Presidential debate, part IV

Interesting staking out of positions while position to the extreme facets. The president’s slipping in the World Criminal Court was telling, as was Kerry’s mention of the Kyoto Protocol.

Hmm. Good clarification from Lehrer. Bilateral vs. multilateral. Interesting clarification leaving Kerry looking slightly foolish, with Bush’s correction about “enriched uranium” vs. “plutonium.”

And here is the real point, on the Sudan: we’re overextended, straining the National Guard, holding people in who want to leave. But both candidates want to answer questions on Iran rather than the Sudan.

I think Kerry was a little overconfident, slipping “Mission Accomplished” into his reply on Korea and Russia. His closing is OK—not a barnraiser, but it is after all a debate moderated by Jim Lehrer. Bush: same talking points.

Post-debate spin: Giuliani gets checked by Tom Brokaw on the assertion of the leader of Pakistan that the war made things worse by America, not better, but calls Bush’s stalling on the same two talking points a “strength.”

Presidential debate, part III

The sum of the President’s point right now appears to be, “Don’t change horses in mid-stream. We won’t succeed if we send mixed signals to the world.”

Hmm. A free Iraq and a free Afghanistan will send a powerful signal. Hard to get to that signal if we are losing ground there daily.

Did Bush’s prep people give him any points other than “Wrong war, wrong time” and “grand diversion”?

The enemy attacked us, and I’m committing troops…in Iraq. Where the enemy wasn’t. Oh, and let’s slip “mixed messages” into our reply.

Good of Kerry to pounce on Bush’s slip there.

Presidential debate, part II

Homeland security. I think this could be the hidden strength of Kerry. This is the untold story of the Bush presidency—the strong emphasis on homeland security while adding no funding. Bush: “How are you going to pay for all those promises?” Hmm. Perhaps by not slashing taxes on the rich and the corporations. Bush sounds like an imbecile by comparison to the senator.

—What the hell? “We’ll never succeed until the Iraqis take responsibility for protecting themselves.” Is that a cover signal to the gun lobby—here’s a new market? A free Iraq is essential for the security of this country. True, now.

Interlude: New York Times is also live-blogging.

Kerry let Bush get away with the $87 billion again. Probably again wise to not try to explain the fine points of how Congress works in a 30 second rebuttal.

First debate impressions

Watching on NBC, who are getting around the “no cutaway” rule by doing splitscreen reaction shots of the candidates. Meaning that Bush shared the screen with Kerry the whole time that Kerry was speaking, while Bush had the screen to himself during the response. But it looks like they’re keeping it fair by doing split screens for the initial respondent to each question.

Second question, about the reprehensible comments of Cheney about the safety of the country should Kerry be elected. Bush ducks by saying that’s not going to happen and refuses to answer the question, which Lehrer lets him do. But Kerry zings him on the rebuttal about the diversion in Iraq—then bobbles it with his military referrals—then makes an allegation about outsourcing the fight for Bin Laden.

Third question. Anyone else notice how Bush is a frowner, not a smirker, when he’s waiting to respond? Was Saddam ten times more important than Bin Laden? Rebuttal: flip-flop allegation.

Interjection: DNC fact checkers fact checking the RNC fact checkers, here.

Hmm, in the fourth question, Bush said, “Saddam Hussein,” then mumbled and corrected himself, “Osama Bin Laden.”

Bush’s response? “Flip flop.” Kerry, wisely, isn’t trying to explain the nuances of his decisions, which I don’t think are flip flops; he’s driving on the fact that this was a mistaken decision by the president.

Autumn in Arlington

scudding clouds above our house

I took the bus for the first time yesterday, going toward Kendall Square (via a change to the T at Harvard Square) to meet Lisa after work. She and I went to John Harvard’s for a quick burger and beer and to pick up a couple growlers of her favorite Pale Ale.

On the way I shot a couple photos of the water tower at Park Circle, just a block or so from our house, taking advantage of the first clear skies in a few days. This morning I shot some more photos, including my first Lensday entry. I don’t plan to make this a regular occurrence, but thought it would be fun.

Anyway, autumn: not crisp yet (still too soggy from the last few storms), and not too many turning trees, but beautiful anyway.

And in the “it’s about time” department…

A federal judge has ruled that key parts of the PATRIOT Act, those provisions which grant extended surveillance powers to the FBI and impose gag orders on those who receive subpoenas to turn over records, are unconstitutional. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

I’d just like to pause for a second, as tonight’s first Presidential debate looms, and place my own bet on the least likely question to be asked George Bush: “Can you reconcile recent court rulings declaring major parts of the PATRIOT Act unconstitutional, as well as recent court challenges to the holding of uncharged ‘enemy combatants,’ with your oath to protect and defend the Constitution? If not, why should we vote for you for a second term? Shouldn’t we be prosecuting you instead?


It’s good to see that, after back to back hurricanes have dumped more water on Virginia than during almost any season in memory, the Bush Administration has decided to prevent ten environmental disasters waiting to happen by scrapping ten of the “Ghost Fleet” ships in the James River. In an article about the disposal contracts for the last four ships, the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote four paragraphs that had a chilling edge for this former Hampton Roads resident:

… the National Defense Reserve Fleet, which holds ships designated as being useful for defense. When the ships deteriorate, they are made available for disposal.

There are 60 such “non-retention” vessels in the Ghost Fleet.

The ships contain oil, asbestos, lead and other toxic chemicals and have been an environmental concern in Virginia for years.

A report prepared for the Maritime Administration in 2001 offered a worst-case scenario in which two ships from the Ghost Fleet break apart in a storm, spilling oil and polluting a 50-mile stretch of shoreline that includes historic Jamestown Island and various nature sanctuaries.

Having grown up seeing the Ghost Fleet anchored just a mile away from my friends’ houses and motoring or rowing past the old ships, hearing adults talk about the ships being ready to be called back into service, and looking up at the rusting hulks and wondering, it’s interesting to get the truth.