Friday, October 29, 2004

Explosives Bringing Down Bush?

It seems that BushCo. can't catch a break on the al Qaqaa story. With the evidence at hand, nobody who's a member of the Reality Based Community can deny that this was the result of widespread and continuing malfeasance on the part of the administration in the planning and conduct of the Iraq invasion. If this stays at the top of the news through the weekend, it could be the death knell for Bush.

Help keep it that way.

Keep up with all the details (lots of links!) at Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo.

100,000 Iraqi Deaths

It will be interesting to see whether BushCo. decides to spin this or just ignore it.

Researchers have estimated that as many as 100,000 more Iraqis - many of them women and children - died since the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq than would have been expected otherwise, based on the death rate before the war.

Writing in the British-based medical journal The Lancet, the American and Iraqi researchers concluded that violence accounted for most of the extra deaths and that airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition were a major factor.
There was some concern with the initial results of this survey because it included data from Fallujah, where the post-war fighting has been most intense. But the nearly 100,000 number is based on calculations without the Fallujah data.

Shifting the Vote

Last night on ABC News, one of the talking heads following Bush around said that the President was making appeals to Democrats to cross over and vote for him. At the time, it only made my wife and I laugh. But this morning it gave me hope.

Such an appeal means that Bush is worried that his base will not be enough to carry him, it means that he's worried about the Republican internal polling numbers. It could also mean something very good for John Kerry.

I cannot imagine that more than a few Democrats are so anti-Kerry or so enamored with our empty (flight)suit president that they would be willing to go through four more years of BushCo. It boggles the imagination to even contemplate it. In other words, for every Zell Miller there are 100,000... well... me's.

On the other hand, besides the far right christian fundamentalists and the high-powered, high-contributing business leaders, there are many traditionally Republican constituencies that have plenty of reasons to either vote Kerry or not vote at all in protest. Think of those Republicans who are true fiscal conservatives; or of those sportsmen for whom the environment is important. Think of the Arab-Americans who voted for Bush in 2000 by a large majority. I'm sure you can think of plenty of others.

Both candidates are making appeals to the other side of the aisle. Only one, I think, has any chance of getting anyone to cross over.

al Qaqaa Just a "Small Portion"

With John Kerry on the attack and BushCo. scrambling from explanation to explanation for the missing explosives (must be the same spin-meisters who spun out reason after reason for the war in the first place), the story just won't die. Bush has accused Kerry of "disrespecting the troops" while his stand-in Rudy Giuliani was saying it was the troops fault.

And while Bush has said that al QaQaa represents a small amount of missing arms in relation to the amount that was actually captured or secured, the Wall Street Journal had this paragraph tucked away at the end of a short article this morning:

He [a bomb expert under contract to the Pentagon] added, however, that what was looted from al-Qaqaa is just a small portion of the dangerous munitions in the country at the war's end. Prewar Iraq was studded with similar weapons depots and many of them were left unguarded and subsequently looted. "There are hundreds and hundreds of tons of munitions kicking around Iraq," he said.
As usual, Bush had it only half right. These explosives were only a small portion of the arms that were all over Iraq, but they were also only a small portion of the arms that were looted and that are now killing our soldiers.

If this is not incompetence, the word no longer has any meaning.

O'Reilly Slithers Away

Leaving, as he always does, a trail of slime behind him.

I had really wanted to see O'Reilly left twisting in the wind; undone, broken like the hypocritical, sanctimonious ass that he is. Now we'll never know.


Thursday, October 28, 2004

Dr. Cheneystein

Maureen Dowd lets us in on Dick Cheney's true identity. It's a good read and the timing is perfect as we fast approach Halloween.

Iraq is Unwinnable

Those of us without rose colored glasses saw this a long time ago. Perhaps the recent spate of news out of Iraq is starting to make an impression on those who didn't see or ignored reality before.

Today's New York Times reports that the provincial capitol of Ramadi, a few kilometers down the road from Fallujah, is fast becoming another "no-go" area for American soldiers and exceptionally dangerous to anyone who works for the Americans. The proximity to Fallujah and the close coordination between insurgents in both cities means that any attempt to deal decisively with one must deal with the other.

The marines in Ramadi are so short-handed that they cannot usually put together four HMMWVs required to convoy safely through the center of town. Lists of "collaborators" are posted outside of the mosques and these people have been harassed and killed.

The situation in Ramadi and Fallujah and towns all over Iraq put the lie to BushCo.'s insistence that things in Iraq are progressing nicely and that "freedom is on the march." An uprising in Ramadi like the one in Fallujah would put the possibility of elections in January - already highly unlikely - beyond reach. Any vote taken without including these two cities would be highly suspect and not supported in the rest of Iraq.

This is what "staying the course" gets us in a war that never should have been.

That's Going to Leave a Mark

On the election, hopefully...

From today's Globe & Mail:

Four British former inmates of the U.S. detention centre at Guantanamo Bay sued Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others yesterday, saying they were tortured in violation of U.S. and international law.

The four former detainees are seeking $10-million (U.S.) in damages...
Holding them without access to legal aid or to their families was getting them bad press - and even worse legal rulings. Now this. Poor Rummy; nothing he does is right. What to do?

[they]want Mr. Rumsfeld and other defendants to be held accountable for their actions...
We do, too. We do, too.

Bush - No Connection to Reality

In declaring what would become the so-called "Bush Doctrine" of preemption, Bush declared that "moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place..."

Can you think of a more parochial, more narrow or more dangerous view of the world? If Bush really believes this, and there is every indication that he does, then he is more dangerous than just his recent debacles indicate. That his statement is false on its face is obvious to anyone who has read any history. Think of the "moral truths" of the Incas or the Aztecs in Meso-America. The ancient Egyptians certainly had their own take on morality. Think of the Huns, the Visigoths, the dynastic Chinese, feudal Japan. Imagine saying such a thing in a world that has seen the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge. Even Bush's favorite bogeyman, Saddam Hussein, had a different twist on "moral truth."

Bush's world paradigm has no connection to reality. He's already proven to be a danger to the world and our country in his quest to impose his reality on us all. He must not be allowed another four years, without the restraint of a pending reelection, to continue his pillaging.

Insurance Malpractice

No, I didn't get my title mixed up. Remember during the debates how we heard so much from Bush about how soaring medical malpractice insurance rates were caused by evil trial lawyers and outrageous punitive awards? (Not that we've heard much about that since, but that's another story...) And that the only way to cure the problem was with damages caps?

Seems that either Bush had bad information - where have we heard that before - or he was lying out of his ass. If I remember correctly, the number Kerry used was 0.5% of the rise in insurance rates for doctors could be traced to so-called "problems" with the tort system. Seems that John Kerry was much closer to correct that Bush. From this morning's Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Last year, after a pitched political battle, Texans voted to amend their state constitution to allow caps on awards for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, in medical-malpractice cases. In most cases, that cap is $250,000.

In a filing with the Texas Department of Insurance seeking a rate increase, Medical Protective Co., an arm of General Electric Co., said the caps would lower payouts by just 1%.
Much like the "Texas Miracle" in school reform, seems that Texas' tort reform is so much smoke and mirrors. While the number one medical insurer in Texas enacted a rate reduction after the reform bill passed, the filing from which the 1% figure is taken was filed by the number two insurer as part of a request for a 19% rate increase. If this gets through the review process, there's no doubt that the top insurer will follow suit.

The relevant sentence from the filing: "Noneconomic damages are a small percentage of total losses paid. Capping noneconomic damages will show loss savings of 1.0%."

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Triple Point

noun: the condition of temperature and pressure under which the gaseous, liquid, and solid phases of a substance can exist in equilibrium.
I remember from my physics courses that triple points were exceptionally interesting; a small change in any condition could cause a substance at a triple point to collapse into one of the states. The triple point is a precarious condition which rarely occurs naturally.

But it seems as if we've reached the political analogy of a triple point in this last week prior to the elections. The polls, taken all together, seem to have this race at a precarious balance where the slightest nudge could collapse the system into one of three possibilities: a Kerry win, a Bush win or a tie/contested result. All three of these outcomes have definite and distinct consequences.

Most interesting - and perhaps most dangerous - is that the national mood (if such a thing can really be said to exist at all) seems to be at somewhat of a triple point as well. A clear outcome would provide a needed relief from the ennui of the recent closely divided nature of politics. A tight finish has the potential to provoke either quiet acceptance or a spasm of... something... I'm not sure what. A tie or a contested result would likely result in some real outbursts of anger and frustration - not the staged, so-called "white collar" riots of 2000.

The interesting thing about this particular, public, triple point is that, unlike the clear results of a change in a physics experiment, there is no good way of predicting what would happen as an outcome of any particular result. The clear, non-contested outcome is the most predictable, but the results of the other two are, to borrow a phrase, "up in the air."

This triple point, with the country poised at a most precarious point, has caused a lot of anxiety. I know that for the past couple of weeks, I've become more anxious. From moment to moment my thoughts on the election range from despair to elation. One news piece will fill me with hope for a change, another seems to make it certain that we are doomed to another four years of war, deficit and bigotry. But so it is with these seeming magic points in physics and history. There are too many variables to predict which way the system will collapse. And so we have to fall back on our own small efforts to make a difference, hoping that the small push we provide will be the one to move the system in the way we want.

Your small push to the system is your voice and your vote. Use them both.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

This is NOT Who We Are

In a New York Times article describing how BushCo. lawyers have come to the conclusion that certain persons captured in Iraq are not subject to the Geneva Convention, I found the following two paragraphs.

It is possible that some of the prisoners transferred out of Iraq may have been handed over to friendly governments, like those of Egypt or Saudi Arabia, in a procedure known as rendition. Another possibility is that they were transferred to the secret American-run sites around the world that have been used since the Sept. 11 terror attacks to house the highest ranking Qaeda detainees, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is accused of being the mastermind of the attacks.

Such transfers have been used by American officials in the past three years in part to subject suspected members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban to interrogation practices harsher than those permitted under the Geneva Conventions or under American law. American officials have defended such practices, including a technique in which a prisoner is made to believe that he will drown, as essential to extract information that may be useful in preventing terrorist attacks.
This is exactly who the administration members are; secretive, lawless, vengeful, spiteful. But this is not who Americans are. We have laws and are signatories to The Geneva Conventions for a reason. But BushCo. continues in their push to remove the US from the community of civilized nations.

We are now exactly what aWol warned us that Iraq was: a rogue nation.

Campaign of Fear

BushCo. and their allies are at it again. While on the stump, they accuse Kerry & Edwards of running a campaign of fear. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is, once again, asking questions about who has the authority to cancel elections should a major terrorist attack occur just prior.

Government officials say they have no specific intelligence to suggest an imminent attack; and many states, exercising caution, are putting various safety and emergency measures in place around polling time. Still, that hasn't stopped some people from wondering: In the event of a major attack around Nov. 2, could the election be canceled or postponed? And who has the power to decide?

The simple answer, like in Missouri, is nobody. But there are enough shades of gray to suggest all sorts of caveats and complexities. The bottom line: If an election-time catastrophe were to arise, the government's reaction would likely depend on the particulars of what happened when and where -- not to mention inevitable legal wranglings.
Yes, there are the usual statements that there are no specifics around attacks close to elections. But they go on with the article anyway. And although the article goes on to say that probably nobody has true legal authority to delay or cancel federal elections, there is this one, ominous paragraph to think about:

The Congressional Research Service, part of the Library of Congress, addressed the question in July and found that Congress does in fact has the power to postpone presidential elections in the event of a national emergency. Moreover, the CRS's sweeping review of American case law and statutes found that the executive branch also has the ability to make it "difficult or impractical" for an election to take place. A memorandum drawn up for lawmakers said that the administration could limit the movement of citizens under emergency powers although an "exercise of such power would not appear to have the legal effect of delaying an election." In such an event, it concluded, legal resolution would ultimately fall to the courts.
Such questions are legitimate to ask during planning sessions. But barring clear, actionable intelligence of the danger of such attacks, floating articles such as this just a week prior to the election is fear mongering at its worst.

Campaign of fear, indeed.

Monday, October 25, 2004


Interesting details surrounding the "loss" of that 350 tons of high explosives from Iraq's former nuclear weapons research facility:

Several hundred tons of conventional explosives are missing from a former Iraqi military facility that once played a key role in Saddam Hussein's efforts to build a nuclear bomb, the U.N. nuclear agency confirmed Monday.


Nearly 380 tons [note the discrepancy between the numbers - 30 tons is a lot of explosive power - ed.] of powerful explosives that could be used to build large conventional bombs are missing from the former Al Qaqaa military installation, the New York Times reported Monday. The explosives included HMX and RDX, which can be used to demolish buildings but also produce warheads for missiles and detonate nuclear weaponry, the newspaper said. It said they disappeared after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq last year.
And, most damning of all:

Al Qaqaa, a sprawling former military installation about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Baghdad, was placed under U.S. military control but repeatedly has been looted, raising troubling questions about whether the missing explosives have fallen into the hands of insurgents battling coalition forces.
Under military control... repeatedly looted.

Think about that in the context of my previous post about post-war planning. We do not need these slow learners in control of complicated decision.

Remember, "it's hard work."


Better Late Than Never?

Not really. Late contingency planning for post-war chaos will not save those soldiers and civilians killed since Bush's flightsuit fantasy flight. But it might save some lives in the future.

From this morning's Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's office has prepared a directive instructing the military's four-star regional commanders to "develop and maintain" new war plans designed to lessen the chance of postwar instability like the situation in Iraq.

The directive, still in draft form, amounts to a concession that prewar planning for Iraq fell short. [snip]
It may amount to a concession, but you can be sure that nobody will take responsibility for that "short fall" and nobody will be punished for it either.

The Pentagon's four-star regional combatant commanders, who each oversee U.S. military operations in wide swaths of the world, would have to devote more resources and attention to posthostility planning in their war plans. In Iraq, plans for the war and postwar periods were largely developed separately. Inherent in the new directive is the idea that a commander might plan the high-intensity part of the war differently if the commander is also thinking about how to stabilize the country after the major fight is over.


In contrast to planning for the Iraq war, in which the Defense Department kept civilian agencies largely out of the process, the directive calls for the Pentagon to support the State Department's newly created Office of Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations. State Department officials are working separately to develop reconstruction teams that would work with the military.
Seems that BushCo. is filled with slow learners, from the top, down. If the world is going to change as often and as rapidly as it seems to have done over the past four years, it makes sense to have a President and staff that learns much faster than BushCo. has shown it is capable of.


Can I Ask a Favor From You?

One week to go.

It seems that I've been blogging forever and yet it's been only about 16 months or so. But all that effort, the nearly 800 posts, the hours of writing and researching, has been leading up to this moment.

In the course of those 782 posts - including this one - I hope I've provided my readers with some information they didn't have, some insight they hadn't thought of, something to think about, to laugh about, to cry about. I hope I've been able to get at least a few readers, those who were looking for something other than the pre-digested bits they got from television or the mainstream press, to continue their search for information, to become informed citizens. And if I've gotten just one person to click through to an article or another blog that they might not have read otherwise and if they discovered something they didn't know before, then all that work will have been worth the effort.

Now, the favor. With just one week before the elections on Tuesday, November 2, I'd ask anyone that reads this post to dedicate themselves to do two things. Just two.

1. Vote. I'm sure my regular readers are all registered, have found out where their polling places are and have set aside some time from their busy schedules on Tuesday. But have YOU? It's too late to register, of course, but if you were wondering whether it was worth your effort, stop wondering. Please, get out on Tuesday, do whatever you have to do to get to the polls. Call a friend, call a cab - hell, call me. But vote.

2. Get Someone else to Vote. If you're going to the polls, you might as well take someone with you. It doesn't really matter what party they are registered with - although I'd love for you to take along someone voting for Kerry/Edwards - just get someone else to vote who might not otherwise have done so. With all the polls pointing to one of the closest elections ever, both in the popular vote and in the Electoral College, every vote will be important.
I haven't been in the habit here of asking for anything from my readers - other than for more comments - but in this case I thought it important to ask these favors of you. Despite the rhetoric and the spin flying around the airwaves and on the web, as we close in on Election Day, this really is the most important vote you will ever have cast.


Friday, October 22, 2004

We Are NOT Safer

The MSNBC article from which I took the post below is a damning indictment against nearly everything BushCo. have done since 9/11. The whole thing - and it's pretty long - is worth reading, but two things stuck out to me as indicative of the ideological blindness of Bush and his nefarious neocon advisors.

The first is that right after 9/11, Iran was cooperating, through back door diplomatic channels, with the US. They delivered lists of suspected al Qaeda operatives and leaders that had attempted to transition through Iran but had been sent back to their home country: Saudi Arabia. The list also included al Qaeda suspects who were in virtual house arrest in Iran. In exchange for this, the Iranians wanted the US to interview a couple of detainees in GITMO who were suspected of killing several people in Iran.

But the neocons would have none of it; and this valuable conduit of information was closed. Weeks later Bush would include Iran in his "axis of evil."

The second was that many former Bush administration members have started using terms like "cancer" and "metastacizing" to describe what's happened to al Qaeda and their ability to recruit since the beginning of the Iraq war.

Jihadist terrorism has always posed what strategists call an "asymmetric threat," capable of inflicting catastrophic harm against a much stronger foe. But the way it operates, they said, is changing. Students of al Qaeda used to speak of it as a network with "key nodes" that could be attacked. More recently they have described the growth of "franchises." Gordon and Falkenrath pioneered an analogy, before leaving government, with an even less encouraging prognosis.

Jihadists "metastasized into a lot of little cancers in a lot of different countries," Gordon said recently. They formed "groups, operating under the terms of a movement, who don't have to rely on al Qaeda itself for funding, for training or for authority. [They operate] at a level that doesn't require as many people, doesn't require them to be as well-trained, and it's going to be damned hard to get in front of that."
Remember these two paragraphs when Bush next says that we've captured or killed 75% of the leaders of al Qaeda. The leaders don't matter any more.

Despite these things, readily visible to anyone not wearing the rose colored glasses so in vogue with Republicans these days, Bush continues to be "resolute" and to "stay the course." He continues to use the same, tired, disproved rhetoric:

Most officials interviewed said Bush has not devised an answer to a problem then-CIA Director George J. Tenet identified publicly on Feb. 11, 2003 -- "the numbers of societies and peoples excluded from the benefits of an expanding global economy, where the daily lot is hunger, disease, and displacement -- and that produce large populations of disaffected youth who are prime recruits for our extremist foes."

The president and his most influential advisers, many officials said, do not see those factors -- or U.S. policy overseas -- as primary contributors to the terrorism threat. Bush's explanation, in private and public, is that terrorists hate America for its freedom.
Just as in the US, BushCo. ignores the plight of the poor and displaced and forges ahead in their misguided zeal to impose their own vision of the future on the world. But we've seen what that vision can bring during the past four years. We've seen the destructive and divisive power of that vision; a vision so limited by ideology and corporate ties.

It is well past time for a new vision.

War on Terror Just a Campaign Ploy?

An interesting tidbit in a larger, interesting piece on MSNBC this morning.

But at least a dozen current and former officials who have held key positions in conducting the war now say they see diminishing returns in Bush's decapitation strategy. Current and former leaders of that effort, three of whom departed in frustration from the top White House terrorism post, said the manhunt is important but cannot defeat the threat of jihadist terrorism. Classified government tallies, moreover, suggest that Bush and Vice President Cheney have inflated the manhunt's success in their reelection bid.
Is there nothing that BushCo. won't use to scare the voters? Is there no lie they won't tell to get reelected?

A Krauthammer Cockup

Writing in today's Wall Street Journal, Charles Krauthammer continues the right's attempt to scare any group it can identify. In his piece today, Krauthammer raises the bogeyman of Democratic antisemitism in the guise of anti-Zionism.

Any thinking person will already know that the two are not the same and that there are plenty of Jews who are against the militant Zionism of Ariel Sharon and his band of bandits. For more on this, you should keep an eye on Eric Alterman's Altercation. But Krauthammer, like Bush and Cheney with weapons of mass distraction, ignores reality and raises the scariest, most hateful of strawmen in the scariest, most hateful of editorial pages knowing that no WSJ reader would dare knock it down.

So, with what does Mr. Krauthammer try to scare us all?

So in a "new bargain with our allies" America "re-engages" in the "peace process" in return for troops and money in Afghanistan and Iraq.
That's right; John Kerry will become engaged in trying to bring peace to the Middle East. He will bring a little balance, perhaps, to our currently insane non-policy. Oh sure, BushCo. have declared that they support a "two state" solution, but they've done nothing to ensure that there's anything left of what could become a Palestinian state. While they've condemned the terrorism of the Palestinians - and deservedly so - they've uttered not a word about Sharon's destructive incursions into Palestinian lands.

In a part of the world that has lived by blood feuds and revenge for millennia, Bush's hamfisted and tone-deaf efforts at foreign policy have done nothing over the past four years to bring the Middle East closer to a true and lasting peace. Like all of his other promises and policies, his Middle East policies and efforts have been complete failures. They are just another in a long and still growing list of reasons why he must be voted out.

Bush has indeed been an equal opportunity president. He has done something to offend us all.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

That's a Good Dog, Tony...

Tony Blair plays the nice lap dog again for Georgie - and agrees to put his troops right in the middle of the mess we've created in central Iraq. I think someone else might have a little trouble holding on to office next time around...


Regardless of what this story says, no matter how the military spins it, this is not good for this officer or her unit:

The company commander of a U.S. Army Reserve unit whose soldiers refused to deliver fuel along a dangerous route in Iraq has been relieved of her duties, the U.S. military said Thursday.

The decision to relieve the commander of the 343rd Quartermaster Company came at her request and is effective immediately, according to a statement from the 13th Corps Support Command. It was authorized by Brig. Gen. James E. Chambers.

“The outgoing commander is not suspected of misconduct and this move has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of anyone involved,” the statement said.
Company commanders do not - ever - request to be relieved of their command unless there are very, very bad things happening. The fact that she was relieved of command, regardless of who asked for it, means that her military career is over. She will never again get command of troops, she will never be promoted. And that means that she will be forced to resign at some point in the near future.

I think this officer is going to find out what it means to be the fall guy for this administration. What's the real story behind this?

Should've Stayed in Bed

Hopefully the start of my day was not a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the day.

After walking out into the garage this morning, locking the door as I do every day, halfway to my car I realized that I didn't have any keys. Neither did my wife since she wasn't driving today. Luckily we almost always can drive in to work together which saves gas and wear and tear on our other car. Unluckily, that means only one of us usually has their keys with them.

So, there we were, in the garage, locked out of the house. This morning it was rainy, windy and only about 45 degrees. And with no keys we couldn't even start the car to stay warm. Or get to work.

Thank goodness for cell phones.

After trying every tool in his kit, the locksmith that we called - and had to wait an hour for - finally had to drill out the lock. After he comes back with a new door set, keys it for our current key and adds the "house call" charge, I can't even imagine what this is all going to cost. Whatever it turns out to be, it will likely be less than the cost of one of our double-glazed argon filled, energy efficient windows that we considered breaking.

So, we got to start our day two hours behind. I just hope the rest of the day is better.

So - how was your morning?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Propaganda is Propaganda

I missed this piece by Mitch Albom, a sports writer for The Detroit Free Press. Of course, I never read the sports section or watch sports of any kind; and I wouldn't have found it if my mom hadn't pointed it out in an e-mail.

Let's get a few facts straight. Sinclair is a big company. It gives lots of money to politicians, almost exclusively Republicans. It ordered its stations not to run the "Nightline" program that listed the names of the dead American soldiers in Iraq. One of its top executives also doubles as a conservative commentator. It has a sad record of using its public broadcasting license -- yes, Americans, not conglomerates, still own the airwaves -- to regularly promote Republican causes.
Make sure to read the rest. It's well written and truly "fair and balanced."

Are You Safer Now Than You Were Four Years Ago?

I've laid out, in previous posts, plenty of reasons why the answer to that question is NO. Here's another:

Iran said it test fired on Wednesday a more accurate version of its Shahab-3 missile, already believed capable of hitting Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf.

Iran has previously announced that it has increased the missile's range to 1,250 miles, an upgrade from a range pencilled in at 800 miles by military experts.
Feeling safer?

The Big Dog Steps Up

This is really good news for the last week of the campaign!

Former President Clinton will campaign for Sen. John Kerry early next week in Philadelphia, a senior Democratic official who is familiar with the former president's plans said Tuesday.
I hope that Bill's doing well in his recovery and strong enough to help out in the home stretch.


Despite Bush's repeated insistence that there will be no draft if he's reelected, it looks more and more likely that he is lying. Earlier in the week there were reports that BushCo. is working on plans to draft medical and other high-need personnel. These plans supposedly included public relations spin to sell the plan to doctors and the public. Soldiers are already being held past their ETS (End Term of Service) dates by Stop Loss Orders. There have been stories (LA Times - subscription) about soldiers being pressured - and even threatened - to reenlist. Yesterday brought news that some elite training units were being stripped of senior soldiers who were sent to Iraq.

Today, the Wall Street Journal (subscription) has this:

For the second straight year, U.S. Army recruiters fell short of their goal for signing up enlistees in the first month of a new recruiting cycle.

For the first 30-day period in its new recruiting year, the Army was 30% shy of its goal of signing up 7,274 recruits. The Army had a particularly hard time recruiting for the Army Reserve, on which the Pentagon has relied heavily in Iraq and Afghanistan. Enlistments for the reserves were 45% below the target.

In the same period last year, the Army came up 25% short in its goal in the first month for enlisting 6,220 regular recruits and 40% short of its reserve enlistment goal.
If Bush is reelected, he's promised more of the same as far as foreign policy and preemptive wars go. So ask yourself this: how could there not be a draft?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Support the Troops

It's what Bush says he does; it's on every other car. But what does that phrase mean in the black-is-white world of this presidency? We've all read the reports about troops deploying without the proper training and equipment. Lots of it is dismissed by Republicans and their apologists/spin doctors as partisan sniping.

But what do the soldiers say? From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

A Pentagon survey shows substantial doubts among many Army Reservists about their units' preparedness for wartime missions, amid intense debate in the presidential campaign about whether U.S. troops are spread too thin.

In the survey conducted in the spring, almost half of the Army Reserve soldiers who responded said their units weren't "well prepared" for their wartime missions. Army Reservists who had served in Iraq graded their units' readiness for war even lower; only 45% of those veterans said their unit was "well prepared for its wartime mission," compared with 54% of Army Reserve members overall, the survey found.
So what's the result of such doubts about their units' readiness? What happens when soldiers don't have the equipment, training and support they need?

They die.

Or, if they are luckier than that, they can try making a statement:

The Army Reserve soldiers who refused orders last week to drive a dangerous supply route through Iraq's Sunni triangle were members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company, one of the few units in Iraq whose trucks lack protective armor, the unit's commanding general said at a news conference over the weekend.

Brig. James E. Chambers, the commander of the 13th Corps Support Command, said concerns about the lack of armor along with vehicle maintenance led the soldiers to balk at the mission. "Not all of their trucks are completely armored. In their case, they haven't had the chance to get armored," Gen. Chambers said of the unit.
It's not a great choice for a soldier.

Get Outta Here!

I have to agree with Pissed-off Patricia at BlondeSense. All of you out there who are so pumped up about Bush and his never ending war on terror and "intention to have thoughts about weapons of mass destruction related activities" should get your asses out from in front of your computers and enlist.

The stuff he's saying now on TV, he didn't have the guts to say to Senator Kerry's face during the debates. Now, with his cozy little ass kissing audience, he's tough and as usual, nasty. I find it so very strange that he smiles when he speaks of the most dastardly events. I also find it very strange that so damned many people actually believe the bullshit that he's saying.
It's strange watching Bush's handpicked crowds cheering every known lie. But if they are so gung-ho to have other peoples' kids killed, maybe they'd like to join up and see just what it is they are so pumped up about.

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Faith Based Presidency

This article by Ron Suskind goes a long way towards explaining what is so frightening about G.W.; as a person and as president. Thanks to GD Frogsdong's B&A for the link.

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

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

Excuse me while I go bang my head on my desk for a while. It keeps me from screaming.

The Supreme Injustice

The potential for the next president to nominate as many as four Supreme Court Justices during their term has been discussed often by bloggers on both sides of the political spectrum. I've mentioned it on occasion as well. But an opinion piece in today's New York Times is the most instructive and concise writing I've seen on what a court, dominated by conservatives of the Scalia/Thomas variety, would do to America.

Abortion might be a crime in most states. Gay people could be thrown in prison for having sex in their homes. States might be free to become mini-theocracies, endorsing Christianity and using tax money to help spread the gospel. The Constitution might no longer protect inmates from being brutalized by prison guards. Family and medical leave and environmental protections could disappear.
Sounds very scary - but that's only the beginning. Go read the rest; it's much worse. Maybe worse than you think.


Although apparently the Department of Health and Human Services was told that there was great danger in the small number of companies making flu vaccine. There may have even been hints that this year's loss of about half of the available stocks was possible. Despite this, nothing has been done. Although we've known about this looming crisis for a couple of weeks, the government has not - according to an NPR News piece this morning - done any emergency planning for the results of a flu epidemic this year.

But there was an article in today's Wall Street Journal (subscription), that might actually get BushCo. to move on this issue. Seems that business might be affected by the lack of vaccines.

The flu is the leading cause of Americans calling in sick to work, with 5% to 20% of U.S. residents contracting the flu on average each year. According to one survey, Americans miss on average 1.2 to 1.4 days of work each year as a result of the flu.

A recent study by ComPsych Corp., Chicago, found that 40% of people who don't get flu shots miss some time at work because of the flu, compared with less than 20% of people who receive flu shots.

"If we have a normal flu season and there are no shots available we're going to have a significant number of people miss work," says Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and chief executive of ComPsych. He suggests that any labor-dependent industries that rely heavily on performance during the peak flu season in the U.S. from December through March, could be affected significantly. "In an economy that is forcing people to do more with less, this could be a tough season."
It's not that people will get sick that will get this administration to move; caring for citizens hasn't been high on their list for the past four years, no reason that should change now. But if business is going to suffer, if their corporate donors are going to have less money... well now. That's serious.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Disobeying Direct Orders in Iraq

Thanks to regular reader oddjob for pointing out this story over at AmericaBlog. Seems an entire supply platoon refused to run a "suicide mission" and is under detention - without access (so far) to a JAG lawyer. This is more of the same from this goddam quagmire.

Check out the whole story here.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Our Steadfast Allies

This is a must-read article in today's New York Times. Seems that Saudis, from the truck driver to the princes, are becoming more and more angry with America. Do they hate our freedoms? No. Seems they're not at all happy with our policies on Israel and Palestine and our invasion-gone-bad in Iraq.

Seventeen months into a shadowy terror campaign that has killed more than 100 people, numerous Saudis express less anger at the insurgents than at the United States for its invasion of Iraq, the signal event that they say touched off the attacks inside the kingdom.

In interviews over the last week, the Saudis condemned the terror attacks, aimed primarily at foreigners, but called them a small inconvenience that has not forced them to make significant changes in their daily lives. By contrast, they expressed unremitting disdain for the United States.
How long before these feelings bubble up into the palace? How long will the House of Saud continue to publicly support the US? What happens then?

More bitter fruit from the caustic, ethnocentric foreign policies of BushCo. and their friends, the NeoCon nitwits.

Democracy Still on the March in Iraq

In case the debates have taken your mind off of Bush's biggest accomplishment, things are going just great in Iraq. The Green Zone, the safest spot in all of Baghdad is the shining jewel in the crown of Iraqi democracy.

In a brazen attack that punctured any illusions of a safe haven in the capital, five people, including three American civilians, were killed today when two separate explosions were set off inside the heavily controlled Green Zone in central Baghdad.

Why the "Market" Shouldn't Have a Hand in Health Care

Here is the Republicans' beloved "market" (WSJ - subscription) doing its thing in health care:

Florida's attorney general, responding to complaints that some suppliers of flu vaccine are raising prices amid the severe shortage of shots, filed a lawsuit alleging that a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., drug distributor attempted to sell the vaccine for as much as 10 times its normal price.

The lawsuit comes amid a scramble across the country to find suddenly scarce flu shots before they run out.


In a survey by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, more than half of 677 hospital pharmacists said they had been contacted during the past week by distributors offering flu vaccine at four to 10 times the regular price, the trade group said. Some pharmacists reported that distributors were charging at least $800 for a 10-dose vial of flu vaccine [normal price is $63 to $85 a vial - ed.]. More than 80% of the pharmacists in the survey said they wouldn't buy the vaccine at inflated prices, even though three-fourths said they don't have as many doses as they need.

Health Care Costs

If you wonder where all that money that disappears into health care is going - and why for more money you get less coverage - you need only look as far as the latest earnings reports from insurance providers:

The biggest health insurer in the U.S. today said its net income climbed to $698 million, or $1.04 a share, compared with $476 million, or 77 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. The latest results reflect a tax benefit of one cent a share.


Revenue rose 36% to $9.86 billion from $7.24 billion, led by growth in revenue generated from premiums, which increased to $8.92 billion from $6.4 billion.
There are dozens of large health insurance providers and none of them are having financial problems right now.

If you wonder why a Republican lead Congress, with the putative assistance of a Republican President, will not address the issue to the benefit of consumers, or if you wonder why Republicans insist on "market forces" controlling costs in the health insurance field, you need only look as far as the latest earnings reports from insurance providers; who just happen to love donating to Republicans.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Kerry Eats Babies

That's what a sign said behind Wolf Blitzer just a few moments ago.

That's what I love about American politics; such intelligent discussion about important issues.

Bush to Join The Producers

Tonight was clear evidence that enough rehearsal can almost make a silk purse from a pig's ear. By the third debate, one would hope that the President could answer most questions without stuttering or pausing in dead silence. There were still a few moments of silence, but not as long as they were. There were still a few stammers and stutters, but not like before. Bush knew at least some points pertaining to every question.

But I found him unbelievable; well rehearsed but without belief in his own answers. Even those things that he said that he likely really believes sounded as though he didn't. Like the multiple times he tried to link Kerry to Ted Kennedy or called him a "Senator from Massachusetts" (although that was probably rehearsed as "the liberal Senator).

Kerry performed almost exactly as he has throughout these debates; obviously well informed and knowledgeable and somewhat flat. He came through as likeable enough at times, but he's got such a dry sense of humor and is just so intelligent that I think it's difficult for him to come across as overly friendly.

But I do not believe you need to like the President. You need to trust him.

So the debates are over. Kerry, through his performance and easy knowledge closed a large gap in the polls to enter this last debate in a dead tie with G.W. That's an impressive performance by any standard. If he gets a decent lead from this, one even outside the margin of error, there is a very good chance for him to hold that lead into the election. That will bode very well for a country in need of a change.


I suppose cynicism is the only true defense against the news these days. I heard yesterday on NPR that Congress had passed a huge tax break bill for businesses. It was so bent towards giving business what they wanted that it defined the baristas at Starbucks as "manufacturers." Our Republican Congress was so intent on giving business campaign contributors what they wanted that the bill goes into the definition of what a gourmet chef is and that his efforts to create a sausage defines him as a manufacturer and gives his business access to manufacturing tax breaks.

The sell - publicly at least - was that these tax breaks would be used to help ensure that these companies could begin hiring again. That was yesterday. Today, we get this headline in the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Tax Windfall May Not Boost
Hiring Despite Claims
Surprised? No... me neither.

So just what will these corporations do with this election year windfall? Do you really need to ask?

Big companies long lobbied for a tax cut on their overseas profit as a way to spur U.S. job growth. But now that it has been granted, much of the windfall won't go toward hiring but for such uses as strengthening balance sheets, buying back shares and making acquisitions.

The one-year break, included in a sweeping tax bill that cleared the Senate and went to the president this week, will allow hundreds of billions of dollars in overseas profit to be brought home by dozens of U.S. companies at a steeply reduced tax rate. By some estimates, U.S. companies have parked as much as $500 billion in profit abroad to avoid taxes back home.
And what about those overseas profits? Repatriating them should provide a revenue benefit to the treasury - one that's badly needed. But will it? Do you really need to ask?

Companies say the repatriated money, which would be taxed at a 5.25% rate instead of 35%, will provide stimulus and better position them for hiring in the long run. Software company Oracle Corp., for instance, likely will use some of the billions it will bring home to help finance its aggressive acquisition strategy. Computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. says it may devote a substantial portion of the several billion dollars it plans to bring back to paying down debt from its purchase of Compaq Computer Corp. -- a transaction that led to layoffs.


Last week, Treasury Secretary John Snow wrote that an analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers "indicates that the repatriation provision would not produce any substantial economic benefits." Allen Sinai, the Wall Street economist who was one of the bill's biggest backers, says he thinks the bill might create only 50,000 jobs annually for the next few years, far lower than the 500,000 figure that some politicians have invoked while citing his work.
Did you really need to ask?

We Were On a Break!

You've probably noticed that I haven't been posting so much lately. This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving, so we were in Canada with my wife's family for three days; through Monday. Work has been crazy and seems like it's going to stay that way for a while. All that's to say that posting is going to be light for some time.

I'm not going away, I'm not going to stop posting, but you might not hear from me quite as often as you have lately.

I hope you'll keep coming by and leave comments, and most of all I hope you'll visit lots of those fine blogs in my blogroll. Thank you!

Friday, October 08, 2004

You Can Be Affable And Still Be Wrong

Tonight, Bush showed that he can learn - over the course of a week - to stifle most of his annoyed or dismayed faces, to not stammer too much, to not lose his place in his pre-digested bits of rhetoric. His speech was smoother, less halting.

Yet there was no content to his answers. He repeated many of his signature lines, well practiced over the past week. And he was - let's say - loose with the facts. Most especially with the conclusions of the Duelfer Report.

Kerry was as good or as better than last week. He had some great answers, but again, no real "home runs." He was solid, likeable and did not let himself get too carried away with detail.

The question of how this debate will play out on the electorate, on the polls, will be how people see Bush's performance. Yes, he stammered less; it's true there weren't too many lapses in his speech. But those are pretty low standards for a man who would be - again - the most powerful man in the world. Will they see through his folksy attempts at humor to the dissembling and distortions in his answers?

I'm not at all confident, given what the polls have continued to show that the answer to that question is yes. But I'm hopeful.

Counterpoint: Jobs

You just know that Bush will completely ignore reality tonight if the subject of jobs comes up. He'll talk about how tax cuts have stimulated job creation despite his administration presiding over the largest loss of jobs during a presidency in over 50 years. Just keep all the counter examples in mind, like one announced today:

AT&T Corp., the nation's largest long-distance carrier, announced moves to cut about 7,000 more jobs as it retreats from the consumer market and to write off $11.4 billion in assets that have lost much of their earning power.


The cuts come as AT&T, based in Bedminster, N.J., struggles with plunging revenue and earnings. AT&T, which had forecast cutting about 5,000 positions earlier in the year, said it will eliminate a total of about 12,000 jobs this year, resulting in a 20% reduction from the 61,600 employees it had at the end of 2003.
Remember it, because you can be sure that Bush won't.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Conservative Group Calls for DeLay to Step Down

It's about time.

For the second time in a week, the House ethics committee Wednesday night admonished House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, this time for engaging in fund-raising activities that created the appearance of impropriety, and for using his position to exert undue influence over a federal agency.


Already, at least one good-government group is calling for DeLay to step down. On Wednesday, before the committee released its report, Judicial Watch - - a conservative public interest group -- called on DeLay to resign his position as majority leader, citing last week's rebuke in the case involving Rep. Nick Smith, R-Mich.
I can't imagine they are any happier now that he's been slapped on the wrist a second time. Also notice how despite not having time to debate important issues of the people, the Republicans have time to remain past normal hours to admonish DeLay so that the event is outside the normal news cycle.

More Truth Slips Through

On the heels of Ayad Allawi admitting that things weren't quite as rosy as he'd led us to believe in a speech written at least partly by the Bush-Cheney campaign, comes more truth. In today's Wall Street Journal (subscription), the Iraqi Tourism Minister says that his primary job is...

[not] trying to lure Western tourists to Iraq. He's trying to keep them away.
Seems that things are just too dangerous there. Imagine.

"I understand all about wanting to have an adventure, but Iraq could be a one-way trip," he says, shaking his head. "This is just not a place for tourists."

With the country beset by a bloody guerrilla war and a wave of kidnappings and killings, Mr. Jobori's point might seem obvious. But despite the violence, a small number of determined adventure-seekers are planning to visit Iraq in coming months.
For those "adventurists" who just must - for some reason - visit, who escorts them around? Perhaps some intrepid young Iraqis, for whom jobs continue to be non-existent? Not so much...

Phil Lalani, a hotel owner from Blackpool, England, hopes to be one of the pioneers. He and his girlfriend, Katrina Copsey, are among the 10 tourists who have paid to reserve space in a tour of the country later this month with Don Lucey, a former British special-forces officer who worked in Iraq last year doing support work for a British company providing telecommunications services to the British army. Cost of the eight-day trip: $2,200 per person, with mandatory insurance adding another $1,000.


For security reasons, Mr. Lucey refuses to tell the tourists their exact itinerary until they arrive in Iraq. Then, he'll parcel it out to them a day at a time.

Mr. Lucey, 52, also says the group will wear non-Western clothing, travel discreetly in inconspicuous vehicles and be protected at all times by armed guards.

"People think we'll be walking around with cameras around our necks snapping pictures, but this will be a covert operation," Mr. Lucey says. "You can't get away from the fact that Iraq is a very dangerous place, but I'm determined to begin bringing tourists here."
The Tourist Minister hasn't stopped making preparations for the day when tourists might return; a resort hotel in Mosul was recently renovated and restored to pre-war opulence. But Mr. Jobori could not even have a grand opening ceremony:

Mr. Jobori had hoped to travel north and mark its completion with a gala grand-opening party. But with the highways connecting the cities largely controlled by militants and Mosul convulsed by violence, Mr. Jobori opted to remain in Baghdad instead. He didn't even announce the completion publicly for fear of sparking an insurgent attack on the hotel.
With the US puppet government unable to hide the truth from the American electorate, with yet another arms inspection team reporting that Saddam's Iraq was absolutely no threat, and with more and more ex-administration officials reporting that the pre-war planning and the post-war execution were a shambles, perhaps - just maybe - American voters are getting a clue about the empty-headed empty suit in the White House.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Seeing the Truth

Despite what G.W. said last week and what Darth Cheney said last night, Afghanistan - the real "Central Front in the War on Terror" - is in shambles.

The end of campaigning was marked by violence today when Karzai's first vice-presidential running mate, Ahmad Zia Mas'ud, escaped injury when an explosion hit his convoy in northeastern Afghanistan.

One person was killed and two injured in the blast, for which the Taliban has reportedly claimed responsibility.
I've highlighted those parts of the story that contradict both aWol's and Crashcart's statements about the situation in Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Remember, both of these guys assume that Americans are too stupid to see what's actually going on in the world and they will just keep "blowing sunshine up your ass." Show them who's really stupid, and vote them the hell out of our White House.

The Sock Puppet Theory

As I was reading through the coverage of last night's debate, it struck me that Cheney's relative strength might not have been good for Bush. Here's what I mean:

When even the most rabid of BushCo. supporters admit that their boy-king had some difficulties last week against Kerry, you know that his performance was - at best - very weak. If you look at it minus the rose colored glasses that Republicans have super-glued to their faces, you know that his performance was abysmal. Along comes Darth Cheney who gives a credible, tough performance against the very likeable and believable John Edwards. What does that say to the voters, especially those who have been defending the President?

How can they not see that the man leading their ticket is nothing but an empty head atop an empty suit? How can they conclude otherwise, than that the real power in this duo is - as many on the left have been saying for years - Cheney. Doesn't the possibility that the person they think is so strong and resolute being controlled from "behind the curtain" diminish him in their eyes? For those who are not blindly behind BC'04, it must pain them to see Bush exposed as the weak minded, weak willed individual he is.

To those somehow still stuck in the middle, it should provoke a rational move to Kerry/Edwards. And remember, the first debate was supposedly on aWol's strong suit. What will he show us all when talking about domestic issues and unscripted questions from voters? Issues about which he has little interest or knowledge - based on his performance the past three and half years.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A True Battle

John Edwards was solid, landed some key points strongly, but was not able to hit anything out of the park. Darth Cheney was his usual, sonorous, sharp, attacking self. He was solid, no doubt about it, but again, was unable to hit anything out of the park.

But I think that with the large audience that this debate was supposed to draw, there are now more people who have seen the contrast between these two men. And that difference was most starkly drawn in the closing statements.

John Edwards closed with hope and faith in America and Americans. He talked of his father bettering himself and his family about his ability to go to college as the first in his family. Edwards reminded people of how great we can be if we only draw together Americans and the world.

Dick Cheney used the tool that he and his sock puppet, G.W., have used for the past 3 1/2 years; fear. His closing statement was a coldly calculated appeal to the fear in people, which they've done nothing to allay since 9/11 while always implying that the next attack is just around the corner.

I hope that the swayables and the undecideds saw that as clearly as I did. Yes, on November 2 we have a choice: we can choose four more years of fear and the unknown, or we can choose hope.

If You Vote the Wrong Way...

If the consequences of voting "the wrong way" this November seem rather nebulous, check out this article on MSNBC:

Thirty states are poised to make abortion illegal within a year if the Supreme Court reversed its 1973 ruling establishing a woman's legal right to an abortion, an advocacy group said Tuesday.


"The building blocks are already in place to recriminalize abortion," said Nancy Northup, the center's president.
If that doesn't quite move the consequences into sharp relief, consider this: The next president will likely appoint two to four Supreme Court Justices, including the Chief Justice. If you think that a single moderate judge will see a nomination from Bush, you really are living on a different planet from the rest of us.

Currently, it is believed that five of the nine justices support abortion rights, but that balance could be tipped if President Bush, in a second term, nominates a new justice who reflects his anti-abortion views. Democratic contender John Kerry is a strong supporter of abortion rights.


Yes, I'm back at work, although I probably should have stayed home one more day. It's a good thing I did come back today. I'm buried under a ton of work. I haven't even had time to look at what's going on in the world.

Hopefully tonight I'll be able to get a few things posted.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and especially for the good wishes. I think by tomorrow I'll be pretty close to 100% again. If you can avoid whatever bug I had - or any of them for that matter - do it.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Under the Weather

I haven't felt well all weekend and have taken today off from work. I haven't disappeared and John Ashcroft's boys haven't been by telling me to lay off the aWol Preznit. I'll try to get back into things tomorrow. Until then, check out some of the great links in my blogroll.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Post Debate Spin?

Reverse psychology or have Wall Streeters seen the light? This morning's poll in the Wall Street Journal asked, of course, who won the debate.

  • G.W. Bush: 23%

  • J.F. Kerry: 70%

  • Tie: 7%

17096 votes

Dorian Grey or Dracula?

Prior to the debate last night, one of the big topics of the blow-dried talking heads was "demeanor." Which candidate would be able to act "presidential" enough to sway voters? I don't think there's any doubt about who won that silly little contest last night.

Steve Gilliard has an interesting take on that part of the evening that got me thinking:

Bush, allegedly, is tough. Instead of being tough, he looked weak and small compared to the Presidential-looking Kerry. And that isn't just spin, Kerry seemed to gain in stature as Bush lost his. If the situations were reversed, and Bush was the challenger, his campaign would be all over but the voting.
I agree with Steve, Kerry started out a little haltingly, perhaps he was just nervous. Bush came out looking like he always does. But over the course of the evening it seemed that Kerry was sucking the life out of Bush; he stood up straighter, he gestured a little more and he spoke more confidently as the night wore on. Bush, on the other hand, seemed to shrink in on himself; becoming more petulant and unsure the longer the questions kept coming.

I'm not sure if it was more like watching Dorian Grey grow younger and better looking while his portrait grew ancient and haggard or like watching Dracula suck the very lifeblood from his victim, growing more hale and vigorous while his victim became grey and lifeless. But it was more than just noticeable.