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What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Friday, October 29, 2004

The World According to Osama

First up: my new column is up at CounterBias, about George W. Bush's great "record" as president.

The man that George W. Bush wishes would go away is back -- Osama Bin Laden has recorded a new message to let the world know he's still alive.

This time out, Osama admits to orchestrating the attacks of Sept. 11. The network Al-Jazeera aired a few minutes of the latest Osama bin Laden message to America.

Analysts believe the tape to be genuine and that it had been recorded recently.

bin Laden makes a sort of threat against the United States: "Despite entering the fourth year after Sept. 11, Bush is still deceiving you and hiding the truth from you and therefore the reasons are still there to repeat what happened."

Inexplicably, the Department of Homeland Security did not raise the terrorist threat level.

That part makes the least sense to me. The threat level has been raised numerous times in the past, with the American public being told to go about their usual routines.

Yet now, the man Bush vowed to hunt down and capture "dead or alive" has revealed himself to be alive, AND that he might orchestrate another attack against America.

At least we have Saddam Hussein in custody.

I feel much safer.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Election 2004

President John F. Kerry. Vice President John Edwards. The Kerry administration. Has a nice ring to it.

Wait a minute.

Oh, dear lord.

If John Kerry is president...

Who am I going to write about??

It's been a gravy train with Bush as president, writing about him and his legions of right-wing robot supporters.

But if Bush isn't president...who's the target?

When Bill Clinton was president, there were plenty of right-wing political figures to bash, such as Newt Gingrich, Jesse Helms, and Al D'Amato.

All of those guys are gone. Who does that leave? Trent Lott? Tom Delay? I don't even know anything about those guys!

Now, I do want Kerry to win. I just need to find another target to ridicule and bash, if Bush is no longer president.

This is going to be difficult.

If you have any suggestions, drop me a line.

Hollywood Republicans? Dennis Miller? I guess I could make fun of the George W. Bush presidential library, which will probably consist mainly of pop-up books and those paper menus that kids are given at restaurants to color on.

Donald Rumsfeld will probably head for the Carlyle Group. That might be good for some chuckles.

What a bind.

Maybe I need to become a conservative pundit? People like Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity will continue to have a never-ending career, because they can make fun of a President Kerry and continue to make fun of liberals.

I definitely need to think this over.







Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Bush Failures Pt. II

Since the so-called liberal media isn't all the keen on reporting coalition deaths in Iraq, I will: as of today, 1246 U.S., British and coalition troops have been killed. Of the 1246, 1106 are American. Our deaths account for nearly 90% of all casualties.

The situation in Iraq is so bad that Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi blamed the United States for the deaths of 50 Iraqi national guardsmen killed in an ambush Saturday. “It was a heinous crime where a group of National Guardsmen were targeted...there was great negligence on the part of some coalition forces.”

Terrorists continue to kidnap and threaten hostages, including 11 Iraqi national guard troops and a Japanese man.

What a mess. Yet Bush is not held accountable for what has happened in Iraq, nor is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. In 1993, following the failed mission in Somalia that resulted in the deaths of 18 American forces, senate Republicans sought to limit Bill Clinton's authority to commit troops and even threatened to withhold funding for any action in Somalia; some Republicans even called for the resignation of Clinton's defense secretary at the time, Les Aspin, most vocally from Senator Alfonse D'Amatao.

Imagine that: a military operation that resulted in 18 deaths resulted in Republicans threatening to limit a president's authority as commander-in-chief and withhold funds for the operation.

Back to Iraq: George W. Bush wants to spend more money in Iraq, and has requested another $70 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which would bring the grand total of Bush's snipe hunt to $225 billion. Yet before the war, the administration was promising that Iraqi oil revenues would help pay for the reconstruction of Iraq.

A flip-flop? Nah, George W. doesn't flip-flop. He just says one thing and does something else.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Why I'm Not Voting for George W. Bush

Although the election is still a little over a week away, I, like many others, have already cast my ballot in my state's vote by mail. George W. Bush was never a consideration for me. To be honest, I probably would have voted for any candidate running against Bush. Bush has got to go.

George W. Bush's policy of going it alone has resulted in a huge disaster in Iraq. And as much as the Bush administration wants people to believe that the reason we went to war against Iraq was to hunt down terrorists, the real reason has been conveniently ignored by George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney: we went in to find and rid Iraq of WMDs. For whatever reason -- whether it was spectacularly bad intelligence or an administration determined to go to war regardless of the reason -- the war has been paid in blood by the deaths of over 1,100 American soldiers, while thousands have been injured, many never to walk or see or hear again, learning to live with prosthetic limbs or horrific burns. The lives of these young men and women have been destroyed by a president who cannot see shades of grey -- his world is a black and white, either-or world where you're either with him, or against him. The war has also cost the lives of thousands of Iraqi civilians, and our occupation of that country has created an insurgency dedicated to our destruction. Almost daily targets are bombed, our troops are under constant attack, and Iraqi forces assisting the U.S. often end up dead, as was the case this weekend when insurgents attacked a convoy of unarmed Iraqi soldiers, killing 50.

Perhaps the biggest blunder of the Bush administration was allowing Osama Bin Laden to escape. The man that George W. Bush once said would be captured "dead or alive" could be anywhere.

George W. Bush has not apologized to the families of the dead troops who were sent to Iraq to find WMDs, nor has he apologized to the American people on how we were so very wrong about WMDs.

Back home, Bush's domestic record is almost non-existent. Bush's one and only domestic program has been tax cuts. That's it. Since Bush took office, the economy has lost a total of 821,000 jobs, both in the private and public sectors (the figure is higher if you do not take into account public sector jobs).

The number of people living in poverty since Bush took office has increased by 14%, for a total of 35.9 million Americans living in poverty, while 45 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, lack health insurance.

The administration's passing of the U.S. Patriot Act is another reason for concern. I can understand the need for law enforcement agencies like the FBI and CIA to be able to share information, but other provisions of the act potentially violate civil liberties. Conservatives like to say "What rights have you lost?" but I'm more concerned with the possibility that certain situations will result in violation of civil liberties. For instance, if I were to go to a library and check out a book about Osama Bin Laden, law enforcement could request my record with no search warrant. If a book is available at a public library, I should be able to check it out without fear that the feds will come knocking on my door, asking questions about why I checked out a particular book. Law enforcement officers can also infiltrate organizations like churches, mosques or synagogues, again without a warrant, in an effort to gather intelligence. Also troubling is the power of the Bush administration to declare someone, even U.S. citizens, as "enemy combatants" in the war on terror, effectively removing all constitutional protections one would normally receive. No access to a lawyer, no speedy trial, and the authority to hold that person in custody indefinitely.

There are many other troubling aspects of the Bush administration, too many to list here. Bush's presidency has been a colossal failure, and he does not deserve a second term.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Politics of Fear

My new column is out today at CounterBias. It's a look at the politics of fear, something team Bush knows very well: scare the public into thinking that America will be attacked again if the wrong person is elected.

It's also a slow news day; I'm waiting for fresh O'Reilly material to milk. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Election of Fear

Vote for George W. Bush, or the terrorists will strike again!

Fear can be a great motivator. It's very much a part of corporate America; since no one, for the most part, works for the same company until they retire, a worker, depending on the corporation, is always in a position that they could lose their job, whether it be through a corporate reorganization, massive layoffs, or the outsourcing of jobs to India, China, Malaysia, and other countries. I used to work in high tech for a huge corporation, the company that produces the computer processor that is likely powering your PC. We knew that, depending on the market, we could lose our jobs. So most people work long hours, hoping that if job cuts are announced, they will be safe.

George W. Bush knows the power of fear. His campaign knows it. They know that Bush's record, both foreign and domestic, is piss-poor. The war in Iraq is claiming lives nearly every day. Bush's domestic policy accomplishments boil down to several tax cuts. It's not a great record to run on.

Ah, but add fear into the mix -- fear that terrorists will attack the United States again -- and suddenly George W. Bush is a viable candidate.

At a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa on Sept. 8, Vice President Dick Cheney warned against a possible terrorist attack -- if John Kerry is elected. Not that he mentioned Kerry by name, but the implication was clear: “It’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we’ll get hit again and we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Cheney said.

The Bush administration has been creating a climate of fear since the attacks of September 11. In March of 2002, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled the color-coded terror alert advisory. And, every few months, some vague threat would be announced, and the terror alert would be raised for a while, then lowered, and then raised again, causing a near-constant state of anxiety for some people.

The Bush campaign is now counting on that anxiety to win a second term. Vote for Bush/Cheney, and you'll be protected from terrorists. Vote for Kerry/Edwards, and watch your ass.

There is no indication at all that a President Kerry would deal with this issue in a way that would cause another attack on America. George W. Bush wants you to believe Kerry will let down our guard and be attacked again.

Terrorism has been quite the boon for Bush. His war on terror can last indefinitely, and Bush knows that many Americans are worried we'll be attacked again. Bush has no problem with exploiting that fear for his own gain. There's no way our terror alert will ever drop down to green (low) while Bush is president. Keeping a nation in a perpetual state of anxiety is Bush's goal. And it looks like it's working.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

There's Something About Mary

Dick and Lynne Cheney's daughter, Mary, has suddenly become the focus of media attention, all because John Kerry made what he probably will think in hindsight was a mistake: evoking her name in answer to a question in the last presidential debate. Bob Schieffer had asked the question, "Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?" This was Kerry's response:

"We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as.
I think if you talk to anybody, it's not choice. I've met people who struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage because they were living a sort of convention, and they struggled with it. And I've met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them. I think we have to respect that."

In response, Lynne Cheney said Kerry was guilty of a "cheap and tawdry political trick," adding, "This is not a good man."

I believe Kerry was trying to make a point about the importance of families, and perhaps the decision to mention Mary Cheney was a bad decision, but I find it hard to believe that Kerry intended to hurt the Cheney family in any way. How could he? People know the Cheneys have a gay daughter. If Kerry's remarks were a "cheap and tawdry political trick," what exactly did he stand to gain by making those remarks?

If I had to make a guess, I'd say a campaign advisor to the Bush/Cheney campaign suggested that John Kerry be called on his remarks. Republicans are good at creating distractions away from issues they know would harm them if the public focused on those issues. The war in Iraq, the economy, and other domestic and foreign issues are going to be something of concern from the Bush/Cheney campaign. The strategy seems to be to shift focus away from the important issues and instead occupy the public with a non-issue that ultimately does not affect anyone.

What's odd about this whole episode is how silent the Cheneys have been in other situations where the subject of homosexuality was brought up, but not in a positive way. For instance, in an appearance on the 700 Club on Sept. 13, 2001, Rev. Jerry Falwell said the following: "I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this (9/11 attack) happen.'"

So, on one hand, we had John Kerry, in a clumsy way, compliment the Cheney family on being good parents, and the other (extreme), a man who blamed gays and lesbians for the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Cheneys had nothing to say about the remarks, and the only statement issued by the White House about Falwell's remarks was that Bush found them "inappropriate."

And while the media is focused on Mary Cheney, attention is shifted away from Iraq. On Friday, car bombs killed five American troops, while other car bombs targeted churches. This latest attack brings American casualties to 1,098. Iran is continuing its program of uranium enrichment, as that country moves closer to actually having a weapon (or weapons) of mass destruction. There are big issues in the world, but it's easier just to focus on John Kerry and his compliment to the Cheney family. Such is the nature of political campaigns.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Better Than Nyquil

I wish this debate had aired at midnight; I deal with insomnia daily and anything to help get me drowsy is a good thing.

I'm not even sure what anyone said. President George W. Bush was frequently incoherent; his response to the question regarding shortages of the flu vaccine made no sense at all; in the last debate, Bush said he hadn't approved a decision to import generic drugs from Canada because the Canadian drugs were dangerous, but it turned out that the flu vaccine itself was dangerous and we're now working with the Canadians to make up for the shortage (huh?); and John Kerry, I'm positive, was sedated. Someone behind the scenes must have told all parties involved to lower the intensity and the result was something akin to spending an hour staring at a freshly-painted wall.

Also, and I know this is not important, but there was something on the corner of Bush's lip that was really distracting.

Back to the debate. Uh, people said stuff. That's about all I remember. Bush denied that he ever said that Osama Bin Laden was no longer a concern (which he actually did say at a press conference held on March 14, 2002. Bush said, in response to a question about the threat Osama Bin Laden posed to the United States, "Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.")

And come on, ending a debate with candidates making jokes? They should have been bashing each other in the head with two by fours. Bush's laugh is kind of creepy and Kerry obviously isn't used to being jovial in public.

Some facts and numbers were thrown around and no one seemed all that interested in those numbers.

All in all, a lifeless performance by both candidates.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Sinclair Broadcasting: It's Just News

On April 30, the ABC News program, Nightline with Ted Koppel, devoted the show's air time to reading the names of the fallen soldiers from the war in Iraq.

The Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which owns or operates 62 television stations in 29 markets, was none too happy with ABC's decision, and ordered its affiliates to not air the show, in part, because, according to a statement issued by Sinclair, "(Nightline) appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq." The Sinclair Group also deemed the broadcast to be political statement "disguised as news."

How then to explain Sinclair's decision to have its affiliate stations air the anti-Kerry documentary Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal -- uncut, with no commercials? In an ironic twist, Sinclair is calling the broadcast of that documentary, followed by a panel discussion, as a "news event."

Stolen Honor is described by its producers as "A documentary exposing John Kerry's record of betrayal."

So, to summarize: reading the names of the fallen soldiers from the Iraq war is in reality a thinly-disguised effort to undermine support for the war, while airing an anti-Kerry documentary in the days prior to the presidential election is a "news event."

Of course, Sinclair could also air the documentary Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry in an effort to present a balanced look at John Kerry.

Oh, look, I think I see some flying pigs.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Presidential Debates Pt. II

Tonight's debate was a close one; it wasn't a slam-dunk for Kerry as last week's debate was. The two men had very different strategies in responding to questions, and I think John Kerry chose the right strategy in answering much in the same way Bill Clinton would have.

Bush came across as arrogant, petulant and overly aggressive. Humility is not a trait I would associate with George W. Bush. Bush still cannot own up to any mistakes he thinks he's made, because he doesn't think he's made mistakes. As anyone who has participated in a behavioral interview knows, there is a way to answer the "what mistakes have you made" question in a way that shows strength of character, not weakness.

While Kerry had many facts and figures to use in answering questions, Bush presented his standard stump-speech responses and talking points. It is getting tiresome to hear yet another conservative say that John Kerry is the "most liberal" member of the senate. The National Journal rated him the most liberal member of the senate based ONLY on one year, 2003. Kerry's lifetime record puts him as the 11th most liberal senator.

Bush was aggressive in pushing the message of Kerry being a "flip-flopper," but, again, seemed to be spouting lines fed to him, rather than making statements based on facts. The quick sound-bite response has become the standard in politics, and of course John Kerry does the same thing. I guess you have to with only a couple of minutes to respond.

Also, and maybe it's a regional thing, but I had no idea what Bush meant when he said "Battling green eye shades." What the hell does that mean? Will someone please explain this?


The Friday Night Fight

Round two of the presidential debates is upon us. I'm hoping to write up a debate analysis this evening, so stay tuned.

Tonight's debate will be a town hall format, moderated by ABC's Charlie Gibson. 15-20 members of the audience have been selected to ask questions; the candidates do not know what questions will be asked. I think it's safe to assume that Iraq and the U.S. economy will be addressed. Hopefully someone will ask Bush about Iraq WMDs.

Republicans still stubbornly cling to the notion that the world is safer with Saddam Hussein behind bars. Given what we now know of Iraq's non-existent weapons and weapons programs, I wonder how the world is safer. Maybe it's more accurate to say that Iraqi people are safer with Saddam Hussein behind bars. Well, maybe not safer right now (we seem to bomb a lot of wedding parties in the war on terror) but, hopefully, eventually. Lacking WMDs, I have to wonder exactly how Saddam Hussein was a threat to the world. It's a question for Bush to answer; not that he will. The words "Bush" and "responsibility" have never been used in the same sentence.



Thursday, October 07, 2004

Great Moments in Debates

My new column is up at CounterBias. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

WMDs: Wait Until Charlie Gets Back

At a June 10th press conference following the G8 summit, President George W. Bush was asked by a reporter about the hunt for WMDs in Iraq:

I wonder if you can share with the American people your conclusions, based on what you've learned over the past 15 months, sir, as to whether those weapons were -- existed and they were hidden, were they destroyed, were they somehow spirited out of the country, or perhaps they weren't there before the war, and whether you had a chance to share this with your G8 partners?

Bush:
Right, no -- Bob, it's a good question. I don't know -- I haven't reached a final conclusion yet because the inspectors -- inspection teams aren't back yet. I do know that Saddam Hussein had the capacity to make weapons. I do know he's a dangerous person. I know he used weapons against his own people and against the neighborhood. But we'll wait until Charlie gets back with the final report, and then I'll be glad to report.

The Charlie in question is Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq.

Charlie is back, and the WMD report has been released (you can read it here, but you'll need to have the Adobe reader to view it).

There were no WMDs in Iraq.

None.

George W. Bush and his incompetent administration have killed 1,064 brave American soldiers and left thousands more injured for life, not to mention the thousands of Iraqi civilians that have been killed, in a hunt for weapons that never existed. In fact, contrary to conservative claims, 12 years of sanctions in Iraq diminished Saddam Hussein's ability to produce weapons. The sanctions were working. We didn't need to go to war. There was no threat by Saddam Hussein.

And now, young men and women have paid the price for the mistakes of the Bush administration. Paid with blood and limbs torn from bodies and paralysis and brain damage, young lives destroyed because Bush and his team were so fucking anxious to take us to war that they would do anything to dream up an excuse to use military force.

It's time for Junior to take some fucking responsibility and stop blaming his mistakes on the CIA, on Bill Clinton, on anything and anyone but him.

Expect no outrage from conservatives. They don't give a shit that anyone has been killed in Iraq.

Thanks, Mr. Bush.

Cheney Lies, Pt. II: The Video Proof

The DNC has produced a devastating video showing Vice President Cheney lying through his teeth (it should be on the front page of the DNC site, under the header of DNC Video: Cheney vs. reality). Take a look and let other folks know just how honest Mr. Cheney is.

Dick Cheney Is a Lying Liar

Dick Cheney lies. A lot. Tuesday's debate with John Edwards is a good example, because Cheney and the truth were not in the same room. Here's a great example:

Dick Cheney: I've never met John Edwards

Cheney seemingly landed a blow against Edwards when he made this statement:

"Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you (Edwards) was when you walked on the stage tonight."

One problem with that: it's a lie. Cheney and Edwards, among others, participated in the National Prayer Breakfast on February 1, 2001. In a speech, Cheney said:

"Thank you. Thank you very much. Congressman Watts, Senator Edwards, friends from across America and distinguished visitors to our country from all over the world, Lynne and I honored to be with you all this morning. I've always counted myself fortunate to have been raised in a part of the country where the Almighty chose to do some of his finest work."

Now, in case you might think Cheney was referring to a different Senator Edwards, the photo below should clarify which Senator Edwards Cheney was talking about:

Dick Cheney and John Edwards at prayer breakfast, Feb. 1, 2001.

Cheney continues to insist he's never said that there was a connection between Iraq and the attack on Sept. 11, 2001. From Tuesday's debate:

"The senator (Edwards) has got his facts wrong. I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11, but there's clearly an established Iraqi track record with terror."

Oops. Another lie. Cheney, appearing on Meet The Press on Sept. 14, 2003, said:

"If we're successful in Iraq . . . then we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11."

That sounds like a connection between Iraq and the attacks on Sept. 11. Perhaps Cheney's memory is faulty?

Regardless, we do know that Cheney lied, frequently, in his debate with John Edwards. Not that I expected Cheney to tell the truth, as that would get in the way of his attacks against John Kerry.




Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Retraction: Cheney 0, Edwards 1

I'm not going to change my general review of the debate, but I'm changing my opinion of the winner in light of something I missed while watching the debate, and give the edge to John Edwards.

Why? Well, at one point during the debate, Dick Cheney said to visit the web site Fact Check to get the "truth" about Halliburton. But he said Fact Check dot COM. And what happens when you pull up Fact Check, as Cheney said?

Well, click on this link and see for yourself.

Priceless.

The vice-presidential debate: Cheney 1, Edwards 0

Although John Edwards gave it his best shot, ultimately Cheney came away as the winner of tonight's debate, in my opinion -- but barely; it wasn't a slam-dunk by Cheney. Edwards made some good points -- especially when he reminded everyone that the votes John Kerry had cast in the senate against weapons programs were, in fact, at the recommendation of Dick Cheney.

Debate moderator Gwen Ifill seemed to have forgotten the rules she was on hand to enforce, as both Cheney and Edwards directly addressed each other on numerous occasions. Also, the answers given to questions many times had little to do with the actual question asked by Ifill.

The debate lacked the sparks seen in previous debates -- particularly the infamous Lloyd Bentsen/Dan Quayle '88 debate where Quayle had difficulty answering the question of what he would do if he had to assume the presidency, and Bensten's "you're no Jack Kennedy" response to Quayle when Quayle mentioned having the same experience as JFK.

Cheney was rattlted a few times and his famous short-fuse came to the surface; Edwards spent a lot of time writing on his pad of paper and then loudly ripping the pages from the pad.

As is typical with most debates, there was little substance. Cheney focused almost entirely on Kerry's record (regardless of the accuracy of Cheney's interpretation of that record) while Edwards tried hard to defend Kerry and, at the same time, take shots against Cheney (Bush).

The issue of experience was raised. This is always a confusing subject due to the fact that, depending on the situation and candidate, political experience can be either seen as a benefit or a deficit ("He's a Washington insider!") Yes, Dick Cheney has more experience than John Edwards, but John Edwards has the same amount of political experience that Bush had when he ran for president. Does it really matter? I don't think so, necessarily, as Bush has proven.

Whatever the outcome, ultimately this debate is merely the warm-up act for the next presidential debate on Friday, a town forum format hosted by ABC's Charles Gibson.


Fox News' Last Comic Standing: Carl Cameron

Carl Cameron is the chief political correspondent at Fox News. He's featured in Robert Greenwald's documentary Outfoxed. Cameron is shown interviewing candidate George W. Bush during the 2000 election. Cameron is also shown chatting with Bush a few minutes before the interview, and we learn that Cameron's wife had been working for the Bush campaign. In a news organization driven by journalistic ethics, Cameron would not have been allowed to interview Bush, because of a little thing we journalists call a "conflict of interest."

Fox News and conservative pundits had very strong reactions to the revelation that a New York Times reporter, Jayson Blair, had fabricated stories; and, of course, conservatives screamed bloody murder when it was discovered that CBS News had used forged documents in a story about George W. Bush's National Guard service.

How do conservatives respond when one of their own fabricates quotes for a story featured on the Fox News web site? With silence.

Carl Cameron, for whatever reason, wrote up a mock press release about the first presidential debate, including a number of phony quotes attributed to John Kerry. The piece was quickly removed from Fox's web site, not before other sites mirrored the story, which can be read here.

Remember, this is the same fellow who covered the Bush campaign in 2000 while his wife worked for the campaign.

Some of the quotes:

"Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" Kerry said Friday.

With the foreign-policy debate in the history books, Kerry hopes to keep the pressure on and the sense of traction going.

Aides say he will step up attacks on the president in the next few days, and pivot somewhat to the domestic agenda, with a focus on women and abortion rights.

"It's about the Supreme Court. Women should like me! I do manicures," Kerry said.

"I'm metrosexual — he's a cowboy," the Democratic candidate said of himself and his opponent.

Oh, man, my sides are splitting. The Daily Show really needs to hire Cameron, he's a friggin' hoot.

Fox News quickly took action, by removing Cameron's comedic masterpiece from the web site and offering up a lame apology:

Earlier Friday, FOXNews.com posted an item purporting to contain quotations from Kerry. The item was based on a reporter’s partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice.

Damn fatigue!

Presumably Cameron is keeping his job, and I haven't seen any reaction from right-wingers about the incident. I have to wonder what Roger Ailes, the president of Fox News, would have done if, say, Alan Colmes had written up something that put George W. Bush in a bad light and it was published on Fox's web site? I imagine Alan would be looking for a new job.

Now, I don't know how old Cameron is, but I'm guessing he's older than 18. See, when I was 18 and fresh out of the Defense Department's school of journalism, I drafted up a phony bit of correspondence that I left on a conference room table. I was young and stupid, so I wasn't punished, but still, Cameron is the chief political correspondent and should know better.

That's Fox News: fair and balanced, unless its correspondents are fatigued.

Monday, October 04, 2004

John Kerry: Dirty Cheat

Matt Drudge has been on a roll for the past year or so with his devastating reports on John Kerry's...uh...skin. First, the revelation that John Kerry was treated for wrinkles with Botox. Oh, my. Then, the revelation that Kerry had stopped getting Botox treatment. Most recently, Drudge reported the startling revelation of John Kerry with tanned skin. Oh, the horror!

Now Drudge is suggesting that John Kerry "cheated" at the first presidential debate by bringing a "cheat sheet" with him to the debate. This Drudge "exclusive" includes a link to video footage of Kerry removing...something...from the breast pocket of his suit jacket. As others have concluded, it appears that Kerry had, in fact, removed a pen. Conservatives, who automatically believe anything Drudge reports to be the gospel truth, registered their disgust and indignation over Kerry being a dirty cheat on blogs and message boards. Of particular note are the posters at Conservative Underground and The Right Society, two groups whose members frequently mention how intelligent they are yet will use Drudge as a source to report on whatever bit of gossip Drudge had dredged up for the day. That does not support the notion of intelligence, but hey, when you lean to the right, your brain stops working and you have to fill it with "facts" spoon-fed by Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh.

Let's explore this concept a little further. Yes, the debate rules stated that a candidate could not bring anything with them to the podium, such as a pen. Now, is it really that big a deal if Kerry brought a pen? Could it be that when he arrived at his podium he saw that the type of pen he liked to use had been forgotten? Whatever the case, who cares? It's a friggin' pen, get over it. As for the accusation that Kerry used a "cheat-sheet," well, that's just fucking stupid. Bush and Kerry didn't know what questions would be asked or in what order, or to whom. And even if Kerry had pulled out a sheet of paper from his pocket...how could he possibly have notes on questions he didn't know were going to be asked? The only time Kerry looked down at his podium was to take a note of some of Bush's responses.

All of this stinks of desperation. Bush did a terrible job at the debate, and now the right-wingers are anxious to deflect attention away from the seemingly clueless Bush. What better way to accomplish this than through a Drudge rumor? The next debate will be a town-hall format. Expect conservatives to dream up another Kerry rumor if Bush has his clock cleaned again, something along the lines of "Kerry planted people in the audience! What a bastard!"

Make sure to tune in to the debate between John Edwards and Dick Cheney tomorrow night. That should make for some good television.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

John Kerry's Post-Debate Bounce

Not surprisingly, John Kerry's poll numbers have vaulted him back to a dead-heat with George W. Bush. Kerry's numbers improved because of last week's debate, where he finally had the opportunity to present himself to America as a man of confidence with a firm grasp of the issues. George W. Bush, on the other hand, appeared to be tired, stumbling for answers to questions in some instances, on the defensive, and clearly rattlted by John Kerry. As Kerry spoke, Bush reacted noticeably to John Kerry's responses, his face a grimace of annoyance and frustration. Bush did not look presidential at all.

The latest Newsweek poll shows Kerry once again tied with the president (or ahead, if you don't include Ralph Nader), with 47% of voters likely to vote for Kerry and 45% for Bush. The previous Newsweek poll had Mr. Bush with a very comfortable 11-point lead over Kerry.

The poll also showed that voters felt Kerry was more likeable than Bush, 47% to 41%. I think this has been a big problem for Kerry up until now, as the perception of him previously wasn't as positive, with voters feeling Kerry to be distant and aloof.

Bush's job performance rating has dropped to 46%, an all-time low.

Conservatives who dismiss the debates as irrelevant are forgetting how previous debates changed the direction of a presidential campaign, from Ronald Reagan and his "are you better off now than four years ago" line in the 1980 election that cost Jimmy Carter his job. In the 1988 debates, Michael Dukakis came across as cold and distant; and in 1992, the debates helped an unknown governor of a small southern state to beat an incumbent. Clinton's victory was huge. And while Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000, Gore's demeanor and audible sighing in that series of debates likely caused some undecided voters to vote for George W. Bush.

George W. Bush has a hard job ahead of him. The final debate will deal with domestic policy. Let's just say domestic issues are not Bush's strong suit. Kerry is very likely to clean his clock in that debate.

This will be a tight race and the election could go to either man at this point. It will be interesting to see if the debates will affect the undecided voters, as they will ultimately decide the outcome of the election.

The next debate will be Tuesday as the John Edwards and Dick Cheney square off, followed by the second Bush/Kerry debate on October 8th. That debate will be a town-hall format. The final debate is scheduled for October 13. You can read about the debates, and view transcripts of past debates, at the Commission on Presidential Debates web site.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Presidential Debates: Kerry 1, Bush 0

Last night's presidential debate, the first of three, ended with a clear winner: John Kerry. The question remains if this debate will have any affect on undecided voters. They're the key to this election, which might be a very tight race. (Read the debate transcript here)

Bush's problem in the debate was that he was on the defensive most of the time, and many times had trouble articulating responses to the questions asked by host Jim Lehrer. You could see Bush taking a few moments to come up with an answer. Kerry, on the other hand, appeared to be ready for any question. I was also pleased to see that Kerry was able to give a short, concise response to the questions, while at the same time leveling some devastating attacks on Bush. Now, the rules for the debates (mostly requested by the Bush campaign team) required, among other things, that the camera focus only on the candidate speaking and not to cut away to responses given by the opposition. Fox News provided the debate feed to the other networks, and Fox wisely ignored the request to not air reaction shots. John Kerry remained calm and poised, while Bush, many times, grimaced in response to what Kerry had to say, clearly rattlted.

To be fair, neither candidate provided details on their respective plans for Iraq, which was the focus of this first debate. Those details certainly will be provided in the upcoming debates.

Kerry was relentless is speaking on the war against terrorism, and invoked the name of Osama Bin Laden in many of his responses, driving home the message that it was Bin Laden and Al Qaeda responsible for the attack on Sept. 11, not Iraq.

Bush provided a Rumsfeld-esque Freudian slip when talking about progress in the war against terrorism:

"We're facing a group of folks who have such hatred in their heart, they'll strike anywhere, with any means.

And that's why it's essential that we have strong alliances, and we do.

That's why it's essential that we make sure that we keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of people like Al Qaida, which we are.

But to say that there's only one focus on the war on terror doesn't really understand the nature of the war on terror.

Of course we're after Saddam Hussein -- I mean bin Laden. He's isolated. Seventy-five percent of his people have been brought to justice. The killer -- the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, is in prison."

Kerry was also able to get Bush to say Bin Laden's name, something Bush hasn't done in a long time. Because, under the Bush Administration's new paradigm on the war against terror was to strike against Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, but in Bush's mind, he was the real threat to the United States, not Al Qaeda.

Here's a bit from the debate where Kerry got Bush to say "Osama Bin Laden." Bush was clearly not pleased with this exchange, judging from his body language and defensive tone in response:

"KERRY: Jim, the president just said something extraordinarily revealing and frankly very important in this debate. In answer to your question about Iraq and sending people into Iraq, he just said, "The enemy attacked us."

Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. Al Qaida attacked us. And when we had Osama bin Laden cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, 1,000 of his cohorts with him in those mountains. With the American military forces nearby and in the field, we didn't use the best trained troops in the world to go kill the world's number one criminal and terrorist."

"BUSH: First of all, of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that.

And secondly, to think that another round of resolutions would have caused Saddam Hussein to disarm, disclose, is ludicrous, in my judgment. It just shows a significant difference of opinion.
We tried diplomacy. We did our best. He was hoping to turn a blind eye. And, yes, he would have been stronger had we not dealt with him. He had the capability of making weapons, and he would have made weapons."

Disarm Hussein? Of what? It's interesting that Bush made a number of references for the need to disarm Saddam Hussein, as if he, Bush, still believed Saddam had stashes of WMDs somewhere.

It will be interesting to see how the other debates play out. This first debate, on foreign policy and the war in Iraq, should have been a slam-dunk for Bush, as these are the areas he mainly is campaigning on. The next debate will cover domestic policy, and Bush knows his record here in the United States is a dismal one. Bush likely will be pounded against the ropes by John Kerry in a debate on domestic policy. It should make for a great debate.