Poll Shows Shift in Opinion on War

A New York Times/CBS News Poll finds that “Americans increasingly see the war in Iraq as distinct from the fight against terrorism, and nearly half believe President Bush has focused too much on Iraq to the exclusion of other threats.”

Conservatives will be reluctant to separate Iraq from the fight against terrorism, especially coming from a combination of The New York Times and CBS News. For everyone else, it’s great to see them coming around to reality. It is also a sign that Democrats are doing a better job of getting their message out:

Democrats in recent weeks have tried to portray the war in Iraq as a distraction from essential antiterror initiatives, and the poll indicates that the message may be working. Democrats say the war has sapped resources from tracking terrorists and bolstering domestic security.

“We took our eye off the real war, the war on terror,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

Democrats have said the Bush administration should have kept its focus on Al Qaeda instead of moving against Mr. Hussein and suspected weapons of mass destruction.

Joe Scarborough Interviewed in Salon

Since he asked Is Bush an Idiot? Joe Scarborough has been all over the liberal media, from Huffington Post to an interview today in Salon. Here’s a portion of a couple of his answers:

That brings up another question I wanted to ask you — you’ve been tough on liberals in the past, and you continue to be tough on them now. With your recent shift in viewpoint, have your feelings on liberalism, and the liberal critics of the administration, changed at all?

Obviously since the things they were predicting about Iraq have been proven to be accurate, or at least more accurate than what the administration was saying back in 2003, you certainly have to tip your hat to them.

Your criticism of the president has been about more than just the Iraq war — you’ve criticized the NSA eavesdropping program, you’ve criticized the bank records program, you’ve criticized government spending. What’s prompted that criticism, and that direction on your show, generally?

You know, it started back in 2004. I wrote a book called “Rome Wasn’t Burnt in a Day,” which three people read, because when you write books now you either have to be on the left calling the president a liar or be on the right calling people treasonous. I actually took Republicans and Democrats to task and was harshly critical of the president and my Republican colleagues for being so hypocritical … No tough choices are being made in Washington. You want to have a war? OK, we’ll pay for it. You want tax cuts? OK, we’ll pay for it. You want a $7 trillion Medicare drug benefit plan? OK, we’ll pay for it…

Here’s the kicker — since 2004, I have been attacked by Republicans, by conservatives, well, actually, more by Republican loyalists than conservatives, by basically the Republican establishment in Washington, for saying the exact same thing that we were all saying in 1995, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’99. We were always attacking Bill Clinton’s spending levels. Dick Armey called him a Marxist, called Hillary Clinton a Marxist. As I point out in speeches these days, government spending grew by 3.4 percent annually under Bill Clinton the Marxist. Spending has grown by 10.5 percent under George Bush the fiscal conservative. I always say: Give me that choice, I’ll take the Marxist at 3.4 percent any day of the week. And so I started in 2004, and when you talk about NSA wiretapping, when you talk about the bank records, my criticisms — I’m saying the exact same thing now that Bob Barr and David Vitter and myself were saying on the Judiciary Committee in 1999 and in 2000, when Janet Reno was trying to get roving wiretaps without coming to Congress first.

If You Don’t Want Porn, Don’t Order It

Not only do conservatives want to meddle in your bedroom, they also are getting into your hotel room. Thirteen conservative groups are going after the showing of pay per view porn in hotel rooms. Among other actiions they have taken out an ad in USA Today to urge the Justice Department to investigate. The effort is led by Phil Burress, a self-described former porn addict who heads Citizens for Community Values.

While they have had some limited success the hotel industry is resisting as selling in-room porn is a major revenue stream. Adult entertainment accounts for several hundred million dollars a year, and represents 60% to 80% of total in-room entertainment.

The Dangers From Voting Machines

Concern for election fraud is gradually finding its way into the mainstream media. The Washington Examiner is running an editorial by Marc Danziger on the subject. In contrast to some of the recently written material, such as the article by Robert Kennedy, Jr. in Rolling Stone, the potential problems are rationally laid out without making unsubstantiated claims, or bringing up bogus theories such as the exit polls. While some irresponsible sites in the blogoshere made charges that the recent California special election was stolen, this author makes no such charges while outlining the danger. If the average person is going to take this seriously, rational articles like this are needed:

Let me be very clear: The machines in use to count your vote aren’t remotely as secure as the video poker machine that you lost $5 to at the airport in Las Vegas. Seriously. You can look it up. Go over to the Gaming Standards Association (www.gamingstandards.com) and surf around. If voting machines were as well-tested, none of us would worry about them.

Bad as the machines’ security is, the voting systems surrounding the voting machines are so laughably insecure that no modern American corporation could use them, for fear of a Sarbanes-Oxley indictment of executives and directors.

Consider the recent special election here in California. The local San Diego County Registrar set up the election by allowing local precinct workers to take the machines home with them the night before.

I don’t think that specific election was hacked. But one of these days, one will be. And worse, as faith in the plumbing of democracy fades, what’s going to happen is that — like the proverbial banana republic — the losers in our elections won’t walk away vowing to do better next time. Instead, they’ll be convinced that the game is fixed, the referees bought, and that there’s no reason to participate in electoral politics.

That’ll lead to a whole other kind of politics, and I don’t think we’ll like it very much.

I don’t wear tinfoil hats. I don’t believe aliens are housed at Area 51. I do know for certain that we need to look hard at how we’re handing the plumbing of our democracy, or we’re for sure going to end up with a heck of a mess on the floor.

Paramount Dumps Tom Cruise

Paramount is ending its 14-year relationship with Tom Cruise fearing his behavior including publically stumping for the Church of Scientology and criticizing the use of anti-depressant medications is reducing the box office take of his movies and reflecting poorly on the studio. They also cite abberent behavior such as jumping up and down on Oprah Winfrey’s couch expressing his love for Katie Holmes. The Wall Street Journal reports that Cruise claims the separation is because he decided to set up his own production company (or perhaps he was an independent film maker in a different life or on a different planet).

Pat Buchanan Looking For Final Solution

Pat Buchanan is calling for a moratorium on immigrants to preserve white dominance. No word if he was wearing a sheet when he said this.

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The Quagmire Continues

George Bush is calling in the marines. Reuters reports, the U.S. Marine Corps will start ordering what could be thousands of inactive service members to return to duty in the coming months to counter a steady decline in the number of such troops who volunteer.” Some fear this could undermine the volunteer military forces:

“What’s really worrisome about involuntary recalls is they put even more of the burden on the handful of people who voluntarily join the military, and thus undermine the long-term viability of the whole volunteer force,” said Lexington Institute defense analyst Loren Thompson.

“In some ways this is worse than a back-door draft because it penalizes the handful of people who had the inclination and the courage to volunteer in the first place,” he said.

If actions such as this continue the trend towards decreased voluntary recruits, this could be yet another way in which George Bush is underming our long term national security.

Update: While the right wing response to this is to charge dishonesty for reporting on the military’s recruitment problems (see comment) The Los Angeles Times has a review showing how, “The Pentagon is scrambling to meet the demands of war.” Of course we know that to the authoritarian right exposing the facts is the worst form of “dishonesty.”

Update II: The blotter asks, Is the Next Step a Draft?

FactCheck Refutes RNC Ad on National Security

From the summary at FactCheck.org with more information in the full article:
The Republican National Committee’s latest Internet ad says “the facts speak for themselves,” but it twists a few of them.

It rewrites history when it claims Republicans “created the Department of Homeland Security,” which the White House actually resisted for nearly nine months before giving in to bipartisan pressure. It gives Republicans credit for a law reorganizing intelligence agencies, which actually passed the House with more Democratic votes than Republican.

The video twists the words of prominent Democrats when it says they are “against terrorist surveillance” and “against terrorist interrogation,” when what they are actually saying in the ad is that they are against illegal eavesdropping and against abusing prisoners.

It says Democrats are “against the Patriot Act,” and many are, but the fact is most Democratic senators voted for reauthorizing it earlier this year after demanding and getting some civil-rights protections.

George Bush, From Bizarro World or Animal House?

Eugene Robinson writes about the President on Another Planet:

As for George Bush, what on earth is on his mind?

Even conservatives have begun openly assessing the president’s intellect, especially its impermeability to new information. Cable television pundit Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, devoted a segment of his MSNBC show to “George Bush’s mental weakness,” with a legend at the bottom of the screen that impertinently asked: “IS BUSH AN ‘IDIOT’?”

It’s tempting to go there, but I’m not sure we’d get very far. While we have the president on the couch, I’m more interested in trying to understand his emotional response — or lack of response — to the chaos he has spawned.

Robinson can’t figure out what Bush is thinking with his Iraq policies, wondering  if he is “just trying to hold on until January 2009, when all this will become somebody else’s problem?”

I can’t help Robinson out with figuring out what Bush has on his mind, but I could suggest the planet Bush is on–the Bizarro World. Superman (and Seinfeld) fans know this as the planet where everything is backwards. Or perhaps Bush is just stuck in a movie. This is from Washington Whispers:

Animal House in the West Wing

He loves to cuss, gets a jolly when a mountain biker wipes out trying to keep up with him, and now we’re learning that the first frat boy loves flatulence jokes. A top insider let that slip when explaining why President Bush is paranoid around women, always worried about his behavior. But he’s still a funny, earthy guy who, for example, can’t get enough of fart jokes. He’s also known to cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides, but forget about getting people to gas about that.

The Demographics of Liberal Thought

The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed on The Fertility Gap today. While this article concentrates on the United States, this is actually a world wide phenomenon. I discussed this fertility gap back in March in a post at The Democratic Daily following a story in Foreign Policy:

Phillip Longman has a cover story in Foreign Policy magazine on the differences in fertility between liberals and conservatives world wide. His findings were also reviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition and in USA Today.

Longman reports findings such as that Utah has the highest fertility rate in the nation with 92 children born each year for every 1,000 women. In comparison, liberal Vermont has the nation’s lowest rate with 51 children per 1,000 women. Similarly, around the United States and Europe those with liberal views are more likely to have smaller families, or possibly never reproduce. He believes this is responsible for the drift towards the right in the United States. The average fertility rate is more than 11% higher in states which voted for Bush as opposed to Kerry.

Longman fears the long term consequences of a world populated by a greater percentage of those raised with conservative values:

Tomorrow’s children, therefore, unlike members of the postwar baby boom generation, will be for the most part descendants of a comparatively narrow and culturally conservative segment of society. To be sure, some members of the rising generation may reject their parents’ values, as often happens. But when they look for fellow secularists with whom to make common cause, they will find that most of their would-be fellow travelers were quite literally never born.

Considering how much harm this country has suffered in just over five years of a Bush presidency, there certainly is cause for alarm. We will undoubtedly continue to have periods in which we move backwards, but I still believe that the overall trend will continue to move forwards. While I may have only raised one daughter, my bet is that she, and others like her, will have far more impact on the world than children spoon fed conservative dogma. The ability of conservatives to regurgitate right wing talking points, and even cut and paste them all over the blogosphere, is no match for the ability to think.

Despite all the obstacles, the overall trend has been for liberty to win out over tyranny and reason to be victorious over superstition. I doubt that even the Republican Party’s recent embrace of authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism will be enough to stop the course of history. While they will have victories, and even additional periods of dominance, if the Republican Party remains a foe of liberty it will wind up in the dust bin of history.