Republicans Lose Edge on Funding

The news just keep getting worse and worse for the Republicans. Republicans are no longer successful in fooling people into voting for them because of their claims on keeping us safer from terrorism. Bush’s approval remains low in multiple polls. Security Moms are returning to the Democrats. The South is more receptive to Democrats. Support for Republicans is plunging in the heartland. They must write off any hopes in the Northeast. Even K-Street is abandoning the Republicans, believing they are on the verge of losing control of Congess. The Deputy Prime Minister of Great Britain describes George Bush as “crap.” Republican commentator Joe Scarborbough asks Is Bush an Idiot? The one thing Republicans typically had going for them has been an edge with regards to funding. The Washington Post reports they are even losing this advantage:

The traditional fundraising advantage held by incumbent lawmakers — which Republicans have regarded as a safety wall in their effort to keep control of Congress — has eroded in many closely contested House races, as many Democratic challengers prove competitive in the race for cash.

In a year of bad omens for the GOP, the latest batch of disclosure forms filed with the Federal Election Commission offers one more: Incumbency no longer means that embattled Republican representatives can expect to overwhelm weakly funded Democratic challengers with massive spending on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts.

There are 27 Republican incumbents classified by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report as the most vulnerable to losing reelection this fall. These incumbents still boast a clear fundraising edge, but it is much less pronounced than in years past. According to calculations made from FEC data, the Democratic challengers in these races have raised about 60 percent of what their opponents have collected and have about the same percentage of cash on hand.

At this point in the 2004 election cycle, by contrast, Cook listed nine Republican incumbents as similarly vulnerable. Their Democratic opponents had been able to raise 42 percent of what their opponents collected, and challengers’ cash on hand was a lower percentage. There were similar disparities in the 2002 cycle.

Of this year’s 27 most vulnerable incumbents, 14 face challengers who have raised at least $1 million, according to FEC reports. At this point in 2004, no Democratic challenger had raised $1 million. What’s more, all but one of the 27 Democratic challengers has raised at least $400,000 — a figure that many election experts consider a minimum price of entry for candidates hoping to mount a credible campaign. Taking into account all House races, 36 Democratic challengers have cleared the $400,000 threshold.

New York Times Exposes Bush Hokum on Homeland Security

Perhaps one reason that the Republicans are no longer able to gain political support for keeping us safe from terrorism is that they have not been doing this. During two of the debates of the 2004 campaign, John Kerry described measures which should be taken to protect this country, but George Bush protested they were too expensive. Homeland seurity remains a low priiority of the Bush Administration. The New York Times has an editorial entitled Hokum on Homeland Security which shows many of the ways in wich the Bush Administration has been failing to keep America safe:

The sad truth is that while some important steps have been taken to harden our defenses against terrorist attacks, gaping holes remain in our security net.

For starters, consider aviation, where billions have been spent to improve airline and airport security, with only middling results. The likelihood that terrorists will be able to hijack passenger jets as they did on 9/11 has been greatly reduced by hardening cockpit doors, arming pilots on some routes and placing many more air marshals on flights. The screening of all passengers, their carry-on bags and their checked luggage has also made it much harder to smuggle standard bombs or metallic weapons aboard.

But there is still no system to detect liquid explosives, a shocking deficiency more than a decade after terrorists were caught preparing to use such explosives to bring down a dozen airliners over the Pacific Ocean. The installation of “puffer” machines to detect trace explosives is lagging, and a program to integrate explosive-detection machines into the automated baggage conveyor systems at airports will not be finished, at the current pace of spending, for another 18 years.

Very little of the commercial air cargo that is carried aboard planes is screened or inspected, mostly because neither the shippers nor the airlines want to disrupt this lucrative flow of business. There is still no unified watch list to alert airlines to potentially dangerous passengers, and a prescreening program that would match airline passengers against terrorist watch lists remains stuck in development. All this in the industry that has received the most lavish attention since 9/11.


Frank Rich: The Era of Americans Fearing Fear Itself is Over

Frank Rich finds that the Bush Administration is no longer successful in exploiting fear of terrorism for political gain as “the era of Americans’ fearing fear itself is over.” He notes that Bush received no bounce in the polls after the terrorist plot in Great Britain was prevented. It’s not as if Bush isn’t trying, but he has lost his credibility:

No matter what the threat at hand, he can’t get his story straight. When he said last weekend that the foiling of the London plot revealed a Qaeda in disarray because “it’s been five years since they’ve been capable of putting together something of this sort,” he didn’t seem to realize that he was flatly contradicting the Ashcroft-Gonzales claims for the gravity of all the Qaeda plots they’ve boasted of stopping in those five years. As recently as last October, Mr. Bush himself announced a list of 10 grisly foiled plots, including one he later described as a Qaeda plan “already set in motion” to fly a hijacked plane “into the tallest building on the West Coast.”

Dick Cheney’s credibility is also nil: he will always be the man who told us that Iraqis would greet our troops as liberators and that the insurgency was in its last throes in May 2005. His latest and predictable effort to exploit terrorism for election-year fear-mongering — arguing that Ned Lamont’s dissent on Iraq gave comfort to “Al Qaeda types” — has no traction because the public has long since untangled the administration’s bogus linkage between the Iraq war and Al Qaeda. That’s why, of all the poll findings last week, the most revealing was one in the CBS survey: While the percentage of Americans who chose terrorism as our “most important problem” increased in the immediate aftermath of the London plot, terrorism still came in second, at only 17 percent, to Iraq, at 28 percent.

The administration’s constant refrain that Iraq is the “central front” in the war on terror is not only false but has now also backfired politically: only 9 percent in the CBS poll felt that our involvement in Iraq was helping decrease terrorism. As its fifth anniversary arrives, 9/11 itself has been dwarfed by the mayhem in Iraq, where more civilians are now killed per month than died in the attack on America.


Michael Moore Has Freedom of Speech, Even When He Is Wrong (Like Here)

Earlier today I defended Michael Moore’s right to free speech, but that does not mean I necessarily agree with him. Michael Moore is often wrong, such as at his web site where he headlines a story in John Kerry’s support for anti-war candidates with, “John Kerry Puts His Money Where His Mouth Should Have Been All Along.”

John Kerry is putting his money where his mouth has been all along. Did Michael Moore never hear the phrase “Wrong War, Wrong Place, Wrong Time” during the campaign?

Kerry’s opposition to George Bush’s foreign policiy did not begin during the Presidential campaign. Following his early opposition to Richard Nixon on Vietnam and Ronald Reagan on Iran Contra, John Kerry was one of the first to stand up to George Bush, even when other Democrats were afraid to following 9/11. In July 2002 the New York Times wrote, in an article entitled By Attacking Bush, Kerry Sets Himself Apart:

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was cruising through a Senate hearing on arms control, charming his Democratic adversaries and deftly parrying their questions, when Senator John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, took the microphone.

In the aggressive style he honed as a prosecutor two decades ago, Mr. Kerry unleashed a barrage of criticism against President Bush’s nuclear arms treaty with Russia, saying it “neutered” previous pacts and included a “huge contradiction.” Twice, he interrupted a clearly irritated Mr. Powell in midsentence.

For many Democrats, the war on terrorism has made that kind of frontal assault on Bush foreign policy seem risky, if not politically suicidal. But not for Mr. Kerry. A decorated Vietnam veteran and potential presidential candidate, he has lustily attacked the administration on policies like trans-Atlantic relations, Pentagon spending, Middle East negotiations and even Mr. Bush’s greatest triumph, Afghanistan.

John Kerry opposed George Bush’s policies in Iraq from the beginning. At the time of the IWR vote, Kerry spoke out against going to war unless we were proven to be threatened to WMD in his Senate floor statement. He explained his views in articles in Foreign Affairs and the New York Times, writing, “If we are to put American lives at risk in a foreign war, President Bush must be able to say to this nation that we had no choice, that this was the only way we could eliminate a threat we could not afford to tolerate.”

In January 2003 John Kerry spoke at Georgetown, urging George Bush not to “rush to war.” At the onset of the war, Kerry protested by arguing, “What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States.”

In December 2003 Kerry spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations and accused the Bush administration of pursuing “the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in modern history.”

John Kerry was among the first Democrats to stand up to George Bush on the war, and is now one of the leading opponents of the war. Karl Rove knew that John Kerry was a threat as he spread the lies that Kerry supported George Bush’s policies. It is a shame that so many opponents of the far fell for this.

Republicans No Longer Able to Fool the People on Terrorism

Republicans have won since 2002 by capitalizing on fear of terrorism. By spreading the false belief that Republicans are stronger on terrorism, and successfully covering up their many failures which have placed the country in greater danger, Republicans have taken control of Congress and reelected a President who was neither ethically or intellectually up to the job. Republicans should have paid more attention to their first President (who certainly would never be a Republican today) who said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

The Washington Post shows how the Republicans are no longer succeeding in fooling the people with regards to their record on terrorism.  Republicans are attempting to capitalize on the recent court decision against Bush’s warrantless wiretap program (as they ignore the fact that liberals object to the failure to follow the law, no necessarily the wiretaps themselves). The Washington Post cites a recent Pew Research Center poll which shows changing attitudes with regards to terrorism:

“There is no consensus that Republicans are better on terrorism than the Democrats, as once was clearly the case,” said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

A Pew Research Center poll released Thursday found “no evidence that terrorism is weighing heavily on voters — just 2 percent cite that as the issue they most want to hear candidates discuss, far fewer than the number mentioning education, gas prices, or health care.” The center continued: “And while roughly a third of Americans (35 percent) say they are very concerned that if Democrats gain control of Congress, they will weaken terrorist defenses, even more (46 percent) express great concern that Republicans will involve the U.S. in too many overseas military missions if the GOP keeps its congressional majorities.”

Republicans previously obtained support for their disastrous handling of Iraq by claiming it was part of the war on terrorism. Even this argument is now back firing as people see the failures in Iraq as a Republican failure on fighting terrorism:

Republicans have done such a good job framing the invasion of Iraq as part of a “war on terror” that bad news from Baghdad is casting doubts on the anti-terrorism effort, Kohut said. Republican voters, meanwhile, are split on whether to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, the poll found.

Iraqis Avoid Mosques Due To Violence

The New York Times reports on the conditions in Iraq. It has become so dangerous that people are afraid to go to the Mosque:

Exploding sectarian violence has undermined the mosque’s traditional role as a gathering place, further unraveling the country’s communal fabric. Mosque attendance has plummeted, according to clerics and government officials, as tens of thousands of Iraqis like Mr. Ali choose to pray at home out of safety concerns. Gatherings at Friday Prayer are sometimes one-tenth the size of what they once were, and parents no longer send their children to mosques for spiritual lessons. . .

Militias regard mosques as either places of refuge or tempting targets. Entire congregations have been wiped out by car bombs. Gunmen abduct imams, and sometimes shoot them outright. American and Iraqi forces often storm the buildings hunting for guerrillas. Airstrikes obliterate minarets.

Sunni mosques have become rallying points for neighborhood militias, blaring “God is great” from their loudspeakers to warn of the approach of Shiite gunmen. Violence around mosques is so rampant that in June the government imposed a curfew on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the peak prayer time.

How will conservatives who support the war see this? Will they realize that this is an example of the failures of the Bush Administration’s policies? Will they see this as good since they think all Moslims are potential terrorists anyways? Or will they just ignore this as liberal anti-Bush propaganda because it came from the New York Times?

Talking Dog Talks to George Lakoff

The Talking Dog interviewed George Lakeoff. Here’s a couple of the questions:

The Talking Dog: How would you reframe the “war on terror”, and in particular, WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT, for one thing? Am I correct that in your view the fastest way to frame the Iraq war is to frame it as THE IRAQ OCCUPATION, to wit, when flight-suit-wearing Presisdent Bush gave his “mission accomplished” speech on the carrier Lincoln, we had, in fact, already won “the war”, and left us with “the occupation”?

George Lakoff: There is no question that the occupation is and has been a disaster. Our troops were not trained for it. While a civil war was not predicted, it should have been, and the situation is now impossible for our troops, who have been regularly cut down ever since while being placed in the midst of it. It was the grossest of irresponsibility to think that we could have a quickie war and occupation– a gross irresponsibility, to our troops, to the Iraqis and everybody else.

We also have to get a handle on definitions. You can’t have a “war on terror”. Terror is an emotion– it is not an army who fights to control territory– the definition of a party that you have a “war” against. That’s not what terrorism is about… (Israel’s current war with Hezbollah may be a bit different, as Hezbollah does appear to control territory, making it a more classic war- though still very different.)

Terrorism is more like organized crime. Indeed, immediately after 9-11, Colin Powell suggested that the 9-11 attacks be treated as a crime, and responded to as a crime, albeit a huge one. When we’ve been most successful against terrorism, it’s been when we’ve treated it like organized crime — combating it with spies, infiltrators, and with international police and intelligence cooperation. This is not an issue of war… it is more like busting a syndicate.


Conservative Christian Schools Perform More Poorly Than Public Schools

One problem with modern conservativism is the manner in which they base opinions based upon their theology rather than the facts. They believe private instiutions are always better than government ones, and there is no need for facts which might show otherwise. Pharyngula (via Athiest Revolution) notes a report from last month in The New York Times comparing public to private schools. Public school students performed similar to private school students, while those attending conservative Christian schools performed the poorist:

The Education Department reported on Friday that children in public schools generally performed as well or better in reading and mathematics than comparable children in private schools. The exception was in eighth-grade reading, where the private school counterparts fared better.

The report, which compared fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores in 2003 from nearly 7,000 public schools and more than 530 private schools, also found that conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind public schools on eighth-grade math.

This does not mean that improvements aren’t needed in public schools, but the National Education Association was happy with these findings:

Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, the union for millions of teachers, said the findings showed that public schools were ”doing an outstanding job” and that if the results had been favorable to private schools, ”there would have been press conferences and glowing statements about private schools.”

”The administration has been giving public schools a beating since the beginning” to advance his political agenda, Mr. Weaver said, of promoting charter schools and taxpayer-financed vouchers for private schools as alternatives to failing traditional public schools.


T Shirt of the Day

Earlier in the week I noted the Plan B Prevents Abortion shirts. Here’s another shirt worth noting–Mel Gibson, Schmuck:

Michael Moore and Freedom of Speech

Get ready for a new wave of attacks from the authoritarian right on freedom of speech and dissent. Their newest argument will be based upon an Iraqi group quoting the work of Michael Moore. Shortly after this was posted, there’s already one right wing blog which fails to see the difference between supporting terrorism and exercising Constitutional rights in the United States.

Considering the degree to which conservatives see any dissent as treasonous, I’m sure that many more right wingers will jump on this band wagon. In the utopia of an alarming number of conservative bloggers, there is no dissent, no freedom of speech, and no separation of church and state (which is essential to preserve freedom of religion). In other words, the conservative utopia is alarmingly like Iraq under Saddam. There is no better way to allow the terrorists to win than to allow the fear of terrorism to destroy the principles this nation was founded upon as conservatives fight a perpetual war.

Update: Michael Moore Has Freedom of Speech, Even When He Is Wrong (Like Here)