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Forged!

When the CBS scandal first broke, I vowed to myself that I would stay out of it. The reaction in the media and in the blogosphere was so overwhelmingly partisan I didn’t know who to believe. Bush supporters seemed to me a little too sure of themselves. Kerry supporters were too dismissive and defensive.

But I’ll weigh in now because Jim Treacher pointed me to what looks like an awfully comprehensive debunking of those documents by Peter Duncan.

If you think the documents are genuine and that this is some kind of smear campaign, see if you can debunk Duncan’s evidence before arguing with me in the comments.

I rather doubt (pun intended, sorry) that this will affect the election, though, unless it can be shown that the Kerry campaign itself had something to do with it. That would be a real scandal. It would also be a dumb scandal.

We already know Bush wasn’t the best-behaved boy in Texas. Publishing yet more “evidence” won’t affect anyone’s vote for the same reason Bill Clinton’s approval ratings remained high after each successive bimbo eruption. Everyone familiar with Clinton (and that includes most people in Iceland, Pakistan, and Bolivia, as well as most Americans) already knew he had trouble with women, zippers, and pants. And we all know Bush had problems with responsibility and booze.

If you want to dig up new dirt on Bush, you have to find a new kind of dirt, not more of the same old dirt. We’ve already factored the old dirt in. It won’t move numbers.

It looks like the blogosphere found new dirt on CBS, though. It could move numbers.

Request for Help

Can anyone help me install MT-Blacklist? I’ll pay you if you can make it work. I am not a techie. It’s a bit beyond my level.

My comments are being swamped with so much spam for drugs, porn, and “penis enlargement” I may have to shut down the comments altogether until I can figure out what to do about it. I would rather not. I like my comments. So do other people.

For those of you who read my comments and don’t know what I’m talking about: Most comment spammers are clever enough not to fill up space on current posts. They usually spam the older posts. Then they search Google for their own phrases, click the links, and boost the Google rankings for their own stupid “products.” I’m tired of paying for their bandwidth. Check out the second half of this comments thread and you’ll see what I mean. These spammers now make up almost ten percent of my blog traffic. It needs to stop now.

UPDATE: I got a lot of offers for help. Thanks so much everybody. I’m taken care of now.

Four Words

Here we are on the third anniversary of September 11, 2001, and John Kerry is getting clobbered in the polls. Is anyone really surprised? Does anyone think the odds of him winning are greater than 50 percent?

Bush’s post-convention bounce seems to be sticking.

Here is the latest from Time:

Last week’s seismic voter shift to George W. Bush showed no signs of dwindling in this week’s Time Poll. Bush continues to lead Democratic challenger John Kerry among likely voters by double digits, 52% – 41%, in the three way race, with Nader at 3%, the same as last week.

Yesterday Mark Poling said in my comments section that John Kerry could easily beat George W. Bush with a platform that looked something like this:

Good war, bad occupation, but I’ll make Iraq right, and I won’t make the same mistakes with our other enemies…

Yep.

You could reduce it even further, all the way down to four words:

Good war, bad occupation.

That’s it. Done. Some people would argue with that. But independents and swing voters wouldn’t.

It amazes me that neither Kerry nor any of his highly-paid advisors could come up with these four simple words.

If you want to appeal to the middle, you have to know where the middle is. Centrists may be “wishy washy” when it comes to our two political parties. But that doesn’t mean centrists are wishy-washy on terrorism. Bush beats Kerry by a whopping and insurmountable 23 points on this issue.

Kerry’s Secret Recipe Revealed

Marc Cooper posted the hilarious cook-book style recipe John Kerry apparently uses for his campaign.

How can a cook-book style recipe be funny? Well, it just is. I laughed out loud eight or nine times.

Fiddling on Two Fronts

If you’re surprised by or skeptical of the following, please raise your hand in the comments:

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran is using negotiations with the European Union’s “big three” on suspending sensitive nuclear activities to buy the time it needs to get ready to make atomic weapons, an Iranian exile and intelligence officials said.

With intelligence sources saying Iran could be months away from nuclear weapons capability, the United States wants Iran reported to the U.N. Security Council immediately, charging Tehran uses its civilian atomic energy program as a front to develop the bomb. Tehran vehemently denies the charge.

France, Britain and Germany want to avoid isolating Iran and have taken a go-slow approach, negotiating with Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities.

“Iran continues to use existing differences between the U.S. and Europe to their advantage and tries to drag out talks with the EU to buy time,” Alireza Jafarzadeh, an Iranian exile who has reported accurately on Iran’s nuclear program in the past, told Reuters.

I have a humble request for George W. Bush and John Kerry. Just a small thing, really, if it’s not too much trouble.

Shut the hell up about Vietnam, the National Guard, Swift Boat Vets, the Department of Friggin’ Wellness, and all the rest of your stupid bullshit and tell me what you think about Iran. (If you can find the time.)

Thanks.

Hitchens Eviscerates Klein

My God I hope I never get on the wrong side of Christopher Hitchens in print.

Yesterday he brutally eviscerated Naomi Klein’s latest piece in The Nation:

Another small but interesting development has occurred among my former comrades at The Nation magazine. In its “GOP Convention Issue” dated Sept. 13, the editors decided to run a piece by Naomi Klein titled “Bring Najaf to New York.” If you think this sounds suspiciously like an endorsement of Muqtada Sadr and his black-masked clerical bandits, you are not mistaken. The article, indeed, went somewhat further, and lower, than the headline did. Ms. Klein is known as a salient figure in the so-called antiglobalization movement, and for a book proclaiming her hostility to logos and other forms of oppression: She’s not marginal to what remains of the left. Her nasty, stupid article has evoked two excellent blog responses from two pillars of the Nation family: Marc Cooper in Los Angeles and Doug Ireland in New York. What gives, they want to know, with a supposed socialist-feminist offering swooning support to theocratic fascists? It’s a good question, and I understand that it’s ignited quite a debate among the magazine’s staff and periphery.

When I quit writing my column for The Nation a couple of years ago, I wrote semi-sarcastically that it had become an echo chamber for those who were more afraid of John Ashcroft than Osama Bin Laden. I honestly did not then expect to find it publishing actual endorsements of jihad. But, as Marxism taught me, the logic of history and politics is a pitiless one. The antiwar isolationist “left” started by being merely “status quo”: opposing regime change and hinting at moral equivalence between Bush’s “terrorism” and the other sort. This conservative position didn’t take very long to metastasize into a flat-out reactionary one, with Michael Moore saying that the Iraqi “resistance” was the equivalent of the Revolutionary Minutemen, Tariq Ali calling for solidarity with the “insurgents,” and now Ms. Klein, among many others, wanting to bring the war home because any kind of anti-Americanism is better than none at all. These fellow-travelers with fascism are also changing ships on a falling tide: Their applause for the holy warriors comes at a time when wide swathes of the Arab and Muslim world are sickening of the mindless blasphemy and the sectarian bigotry. It took an effort for American pseudo-radicals to be outflanked on the left by Ayatollah Sistani, but they managed it somehow.

Outflanked on the left by a conservative ayatollah. Psuedo-radicals, indeed. Man.

Marc Cooper, who is one of the editors at The Nation where Klein’s piece was published, takes her apart point by point. His post is more than a week old, but don’t let that stop you from reading it. (I missed it when it was current because I was out of the loop on my road trip.)

How to Read a Newspaper (Updated)

I’m annoyed at the AP. My post yesterday made no sense after several people in my comments box pointed out that a Dick Cheney quote I republished had been Dowdified by the reporter.

I didn’t agree with the Dowdified quote. I didn’t agree with the real quote, either, but at least what Cheney actually said was less obnoxious than what I first thought.

Mark Twain famously said “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” This is so true. I know this in part because when I know a subject well I often scoff at how non-specialty newspapers cover it. My wife says the same thing, and her areas of knowledge are completely separate from mine.

So count me as one who appreciates what Jeremy Brown wrote today on his blog:

The trick is to not just believe what you read in the papers anymore. Naw man, you got to swagger in like you goin’ into a used car dealership. Then you got to show them motherfuckers you ain’t no easy mark, that you ain’t nobody’s two bit skank, never was, and got no plans to be.

Yep. I guess so. It’s been that way for centuries now, hasn’t it Mr. Twain?

UPDATE: Katherine in the comments points to this this Washington Post story:

In a change that highlighted the sensitivity of Cheney’s statement, the White House yesterday released a revised version of the transcript of his remarks. The official transcript, posted on the White House Web site Tuesday afternoon and e-mailed to reporters, said: “(I)t’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again.”

In a version released Tuesday to reporters traveling with Cheney, however, the period at the end of “hit again” was removed and replaced with a comma, which linked his blunter statement to his standard stump language expressing concern that future attacks would be treated as “just criminal acts, and that we’re not really at war.”

(Sigh.)

So, okay. Maybe the quote wasn’t actually Dowdified. It was taken out of context, which is kinda lame but a lot less lame. Then again, I’m going to follow Jeremy’s advice and remain suspicious of newspapers at least for the rest of the day.

I would ask if anyone has an audio link to the Cheney speech, but it isn’t really important. The reason I wanted to comment on this in the first place was to make a couple of points that aren’t even relevant any more anyway. There is a point when a “he said, she said” argument about punctuation gets tiresome (how do you pronounce a comma, anyway?) and I think we’ve passed it. Next subject…

We Cannot Fall Apart (Updated)

Dick Cheney is selling poison in Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa – Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday warned Americans about voting for Democratic Sen. John Kerry, saying that if the nation makes the wrong choice on Election Day it faces the threat of another terrorist attack.

As if we don’t face the threat of another attack now. Who knew we were so safe? Not me.

“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 told about 350 supporters at a town-hall meeting in this Iowa city.

I don’t need to tell Dick Cheney that terrorists want to hit us again no matter who sits in the White House. But I would tell Dick Cheney, if I were his advisor, that this line of argument is crude, obnoxious, and has serious backfire potential built into it. He is explicitly saying no terrorist attacks can get through if he and George W. hold the White House.

We all know this is b.s. and I shouldn’t even have to point it out. It is not possible to deflect every potential attack. We could turn the United States into a totalitarian fortress and attacks would still get through.

If Dick Cheney is prepared to lay the blame of a future terrorist attack on both a Kerry Administration and even the voters (!) then his administration needs to accept the blame for terrorist attacks that occur on its watch. And that includes the attack on September 11.

I do not blame the Bush Administration for the attack on September 11. Nor do I blame the Clinton Administration. Nor will I blame a possible future Kerry Administration if it comes into being. Nor should anybody.

In The Art of War Sun Tzu famously told how to defeat an enemy’s leadership: “When he is united, divide him.” On that note I’d like to revisit an essay Lee Harris wrote for Tech Central Station on the second anniversary of September 11, 2001. He concludes:

The greatest damage that Al-Qaeda could possibly do to us is not to destroy our buildings or even to murder our people; it is to lure us into abandoning our sense of national unity at the very time we are most in need of it. 9/11 was not our fault, nor the fault of our leadership, of either party. Nor will the next 9/11, if it should come, be our fault, or the fault of those who might happen to be in power, and again of either party.

[...]

[N]one of us may not know for sure what we should do, we can all be absolutely positive about what we shouldn’t do, and that is, we cannot fall apart. For if we in the United States fall apart, who in the world will put us back together?

UPDATE: It looks like Cheney’s quote was snipped in the middle of a sentence. And the AP reporter used a period instead of ellipses to hide that fact. Here is Cheney’s complete sentence:

Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again, that we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we’ll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we’re not really at war.

That is a lot less inflammatory. The AP ought to be smacked for that. Will they run a correction? I’m runing a correction since I relied on their crappy reporting, so I certainly hope so. (Not holding my breath.)

I still think Cheney is wrong. John Kerry has said he will respond to any attack on the United States, and I believe him. Why wouldn’t he? He is not a peacenik.

What worries me about a Kerry presidency isn’t that he won’t fight back but that he doesn’t have any strategy that isn’t reactive. We could fight terrorism tit-for-tat forever. Bush has his eye on both pre-emption and root causes while Kerry doesn’t.

Quote of the Day

Natalie Solent:

Once it became acceptable to a broad section of Islam (and to Western apologists for terrorism) to select Jewish children as targets it was only a matter of time before non-Jewish children would also be selected. Children are the most convenient terrorist target as they are physically easy to control or kill, and because people will concede more to save them. The only thing that stops a Beslan happening every week is the shreds of morality that remain even in the minds of terrorists. Once the taboo was breached for Israeli victims it was breached for everyone.

Via sharp new blogger Eric the Unread.

City Shots

Sean LaFreniere posted some urban photography from the road trip he and I took last week. I stuck to the nature side of things in my photo galleries while he got some great shots of Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, and Salt Lake City.

Flip Flop Flap

John Kerry is a flip-flopper. Or Karl Rove is a clever liar who has convinced Americans that John Kerry is a flip-flopper. Depends on who you ask.

Let’s see.

From August 9th:

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. (Reuters) – Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said on Monday he would have voted for the congressional resolution authorizing force against Iraq even if he had known then no weapons of mass destruction would be found. [Emphasis added.]

Taking up a challenge from President Bush, whom he will face in the Nov. 2 election, the Massachusetts senator said: “I’ll answer it directly. Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it is the right authority for a president to have but I would have used that authority effectively.”

From September 6th:

WASHINGTON – Democrat John Kerry accused President Bush on Monday of sending U.S. troops to the “wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time” and said he’d try to bring them all home in four years. Bush rebuked him for taking “yet another new position” on the war. [Emphasis added.]

It’s okay to slowly change your mind over time. It’s also okay to suddenly change your mind if you get a flash of new information or insight. People who never change their minds are either miraculously right about everything (yeah, sure) or hopelessly reactionaries who are sometimes right by sheer chance.

It is not okay to change your mind every couple of weeks or days or hours over and over again for no apparent reason. Especially when people are trying to nail you down so they can decide whether or not they want to vote for you.

The fact that John Kerry continues to do this on the subject of the sole-remaining super-power’s national security all but proves he doesn’t take the job he’s running for seriously.

Does John Kerry think changing the regime in Iraq was a good idea? Who on earth could possibly know? Does John Kerry have any idea how America should proceed in its prosecution of the Terror War? I haven’t the slightest friggin’ clue. And that is by Kerry’s design. He has deliberately turned himself into the Rorschach Candidate. We see in him what we want to see – or so he hopes. That’s the only way he thinks he can appeal to both peaceniks and hawks at the same time.

One other thing. The idea that Karl Rove and the Bush Machine invented the flip-flopping canard needs to die.

Kerry Urged to Dodge Foreign Policy (Updated)

Anyone who wins a primary election deserves serious consideration for the presidency, even if they don’t get my vote in the end. The “hawkish case for John Kerry” will not be easy to write, but I feel I owe it to him all the same. He may or may not deserve my vote, but he does deserve a little mental effort and attention.

I’m in the middle of compiling my list of points for that argument. It isn’t easy, especially since the Kerry campaign can’t even convince itself.

Here’s the New York Times:

President Bush roared out of his New York convention last week, leaving many Democrats nervous about the state of the presidential race and pressing Senator John Kerry to torque up what they described as a wandering and low-energy campaign.

In interviews, leading Democrats – governors, senators, fund-raisers and veteran strategists – said they had urged Mr. Kerry’s campaign aides to concentrate almost exclusively on challenging President Bush on domestic issues from here on out, saying he had spent too much of the summer on national security, Mr. Bush’s strongest turf. [Emphasis added.]

I have no idea, really, why the Democrats did not see this coming. There were some liberal hawks on the primary ticket that could have neutralized this from the get-go.

I didn’t vote for George W. Bush in 2000. It’s been a royal pain to defend this president from his worst critics while my heart hasn’t been in it. And it’s going to be just as difficult to “carry water” for John Kerry when his own staff and his own self can’t even cobble together an argument to convince defense hawks that he’s a safe bet. I really don’t think a Kerry presidency would be as disastrous as many Republicans are saying. He is no Dennis Kucinich. Still, no one would ever photoshop something like this to make fun of Joe Lieberman.

kerry_on_tank.jpg

Image via Fark.

UPDATE: Some people in the comments take issue with the picture above because when John Kerry said he would fight a more “sensitive” war he did not mean he would be more sensitive to our enemies. Rather, he meant he would be more “sensitive” to Europeans. True enough, but “sensitive war” is an asinine thing to say in any context. War is a horror by nature, and the only things less sensitive are totalitarian oppression and genocide.

Besides, as “Bill” pointed out in the comments, Kerry has already referred to the Iraq coalition as “fraudulent.” That was not a very “sensitive” thing to say about Britain and Tony Blair, not to mention everybody else who is an actual rather than a would-be ally of the United States.

Only in a child’s fantasy universe did France oppose regime-change in Iraq because Bush was insufficiently “sensitive.” If John Kerry actually believes he can get Jacques Chirac into the American orbit by being “sensitive” he doesn’t know the first thing about French foreign policy since Charles de Gaulle. He’ll learn if he is elected, but the political education of John Kerry is still somewhere off in the future.

Move On

Dave Barry:

Call me a dreamer, but I’m hoping that at some point before we go to the polls, we can get this campaign past the Vietnam era to at least, say, the late ’70s.

It would be cool if we could argue about the late 70s. I was nine years old then. I actually remember the late 70s. Vaguely. I saw The Who’s Tommy. Didn’t understand it at all. Scared the heck out of me, actually. But I do sorta remember some of the craziness. It was a weird time to be a child, believe me.

I know it’s hard for some people to understand, but I really don’t care about Vietnam or the 60s. Sorry. I wasn’t even born yet in the 60s and the Vietnam War ended before I began kindergarten.

Anyone who is stuck in the 1960s today is exactly as out of date as were those conservatives in the middle of the last decade when Bob Dole prattled on about going back to the 50s.

Lefty Boomers seriously need to stop and ask themselves if they want to be today’s Bob Dole. Roger L. Simon told me on the phone today that when he left the Republican National Convention (where he blogged it live) he saw gray-haired protesters in the streets screaming exactly the same slogans he yelled more than 30 years ago when the world was a different place. People get reactionary as they get older. I guess it’s just part of the process. But it can be resisted with effort.

We are never going back to either the 50s or the 60s. You know it, too, so please move on and get over it.

Yesterday I wrote this in my comments box:

History swung on its hinges in 1968. And it happened again in 2001. The scream you hear from certain quarters (but not all) of the left comes from the knowledge that 1968 has been topped.

When Roger writes about the new reactionaries this is basically what he’s talking about, the difference being that he actually lived through the era in question.

Bush Gets a Bounce

A press release from Time magazine detailing their latest poll shows George W. Bush got a sizeable bounce from his convention.

New York — For the first time since the Presidential race became a two person contest last spring, there is a clear leader, the latest TIME poll shows. If the 2004 election for President were held today, 52% of likely voters surveyed would vote for President George W. Bush, 41% would vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry, and 3% would vote for Ralph Nader, according to a new TIME poll conducted from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. Poll results are available on TIME.com and will appear in the upcoming issue of TIME magazine, on newsstands Monday, Sept. 6.

John Kerry polls slightly better than Bush on health care and “understanding the needs of people.” Kerry and Bush are virtually tied on the economy. What seems to push Bush over the top is that he beats Kerry by more than 20 percentage points on the issue of terrorism.

More polls using a different methodology are sure to be forthcoming. Bush’s lead could shrink or even grow.

John Kerry got a negligible bounce from his own convention, probably because he annoyed the hell out of damn near everybody who hadn’t already decided to vote for him.

For the first time in many months I’m willing to predict the winner. I shouldn’t even need to say who it is.

Can I make an old complaint still one more time? Why, oh why, did the Democrats have to pick Kerry? I voted for Kerry in the primary, too, but it wasn’t my fault. By the time the primary election rolled around in my state the only choices remaining were John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, and Lyndon effing LaRouche. Do those of you who had early primaries have any idea how irritating those choices were? Next time, think ahead a little more. You could have gone with Edwards or Lieberman and neutralized Bush’s national security advantage. That’s what you should have done if you wanted “anybody but Bush.” This whopping convention bounce is the punishment for making that decision.

Hucksters

Andrew Sullivan is back from vacation and isn’t any more impressed with the Republican National Convention than I am.

How to convey the spectacular incoherence of last night’s continuing infomercial for the re-election of George W. Bush? The evening began with a series of speeches trumpeting vast increases in federal spending: on education, healthcare, AIDS, medical research, and on and on. No, these were not Democrats. They were Bush Republicans, extolling the capacity of government to help people, to cure the sick, educate the young, save Africans from HIV, subsidize religious charities, prevent or cure breast cancer, and any other number of worthy causes.

What a complete and utter joke these things are. I”m a swing voter, so I know both parties are trying to pitch to me right now. And I am not going to let myself get huckstered by either one of them. The Democrats pretended to be Republicans at their convention and swaggered more than generals at a Latin American military junta’s parade. And now the Republicans are pretending to be big-government bleeding hearts. Gimme a break, people. If you want my vote, don’t insult my intelligence. Seriously.

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