Saturday, October 30

Richard Holbrooke

Kerry advisor and former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer yesterday, and it went a little something like this, emphasis mine:

BLITZER: Because the sense is -- and it could be totally misguided -- that before the elections in Spain, as you know, there was a huge terrorist attack to try to affect the political situation in Spain.

HOLBROOKE: What happened in Spain was unique, because the Spanish government blamed it on Basque separatists and it wasn't. And that's what blew up in their face.

The United States is not Spain. We're united in the war against al Qaeda. We're united against this murderer who you've just shown on television. And John Kerry has sworn and pledged it will be his top priority to pursue him and hunt him down. ...

BLITZER: Are you concerned, though, that when Americans see this videotape -- it will be all over the news media, as you can imagine, not only today, but in the days to come -- they will be reminded of what happened on 9/11 and they will say, you know what, I better vote for Bush, because he is tougher in dealing with al Qaeda than Kerry?

HOLBROOKE: I don't think so.

I think it also raises a much deeper question. How can this grotesque mass murderer be out there on worldwide television more than three years after 9/11? Why haven't we captured him, if the Bush administration was going to be so effective in the war on terror? President Bush said in the debates that he has rolled up 75 percent of al Qaeda. Well, it sure doesn't sound like it now. And, in Iraq, we have created a new terrorist center in places like Fallujah. And now it turns out that we also have some very serious missing high explosives. ...

HOLBROOKE: And as Secretary Rumsfeld himself said in the famous leaked memo, aren't we creating more terrorists than we're killing?

BLITZER: Briefly, while I have you, these missing explosives in Iraq that's causing quite a bit of a controversy, the Pentagon came out today. They brought a major who was there. He said he destroyed a lot. He wasn't sure, could have been from the IAEA-inspected cache of weapons. It might not have been. He didn't know for sure.

The information is still being assembled. The criticism of John Kerry is that, he has rushed to make this an issue when he doesn't have all the facts.

HOLBROOKE: I think this is just astonishing, Wolf. The administration doesn't know what happened in Al-Qaqaa, a well-known weapons dump, which you just showed in an earlier part of your program, that the IAEA had described in detail with Secretary Powell sitting in the room at the U.N. Security Council two years ago?

You're saying that now the administration should figure out? The truth is simple. The details are murky, but the truth is simple. The ammunition went missing. It includes the most dangerous high explosives, things that are used to create nuclear bombs, not nuclear weapons, but the implosionary device. Americans may have been killed because of this. The administration lost track of it, until journalists found discovered it.

Then they admitted it. Then they denied it. Then they recalibrated it. That's all silly details. The truth is simple. Tons of the most dangerous weaponry are missing. ...

It's nice to see regurgitated Republican talking points get so completely refuted. Holbrooke even took the time to explode the old chestnut about the elections in Spain, which were lost because the government were liars, and not as conventional wisdom would have it that it was because of the attack.

This coming Tuesday, please help get out the vote for Kerry, so we can have a president who isn't afraid to pick a smart, direct person as an advisor. And if you can, give a little extra push to help get other Democrats elected to office. Think of it as a housewarming present for the next occupant of the White House.

Friday, October 29

News & Comment

AmericaBlog points to a story on the other enemies of America that endorsed Bush.

TalkLeft: Relevant info on the two big scandals breaking now against the Bush administration. They try to deny, but there's that darned videotape. Now the IRS is threatening the NAACP with the loss of tax exempt status for criticisms of Bush administration policies last year. Also, a group called Catholics for Political Responsibility belts out a hard left hook at the president's alleged moral foundations.

See The Forest has a truly impressive crowd photo of a Kerry rally. Then, if you haven't caught it yet, Dave Johnson explains Social Security, aka the tax we pay to keep seniors from starving in the street.

See The Forest also shared a link to Draft 101, an FAQ for people curious about the powers of the draft board should one be reinstated. Apparently, being female or an only child, going to Canada, or even being over 25 won't keep you off the list.

The Sideshow does a wonderful job of collecting news you need to know, but in particular, make sure and catch the RudePundit's explanation of why Kerry is a superhero.

DailyKos: An op-ed find on the new and improved fully functional Left. The DNC has made a last minute decision to contest Arkansas, where polls show a very close race. An impressive collection of even more pictures of the Kerry rally where The Boss made his cameo. Good news on Ohio voter registration, and better news from the latest Florida polls. Bad news comes in the form of a flier designed to supress the black vote in Milwaukee. Finally, Meteor Blades discusses the situation the Palestinians face with Arafat, which can be summed up as damned if he goes, damned if he doesn't.

Tuesday, October 26

It Gets Worse

When I heard about this on the half hour BBC broadcast this evening, I couldn't believe my ears. But a Google turned up the fact that the Bush administration has indeed threatened to shoot down a European GPS system if they were allowing unfriendly parties to use it. They didn't seem in the slightest bit polite about it, either:

...According to a leaked US Air Force document written in August and obtained by The Business, Peter Teets, under-secretary of the US Air Force wrote: "What will we do 10 years from now when American lives are put at risk because an adversary chooses to leverage the global positioning system of perhaps the Galileo constellation to attack American forces with precision?"

The paper [The Business weekly] also reported a disagreement between EU and US officials this month over Galileo at a London conference which led to the threat to blow up the future satellites.

The European delegates reportedly said they would not turn off or jam signals from their satellites, even if they were used in a war with the United States.

A senior European delegate at the London conference said his US counterparts reacted to the EU position "calmly".

"They made it clear that they would attempt what they called reversible action, but, if necessary, they would use irreversible action," the official was quoted as saying. ...

It isn't that concerns about hostile groups or nations wanting to use a powerful satellite positioning system shouldn't be raised. It's in every way legitimate to bargain on the issue. But the nations of Europe are among the few countries left who are still willing to engage with us in good faith. In the dangerous position we're in, perhaps you leave the 'we will bomb you' option in a drawer until some time in the future when other negotiations fail. Because these are after all, still our friends, and they have as yet done nothing to indicate otherwise.

The BBC guest commentator, whose name I didn't catch, drew a comparison between the space plans of Bush and Kerry. He stated that Kerry had committed to opposing the weaponization of space, while the Bush administration wanted to dominate it like 'the British Navy dominated the seas' at the height of its empire.

So we have again, another clear choice. To me, this brings up the point that Bush seems to believe that future wars are so inevitable that we might as well treat other countries as if they're about to happen any day now. Given the opportunity, the belief could go down as the classic example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If anyone's left to say so. Kerry seems to believe that wars can be prevented, and anyone glad that the Cold War never turned hot can well appreciate that.

Just when I thought that this latest bit of revealed hubris was about as bad as it could be, Juan Cole reminds us how much worse off we are compared to four years ago. Speaking of the looting of Iraq's weapons facilities, he says [thanks to Body and Soul, emphasis mine]:

Muhammad al-Baradei said that some of the nuclear material stolen from facilities in Iraq has already begun showing up in other countries. But the dual-use equipment, which has applications in nuclear weapons construction, has disappeared. (Hmm. I wonder which neighbor of Iraq might be desperately at work on a nuclear bomb and might be willing to pay top dollar for such equipment?) How bad a job Bush is doing is clear when we consider that we might well be relieved to know that this equipment went to Iran, since that means Bin Laden doesn't have it.

We're in a situation this bad, this far out of Bush's depth, and his administration is threatening the satellites of the few people left who are still willing to speak with us. People whose cooperation we need for securing intelligence, funding reconstruction of the messes we've made, and acting as go-betweens with countries to whose leaders the U.S. has become radioactive. Oh yeah, also trade and foreign investment.

It's a low set of expectations, to stop digging when you're in a hole. The Bush administration seems to have it's heart set on lowering those expectations on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. They've been at it so long that it would be a public relations coup for them to go a whole month without doing something so incompetent and damaging that even much better people will have a hard time filling that hole.

Saturday, October 23

Virtual Muscle Relaxant

Go here, watch this.

If you're watching this election as closely as I am, biting your nails, yelling at the TV, just go over to the nice link and visualize a Kerry win. It works right away to soothe election related anxiety.

Friday, October 22

Bush's Popularity Explained

According to a new PIPA survey, Bush's real popularity lies in the fact that Bush supporters don't know what he stands for. Supporters of Bush and Kerry were quizzed about their candidates' positions on 8 issues, and a majority of Bush supporters were wrong about his stand on 6 of them. Sizable majorities of Kerry supporters were right about his stand on 7 of the 8 issues.

It seems like the public hasn't really gotten to know this George W. Bush character as well as they might. That works to his advantage. Supporters who incorrectly guessed Bush's positions often simply assumed that he agreed with them.

The issue that the largest number of Bush supporters mistook his stance on was the inclusion of labor and environmental standards in trade laws. Only 13% of his supporters correctly identified Bush as opposing them.

Thursday, October 21


We're down to the final days of the election, and there's plenty to do in Washington State. Showing up is key, and even with record state turnout predicted, it's important to make sure that no Democrat gets the idea that they can sit this one out because some poll says that Washington is in the bag. We have a Senator to support, some chances to affect the balance of the House, and great pick for Governor, and some fine down-ticket candidates that need every vote they can get.

If you have the werewithal, considering donating via one of the links on the sidebar. I strongly recommend the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) as a group that can effectively spend money where it's needed the most. However, other types of contributions can be just as decisive.

If you have very little time in the coming two weeks, at least remind friends and acquaintances to vote. Try to get at least one person to the polls who might not otherwise have gone.

If you can squeeze in a good few hours, or maybe even a weekend, Democracy for Washington has some ideas:

Get on the bus for Don Barbieri!

We need 12 seats to win a majority in the U.S. House. We need Don Barbieri to be one of them! Democracy for Washington invites you to join us, Congressman Jay Inslee, and Congressman Jim McDermott as we bus to Spokane next Saturday and Sunday, the 23rd and 24th!

We will meet Jim McDermott at 8:00am at Jay Inslee’s campaign HQ to kick off our trip to Spokane. We will volunteer with the Barbieri campaign Saturday afternoon and have some fun in the evening. We will volunteer again on Sunday morning, before coming home Sunday evening. This is a very close race, and they need all the help we can bring!


The Inslee campaign has taken care of transportation, food and housing – you bring yourself, your dedication and comfy shoes!

Meet at Inslee campaign HQ at 15021 Aurora Avenue No., in Shoreline to catch the bus.

Democracy for Washington is committed to helping Don Barbieri win this seat and ensure George Nethercutt is not replaced with another right wing radical! We need Don Barbieri to put this seat back in Democratic hands! If you live in a safe Legislative District, GET ON THE BUS FOR BARBIERI!

Teachers in the 24th District: Help Kevin Van De Wege!

Kevin Van De Wege is a great young candidate in the 24th district. Next Saturday, the 23rd of October, teachers will be doorbelling all over the district to help him out. He is running against a very conservative opponent, and needs our help! If you can’t join the bus to Spokane, consider helping Kevin on Saturday. E-mail or call (360) 477-0548 to volunteer!

Volunteer for the coordinated campaign – help on Election Day!

If you haven’t already signed up to work on Election Day, you can call:

1-866-ELECTJK (353-2855)

You can also visit Volunteer today!

News & Comment

Digby does a good job of explaining why the Bush administration shouldn't be trusted on the flu vaccine issue, reminding fellow citizens that back in the day, Cheney advocated universal anthrax innoculations but was stopped by the outcry from the healthcare community.

Body and Soul talking about the looting of Iraqi nuclear facilities, theft that goes far beyond the theft of barrels full of yellowcake. Entire buildings have vanished over the course of the occupation, and no one who knows where they've gone has stepped forward to reassure the public. The lack of ongoing inspections or site monitoring puts lives at risk around the world from better equipped terrorists, and lives at risk in Iraq from possible nuclear contamination.

Bush gets endorsed by Iran.

DailyKos notes that Bush has picked a fight with Pat Robertson, a man whose recent statements could seriously damage the image of the Iraq war in the minds of a key Bush constituency. Oh, the irony.

The Sideshow has great stuff, so read as far down as you can. She also points to something I'd been planning to look for, but now don't need to: Al Gore's recent remarks at Georgetown. Some fine words from the people's choice for president in 2000, go read.

The American Street: Bush turns down Muslim peacekeepers offering to serve in Iraq because... well, damn, I can't even think of a good snarky reason to do a fool thing like that. A report on a Michael Moore rally in Eugene, OR. Our attention is drawn to the online diary of a soldier abroad, as it were, in Iraq. A substantive definition of obscenity. David Neiwert continues with a series on the rise of pseudo fascism.

Prometheus 6 with the very alarming economic news that foreign investors are backing off U.S. bonds, particularly bad since about half of the total bonds outstanding are foreign-held.

MaxSpeak: A collection of letters to the editor in Detroit on the subject of anger in America. How the tax burden gets shared.

Orcinus with a clarification, after the president's debate mention, on the history and nature of the Dred Scott decision.

If you haven't caught it yet, NBC's Meet The Press had a debate this past Sunday between DeMint (R) and Tenenbaum (D), the Senate candidates for South Carolina. There's a good discussion buried in there about DeMint's idea for a national sales tax.

BOPnews: Some quick hits for political junkies. In censorship news today, Walmart has censored The Daily Show book. A very sound and intelligent foreign policy speech by Wes Clark.

Wampum: A shameless promotion of Going Upriver, a movie about John Kerry. A big step up in the jurisdiction of Federal Indian Law. Bush's job approval numbers are anemic, and spell trouble for him, as well as the possibility of a brighter future for the rest of us.

Left Coaster: Democrats are better for the economy. The old guard of the Republican party are lining up against Bush. The results of the latest Gallup polls have been very favorable for Bush, but an examination of the samples they use shows a model that doesn't reflect the voting public.

Monday, October 18

Shrill Commentary

If you haven't been regularly visiting the Shrillblog*, consider adding it to your bookmarks. The Shrillblog chronicles the swelling ranks of the Order Of The Shrill, explained as follows:

The Order of the Shrill is limited to those who were once sane, fair, and balanced, but who have been driven into shrill unholy madness by one or more of the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, or simple disconnection from reality of the George W. Bush administration.

Paul Krugman was driven into shrill, unholy madness quite early on, but this is because he had the distinction among his media 'peers' of being an honest economist. Yet now, as the Shrillblog documents, it's seldom possible to go a single day without finding another convert to the Order among the media, military, corporate, or public service sectors of our society.

But as a note of advice, most members of the public have not spent much time contemplating the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, or simple disconnection from reality of the Bush administration. They may therefore be alarmed by extreme shrillness, and members of the Order are advised to play it cool and stick to the facts, ma'am.

And the facts include a Knight-Ridder report on the to-be-provided post-war plan that never materialized.

Also, a New York Times Magazine article by Ron Suskind about Bush's distaste for the "reality-based" community, and his creation of the first "faith based presidency." And not the good kind of faith, but the stubborn refusal to ever entertain the slightest doubt in the rightness of one's actions. This article is long and in-depth, and holds the attention all the way through. It covers incidents throughout the Bush presidency, talks to people on both sides of the aisle, and includes multiply sourced references to Bush's recent comments at a private fundraiser about what a second term would look like.

Suskind closes the article with some words by evangelical Pastor Jim Wallis, a man Bush called on just before taking office to organize an ecumenical meeting of diverse clergy to talk about issues of poverty and faith:

..."Faith can cut in so many ways," he said. "If you're penitent and not triumphal, it can move us to repentance and accountability and help us reach for something higher than ourselves. That can be a powerful thing, a thing that moves us beyond politics as usual, like Martin Luther King did. But when it's designed to certify our righteousness -- that can be a dangerous thing. Then it pushes self-criticism aside. There's no reflection.

"Where people often get lost is on this very point," he said after a moment of thought. "Real faith, you see, leads us to deeper reflection and not -- not ever -- to the thing we as humans so very much want."

And what is that?

"Easy certainty."

The president no longer consults with Wallis, considering that the gentleman once suggested that terrorism would continue to be a problem as long as no major action was taken to reduce injustice. The president appeared confused by this, and that was the last they saw of each other.

* Also, the Shrillblog is very fond of H.P. Lovecraft, a classic writer of short and very odd horror stories. Any inexplicable words or phrases are unapolagetic lifts from Lovecraft's Cthulhu tales. If that doesn't ring a bell, don't worry about it, the blog is still entertaining and informative.

Friday, October 15

Vote Supression

The City of Milwaukee may be short of ballots because a Republican county executive has provided them with a couple hundred thousand fewer ballots than they received in 2000, and far less than they asked for considering the expected voter turnout.

A Republican consulting firm, funded by RNC money, has been running 'voter registration drives' which they are suspected of using as cover to tear up Democratic registration forms. DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe writes a letter to the RNC about it.

Pandagon points to a recent Krugman editorial on the subject of voter supression along with the following comments:

Does it strike anyone else that the role of Democrats is to register additional voters and get accused of fraud, and the role of Republicans is to try everything possible, legal and extralegal, to make sure those voters don't get to the polls?

The "L" Word

Well, instead of talking about policy or fixing on Bush's outright lie regarding his past comments on Osama Bin Laden, the media is talking about Kerry's mention of the Cheney's lesbian daughter. Dave Cullen writes a piece in Salon saying virtually everything that needs to be said about it (subscription or free day pass required for article):
  • Mary Cheney has been happily out of the closet for at least a decade, so John Kerry was hardly dragging her out against her will.
  • She spent the late '90s working as a veritable professional lesbian, as gay and lesbian corporate relations manager for Coors Brewing Co.
  • Dick Cheney himself has been using her sexuality on the campaign trail. Click here to watch a Human Rights Campaign ad with him on the stump on Aug. 24, 2004: "Lynne and I have a gay daughter ... "
  • The Bush-Cheney administration has shamelessly used homosexuality as a wedge issue, never hesitating to play the sodomite card when it serves their political ends.
  • John Edwards brought up Mary Cheney in response to a similar gay-rights question just eight days earlier in the veep debate. Dick Cheney responded by thanking him for his kind remarks.

...Let's get one thing straight. It is not an insult to call a proudly public lesbian a lesbian. It's an insult to gasp when someone calls her a lesbian. That's how all the gays I have spoken to the past 24 hours perceived the press response. You're embarrassed for us. And it's infuriating. ...

Cullen closes the article saying that the worst thing about coming out to his parents was that at first, they were embarassed about what other people would think of them. He said that it took years for them to get to the point where they didn't care who knew, or what anyone else thought about it.

The Cheneys either aren't there yet, or they're using this to obscure the fact that Bush came out 0 for 3 in the debates. Either way, it's Dick and Lynne Cheney whose behavior is an embarassment. And the Log Cabin Republicans seem to agree on that point.

Monday, October 11

Of Course

Someone theorized that everything Bush said in the last debate that began with "Of course..." would end up being a whopper.

Someone went and checked up on that.

Sunday, October 10


The New Yorker covers Kerry's campaign comeback moves, which have helpfully coincided with the wheels coming off the Bush campaign.


Saturday, October 9

Bush Whoppers and Other Travesties

In case anyone was wondering, Bush does have part ownership of a timber company. As the previous link notes, MSNBC caught it. CNN's fact check hits a number of other Bush mishaps, but misses the timber company point, the sort of 'easy and fun' thing most the media was all over Gore for in 2000. FOX News' fact check was briefer than CNN's, and did catch the timber company point, reviewing it in surprising detail. The Knight Ridder fact check covered another set of points, but also failed to pick up the timber company exchange.

One of Bush's other answers last night blames the military for his decision to invade Iraq with too few troops.

Several pundits and journalists have noticed that even if he was more controlled than at the last debate, Bush still has anger management issues.

And in an example that proves we don't have a liberal media, Sinclair Broadcasting has ordered all its affiliates to run an anti-Kerry movie just before the election. If you're concerned about this, letters to Sinclair, newspaper editors, and news stations will help raise awareness of this and hopefully pressure Sinclair to pull back.

Now if you need your own blood pressure lowered after wading through all that, a regular Kos diarist has a solid, but sunny, post-debate scorecard. Another draws our attention to a good article on Kerry's international policy positions.

Friday, October 8

News & Comment

Hey there, long-suffering readers. I'm pleased to bring you a collection of fine links rounded up over the week. This weekend, I'll be putting up my take on the 8th Congressional District candidate's debate held this past Tuesday. Also, next week will probably have a more regular posting schedule, so stop by and say hello.

Jack Pine Savage tells us what to listen for when we're watching the debate tonight.

Wampum looks at the dismal job numbers, noting that discouraged workers are up, manufacturing jobs are down, and the government payroll has increased. Exactly the kind of result Republicans always predict Democratic economic policies will lead to.

Atrios points out that polls now have voters finding Kerry more likeable by a double-digit lead.

Charles Kuffner rounds up all the latest news about the DeLay ethics investigation. The charges that have been leveled at his top level aides and corporate donors could spell the Majority Leader's downfall, and the Congressional Ethics Committee has decided to defer a finding until they hear from the Texas prosecutor conducting the investigation.

Digby says that Dick Cheney is now implicating himself in Hussein's schemes without realizing it. I disagree though, I think they're just so used to no one noticing their contradictions and cover-ups that they think they can say anything. And pretty much, that's the case.

War and Piece tells us that a Wall Street Journal Iraq correspondent has been suspended until after the elections for writing a letter about the conditions in Baghdad.

Warblogging reminds readers that after Bush told everyone that they shouldn't forget Poland when speaking about Iraq, Poland now wants out.

Daily Kos: Cheney's attack on Edwards revealed to be wholly without merit. For those keeping score at home, the women of Afghanistan are far from free, and they aren't getting any help from the White House.

George W. Bush has been a secretive president, reluctant to hold press conferences, and shielded from townhall questions by non-supporters. It may cost him the election, as his debate performance of last week indicated.

Feministing writes that 30 states can make abortion illegal within a year of a Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Also, a profile of the African environmentalist who won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Monday, October 4

News & Comment

Bumper Sticker - John Kerry for President: These Colors Don't Run.

Atrios: FOX News falls for a Republican satire group called Communists for Kerry, including their comments in a news story as though they were a legitimate Democratic citizen group. We also get a link to a Talking Points Memo story about a fake FOX News story with made up Kerry quotes that was written by FOX Kerry campaign correspondent Carl Cameron and posted to their website 'accidentally.' If it was any other news organization, half the media would be calling for heads to roll by now, but I guess no one expects any better of the station that hired Geraldo Rivera as a war correspondent.

BusyBusyBusy has made an art out of the 'shorter' format. Go here for summaries like the shorter version of Max Boot: "Kerry would negotiate with Iran and North Korea - which is tantamount to appeasement - abandoning Bush's highly effective policy of sporadic verbal bellicosity."

BoingBoing points to the corrected version of the story where ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia takes a surprising stand on orgies. I don't know about you, but the very thought gives me chills.

No one would ever guess it, but when Cheney was at the helm of Halliburton, the company paid bribes to get Nigerian oil contracts. Also, if Cheney had his way during the 1990's, he would have lifted sanctions on rogue regimes. A case could be made that we should negotiate with some of these countries, but it's more interesting for the hypocritical contrast with his current positions.

Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting writes about another gaping Diebold security hole in their paperless voting machines.

George Bush's resignation from the National Guard.

Porter Goss was recently confirmed as the new head of the CIA, and promised to be the very soul on nonpartisanship. Then for his first appointments, he hires a former oil executive to join him at the CIA, and the rest of his first picks are Republican Hill staffers.

Vladimir Putin has signed the Kyoto Protocol, bringing the treaty into full force around the world. America and Australia will be excluded from the global market on emissions tradings and ensuing negotiations unless the two countries become signatories.

Get educated about poll results, and read why the media may be underestimating Kerry's performance.

Tom Paine has some policy wonks sit down and give us an educated post-debate wrap up.

The New York Times has a lengthy expose on how the How The White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence. I guess it's better that they start doing their job late rather than never, but this is the kind of thing they should have thought about running before we started dropping bombs.

Liberal Oasis reviews the Sunday talk shows, noting that the New York Times piece linked above completely derailed the Bush campaign's attempts to spin Kerry's debate performance into anything other than a win.

War and Piece: Bob Novak leaks the name of yet another intelligence community member.

Friday, October 1

Debate Review


Shorter Bush: I know we should mean what we say about committing troops and not sending mixed messages. So there.

Bush said that the "A.Q. Khan network has been brought to justice." A.Q. Khan himself is living comfortably in Pakistan, his government having promised that he won't sell nuclear secrets abroad ever again. I guess we'll have to take their word on that.

Even the networks couldn't ignore that Bush claimed 100,000 trained Iraqi security personnel. The number is double the (likely exaggeration) claimed by Iyad Allawi in his recent visit to Washington D.C.

Bush said that he knows how other world leaders think, and that they won't follow Kerry because he says that the Iraq war was the "the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time." So, for those of us following at home, Bush believes that the rest of the world won't follow someone whose position the majority of them agree with.

Bush also stated that, "It‘s hard work to go from a place where people get ... executed, to a place where people are free." Clearly, Texas has a lot of hard work ahead of it.

And memorably, Bush thinks that missile defense is the way to protect America from long run threats in the 21st century. This from the president whose campaign is based on accusing those who disagree with him of having a September 10th mindset.

If I remember correctly, Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to give a speech on September 11th on the need for missile defense. It was shelved and brushed under the rug, in the face of overwhelming evidence that missiles weren't the biggest threat to America. Note to Bush: Stop trying to fight the Cold War.


Kerry's underlying theme was that the president needs to be trusted, and that Bush can't be. He stated it most bluntly when recounting the story of President Kennedy's Secretary of State going to France during the Cuban missile crisis, and being told by Charles DeGaulle that he didn't need to show any evidence, that the word of the president was enough. Kerry asked how many world leaders would respond that way now, a question that no one needs to answer out loud.

Kerry spoke clearly about the situation in Afghanistan, where Bush's war has made that country safe for drug dealers with private armies. He said that American casualties were going up, that elections had been postponed three times, and that they produce 75% of the world's opium. So when heroin is cheaper than it was a couple years ago, junkies around the world have Bush to thank.

Kerry drew a sharp distinction between Saddam Hussein and bin Laden's al Qaeda network after Bush defended going to war in Iraq saying that the "enemy attacked us." He reminded listeners twice that the job of catching bin Laden had been "outsourced" to Afghan warlords, who then failed. Kerry further compared troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq, asking if Bush thought that Iraq was so much more of a threat.

Kerry talked about Iraq in similarly plain terms. Families who find themselves "going out on the Internet to get the state-of-the-art body gear to send to their kids," the vast majority of military Humvees without armor, and casualty rates that go up month after month.

Kerry also described the state of allied help. "You can't tell me that when the most troops any other country has on the ground is Great Britain, with 8,300, and below that the four others are below 4,000, and below that, there isn't anybody out of the hundreds, that we have a genuine coalition to get this job done."

Though he's been much criticized for lack of clarity on Iraq, Kerry summed up his stand by way of the Powell doctrine. "Secretary of State Colin Powell told this president the Pottery Barn rule: If you break it, you fix it. Now, if you break it, you made a mistake. It‘s the wrong thing to do. But you own it. And then you‘ve got to fix it and do something with it." He said that an important part of succeeding in Iraq would be convincing people in the region that the U.S. doesn't have "long-term designs" on Iraq, suggesting that miscalculations made by the Bush administration gave the wrong impression that the war was about oil.

Kerry didn't hesitate to name nuclear proliferation as the most pressing threat facing the country. Proliferation was a recurring theme in his remarks, and was connected to North Korea's development of nuclear weapons on Bush's watch, Russia's still unsecured stores of nuclear material, and the example set by "spending hundreds of millions of dollars to research bunker-busting nuclear weapons" while telling other countries not to develop such weapons.

What would he do about proliferation? Kerry discussed the recent history of the North Korean situation in as much detail as the format allowed, and called for a renewal of the bilateral talks that led to the inspection regime agreed on under the Clinton administration. He said that he'd invest in securing Russia's nuclear material in the next four years, instead of the 13 he claimed it would take at the current pace. And he said unequivocally that the bunker-buster nuclear program would be completely shut down in a Kerry administration.

At home, Kerry pointed out that air cargo isn't X-rayed, that only 5% of containers shipped in through U.S. ports are inspected, and nuclear and chemical plants needed better protection. He touched on cuts to first responder funding for police and fire departments, saying that these services need to "fully staffed."

Finally, before it becomes the broken record tagline for Kerry's statements, the $200 billion figure for the Iraq war is based on estimates of costs through 2005. Even USA Today used the $200 billion figure this May, describing it as the likely price tag for Iraq operations through fiscal 2005.

Some network anchors stated that the total amount spent presently was closer to $120 billion. But the costs of policies are commonly discussed in terms of their lifetime total cost, just as the cost of Bush's tax cuts are estimated based on likely cost from inception to their sunset date. Such cost estimates can span an entire decade, or more when the subject turns to Medicare and Social Security. Further, much of the budget for 2005 will have already been determined this year, with every budget appropriation and ongoing policy decision being the equivalent of a postdated check written by the U.S. government.

Why is someone as liberal as I am having to point out the way policy costs are usually discussed? Or that money you know you have to spend over the next year affects spending right now, even if the bills haven't come due yet? I don't know. It's like saying shortly after you buy a house that it only really costs the amount of the down payment and the mortgage payments to date. Frankly, it's depressing.

Full transcript, and quote source, via MSNBC.