Franklin then:
It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.
... or maybe James Madison was unpatriotic:

The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.
... and it could be that the only founding father you would trust would be George Washington:

If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
... or if you want someone that may be more contemporary, how about Teddy Roosevelt:
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
Conclusion: It is those that assign dissent with treason who are treasonous themselves.

Kerry dismantles Terrorist tools

... while Bush Sr. opposes him for it. It's an interesting story. I wonder why there hasn't been more info available on this...

State Dept.: Al Qaeda not active in Iraq in 2001

According to the State Dept, Al Qaeda was not active in Iraq in 2001. (the actual page can be seen here)

The posted date is November 10, 2001 (at the top of the page) and it lists the following countries:
Albania
Algeria
Afghanistan
Azerbaijan
Australia
Austria
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Belgium
Bosnia
Egypt
Eritrea
France
Germany
India
Iran
Ireland
Italy
Jordan
Kenya
Kosovo
Lebanon
Libya
Malaysia
Mauritania
Netherlands
Pakistan
Philippines
Qatar
Russia
Saudi Arabia
Somalia
South Africa
Sudan
Switzerland
Tajikistan
Tanzania
Tunisia
Turkey
Uganda
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Uzbekistan
Yemen
Now that's interesting.... since the administration was saying at the same time that Iraq was a festering terrorist pool....

Attack ads from the democrats

So Kerry is going on the offensive. Technically, it's an important issue to discuss but is capitalizing on a gaffe the right approach? In a world where slogan is policy, it may be but it's a little sad for our democracy that policy is all narrowed down to few words.

On the other hand, it's the kind of thing that can win. After all, the Clinton slogan was "it's the economy, stupid!"

Where's the sacrifice?

While thousands loose their life in Iraq, Congress is busy dolling out tax cuts:
Congress overwhelmingly approved a 146-billion-dollar tax cut endorsed by both President George W. Bush and his rival John Kerry but criticized by some economists.
This strikes me as fiscally irresponsible, due to the fact that we are currently experiencing large deficits. In a time of war, we all have to make some sacrifices. Tax cuts are not sacrifices; they are something that can be given in times of economic prosperity and/or peace. With 146 billion dollars, we could ensure that either our troops are better equipped or work towards reducing our deficit. Tax cuts like these are simply irresponsible, as were all the rounds of tax cuts offered in the last 3 years.

Republicans no longer conservative

USA Today columnist Andrew Kantor on why he's no longer a Republican:

A true Republican wouldn't think of amending the Constitution -- twice! -- to give the government more power. "Less government" means "less government." Yet that's what today's Republicans are trying to do with two separate proposals.

A true Republican would choke on the idea of giving the police not only access to our library accounts, but secret access. Yet that's what today's Republicans did with their precious Patriot Act.

A true Republican believes in fiscal responsibility, not driving the country down the biggest debt hole in history. Tax breaks on one hand and monstrous spending on the other? That's idiotic. Yet that's what today's Republicans are doing.

A true Republican wouldn't try to disenfranchise voters simply because they might not vote the way they want them to. A true Republican believes in the American system and in the right to vote. Yet today's Republicans are trying to prevent overseas voters from participating in the next election.

A true Republican wouldn't require people to sign loyalty oaths to exercise their rights. Yet today's Republican's do just that.

A true Republican wouldn't arrest people simply because they liked another candidate. Yet today's Republicans do just that.

A true Republican wouldn't think of having national ID cards, or of trying to circumvent judicial review, or of imprisoning people without access to attorneys (and without charging them with anything). Yet that's what today's Republicans are doing.

This represents an interesting conundrum. Where do true conservatives go today? In a lot of ways, it looks like the democrats are increasingly becoming the true party of conservatives, while the Republican party is becoming an extremist right-wing group. Is that assumption wrong?

Is that even constitutional?

I'm not sure but does the House actually have the right to remove judicial oversight, as it recently did:
The House passed legislation Thursday that would prevent the Supreme Court from ruling on whether the words "under God" should be stricken from the Pledge of Allegiance.
Based on my understanding of the constitution, this is in violation of the checks and balance approach. Is that just over-reaching?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Hey, there's an election on.

An interesting effort is using the web to spread and share information about the who, what, where, and when of this election:
Alright folks, we're going to do some of that collaborative citizen journalism you've heard so much about. I want to compile a short list of essential resources for people who need to register to vote, vote via absentee ballot, and, you know, vote normally. I've looked around at a few voter information sites and they are confusing, often too marketing-based, aren't focused on presenting information clearly, or are too partisan/biased. I'm looking for the opposite: information, links, and resources that are clear, concise, nonpartisan, and above all, practical. The information is out there...it just needs to be presented properly.

Eye Candy and Election Data

Still undecided?

Bush campaign exploits loophole

The Washington Post has an interesting article showing how the Bush campaign uses a loophole in campaign finance law to augment its advertising capabilities:
President Bush's political team is orchestrating a vastly larger advertising campaign than thought possible under federal law, taking control of millions in Republican Party funds simply by inserting the phrase "our leaders in Congress" in selected commercials.
It's an interesting strategy that shows ressourcefullness on the part of the republicans. Considering Bush's denounciation of 527, will he be OK with democrats using the same tactic as his campaign does?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Iraq to get worse?

From Reuters, word that the administration is expecting things to get worse in Iraq:
The decision to use the $25 billion in Iraq reserves underscores concern within the administration about the rise in anti-American violence in Iraq.

[...]

Congressional aides and defense analysts said the use of the reserve funds could be an early sign that the Pentagon will run out of money sooner than the White House had expected.

Bush has so far spent $120 billion in Iraq, not including the $25 billion contingency fund, and officials said he could seek another $50 billion in February.

With the rate of spending in Iraq already at more than $1 billion a week, the Pentagon may not have enough money to "get past Christmas," let alone wait until February, said John Pike, a defense analyst with GlobalSecurity.org. He said the White House could need closer to $75 billion next year.

[...]

Before the invasion, then-White House budget director Mitch Daniels predicted Iraq would be "an affordable endeavor," and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz even assured Congress: "We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon."

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

From Reuters comes news that overseas people are finding themselves unable to access a site set up to ease absentee ballot submission:

The Federal Voting Assistance Program's Web site offers U.S. military personnel and American civilians living abroad information about voting by absentee ballot in the Nov. 2 election, with links to state election sites.

But security steps put in place to halt hackers have instead blocked an unknown number of Americans overseas from accessing the site, www.fvap.gov, said Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Oooops....

If you think the 2000 election was bad...

... wait 'til you see how this one will turn out, according to US News:
Lawyers are girding for battle, studying the fine print of election law, prepping to swoop in for their candidate. No one wants a repeat of the chads that hung up the nation four years ago--but if this election is close, things could be even worse this November. So many potential problems loom that a close election could make the Florida fiasco in 2000 seem like the good old days.
Let's hope they're wrong.

An expanded battleground?

Blog for Bush reports that Kerry's lead is dropping in several battleground states. This is interesting in light of the recent WSJ analysis. On the other hand, both electoral-vote.com and electionprojection.com are predicting a Bush win at this time.

Update: Sorry but an alert reader pointed out that electoral-vote.com does not show enough electoral college votes for either candidate to win at this point, even though Bush is in the lead.

Where will the college set go?

According to political Wire:
Young voters prefer Sen. John Kerry to President Bush by 46% to 40%, according to a new MTV Choose or Lose poll, "although they do not feel overwhelmingly positive toward either candidate."
The youth vote is one of the great unknown in this race as younger voters generally have cellphones instead of landlines, and therefore are not polled. This year, both parties have been actively recruiting in the under-25 set so this could have a major impact on the final results. It will also be an interesting barometer of where elections in the future will go, as younger voters are still figuring out their party identification.

Still a close race

This time, from the Wall Street Journal, that bastion of the liberal media:
The leads Messrs. Bush and Kerry hold in 10 of the 16 states are within the margin of error, which varies between +/- 2.4 and +/- 4.4 percentage points. Mr. Kerry's leads in Washington, Oregon, Michigan, New Mexico and Minnesota are outside the margin of error, while Mr. Bush's lead is outside the margin in West Virginia. Presuming that all the states -- including the 33 electoral votes from the tight Florida and Arkansas races -- go to the current leading candidates and that the other 34 states and the District of Columbia go as they did in the 2000 election, Mr. Kerry would get 297 electoral votes and Mr. Bush would get 241.

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Issues: A great scorecard

Via Yahoo comes a helpful tool to compare the candidates on many issues.

It has info on the following subjects:


Where does Bush stand on Iraq?

According to CNN, McCain criticized Bush on Iraq:

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Bush was not being "as straight as maybe we'd like to see" with the American people about Iraq.

McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday" that it was "a serious mistake" not to have had enough troops in place "after the initial successes" and that the mistake had led to "very, very significant" difficulties.

"I think every day that goes by that we don't remove these sanctuaries in Falluja and other places in the Sunni Triangle, the more expensive it's going to be at the time we take this out," McCain said.

[...]

"Airstrikes don't do it; artillery doesn't do it," he said. "Boots on the ground do it. That's one of the fundamentals of warfare."

"You've got to send our troops in there on the ground," he said. "And that, of course, means the most difficult kind of fighting.

"I think the president is being clear. I would like to see him more clear, because I believe the American people, the majority of them, know what's at stake and will support this effort."

McCain called for an increase in the Army of about 70,000 soldiers and for 20,000 to 25,000 more Marines.

The question is whether this will happen or whether it will be a pull out. Considering the words going out, it would be nice if the president could give some more details as to his plan for Iraq. Kerry has proposed his plan. Could Bush present his. In the words of Dick Cheney:

"The danger here is without a very firm commitment on the part of the president of the United States to put in place a vision to make a decision and live with that decision ... what you get out there on the other end is confusion, weakness, uncertainty and indecision,"

Iraqi pullout in 2005?

From Robert Novak, who usually is pretty well tied into the current White House, comes word that a second Bush administration would see a pull-out of our troops from Iraq:
Inside the Bush administration policymaking apparatus, there is strong feeling that U.S. troops must leave Iraq next year. This determination is not predicated on success in implanting Iraqi democracy and internal stability. Rather, the officials are saying: Ready or not, here we go.
The question is what impact this would have in the Global War on Terror. If Iraq is truly one of the primary front in the war on terror then would this retreat constitute an admission of defeat? And if so, would it make us less safe?

Forget Florida

... if you're looking for election shenanigans. The truly scary place is Louisiana:
LAFAYETTE — Vandals set fire to signs and wrote pro-President Bush messages on the front of Lafayette’s Democratic Party Headquarters, the second time the office was hit by vandals.
This kind of behavior is simply despicable, no matter what party is targeted and who is responsible. Let's hope that this is only the work of a few people and that they will be apprehended.

Focus on Issues: Iraq

I am glad to see that things are finally moving in the direction of focusing on the issues:
With only 6 weeks to go in the election cycle, we're finally having the first substantive discussion of issues that matter. Hopefully, we'll go through more of those discussions over the next 6 weeks as there are many differences between the two candidates: on tax cuts, on balanced budgets, on employement, on the overall size of government. These are all points that will clearly differentiate the two candidates and allow voters to make a choice based on facts.

Bravo to both candidates for stepping up to the plate and be willing to discuss these.

Debates are set

The Washington Post reports that dates are set for the debates:
The nominees will focus on foreign policy during the opening session, on Sept. 30 in Florida; they will take questions from undecided voters at the town-meeting-style debate Oct. 8 in Missouri; and they will conclude with a session on Oct. 13 in Arizona that will revolve around domestic issues.

Vice President Cheney and Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards will debate Oct. 5 in Ohio. Each of the four debates will begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time and will run 90 minutes.

Now let's hope the networks allow for coverage of those.