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« September 2004 | Main | November 2004 »

October 30, 2004

Why I Support John Kerry

By Rodney Taylor

I will cast my vote Tuesday for John Kerry and John Edwards. I strongly believe that our great country is falling short of her potential. We need a change and a positive vision for the future. John Kerry and John Edwards will chart a new course in both domestic and foreign policy. We must have new leadership to correct the mistakes of the past four years and again get America moving forward towards economic prosperity at home and successful resolution of the difficult issues we face abroad.

Let me be very clear that the fact I support John Kerry does not mean that I hate George Bush. I have never met President Bush but if he and Laura are ever in Amherst, Anne and I would be honored to have them over for dinner and they would be welcomed to spend the evening. I would proudly show him the framed letter from his parents congratulating us on the birth of our first daughter that hangs in a place of honor in our library. We both enjoy clearing brush and I have an extra bush ax if he needs to relieve some stress. We
would get along just fine, but I still would not vote for him.

On the most important issues, John Kerry's positions are superior to those of George Bush. On the critical issue of the war in Iraq only John Kerry can lead us out of the quagmire into which George Bush has sunk us. We need a new beginning, and George Bush is hopelessly committed to the failed policies of the past.

By every measure, including his own, the economic policies of George Bush have failed. In the past 70 years our country has survived the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and
the massive unrest of the Civil Rights struggle. Through all of these difficult times every President has seen more jobs at the end of his first term than there were at the beginning. The fact that George Bush is the first President since Herbert Hoover to lose jobs in his first term should be enough in and of itself to disqualify him for reelection. It is a record of failure for which he bears the responsibility.

His father coined the term "voodoo economics" to describe a policy of providing massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while increasing government spending. The first President Bush was right then and he is right today. George W. Bush is no fiscal conservative. He has turned a budget surplus into the largest deficit in the history of the United States. He has approved profligate government spending increases in areas that have nothing to do with homeland security or the war. The economic policies of George W. Bush
have disproportionately hurt our neediest citizens and it is a record that he should be embarrassed to run on.

John Kerry will restore fiscal sanity to Washington. He will return the tax rates for those earning more than $200,000 a year to where they were four years ago, curtail unnecessary spending and reduce the deficit.

The education proposals made by President Bush received broad support from Democrats and Republicans.

The No Child Left Behind bill was passed by a wide margin and there was great hope that true reform of our public education system could be achieved. President Bush has failed to implement his own policy. He has not funded many of the programs crucial to its success and the test results show that we continue to lose ground. John Kerry will make sure that No Child Left Behind lives up to its name. We are all stronger when our children are inspired to learn for the sake of learning. For our society to be strong a good education must be valued in every socioeconomic group.

I own a small business. We pay 100 percent of the health care coverage for our employees. My business partner and I do so because we believe that it is good for our employees, good for the company and the right thing to do. In the past years we have seen double digit increases in our health care premiums. We can not continue to absorb these increases. We live in the most prosperous nation in the history of the world. Every citizen should have access to basic health care. Under George Bush's watch we have seen a growth in the number of uninsured people in our country. John Kerry's health care plan will move us towards the goal of a nation where every citizen has access to basic health care.

Senior care is closely related to health care. We are a graying nation and we have an obligation to take care of those who can not take care of themselves. To provide adequate services nursing homes must make a profit. John Kerry understands that the current system will lead to disaster while George Bush inexplicably clings to the failed policies of the past four years. John Kerry will fix the Social Security system.

We are blessed to live in one of the most beautiful places on this planet. We have no greater obligation to future generations than to be good stewards of our environment. George Bush has failed to meet this obligation. A good steward seeks ways in which to protect our environment without crippling our economy. The environmental policies of George Bush have been shaped by the next quarter's corporate profits instead of a long-term vision for the future. I want my children and their children to have the same opportunities I have had to grow up in a clean and safe environment. John Kerry will protect our environment and be a good steward of our natural resources.

The ban on assault weapons was a good law and it should have been renewed. George Bush said he supported renewal but then failed to support renewal. He was afraid to put his principals in front of the
position of the assault weapon lobby. It was a cowardly act and he should be ashamed of his failure to provide leadership on this issue.

Our society is struggling with acceptance of those whose lifestyle is outside of the traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Homosexuality has existed since the earliest recorded history of mankind and it will exist until the end of time. To deny that individuals are born with a predisposition to homosexuality
is to deny the obvious. Some people are born gay. As a society we are not yet ready to recognize same sex unions as marriage. I do believe however that we should be able to reach a consensus that there are basic rights that should not be denied gay couples. Our constitution should only be amended when there is a need to clarify protection of rights; George Bush would amend the constitution for the first time to restrict rights. On this issue John Kerry has the moderate and correct view.

Abortion is an issue on which we may never reach a consensus. I will never be pregnant and I will never have an abortion. Neither will George Bush nor John Kerry. That fact does not preclude us from having opinions but we must understand that our opinions are formed from a different perspective than that of those who have a womb. I do not know when our children were imbued with a spirit but I believe it
occurred before they were born. I do believe that this transformation occurs only in the womb and most likely near the age of viability outside the womb. I am certain that it does not occur in a petri dish. Human life is precious and should be protected but the anti-abortion movement has gone too far. Indeed lawmakers have proposed bans on commonly used methods of contraception. We are only one step away from laws that would seek to protect the seeds of Onan. Stem cell research offers the hope for cures to diseases that have afflicted mankind for centuries. Science should be able to move forward with government assistance not government restriction. On this issue George Bush has taken a strict ideological position that is pleasing to the far right wing of his party. John Kerry has sought to strike a balance that respects deeply held religious views with the hope for a better future through medical research.

Perhaps the most important issue our country faces today is the war in Iraq. It is ironic that without the war in Iraq the dismal failure of the Bush administration on other important issues would guarantee the election of John Kerry. George Bush told us we were going to war with Saddam Hussein because he posed an immediate threat to the United States and because he possessed weapons of mass destruction. George Bush was wrong on this most crucial of issues. Is the world better off without Saddam Hussein in power? Yes. Is the freedom of millions of people in Iraq a good thing? Yes. But when the President of the United States addressed the nation those were not the reasons he gave for going to war. I believe George Bush was right to go into Afghanistan and I support that effort completely. The nation and the world were united in a common cause to bring to justice those responsible for the horror of September 11, 2001. George Bush had an opportunity to inspire America and the world and to defeat those who seek destroy us with fear and terror. George Bush squandered that opportunity. American soldiers are being killed at the rate of 100 per month and thousands more are being maimed and injured. George Bush tells us that the only answer is to
stay the course. It is the wrong course and only with the election of John Kerry can we begin the process of uniting our country around the common goal of leaving a free and stable Iraq in the hands of a popularly elected Iraqi government.

I will vote for John Kerry and I believe that our nation will be better off if he wins. I also believe that our republic is stronger than any one man and would survive if George Bush were re-elected. Whoever emerges victorious on November 2 must work to bring our country back together. A strong debate over which course we should chart is a healthy thing. We must however be able to agree on where it is we want those divergent courses to take us.

We all want a prosperous economy where every citizen has an opportunity to work and reach his or her greatest potential. We want to have the best public education system in the world.

We want to live in a country where everyone has access to basic health care and where the contributions of our senior citizens are honored by providing them with adequate care in their twilight years.

We want to protect the environment and ensure a healthy planet for future generations. We want the United States of America to be safe and secure and we want freedom for those around the world that live under the yoke of tyranny. These are common goals and the next President must bring us together to achieve them.

That is why I will vote for John Kerry and John Edwards.

Posted by laura at 01:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 28, 2004

Dr. Ralph Stanley for John Kerry: Rally in Lynchburg


Dr. Ralph Stanley - Kerry Rally in Lynchburg, Va - Medium Quality Images (faster)

Dr. Ralph Stanley, the Bluegrass and Country Music legend, came to Lynchburg today to hold an afternoon Rally for John Kerry and John Edwards.

The event was held at the Community Market in downtown Lynchburg. I've included some photos and will put up the higher resolution images later in the night after I attend the Kerry Meetup (for which I'm already running late). :)

Enjoy!
- Aaron

Posted by amahler at 07:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Voting in America: Reflections of an American Abroad

. . . Or, Sometimes it Takes a Foreigner to Teach You What it Means to be an American

NOTE: This was submitted to Documenting Democracy by Donna Messner, a PhD candidate in the sciences from Virginia who is currently studying at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In her e-mail to me, she says that the PIPA Report was the last straw and that led to her writing this passionate piece. Please send this link to others to read, especially your Republican friends who so desparately need to understand what is at stake. Thanks, Donna, for submitting this.

I had only been in Britain a couple of weeks before I was confronted with the question that would become a recurrent theme for my first year here. "Why do Americans vote for him? I mean-I don't want to offend you. We know Americans aren't stupid. But why can't they see through him? Are they naive?" An Austrian woman voiced the question while several others-among them British, Norwegian, Belgian, Finnish, and Korean-gathered around to listen, nodding in agreement.

The "him," of course, was George W. Bush. My classmates, colleagues, and teachers had barely gotten beyond the pleasantries before they began pressing me to explain my country and its actions. They were eager to talk about it, seemingly gratified to have among them an American to whom they could put the question directly.

Significantly, what they looked for was not retrospective justifications for war or for other American policies. Instead they sought an explanation for the choice millions of individual Americans make when they go into the privacy of the balloting booth to cast their votes.

(more below)

When first confronted with the question of why people would vote for Bush, I stammered and sputtered. "No, Americans certainly aren't stupid. Perhaps they are a bit trusting.... It's complicated."

Over the next few months I spent many hours explaining American domestic politics, describing what I saw as an unlikely potpourri of single-issue voters who tend vote Republican. To my foreign colleagues, these laundry lists of domestic issues created a caricature of the typical Republican voter as someone who walks around with an assault weapon in one hand and a Bible in the other, exhorting people to abide by God's (fundamentalist) laws and accept His tax cuts or suffer the death penalty.

I knew this caricature wasn't a fair one. I have friends at home who I know didn't benefit from Bush tax cuts, who are knowledgeable about the environment and want strong international allies, who do believe in gun rights but don't particularly want assault weapons on the streets, and who have religious faith but are not intolerant or narrow in their view of others, who nevertheless plan to vote for Bush. Trying to explain this seeming contradiction was vexing.

One night while sitting at a pub with some Swedish friends, Jan and Jenny, the conversation once again turned to Bush voters. Jan, who had proven to have an encyclopedic knowledge of Bush administration policies and actions around the world, was pressing me on what Americans thought of Bush's recent spurning of multiple international agreements-backing out of the Kyoto treaty, refusing to participate in an international biological weapons ban, repudiating a longstanding anti-ballistic missile treaty with Russia.

"Do the people who vote for Bush approve of these actions?" he asked.

I threw up my hands in frustration, saying, "Most Americans don't choose presidents over stuff like that! A lot of people probably don't even know he did those things!"

My Swedish friends were stunned. "They don't know he did those things?" they asked in disbelief.

"Well, for many of them probably not," I explained. "Usually, American elections hinge on domestic issues. And anyway," I added, "a lot of people just vote out of habit or tradition. They think, 'I am Republican. Therefore I vote Republican. If I do otherwise then...well, what would people in my circle think? How could I still call myself Republican?'"

I could see the horror on Jan and Jenny's faces. They found this description of many Americans' voting habits alarming.

Jenny, knotting her hands in frustration, finally said, "We feel so helpless. Whoever is the president of the United States has such a huge impact on the rest of the world. And the people who vote for him don't even know that-they aren't even thinking about it when they go to vote. That's really scary."

I had never thought about our presidential elections this way. It gave me pause, as I hope it would all Americans. Jan and Jenny aren't alone. Their attitude is shared by most of the global citizens I've met here.

A few months after this encounter, my husband and I decided to visit Jan and Jenny in Sweden. At one point during our visit, I stopped to get money from a cash machine. When I pulled out my wallet to get the ATM card, my passport came out with it. Jan drew in a breath at the sight of it. This friend who can level a passionate, devastating critique of Bush administration policies in a few pointed sentences saw the passport and said expectantly, "Wow. An American passport. Can I see it?"

I passed it to him with a mixture of puzzlement and welling pride. He held it respectfully, almost reverently, delicately fingering the gold eagle inscribed on the deep blue cover.

Not knowing what to say I awkwardly joked, "Hey, that passport's worth a lot of money!"

If he heard me, he didn't laugh. Still fingering the eagle, he said, "It's such a symbol of power...such a symbol in the world." He looked at me with earnest seriousness, searching for the words to articulate his thought. "If you have an American passport, you have more power than any other citizen in the world."

I was taken aback. Americans, all of us, need to have the mirror held up to us the way my friend did for me. He is critical of the U.S. right now not out of simple jealousy for Swedish national interests, as many people might assume, but because the United States stands for something in the world that he respects-something, he fears, we are in the process of destroying.

Every day in our country, especially now with elections approaching, the phrase "most powerful nation in the world" gets thrown about like so much rhetorical candy in cynical attempts to manipulate patriotic sentiments. As much as we say it, it seems unreal-just another campaign slogan. Meanwhile, citizens of the rest of the world know it in a profound and meaningful way. They reap benefits if we behave wisely and they bear the consequences when we behave irresponsibly.

And here are we, the Americans, the ones who cast the votes, all of us, busy, busy, busy. Come home from work, pick up the kids, throw some food in the microwave. Make sure the kids' homework is done. And then go to our night job, or night classes, or work on the proposal due at work the next day. My job is riding on this. Got to nail this one....
It's easy to get lost in the details, go on autopilot, and do the same when we go to vote-go on autopilot.

Meanwhile, the world trembles-not our enemies, but our allies. I am living and working and studying among people who are our best allies and strongest friends in the world. And right now we scare them! It's hard for Americans to imagine, but it's true. Our best friends in the world are frightened to contemplate what havoc another four years of this administration might reap on the world.

With great power comes great responsibility. That's a theme we often hear, but only as applied to our leaders. Think again. The more fundamental power and greatest responsibility lie with those who choose the leaders-it lies with us, the voters. We need to recognize our power, accept our responsibility, and go to the voting booth with the same sense of awe my friend used to describe the symbol of the American passport.

A world of concerned citizens is watching. What will we do?

Posted by amahler at 09:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 27, 2004

Finally, Bush says something I agree with.

General Wesley Clark, take it away:

Today George W. Bush made a very compelling and thoughtful argument for why he should not be reelected. In his own words, he told the American people that "... a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your Commander in Chief".

President Bush couldn't be more right. He jumped to conclusions about any connection between Saddam Hussein and 911. He jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction. He jumped to conclusions about the mission being accomplished. He jumped to conclusions about how we had enough troops on the ground to win the peace. And because he jumped to conclusions, terrorists and insurgents in Iraq may very well have their hands on powerful explosives to attack our troops, we are stuck in Iraq without a plan to win the peace, and Americans are less safe both at home and abroad.

By doing all these things, he broke faith with our men and women in uniform. He has let them down. George W. Bush is unfit to be our Commander in Chief.

Six more days. GOTV. GOTV. And more GOTV.

Posted by amahler at 05:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 25, 2004

Wow... sure is crowded!

Thought I'd share a few rally photos I've been seeing on the net this week:


Kerry in Philadephia, PA this morning.

Kerry in Pueblo, CO yesterday.

Kerry in Minneapolis, MN last week.

Posted by amahler at 04:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Observing Voting Machine Prep: Amherst County

Select photos by your connection speed:

Preparation of Voting Machines, Amherst, Va - Oct 22, 2004 - High Quality (slower)


Preparation of Voting Machines, Amherst, Va - Oct 22, 2004 - Medium Quality (faster)

I was asked to observe the preparation of the Amherst County voting machines on behalf of the DNC/KE voter protection program last Friday. The registrar for Amherst, Gary Beasley, had already extended an invitation to the local parties to observe the process (my Republican counterpart did not attend for whatever reason), so being asked to attend in a more official capacity by the DNC worked out quite well. I filled out a detailed form that is, more or less, a checklist that profiles the procedures and practices involved in the voting machine preparation process. It also helps document a general sense of the county's efforts to prevent problems and gauges their readiness to deal with problems if they should arise on election day.

I'll cut right to the chase here and say that everything looked excellent, both in relation to the equipment and the highly competent electoral officials I dealt with that afternoon. I feel very confident (and I speak here as nothing more than a voting citizen and tech geek) that the voting process in Amherst County will be smooth.

For a little background on the systems, read my brief write-up and photo gallery of a demo of our new voting machines given by Mr. Beasley at a previous local Democratic Committee meeting. The new touchscreen systems built by Unilect are profiled in that blog post. [NOTE: My previous entry shows the touchscreen panel used by voters to cast their votes. Today's story and photos show only the equipment "behind the scenes" that record the votes. Don't mistake the unfriendly looking machine in these pictures with the device you will vote with on election day.] I will focus on the preparation of the machines in the remainder of this entry (click below).

The eleven voting machines for our precincts went through a detailed process of testing and pre-election preparation at the hands of the Registrar and Secretary and under the guidance of representatives of Unilect. This is the first use of these systems in a presidential election in Amherst County. It is the third use, however, of this model in a presidential election nationwide and there have been no prior irregularities experienced by other localities.

The Unilect reps were on hand as part of their sales agreement to provide complete training and support to Amherst County. All of the actual preparation work was done, however, by the Amherst officials with the Unilect representatives simply outlining the process and answering questions. It is immediately obvious to any observer that Registrar Beasley and Secretary Wanda Spradley are very comfortable with the operation of the machines in part, I suspect, from the numerous public demonstrations and training sessions they have conducted for months.

The photos I've attached (which were done for the blog, not something I was asked to do by the DNC) are captioned and lay out the process from start to finish. In summary, though, the procedures involved examining all the machines physically, running logic and other self-tests, printing reports to check the health of each unit, installing the ballot information, testing the backup batteries and, finally, sealing four key parts of every machine with a color-coded and numbered tamper-proof tag. Once sealed and documented, the machines were put under limited-access lock and key until election day.

Amherst will NOT be connecting their systems to a network for centralized submission of the election results. Amherst precincts will print audited results that will be witnessed by multiple officials with the same or greater safeguards associated with pre-touchscreen era voting.

The entire process was completely open, was not rushed in any way and everyone in attendance went out of their way to explain all of the steps and answer any questions. I was highly impressed by both the local election officials and the Unilect reps who will be on standby for technical assistance on Nov 2nd (and afterward) in the unlikely event a problem is encountered.

That's the process in a nutshell. Again, I don't claim that my observations make me any kind of expert on the process. My presence, however, does further illustrate the willingness of both the Amherst election officials and Unilect to make the process an open book. Voting is our single most important responsibility as citizens and I have no doubt whatsoever that every effort has been made in Amherst County to see that it goes without a hitch.

The next step is in our hands: On November 2nd (or before), be sure to cast your ballot for John Kerry and John Edwards. Make sure your family and friends get to their precinct and, by all means, please volunteer to help get out the vote for the Kerry/Edwards ticket. The majority in this country clearly see the wisdom in sending George Bush back to Crawford, Texas - let's make sure we follow through!

Posted by amahler at 09:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 23, 2004

Can't you just feel the momentum?

In a year when polls have been all over the place, anectodal evidence of just how this election might turn out seems as good as anything else. What you hear neighbors and strangers talking about is at least as reliable as polling organizations that admit they sample more Republicans than Democrats. Therefore, I get the feeling - yes, it's a feeling; it's not scientific - that things are trending our way. And even some surveys and other items in the news are beginning to show that. (By Rick Howell)


The New York Times is reporting today that Ohio Republicans are waging a massive campaign to have their people "monitor" polling places on Election Day to make sure that any voters whose legitimacy they suspect can be challenged. This has been rumored for a while, but has now emerged at the same time that it looks like John Kerry will win that state. Does the word "desperation" come to mind? Bush and the GOP have spent tremendous resources in Ohio, and now it looks like the only game they have left is to harass voters. No Republican has ever been elected president without winning Ohio. They know that and they're scared to death.

Meanwhile, here in good ole "reliably Republican" Virginia, the evidence continues to mount that we have a real race on our hands. My aging vehicle has failed a few times in the last couple of weeks, and I've spent time on buses and in auto repair shops. The conversations I've heard are very encouraging. You've heard the phrase "To look at him, you wouldn't know he has any money." Well, let's just say that some people have demonstrated the political equivalent of that to me in recent days. This is very subjective, of course. But other Kerry supporters have said they've seen and heard the same thing. People you might not expect to be with us - for whatever reason - are getting ready to vote for John Kerry.

If you sniff the political winds these days, you can smell the trouble for Bush. You can feel the momentum for Kerry. As an adult student at Lynchburg College, I get my own close-up view of what young voters are thinking. Last spring semester, I felt that Kerry supporters were outnumbered. But that has changed this fall. Kerry bumper stickers are far more prominent in the parking lot now than they were then. When I wear a Kerry shirt or button, it gets quite a positive reaction. And this is Lynchburg I'm talking about...

A national poll seems to confirm this. It shows that Kerry's lead among college students has increased to 13 points. College-aged youth are described as more likely to vote, and far more interested in political matters now than they have been in years. Then there are the seniors, the voting bloc that most reliably shows up at the polls. While waiting for a ride at a local fast food restaurant, I heard a grandmother tell her 14-year-old granddaughter that she was voting for Kerry. "No, you're not," said the youngster. "Yes, I am," was granny's reply.

Moments later, after the girl had said some critical things about Kerry, she spotted me and my Kerry button. She started whispering to granny that she'd "put her foot in her mouth." I spoke up and told her it was okay. But I showed granny my button and said, "Don't let her talk you out of voting." "Oh, I won't," she replied.

Call me unscientific. Call me whatever you want. But there's a feeling in the air which might even be better this year than the results of a Gallup Poll. Things are looking good for the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

(Rick Howell is chairman of the Amherst County Democratic Committee. He is Host of the Kerry Meet-Ups in Lynchburg. He can be reached at NewCenHowell@aol.com)

Posted by rickhowell at 02:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 22, 2004

100 Facts and 1 Opinion: The Non-Arguable Case Against the Bush Admin

This list, which prints VERY nicely as a single sheet PDF, is available at The Nation.

It includes topics such as Iraq, Terrorism, National Security, Cronyism, The Economy, Education, Healthcare, Environment, Rights & Liberties, Bush Flip Flops, some biographical information, Secrecy and one resounding opinion:

If the past informs the future, four more years of the Bush Administration will be a tragic period in the history of the United States and the world.

This is an excellent piece to pass around and shouldn't give those with a short attention span (like most Bush supporters that I know) a heart attack.

Posted by amahler at 05:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Misinformed Bush Supporters: Some Numbers

Summarized numbers from the PIPA report regarding the beliefs of surveyed Bush supporters:

  • 75% believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.
  • 74% believe Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in agreements on trade.
  • 72% believe Iraq had WMD or a program to develop them.
  • 72% believe Bush supports the treaty banning landmines.
  • 69% believe Bush supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
  • 61% believe if Bush knew there were no WMD he would not have gone to war.
  • 60% believe most experts believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.
  • 58% believe the Duelfer report concluded that Iraq had either WMD or a major program to develop them.
  • 57% believe that the majority of people in the world would prefer to see Bush reelected.
  • 56% believe most experts think Iraq had WMD.
  • 55% believe the 9/11 report concluded Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.
  • 51% believe Bush supports the Kyoto treaty.
  • 20% believe Iraq was directly involved in 9/11.

Posted by amahler at 05:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 20, 2004

Lynchburg: More blue than you ever thought possible

Select photos by your connection speed:

Democratic Fundraiser at the Valentine Residence, Lynchburg - Oct 20, 2004 (slower)


Democratic Fundraiser at the Valentine Residence, Lynchburg - Oct 20, 2004 (faster)

Lynchburg was host to another tremendous Democratic event tonight. At the home of the Valentine family on Langhorne Road, around three hundred enthusiastic Democrats gathered to eat, drink, mingle and listen to the words of Attorney General candidate Creigh Deeds and the guest of honor, former Lt. Governor Don Beyer. The message was one of unity and enthusiasm that confirms that the Democratic Party is on the march in Virginia in 2004 and may well change Virginia's role in the electoral equation of Presidential politics.

Lynchburg, considered a conservative stronghold with the likes of Jerry Falwell counted among our local "celebrities", has benefited from the explosion of Democratic unity and growth that stems from the disastrous performance of George W. Bush as President. The city is awash in Kerry/Edwards yard signs, hundreds attended the late summer opening of a Democratic HQ, bumper stickers are everywhere and voter registration has set local records. The local HQ has had hundreds of volunteers involved in GOTV activities throughout the summer.

Their appreciation for George Bush being an unintentional "uniter" is dwarfed, however, by their enthusiasm for John Kerry and John Edwards. Virginia is within the polling margin of error to go blue this year and stands a very good chance of electing its first Democratic president since Lyndon B. Johnson some forty years ago.

Thanks to the entire group that put together tonight's fantastic event, especially the Valentine family for opening their beautiful home and Shannon in particular for being the catalyst behind a highly successful voter registration effort these last few months. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Posted by amahler at 11:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Bush Admin Is Failing At Securing the Homeland

The non-profit group, Private Citizen, has put together an assessment of the current state of homeland security. Their report is broken into separate PDFs on aspects including chemical, nuclear, water supply, ports etc., along with an executive summary and an overview.

A few samples:

Regarding Nuclear Plants:

"Twenty-seven state attorneys generals warned Congress in October 2002 that the consequences of a catastrophic attack against one of the country�s 103 nuclear power plants 'are simply incalculable.' The plants were not designed to withstand the impact of aircraft crashes or explosive forces, and the government does not require nuclear plants to be secure from an aircraft attack. Radioactive waste is stored in standing pools or dry casks, making it vulnerable, and the plants have grossly inadequate security. But the Bush administration and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have resisted congressional efforts for additional security regulation. In fact, the NRC proposed weakening fire safety regulations, which would make it harder for a reactor to be safely shut down in the event of a terrorist attack."

The reasons for his failures include an aversion to regulation and a fear of upsetting the apple cart among his big money donors that are so often associated with these industries.

"'Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President Bush has made protection of the American people from terrorism the rhetorical centerpiece of his presidency,' said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. 'Yet this administration has failed to use its executive powers or support legislation to mandate regulatory requirements that should be taken. Bush has abdicated his responsibility to protect America from the risk of terrorist attacks because he is fundamentally hostile to regulation of private industry, including the industries analyzed in this report, and is loath to cross his big money campaign contributors.'

Bush can fling around all the rhetoric he likes about being our great protector in his stump speeches, but his actions don't match his words. Whether it's homeland security or dragging us into a quagmire on the basis of lies, this administration continues to say one thing while doing another. The results could well be catastrophic.

Posted by amahler at 05:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

According to Pat Robertson, God wants a lousy, arrogant president

Ok, that's my reading of his remarks anyway.

Our blog is focused on Virginia which just happens to be home to two people who can't seem to keep politics, religion, flag-waving and the Bible from being mixed together so thoroughly that it's hard to tell where the Constitution ends and the scripture begins. It's no shock that they are both part of the far right that is fueling the division in this country and laying the groundwork for the GOP tearing itself apart at the seams in the coming years.

Falwell, founder of the now defunct Moral Majority of the Reagan era, has had his hand in politics for as long as I can remember (I've grown up living in the shadow of his empire centered here in Lynchburg). Just this past weekend I spent several hours at a Kerry/Edwards table handing out stickers, yard signs and information at the local Apple Harvest Festival in rural Amherst. On Saturday we were vastly outnumbered by the Bush/Cheney ground troops that, in our area, come in the form of an army of polite Liberty University students. I remember one young woman being in a hurry to leave her post so she didn't miss an open house at Liberty's new Law School named in honor of Jesse Helms. I think I literally shivered hearing her words.

Pat Robertson, the man behind The 700 Club, Regents University, and a former candidate for President lives in Virginia Beach at the center of his religious and political media empire. Let me let Pat profile himself in his own quotes:

From a 1992 fundraising letter:


The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.

On his show, The 700 Club, in September 1991:


[Planned Parenthood, a pro-choice group] is teaching kids to fornicate, teaching people to have adultery, every kind of bestiality, homosexuality, lesbianism - everything that the Bible condemns.

During a 1993 address to the American Center for Law and Justice:


"There is no such thing as separation of church and state in the Constitution. It is a lie of the Left and we are not going to take it anymore."

And, as a Presbyterian, I especially enjoy this one (quoted in The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast):

"Presbyterians are the spirit of the Antichrist."

I could fill pages with his mind-boggling quotes.

So, let me turn to his most recent quotes from an interview on CNN with Paula Zahn:

Pat Robertson, an ardent Bush supporter, said he had that conversation with the president in Nashville, Tennessee, before the March 2003 invasion. He described Bush in the meeting as "the most self-assured man I've ever met in my life."

"You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looks like a contented Christian with four aces.' I mean he was just sitting there like, 'I'm on top of the world,' " Robertson said on the CNN show, "Paula Zahn Now."

"And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.' "

Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."

Over 1,100 US troops have died in Iraq so far with over 8,000 wounded (a number that I've been told several times is highly conservative due to a deliberately narrow definition of "wounded" that excludes psychological damage).

Robertson goes on to indicate that Bush should admit his mistakes. Despite all of this, though:

Even as Robertson criticized Bush for downplaying the potential dangers of the Iraq war, he heaped praise on Bush, saying he believes the president will win the election and that "the blessing of heaven is on Bush."

"Even if he stumbles and messes up -- and he's had his share of stumbles and gaffes -- I just think God's blessing is on him," Robertson said.

Let me throw in a few more interesting Robertson tidbits. Robertson's Operation Blessing International program received half a million dollars as a result of Bush's push for funding of faith-based initiatives. When Bush first announced his faith-based initiative concept, Robertson blasted it as a "real Pandora's Box". It's likely the only opinion he and I have ever shared.

Of course, he's now become a recipient of the vast wealth discovered in Pandora's box. OBI has been known to use its humanitarian aid resources, namely planes and pilots, to assist in hauling equipment for Roberton's diamond mining operations in Zaire. Then there is the matter of OBI giving a $2 million grant to Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. Oh, and its $2.5 million purchase of Ensure, Splenda and $10.4 million spent on candy and panty hose. Go here if you can stand to read more.

Posted by amahler at 10:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Selective Service's Medical Skills Draft

While Bush continues to vow that we will continue to have an all volunteer army (many consider this a hollow pre-election promise since troop strength appears impossible to maintain), the Selective Service is hard at work defining various "skills drafts". From an article in the NY Times:

The Selective Service has been updating its contingency plans for a draft of doctors, nurses and other health care workers in case of a national emergency that overwhelms the military's medical corps.

In a confidential report this summer, a contractor hired by the agency described how such a draft might work, how to secure compliance and how to mold public opinion and communicate with health care professionals, whose lives could be disrupted.

I always love reading about government plans to "secure compliance" and "mold public opinion". I saw a lot of molding of public opinion in the run-up to a war... pity they had to tell so many lies to achieve the desired concensus.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Part of the plan involves staying in contact with various medical groups (schools, etc) to maintain relations so the process can go smoothly. However:

On the other hand, it said, such contacts must be limited, low key and discreet because "overtures from Selective Service to the medical community will be seen as precursors to a draft," and that could alarm the public.

I'll let you formulate your own opinions as you read the entire article - it contains a mixture of politically-driven assurances that this is not needed along with a lot of hints that the facts indicate otherwise. I'll also mention that this is just one particular "skills draft" being discussed. There are others focusing on additional professions including computer and technology skills.

Yes, I appreciate that effort goes into planning so we don't have our pants down on the domestic front if there is another 9/11. I would, of course, like much of that planning to include proper funding for first responders, better border protection, shipping container inspection and a host of other things this administration has underfunded. Instead, their priority has emphasized lashing out with costly and misguided wars that increase rather than reduce the need for the aforementioned items.

As one who hasn't been drinking the nutritionless, saccharine-sweet Bush administration Kool-Aid, it's quite difficult not to question any draft-related planning. Sadly, if more of our citizens and our media exercised their responsibility to analyze and questions this administration's intentions, we might not be living in a lousy economy where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, healthcare costs an arm and a leg and the world increasingly sees us as an unpredictable bully.

In less than two weeks, I'm going to do my part and cast a vote for responsibility, integrity, and positive change in this country: John Kerry and John Edwards.

Posted by amahler at 09:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 18, 2004

Newspaper Endorsement Update

The endorsement balance right now is 45 for Kerry and 30 for Bush.

One of note is the Bradenton Herald in Florida. (It's also of personal interest to me with a grandmother in Bradenton and many trips there in my life) The Herald roundly endorsed Bush in 2000 and the region went heavily in his favor in the 2000 election (no need to rehash the rest of the nightmare in Florida except to say they are already at it again).

This year, the Bradenton Herald is both endorsing Kerry and lamenting their prior endorsement of Bush from the last election. Some selected excerpts:

"How poorly we understood George W. Bush in 2000. We could not imagine the possibility that, just four years later, Bush would have done just what we feared of Gore -- that the United States would barely be on speaking terms with some of its staunchest allies, and that America would be reviled around the world as a bullying, imperialist superpower. How far we have fallen from the bright fiscal forecast in 2000, with surpluses that offered the promise of debt paydown now replaced with a staggering $500 billion annual deficit and the national debt projected to exceed $9 trillion by 2010.

"As for Bush being a uniter, sadly, the nation is more polarized than it has been since the 1960s. Bush's administration is notable for its lack of transparency, its intolerance of dissent, its refusal to admit mistakes. Under Bush's leadership and Republican control, Congress has become a mean-spirited, partisan body where the vice president is praised for cursing an opposition senator on the Senate floor. The 'compassionate conservative' president has people at outdoor rallies arrested for hoisting an opposition sign.

"But all of this is overshadowed by the two most significant issues in this campaign: the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism. In both, Bush has failed as well -- to our country's great peril."

Our local paper here in the Lynchburg area, The News & Advance, has not yet endorsed a candidate.

Posted by amahler at 09:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 17, 2004

Roanoke Times Endorses John Kerry

The closing line from this morning's Roanoke Times endorsement of John Kerry:

After four ruinous Bush years, John Kerry is clearly the right choice on Nov. 2. We heartily recommend him to voters.

Definitely read the entire editorial - it's rather scatching.

The New York Times also endorsed Kerry today as did the Boston Globe, the Daytona Beach Herald and Chicago's Daily Herald.

For a running tally, check here.

The major papers backing Kerry gives him a 15-13 lead on Bush in endorsements, but the larger story here is that the circulation gap between these endorsements is nearly 5-1 which translates to an edge of about 4 million to 850,000. There's a significant pool of undecideds out there in those circulation numbers likely being bumped into the Kerry column on November 2nd.

Note that a substantial number of endorsements of Kerry this year are coming from papers that endorsed Bush in 2000.

Posted by amahler at 10:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 15, 2004

Nevada Judge's Ruling on Shredded Voter Regs: Too Bad

For background: I wrote about this issue on Wednesday.

Clark County District Court Judge Valerie Adair told the AP today that she didn't wish to open the "floodgates" to manipulation of the voter roles by allowing those Democrats who had their registrations shredded re-register.

Granted, I think manipulation of the voter roles already happened when an RNC funded company filed Republican registrations and systematically ran Democratic ones through the shredder... but apparently that's beside the point.

Judge Adair is a registered Republican. Make of that what you will.

Posted by amahler at 10:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gen. Sanchez of Abu Ghraib fame up for promotion

In the world of Bush's "Culture of Responsibility", being the man that gave the orders that likely led to much of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal gets you another star on your uniform (from LA Times):

The Pentagon plans to promote Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former head of military operations in Iraq, risking a confrontation with members of Congress because of the prisoner abuses that occurred during his tenure.

Senior Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have privately told colleagues they are determined to pin a fourth star on Sanchez, two senior defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said this week.

Rumsfeld and others recognize that Sanchez remains politically "radioactive," in the words of a third senior defense official, and would wait until after the Nov. 2 presidential election and investigations of the Abu Ghraib scandal have faded before putting his name forward.

[...]

"It'll just be one more thumb in the eye of the Iraqis and the Arab world," said Charles V. Pena, director of defense policy studies at the Cato Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. "If Sanchez gets another star, it's just more evidence that we're not trying to deal with the hearts and mind issues inside Iraq or the larger Islamic world."

[...]

Fay said Sanchez adapted interrogation rules from those at Guantanamo where, unlike in Iraq, the administration did not grant detainees the rights of prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention.

Sanchez "authorized the use of techniques that were contrary to both U.S. military manuals and international law," Leahy said in an Oct. 1 statement. "Given this incredible overstepping of bounds, I find it incredible that the reports generated thus far have not recommended punishment of any kind for high-level officials."

Abu Ghraib, with it's horrible history as Saddam's most ruthless prison, should have been torn down after our so-called "liberation". Instead, the Iraqi people have now seen the U.S. as the new wardens and the stories and photographic depictions of what happened on our watch are devastating. As if things in Iraq aren't bad enough (1092 U.S. soldiers dead AND bombings have begun happening inside the green zone), the man who had a hand in the activities at Abu Ghraib is now on the list of those to reward.

George Bush likes to wrongly accuse John Kerry of "mixed messages". What message are the people of Iraq to take from this?

Posted by amahler at 07:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The GOP Voter Fraud Jobs Program

Here's a report from the Miami Herald that relates to our ongoing posts (and, sadly, there are more stories every day) regarding GOP efforts to disenfranchise voters:

Larry Russell, who left the state Republican Party's get-out-the-vote operation when questions came up about absentee ballot applications, has joined the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio.

According to an internal Republican Party memo obtained by the Argus Leader, three other GOP workers who resigned also will be involved in the Ohio campaign [...]

Jason Glodt, executive director of the South Dakota Republican Party, confirmed the memo was authentic. But he said he did not want to comment on an internal communication.

The memo was e-mailed to Republican staffers and officials Sunday evening by Glodt.

"Todd Schleckeway, Nathan Mertz and Eric Fahrendorf have also been recruited to Ohio to work with Larry on the President's campaign," the e-mail said.

How nice. In the GOP world, do you put your involvement in the suppression of Democratic voters on your resume' to give yourself a leg up? It probably goes nicely with "Can speak glowingly of George W. Bush while maintaining a straight face". Great, you're hired!

Posted by amahler at 01:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 14, 2004

John Kerry: Ready To Lead

I'm really starting to like Tom Shales, the often-caustic television writer for the Washington Post. After the last debate, I dreaded reading his analysis when I saw it teased on the Post's homepage, but I was surprised by his thoughtful criticism through the lens of the television critic. These debates, after all, have been television events.

Tonight Shales nails it with his analysis of not only the performances by John Kerry and Bush, whom he describes as "smiley as Clarabell the Clown," but by the performances of the spinners, the pundits, and the national television personalities who have now all but abandoned any pretense of neutrality in this election cycle.

I'm also happy to see the Democratic National Committee's wise decision to place banner pro-Kerry ads prominently on the Post's Website. The number of impressions generated by these ads is probably astronomical, and it's good to see the DNC using a respected online news source like the Post to push out its paid media message and a rather extraordinary rapid response to the results of the final debate.

Posted by laura at 01:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2004

Final Debate: W Gets His Clock Cleaned

I'm not going to write a huge entry tonight since the recap and debate about the debates will roll through here (and the rest of the blogosphere) for days to come.

What is not up for debate, though, is that only one of the two men on the stage tonight deserves the title of President and that man is, unquestionably, John Kerry. Through all three debates he has been clear-headed, articulate and possesses the bearing of a true statesman that causes Bush to shrink by comparison.

Tonight we heard John Kerry speak passionately and with conviction, laying out his plans in a clear and logical manner. While Bush lobbed his worn-out campaign smears like rotten eggs, Senator Kerry siezed his opportunity to stand before the American people and make the best possible use of the rarest commodity in a modern campaign: ninety unfiltered minutes.

Granted, the spin machine went into full force immediately afterward and the Bush people predictably declared the President the victor. Within minutes, though, the insta-polls started rolling in and Kerry mopped up. The closest poll was ABC giving Kerry a one point advantage of 42 to Bush's 41. The amusing thing, though, is that the participants were 38% Republican, 30% Democrat and 28% Independent. That puts a whole different light on what looks on the surface like a slim margin. CNN came in with a whopping 52% for Kerry against Bush's 39%.

Bush's remarks were rife with odd contradictions, including an attempted insult (in the GOP framework of humor) that Ted Kennedy is the conservative Senator from MA. Couple this with his other remark that Senator Kennedy was wonderful to work with in their joint support of No Child Left Behind. This allowed Bush to double his hypocrisy as he praised the man he had just insulted while discussing mutual support for a plan that he subsequently did not fund despite his promises.

Much more will be covered tomorrow and in the coming days. For now, have a good night and know that we're all that much closer now to sending Bush back to Crawford, Tx where he can focus on clearing brush without anything to interrupt him (like being President). The BC04 distortion onslaught is likely to go into an even higher gear over the next nineteen days, so remain vigilent and keep up the good work! On November 2nd, we're sending John Kerry and John Edwards to the White House.

P.S. I will throw in this bit of fact-checking from Salon's War Room:

Tonight:

KERRY: Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, "Where is Osama bin Laden?" He said, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned."

BUSH:Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.

----

From a March 2002 White House press briefing:

Q: But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: 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.


Posted by amahler at 11:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More States with Possible Voter Suppression

DailyKOS has a good roundup of the growing number of states possibly caught up in the destruction of Democratic voter registration forms.

Consider this an update to my post from earlier today.

So far we're looking at: Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and Nevada.

The company associated with this controvery is Sproul & Associates run by Nathan Sproul, former head of the Arizona Republican party and (I love this) the Arizona Christian Coalition. All indications are that the company has apparently been doing this on the RNC's dime.

It never ceases to amaze me that the party that seems to claim they have exclusive rights to family values, God, patriotism and freedom sure does have a lot of associates doing some mighty sketchy stuff.

Posted by amahler at 03:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Toledo, OH Dem HQ Robbed - Computers Stolen

Well, more lovely news this morning from the field:

"Thieves shattered a side window overnight at Lucas County Democratic headquarters in Toledo, stealing computers with sensitive campaign information and triggering concern of the local party's ability to deliver crucial votes on Nov. 2. Among the data on the stolen computer of the party's office manager were: e-mails discussing campaign strategy, candidates' schedules, financial information, and phone numbers of party members, candidates, donors, and volunteers."

"Also taken were computers belonging to Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak and to a Texas attorney working with the Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign to ensure election security. The thefts have prompted the Kerry/Edwards campaign and Democrats in Washington to offer help and have left local officials fretting about the crime's impact on the upcoming election, in which Ohio plays a high-profile role."

"'This puts us behind the eight ball," party spokesman Jerry Chabler said. "This can affect our entire get-out-the-vote operation.'"

I'll add to this that our own HQ in Norfolk, Va the other night was vandalized. The word "commie" was spraypainted on the wall along with the phrase "4 more years".


So, this morning we have voter registrations being shredded in two states, a serious break-in of a HQ with theft of campaign information on computers, and reports of some odd sleight-of-hand going on to fool people into changing party affiliation in Oregon. Throw in the fact that we've seen massive amounts of Kerry/Edwards yard sign theft (over 300 stolen right here in Lynchburg alone) and who knows what else I've left out.

Posted by amahler at 11:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dem Voter Regs in Nevada and Oregon Destroyed

One of the stories ripping through the blogosphere during the night has been the discovery that a firm hired by the RNC to do voter registrations in Nevada and Oregon has been systematically shredding forms marked with a Democratic affiliation (from KLASTV in Nevada):

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.

Later in the night, the Secretary of State of Oregon held a press conference announcing that they had a registration worker on tape tearing up Democratic registration forms. They also claim to have sworn statements from registration workers stating that they were told to tear of Democratic registrations.

The company, Voters Outreach of America, has been largely or entirely funded by the RNC. They are also known to be the firm hired to collect signatures for Ralph Nader's quest to be on the Arizona ballot.

On an interesting sidenote, the firm was evicted in Nevada by their landlord for non-payment of their rent.

Is this how you try to win an election when your candidate is a resounding failure who presides over massive job loss, gives tax cuts to the wealthy while turning a surplus into record deficit, trashes diplomatic relations and sends soldiers to die based on lies? Considering what happened in Florida in 2000, I can't say this comes as a big shock.

Posted by amahler at 07:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 11, 2004

Bush Admin: More lies, distortions and words out of context

The Bush administration has run an almost entirely negative campaign. With no actual successes to run on, the focus of their campaign has been a constant process of putting a happy spin on their many dire failures and doing everything possible to smear Senator Kerry in the eyes of voters.

Running a campaign this negative is a clear sign of desperation and part of why the debates have been so devastating for the administration. By allowing the two men to be seen side by side, Kerry's image as a true statesman has all but destroyed the image painted through hundreds of millions of dollars of misleading Bush campaign ads and the hours of loyalty-oath-sworn, pro-Bush lovefests that are pawned off as "town hall meetings".

One thing the Bush campaign has elevated to an artform is the use of quotes out of context in an attempt to damage Kerry with his own words. One of the most recent post-debate distortions was using only the two words "global test" from a larger statement Kerry made on the topic of American security in the fight against terrorism. His actual statement spoke of the value of global cooperation and U.S. integrity to combat terrorism. The Bushies, however, spun this 180 degrees out of context into a distortion that claimed Kerry would let other countries decide how and when we should protect ourselves. It's a despicable practice, but standard operating procedure for this administration.

Bush and Cheney have both sworn that they would make all the same mistakes over again if given the chance. Their dogged stubborness (and inability to admit mistakes) is supposed to represent determination and leadership. The same stubborn approach applies equally to their campaign. Despite being called on their constant distortions of Senator Kerry's statements, this practice continues with their latest campaign ad (from CNN):

In the magazine article, a largely analytical cover story by Matt Bai, Kerry is asked "what it would take for Americans to feel safe again."

"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance," the article states as the Massachusetts senator's reply.

"As a former law enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life."

In this article, Kerry is speaking to our need to properly conduct our fight against terrorism so that we can reduce its threat in the years to come. Most importantly, the broader context of his remarks discusses the multipronged approach we must take that involves the use of law enforcement and diplomacy in harmony with military action to make our efforts more effective. The Bush administration, focused mostly on misguided military actions that are destroying our abilty to conduct good diplomacy and diminishing our security, has failed to properly combine these tools. The war in Iraq is a perfect example of these failures.

The Bush campaign, however, is already spinning Kerry's remarks out of context and focusing on the use of the word "nuisance". Rather than acknowledging that Kerry wishes to fight terrorism so effectively that it can be reduced to a mere nuisance (on par with prostitution and gambling), they are releasing a new ad portraying Kerry as having a "pre-9/11" view of terrorism as a nuisance and therefore risking our security.

Their hope, of course, is to continue to mislead the voters and tie up the Kerry campaign with the process of defending itself against these accusations. The bigger picture, however, is the obvious fact that the Bush administration has no respect for the American people and, as a result, treats us as if we're stupid. Their approach to campaigning is nothing short of insulting, reducing the issues to oversimplified name-calling, distorting the facts and playing the media like a fiddle.

We have a mere 22 days to go in this election and the American people are rapidly waking up to these distortions. The debates have gone a long way toward opening many eyes and we have another important debate focusing on domestic issues this Wednesday. As Kerry supporters, it's our job to continue to increase our efforts in these critical final weeks by getting the word out to everyone that, unlike Bush, our candidate speaks the truth and addresses the issues rather than dodging them.

The BC04 campaign machine is going to ratchet up their rhetoric and distortions in these final weeks to positively staggering levels. These are the inevitable actions of an increasingly desperate administration that sees the handwriting on the wall. Bush is getting increasingly shrill as evidenced in his debate behavior. Helping undecided voters witness the wisdom and vision of the Kerry/Edwards message in comparison to the hateful and divisive tone of the Bush campaign will bring us victory in November. Don't slow down, increase your efforts during this final push and, above all, keep up the good work!

Posted by amahler at 08:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thanks to Bush, chances of terrorist WMD use vastly increased

The Duelfer report last week confirmed, yet again, that Bush took us into Iraq on the basis of a lie: the threat of Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. We're now in a quagmire with no end in sight (at least two more soldiers killed already this morning) and the reasons for being there are constantly being rewritten by the BC04 campaign narrative.

Much of the attention on the Duelfer report has been on its confirmation that Iraq's WMDs were destroyed in the 1990s and, between 1998 and the start of the war in 2003, his ability to create them was at an all time low. That didn't stop this admin, though, from working to scare the American people into supporting a war by fabricating parallels between Iraq and 9/11 that preyed on fear and emotion.

What hasn't been discussed much is the part of last week's report that indicates that the overall threat of WMDs has now increased due to the U.S.-led invasion and the destabilisation of Iraq. (SFGate article)

This is yet another example of the policies of the Bush administration exacerbating precisely the problems they claim to be preventing. They run a campaign based on the claims that only they can be trusted to make us safer, all the while putting everyone (especially our soldiers on the front lines) at greater risk with each passing day.

Posted by amahler at 08:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 08, 2004

Prebuttal

The Democratic National Committee is pushing out a comprehensive guide to Bush's record in anticipation of tonight's debate.

Click here for this fine prebuttal. (Requires Acrobat.)

Don't forget to wear your rose-colored glasses while reading this document. We know Bush never forgets his.

Posted by laura at 04:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 07, 2004

Quote of the Day

"They are willing to say left is right and up is down. The vice president, Dick Cheney, and the president need to recognize that the earth is actually round and that the sun is rising in the east."

- Sen. John Edwards

'nuff said...

Posted by amahler at 11:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dick Cheney, Hypocrite

On Tuesday night, Dick Cheney made a big deal of trying to shame John Edwards through an arrogant and holier-than-thou commentary on his Senate attendance.

"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."

His zinger line was claiming that Edwards has been absent so frequently that Tuesday night's debate was the first opportunity that he ever had to meet Senator Edwards in person. (Cue a collective gasp from the media and the uninformed at this bold rebuke... if it's this harsh, it must be true.)

The problem is, Cheney either has a lousy memory, or he's a liar.

What has been revealed in the last day is that Cheney's trips to the Senate on Tuesdays are not to do his job, as he so arrogantly insinuated in the quote above. He travels up to the hill on Tuesdays to meet, in private, at a Republicans-only luncheon with his cronies to work on political strategy. (Part of me pictures these meetings happening in a huge cave under a smoking volcano... but that's just me.)

Looking at a list of the Senate's Acting Presidents for every Tuesday since 2001, Cheney appears a total of:

THREE TIMES

Let's put this in perspective: Hillary Clinton has filled in for him more times than Cheney has done the job himself. In fact, Senator Edwards has acted as President of the Senate, filling in for Dick Cheney, seven times to Cheney's three.

So, let's back up for a second. By claiming he's up on the hill on Tuesdays, he leaves the false impression that it's because he's doing his job and Edwards is not. He only told half the story and leaves the listener to make a negative assumption about Edwards. This is a lot like Bush and Co., spending the last week pulling John Kerry's "global test" remark out of context and throwing it around as "proof" that he'd leave America's security to the UN to decide. Anybody who heard the full statement in its entirety knows that this is exactly opposite of the truth. Telling half a story or using a statement out of context to mislead people is standard operating procedure in this administration.

Also, as reported here before, the statement that the debate was their first opportunity to meet was just flat wrong. Within an hour of the debate, blogs around the world (and now, finally, the mainstream media) were showing photos of Edwards and Cheney standing together in at least three public events over the past few years.

A lot of people would like to laugh this off and claim that, while Cheney was certainly being misleading, this is hardly an important issue in the grand scheme of things. The Vice President sat in front of the American people in a debate this week and, basically, lied about something that only took minutes to disprove. The emphatic way in which he attacked Edwards with these untruthful statements (both the tone and the body language) makes it all the more stunning. If he is this blatant in attempting to mislead the American people on his opponent's reputation, how truthful will he be about the bigger issues that affect lives and the economy?

We already know they lied about Iraq. What's next?

Posted by amahler at 10:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2004

Dick Cheney: Misleader-in-Chief

Tonight's debate was a fascinating thing to watch... two very intelligent men sparring with one another within a very rigid framework. John Edwards had a daunting task before him tonight: trying to clear up the staggering number of misleading or blatantly false statements repeated constantly in the BC04 stump speeches while simultaneously putting forth a positive vision for America's future.

The basic format tonight tended to follow this pattern: Cheney is given two minutes to reel off as many absurd distortions and out-of-context "facts" as he can fit in, punctuated with a handful of condescending barbs. Edwards, taking written notes on the fly to keep track of the distortions, then has a fraction of this time to present the real story. He did a very fine job indeed.

Among the misleading items was a continued attempt to draw a connection between 9/11 and Iraq. When confronted with the issue of reports disproving this claim, Cheney dodged the question. He later, however, came back with a disjointed story tying Afghanistan (not al Queda) to Iraq through Zarqawi (the man behind much of the terror in the newly failed state of Iraq). Using his usual tone of intrigue and authority, he traced Zarqawi's path to Baghdad post-9/11 and ended with a vow to deal with him by "taking him out".

Well, as previously reported, the administration had the chance to wipe Zarqawi off the map on several prior occasions and even drafted plans for his removal. They apparently did not, however, in order to not undercut their case for war in Iraq. American soldiers are now dying in a deepening quagmire, much of it due to the power of Zarqawi and his ability to organize terror in the destabilized Iraq we know today.

Cheney sits there tonight and tells this story (half of it, mind you... the half that serves his purpose) as supposed evidence of al Queda ties to Iraq. As usual, and in a manner similar to Bush's previous debate reference to A. Q. Kahn, this administration tells half the story to leave a specific impression and treats the American people like idiots.

Among the barbs was a distortion of Senator Edwards' record in the Senate that ended with the remark that, despite being the regularly attending President of the Senate, tonight's debate was his first chance to meet Edwards. The implication, of course, was that Edwards is so frequently absent that they have no cause to meet under normal circumstances. A number of people in the media afterward commented on this as a shrewd and effective smack at Edwards (such Andrea Mitchell appearing on "Hardball").,

The truth, however, is that they have met at least twice before in public events. In fact, here is a photo that Cheney might want to use to refresh his memory.

This point might sound petty, but barbs such of this will become the GOP legends of tomorrow, despite the fact that they are absolutely untrue. Again, fictions created for a snappy soundbite by this administration always tend to trump inconvenient things like the truth. Being parroted later by pundits who haven't checked the facts help perpetuate the distortions.

There are many more items of substance to relate, but the fact-checking discussion is going to go on for days to come and we'll cover plenty of it here on DocDem. The VP debate, though, has clearly heightened anticipation for Friday's debate between Kerry and Bush that focuses (finally) on domestic issues.

Edwards did a marvelous job tonight using his talking time to not only put many of the Bush/Cheney distortions to rest, but to lay out very clearly many of the ways they will get America back on track. Edwards, especially in contrast to The Dark Lord Cheney, was clear, concise, convincing and exuded the positive energy and confidence that stands in such stark contrast to the fearmongering that is so much the tone of the Bush presidency. Edwards ended with an excellent set of closing remarks that spoke of hope, values and setting the proper course for America's future. Cheney, by contrast, closed by sounded like an empty suit giving a PowerPoint presentation and, as always, harped on imminent danger, fear, and terrorism.

In closing this very late entry, I'll let some of the CBS instapoll results speak for themselves:

"Who won?"

Edwards: 42 percent
Cheney: 29 percent
tie: 29 percent


"Debate improved your opinion of the candidate?"

Cheney: 29 percent, opinion improved
Edwards: 58 percent, opinion improved

Most telling was the report from CBS tonight that 24 percent of the undecideds they queried said they were "scared" of the concept of Cheney as president.

I know how they feel.

Posted by amahler at 01:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 05, 2004

VP Debate: John Edwards vs. The Dark Lord Cheney

Tonight is the night for the single face-to-face debate between Edwards and Cheney. Unlike the three different Presidential debates, all of the issues, both domestic and international, will be addressed in one debate between Candidate Edwards and the current sitting power behind the throne.

As with the last debate, I strongly recommend watching it on C-SPAN where they will most likely do a full-time split screen. The split screen in the last debate was stunning to watch and I'm eager to see the same format again tonight. Switching to the screeching, pundit-laden networks after the partisan-free, pro-citizen raw feed that is C-SPAN is like putting your head into a wood chipper. It's worth witnessing.

9 PM. Be there or be powerless against the spin. :)

Posted by amahler at 07:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More Proof that Bush is a Failure on Jobs and the Economy

Some clips from MSNBC today:

U.S. planned job cuts soared to an eight-month high in September while new hiring rose only slightly, a report said on Tuesday.

Employment consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said employers announced 107,863 layoffs in September, 41 percent more than in September 2003 and 45 percent more than in August of this year, when 74,150 were laid off.

The September figure was the largest since January 2004, when employers laid off 117,556 workers.

The September figure brings third-quarter job cuts to 251,585, 19.9 percent more than the 209,895 registered in the previous quarter and 4 percent more than the 241,548 for the third quarter of 2003.

Job losses in September were particularly heavy in the computer, transportation, telecommunications and consumer products industries, the report said.

Adding to the glum jobs picture was the slow pace of new hiring in September. The report said employer hiring announcements revealed only 16,166 new job openings in that month compared with 132,105 in August.

Throw in massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, our surplus being turned into the largest debt in history, a staunch defense of corporate welfare by the GOP, rising healthcare costs and policies designed to dump more and more of the burden on the average person and you've got a good sample of the Bush vision of America.

Fortunately, this is NOT the Kerry/Edwards vision of America and November 2nd is your opportunity to help put this entire country back on track.

Posted by amahler at 03:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another Republican Bails on BC04

From AZCentral.com today:

A man who until last week was one of Sen. John McCain's top aides is endorsing John Kerry for president, asserting that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have "waged an unprecedentedly cynical and divisive campaign."

Led by Kerry, Democrats now can seize the opportunity to reach out to disaffected moderate Republicans and independents to build "a new political coalition of national unity," Marshall Wittmann writes in the upcoming edition of Blueprint Magazine, published by the Democratic Leadership Council.

"I am an independent McCainiac who hopes to revive the Bull Moose tradition of Theodore Roosevelt, and I support the Kerry-Edwards agenda," Wittmann writes.

He left McCain is now headed to the DLC, a right-of-center Democratic group.

I wish Senator McCain would step up and call Bush and Cheney on their horrid tactics. He was Rove'd pretty badly in 2000 during the primaries and it continues to baffle me that a man of his integrity would continue to choose Bush and the divisive attitudes of the GOP over the greater good of the American people.

Posted by amahler at 03:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 04, 2004

Our Talent For Kerry

A lot of people have written me emails and called today about news that hit this morning about Virginia's campaign staff redeployment to other battleground states.

Yes, it is true: Some staff members of the Va. Victory '04 coordinated campaign have gone to other battleground states. A team has been dispatched to Wisconsin, and the Kerry-Edwards spokesman for Virginia, Jonathan Beeton, has been redeployed to Reno, Nevada. More will head off later this week. But let's be clear: John Kerry is not giving up on Virginia. Virginia Democrats are not giving up on Virginia. The doors of our coordinated campaign offices remain open and operating with the remainder of staff members who will stay in Virginia through Nov. 2. Our volunteers continue in the field, IDing voters, phone banking, and canvassing. This campaign is in full swing here in Virginia--anyone who says otherwise is trying to shake the confidence of our supports and engage in a campaign of suppression.

Don't let our adversaries try to use this development as a psychological weapon against our efforts. Suppression is their game--let's not give them one inch by allowing this news to slow any of us down.

Here's the bottom line: This is a dynamic campaign and the polls are shifting in John Kerry's favor. New swing states are emerging, and they need campaign staffers. Those states are taking some of our talent, people who have spent months in Virginia laying a foundation for the field work that must take place in the next 29 days in order for us to win on Nov. 2nd. I personally support the Kerry-Edwards campaign in its decision to redeploy Virginia staff members to other states; a Kerry win will be a win for all Virginians. I would go myself if I thought it could make a difference and my boss wouldn't kill me.

Let us continue our work here with the belief in our candidates, John Kerry and John Edwards, and in our country. We know that John Kerry continues to show his strength and character and that he is the right leader to take our country in a new direction. For the next 29 days, I hope that we will all redouble our efforts as we head down the home stretch of this campaign.

Laura

Posted by laura at 04:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 03, 2004

Post-Debate Momentum

Some brief post-debate stats:

  • Following the debate, the DNC's website experienced a 20-fold increase in traffic, and total traffic was three times what it was following Kerry's Boston acceptance speech in July.

  • In terms of dollars, by 11:30 EST on Thursday night, two out of every seven people on the DNC site contributed money. A total of 50,000 people contributed and -- get this -- more than half were first-time contributors.

  • By end of the day Friday, more than 20,000 new volunteers signed up on the DNC website to help the campaign.

There is much to be done between now and November 2nd and we cannot slow down. Keep up the good work and get as many people involved in our GOTV efforts as possible.

Posted by amahler at 11:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The GOP Convention Drinking Game

I don't usually post videos and audio on here, but this little gem I found on the web this morning is both humorous and frustrating. The linked file is a 5 megabyte Quicktime movie, so I don't recommend it for those on a dial-up connection unless you have plenty of time to let it download. It is worthwhile, though, if you can spare the time. Broadband users won't have any real trouble here.

For dial-up users wanting a quick fix, I've extracted the audio into an MP3 file that is 1 megabyte in size. The visuals help, but the audio will do most of the job for you in this case.

The source for this is the Republican National Convention and each invocation is unique - there are no repeats.

If anything makes the GOP message and tactics clear, this is it.

Have a nice weekend!
- Aaron

Posted by amahler at 09:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 02, 2004

Ladies, please! "Security moms" should have no illusions about Bush

When a Democrat wins a presidential election, that candidate usually carries a clear majority of the women's vote. Women generally tend to focus on social issues, expressing concerns over children and the elderly, and stressing health care, jobs, wages and other domestic priorities. In recent years the term "soccer moms" was used to describe these voters. This year, so we're told, there's a new group: "Security moms," and many of them are supposedly ready to vote for George W. Bush. (By Rick Howell)


I'm not suggesting that women aren't also motivated by a desire for proper defense and security. Of course they are. Rational people know that both parties want America defended, and most women seem to understand that. Their focus on social concerns expresses my own view. It seems to me that priorities and needs at home should always be our greatest care.

But media reports, including one on NPR, claim that John Kerry is not about to get as much of the women's vote as he needs because "security moms" think Bush can better protect us. The NPR story quoted one woman to this effect: "What good is health care if your town is going to be blown up?"

If these stories are correct, security moms need to think again. John Kerry has made it clear that his commitment to protect America from terror is absolute. In fact, it's Bush who has dropped the ball in the war on terror by ignoring bin Laden and invading Iraq. As Kerry correctly pointed out in the debate, North Korea has acquired nuclear weapons during Bush's watch. He also pointed out that, the enemy who attacked us was bin Laden, not Saddam, as Bush tried to imply.

Bush's misguided war in Iraq has not made us safer. It has increased the number of terrorists who are aligned against us, not decreased them. Security moms should ask themselves: How has any of this has made us safer? It hasn't, and I believe most women will understand that when Nov. 2 arrives.

So, with John Kerry, those who fear both for the safety of their children and their need for day care, health care, a good education, and good prospects for meaningful work in their future, must align themselves with our Kerry-Edwards ticket, not with George W. Bush. With Kerry, you'll get health care, and your town will be safer.

Women have always been, shall I say, less macho and more caring, about their focus on political issues than men. Don't change that now. The Kerry-Edwards ticket is committed to both security and social progress at home. With Bush, it'll be more of the same: no progress at home, a greater number of enemies abroad, and less security, not more, for America in general.

(Rick Howell is chairman of the Amherst Democratic Committee. He is Host of the Kerry Meet-Ups in Lynchburg. He can be reached at NewCenHowell@aol.com)

Posted by rickhowell at 08:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 01, 2004

Take Action: You Can't Vote If You're Not Registered

The great educator Robert Maynard Hutchins once wrote: "The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment."

People in America have been angry about George Bush for a long time. As we saw in last night's debate, our president is a hollow man. The chattering classes acknowledge that John Kerry was more presidential than our own president. None of that should come as a surprise.

Many, many activists have been working for months on voter registration efforts. The record number of absentee ballot applications and voter registration forms handed out by Virginia registrars is one barometer of the landscape. Monday is it. At 5 p.m., the window closes on voter registration. If you're still not registered to vote or if you have moved recently, please make sure to register or to update your information with your local registrar's office.

Once the deadline passes, our mission is very clear: To make sure that we turn out every last Kerry supporter in Virginia on Nov. 2.

Posted by laura at 04:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sidney Blumenthal on Last Night's Debate

With characteristic grace and eloquence, Sidney Blumenthal (one of my favorite columnists and authors) summarizes last night's debate on Salon:

But onstage the incumbent president ran out of programmed talking points. Unable to explain the logic for his policies, or think on his feet, he was thrown back on the raw elements of his personality and leadership, and he revealed even more profound issues than the policies being debated.

Every time he was confronted with ambivalence, his impulse was to sweep it aside. He claimed he must be followed because he is the leader. Fate in the form of Sept. 11 had placed authority in his hands as a man of destiny.

Skepticism, pragmatism and empiricism are his enemies. Absolute faith prevails over open-ended reason, subjectivity over fact. Those who do not pray at his altar of certainty are betrayers of the faith, not to mention the troops. Belief in belief is the ultimate sacrament of his political legitimacy.

I encourage people to read the entire piece.

Note: Salon requires a subscription. Non-subscribers, however, can obtain a free day pass by watching a very brief ad from a sponsor. You will see this option when attempting to read the article. It's quick, easy and worthwhile.

Posted by amahler at 04:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A. Q. Who?

One of the somewhat desperate utterances of George W. Bush last night during his miserable debate performance included a reference to "busting" A. Q. Khan. In the context, it likely impressed some Bush supporters even if they had no clue who he was talking about. Obviously, Kahn must be another member of that "group of folks" wanting to do evil things (one of the less weighty monikers I've heard applied to the collection of international terrorists).

Abdul Qadeer Khan was the man behind Pakistan's nuclear program. One of his claims to fame was having to admit that he gave nuclear technology to other countries, including North Korea and Iran.

Pervez Musharraf pardoned him. And guess what? Bush supported the pardon. Now that's what I call getting tough on nuclear proliferation!

Beyond this, the Washington Post reports that not a single member of his network has ever been prosecuted anywhere. Pakistan apparently will also not allow the UN nuclear proliferation watchdogs to interview him.

I'm still trying to figure out where Bush gets his bragging rights on this one. Then again, in the scope of his overall performance last night selling himself as the "War President," this kind of misleading claim is clearly par for the course.

Posted by amahler at 04:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The View From The Texas Tavern

From Chip Woodrum:

I watched the debate with my daughter and got a call from my son after it was over. It was unanimous in the Woodrum household that John Kerry was the clear winner in the debate. He was clear, consise and direct. He seemed more "presidential." Of course, in my house anything less than a unanimous vote for our side would be a complete disaster.

So when I stopped by the Texas Tavern in Roanoke this morning, I decided to broaden my sample. The results were excellent. The counterman said he thought Kerry "knew what he was talking about." The manager said that he felt Kerry "won" and that "his answers were crisper and he didn't just repeat phrases that he'd picked up from some focus group."

Now let me assure you that this election remains close. I really don't know what they think in Racine or even Richmond. But if you can get those results in an informal poll at the Texas Tavern, you're doing pretty damn good in Roanoke, Virginia.

Posted by laura at 10:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack