Pew Research Center: The 2004 Election Is Going To Be Ugly

Political Aims > Overview: The 2004 Political Landscape


Over the past four years, the American electorate has been dealt a series of body blows, each capable of altering the political landscape. The voting system broke down in a presidential election. A booming economy faltered, punctuated by revelations of one of the worst business scandals in U.S. history. And the country endured a devastating attack on its own soil, followed by two major wars.

National unity was the initial response to the calamitous events of Sept. 11, 2001, but that spirit has dissolved amid rising political polarization and anger. In fact, a year before the presidential election, American voters are once again seeing things largely through a partisan prism. The GOP has made significant gains in party affiliation over the past four years, but this remains a country that is almost evenly divided politically – yet further apart than ever in its political values.
I'm still looking at this report, but there's a heaping helping of good information in it. This information will make or break an election. You'd do well to download the PDF.

America's Deficits: Cleaning Up Bush's Mess

Bartcop >

No Public Funding for Dean

Well, that was a good idea while it lasted. If Dean can't see his way to fulfilling this pledge of his, it really means that campaign finance reform is dead in the water. Money makes the world go round...

Dr. Dean, who has raised $25 million to become the best-financed Democrat in the race, will rely on private contributors to fuel his campaign in the primaries, turning away almost $19 million in taxpayer financing and avoiding the spending limit of about $45 million that comes with it.

The move is an effort to outspend Democratic rivals and to compete next year with President Bush, who declined matching money and aims to raise at least $170 million despite facing no Republican challenger. It increases the likelihood that other Democrats now considering a departure from the system, such as Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and General Wesley K. Clark, may take the same approach.
The added emphasis is the heart of the matter. Bush will unleash his primary money on the Democratic candidate as soon as it's clear who it is, as soon as the rivals stop spending money to attack the Dem candidate. Bush will then pick up a cool 75 million from the taxpayers after the Republican convention to run in the "real" election.

That's the real reason the Republicans agreed to push their convention to the first week in September. That gives Bush 75 million to spend in two months. God, politics is crass...

Meme of the Week: Jessica Lynch

West Virginia soldier missing in Iraq

PALESTINE, West Virginia (AP) --A West Virginia woman who joined the Army because there were few jobs in her hometown is among a dozen soldiers reported missing after a supply convoy was ambushed in southern Iraq, her father said Monday.

Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, of Palestine, worked as a supply clerk with the Army's 507th Maintenance Co., said her father, Greg Lynch. "The only thing they can tell us is she's missing," Lynch said.

..."We have so many Jesses over there right now," [Jessica's cousin] said. "You turn on the TV and it just breaks your heart. There are a lot of families in West Virginia that have a Jesse, too, and they're going to be feeling for the Lynch family."
POW Jessica Lynch Rescued by U.S. Forces in Iraq
WASHINGTON --” American troops on Tuesday rescued Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who had been held as a prisoner of war in Iraq since she and other members of her unit were ambushed March 23, the Defense Department announced.
Rescued POW put up fierce fight (archived from MS-NBC)
Details emerge of W.Va. soldier's capture and rescue
By Susan Schmidt and Vernon Loeb for the Washington Post

Jessica Lynch, rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital, fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, U.S. officials said yesterday.

LYNCH, A 19-YEAR-OLD supply clerk, continued firing at the Iraqis even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds and watched several other soldiers in her unit die around her in fighting March 23, one official said.
Saving Private Jessica (TIME - must pay to see article)

The truth about Jessica
Jessica Lynch became an icon of the war. An all-American heroine, the story of her capture by the Iraqis and her rescue by US special forces became one of the great patriotic moments of the conflict. It couldn't have happened at a more crucial moment, when the talk was of coalition forces bogged down, of a victory too slow in coming.

Her rescue will go down as one of the most stunning pieces of news management yet conceived. It provides a remarkable insight into the real influence of Hollywood producers on the Pentagon's media managers, and has produced a template from which America hopes to present its future wars.

...Wren yesterday described the Lynch incident as "hugely overblown" and symptomatic of a bigger problem. "The Americans never got out there and explained what was going on in the war," he said. "All they needed to be was open and honest. They were too vague, too scared of engaging with the media." He said US journalists "did not put them under pressure".

Wren, who had been seconded to the Ministry of Defence, said he tried on several occasions to persuade Wilkinson and Brooks to change tack. In London, Campbell did the same with the White House, to no avail. "The American media didn't put them under pressure so they were allowed to get away with it," Wren said. "They didn't feel they needed to change."
Saving Private Lynch story flawed
The American strategy was to ensure the right television footage by using embedded reporters and images from their own cameras, editing the film themselves.

The Pentagon had been influenced by Hollywood producers of reality TV and action movies, notably the man behind Black Hawk Down, Jerry Bruckheimer.

Bruckheimer advised the Pentagon on the primetime television series "Profiles from the Front Line", that followed US forces in Afghanistan in 2001. That approached was taken on and developed on the field of battle in Iraq.

As for Private Lynch, her status as cult hero is stronger than ever. Internet auction sites list Jessica Lynch items, from an oil painting with an opening bid of $200 to a $5 "America Loves Jessica Lynch" fridge magnet.
Saving Private Jessica (Kristof, CNN, June 20, 2003)
The hospital staff also said that on the night of March 27, military officials prepared to kill Ms. Lynch by putting her in an ambulance and blowing it up with its occupants, blaming the atrocity on the Americans. The ambulance drivers balked at that idea. Eventually, the plan was changed so that a military officer would shoot Ms. Lynch and burn the ambulance. So Sabah Khazal, an ambulance driver, loaded her in the vehicle and drove off with a military officer assigned to execute her.

"I asked him not to shoot Jessica," Mr. Khazal said, "and he was afraid of God and didn't kill her." Instead, the executioner ran away and deserted the army, and Mr. Khazal said that he then thought about delivering Ms. Lynch to an American checkpoint. But there were firefights on the streets, so he returned to the hospital. (Ms. Lynch apparently never knew how close she had come to execution.)

By the morning of March 31, all of the Iraqi military at the hospital had fled. The hospital staff members said that they then told Ms. Lynch they would take her to the Americans the next day. That same night, the American special forces arrived.
MemeFirst: Saving Private Jessica
The tale of woe I read is not that the Pentagon tries to manipulate popular opinion through propaganda and selective truths. The problem is that American television media has lost the plot. Afraid of anything that costs ratings (and therefore advertising dollars) it no longer serves as an objective, skeptical source of information, but as infotainment. The impact this has on a democracy is increasingly obvious, as ignorance and my-country-right-or-wrong attitudes spread, allowing the Bush administration to tread without fearing a hard question or rebuke.
BBC correspondent defends Lynch documentary
HARRIS: What I'm very interested in is a couple of things that were in your report. You got a quote here from some of the doctors that were there at the hospital. I'm going to read the transcript of it. "It says like a film in Hollywood, they cried go, go, go. They shot with guns, and blanks with bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions, and break the door. We were very scared." Are you saying that you believe [the] Iraqi doctor's assessment that the U.S. troops there were using blanks?

KAMPFNER: Well, that is his contention. What we did, what I did when I went to the Pentagon and spoke to its No. 2 there, Brian Whitman, we said, OK, we have one story, two different versions. Let's cross-check the information that the Iraqi doctors have given against the official U.S. version.

For example, what kind of injuries did Lynch sustain in the hospital? Was it true that she received bullet and stab wounds as a result of the Iraqis? He said, well, the truth will come out at some point in the future. In other words, he didn't engage in that.

Second question was, did the Americans come under fire from the Iraqis during the rescue mission? Again, that's the kind of holding answer we got from him.

The main point we said to them was, OK, there are two versions. There are several different allegations, several different interpretations of this story.

Instead of all of us relying on your five-minute, very professional, very carefully edited film, which was immediately transmitted from Central Command to the world's broadcasters, why don't you give everybody what's known in the profession as "the rushes"? Give everybody all the unedited film, the real-time film, as shot by the U.S. military cameraman who was with the rescue mission, and that will put everybody out of all questions of doubt. They declined to do that.
A Broken Body, a Broken Story, Pieced Together
In the hours after the ambush, Arabic-speaking interpreters at the National Security Agency, reviewing intercepted Iraqi communications from either hand-held radios or cellular phones, heard references to "an American female soldier with blond hair who was very brave and fought against them," according to a senior military officer who read the top-secret intelligence report when it came in. An intelligence source cited reports from Iraqis at the scene, saying she had fired all her ammunition.

Over the next hours and days, commanders at Central Command, which was running the war from Doha, Qatar, and CIA officers with them at headquarters were bombarded with military "sit reps" and agency Field Information Reports about the ambush, according to intelligence and military sources. The Iraqi reports included information about a female soldier. One said she died in battle. Some said she was wounded by shrapnel. Some said she had been shot in the arm and leg, and stabbed.

These reports were distributed only to generals, intelligence officers and policymakers in Washington who are cleared to read the most sensitive information the U.S. government possesses.

These intelligence reports, and the one bit of eavesdropping, created the story of the war. - a web community of Jessica's wellwishers

Jessica Lynch Criticizes U.S. Accounts of Her Ordeal
In her first public statements since her rescue in Iraq, Jessica Lynch criticized the military for exaggerating accounts of her rescue and re-casting her ordeal as a patriotic fable.

Asked by the ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer if the military's portrayal of the rescue bothered her, Ms. Lynch said: "Yeah, it does. It does that they used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. Yeah, it's wrong," according to a partial transcript of the interview to be broadcast on Tuesday.

...Asked how she felt about the reports of her heroism, Ms. Lynch told Ms. Sawyer, "It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about. Only I would have been able to know that, because the other four people on my vehicle aren't here to tell the story. So I would have been the only one able to say, yeah, I went down shooting. But I didn't."

And asked about reports that the military exaggerated the danger of the rescue mission, Ms. Lynch said, "Yeah, I don't think it happened quite like that," although she added that in that context anybody would have approached the hospital well-armed. She continued: "I don't know why they filmed it, or why they say the things they, you know, all I know was that I was in that hospital hurting. I needed help."

New Website:

Very nice looking site, with the stated goal of registering a million new Democratic voters for the 2004 election. That's worth members get their own journal, and it looks like they can organize into groups.

Media Whores Online Gone Until 2004!

Out To Pasture

Ahem. This sucks. Yes, I know that 2004 is only two months away, but I doubt that we'll see a new post there January 2nd. All that whoring and no one focusing on it...

Congrats to Keith Knight for 10 Years of K Chronicles!

Keith Knight Rules!

Excellent Discussion on the Separation of Church and State

It's a Free Country, Not a Christian Nation

Romans 3:21-26

I've done a lot of blogging on what I see the text saying, and not a lot of reacting to the text. Here's the blog where that changes.

So far Paul has tapped into a phenomenon as common as death or taxes: the human confrontation with our own lousiness. We must all deal with the regrets and failures of the life we've led so far. And what are the big failures always about?

  • Our knowledge of condemning others for things we do ourselves.
  • Setting up a standard that we constantly fail to achieve.
  • Continuing to do things that we recognize as harmful to ourselves and others.
All of these are the essence of the sinful state of being. It doesn't matter what your background is - we've all fallen short of the glory of the Creator God.

And the knowledge of our impending deaths is the inertia that keeps us bound into this harmful pattern. We lash out at times in judgment of others, we punish ourselves by trying for an impossible goal, or we lapse into indifference because there is no escape from death. Innocence is no shelter, and neither is experience. The knowledge of death disables us in the struggle against our weaknesses.

However, the sinful life doesn't lead any more inexorably to death than the righteous one. There is no causal link between sin and death. Mentally we may see one, and in times of extreme pain caused by another, we may demand one - we may even wish death on ourselves to end the pain of our percieved sinfulness. But the sinners die and live just as the saints do: time and chance holds sway over us all.

Shall we continue in our lousiness because it doesn't really matter in the end? Well, suit yourself. If being in the grip of lousiness is what makes you happy, how can we argue against it? But there's got to be a better way to face up to death. What good is beating up yourself and others all your short life? Wouldn't it be better to be free of that constant voice of criticism and judgment?

Paul gives us his solution: the faithfulness of Jesus provides a path for freedom from the debased mind. Now you can see what 1:16's through faith for faith means: God's revealed righteousness is provided through Jesus' faithfulness and is for those who are faithful (3:22). This is the engine of Paul's gospel: Jesus was faithful unto death for us, providing a place of safety marked by the blood of his sacrificed life. By taking up that faithfulness, we enter that place of safety from God's wrath. Trusting in this safety, death's inertial power is lifted and the Christian uses that burst of energy to transform this life into a life of peace and righteousness and joy.

Well, that's the idea, anyway. It's imperfectly applied at times. You could lighten up on yourself and make realistic goals while letting people be who they are. But that doesn't get Paul to Spain, does it?