Thursday, September 30, 2004


America's Burning Bush

As God gave a sign to Moses, I believe this was America's sign tonight.

What can I say? John Kerry dominated George W. Bush in tonight's debate. Kerry was resolute, direct, concise, and spot-on accurate. George Bush appeared nervous, confused, and completely overmatched. He was unable to refute Kerry's claims and seemed unwilling at times to answer the questions. He began his first response with "September 11 changed everything." Those of you that have been reading this blog for a while know that I have been consistent in my assessment of the Bush administration: take away September 14, 2001, when Bush stood atop the rubble in New York and he has nothing to run on. I should thank our president for proving my point tonight.

Last night I gave a debate preview in which I said that Kerry would offer us the truth and George Bush would offer us talking points. I think we saw just that this evening. Bush was repetitive in his talking points continually repeating the same phrases while Kerry was consistantly pointing out the president's shortcomings to which the president was either unable or chose not to respond.

A clear win for Kerry. I think we've got ourselves a new president folks.

(I'm still expecting a terror alert this weekend.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Debate Preview

Tomorrow night we will see the first of three scheduled debates between John Kerry and George W. Bush. Pundits, bobbleheads, and bloggers (myself included) have been giving advice to both candidates ranging from what to say, how to say it, and even how to appear while saying it. While nobody can predict the exact wording, I believe that we can look to past performances to predict the overall course that the debate will take.

When examining the transcripts from the 2000 debates, you see the Bush approach: talking points. If there is one thing that we can give George Bush credit for, it's staying on message. Even if the message has nothing to do with the question that was asked, Bush will not deviate from the script. His script includes, among other things, such politically astute techniques such as mocking and ridicule. In 2000, he gave us the following gem:

Here's what we get in 2004:

Is this the talk of a candidate running for the highest office in the country or is this the talk of ajuvenile trying to prove a point when he know's he's wrong? As it turns out in 2000, Gore's math wasn't so fuzzy. The exchange that prompted Bush's fuzzy math retort centered around medicare and Gore said the following:

Now, considering the news that says Medicare premiums are increasing by 17.5%, I'd have to say that Gore's fuzzy math was pretty damned accurate. And it's my belief that Bush knew it at the time. But instead of debating fact, he offered ridicule. He mocked his opponent. Much like what we're seeing now.

When faced with facts that oppose his agenda, he responds with opinion. If you've been reading this blog lately, this has been a big issue with me. Bush, Cheney, Rice, and all the others respond to opposition not with facts and statistics but with unproveable speculation. When asked about July's National Intelligence Estimate, George Bush responded with they were "just guessing." No facts. When John Kerry criticizes the president's handling of the war he responds by calling it one of John Kerry's ever-changing positions. Once again, no facts.

So from Bush, I'm going to predict the following: talking points, talking points, ridicule, talking points, mocking, talking points, and talking points, but no facts. He will stick to the script and offer nothing in terms of proof to support himself.

From Kerry, I expect the same thing we've been seeing on the campaign trail. Clear, pointed attacks, keen observations, and straight-forward plans for the future. The president likes to label Kerry as a gloom-and-doom candidate, but what Bush sees as gloom-and-doom is actually the truth. Kerry is not going to sugar-coat the truth for the sake of the debates. He's open and honest and sometimes honesty isn't pretty. This is a quality I'd personally like to see more of in a president.

In the past, honesty has not been much help to the candidates (ask Mondale about honesty and taxes), but this year I think it's going to be different. After four years of President Bush's lies and deceptions, I know I for one am looking forward to some honesty. Of the two major party candidates running for President, John Kerry is the only one telling us the truth about Iraq. That should be worth something.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


The Truth About Iraq

We've heard this many times from the president over the last several months. Clearly, President Bush wants us to believe that he had no idea that things in Iraq were going to turn out the way they have. However, today we found out different. As it turns out, George Bush did know that the current situation in Iraq was likely to happen.

This is the same group of individuals that Bush accused of "just guessing" about the future of Iraq. Were they also guessing in January, 2003? If they were, I'd say they're pretty damned good guessers. Maybe Bush should pay a little closer attention to their most recent "guess."

What this points out, though, is that Bush did know then what we do know now and he chose to ignore it. Ironically, George W. should have been familiar with the issues discussed in that NIC report, because his own father had given a speech in February, 1999, concerning the very same topic.

You know, I was never a big fan of the father, but compared to his son, he looks like a genius. The question is, will the son acknowledge his mistake or will he claim that his father was just guessing too?

At every turn, it becomes more and more apparent that George W. Bush ignored pertinent information that contradicted his claims against Saddam Hussein. It's interesting how the intelligence was trustworthy enough to send over 1000 soldiers to their death, yet things like the NIC report were ignored. Also ignored were the CIA's claims that the Niger-Uranium documents were forged.

Truth is, George W. Bush was being selective with the intelligence. He was choosing what best suited his cause. He was playing politics with the war and we are now paying for it in lives. If elected to a second term, there is nothing to stop him from doing this again. George Bush must lose in November for the safety of our country.


Want to read something funny?

Checkout which presidential candidate the Crawford, Texas, newspaper is endorsing. It's not who you might think.

Monday, September 27, 2004


How John Kerry Will Win The Debates

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately that have been giving advice to John Kerry about what he should say at the debates; items he needs to talk about, statistics he needs to bring up, quotes he needs to repeat, and so forth. In my opinion, this is all unnecessary. John Kerry is an intelligent man. He is highly educated, well read, and thoroughly informed about current events. He does not need our help when it comes to the issues.

Where I think John Kerry could use some advice is in his delivery. The one legitimate criticism I've heard about him is that he's unlikeable. I, personally, don't think that this should matter. He's not running for homecoming king, he's running for President of the United States, leader of the free world. His personality shouldn't have anything to do with it as long as he's qualified for the job (and when compared to his opponent, he's more than qualified). However, there is an entire demographic in this country that votes based upon which candidate they would rather have a beer with. This is George W. Bush's strength; he appeals to the beer drinkers, the NASCAR fans. I'm not saying these people are ignorant, but they like their leaders to be more like them, to speak their language, to take a simpler, plainer approach.

As a teacher, I've had to learn this approach. Sometimes, less really is more. Too much information can be a bad thing when you're trying to appeal to the masses. So as a public service to the Kerry campaign, I offer the following pieces of advice:

  1. You can not assume that anything is common knowledge.

    When you become knowledgeable about a specific subject, it's easy to forget that others may not know what you're talking about. Although there are certain things that we hope that we can take for granted, it's never a good idea to do so. For instance, I'm sure that Senator Kerry is quite knowledgeable about the every day work of the U.S. Congress. He understands the workings and dealings that take place on a daily basis and he is much more aware of the content of many resolutions and bills than the average person. Therefore, when he says something like "I voted to give the president the authorization to use force," he knows exactly what he's saying, but Joe Lunchbox doesn't understand the difference between the authorization to use force and war. In his opinion, they sound like the same thing. Points like this need to be explained. It can be tricky when you're on a time limit, but it can be done. This is necessary to establish a basis for further discussion and a clearer understanding.

  2. You have to talk to people like they're four.

    Part of George Bush's appeal is that he is perceived as an average guy. He mis-speaks, he sticks his foot in his mouth, he screws up the punch-line to jokes. Who among us hasn't done that? He uses words that my children can understand, like evil and thug. He laughs at his own jokes as if he knows he's a dork. NASCAR Bob can relate to this guy. He understands all the words he's using, he feels for him when he says something stupid, and he knows what it feels like to have people think he's a dork. To appeal to this person, you have to speak their language. Use monosyllabic words and short, simple sentences. Anything more can be confusing.

  3. You can't pour a bucket of knowledge into a shotglass of a brain without spilling.

    People are looking for the basics. The more information you give them, the more they're likely to forget because details can sometimes cloud the picture. Long, drawn-out explanations to simple, straight-forward questions confuse the listener and cause them to lose interest. Keeping it simple can work wonders especially when the subject may be confusing in and of itself. Take foriegn policy as an example. Explaining the minute details of how you would persuade our European allies to contribute to the war effort is bound to be a snoozer, but saying that you will repair broken trusts and damaged friendships is something everyone can understand. Put simply, give the listener what they need to understand your position and no more. The "what" is always more important than the "what else."

By following these simple guidelines, John Kerry will find that he can appeal to a wider base. He doesn't have to persuade his ardent supporters or the Bush haters, they're already on-board. He can forget about swaying the hard-liners and the wingnuts, they're a lost cause. It's the independents and the easily influenced among us that Kerry needs to connect with. If they can't understand what you're saying, they're not likely to vote for you.

I have no doubt that Kerry will win the debates on his own, but I'm concerned that he will receive the Al Gore treatment. Although Al Gore was clearly the more informed candidate in 2000, he was labeled as the loser because of his inability to connect with the common person. That label turned off a lot of potential voters. John Kerry can't take that chance. This is why I offer this advice. I hope he heeds it.


A post within a post.

Has anyone else noticed the lack of terror alerts since George W. Bush took the lead in the polls? We haven't had a terror alert since before the Republican Convention when Howard Dean accused them of being politically motivated. I'm going to make a prediction: If John Kerry wins the first debate on Thursday, we will see a terror alert by the end of the weekend. Anyone want to make their own prediction?

Friday, September 24, 2004


Lying Liars And The Lying Lies They Lie About (Or Something Like That)

Lately there has been a lot of talk about the truth; who's telling it and who isn't. We've heard about memos, military service, military honors, commitments, WMD, ties to terrorism, thirty year-old testimony, voting records, business deals, and a myriad of other instances where the truth has been fudged, twisted, altered, or just plain obliterated. Every story has two sides and in this election year those two sides see things very differently. Over the last several days, the harshest accusations of not telling the truth have been leveled directly at President Bush by Senator John Kerry. Kerry claims that President Bush is not telling the American public the truth about the current situation in Iraq. According to Senator Kerry, the president and his entourage are purposely painting an overly optimistic picture to mislead voters into a sense of security and strength. Faced with a scathing criticism of that nature, a person might expect the president to fire back with some statistics, reports, or news accounts that would refute the Senator's claims, however, the only response from our president and his administration is to say that Kerry is being disrespectful.

Notice Cheney didn't say that John Kerry was wrong about his facts. Notice Cheney didn't give any examples of the "good that has been accomplished" to refute Senator Kerry's claims. No, Cheney gave an opinion. Why, because even he knows that John Kerry is right. And another thing, what was so disrespectful about what Kerry did? He told the truth when Prime Minister Allawi didn't. This isn't a social gathering we're dealing with here, it's a war in which our soldiers are being killed. It's not like Kerry said "Wow, Allawi's ass sure looked big in that suit." He pointed out the inconsistencies between what is being said by the president and his friend and what is being reported by our intelligence agencies and our military personel.

Now you might be asking yourself, what is President Bush's rection to all of this mess?

There are so many problems with this statement it's hard to know where to start. First of all, notice the lack of any facts, statistics, news accounts, etc. to prove Senator Kerry wrong. It's all opinion. And although Prime Minister Allawi may be friendly to the United States, he is not really a foriegn ally. He doesn't actually lead the country of Iraq. As I'm sure many others have pointed out, there is not a single Iraqi that voted for this man. He was appointed by us, so sure he's friendly to us, but to call him an "ally" is stretching it just a bit. And I find it ironic that Bush is talking about our allies as if most of them haven't abandoned us. Bush should stay away from the "allies" statements until he's actually built a coalition that includes others besides Great Britain.

Moving along, I have to say, I find his Freudian slip entertaining, but be honest, has anyone ever heard Kerry say that we would be better off with Saddam Hussein still in power? Saying that "we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure" does not equal "I would prefer that Saddam Hussein was still in power." As is the case in many situations, it's a twist on syntax. Instead of offering proof to the contrary, he's putting words in Kerry's mouth. This is the only way President Bush can counteract the Kerry attack: by changing what he has said.

President Bush can't run on the truth, it makes him look bad. With the truth on his side, Kerry will win in November. He just has to get the public to hear past the soundbites and see the emptiness in the Bush administration's rhetoric. He could start with next Thursday's debate.

Next week: Debate advice for the Kerry campaign.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


A Photo-Op Gone Bad

As if he were trying to prove my point from yesterday, President Bush held a train wreck of a press conference today with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Appearing together in the White House Rose Garden for what should have been a tailor-made photo-op, the two men each read a prepared statement basically kissing each other's asses. Everything seemed to be going as planned. Then Bush did the unthinkable; he said "We'll take a couple of questions now." That's when the wheels started coming off.

From the very first question it was clear that Bush was in over his head.

Really? He's hiding? Well, that explains everything. No wonder we haven't found him, he's pulling that old bin Laden trick. Who would have thought that he'd be hiding. Are you kidding me? This is his answer? Sure, he went on to make some unrelated statements about thugs and the war on terror, but he never answered the question.

Question two:

In other words, he's not leveling with anyone. Notice the talking points: stay the course, consistent, mixed messages, clarity. They're all there, but still no answer.

Question three came from the Iraqi press and was pretty much a softball about funding for Iraq so we'll skip that one.

Question four was asked by NBC's David Gregory. Unfortunately, the only transcript I can find comes from Fox News and they've cut the majority of the question. I had to do with the current situation in Iraq (beheadings, kidnapping, bombings, etc.) and ended as follows:

As you can see, he failed yet again to answer the question. But lo and behold, Gregory had the balls to call him on it.

Still no answer, just talking points. Unfortunately, the transcript fails to convey the entire picture here. When Gregory accused the president of not answering the question, Bush let out an exassperated sigh reminiscent of Al Gore in the first 2000 debate. It was as if he couldn't believe someone would have the audacity to point that out in front of the cameras. He quickly moved on to question five:

So he would have replaced "guess" with "estimate." Big deal, it doesn't change what he said. Even with the alternate wording, he's claiming that our intelligence agencies are estimating. Did they estimate that Saddam had WMD? Did they estimate that an attack from Saddam was imminent? Did they estimate about Saddam's ties to al Qaeda? I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly feel more secure knowing that our government is operating on estimates. At this point, Bush still hasn't answered a single legitimate question. It would continue like this for the remaining three questions.

As I said yesterday, President Bush is out of answers. He's been reduced to nonsensical ramblings and speaking in soundbites. The best thing for the Kerry campaign at this point is to hope that Bush holds more press conferences. The more he talks, the worse he looks.

What I don't understand is why he was allowed to take questions today. Karl Rove had the perfect photo-op. It was all there: the new Iraqi Prime Minister, the President, the flags representing each country, the rose garden, the White House; it was perfect. Then he let Bush go without a net and it all went to hell. God, I can't wait for the debates. Kerry's going to kill him.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


No Answers

Over the last several days, John Kerry has stepped up his attacks on President Bush's Iraq policy. His criticisms have been direct, detailed, and spot-on accurate. With growing violence and concern for elections appearing in every newspaper and on every news show, the Iraq war has moved to the forefront of the debate and John Kerry has come out swinging.

Faced with this type of criticism, one would think the president would respond by refuting Kerry's remarks. However, George W. Bush has chosen to respond with ridicule and sound-bites. Instead of pointing out where Kerry is wrong, the president makes statements like "[Kerry] is sending mixed signals to the enemy," or "I'm driven by my desire to protect the American people. I'll be steadfast in my resolve to do everything I can to make you secure." Could it be that even the president can't refute what Kerry is saying about him?

George Bush appears to be a man without any answers these days. When faced with tough questions, he's reduced to rambling nonsense or just telling all-out lies. Yesterday, as the president appeared with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, he was asked for his opinion concerning the recent National Intelligence Estimate that predicts "tenuous stability" as the best-case scenario for Iraq's future. He replied by stating "they were just guessing as to what the conditions might be like."

Guessing? Is this the intelligence policy that our government is currently endorsing? I suppose it would explain a lot of things here lately. Things like WMD stockpiles, ties to al Qaeda, Ahmed Chalabi, uranium from Niger, terror threats, etc. However, I'm inclined to believe that the American people are wanting something a little more substantial than guesswork when it comes from our government agencies.

During this same appearance, George Bush said that John Kerry stated he would be happier if "Saddam Hussein was still in power." He was making reference to Kerry's speech at New York University on Monday. This is a lie. John Kerry made no such statement. In fact, he said:

John Kerry knows, as does everyone else in the world, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person. We get it. So are Kim Jong-il and Prime Minister Mari Bin Amude of East Timor, but apparently they aren't bad enough that we feel the need to throw their countries into turmoil, killing innocent civilians and destroying their way of life. Bad people are everywhere. Depending on your point of view, one might even say that the United States is run by a "bad person." What John Kerry is saying is that although Saddam was a bad person, we have not made ourselves safer by removing him from power. He was not a threat to us, he did not have the weapons we claimed he did, he was not working with al Qaeda, and in the process of removing him, we diverted our attention and our military focus away from the primary enemy in the War on Terror and have attracted more terrorists to the region for which we are paying a hefty price with American lives. Sure Saddam didn't like us, but right now a majority of Brits, French, and Germans don't like us either and I don't think we are making plans to invade any of them (yet).

What angers me the most is the mainstream media's unwillingness to point out the president's inability to answer a question. In their attempts to appear non-partisan (ask Dan Rather what it's like to appear partisan) the media allows Bush to get away with inaccurate remarks and bullshit answers unquestioned. Had any other world leader stated "I think our intelligence agency is just guessing," we would ridicule them for days. Thay would lose all credibility in our eyes. Yet our media's don't question policy allows the president to make these wholly irresponsible statements and all we hear is "I'll be steadfast in my resolve to do everything I can to make you secure."

George Bush is out of answers. Even he realizes that Iraq has become a complete mess with only a limited number of poor outcomes. He's just hoping it doesn't blow up in his face before November.

Sidenote: Sorry for the inconsistent posting as of late. It's midterm time and as a teacher things are really busy right now. I'll try to keep up.

Monday, September 20, 2004


Kerry's Plan V. Bush's Lies

Today at New York University, John Kerry delivered a speech that can only be summed up as a Democrat's wet dream. For months, hardcore Democrats have been begging for Kerry to take off the gloves and go for the throat. Today he did just that.

Kerry went on to outline a detailed four-point plan for success in Iraq.

It was a blistering speech by Kerry's standards and relentless in its attacks on the President. He even articulated his own vote to authorize the use of force:

Clearly, John Kerry has decided to take the fight to the President on the matter of Iraq and the facts are in Kerry's favor. Recently we learned that in July the president was presented with a National Intelligence Estimate that stated the best-case scenario for Iraq over the next eighteen months is "tenuous stability." In other words, the best we can hope for is that it doesn't get any worse than it already is. Not exactly what I would call a ringing endorsement for the president's strategy.

In addition to John Kerry, the president is now under attack from members of his own party. On the Sunday morning talk shows, no less than four Republican senators were critical of the war in Iraq and George Bush's handling of it. Senator Lugar (R-IND) called the administration incompetent while Senator Hagel (R-NEB) said "No, I don't think we're winning. We're in trouble, we're in deep trouble in Iraq."

So with everything seemingly going against him, one might think the president would defend himself. However, in a speech in New Hampshire today, the president was only able to offer the same empty rhetoric and accusations that we've heard for months.

John Kerry said nothing of the sort. This is the president's game, though; twist what was said into what the Conservatives are hoping he'll say.

Once again, George Bush is playing with syntax. When John Kerry says "allies" he's referring to countries that will send more than twenty-five troops (Kazakhstan), not international partners that provide political and moral support (Philipines). When John Kerry talks about training Iraqi troops, he's referring to the fact that none of the 35,000 Iraqi police now in uniform have completed a field-training program. At this point, only 5,000 Iraqi troops of any kind are fully trained. Just because we have put them in a uniform and given them an assignment doesn't mean they are qualified. And when John Kerry talks about reconstruction, he's talking about actually spending the $18 billion that congress approved over a year ago. As of this date, only $1 billion has actually been spent and the Bush administration is asking that $3.5 billion more be reallocated to be used for security.

John Kerry has a plan for Iraq. It is clear and detailed. As of now, forty-some days before the election, we have yet to hear an actual plan from our president. All we get is the same old empty rhetoric and accusations. John Kerry is clearly more prepared to deal with the growing problem in Iraq than the current administration. Let's hope he gets the chance to do just that.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


"W" Is Not For WMD

Now this.

In other words, sactions were working, there was no imminent threat, and we were wrong.

Somedays the blog writes itself.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


"W" Is For Woeful

This statement had been a staple of the president's stump speech for some time, however, a search of his campaign speeches indicates that it has disappeared in recent weeks. In fact, he hasn't made that comment since August 10 at a rally in Pensacola, Florida. Maybe he knows something we don't. Or maybe he's just coming to terms with reality.

Clearly, the situation in Iraq is deteriorating quickly. Over the last four days alone, the number of Iraqi's killed by insurgents is estimated at over 200. There have been 44 American soldiers killed already in the month of September and when you compare that to the 66 that were killed in the entire month of August it's obvious that we aren't headed in the right direction. Even the White House appears to believe that we are in trouble as they are now seeking to shift $3.46 billion from reconstruction projects to security issues. Even Republicans are admiting that this is a sign of trouble.

The BBC calls it desperate.

And to add insult to injury, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan claims that the war was illegal.

According to a recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Iraq war has reached a critical point. The study, conducted between June 2003 and July 2004, examined Iraqi reaction to five statements that were used to measure progress. The five statements are:

The reactions could be summed up as follows:

But to hear the administration tell it, we are making progress. After all, the liberal media only shows the negatives.

Putting all of these thisngs together, one thing becomes painfully obvious: George W. Bush is a woeful president. He has led us into a failed war and by blindly sticking to a failed policy he has failed to effectively lead us in a time when our safety is at risk. If you value your safety and believe that leadership is an important quality in a president, you must vote George W. Bush out of office in November.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


"W" Is For Waffle

According to the American Heritage Dictionary the term waffle, when applied to speaking, is defined as follows:

No other word could be more accurate when describing the Bush administration. The President himself has been speaking evasively for the last four years and to say that he has willfully mislead the country would be a massive understatement. Take for instance the Bush/Cheney campaign's recent attacks on John Kerry's health care plan. According to their website, the Kerry plan would cost $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.

While this statement is technically accurate, it fails to mention any of the pertinent details of the study it has cited. According to the study, John Kerry's health care plan would indeed cost $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. By comparison, the Bush health care plan would only cost $128.6 billion over the same time period. If this were a matter of who can propose the cheapest plan, Bush would win hands down, but for the millions of Americans who currently have no health care, cheaper is not necessarily better. What is important in this debate is how many people will be able to get coverage. This is the part of the study that President Bush likes to leave out.

According to the American Enterprise Institute's study, $622 billion from the Kerry plan would be dedicated directly to helping the uninsured while only $39.4 billion would be directed towards the uninsured under the Bush plan. As a result of this funding, Kerry's plan would lead to 27.3 million new people obtaining health insurance while Bush's plan would allow for only 6.7 million new people to obtain coverage. To me, this points out at least 20.6 million reasons why Kerry's plan is going to be more beneficial than the President's. But I wouldn't expect our President to tell you that.

This type of fiscal deception is typical of our president as the Washington Times noted in an article today.

If asked, I'm sure the president will tell us it's all just "fuzzy math."

Looks pretty clear to me.

Monday, September 13, 2004


"W" Is For Weapons

Today marks the expiration of the ban on assault weapons. Although an extension of the ban passed a vote in the Senate, Republican leadership blocked any efforts to hold a vote in the House of Representatives thus ending a decade-long ban that has contributed to the declining rate of violent crime over the last ten years. Despite his handlers' claims that George W. Bush supports the ban, the President did nothing to encourage his fellow Republicans in the House to hold a vote for the extension.

While John Kerry offered his own crime prevention plan, he also blasted the President for allowing the ban to expire.

However, if you are familiar with our President's record on guns, today's actions come as no surprise. As I've stated before, I used to live in Houston, Texas. In fact, I lived there during the 1994 gubernatorial race between Bush and the incumbent Ann Richards. One of Bush's major platforms during the campaign was a promise that he would sign into law a bill that would allow individuals to carry concealed weapons. Ann Richards had strongly opposed any such bill. Well, as we all know, Bush won that election and on May 26, 1995, during his first year as Governor, he made good on his promise. Later during his term in 1997, he signed a law that made it illegal to prosecute a person for carrying a gun into a church if the church did not have a sign posted prohibiting firearms. He also refused to support a law that would require background checks at gun shows despite his claims to the contrary, and he was in opposition to legislation that required mandatory safety locks on handguns. In his words, his actions were meant to make people safer. What was the result of all of this? In 1998, there were 1,176 guns used in crimes outside the state of Texas that could be traced to Texas gun dealers. So much for being safer.

George W. Bush could have done something to extend the assault weapons ban, but as John Kerry said, he looked the other way. But this isn't the first time he's done that. When it comes to making people safer, George Bush has made a habit of looking the other way. He likes to tell you how safe we are, and how he is the one that will protect us, but, as I have said many times before, we are not safe. With our military spread throughout the Middle East, our focus over seas, and our money going in support of an unnecessary war, we are actually less safe here at home. Ninety-five percent of all the cargo that enters our country goes unchecked. Our nuclear facilities are being guarded by private security firms that are responsible for their own evaluations. Our water facilities are unguarded and left open to chemical or biological attacks. Our country's borders are as porous as they were prior to September 11, 2001. All we need to do is look at the recent terrorist activities at a school in Russia to see what is possible. Anyone who thinks that something like that couldn't happen in the United States is living in a dream world. An attack of that magnitude could happen in any school, business, or public building here in America on any given day. By sending our entire military elsewhere, George Bush has left the home base unguarded.

That's something this administration won't tell you, because this threat is very real and they know that as long as we are focused elsewhere that there is nothing we can do to prevent it. The Bush administration has indeed left our country left safe by sticking with a reckless foriegn policy. Not only that, but now they are cutting funding to our first responders here at home. In fact, Bush has proposed to cut funding from the Community Oriented Policing Services program, known as COPS, from $482 million to $97 million next year alone. Add this to today's expiration of the assault weapons ban and you get a pretty grim picture for the future of America's safety.

The facts are clear: George W. Bush will not keep you safe. If you value your safety, your only choice is to vote Bush out of office on November 2.

Friday, September 10, 2004


Typewriters, Fonts, Superscripts,...

The debate over the authenticity of the documents recently released by CBS News has reached an unbelievable level. Conservative pundits are convinced they are forgeries, liberal pundits are convinced they are not, and CBS News is standing by its claims. I have to admit that I tend to believe that they are genuine, but that aside, I still have a few questions.

  1. If these documents are forgeries, why did the White House release them without comment to the news media shortly after 60 Minutes finished airing?
  2. If the documents were released by the WH so quickly, they must have had them in advance, and if that is the case, why didn't they point out the fact that they were forgeries before the show aired and get in front of the CBS story?
  3. There is one person who knows for sure whether or not the information contained in these documents is true and that's George W. Bush. Why haven't we heard from him?

As I said, I tend to believe that these documents are genuine. The critics have not offered any real proof to show that they aren't while CBS News and others have provided plenty of evidence in their support. What I find sad is that the information contained in the documents and the accusations they raise are getting lost in the debate. But that's just the way the right-wingers want it. Distort the focus away from the actual story and make it about credibility. We've seen it before. Take for instance the alleged Kerry flip-flops. Instead of addressing the fact that Kerry actually has a point in his criticism of the handling of the war, they have made the focus of the argument about Kerry's credibility. It's a simple misdirection play.

For all the facts about the documents, check out Media Matters For America's take on things. It's pretty straight forward and debunks a lot of the criticisms from the right.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Debunking The Mythical Kerry Flip-Flops Part II: No Child Left Behind

In the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush ran as the education candidate. Touting the mind-blowing numbers from what he had dubbed the "Texas Miracle," George W. Bush vowed to overhaul America's education system and on December 18, 2001, he did just that with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The bill was supported by 87 members of the U.S. Senate including John Kerry. The Bush administration likes to claim that Kerry's recent criticism of the bill qualifies as yet another flip-flop on his part. As I will try to prove, this is untrue.

To begin with, I think we need to qualify a couple of points. First, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act is based upon the education system of the state of Texas, in particular the Houston Independent School District, which is centered around the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) Test. Second, Mrs. kissfan and myself are both educators who spent two years working in the Texas school system, in particularly the Aldine Independent School District in Houston which borders H.I.S.D. Because of this, I feel as though I have the expertise to speak on this subject. So let's begin by taking a closer look at the Texas system and the TAAS Test.

Briefly, the TAAS Test is given every Spring at multiple grade levels. During the time I was in Texas, the TAAS test was given as a type of exit test to high school Sophomores. If a student was unable to achieve an acceptable score in his or her Sophomore year, he or she was allowed to retake it as a Junior or a Senior. If the student was still unable to earn a passing score, that student was not permitted to graduate. Therefore, the entire school year was dedicated to preparing for this test. Lessons were prepared with TAAS objectives in mind. Tests had to be written to include a significant portion in the TAAS format. Test taking strategies were stressed. Teachers held after-school tutorial sessions just for the test. If a student failed a specific portion of the test, let's say math, that student was then placed in a special TAAS Math class in addition to their regular class load. In other words, this was a big deal. As a teacher it was all about the mighty TAAS. And what was the motivation? Well if you were an administrator and your school performed well, you received a cash bonus. If you were a teacher and your students performed poorly, you could lose your job. This is what's called accountability in the education field. Great for principals, but bad for teachers.

Now on the surface, this may sound like a reasonable approach. However, it goes against the principals of education. Putting the flaws in the test itself aside, there is very little true learning that takes place here. It is simply regurgitation of memorized facts. No life-long strategies are being taught, no true problem-solving skills are being learned. Simply put: Remember this and spit it out during the test. The test is all that matters.

As I said, this may sound like a reasonable approach. Insisting on higher achievement from students is a good thing. This is why uber-liberal Ted Kennedy formed an alliance with President Bush to support this bill and make sure of its passage. Improving education is something everyone can get behind. With this in mind and the remarkable achievement scores as proof, John Kerry voted in support of the NCLB Act of 2001.

After the bill had been passed and was signed into law, the Bush administration did the unthinkable. They didn't fully fund it. Of the proposed $15 billion price tag, the White House only budgeted for $5 billion. For this year's budget alone, the administration has underfunded it by $7 billion. However, schools are still required to meet the standards set by the bill. This places the burden of funding on the individual states. State budgets are already in a crunch and now this. Many critics have referred to the NCLB Act as an unfunded mandate. This is one of the criticisms that John Kerry has leveled at the President concerning education.

Furthermore, in 2003 it was revealed that the so-called "Texas Miracle" was a fraud. Rod Paige, the country's current Secretary of Education, was the superintendent of the Houston Independent School District during the period that the "miracle" supposedly occured. It was discovered that the district had been cooking the books. Underachieving students were encouraged to withdraw from school prior to the test dates yet were not recorded as dropouts. Some students were forced to repeat their Freshman year of high school only to be later jumped ahead to the Junior class thereby missing the TAAS test altogether. To put this simply, only the smart students were allowed to take the test.

Clearly, test averages were going to rise. The district looked great, the administrators got their bonus, they became a role model for the entire state, and Rod Paige looked like a genius. Who wouldn't want to copy what they were doing? But upon closer scrutiny, it was learned that the district was actually doing quite poorly. Their true droput rate, which had been reported at an incredible 1.5% was actually somewhere between 25% and 50%. And in terms of educational progress, the district was doing worse than many other schools including some of the most disadvantaged districts in cities like Los Angeles. This is the other point of criticism that John Kerry has leveled at the President concerning education.

What the Bush administration would like you to believe is that John Kerry voted in support of education and then turned his back on it. But what really happened is that John Kerry voted for a bill based upon false information and has since learned the truth. Like the alleged Iraq flip-flop, the Bush administration is deceiving the public with syntax. John Kerry has not turned his back on education, he is standing up against a deceptive bill that provides little proof of success and has been consistently underfunded by the President. I equate this to the Enron scandal. If a person bought stock in Enron based upon their inflated numbers and then dumped it when the scam was revealed, we wouldn't call them a flip-flopper, we'd say they had good sense to get rid of it. They were deceived but made the right choice when the evidence presented itself. Were they to keep the stock after learning of the scandal, we'd say they were naive to blindly stick with their failed endeavor.

This is the difference between John Kerry and George W. Bush. John Kerry has the sense to sell his stock. George Bush has stubbornly decided to keep his.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Debunking The Mythical Kerry Flip-Flops Part I

NOTE: Due to's downtime, this wasn't posted last night as it should have been. Sorry for the delay.

For months now we've been hearing about John Kerry's alleged flip-flops. Listening to the Bush/Cheney campaign, you'd think Kerry changed his mind twice an hour every day. This simply is not true. So over the next few days, I'm going to examine some of these alleged flip-flops and do my best to set the record straight.


According to the Bush/Cheney campaign, John Kerry has flip-flopped positions concerning the war in Iraq. First he supported it, but now he's against it. This is not true. Here's why:

On October 11, 2002 John Kerry did indeed vote in support of the Joint Resolution (H.J.Res. 114) that authorized the use of force in Iraq. He, along with seventy-six other Senators voted to give the President of the United States the authority to use force in Iraq if all other diplomatic efforts failed. By supporting this resolution, John Kerry and the other Senators gave the inspectors the mandate they needed. Without the threat of military force, what incentive was there for Saddam Hussein to comply? Allowing this resolution to fail would have given Saddam the freedom to defy the U.N. at will. So, in essence, the vote was a threat to Saddam that military force would be forthcoming if he did not allow our diplomatic efforts a chance to succeed. Remember though, the vote was for the authorization to use force only if diplomacy failed. Section 3 of H.J.Res 114 clearly states this objective.

This being the case, one could assume that diplomatic efforts would be taken to accomplish our goals of disarming Saddam Hussein and forcing him into compliance with the U.N. Resolutions. However, this was not what happened.

According to the lead inspectors, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, diplomacy was working.

The President didn't give them the six months they would need. On March 19, 2003, the United States abandoned its diplomatic efforts and invaded Iraq.

This is why John Kerry is now seen as opposing the war in Iraq. You see the fallacy comes from the syntax. John Kerry's vote was to authorize force if diplomacy failed, however the Bush administration would have you believe that the vote was in support of the war itself. You only need to read the resolution to know that this is not the case. Kerry's opposition to the war is not rooted in his opposition to forcing Saddam to disarm as the Bush administration would have you believe, but he is opposed to the way the authority was mishandled. One of the soundbites the Republicans like to play comes from an episode of Hardball on MSNBC in which they claim that Kerry calls himself an anti-war candidate. The exchange with host Chris Matthews went like this:

Clearly John Kerry is saying that he does not approve of the way the president handled the authority. That is his anti-war stance.

To further prove John Kerry's status as a flip-flopper, the Bush Cheney campaign points to his vote against an $87 billion Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill to aid in the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. Once again, John Kerry did indeed vote against this bill. His stance was based in the fact that he opposed the way the money would be obtained. Instead of voting for a version that would require the United States to borrow the necessary funds, John Kerry co-sponsored and supported a bill that would have provided the same $87 billion by making a portion of the money a loan and would call for a roll-back of part of the Bush tax cut to finance the rest. The President threatened to veto this bill if it was passed. So the only bill available to be passed was the version that John Kerry was in opposition to. The Bush/Cheney campaign would have you believe that John Kerry was choosing not to support the troops when he voted against this bill, however, he was actually voting to support the troops in a more financially sound way. The troops were going to get the support either way, John Kerry just happened to support the method that President Bush did not.

Despite all of this, President Bush and Vice President Cheney still insist on calling John Kerry a flip-flopper. So on August 9, 2004, John Kerry once again restated his position and stood by his votes:

I, myself, do not view this as a flip-flop. What I see here is a distortion of the facts by the Bush administration. Altering the syntax of the resolutions makes it look as if John Kerry has indeed flip-flopped, but upon closer examination, John Kerry has stuck to his position throughout this entire campaign.

Yes, John Kerry voted to authorize force, but the President didn't give diplomacy a chance like the resolution called for. Yes, he voted against the $87 billion appropriations bill, but he supported a more fiscally sound version that the President opposed. No flip-flop here, just a false claim by Bush/Cheney.

Tomorrow: No Child Left Behind

Monday, September 06, 2004



I'm celebrating Labor Day by not laboring. So I'll be back tomorrow with a new series of posts that examines the mythical Kerry flip-flops. See you then!

Friday, September 03, 2004


Why John Kerry Will Win In November

Now that the Republican Convention is over, I feel safe in saying that John Kerry will win in November. I know, that sounds a little cocky, maybe a little arrogant, but after watching the parade of the Republican Party's finest, it's obvious that they have nothing to run on.

To be fair, I should say that I thought George W. Bush gave the best speech of his presidency last night. Gone was the deer-in-the-headlights look that we experienced so long ago. Gone too was his habit of leaning on the podium, his fidgeting, and his nervous laugh. He seemed comfortable, confident, and above all, well rehearsed. He barely broke his stride when he was interrupted by protestors. None of this, however, makes up for the speech's lack of content.

For three nights we were treated to anti-Kerry rhetoric from some of the party's biggest names. We got to see Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Arnold Schwarzeneger, Dick Cheney, and, oh yeah, Zell Miller. All of them told us how wrong John Kerry has been over the past twenty years. How he voted against this weapon, this defense budget, and this aid package for the troops. They talked of his flip-flops, his "sensitive" side, and his unwillingness to stick with a decision. All the while, we were reminded of how dangerous these times are, how terrible September 11 was, how George Bush is leading the fight to save us, and how heroically he acted in the aftermath of that awful day. Unfortunately, they left out a few important details.

On John Kerry's voting record, they were less than accurate. His votes against those weapons, while not against any one specific weapon, were consistent with with many members of the Senate even prominent Republicans of the day, like then-President George H. W. Bush and then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney; his votes against the defense budget were exaggerated as he has voted for the Defense Appropriations budget sixteen out of nineteen times; and his alleged unwillingness to support the troops is false as he did support a bill calling for $87 billion for Iraq, but it was the version of the bill that the President threatened to veto because it didn't allow for no-bid contracts and would roll back a portion of his tax cuts. As for his flip-flops and his alleged penchant for changing his mind, it only points out a stark contrast between the two candidates; one is willing to change his mind if his view changes over time and one blindly sticks with a decision regardless of the consequences.

As for the dangerous times, nobody doubts that things are risky these days. We only have to look as far as Russia to see what horrors some people are capable of. But to imply that John Kerry would not protect the American people is not only disrespectful, it is shameful. This type of attack ranks right up there with comparing Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden or insinuating that money raised for anti-Bush ads comes from drug cartels. John Kerry, like any other elected President, would rank the safety of the American people as high as anyone else. I'm sure that given the times we live in Kerry would pay closer attention to terrorist threats than George Bush himself did prior to the September 11 attacks. And finally to how George Bush acted in the aftermath of the attacks; I would only point out that it took him three full days to make his way to the disaster site at which he did what any self-respecting person would do; he spoke comforting and encouraging words while vowing to bring the perpetrators to justice. He has yet to follow through on his vow.

Those things aside, I want to address George Bush's acceptance speech. I personally found it to be completely devoid of any real substance. By the second paragraph he was already metioning September 11, 2001 which he would go on to do five more times without ever once mentioning the name of their hated and hunted yet unaccounted-for leader. As I have said many times, George Bush is basing his entire campaign on a fifteen minute photo-op atop a pile of rocks. That is why we keep hearing about September 11. Of course it was a terrible thing, of course it changed our country forever, but if this election is really about the future, as he stated in his speech, why does he keep bringing up the past?

But what I really want to talk about are George Bush's proposed initiatives. He began his laundry list of ideas by saying he wants to create jobs. This is a pretty safe proposal, I mean who doesn't want to create jobs. Unfortunately, he's already had this job for four years and has failed to create a single job. In fact he is still over 1 million jobs in the hole from where he started. Today's announcement of 144,000 new payroll jobs doesn't even keep up with the expanding work force. So although this is a noble proposition, he has already proven that he is incapable of fulfilling it.

He then moved to the current tax code claiming it to be a complicated mess filled with special interest loopholes. Harkening back to his 2000 acceptance speech in Philadelphia, I recall George Bush saying:

Once again George, you've had four years to accomplish this. I agree most of the current tax code is complicated and full of loopholes, but Bush's tax cuts have done nothing to make them more understandable. A total overhaul is definitely necessary, but why should we believe that it will happen in the next four years when it didn't happen during the last?

He spoke of health care savings accounts. As one who is familiar with these type of flex plans, let me explain how this works. Every month a certain amount of money will come out of my paycheck and go into an "account" from which I can draw to pay for my health care. This does nothing to lower the cost of my health care. So where is the benefit of this? It's still going to cost me my money to go to the doctor. Now here's the kicker. What the President didn't say is that at the end of the fiscal year whatever money that is left in these "flex" type accounts is forfeited to the health care company. Not only can you not take it with you from job to job as the president said, you can't take it with you from year to year. I don't see this as a benefit.

He proposed changing outdated labor laws. On this one he's already got a head-start. You may remember the recent changes to the overtime laws. There have been many different interpretations of this act and the only one that has a positive spin comes from this administration. I don't think we want to see any more changing of labor laws from this group.

He spoke of keeping the promise of Social Security for our older workers. Over the last four years this administration has gutted the future of Social Security for the sake of tax cuts. Just recently Alan Greenspan advised cutting Social Security to the bone because of its current weakened state. This is complete bluster. He hasn't protected it for the last four years, why would he start now?

Other comments made during the speech were just as ridiculous. Many were rehashed material from previous speeches. For instance:

Or this:

George Bush has given us four years of empty promises just like the ones he gave us last night. He has given us speech after speech that is full of empty language. He continues to run on the past and his false claim that he is the one who can best protect us from terrorists.

I happen to disagree with this statement. Given our current military situation and our lack of spending for actual homeland security, I don't believe that we are any safer today than we were on September 11. In light of things like our failure to inspect incoming cargo, secure our nuclear and water facilities, and prtect our borders and coastlines; I just want to point out one thing. Every general will tell you that you can't send all of your troops out to fight the war without keeping some troops home to protect the base. We are not protecting our base.

George Bush's policies will not keep us safe. His promises will not be fulfilled. When John Kerry points these things out in a face to face debate, George W. Bush will lose. I can't wait for November.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


Zelling Out The Party

HATEFEST, 2004 - What a scene it was. Zell Miller, in front of a live television audience and an arena full of people, blew a gasket. Tendons straining, veins bulging, and eyes wide; Miller let loose with a tirade the likes of which we haven't heard in years. I watched the event on MSNBC and I had to keep checking to make sure I was on the right channel. For a while, I thought I had mistakenly turned to the Discovery Channel and caught the middle of a special on convulsions. All day long I've seen the clips of Miller claiming Kerry was going to fight the enemy with spitballs. And what does the media say? It was a "fiery" speech. They talk to the Republicans and many are saying it was a great speech, typical Zell Miller. Obviously nobody in the press is willing to actually analyze what he said. They're content to let the Republicans define it. So here tonight, I am going to attempt to sift through the hate and bile and actually examine the claims made. Here we go.

He began by saying:

Well, Zell, I think it's good that you're concerned about the future and your great-grandchildren. I would be very concerned if I were you. If George W. Bush is re-elected, there is a good chance that your great-grandchildren will have to serve in the armed forces. If Bush is re-elected, there is a good chance that the world's environment will be so damaged by the time your great-grandchildren are grown that it could be detrimental to their health. If George Bush id re-elected, there is a good chance that the country will be in such financial ruin that the programs that have helped so many for so long will be bankrupt. If George Bush is re-elected, there is a good chance that they will be unable to afford health insurance for themselves or their own children. If George Bush is re-elected, there is a good chance that his tax cuts will have forced millions more into poverty and millions will be without jobs. So I understand your concern Zell. Maybe your speech wasn't as hateful as the critics have said.

Let's move on:

That's a good question Zell. Let's see how you answered it.

Well at least he didn't answer with a partisan response. Next.

Surely he doesn't mean like when George Bush made this statement:

Because if he did, he must be pretty pissed at our President right now.

Moving right along:

Actually Zell, it's the Constitution that gives us those rights. The soldiers that protect them. Protecting our rights is something our current President could learn a lot about. Instead of ammending the Constitution to include discrimination, he needs to examine it and see that it's not about denying rights, but granting them. Little slip up there Zell, but let's keep going.

Now Zell, you don't really mean to say that voting against those weapons was bad do you? Apparently you aren't aware of the fact that when Kerry voted against those weapons, the Senate was being urged by then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney to do so. And Mr. Cheney was urging them to vote against those weapons at the behest of our then President George H. W. Bush. You might want to go back and check your notes on that one.

Wrong, he blamed the government for putting the military in a situation for which they were unprepared.

Actually Zell, Kerry has voted for Defense Appropriations bills thirteen out of nineteen years. And as he has said repeatedly, he did vote for the $87 billion, just not the version that had us borrowing money to pay for equipment the troops should have been supplied with to begin with.

Overall, this was the most hateful, bile spewing, innacurate speech I think I have ever heard. What fascinates me most is that the majority of the speech focused on John Kerry. In fact, the majority of this Convention has focused on John Kerry. Maybe it's because Zell and the rest of the Conservatives have realized that you can only get just so much mileage out of fifteen minutes atop a pile of rocks three days after a disaster.

It's sad really. Too bad I can't feel any sympathy for him.

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