Jay Bullock (3-0)

Drucilla B. Blood (0-1)

Current Battle: Election 2004

Keep dinosaurs extinct, help The Chairman upgrade his PI computer:

Dan Champion (1-0)

Vinod Valloppillil (1-1)

Blitz Battle Winners
Mike Pridemore
(BB #1)
Mustang Bobby
(BB #3)
Michael Spires (BB #4 & #5)
Weepboy (BB #7 & #9)
Pineapple Girl (BB #8)
Former Challengers
Ara Rubyan of E Pluribus Unum
Pineapple Girl of Politics at Pineapple Girl
Ralph Stefan of Ralph's Garage
Former Iron Bloggers
Robin Pratt (1-0)

The Agonist
Eric Alterman
BOP News
Juan Cole
Daily Kos
Brad DeLong
Emerging Democratic Majority
Steve Gilliard
The Hamster
Lean Left
Left OverAnger
Liberal Oasis
Lucifer's Condiments
The Moderate Voice
Musing's Musings
NDN Blog
Nightmares For Sale
Pacific Views
Talk Left
Talking Points Memo
Tom Tomorrow


04/25/2004 - 05/02/2004   05/02/2004 - 05/09/2004   05/09/2004 - 05/16/2004   05/16/2004 - 05/23/2004   05/23/2004 - 05/30/2004   05/30/2004 - 06/06/2004   06/06/2004 - 06/13/2004   06/13/2004 - 06/20/2004   06/20/2004 - 06/27/2004   06/27/2004 - 07/04/2004   07/04/2004 - 07/11/2004   07/11/2004 - 07/18/2004   07/18/2004 - 07/25/2004   07/25/2004 - 08/01/2004   08/01/2004 - 08/08/2004   08/08/2004 - 08/15/2004   08/15/2004 - 08/22/2004   08/22/2004 - 08/29/2004   08/29/2004 - 09/05/2004   09/05/2004 - 09/12/2004   09/12/2004 - 09/19/2004   09/19/2004 - 09/26/2004   09/26/2004 - 10/03/2004   10/24/2004 - 10/31/2004   10/31/2004 - 11/07/2004  

Monday, November 01, 2004

Battle Election 2004 - Verdict

I was harsh on both Combatants, but allow me to thank them once again for their hard work and dedication. To be fair, this debate was probably the best I've seen online about this Topic, and I only wish the media could learn a few things from us.

And now, the Verdict.

Two old friends and old foes squaring off in the first Iron Blog Election Battle. Former IB Republican Rosemary Esmay returns with her trademark snark and vitriol against the 'just the facts' style of undefeated IB Democrat Jay Bullock, the most successful Iron Blogger the site has seen.

Who takes it?

Whose spleen vents supreme?

Iron Blogger Democrat, Jay Bullock

It's the Iron Blogger! Jay Bullock pulls off the most narrow of victories over his rival, 50-47. Let's look at the round-by-round scores:

Opening Arguments goes to Jay, 12-9.
First Rebuttals goes even, 15-15.
Second Rebuttals goes even, 14-14.
Closing Arguments goes even, 9-9.

A draw in every round but the first! A great Battle and an excellent way to close this chapter of Iron Blog.


Sunday, October 31, 2004

Judge's Comments

Yes, just one Judge this week, and that is me. I will give a round by round review of each Combatant's posts without the scores, then post the Verdict. After the Verdict, scores will be revealed.

But first, a few thoughts...

I want to thank Jay and Rose for their participation this week and throughout the history of Iron Blog. Their hard work and dedication makes what is about to follow that much more difficult for me, as I not only have to Judge them but critique their posts as well.


It isn't going to be pretty. So... here we go!

Opening Arguments

Rose: Short and simple, Rosemary lays out her basic premise for why she supports Bush. She gives us little to think about and few links to follow, and those she does aren't exactly strong, but it /is/ her Opening, she /was/ rushed (as she later said) and Openings were never her strongest point. She has a solid flow to her post, the structure is good though it lacks substance and she pretty much misses the opening to score Bonus Points. A so-so start that at least tells us where she's going.

Jay: The exact opposite of Rose's opening, Jay overloads us with substance that quite honestly destroys any real structure to the post. It's mostly a litany of why /not/ Bush, and when he gets to /why/ Kerry, he is - admittedly - rushed. There are some serious and some seriously damaging points in here, but it blows right past because there is just too much all at once. As with Rose, we know where he's going, but it takes him far too long to get there, missing many openings for Bonus Points. The links, many of which are good, are quite honestly /too/ many.

First Rebuttal

Rose: This is generally where Rosemary has always done her best work, and this one post is a perfect capsule of everything that is right and wrong with her style of argument. She simply destroys Jay when she points out that his Opening was more anti-Bush than pro-Kerry, and she scores more points when she picks away at Kerry's insurance plan. Vintage Rosemary. Unfortunately, she tries her best to shoot herself in the foot by first dragging up the Swift Boat story (note to Republicans: SWING VOTERS AND UNDECIDEDS COULD GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THIS. DROP IT.) and her rather vicious attacks at the man in general (also a HUGE turnoff to Indies like me). It is both completely unnecessary and actually detracts from what would have been an damning first rebuttal, costing her Style and Substance points from me as well as a ding in the Facts section of the scorecard. Luckily the rest of the post balances it out.

Jay: Once again, Jay is strong on the data and substance, but once again suffers from a structure and style deficit. There are a number of good rebuttals in here, such as pointing out that Rose simply dismissed the previous laundry list of Bush's weaknesses as 'Bush bashing'. She gave him a huge opening and he connects on that punch. He also points out the lack of 'non-partisanship' in her links, but unfortunately gets /more/ partisan in his own, this time. Jay's biggest difficulty seems to be picking a few key points to hammer away at with precision shots and an air-tight style, opting instead to throw an avalanche and hoping his opponents get buried under it all. Rose dismisses everything in one fell swoop, Jay writes a novel answering every single point.

Second Rebuttal

Rose: Here, Rosemary goes in the wrong direction. Her biggest strength in Iron Blog Battles has been her rebuttal skills, but rather than come back at Jay and rebut him, she spends over half of her post doing what she should have done two posts ago in her Opening: laying out her case for Bush as strong on terror. When she finally does get back to the actual job of rebuttering as it was once called, she lands a few jabs but nothing worth writing home about. This post suffers from what she, perhaps unintentionally, sums up best as 'quickie rubattal time'.

Jay: And Jay gets back addressing every single point Rosemary has ever made since the age of ten. To be fair, he gets in a few good shots here, but some of his rebuttals amount to, "And your guy, too!". Instead of staying on one or two weak spots in Rose's case, he tries to address them all, and in doing so really hurts her on none of them. There's so much here I forgot what he just said as I read the next section.

The links on both sides are starting to suffer from ideology, now.

Closing Arguments

Rose: Making up for the fact that her Opening wasn't, and her Second Rebuttal was actually her Opening, Rosemary turns her Closing into a Second Rebuttal - with raisins! This, quite simply, closes nothing until the very end. It really is a Second Rebuttal, Take Two, and if not for the fact that the rules on bringing in new evidence in Closings were changed after she stepped down as Iron Blogger Republican, I'd auto-zero the entire thing. Since that went into effect after her tenure, I'll let it slide. The closing part of her Closing (the part where she puts an actual Closing Argument) is pretty good. Unfortunately it's only four paragraphs and a handful of one-liners long and only scratches the surface.

Jay: It's all or nothing, isn't it Jay? Three posts of Encyclopedia Bushanica, and we get a closing that amounts to, "Woooo Kerry! He's not Dean, but he's not Bush!" The use of the school imagery was both a plus and a minus: he points out that as a teacher he has /lots/ of kids to worry about, but commenting that he has other things to worry about in addition to them getting blown up didn't come across as well as I think he hoped. In the end it's a wash. The style and structure here is a bit better, perhaps because he finally does focus on just a few key issues. If only he can take that and build on it, he'd find a happy middle ground.

Parting Thoughts

In the end, I think what bothers me about this Battle - though nowhere near the level the press, parties and campaigns do - is that I weep for the death of intellectual honesty. Instead of discussing HOW TO MAKE US SAFER, we're caught up in how big a piece of shrapnel was forty years ago and whether our President was pissing on cars in Alabama at that same point in time. WHO THE FUCK CARES?!

Not me.

I want to know how Bush has made us safer at home other than he's killing terrorists in Iraq. IS he making us safer at home? Has he secured our ports? Our chemical factories? Our borders? Osama Bin Laden just made a cameo yesterday - forgive me if I wonder WHY THE FUCK HE IS STILL ALIVE?

I want to know how Kerry is going to solve Iraq. He's going to have a summit and ask really nicely? He's going to say, what? "Sorry the last guy fucked up. Wanna let me fix it?" It's not that easy, and pretending it is makes me feel like he thinks I'm stupid. HOW WILL YOU CHANGE THINGS?

There are tons of things I want to know, but all we get are spin and rhetoric, spin and rhetoric from /both/ sides.

A plague on both your houses.

Battle Election 2004 - Iron Blogger Democrat - Closing Statement

So here it is: My last closing for the Iron Blog as it exists now. I guess this is when I'm supposed to peel off the mask and reveal that I'm actually Atrios. Or Sydney Blumenthal. Or something. Sadly, I have no reveal saved up for this moment. It's just me, your humble Iron Blogger Democrat. Thanks again to the Chairman, for putting up with my crap and, I'm sure, following every link. And thanks to the Challenger, Rosemary Esmay, taking time out from her busy pregnancy to try the IB one more time.

I have a lot of respect for parents, even though I am not one and do not plan to be. And I can see how someone would consider herself a "security mom," as I imagine that a parental bond would be stronger than the love I have, for example, for my dog or my rabbit (hi, Maggie and Peter!).

I even have some similar nagging fears of my own, since I work in a school, and have not one or two, but 1500 kids who I know and care about. And I don't think there's a teacher in the country who--like parents--didn't feel personally for the children killed by terrorists in Beslan earlier this year.

But this election, at least in my mind, is about more than terror, about more than just making sure that the 1500 students at my school don't get blown up. I want to make sure that they have access to health care so they can grow up healthy. I want clean air for them to breathe so they can kick the asthma, and clean water for them to drink. I want their civil rights in tact, their schooling to be more than testing and test prep. I want affordable college options for them, and I want there to be jobs for my students when they graduate. I want, in short, John Kerry.

I began the Battle by laying out, as neatly as I could, some specific failures of George W. Bush and his administration. From the economy to the war on terror, I do not feel that we are better off than we were four years ago. While 9/11 changed many things, it did not change enough that we should abdicate our responsibility to our children and their future--not to mention the well-being of all of us right now.

Is John Kerry a perfect man, a perfect candidate? No. That's why I hitched my wagon to Howard Dean way back when. But in this Battle, I have tried to articulate, both in my Opening and throughout my rebuttals, that I believe John Kerry will do a good job of addressing many of the issues that Bush has done less than well.

Even the Challenger admits that she is displeased with much of Bush's agenda. That's not to say she would like Kerry's "liberal spending" any better, but when all is said and done, for purposes of this Battle, the Challenger has conceded pretty much all of the arguments save one, and that's terror.

However, I believe that I demonstrated that Bush's record on terror, in part because of problems in intelligence, but mostly because of Bush's out-dated state-terror world-view, is not all that much to crow about. Yes, Bush stands up straight and declares that he will not yield in his desire to take the fight to the terrorists. But we are not safer. And yes, the Bush administration and campaign try to make us fear what terrorists might do in John Kerry's America, but that is all they have. There is no record of accomplishments, no litany of success, no laurels to rest on. All they have left is to tear down Kerry's character and scare us into thinking we'll all die under his leadership.

I know I haven't changed the Challenger's mind, as I remain unpersuaded by her arguments. I probably haven't changed the minds of any of the other four or five regular readers here, either, nor, I'm guessing, has the Challenger. But I've made my case, and I believe I have done it well.

At the outset, I said that we have reached a moment in history where we will set the course we will follow for decades to come. I said that this election will decide who gets to chart that course. I've seen the course we are on now.

It's time to change course. It's time to elect John Kerry.

Respectfully submitted,
Jay Bullock, Iron Blogger Democrat

Battle Election 2004 - Challenger - Closing Statement

I want to begin by thanking Jay for a most spirited battle. I especially liked reading his links. It isn't often that I get to read so much frothing leftwing bias without benefit of a rabies shot. Seriously, I haven't seen that much foam since the Latte machine exploded at my local Starbucks. Thanks Jay, it was really fun.

My closing is going to be two parts. The first part will address some things that IB Dem said in his second rebuttal that I disagree with and the second part will rap up my pro-Bush position.

Part I

IB Dem is voting for Kerry because he will not appoint far-right judges.

Far-right judges, oooh how scary. Talk about scare tactics. Bush isn't planning on using a litmus test to appoint judges he will only appoint those that are strict constructionists. That is much better than Kerry will do. This country is neither left nor right. The court needs to be balanced and the judges that will be leaving are conservative. They should not be replaced with far-left liberals. That would throw the court way out of balance. The court should represent the country not one ideology.

IB Dem is voting for Kerry because he will not subjugate science to politics;
ignore civil rights; enact a huge middle-class pay cut; engage in cronyism; and let Teresa get away with paying so little in taxes.

One at a time:

Subjugate science to politics ... ah, the environment. Well, he ain't that much better than Bush on this one. Libertarian Jane Galt answers this one for me:
The Environment: Kerry wins by a hair here, but only a hair, because he supports moronic CAFE standards instead of sensible emissions taxes. He's made idiotic promises about getting to 20% of our energy from alternative fuels, a promise which is made as predictibly as the rising of the sun by presidential candidates, to little effect. Bush is better on nuclear energy, but not much. Kerry gets the bonus here because he cares more, though not a whole hell of a lot more, about the negative externalities of various economic activities, than does Bush. Warning to Dems, though: you almost lost this over his grovelling to the coal industry.

Ignore Civil Rights...Kos must've blown a load clear across the room when he reported this one, eh? Talk about assault weapons...

The gist of this charge is that Congress didn't act fast enough on voting so Bush is to blame. NCLB didn't address unequal education enough. Perhaps if the Dems hadn't been beholden to the Teacher's Unions then vouchers for the poorest of the poor, which a majority of African Americans support, would have had a chance. Bad Bush.

NOW is charging the Bush administration with cronyism? Hahhahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhaah

Middle Class Pay cut. Well if Nancy Pelosi says so ...
Seriously, I'd prefer a more non-partisan source rather than spin.

Racial profiling of visitors from Arab or Middle Eastern countries at airports and borders is bad. I know it isn't very PC but exactly how many 80-year-old Scottish grannies are trying to kill us again? Bad Bush for recognizing that a majority of terrorists happen to be Middle-Eastern or Arabic. You want him to catch them all before they enter the U.S. and kill us but we ain't allowed to look at them? How? Using psychics?

John Kerry won't let Teresa get away with paying little taxes? Yeah, okay. He had a chance to show us what it means to step up and he proved himself by paying the lower rate in Massachusetts. Taxpayers are offered a choice in his state between the higher and lower bracket. He chose the lower one for himself. Do as I say not as I do must be his motto.

IB Dem also characterized me by saying that I am disgusted with Bush's domestic policy. Not true. I am disgusted with his spending on certain things but I know in my gut that Kerry will spend more and make things worse.

Things I like about Bush's domestic policy. I love NCLB. I love it especially because the Teacher's Unions hate it, so I know it's on the right track. I love his Faith-Based Initiative. I love his idea for Social Security reform and it is a hell of a lot better than Kerry's more of the same bullshit approach. I love the Tax Cut and since I personally benefited from it, it really helped my family a lot and I'm far from being rich. It's a good thing. The tax cuts not only stimulated the economy but also helped all of us when we needed it.

Weak on Terror
IB Dem claims that Iran endorsed Bush. Actually, some politician made a statement and that is turned into an endorsement of a country. The leader of Iran made no such claim, unlike the leader of the PLO did for Kerry and just the other day Osama Bin Laden did as well quoting parts of Michael Moore's ficumentary Fahrenheit 9/11. His video taped appearance read like DNC talking points. My favorite part was when Osama referred to Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter... Okay, he didn't but that's the only thing he left out.

If Osama wants Kerry that speaks volumes and it doesn't suggest that Kerry will be a strong leader on Terror.

Part II

Our nation's security depends on strong, steadfast leadership. We need someone that will make a decision, stick to it and do what needs to be done. Bush is that man. In this time, in our life we need someone that isn't afraid to make hard choices. We don't need someone that change's his mind like a weathervane changes direction in a windstorm. That is Kerry. Kerry makes decisions based on what is good for his career. Bush makes choices based on what is good for all of us. Not some of us, all of us.

In WWII, we waited. If we had acted in 1937 to stop Hitler how many lives would have been saved. If FDR knew what was to come he would've acted sooner. We know what will come if we don't take the fight to them and we can't afford to just wait any longer. Waiting to be attacked is not a position that makes me feel safe.

The terrorists want to kill us. That is all they care about. They hate our freedom and us. They hate that I don't wear a burka and that I walk with husband not 10 paces behind him. There is no negotiating with them. WE die or THEY do and I damn well ain't prepared to die because we waited. Waiting may make Kerry and the pacifists feel better but not me. No more. I don't want his sympathy on my loss or yours. I want someone that will fight to prevent attacks. I don't want to wait for the next 9/11. I don't want to find out my son's school was invaded by killers because we didn't profile them.

Do you?

Do you really?

Bush won't wait. He's proven that. He's proven over and over again that his word is his bond. He says what he means and we don't always like what he says but we know where he stands. I don't know where Kerry stands. I know what he says and I know that if he says something I don't like, all I have to do is wait a couple days and he'll change his mind. That isn't good enough for me. I need to KNOW what he will do. We can't afford to hope that he changes his mind to the right position at the right time. He was a staunch backer of Iraq until he was challenged by Howard Dean, then he flipped. Now he says it was the wrong war at the wrong time. He questions the decisions of soldiers in the field. Tommy Franks has called him out and still he persists with the Tora Bora nonsense. The generals fight the war and make the decisions on the ground. That is how it is done. The last time politicians did it was Vietnam and we all know how that turned out.

To paraphrase John Kerry, he is the wrong man at the wrong time.

We need stay the course and win, not cut and run and lose. With Bush we will the first, with Kerry the latter.

That is why I support the re-election of George W. Bush. He is the right man at the right time.

That is what this country needs.

Respectfully Submitted: Rosemary, the Queen of All Evil


Saturday, October 30, 2004

Battle Election 2004 - Iron Blogger Democrat - Second Rebuttal

You're welcome, Rosemary, and I hope you're feeling better. And the change of pace has inspired me, as well. There are some of the things that I hate about Bush, too! So, in fifty words or less, why John Kerry's the better choice:

I'm not a single issue voter. I am voting for Kerry because he will not appoint far-right judges; subjugate science to politics; violate international law; ignore civil rights; enact a huge middle-class pay cut; engage in cronyism; and let Teresa get away with paying so little in taxes.

Of course, none of this matters to the Challenger, not even her own disgust at this administration's domestic policy, because she is a single-issue voter. More on her issue--terror--in just a moment. But first, some quick rejoinders.

We can let sleeping dogs lie (pun intended!) I suppose, but the Navy says Kerry is okay; John O'Neill was Nixon's anti-Kerry hatchet man way back when. You make the call.

Who Lies?
The Challenger caught an incorrect link that slipped by me. The real one is here, though I would understand if the Chairman penalizes me for the SNAFU I should have caught.

Health Care
"Great," the Challenger writes, "so you admit that Kerry's promises are meaningless. That saves me lots of time. Thanks." No, your majesty; what I "admit" is that John Kerry is willing to change his mind when the facts informing his opinions change. Now I know some presidents I could name believe in staying the course resolutely, facts be damned, but that's just not how we do it here in the reality-based community.

The 9/11 Defense
"How many people die in car accidents every year?" the Challenger misdirects us. "How many people die of old age every year? Should we outlaw cars and aging?" Well, the fact is that we do spend a lot of federal money every year to make cars and roads safer. We do have NIH-finded research into prolonging lives. Thinking we should outlaw them is just silly; using the power of the federal government to reduce risk, though, makes sense.

And that's all I'm asking: How come Republicans, who control the legislature and the executive, can't write law one that would effectively insure the uninsured, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives a year? And this isn't an either-or game. Yes, the budget is tight, in part because of things we can't undo (like the war) and some things we can (like the tax cut). But, as I said in my First Rebuttal, the president's budget and tax cut priorities are just plain misplaced.

So why can't we do both-and? Why is the 9/11 defense so prevalent? It's simply that the intricacies of health care policy or other complicated good-government problems lack a certain glamor. Terror, on the other hand, sells. Terror grabs headlines, moves voters, and makes for good speech fodder. In the end, the Bush administration has used "September the eleventh two thousand and one," the Bush Doctrine, and the constant threat of new terror attacks to distract people like the Challenger from its horrible track record.

Barry Glassman had a book out a few years back called The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, basically arguing that "our fears are grossly exaggerated given the actual frequency of these rare events." Now, I know I will be criticized by some (maybe) for trying to say that terror is not dangerous--it surely is, and I will devote a paragraph or two to that in just a bit. But as Glassner said on CNN two weeks after 9/11,
We have good reason to be much more concerned about terrorism now than we have in the past. At the same time, though, all sorts of rumors and false scares have been spreading in the wake of these horrific events. The last thing we need as individuals or as a country right now are superfluous fears and scares. [. . . T]here's a kind of false reasoning that comes into play in these circumstances, and that is that we assume that if something completely unexpected, like the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, can occur, then all sorts of other unanticipated disasters will also occur. That is like assuming that because lightning struck last week, it will strike this week. We have to ask instead what the real dangers are, and whether there are patterns to those dangers, and how best to respond where there are real dangers.
And yet, the Republicans in this election season have done little but obscure many real dangers--like the danger to the uninsured, or of a flu-shot shortage--to propagate fear in the minds of voters. Much of that responsibility lies at the foot of Dick Cheney, but the campaign as a whole is guilty based on fear-mongering propaganda like that idiotic wolf ad. They have succeeded in scaring the Challenger, at least, into voting for them.

Who is Weak?
The Challenger, buying the Republican fear-mongering, wants you to think that John Kerry will be weak fighting terrorism. She tosses out Arafat's endorsement of the senator, while neglecting to tell you that Axis of Evil member Iran has endorsed Bush: If the terrorist endorsement means weakness, Bush has no advantage. Did a handful of KLA members write Kerry a few checks? Quite possibly. But how many millions of dollars did Halliburton collect while Brown & Root provided "infrastructure support" to the KLA while Dick Cheney was in charge? Challenger, the Bush team isn't looking good by your standards yet.

And this whole Iraq war flip-flop thing! Oh, I could scream! The Challenger cites Boston's conservative (and Bush-endorsing) paper, the Herald, repeating the same BS that Ed Koch mumbles in his quote, about Howard Dean and his effect on Kerry. In this particular Battle, I think it was a big mistake to bring up Howard Dean, because I was one of those "Deaniacs." I signed up with Dean almost two years ago, when most people thought he was just that frozen sausage guy. So I know what Howard Dean said, when he said it, and what he meant by it. Yes, he skewered Kerry for his war vote (as did I, for that matter), and the most maddening thing about the Kerry response was that Kerry would never say that his vote was wrong. Never. I was there--literally, in some cases--for the primary's major events, and Kerry wouldn't frigging budge on his position. Not one inch, no matter how successful Dean got in promoting the anti-war left's hopes. It's also a little irritating to watch this particular Republican smear campaign, because Dean was never the pacifists' candidate--that would have been Kucinich or Mosely Braun. Dean believed, as Kerry does, that we can't walk away from Iraq now that we've upended their government and infrastructure. Does a Dean connection make Kerry weak? No. On the contrary, Kerry's consistency through the primaries shows the opposite.

The Single Issue
The Challenger has Googled up some history of terrorist attacks. Yes, terror existed before, and will likely continue to exist in the future. But she misses my point that 2002 and 2003 featured quantitatively higher incidences of terror than pre-9/11 years did. And yes, terrorists want to kill us just because of who we are and who they are. But, again, the Challenger misses the point: There are more of them because of the Iraq war than there would have been otherwise. If we had taken out Zarqawi when we had the chance, if we had nailed bin Laden at Tora Bora, we could have crippled at least some of the terrorists' networks and charismatic leaders. Bush passed on both of those opportunities.

And I think that's because of that fundamental difference in world-view I keep trying to articulate. Other people are thinking like I do:
[Bush's statement on the new Osama bin Laden video] explains everything we need to know about how Bush judges success in the wars on terror and in Iraq.

He was concerned about bin Laden because "he had taken over a country." Once the Taliban was overthrown, Bush was satisfied that bin Laden was declawed and no longer a threat. The same held true with Saddam. Once he had been driven from his Baghdad palaces into a spider-hole, Bush felt that the mission had been accomplished. In Bush's view, this new threat isn't about the man or those who support his ideals, it's about the governmental structure from which he gains support. Once the bureacracy has been defeated, the threat isn't there.
That's why Bush went on about the "Axis of Evil," the "states that sponsor terror," and the like, and why his prosecution of the war has not brought much success beyond, maybe, flypaper.

The Bush Doctrine
Perhaps one reason why the Challenger feels safer with Bush is his Doctrine. Sadly, though, that Doctrine is pretty much a failure, in large part because the facts on the ground have not supported the rationale for the first war waged under the new Doctrine. Even "non-partisan" George Will knows it when he sees it:
[O]vershadowing the military achievement is the failure--so far--to find, or explain the absence of, weapons of mass destruction that were the necessary and sufficient justification for preemptive war. The doctrine of preemption--the core of the president's foreign policy--is in jeopardy.

To govern is to choose, almost always on the basis of very imperfect information. But preemption presupposes the ability to know things--to know about threats with a degree of certainty not requisite for decisions less momentous than those for waging war.
What does this mean, in practice? It means North Korea, for example, is giving us the finger:
Our "diplomats" were in Beijing, this week, demanding that North Korea submit to a "complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling" of all its "nuclear programs." [. . .] But we are really asking the Koreans to submit to another application of the Bush Doctrine. [. . .]

So what will we do if the North Koreans refuse to allow us to apply the Bush Doctrine to them?

Well, initially, nothing, since we're bluffing. And after the disastrous application of the Bush Doctrine in Iraq, everyone knows it--including China.

Eventually, however, China will rake in all the chips. There'll be a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea and Okinawa, Korean re-unification and a repudiation of the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.
And that's from a conservative commentator; liberals and moderates are not blushing about how Bush is losing North Korea.

I won't spend a lot of time on it, but the applied-once and probably never again Bush Doctrine almost certainly failed because of intelligence problems. I've complained in other places that we haven't seen heads roll from the Iraq debacle, except maybe Tenet's. (Certainly not Rumsfeld's!) But the problem goes deeper than just Tenet--it goes to the Office of Special Plans and the way Pentagon intelligence analysts read the intel the way they wanted to. They were willing to believe Ahmed Chalabi, for example. Even this week, we found out that al Qa Qaa was on the IAEA's list for US troops to secure,
But when the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command produced their own list of sites that a limited number of U.S. "exploitation teams" should search, priority was given to those identified by exiled Iraqi opposition groups, he said. Al Qaqaa wasn't one of them.

"The top of the list was dominated by nuclear facilities and places where we expected to find chemical and biological weapons," he said. "Iraqi exiles had a very heavy hand in determining which places got looked at first."
You can't twist intelligence to fit what you believe. You can't bend facts to support your ideology. Knowing, from a pretty reliable source, that Bush was talking up an Iraq invasion as a candidate in 1999, on top of how the invasion really has spurred terrorist recruitment and has not prevented sharp increases in the intensity and frequency of terror attacks, you've really got to start questioning Bush's strength, his Doctrine.

Combine the failure of the Bush Doctrine with the Challenger's own admission that Bush's domestic policy is a failure; you can only come to one conclusion: Vote Kerry.

Respectfully submitted,
Jay Bullock, Iron Blogger Democrat

Friday, October 29, 2004

Battle Election 2004 - Challenger - Second Rebuttal

I would like to start my second rebuttal by thanking IB Dem and the Chairman. I was incredibly ill yesterday and I requested a delay in posting my rebuttal and they both very graciously agreed. Thank you, gentlemen.

I decided after posting my first rebuttal that I would change strategies for my second piece. This may leave some of you boggled but I feel that my second rebuttal should focus more on why Bush rather than why not Kerry. I will touch on some of the IB's rebuttal later but I want to begin with better explaining my support of our current Commander-in-Chief.

Like many of the Democrats that support Bush, I don't agree with much of what has happened here on the domestic side. I have different reasons for that disagreement, because I believe that Bush has been too liberal in much of his domestic policy. I hate the fact that he spent too much money. I hate the fact that he seems to have forgotten that he has veto power. I won't defend his frivolous spending other than to say that I believe that is what he meant when he said he was a compassionate conservative. I think "compassionate" was a keyword for "liberal spender." I don't mean liberal in the political sense, I mean it as in "giving freely or amply". I voted for him despite knowing in my gut that he meant to be a spender, so I won't play the complaining hypocrite now, like many of my fellow conservatives (Hi, Big Dan).

I said in my opening that I am a Security Mom. I wasn't kidding. I am a single issue voter this year and that issue is our nation's security. I need a president who will not cave into political pressure from his opponents. I need to know that my president will be steadfast and put my safety above his career. Former New York Mayor Ed Koch expresses this sentiment beautifully:
"While I don't agree with Bush on a single domestic issue, they are all trumped by the issue of terrorism, where he has enunciated the Bush Doctrine and proven his ability to fight this war," said Koch. "The Democratic Party just doesn't have the stomach to go after terrorists."

"I saw Kerry surrounded by radical politicians like [former President Jimmy] Carter and [Sen. Ted] Kennedy. ... I know Kerry will succumb to their pressure if elected. They are with Kerry not because they like him, but because their true candidate, Howard Dean, couldn't get elected, and they wanted someone who they can have elected and dominate," charged Koch.

"As long as Kennedy and Robert Byrd are considered major leaders of the Democratic Party, and while we're seeing radical candidates like Howard Dean, whose radical-left supporters have been described by the press as 'Deaniacs,' the Democratic Party will be limited in its ability to serve the country well in times of crisis and war like we face now."

Koch has many insights and I hope that you will click the link and read the whole piece.

Now, IBDem makes an interesting point. His point is a prime example of the divide we as a nation feel.
Of all the Middle Eastern states that sponsor terror, Hussein's Iraq was among the least threatening to the US and our allies.

This is a huge area of disagreement. First, the Bush Doctrine says that we will not only go after terrorists but after the states that sponsor them as well. When Bush said terrorists he didn't mean only Al Qaeda, he meant all of them. That is why it's called the War on Terror and not the War on Al Qaeda. Iraq was the least threatening to our allies? Tell that to Israel.

My opponent also made this statement:
In fact, since the invasion of Iraq, non-state terrorists have been getting more aggressive. This is where I think Bush's record as a leader in the War on Terror deserves serious scrutiny. I've already covered--unrebutted, by the way, the fact that bin Laden and other terrorists were pushed to the bottom of the agenda when the Iraq war rolled around.

More aggressive? They have become more aggressive since we decided to take the fight to them? I don't think so. We can't continue to live in a world that doesn't take things like this seriously:

Nov. 4, 1979 Hostages taken at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran
May 1981 Threats from Libya
April 18, 1983 Bombing of U.S. Embassy in Beirut
Oct. 23, 1983 Bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut
Dec. 12, 1983 Bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait
March 16, 1984 CIA Station Chief William Buckley kidnapped
Sept. 20, 1984 Bombing of U.S. Embassy annex northeast of Beirut
Dec. 3, 1984 Hijacking of Kuwait Airways Flight 221
June 14, 1985 Hijacking of TWA Flight 847
October 1985 - January 1986 Hijacking of cruise ship Achille Lauro;
Bombing of Rome, Vienna airports
April 5, 1986 Bombing of La Belle Discotheque
December 21, 1988 Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103

None of that was Al Qaeda, it was terrorism and that is only until 1988. Al Qaeda was responsible for a few more:
Established by Usama Bin Ladin (UBL) circa 1990, Al Qaeda aims to coordinate a transnational mujahideen network; stated goal is to "reestablish the Muslim State" throughout the world via the overthrow of corrupt regimes in the Islamic world and the removal of foreign presence - primarily American and Israeli - from the Middle East. UBL has issued three anti-U.S. fatwas encouraging Muslims to take up arms against Washington's "imperialism." Al Qaeda provides financial, manpower, transportation, and training support to extremists worldwide. In February 1998 bin Ladin issued a statement under the banner of "The World Islamic Front for Jihad Against The Jews and Crusaders," saying it was the duty of all Muslims to kill U.S. citizens, civilian or military, and their allies. Allegedly orchestrated the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, on August 7, 1998. Claims to have been involved in the 1993 killing of U.S. servicemen in Somalia and the December 1992 bombings against U.S. troops in Aden, Yemen. Al Qaeda serves as the core of a loose umbrella organization that includes members of many Sunni Islamic extremist groups, including factions of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), the Gama'at al-Islamiyya (IG), and the Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM). The group is a prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks as well as the U.S.S Cole bombing.

We aren't making them want to kill us more because we have gone on the offensive. They want to kill us NO MATTER WHAT. We have a choice. Sit back and continue our old doctrine of making limp wristed attempts at self-defense or go after them and the countries that support them. I'm sorry if that sounds cold and callous but we are fighting for our lives and I want someone running this country that won't back down. I want someone that has the balls to do what needs to be done. I want someone that will do it with or without our allies.

"Allies" like France and Germany aren't the ones with targets on their backs. So pardon me if I don't give a flying fig what a bunch of cheese eating surrender monkeys think, okay?

I want someone who won't take money from terrorist groups for his presidential campaign. I want someone that isn't calling longtime terrorist Yasser Arafat a statesmen and getting endorsed by him.

Kerry's nuanced plan is flexible and therefore worthless. The only thing consistent about Kerry is his hairstyle. He can tell me till he's blue in the face what he will do, unfortunately, his record of flip flops betrays his sincerity. If the polls don't like his plan, he'll just modify it. That isn't good enough for me and it shouldn't be good enough for you, either.

Okay quickie rebuttal time:

Jay says North Korea was contained and engaged in talks with Clinton. Bush blew it.

Fact: North Korea snookered Clinton. They lied and left Bush to clean up the mess.

American Enterprise Institute is not non-partisan. Fine, I'll concede the point. I made a mistake. Does that mean they made up their figure? Can't be trusted? Aren't honest? I hope not because that would mean that both Jay and I and many of our links are worthless. Partisanship doesn't equal dishonest.

Kerry & Vietnam:
I don't want this to spiral into a pot of ugly but I will repeat that I stated that Kerry was only fighting in Vietnam for 4 months, not 4 years. My point was about time in country not in service. I won't turn this into the battle of the Swiftvets. I am not prepared to call 250+ decorated veterans liars because of statements made by one or two. You can, I won't.

You want to argue what Bush did. Knock yourself out. He served 5 years in the TANG and the Bush haters are trying to find some kind of evil in the mysertious "missing months". My larger point is Bush did not try to get elected because of his service, Kerry did. Questioning qualifications that he, himself, put on the table is legit. At this stage in the election cycle it is also pointless.

Kerry's Healthcare Plan:
Jay said, "Kerry's also not the absolutist Bush is, recognizing that proposals he made in the primaries are now unaffordable under the record Bush deficit, so he has already scaled them back."

Great, so you admit that Kerry's promises are meaningless. That saves me lots of time. Thanks.

9/11 defense:
Jay said:
Because we do not have health insurance coverage for all Americans, people die--83,000 people a year by some estimates, though a more conservative figure would be 18,000 people every year. That's the equivalent of one 9/11 every two months. There is no excuse for that.

How many people die in car accidents every year? How many people die of old age every year? Should we outlaw cars and aging?

There is a difference between people dying because they are sick and dying because they were working at their desks when a giant plane flew into the building. One, illness, is a sad fact of life and the other is TERRORISM.

Who lied worse?
Not that it's a good defense but Bush isn't the one claiming he will never lie to the American people, Kerry is and he has. Bush is smarter than that. Jay said that Bush lied worse but his link was to Cheney's purported lies. So does that mean Jay lied? Or did he make a mistake?

I would like to close by saying VOTE BUSH. He can't say "nuclear" but at least he doesn't get his tan from a can!

Respectfully Submitted: Rosemary, the Queen of All Evil

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Battle Election 2004 - Iron Blogger Democrat - First Rebuttal

The Challenger and I opted for two very different strategies in our Opening Statements; while the Challenger focused on the personal and the narrative, I opted for, you know, facts. I'm surprised she didn't recognize shock and awe when she saw it. I'm not surprised that my recitation of these unpleasant facts was called "Bush-bashing." My previous Challenger had the same reaction when confronted with inconvenient truths, and my current Challenger is falling into the same pattern. Look, I was very careful in my Opening to leave my rancor behind. If you want Bush bashing, I can show you Bush bashingof the first degree, and then some. I didn't do any of that. The fact that the man's record is embarrassing doesn't make my citing it "bashing."

The Challenger also seems confused as to why I would bother mentioning Bush's record at all ("I thought this was Battle Election 2004 not Battle Why Bush Sucks"). It's simple: In any election with an incumbent, the first step in deciding whom to vote for is determining whether the incumbent has done a good job. If I thought Bush had done well (and some poor misguided liberals apparently have), then I wouldn't need to support Kerry. That the Challenger is willing to support Bush irrespective of his record is mind-boggling. But I suppose that conservatives voting Bush (many wise ones--and at least one foolish one--aren't) have to have a pretty close relationship with denial to pull that lever.

And she had to throw that "pregnant woman" thing in my face. She knows I can't have children! She knows I don't have a uterus!

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong
The Challenger's Opening focuses on her two pet issues: terrorism ("I'm a security mom") and Social Security ("I agree with partial privatization of Social Security"). Let me tackle Social Security first, since it will only take three sentences (Big Dan is having an influence). One, there's not really a Social Security crisis that needs solving. Bush's plan to partially privatize the system will cost a trillion dollars or more, creates an immediate problem of diverted funds needed to pay current retirees (with no surplus anymore to take up the slack), and puts money into the pockets of the financial sector that would have gone to future beneficiaries. Finally, economist Brad DeLong gets to the nut of the problem, wondering about the Bush plan's advisability when he reminds us, "You have to ask yourself not just, 'Is this good policy?' but 'Will this still be good policy after Congress does its worst to it?'"

The terrorism thing is more challenging to rebut for two reasons: One, Bush's record is so bad that I need way more than three sentences to describe it; more importantly, though, the Challenger and I don't see eye-to-eye on this issue.

For starters, the Challenger says that "[the popular, undefeated, and certainly victorious this time around Iron Blogger Democrat] and Kerry et al. like to separate Iraq and the WOT but I won't because it's all the same war." She's right that we disagree here; there is growing evidence that yet another ideological divide is forming between the left and the right. Kevin Drum, as he is wont to do, perfectly crystalizes it:
On a substantive level, Bush and his team are too obsessed with a late 20th century view of state-sponsored terrorism as our primary problem. It's not. Non-state terrorism and failed states--along with nuclear proliferation--are the primary problems of the 21st century. Bush's failure to recognize this makes him far more likely to make a disastrous miscalculation than Kerry.
Of all the Middle Eastern states that sponsor terror, Hussein's Iraq was among the least threatening to the US and our allies. Moreover, the tenuous links that Bush and his team want to draw to, for example, al Qaeda, show that conceptualizing terror as a state-on-state issue is wrong. Exhibit A is the case of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Before the US invasion, Zarqawi operated out of Iraq, yes, but it was an area of Iraq fully beyond Saddam's control--there was no argument to be made that Saddam tolerated or harbored Zarqawi's terrorists. Before the invasion of Iraq, the US had the chance to attack Zarqawi's camp, destroying his facilities for sure and possibly even killing the man himself. We did not, because "the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam." This was confirmed by the Wall Street Journal just this week (excerpts here and here). In a world where non-state terror is the primary threat--a world inhabited by myself and Senator Kerry, but not by the Challenger or the man who actually gives the "go" order--Zarqawi would have been eliminated in late 2002, saving countless US lives. Instead, Bush has dragged us into a $200 billion distraction from those non-state terrorists who, despite our relentless offense, as Bush calls it, are still killing people, pledging his allegiance to Osama bin Laden.

In fact, since the invasion of Iraq, non-state terrorists have been getting more aggressive. This is where I think Bush's record as a leader in the War on Terror deserves serious scrutiny. I've already covered--unrebutted, by the way, the fact that bin Laden and other terrorists were pushed to the bottom of the agenda when the Iraq war rolled around. Fact is, in 2002 and 2003, the number of terrorist attacks and terror casualties increased. Looking back,
[d]espite the rout of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, terror attacks, especially against Americans and Europeans, were rising at the end of 2002 and would continue to rise through 2003. Some 400 people worldwide had died in terror attacks in 2000, and some 300 in 2001, apart from the 3,000-plus killed on September 11. In 2002 more than 700 were killed, including 200 when a bomb exploded outside a Bali nightclub in October.
2003 was even worse. If Bush continues to pursue his out-dated anti-terror strategy, we have no reason to expect that terrorist attacks will do anything other than keep increasing as they have been.

It's also clear that our invasion of Iraq is at least an indirect cause of this increase, if not a direct cause. There's been a clear increase in al Qaeda membership since the invasion. Our allies concur; "Australia's spy chief has directly linked the Iraq war to the rising ranks of global terrorists and says it could have inspired new followers of Osama bin Laden," at least in Oz if not everywhere. Even hand-puppet Iyad Allawi is pointing the finger: "Iraq's interim prime minister blamed the U.S.-led coalition for "great negligence" in the ambush that killed about 50 soldiers heading home after graduation from a U.S.-run training course, and warned of an escalation of terrorist attacks." As the Washington Post says, this "offensive" foreign policy is producing diminishing returns.

Contrast Bush's state-attacking mentality with the more nimble and focused Kerry plan, which is more concerned with the actual terrorist networks and their funding mechanisms (remember, Kerry dismantled BCCI), as well as re-taking Afghanistan from the Taliban--that's right, they're back.

You Can't Handle, Well, You Know
The Challenger: "How can we trust anything Kerry says about Iraq anyway? I mean his flips nuances are so many."
The Truth: On the Senate floor, before the Iraq War Resolution vote, Kerry said,
I have said publicly for years that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein pose a real and grave threat to our security and that of our allies in the Persian Gulf region. Saddam Hussein's record bears this out. [. . .]

As much as we decry the way he has treated his people, regime change alone is not a sufficient reason for going to war, as desirable as it is to change the regime. [. . .]

As the President made clear earlier this week, "Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable." It means "America speaks with one voice."

Let me be clear, the vote I will give to the President is for one reason and one reason only: To disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, if we cannot accomplish that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint concert with our allies.

In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days--to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.

If we do wind up going to war with Iraq , it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community, unless there is a showing of a grave, imminent--and I emphasize "imminent"--threat to this country which requires the President to respond in a way that protects our immediate national security needs.
The way Bush supporters talk about Kerry and the Iraq war, you'd think what Kerry says now--that Bush neither proved imminent threat nor acted with our allies--is somehow diametrically opposed to what he said then, or over the course of the campaign. You can make as many movies as you want (and I thought I went long!) with out-of-context quotes, but the fact is that Kerry has, from the beginning, challenged the president in the way he waged this war: one position, constant.

The Challenger: "Yeah, that's the way. Let's show the nutcases of the world that we are serious by disarming ourselves first."
The Truth: Because it worked so well deterring Russia when we kept building up our nuclear stockpiles? North Korea was contained and engaged in diplomatic talks by the end of the Clinton years. "However, the North broke off official contacts with both Seoul and Washington when Bush took office and made known Washington's intention to revert to a tougher line on relations." Bush's tough-guy approach sure worked well, didn't it?

The Challenger: "My opponent wants to skip over Kerry's 'heroic' 4 months in Vietnam."
The Truth: People who believe all the nonsense about Kerry's Vietnam service maybe being less than honorable are in danger two ways: One, we could talk about what Bush was doing at the time--and you don't want that; and two, you'll get hit by a big slab of truth, and, baby, the truth hurts.

The truth is that the Swiftboat vets are a horrible resource to rely on, not only because they do things like lie on national TV, but because they themselves have made dozens of contradictory statements. And four months? Kerry served four honorable years in the Navy.

The Challenger: "Actually, the budget for the Department of Education has grown [. . .]"
The Truth: Ahh, a simple case of Not Reading What I Wrote. I know education spending is up under NCLB. The problem is that funding is not being provided for items mandated by the law--things like teacher training and endless testing. Yippee, we get more Title I money! Sadly, we can't spend that money to pay McGraw-Hill for the tests and test scoring we have to buy.

The Challenger: "[F]igures show the number of Pell Grants awarded the year before Bush took office was 3.9 million. The number grew to 5.1 million for the most recent academic year."
The Truth: You know why more people qualify for Pell grants, right? It's because Pell grants are need-based. There are more people now who can't afford college, thanks to the Bush economy.

The Challenger: "According to the non-partisan American Enterprise Institute"
The Truth: Oh, I almost fell off my chair with that one. AEI is conservative like a koala is adorable. Don't believe me? Read their about page. Or Google: "non-partisan American Enterprise Institute" turns up 129 hits, with the Bush and GOP websites at the top. "Conservative American Enterprise Institute" turns up 3690 hits.

The Challenger: "Kerry's Healthcare Plan: Yawn. More government expansion, more government spending and he'll pay for all of it by raising taxes on the rich."
The Truth: Kerry's funding comes from a variety of sources, including closing gaping loopholes that could bring in $40 billion or more. Kerry's also not the absolutist Bush is, recognizing that proposals he made in the primaries are now unaffordable under the record Bush deficit, so he has already scaled them back.

Beyond that, Kerry's plan isn't the massive government takeover Cassandras like the Challenger want you to believe it is.

And speaking of Cassandras, who's going to pay for all that spending Bush proposed in his acceptance speech?

The Challenger: "We got attacked and preventing everyone from dying at the hands of Islamofacists is a teeny bit more important than making sure we live in a socialist utopia."
The Truth: This is the old "9/11 changed everything" defense. But it's akin to saying we should all grab duct tape and plastic sheeting: We'll be safe from bioterror, but we'll all suffocate. Because we do not have health insurance coverage for all Americans, people die--83,000 people a year by some estimates, though a more conservative figure would be 18,000 people every year. That's the equivalent of one 9/11 every two months. There is no excuse for that.

The Challenger: "[Kerry] pledges to never to lie to the American people and then proceeds to LIE in a national debate to be president."
The Truth: Lie in a debate? Who would do that? Not Dick Cheney or George W. Bush. No . . . not Bush at all. I mean, Bush doesn't lie, does he? Well, yes: "But here's the president's not-so-secret weapon: He is dismayingly willing to say things that are either blatantly false or clearly designed to create a misleading impression." Further, Bush lies worse. Finally, the Challenger and those like her now are trying to paint Kerry as a serial exaggerator--what, are you still running against Al Gore?

The Challenger: "You are going to tell me that selling $50,000 cars don't help the economy?"
The Truth: If, under Bush's tax plan, small businesses buy 100,000 more Hummers, that's good for maybe a few dozen new jobs at the Hummer plant in Indiana. But 100,000 new jobs created from a targeted tax break is 100,000 jobs! The Bush tax cuts were misguided, and focused on the wrong priorities.

Plus the Challenger's FactCheck article is from 2003, and if you read the whole thing, you find this: "On the other hand, the most optimistic private economists see the economy gaining enough jobs between now and the end of Bush's term to leave him with a gain. Ten of the 51 surveyed predicted an average gain of 213,000 jobs per month over the next year." In fact, over that year since FactCheck's article, the economy has averaged less than 160,000 jobs a month--barely more than it takes to keep up with increases in the working age population, let alone make up for jobs lost at the begining of Bush's term. Again--it's not so much that Bush hasn't created jobs in this economy; it's that Bush sacrificed fiscal health of the nation in pursuit of tax cuts that did not result in the jobs he told us they would.

I would like to thank the Challenger for not engaging in Kerry-bashing, aside from the few paragraphs where she did. However, I am worried about her exclamation point usage, and, in the way the Republicans now controlling the legislative and executive are abutting the debt ceiling, I would strongly encourage some restraint for the second rebuttal lest she go over her quota. Just looking out for you, Rosemary!

Respectfully submitted,
Jay Bullock, Iron Blogger Democrat

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Battle Election 2004 - Challenger - First Rebuttal

Wow, I thought this was Battle Election 2004 not Battle Why Bush Sucks. I'm not too surprised most of Kerry's support comes from Bush bashers. That is a big difference in this election. Most of Bush supporters actually support Bush, most of Kerry's are voting for him because he's not Bush rather than because he's John Kerry. I can't say that I blame them, I mean, seriously who would vote FOR John Kerry. He's Gore without the charm, Dukakis with more height, and Ted Kennedy with a designated driver.

I don't have the time, nor do I think Iron Blog has the bandwidth, to answer Jay point by point on his Bush bash. I will address most of his relevant points, i.e. WOT stuff, briefly but after I dissect Kerry a little more. Picking on Kerry gives me a cheap thrill, so indulge a pregnant woman her few thrills in life, okay?

Kerry's "record":

My opponent wants to skip over Kerry's "heroic" 4 months in Vietnam. I don't blame him. When an officer bails out on his men after 4 months of battle, there isn't a lot to brag about. When that same officer comes home and trashes those same men with false testimony, there isn't a lot to brag about.

I'm glad he decided to talk about Kerry's 20 lackluster years in the Senate. He did 3 major things, according to Jay, in 20 years and you think he'll be more impressive as President? That isn't a record to be smitten with because it is woefully lacking. Just as a Kerry presidency would be...

Moving on to Kerry's plan. Woo hoo!

Kerry's Healthcare Plan:

Yawn. More government expansion, more government spending and he'll pay for all of it by raising taxes on the rich. Yada, yada, yada.
According to the non-partisan American Enterprise Institute
The Kerry Health Care Plan Would Now Cost $1.5 Trillion Over Ten Years. "Over the ten-year period between 2006 and 2015, the Kerry plan would increase federal outlays by about $1.5 trillion. That estimate nets out the savings that could be obtained from several provisions included in the plan."

Ouch. So who is gonna pay for that? Just the tax rollback on the rich? Yeah, right.


Kerry has some carrot alright. How is Kerry gonna pay for his great plan? Here is a quote using Jay's own link:
The Kerry-Edwards new bargain will invest $30 billion over 10 years in our teachers and children. The new bargain for teachers and children is a part of the Kerry-Edwards commitment to fully fund No Child Left Behind. It is paid for within his Education Trust Fund, a $200 billion commitment to education that is financed by repealing George Bush's tax cuts for families making more than $200,000.

The rich are gonna be poor at this rate...

He's also gonna fix the environment and cut the deficit in half! Impressed? Don't be. He ran out of money somewhere between healthcare and education and now the "rich" are all collecting welfare.

Jobs and the Economy:

My opponent thinks buying a Hummer is somehow a bad thing. Buying a Hummer is bad? It's a $50,000 car and I'm sure GM is really glad they sold one. You are going to tell me that selling $50,000 cars don't help the economy? Interesting, I always thought a booming economy had something to do with companies selling stuff and making money. Companies make money and the people that make the stuff keep their jobs. Interesting that Jay and Kerry don't think so. It's a good thing to know.

Tax cuts don't create jobs? I think that FactCheck.Org has a different take on that spin.
Economists are virtually unanimous in saying that the tax cuts that have taken effect so far have created jobs. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, for example, said in a recent speech: “Economic activity perked up in late spring and then accelerated further this summer as tax cuts provided a substantial boost to the disposable incomes of households.” And when the Blue Chip asked economists why they had failed to predict the size of 126,000-job gain in October, the reason they gave more than any other was underestimating that consumers would spend such a large proportion of “additional after-tax income resulting from tax cuts.”

Comparing the Bush economy to Hoover's Great Depression is just silly, and implying that tax cuts are not contributing to job growth deserves an "F" in Freshman economics.

My opponent then finishes up with the declaration that Kerry's plan adds up. Who added it up? John Kerry. Sorry if I don't trust his math when experts have already disputed that his healthcare plan doesn't add up.

The WOT:

Jay and Kerry et al. like to separate Iraq and the WOT but I won't because it's all the same war. That is part of my problem with Kerry, frankly. So, Jay thinks Kerry has a good plan to bring in NATO. Of course, he must have missed the fact that Bush already did that. There are only a handful of NATO nations that aren't in Iraq as part of the coalition. Of course, Kerry refers to those nations as "bribed and coerced". Perhaps, if he becomes president he can tell them that he thought they were bribed and coerced before he didn't...

His whole plan comes down to sucking up and making friends with France, Germany and Russia. Or as I like to call them Saddam's bitches or the true coalition of the coerced and bribed...

How can we trust anything Kerry says about Iraq anyway? I mean his flips nuances are so many. Here is a documentary about Kerry's many, er, positions. It takes a few minutes but it is worth watching.

Kerry complains that Bush didn't build a grand coalition like his father did. An odd complaint since Kerry voted AGAINST the first Iraq War.

My opponent says that Bush lost nukes in Iraq but his link didn't prove his assertion. Bad link, Jay. Try again.

How does persuing reproliferation undermine us on the WOT? You ponder that and I'll tell you what I think of Kerry's plan, as alluded to in debate number 1. I say alluded because he NEVER actually tells us his plan.

His plan for Iran: Kerry wants to give nuclear fuel to Iran to see if they would use it for peaceful purposes.


Why not just pass out grenades so we can shove them up our own asses? That would be quicker.

Kerry on nuclear proliferation.

He's gonna lead "the way" for North Korea, Iran, et al. How Kerry will end it?

By disarming US!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, that's the way. Lets show the nutcases of the world that we are serious by disarming ourselves first. Rather than seeing that as stupid and weak - they'll be inspired by our committment.

You want this guy to fight the WOT ? Perhaps he really thinks that fighting terrorism will be more effective with spitballs after all.

You certainly don't want someone who basically calls Bush a liar, pledges to never to lie to the American people and then proceeds to LIE in a national debate to be president.

Do you?

One more thing on Kerry and the WOT. Yes, it'll be snarky. I can't help it, I'm in a mood.

Kerry gave us a real gem this week:
Democratic presidential nominee and Vietnam War veteran John Kerry tried to burnish his national security credentials on Saturday by vowing to hunt down terrorists with the same energy he used to pursue the Viet Cong. ...

"With the same energy ... I put into going after the Viet Cong and trying to win for our country, I pledge to you I will hunt down and capture or kill the terrorists before they harm us," Kerry said. "And we will wage a war on terror that makes America proud and brings the world to our side."

Okay, if memory serves (...and I'm pretty sure my memory served longer than Kerry did in Vietnam)Kerry fought the Viet Cong for 4 months. Collected 3 purple hearts for some minor wounds and went home. That doesn't reassure me about his WOT committment.

Nope, I'll stick with Bush.

Okay, now on to the anti-Bush circle jerk Jay gave us in his opener. (Hey, you guys wanted snark, didn't you?)

Bush on Healthcare:

Shorter Jay - Bush sucks and we are in a pit of despair. Why didn't he fix it?

Answer: We got attacked and preventing everyone from dying at the hands of Islamofacists is a teeny bit more important than making sure we live in a socialist utopia.


Shorter Jay - Bush sucks and I know because I'm a teacher.

Answer: FactCheck to the rescue.
Actually, the budget for the Department of Education has grown 58% under Bush, and he's proposing another 5% increase next year, including sizeable increases in spending for children from low-income families and for special education for disabled children. ...Furthermore, Bush is seeking additional increases -- not cuts -- in "key education programs" next year. His budget calls for a 9.8% increase for programs for low-income children, to $15.2 billion, and a 5.9% increase in funding for special education, to $12.1 billion.

About Pell Grants: Jay is right that he didn't increase to the maximum and he broke that promise. But...
Department of Education figures show the number of Pell Grants awarded the year before Bush took office was 3.9 million. The number grew to 5.1 million for the most recent academic year -- an increase of 1.3 million, actually.

Spending for Pell Grants grew from just under $8 billion in the academic year that was underway when Bush took office to nearly $12.7 billion three years later, a jump of nearly 60%. That's some "cut."

Yeah, some cut alright.

In conclusion, I'd like to say vote for Bush because he has a higher IQ than Kerry.

You certainly don't want someone dumber than Bush winning, do you?

Submitted by: Rosemary, The Queen of All Evil

Monday, October 25, 2004

Battle Election 2004 - Iron Blogger Democrat - Opening Statement

This Iron Blog Battle is the most important Iron Blog Battle of my lifetime!

Okay, that's a little over the top, as most things this election season have been. But I do believe--in fact, said once on national television--that this election actually is the most important of my short life (I was born a few weeks after Nixon resigned). Why? Well, we're at a turning point. The world of today is vastly different from the world of Nixon's time, or a decade ago, or even five years ago. We've reached a crux in history where, as the world's sole superpower, the U.S. will set a course to be followed for decades to come. This election will decide who gets to chart that course, who gets to steer the ship of state, who gets to drive the station wagon we call the United States. And in this election year, we have a clear choice.

It will come as no surprise to anyone here that I, your Iron Blogger Democrat, believe that the best choice is to elect John Forbes Kerry as the 44th President of the United States.

On my own blog, I have not been kind to Bush. (For that matter, I haven't always been kind to Kerry.) This week, though, I will not concentrate on the personal, those things that give me a visceral reaction, make me swear at the radio or throw things at the TV. Instead, I will focus on three things: Bush's dismal record, Kerry's experience, and Kerry's plan (he has one--I don't know if you've heard). I apologize in advance for length, and for the fact that some links require registation.

The Bush Record
In January, 2001, the satirical newspaper The Onion published an article spoofing George W. Bush's impending inaugural speech. "Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Over' " read the fake headline. Now, at that time, I was upset at the way things had turned out, you know, with the whole Florida mess. But I was willing to give the clumsy New Englander-turned-Texan a chance. After all, his platform was not terribly reactionary, and I really liked Colin Powell. But it did not take long before all of the things lampooned in the Onion piece started coming true. It was so deadly accurate, in fact, that some enterprising soul re-printed the thing with links to news articles detailing exactly how Bush has ruined everything, or nearly so. Am I willing to give him a second chance? Should anyone?

Let's look in-depth at five specific important areas, and see what the Bush record really reveals: health care, education, Iraq and the War on Terror, the environment, and jobs and the economy.

Health Care
When George W. Bush took office, there was a health care crisis. Today, four years later, we still have a health care crisis. In fact, it's worse. Since Bush took office, 5.2 million Americans have lost health insurance, meaning we have about 45 million uninsured people in this country. Now, it's not necessarily the president's job to give everyone insurance, but when Bush promised four years ago to "reverse this trend [of insurance loss] by making health insurance affordable for hard-working, low-income families," then we might expect the trend to be, you know, reversed. Instead, it sucks:
In the past four years, Americans have spent an ever-growing portion of their paychecks on health care and for the most part gotten less for their money, forcing millions into the ranks of the uninsured or personal bankruptcy, according to government figures and several independent assessments.

Nationwide, workers' costs for health insurance have risen by 36 percent since 2000, dwarfing the average 12.4 percent increase in earnings since President Bush took office, the liberal consumer group Families USA reports in an analysis scheduled for release today. The number of Americans spending more than a quarter of their income on medical costs climbed from 11.6 million in 2000 to 14.3 million this year, according to the group.

The news comes as many companies are dropping medical coverage entirely or trimming their benefit packages, while taxpayers are subsidizing millions of people below the poverty line who have enrolled in the state-run Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program, a separate survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found. Hardest hit have been low-income working families, Hispanics and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma or depression.

"The cost of family health insurance is rapidly approaching the gross earnings of a full-time minimum-wage worker," said Drew Altman, president and chief executive of the nonprofit foundation, which compiled the data. "If these trends continue, workers and employers will find it increasingly difficult to pay for family health coverage, and every year the share of Americans who have employer-sponsored health coverage will fall."
This is probably not the first time I will ask this question over the next week: Why, after four years of controlling the executive and the House (not to mention the Senate for two and a half of those years) has there been nothing done? I mean, Bush apparently has a plan, to cite a key phrase from his opponent. Where's the "reformer with results" we were promised four years ago? I do not have the space here to deconstruct that "plan," but suffice it to say that it "seems to fall short."

Beyond the insurance issue, we find that Bush has sided with insurers against patients before the Supreme Court, stopped promising stem-cell research, and lied to congress about the cost of the Medicare bill (a bill which, by the way, lets drug companies jack up prices once seniors are locked into a program). I could go on.

From the way Bush talks about it, his education policy must be his greatest hit. After all, in the third debate this year, "No Child Left Behind" was his answer to off-shoring, unemployment, poverty, and cancer. Well, maybe not cancer. I've written about NCLB often in other places. But I'm not the only one complaining about it.

The components of NCLB written by Republicans, notably John "so what if no one's heard of me" Boehner of Ohio, and as opposed to those written by Democrats, including Ted "I am more liberal than Kerry!" Kennedy, were largely based on the "Texas Miracle." One of the major architects of that "miracle" was Rod "the NEA are terrorists" Paige, who went to Washington with Bush to be his education secretary. The problem is, the whole danged "miracle" was just a lie; it didn't really happen:

What's the point? Both RAND reports agree with all the other independent data that

  • [Texas standardized test] scores are untrustworthy
  • In education, which Bush says is the #1 priority in America today, Texas hasn't made any progress relative to the rest of the country (academic proficiency as measured by trusted exams SAT, ACT, NAEP scores) and declined in others (such as the achievement gap, Texas' own TASP scores, etc)
  • Bush continues to avoid confronting the truth about Texas education progress and continues to promote misleading or untrue statistics on his web site not on some small issue, but on what he considers the most important issue of the campaign
  • A lack of results and a lack of integrity.
Now all of America is expected to do what Texas really didn't. I'm not saying some states *cough*Wisconsin*cough* can't do better than Texas. Besides being underfunded, NCLB is widely viewed now as a bill that's just plain flawed, using, as one educator put it, "unsound methods" for testing student achievement. More and more states are complaining about the cumbersome requirements of the law, and earlier this year, the administration was forced into a "softening" of the bill to deal with "mounting opposition from states, school districts, and from Bush's own party." Bush's signature issue is nothing to hang his $1000 cowboy hat on.

And what's with Bush's bragging about Pell grants? Because, you know, he broke his campaign pledge to increase the size of Pell grants. He also froze funding for after school programs (.pdf link), potentially eliminating 50,000 children from after-school programs, not to mention cutting training funds for 30,000 teachers required by his own NCLB bill!

Iraq and the War on Terror
I don't want to rehash too much of the ground I covered in my last Battle, so I'll just hit the highlights:

  • Bush ignored the recommendations of his commanders, such as Eric Shinseki, Anthony Zinni, and Thomas White, that we would need more troops in Iraq than he was politically willing to commit.
  • Bush ignored pre-war intelligence warning of an insurgency.
  • Bush went without a plan for peace; it was literally "to be provided."
  • As a result of these blunders, Iraq has become a mess, and the explosives even now killing Iraqi and coalition forces were left unsecured and stolen.
  • $120 billion of your tax dollars--and likely billions more--have been diverted from fighting actual terrorists to a war that even George "slam dunk" Tenet agrees was wrong

After all of that, are we safer? Let me just say that it seems to be "up in the air." Bush let the guy who attacked us get away to start preparing for the war in Iraq. Nineteen out of the 22 most wanted terrorists identified after 9/11 are still on the lam. Bush covered up Saudi involvement in 9/11, and even let the Saudis know we were attacking Iraq before he told Colin Powell (so says Woodward's book). This is not a record to run on, which is why, I believe, Bush plays on fear that Kerry might make us less safe, when really it's Bush's strategy that's producing "diminishing returns."

In this election season, this single most important issue no one is talking about is the environment. In that spirit, I'll be brief here, too. I kind of think I could sum it up with today's L.A. Times headline: "Recasting Wilderness as Open for Business: A Bush administration policy reversal ends decades of shielding the nation's untamed areas."

But the list goes on. Bush
Jobs and the Economy
You know a Republican, tax-cutting, supply-side president is in trouble when even even the rich are losing confidence in the economy!

The micro-economy sucks. Maybe we're doing better in the macro, but on a personal basis, there's a whole litany of problems:
I've heard the arguments that there's not too much that a president can actually do to affect the economy, and I'm even willing to give him the benefit of the doubt after the bursting of the tech bubble and the attacks of September 11. But in the three years since, his economic policies have really been a disaster. Specifically, the tax cuts of 18 months ago, known as the "Jobs and Growth Plan," have been an utter failure. At the time, Bush promised us 5.5 million jobs by the end of this year. Well, we're about 3 million jobs short. Face it: this economy simply isn't creating jobs at the pace it should be in a normal recession.

Worse, the Bush team bases its economic projections on their over-inflated job protections; it's no wonder we're seeing record budget deficits!

Kerry's Experience
I've already eaten up my 2000 word "soft cap," so this section may get short shrift. In fact, I'll skip over Kerry's heroic Vietnam service, his career as a mob-busting prosecutor, and his time as an acid-rain smiting lieutenant governor, and just jump straight to his two decades in the senate.

Now, my friends on the right may be scratching their heads in wonder at the very thought that I would bring up John Kerry's record in the Senate. As David Mayhew says, "[T]here are three ways for a member of Congress to distinguish himself: as a legislator, as a leader of the public discourse--think Sunday talk regulars like Jesse Helms or Joseph Biden--or as an investigator." Kerry, as you might guess from his prosecuting background, is an investigator.

And he's a good one: Kerry was responsible for bringing down BCCI and exposing the Nicuraguan Contra cocaine scandal in the 1980s, and worked with John McCain to "more than just debunk the myth of living POWs; they opened the door to normalizing relations with Vietnam" in the 1990s. In short, while his name may not be on a lot of fancy legislation, John Kerry's time in the Senate was anything but empty.

Kerry's Plan
There are five specific areas I want to mention wherein I think a John Kerry presidency will surpass what we have seen from Bush and his Republican-controlled Congress: health care, education, Iraq and the War on Terror, the environment, and jobs and the economy (sound familiar? It's only fair to compare apples to apples).

Health Care
Kerry has three key elements to his health care plan, among other components. All three are important and would work to ease the problems of health care access in this country.

If you believe that frivolous malpractice suits are a cause of high health care costs (even though tort reform efforts to date don't succeed in lowering premiums), then it seems like the obvious answer is to discourage frivolous lawsuits. Bush wants to cap the damages on all lawsuits, frivolous or not, which does little to stop the frivolous ones and only hurts those whose lives have already been thrown into turmoil. Right now, medical malpractice is responsible for a quarter million deaths every year. Those families deserve recourse. The Kerry plan, aside from making it more difficult for insurance companies to engage in collusion, requires that lawsuits be certified before they proceed, and puts the onus on unethical attorneys trying to sneak in cases that are truly frivolous to pay court costs incurred in defending against them.

Plus, Kerry's plan to pool catastrophic claims will also save you and me and our bosses on premiums; Kerry's plan to open Congress's insurance plans to everyone to buy into will also ease premiums.

Education is something I know a little bit about. No Child Left Behind, from where I sit in my classroom, is all stick. The Kerry plan has some carrot. We all know, and study after study shows, teacher quality is the most important factor in student achievement. Unlike Bush, who cut teacher training funds at the same time he made "highly qualified teachers" mandatory in the classroom, Kerry's plan actually has positive steps for attracting and retaining quality teachers in the public schools. Kerry's also committed to fully funding NCLB.

Iraq and the War on Terror
I must be honest here: I have almost as little faith in Kerry's ability to extricate us safely from Iraq as I do in Bush. That's primarily because the hole is so deep now. But Kerry does have good ideas, toward internationalizing the occupation, notably by bringing in NATO and such.

What I am more hopeful about, though, is Kerry's instincts and prospects for prosecuting--and I don't use that word lightly--the war on terror. We know that Bush and the Republicans have wasted time they should have spent securing Russia nuclear material; Bush lost Iraq's nukes, too. Plus, Bush is pursuing a policy of reproliferation that seriously threatens our credibility when it comes to WMDs. Kerry wants to change all that. Plus, Kerry's plan to go after the terrorists, rather than chase moustachioed geese around Iraq.

This is Kerry's milieu. While Dick Cheney's repetition of that old National Journal canard doesn't make it true, it is true that Kerry actually has had a 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters, and a Senate record deserving of the honor. Kerry's environmental plan starts with undoing the damage Bush has done to air, water, and forest regulations. After that, there's more, from adding environmental protections to trade treaties to his 20% by 2020 alternative energy plan.

Jobs and the Economy
What Bush doesn't seem to understand about tax cuts is that by themselves they don't create jobs. If your tax cuts lets small businesses write off a Hummer, then the small business buys a Hummer. John Kerry believes that if you give a small business a tax credit for creating a job, the small business will create jobs. Simple, isn't it?

Kerry doesn't just want to help small businesses; he's also out to help those of us in the shrinking middle class (described here by Vermont Socialist Bernie Sanders). He'll do it byincreasing the child tax credit, tuition credit, and more.

And yes, Kerry's plans add up:
I’ve made this pledge: We’ve got to be fiscally responsible, we’ve got to cut the deficit.

I am going to put pay-as-you-go back in place, folks; that’s the beginning rule. That said, my health care plan is entirely paid for, and my funding of education, special needs and No Child Left Behind is paid for. And my manufacturing tax credit (and) my college credit are paid for.

And I show where they come from. I get over $860 billion from the roll-back of the tax over the $200,000.

John McCain and I identified about $60 billion (from) our commission on corporate welfare that we think is just pork and lobbyist-driven throw-away. I’m going to close the loopholes.

If George Bush had just not given the top 1% (income bracket) what they got, we’d have saved Social Security until the year 2075. That’s the difference.

A Brief Conclusion
I'm sorry I'm light on the snark tonight. I'm sure that when I scroll down to the Challenger's post, I'll get my RDA of snark. Beyond that, I believe that the number of undecideds dropping by Blogger Stadium this week will be small, almost nil. If you are undecided, I hope to sway you. I don't expect to change the minds of Bush voters, though you are welcome to flip-flop if you wish. At any rate, I do hope that you all keep your minds open and the comments civil. Most of all, enjoy the fireworks.

Respectfully submitted,
Jay Bullock, Iron Blogger Democrat

Blitz Battle Winners
Chris in NH (BB #2)
Big Dan (BB #6)
Former Challengers
Jimmie Bisse Jr. of The Sundries Shack
Chris of World Inquiry
Dean Esmay of Dean's World
Big Dan of God In The Machine
Owen of Boots and Sabers
Frank LoPinto of Cool Blue Blog
Bryan S of Arguing With Signposts
Ralph Stefan of Ralph's Garage
Former Iron Bloggers
Rosemary Esmay (2-1)

The Agitator
American RealPolitik
Asymmetrical Information
Tim Blair
John Cole
The Common Virtue
Crow Blog
The Daily Blitz
Ben Domenech
Dan Drezner
Gerbera Tetra
Hugh Hewitt
Sebastian Holsclaw
Kaus Files
The Moderate Voice
Queen of All Evil
Right Wing News
John Scalzi
Donald Sensing
Matt Stinson
Sgt. Stryker
Andrew Sullivan
Transterrestrial Musings
USS Clueless
Matt Welch
Winds of Change


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