Monthly Archives: September 2004

Debate Highs and Lows

Kerry's worst mistakes: (1) a slip on a “global test” for preemptive war. While he meant that any war must be something we can justify to the world. It will be twisted to mean he'll demand approval from the black-helicopter-UN before sneezing. (2) Somewhat robotic repetition of some of the same talking points.

Bush's worst mistakes: (1) inarticulate, bad body language, sounded flustered by unexpected questions; (2) didn't seem to have a full command of the facts

Kerry's best moves: Great delivery: strong and dignified and articulate (when not repeating himself). Hit key points he had to hit

Bush's best move — suggesting that Kerry's claim the attack on Iraq was wrong doesn't square with his expressed desire to “win” now. (Despite Kerry's later reference to the Pottery Barn theory, which was not a great corrective.)

Things that await the spin: Korea 2-party or 6-party talks? Bush's set-piece about meeting a war widow.

Prediction: The anti-Kerry soundbites will be all the same they were before — why let facts get in the way.

But I mostly heard this on the radio. Did it look different on TV?

Posted in Politics: US: 2004 Election | 17 Comments

Freudian Slip

I'm listening to the CSPAN post-debate call-in show. They have three phone lines, one for Bush supporters, one for Kerry supporters, and one for independents. Two of the last four Bush supporters have referred to “President Kerry”.

Posted in Completely Different | 2 Comments

Debate Thread

First lie: Bush claims that “people know where I stand”; compare Daily Kos: Bush Supporters Clueless about Bush's Policies

Bush's best moment: pointing out the contradiction between Kerry saying the invasion was a mistake and saying he will win it with foreign help.

Fact check: How many countries have how many troops in Iraq? See this BBC account

Numbers fluctuate as troops are rotated in and out of the country. On 19 July 2004 there were about 133,000 foreign troops in Iraq, of whom about 112,000 were American.

Any major engagement with insurgents is run by US forces, except in the south-east, where British forces take the lead.

Bush's claim that there are 30 or so countries represented among coalition troops is technically correct. But for almost all the contributions are, according to the BBC, negligible:

Coalition troops in Iraq

More than 30 countries have contributed troops to the multinational forces in Iraq.

The US is overwhelmingly the biggest foreign contributor, followed by the UK, Italy and Poland.

Numbers fluctuate as troops are rotated in and out of the country. On 19 July 2004 there were about 133,000 foreign troops in Iraq, of whom about 112,000 were American.

Any major engagement with insurgents is run by US forces, except in the south-east, where British forces take the lead.

Baghdad Area of Operations:
About 30,000 foreign soldiers, most from the US 1st Cavalry Division. There are 32 Estonians in the Abu Ghraib district of the city.

Iraqi troops began patrols in Baghdad on 28 June, in co-ordination with the multinational forces.

Baghdad is also the location of the multinational force headquarters.

Multinational Brigade North (also known as Task Force Olympia):
About 20,000 soldiers, of whom 11,500 are Iraqi security forces (national guard, border patrol and army).

The remaining 8,500 are nearly all American (mostly Third Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division). There is also an Albanian commando company.

In August 2004, South Korea is due to start deploying 3,000 new troops in Irbil. Most of the 700 South Koreans already in the country have been based in the south-east, but about half are now, reportedly, being redeployed to Irbil.

(Sources: Multinational Brigade North;

North-Central Area of Operations:
The US 1st Infantry is augmented by contingents from:
Georgia (150)
Latvia (about 40)
Moldova (30)
Macedonia (30)

Western Area of Operations:
The US 1st Marine Division is augmented by contingents from:
Azerbaijan (150)
Tonga (45)

Multinational Division Centre-South:
Poland (2,350)
Ukraine (1,550)
Thailand (450)
Bulgaria (420)
Hungary (290)
Romania (200)
Mongolia (140
Latvia (110)
Slovakia (110)
Lithuania (50)

Posted in Politics: US: 2004 Election | 4 Comments

Dan Tries Distributed Fact-Checking

My brother wants to harness blogs and their readers to do some distributed fact-checking of tonight's debate.

Let the Fact Checking Begin! And here's another way to make sure that the substance of Bush and Kerry's comments are fully and quickly assessed.

Some key political bloggers, who have so effectively proven their ability to hold the press accountable, will tonight be posting their own debate fact-checks — and will be asking their readers to find and document substantively incorrect statements by the candidates, as well.

I've already talked to several bloggers on both sides of the political spectrum and they're on board. I urge others in the blogging community to join in the experiment. Just make sure you e-mail me at so I know you're out there.

In tomorrow's column, I'll link to the bloggers who are actively fact-checking and I'll try to highlight some of the best and best-documented posts.

Let's help out! (Although I suspect it would need to be a really excellent gotcha! to get through the Post's anti-nepotism firewall.)

Posted in Dan Froomkin, Politics: US: 2004 Election | 4 Comments

A Vote for Bush Is a Vote for Torture

Harsh words, yes, but how else to describe this atrocity?

The Bush administration is supporting a provision in the House leadership's intelligence reform bill that would allow U.S. authorities to deport certain foreigners to countries where they are likely to be tortured or abused, an action prohibited by the international laws against torture the United States signed 20 years ago. …

The provision, human rights advocates said, contradicts pledges President Bush made after the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal erupted this spring that the United States would stand behind the U.N. Convention Against Torture. Hastert spokesman John Feehery said the Justice Department “really wants and supports” the provision.

For background please see Voting Republican This Year = Voting for Torture .

Posted in Civil Liberties, Iraq Atrocities, Politics: US | 5 Comments

Kerry’s Ground Game in Miami

It wasn't as easy as it should have been to find a place to get a Kerry-Edwards yard sign. The local office I got via Google gave me a second number for the “field office”…but either they said it wrong or I wrote it wrong. My next call was to an office with nearby address, but it just had an answering machine saying it was the “finance office”.

There wasn't an obvious way to find the local Miami offices from the front page of the main Kerry-Edwards web page, at least not without filling in a form. They have a link to a page that would sell me a Kerry-Edwards yard sign …but they'd have to mail it, and it didn't come with wires to hold it up.

Going deeper down the Google list, however, I found Miami for Kerry, which boasts an impressive number of local offices. I called the closest — answered on the third ring which was not encouraging, but may be excusable on Debate Day given the office is very near the campus. The person answering the phone was not nearly as good as Rebecca, but she told me what I needed to know.

Last night the K-E people did a great job of getting students with signs to dominate the campus, and dominated the backdrop for the live outdoor MS-NBC broadcast, although I don't know what the cameras chose to show.

I'm trying to decide if I even want to venture onto campus today.

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