The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Thursday, September 30, 2004

BUSH VOTERS DON'T KNOW JACK... -- about their own candidate. Thats's right, a new study from the Center on Policy Attitudes (COPA) and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland found that people who vote for Bush are largely ignorant of his policies. People who intend to vote for Mr Kerry actually know what they're talking about and what they're voting for.
As the nation prepares to watch the presidential candidates debate foreign policy issues, a new PIPA-Knowledge Networks poll finds that Americans who plan to vote for President Bush have many incorrect assumptions about his foreign policy positions. Kerry supporters, on the other hand, are largely accurate in their assessments. The uncommitted also tend to misperceive Bush’s positions, though to a smaller extent than Bush supporters, and to perceive Kerry’s positions correctly. Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments: “What is striking is that even after nearly four years President Bush’s foreign policy positions are so widely misread, while Senator Kerry, who is relatively new to the public and reputed to be unclear about his positions, is read correctly.”

Majorities of Bush supporters incorrectly assumed that Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (84%), and the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the International Criminal Court (66%), the treaty banning land mines (72%), and the Kyoto Treaty on global warming (51%). They were divided between those who knew that Bush favors building a new missile defense system now (44%) and those who incorrectly believe he wishes to do more research until its capabilities are proven (41%). However, majorities were correct that Bush favors increased defense spending (57%) and wants the US, not the UN, to take the stronger role in developing Iraq’s new government (70%).

Kerry supporters were much more accurate in assessing their candidate’s positions on all these issues. Majorities knew that Kerry favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (90%); the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (77%); the International Criminal Court (59%); the land mines treaty (79%); and the Kyoto Treaty on climate change (74%). They also knew that he favors continuing research on missile defense without deploying a system now (68%), and wants the UN, not the US, to take the stronger role in developing Iraq’s new government (80%). A plurality of 43% was correct that Kerry favors keeping defense spending the same, with 35% assuming he wants to cut it and 18% to expand it.

Many of the uncommitted (those who say they are not very sure which candidate they will vote for) also misread Bush’s position on most issues, though in most cases this was a plurality, not a majority. The uncommitted incorrectly believed that Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (69%), the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (51%), the International Criminal Court (47% to 31%), the land mines treaty (50%), and the Kyoto treaty on global warming (45% to 37%). Only 35% knew that Bush favors building a new missile defense system now, while 36% incorrectly believed he wishes to do more research until its capabilities are proven, and 22% did not give an answer. Only 41% knew that Bush favors increased defense spending, while 49% incorrectly assumed he wants to keep it the same (29%) or cut it (20%). A plurality of 46% was correct that Bush wants the US, rather than the UN, to take the stronger role in developing Iraq’s new government (37% assumed the UN).
This is the same outfit which did a study finding that people who watch Fox News and CBS News are more likely to believe that WMD was found in Iraq and that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the 9/11/01 attacks. The U.S. media ought to find that study and this new one absolutely humiliating.

Monday, September 27, 2004

LENO OUT, O'BRIAN IN -- But not until 2009. Yep, it's about to be official: Jay Leno will leave "The Tonight Show" in 2009 and be replaced has host by Conan O'Brian, current host of NBC's "Late Night." I'd say that's an improvement.

BUSH LYING ABOUT IRAQ??? -- Sacre bleu! Say it isn't so, Joe! And yet, apparently it is so.
Bush used the visit last week by interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to make the case that "steady progress" is being made in Iraq to counter warnings by his Democratic presidential rival, Sen. John Kerry, that the situation in reality is deteriorating.

Bush touted preparations for national elections in January, saying Iraq's electoral commission is up and running and told Americans on Saturday that "United Nations electoral advisers are on the ground in Iraq."

He said nearly 100,000 "fully trained and equipped" Iraqi soldiers, police officers and other security personnel are already at work, and that would rise to 125,000 by the end of this year.

And he promised more than $9 billion will be spent on reconstruction contracts in Iraq over the next several months.

But many of these assertions have met with skepticism from key lawmakers, congressional aides and experts, and Pentagon documents, given to lawmakers and obtained by Reuters, paint a more complicated picture.

The documents show that of the nearly 90,000 currently in the police force, only 8,169 have had the full eight-week academy training. Another 46,176 are listed as "untrained," and it will be July 2006 before the administration reaches its new goal of a 135,000-strong, fully trained police force.

Six Army battalions have had "initial training," while 57 National Guard battalions, 896 soldiers in each, are still being recruited or "awaiting equipment." Just eight Guard battalions have reached "initial (operating) capability," and the Pentagon acknowledged the Guard's performance has been "uneven."

Training has yet to begin for the 4,800-man civil intervention force, which will help counter a deadly insurgency. And none of the 18,000 border enforcement guards have received any centralized training to date, despite earlier claims they had, according to Democrats on the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.

They estimated that 22,700 Iraqi personnel have received enough basic training to make them "minimally effective at their tasks," in contrast to the 100,000 figure cited by Bush.

"Let me tell you exactly what the story is. They're saying they're trying to train them, yet they have not trained," Sen. Joseph Biden, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on CNN.
The status of election planning in Iraq is also in question. Of the $232 million in Iraqi funds set aside for the Iraqi electoral commission, it has received a mere $7 million, according to House Appropriations Committee staff.

While Bush said the commission has already hired personnel and begun setting election procedures, congressional aides said preparations in other areas were behind schedule.

According to a one-page election planning "time line," registration materials are supposed to be distributed in early October and initial voter lists to go out by the end of October, which is during the holy month of Ramadan.

So far, the United Nations has been reluctant to send staff back into the battle zone. It only has 30 to 35 people now in Baghdad, no more than eight working on the elections.

"The framework for it (free and fair elections) hasn't even been set up. The voter registration lists aren't set. There have to be hundreds of polling places, hundreds of trained monitors and poll watchers. None of that has happened," Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State for President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, told ABC's "This Week."

With the violence expected to intensify in the run-up to the elections, congressional experts were also skeptical $9 billion could be spent on reconstruction projects within several months, as Bush asserted.

A top Republican aide briefed by the administration said, "at best," the $9 billion would be disbursed by late 2005 or early 2006. A top Democratic aide called Bush's projections "laughable."
Ah, that's a good word--laughable. From its phoney justifications for waging the Iraq War in the first place, right through to the entire corruption-and-incompetence-plagued occupation, everything about the administration's policy has been laughable. These aren't cheap laughs, though. Considering the $200 billion [and growing] pricetag and the more than 1000 Americans dead, these are some of the most expensive laughs ever.

U.S. KILLING MORE CIVILIANS THAN REBELS ARE? -- The notion that the United States and its puppet government in Iraq are killing more Iraqi civilians than the guerrillas are killing is an outrageous notion. Only those who hate freedom and America and love Osama Bin Laden could suggest such a thing! So who HAS suggested such a thing? Uh, officials in Mr Bush's handpicked-Iraqi government. Oh, that's awkward.
Operations by U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis — most of them civilians — as attacks by insurgents, according to statistics compiled by the Iraqi Health Ministry.

Iraqi officials said the statistics proved that U.S. airstrikes intended for insurgents also were killing large numbers of civilians. Some say these casualties are undermining popular acceptance of the American-backed interim government.
According to the Health Ministry, the interim Iraqi government recorded 3,487 insurgency-related deaths in 15 of the country's 18 provinces from April 5, when the ministry began compiling the data, until Sept. 19. Of those, 328 were women and children. Another 13,720 Iraqis were injured, the ministry said.

Iraqi officials said about two-thirds of the Iraqi deaths were caused by multinational forces and police; the remaining third died from insurgent attacks. The ministry began separating attacks by multinational and police forces and insurgents June 10.
Of course, as the U.S. military points out, it is difficult to avoid killing large numbers of civilians when you're fighting a guerrilla war against an enemy that hides among civilians.

Indeed. One of the many reasons given by many of us for NOT waging this unnecessary war in the first place.

POWELL: IRAQ "GETTING WORSE" -- Does Secretary of State Colin Powell hate America and freedom? It certainly appears that he does, after reading these comments, in which he skirts unpatriotically close to telling the truth about what is going on in Iraq.
Secretary of State Colin Powell sees the situation in Iraq "getting worse" as planned elections approach, and the top U.S. military commander for Iraq says he expects more violence ahead.

Their comments Sunday followed a week in which President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi spoke optimistically about the situation despite the beheadings of two more Americans and the deaths of dozens of people in car bombings.

In its latest report, the military said four Marines died in separate incidents Friday, adding to a toll that has topped 1,000 since the U.S.-led invasion.

Powell said the insurgency is only becoming more violent as planned January elections near.
Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. troops in the Middle East, warned that voting may not be possible in parts of Iraq where the violence is too intense.
But not to worry. Although the elections will be marred by widespread violence, totally impossible to hold in many parts of the country, and probably regarded as deeply flawed by the Iraqi people and the entire international community*, the ballot will be about as valid as the 2000 elections in the United States.
Abizaid compared the situation in Iraq to the disputed U.S. presidential election in 2000 that put George W. Bush in the White House following a protracted Florida ballot fight that ended up in the Supreme Court.

"I don't think Iraq will have a perfect election. And if I recall, looking back at our own election four years ago, it wasn't perfect either," he said.
That's just priceless. A senior U.S. general comparing the upcoming flawed elections in Iraq to the recent [and possibly upcoming] flawed elections in Florida. I think no further comment on that is required.

*Under George W. Bush, the United States no longer counts as part of the international community.