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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Changing The Most Fundamental Institution Of Civilization

After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization. Their actions have created confusion on an issue that requires clarity.


The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught humanity that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society.

Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all. President George W. Bush

As all 6 of my readers know, I have not only written against gay marriage, but have also been a proponent of changing marriage back to its traditional meaning --- abduction of a woman and seizure of her family's property.

I'm sick and tired of people constantly chipping away at our most sacred institution. Contrary to what our Dear Leader said, while it is true that the human desire for sexual "union" of a man and a woman has been enduring (as well as the sexual union of a man and a man and a woman and woman and in Rick Santorum's case, a man and his dog), the human institution of marriage has been battered about by every culture and every religion like a ping pong ball. It must stop.

Therefore, I am deeply disappointed in our president's decision to back a mealy mouthed constitutional amendment defining "marriage" as just a "union" between a man and a woman that fails to reverse the enormous changes to our most sacred institution that have already taken place just in the last century! My God, does the man have no respect for tradition?

As I have written before, divorce, birth control, women's rights and interracial marriage were all proposed over the vociferous objections of advocates of traditional marriage like me and look where it has led. Now, the concept of marriage is so frayed that it is in danger of disappearing as an institution altogether if we allow gay people to partake. Meanwhile, George W. Bush does nothing to return the institution to its correct traditional moorings.

If we are going to start holding the line on marriage, it is only right that we take on divorce, at least. Certainly, none of the advocates of traditional marriage can argue that taking a succession of wives or husbands while your real wife or husband still lives, is a slap in the face of everything we know to be true about the sanctity of marriage. It's bigamy, actually. (Or trigamy, in the case of Newt Gingrich, which is coming damned close to polygamy or maybe even group sex. See where that slippery slope leads?)

Let's not kid ourselves. As good conservatives noted back in 1916 when they successfully turned back many of the divorce laws, divorce is largely a matter of selfishness on the part of women who refuse to acknowledge their "traditional" role as a second class citizen in the "fundamental institution of civilization." Let's not lose sight of these important insights again.

I will not be satisfied until marriage is at least restored to its traditional state as the following drawing from LIFE magazine in 1905 so aptly illustrates. (Note the clergyman wearing the policeman's hat)


If George W. Bush continues on this cowardly road of the easy way out by simply outlawing gay marriage and civil unions, don't be surprised if the government, under inexorable societal pressures for change that just keep building and building as they always have, finds itself out of the marriage business all together as lawyers simply create property and "family" rights contracts for everyone, leaving the sacred, religious, cultural trappings of "traditional marriage" to the individual's religious beliefs.

Now, that would be even worse than "weakening the good influence of society." In fact it would likely spell the end of civilization as we know it.

Wouldn't it?

Update: The Daily Brew has some excellent ideas about who George W. Bush should select as the point men and women on the issue of the Sanctity of Marriage.

Monday, February 23, 2004

His teeth were there: Was he?

Yoo hoo. All of you Alabama National Guardsmen who hung around with GWB back in '72 but haven't come forward with the home movies and the polaroids of you and him together at the officer's club because nobody would make it worth your while, ---your time has come.

None other than Gary Trudeau has finally come up with some real money, 10 G's to be specific, for anyone who can prove he was Cap'n T-Ball's comrade in arms down there in 'Bama:

For the past twelve years, George W. Bush has had to endure charges that he didn't take the final two years of his Guard service as seriously as duty required. (For updated timeline, click here.) And the two witnesses who have come forward in support so far haven't exactly cleared things up. We at the Town Hall believe that with everything he has on his plate, Mr. Bush shouldn't have to contend with attacks on the National Guard, which is serving so bravely in Iraq. And we're willing to back up our support with cold, hard cash.

Granted, this has been tried before. In 2000, concerned veterans in both Texas and Alabama offered cash rewards to lure former guardmates of Mr. Bush into stepping forward, to no avail. The problem, in our view, was that these enticements weren't serious enough, that the sums offered were insulting. In contrast, we at the DTH&WP respect how inconvenient it can be to subject yourself to worldwide media scrutiny in general, and Fox News in particular, and are thus prepared to sweeten previous offers by a factor of five. That's right, we're offering $10,000 cash! Yours to either spend or invest in job creation. All you have to do is definitively prove that George W. Bush fulfilled his duty to country.

Gary Trudeau is a top one percenter. He doesn't want to see those tax cuts rescinded. Scratch his back and he'll scratch yours.

Go Knowles!

Atrios hosts guest blogger Tony Knowles, Democratic candidate for the Senate in Alaska. I am an ex-Alaskan and have close ties to the state and I can tell you that this is a good guy. This seat is a definite possibility for a Dem pick-up in the Senate (hopefully to balance out the loss of Kerry or Edwards.) Governor Murkowski appointing his daughter to replace him in the Senate and attempting to curtail the yearly stipend the state confers on each citizen has made it a real contest for what should be a safe GOP seat. Knowles is an attractive and popular ex-Governor. He has a real shot.

I must warn everyone, however, that Alaska is a red state and Knowles is likely to be one of those Senators who will be called a "tu-tu" wearing, cowardly, Republican-lite Democrat on certain issues. Alaska is dependent upon federal largesse and is well cared for by Senate appropriations chieftain Ted Stevens. Military spending is a huge part of the economy. Every Alaskan gets a check each year from the oil companies' payments to the state "permanent fund." It is also one of the few states that routinely elects libertarian legislators to the state house and has no state income tax (for now.) Alaskans see themselves as rugged individualists living in the last frontier. Go figure.

So, if Knowles wins, I wouldn't expect him to be a Paul Wellstone Democrat. He'll likely vote for opening the wildlife refuge --- Alaskans want it badly. He is supported by oil companies because oil companies are the biggest and richest companies in Alaska and all successful politicians are supported by oil companies there. And, he's not going to be somebody who will vote against military spending or gun rights either.

But, he won't support right wing attacks on civil liberties, fascist judges or tax cuts for billionaires. He'll support President Kerry or Edwards and if Bush somehow makes it he will vote to block the worst of Bush and DeLay's excesses. He is not Zell Miller.

Still, I think that everyone should recognise that he may end up being one of those awful turn-coat Dems on some important issues if he wins. His constituency is very different from Barbara Boxer's. But, he is a Democrat. And at this point we've got to support Anyone But Republicans. (ABB and ABR are my watchwords. The problem is Institutional Power, folks. The Republican party has shown that they cannot be trusted with it.)

Knowles is a middle of the road guy. But he's our middle of the road guy and we should support him.

At Our Peril

It appears that most of the left blogosphere is on the same page in that we should simply ignore Nader's candidacy. After some thought, I was going to agree, in spite of my post below, until I realized that I had been linked to Dean for America and Kos threads where I found the lost spirit of those Deaniacs who sent me loving e-mails and comments a couple of months ago. And once again I was reminded of how much the Dean campaign had at times reminded me of the 2000 Nader candidacy, especially the earnestness and often blind passion for the cause.

I don't know if this will wear off, but I have a suspicion that a fair number of hard core true believer Deaniacs, especially those for whom the cause was really about "taking the Party back," are susceptible to Nader's message. In fact, it would not surprise me to find that a larger number of Nader voters from 2000 had signed on to the Dean campaign than any other candidacy. Of course, since no data exists to back up this claim, just as no data exists to back up the now apparently certain belief than Dean brought hoardes of new voters to the system, I cannot prove it. Regardless, the arguments, emotion and committment have long seemed to me to be related:

Fellow bloggers: I just listened to Ralph Nader on Meet the Press, and he reminds me of why I am interested in politics in the first place. Ralph is a national hero. He is a hero for what he has done for all his causes over the years, especially on the environment. And he is a hero in my book for standing against the corporate interests that rule our country, rule our media, and run both the Democratic and Republican partys.

I agree with every word he said today, and I will vote for him in November.

My sincere hope is that many Howard Dean supporters around the nation will feel as I do, that a vote for Kerry / Edwards is a vote for politics as usual. Howard Dean averaged 15% voter support in the primaries contested so far. If we all threw our support to Ralph Nader it would send shock waves through the political world, on both sides of the divide. It would begin to change politics as usual.

Let's dream a little.

It is true that on these threads many Dean supporters are forcefully arguing against Nader (hence the link to my post below.) I am not suggesting that Dean voters are a monolith. However, it is obvious to me that the only Democratic candidate out there who has mobilized people for '04 who might switch to Nader is Dean. Kucinich's backers may also be tempted, but because Kucinich has not made a fetish of attacking the political system in the terms that both Nader and Dean employ, I don't think his followers are motivated by the same things. Indeed, Kucinich voters are the true blue liberals in terms of policy and philosophy and Kucinich himself is the living embodiment of liberal politics working within the system, as Paul Wellstone was in the Senate.

I don't know how many possible Dean-to-Nader folks exist. I suspect not very many. However, I still believe that despite Bush's precipitous dip in the polls, this election will end up being very close. Bush is weak, but his organization and war chest are not. And, he has the power of incumbency to shape events in ways that we can only dream of. For all the Democrats' motivation, and it is formidable, I believe that it is more than equally matched by the Republicans' desire to hang on to power. We're going to need every single vote.

So I don't believe that Nader is necessarily irrelevant. After all, the GOP has more than a couple of hundred million burning a hole in their pockets. They can easily siphon off a few to help Nader in selected close swing states and we could be in deep shit. I think it's a very, very good bet (to coin a phrase) "that's exactly what they're gonna do."

Therefore, I'm standing by my call for Dean to use his clout with the anti-establishment grassroots to make the case against Nader. Despite what some of my commenters say, I can't see what Dean is going to do during the rest of this campaign that is more important (although I'm certainly willing to listen if anyone has ideas about what it might be.)

This may be a different time, but if anything the Republicans are even stronger institutionally than they were in 2000. We have to fight them on all fronts. It is stupid to leave anything to chance.

We ignore Nader at our peril.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Howard Dean Is The Right Man For The Job

As Howard Dean retools his campaign into a grassroots organization and searches for the best way to launch it, might I suggest that he consider taking on Ralph Nader, as Michael Tomasky suggested he do last summer?

Dean has the most grassroots credibility of any Democrat in the country and could make a huge contribution by doing exactly what Tomasky prescribed:

Attack Nader right now, and with lupine ferocity. Say he's a madman for thinking of running again. Blast him especially hard on foreign policy, saying that if it were up to the Greens [him], America would give no aid to Israel and it would cease to exist, and if it were up to the Greens [him], America would not have even defended itself against a barbarous attack by going into Afghanistan. Have at him, and hard, from the right. Then nail him from the left on certain social issues, on abortion rights and other things that he's often pooh-poohed and dismissed as irrelevant. Cause an uproar. Be dramatic. Don't balance it with praise about what he's done for consumers. To the contrary, talk about how much he's damaging consumers today by not caring who's in charge of the Food and Drug Administration or the Federal Communications Commission.

Dean is the best guy to take on the man who said "there isn't a dime's worth of difference" between the parties, because he's the guy who's been running against the establishment and holds the hearts many of the people who might be inclined to listen to Nader's message. When the guy who called Wes Clark and John Kerry Republicans takes on Nader, disaffected liberals know it's not because he's in the tank. He's no DC dupe.

By using his credibility and prestige in the single most important goal we Democrats have --- beating George W. Bush, he would also bring this party together at a crucial time. He would become the indispensible voice of conscience for the Party, and gain the gratitude and profound respect of all of us.

Thanks to Matt Yglesias for the Tomasky link.



...to all the "winners."

Unlike The Poorman and others of the pissing and moaning variety, I have much too much class to contest the results even though all evidence suggests that I didn't win because my legions of fans were disenfranchised by that lying and cheating trial lawyer, Dwight "Diebold" Meredith.

Perhaps some of you are unaware that there are quite a few older bloggers who complained after the fact that they may have voted for Little Green Footballs by mistake because of the bad ballot design. It's difficult to prove, of course, but really, what are the odds that LGF would get more than 100 votes from the Berkeley Bloggers Collective? I'm just asking.

And I suppose it's best if we just forget about the fact that many lefty readers were purged from the blogrolls and e-mail lists before the vote. It's just another little coincidence, I'm sure. Like the fact that everybody voted for "Atrios", the psuedonymous Sonny Perdue of the left blogosphere again even though the exit polls had him losing to both Kos and Calpundit by a huge margin. Right. Must have been another case of failed exit polling. Uh huh.

I don't suppose it had anything to do with the fact that his campaign manager Marybeth "dimpled chad" Williams certified the vote and is now conveniently running for office and getting endorsed by the "big man" himself. Nah. No connection there.

But, I won't mention any of this because I'm not bitter like some others. I am going to Get Over It. But, might I just suggest that we require a paper trail next year?

Update: I would have thought Elayne would be happy enough with the title of the post, but there is no pleasing some people. She should GOI, if you ask me....

Losing the Brakes

In "a nation without brakes" Kevin over at The Tooney Bin notes an important talking point to make among your GOP friends at the water cooler: Colin Powell is checking out after this term.

This article discusses the frustrations of the bloodthirsty chickenhawk neocon contingent with the State department, but offers up a startling admission from a right wing think tanker (whom I'm sure is pulling splinters out of his posterior as we speak):

"State has very valuable things to say to the rest of us," said John Hulsman, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank. "They're the listening posts overseas. They make the personal contacts; they know the foreign leaders' quirks and weaknesses."

Hulsman described himself as "more amused than annoyed" by the department's weaknesses. He also isn't bothered by its reluctance to always follow the Pentagon's wishes.

"Nobody likes hitting the brake," he said. "But aren't we glad there's one on a car?"

That's sort of odd, when you think about it. Is "hitting the brake" considered something to like or dislike? Do people wish they could just drive until their cars run out of gas on the side of the road? Or would they be glad if their destination were ordained by where their car ended up? The truth is that a car is undrivable unless it has brakes. It's not really an option. But I digress into a metaphor that is rapidly losing even me...

As Kevin notes in his post, the issue isn't whether Powell really provides any brakes. After his ignominious appearance before the UN, he pretty much flushed his credibility down the toilet. But, according to Fox news the public hasn't quite caught on to that fact. Powell still holds a 75% approval rating, 20% higher than the resident.

I think it is useful to continuously and relentlessly shine the light on the "grown-ups" who are handling Bush, whether it's the "good" ones like Powell who will be leaving or the bad ones like Cheney who are clinging to power. Nobody, not even Peggy Nooner, believes that Junior is really in charge of anything. Even the most die hard Republicans get a little worried at the thought of him behind the wheel with no brakes.

This is, after all, the mental giant who said just this week:

"I flew fighters when I was in the Guard, and I like speed," he said. "It would've been fun to drive up on these banks. ... I'd like to, but I'm afraid the agents wouldn't let me."

I think we can all agree that it's long past time for a brake job. In fact, the automobile of state needs a complete overhaul.

Update: Kevin writes in with the question of who might replace Powell if T-Ball erases his asterisk and actually wins the office. I think they will consider an '04 win to be a total validation of their actions thus far and will become even more aggressively radical than they already are.

Which means that this guy may very well be brought back from the dead to "reform" the State department.

That's when you start to think about stuff like fall out shelters and big cold, northern countries.

Friday, February 20, 2004

New Feed

My former site feed went kerflooey. New one at left, via blogger.

Buy Your Own President!

Via Cursor, I read about these exciting plans to showcase the GOP as the party of diversity in NYC during the Republican National Convention.

Harris wants the GOP to venture into the outer boroughs. He’s eyeing Flushing Meadows Park in Queens as a possible venue, and is exploring events in the city’s diverse ethnic neighborhoods. The idea is that the sight of Republicans mingling with New Yorkers of all hues will project an image of a new, inclusive GOP to a national audience.

“I fully expect to have events all around New York,” Harris says. “It’s an opportunity to show the country, and the world, what the Republican Party is all about.”

Haha. Good luck. I have the feeling that if the Democrats and the Left in general play this one right, that they can show the world what the Republican Party is really all about.

For instance, the NY Times reports today about a great strategy that I think will entertain and fascinate the media if activists can pull it off with humor and panache:

At one point, as hundreds of guests with invitations waited to pass through velvet barriers to enter the club, a small group of men in bowler hats and women in gowns marched up, chanting, "Four more wars" and "Re-elect Rove."

As the group approached, a man who appeared to be a security agent of some type, was overheard whispering into a microphone: "We've got two groups. One for and one against."

Actually, it was two against. The person was confused by a group that calls itself Billionaires for Bush, a collection of activists who use satire to make a political point. Indeed, members of the Sierra Club, who were protesting on the other side of the street were also confused and began shouting at what they thought was a pro-Bush contingent.

" We want the truth and we want it now!" the Sierra protesters shouted.

The billionaires shouted back, "Buy your own president!"

It took a few minutes, but the police finally realized what was going on when they escorted the group behind the blue barricades as well. Still, the show was not over. A black town car pulled up and out stepped a man whom who the crowd assumed to be Mr. Rove. "There is Karl Rove," people shouted.

Reporters, photographers and television cameramen swarmed the man, but the police pushed them back. Another man lifted the velvet rope to let him enter. But the would-be Mr. Rove walked over to the crowd of protesters and began shaking hands, when finally, again, this was seen to be a joke. It was not Mr. Rove, but an actor playing the part.

Each of the groups has said it planned to stage similar events when the Republican National Convention comes to New York City from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

I remember that some activists did a similar thing to protest a Cheney speech in San Francisco where they had a Cheney impersonator shake hands and entertain the crowd. Even the cops were laughing, asking "Mr. Vice President" to stay behind the lines.

Over on TAPPED today, Tara McKelvey links to a Reuters story that reports on "a group of activists from the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign are planning to host "reality bus tours" of local slums during the Republican convention. They’re also going to build a tent city. It'll be called Bushville, of course."

Perhaps as part of their desire to project an "image of a new, inclusive GOP," the convention planners would like to stage one of those exciting events there to show "Republicans mingling with New Yorkers of all hues."

Humor can be a powerful weapon. Especially when the convention itself will be nothing but a bunch of boring windbags telling lie after lie. A little counter programming is definitely in order.

The Wrong Study

In One Short Half Hour Republicans twisted themselves into a preznit pretzel and managed to prove the point that all those dumb old scientists were making:

BEGALA: Well, more than 60 leading scientists, including 20 Nobel Prize winners, today said that the Bush administration has -- quote -- "misrepresented scientific knowledge and misled the public about the implications of its policies" -- unquote.

The group includes scholars from both political parties, who say President Bush and his team systematically distort science in order to serve Mr. Bush's political agenda on issues ranging from nuclear weapons to biomedical research to the environment to health.

So, now we know George W. Bush misled us about the war in Iraq. He misled us about the environment, about health care, about science. He certainly misled us about the deficit, jobs and his tax cut. Of course, don't forget his many fibs about his National Guard service. Of course, Mr. Bush's defenders do have an important point. He never lied about Monica Lewinsky. And isn't that really what matters?

CARLSON: Actually, there were not 20 Nobel Prize winners. There were about...

BEGALA: Yes, there were.

CARLSON: Actually, I checked. They were about half that.

BEGALA: So it's only Ten Nobel Prize winners.

CARLSON: It's something called the Union of Concerned Scientists, which is a left-wing and completely discredited, utterly partisan group.

BEGALA: It's totally bipartisan.

CARLSON: No, no.

BEGALA: One of the members worked in the

BEGALA: ... for two Republican presidents.

CARLSON: Right, worked in the Nixon administration. Right. That's exactly right. It is completely partisan. That's why your alert contained not a single specific example of what -- how George Bush had subverted science, because there aren't any. Go on the Web site.

All those scientists are bloodthirsty leftist partisans who clearly don't know what they are talking about. George W. Bush has never subverted science. For instance, the Bush team would never encourage his people to stop using the methods and models to measure economic activity that have been used by the government for decades. They would never say that it was permissable to substitute completely different measurements, having the effect of comparing apples to oranges, in order to give the impression that they are successful when the standard surveys reveal that his policies are miserable failures. That, after all, would fall under the definition of "subverting science" and there is simply no proof that they have ever done such a thing.

BEGALA: I want to bring Mr. Forbes in, because I do want to focus on the promises that President Bush has made.


BEGALA: But shouldn't he be held accountable for his promises?

FORBES: Even he misunderestimated the damage you guys did to the economy.

BEGALA: Oh, those 24 million jobs we created?

FORBES: All short-term oriented, all short-term oriented. And now the president, as soon as he took office, he reduced tax rates, put in incentives, coped with the disaster of 9/11.

Today, we are creating jobs. There are 2.5 million more jobs today in the United States than there were when he took office, when you look at the right survey of measuring these things. And now we're on track again.

BEGALA: What survey is that?


SPERLING: But, Steve, we're down 2.9 million sector private -- private-sector jobs since he came into office. Let's forget the recession. Let's forget 9/11. Since the recession ended, we're down a million. Steve, our are standards

FORBES: You're looking at the wrong survey. You're looking at the payroll -- you're looking at ... You're looking at the payroll survey.

SPERLING: I'm looking at what everybody has always looked at and regarded as the most significant survey.

FORBES: You're looking at the wrong thing.

SPERLING: Steve, Steve...

FORBES: As a journalist, Paul, you shouldn't look at what everyone else looks at.

Tuckie? Hello?

Update: Maybe it's better to simply redefine what a job is. For instance, the administration indicates that burger flipping could soon be classified as a "manufacturing" job. That must be where those 2.6 long-term jobs that Steve Forbes says Bush has created are...

Meanwhile, cashing tax free dividend checks is now classified as a job, as is eating dinner and watching the Paris Hilton video on your private plane. Bush has created more jobs than any president in history.

They Don't Like It

Atrios quotes Minority Whip, Hammer "hot tub" Delay saying:

Americans "have been tolerant of homosexuality for years, but now it's being stuffed down their throats and they don't like it." DeLay said.

Hmmm. What evocative and detailed images these good Christians use when they talk about gay rights. It's all "man-on-dog" and something "stuffed down their throats" and "being forced to take it."

Where do you suppose these disturbing thoughts come from, anyway?

It's always possible that they make their way into the minds of these fine upstanding Republicans at those junkets put on by their contributors AOL/Time Warner and Comcast, the nation's biggest purveyors of on-line and PPV pornography. But, that's just a guess. It could just as easily be those regular "fact-finding" missions over at the Justice Department where they all annoint themselves in consecrated Crisco and sit around sifting through the evidence in Ashcroft's new war on obscenity.

It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

Oh No! They're Calling Him a Hypocrite!

Here they go. Kerry's Past to Star in Bush's Ads

The beauty of John Kerry is 32 years of votes and public pronouncements," said Mark McKinnon, the chief media adviser. McKinnon suggested a possible tag line: "He's been wrong for 32 years, he's wrong now."

I sure hope they use that one because the response is so obvious.

"32 years ago John Kerry was a highly decorated Naval officer testifying before congress about the unjustified war he fought in halfway across the world. At that very same time, George W. Bush was dodging responsibility and wasting the taxpayers money in Texas and Alabama doing who knows what. He kept doing that for 32 years and he's doing it now."

I love the fact that they have resuscitated the concept of hypocrisy just in time to use it against John Kerry. But, there is some danger in it. After all, we have a cowboy president who can't ride a horse, a wartime president who took many special favors to get out of Vietnam, a businessman president who failed at every single venture he ever went near, a moral leader who sanctions putting the lives of CIA agents in danger for political reasons, a Commander in Chief who took the country into an elective war under false pretenses and a fiscal conservative who has created the biggest deficits in American history and the worst job creation record since Herbert Hoover.

Yes. I think hypocrisy is a fine charge to hit John Kerry with. I'm sure it's deserved. Politics is not an endeavor for the pure of heart and motive. However, hypocrisy is such a sissy little word when you can respond with muscular words like fraud, fake, phony, corrupt, crooked, unethical, unprincipled, manipulable and criminal.

Bring it on, fellas. This isn't our first time at the rodeo.

Oh, and memo to John Kerry: I can't find the $%^!!! link, but I recently read that he was telling anyone who will listen that he won't "cut and run" in Iraq "like his father did." I think the entire Iraq issue is wrapped up in some kind of freakish oedipal complex for him and it is probably a good idea to taunt him about it as much as possible. These guys get apoplectic when they are challenged and it leads them to make mistakes. Don't hold back.

Update: South Knox Bubba has more, saying (as only can) the irony drips like bar-b-cue sauce from the chin of a county ward heeler at a GOP tent revival." What an image...

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Harpy Valentine

Sommerby recounts a truly sickening exchange by erstwhile Dukakis campaign manager and now all around backbiting harpy, Susan Estrich, commenting on the Kerry non-scandal. I honestly don't know how this obviously very financially desperate woman sleeps at night, but if you can set aside her unbearable voice long enough to hear what she is saying, you will find something interesting in her foul screech:

ESTRICH: Right. And the story got out, does John Kerry have, as we Democrats like to call it, a Clinton problem? And if it weren't for Clinton, it probably wouldn't be an issue. It didn't make it to Fox News. [sic!] It didn't make it to a lot of the mainstream media. But if you look at the election season, you see the jitters that happen along the elite can translate to voters really quickly. So what I've been hearing in the last week, and it remains to be seen, maybe this was all a Republican dirty trick. Maybe there's no truth to it.

But I think one of the factors that may have been playing in Wisconsin was the jitteriness among primary voters that maybe we don't know everything we need to know. If there is any truth to this, we don't want to go down this road again, particularly when we have got a situation with John Kerry where he doesn't have a wife of 30 years who's going to stand by her man, like Hillary did or Maria Shriver did. When we have this more complex situation where his wife has said I will maim him if I catch him cheating. That got Democrats nervous.

I had actually noticed something like she describes in comments sections around the left blogosphere and it kind of disturbed me. If the Lucianne clique's idea was to make Dems nervous we sure didn't disappoint. I could hear her and Drudge and Coulter cackling fiendishly all the way from DC to Santa Monica.

Democrats have got to get over their fear of the Clenis, just as the GOP needs a lot of therapy to relieve themselves of their obsession with it. As far as I know, every Democrat still running for President has a penis and has used it a time or two. The Right compulsively ruminates about this because it makes them all tingly in certain parts of their usually flaccid bodies. They are going to keep talking about it and enjoying the feelings it gives them and there isn't much we can do about it. Look at the way G. Gordon Liddy swooned over the rather insignificant and embarrassing junior codpiece that lil' Cap'n T-Ball sports.

There is no reason for us to get nervous about this. It's just part of the show. Unless we nominate a sanctimonious homunculous like Joe Lieberman it's going to happen. They have a little insecurity problem that even sending young men and women in uniform out to fight useless wars apparently cannot erase. It's best to let them fiddle and fidget under their Brooks Brothers and Talbots without comment.

The Greatest Strategic Blunder In Modern Memory

I get the impression from casual conversation and reading the papers that a lot of Americans understand that Junior lied to get us into Iraq, but they don't think it really hurt anything. In fact, since Saddam was a prick and it didn't really cost us much to take him out (well, except for the loss of life and the billions spent), it was a pretty good thing to do, on balance. Kicking a little butt after 9/11 probably sent a message we needed to send.

The problem with this is that they don't understand what a huge error in judgment the Iraq operation was in terms of our long term security and readiness. Nor do they understand the extent to which we damaged our alliances and how dangerous it was to blow our credibility at a time like this.

This post by Nick Confessore on TAPPED goes to the heart of what must become the Democratic critique of the Preznit's calamity of a foreign policy if we hope to educate the public and permanently tear Junior loose from his absurd image as a "trustworthy" Commander in Chief in the WOT.

First, Confessore quotes James Webb, secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration, writing in USA Today:

Bush arguably has committed the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory. To put it bluntly, he attacked the wrong target. While he boasts of removing Saddam Hussein from power, he did far more than that. He decapitated the government of a country that was not directly threatening the United States and, in so doing, bogged down a huge percentage of our military in a region that never has known peace. Our military is being forced to trade away its maneuverability in the wider war against terrorism while being placed on the defensive in a single country that never will fully accept its presence.

There is no historical precedent for taking such action when our country was not being directly threatened. The reckless course that Bush and his advisers have set will affect the economic and military energy of our nation for decades. It is only the tactical competence of our military that, to this point, has protected him from the harsh judgment that he deserves.

Confessore goes on to excerpt a portion of James Fallows' truly frightening account of our "hollow army."

However, there is even more to it than that. Wes Clark and others made the argument some time ago that Iraq was a distraction from the real threat and it has been said by many that the invasion would lead to more recruitment of terrorists. And, there have been other discussions about the effects of a stretched thin military of reserves and national guard troops. But, I haven't heard any talk about what an enormous amount of damage has been done by the conscious exposure of our intelligence services as paper tigers.

Regardless of whether they hyped, sexed up or pimped out the intelligence on Iraq, the fact is that by invading Iraq the way we did and being proved complete asses now that no WMD have been discovered, one of our best defenses has been completely destroyed. It may have always been nothing but a pretense that we had hi-tech, super duper satellites with x-ray vision and all-knowing eavesdropping devices that can hear a pin drop half a world away but it was a very useful pretense. Nobody knew exactly what we were capable of. Now they do. It appears to everyone on the planet that our vaunted intelligence services couldn't find water even if they fell off of a fucking aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

It's this kind of thing that makes really crazy wackos like Kim Jong Il make mistakes. When a hugely powerful country like the United States proves to the entire world that it is not as powerful as everyone thought, petty tyrants and ambitious generals tend to get excited. This is why mighty nations should never fight wars unless they absolutely have to. It is always better to have enemies wonder whether they are as omnipotent as they appear. They should not risk proving otherwise unless they have no choice.

It is, therefore, in the national interest for the Democrats to lay this strategic blunder at the door of this administration as clearly and as forcefully as possible. We can only benefit by the world coming to believe, in no uncertain terms, that this war was fought in spite of what we knew, not because of what we didn't know. Bush and his neocon wet-dreamers need to take a very public fall for what they did, not just for justice but for national security. Nobody should allow the world's dangerous crackpots to believe that our institutions of the military and intelligence services have been tainted by this enormous error in judgment. It's too dangerous.

Who Says Republicans Are The Only Uncool Guys Guys?:

"THE GENERAL'S SWAN SONG: I know this may be old news, but while we're on the subject of Wes Clark, I can't resist passing on the story of how Clark spent the final night of his campaign Wednesday in Little Rock after he bowed out of the race and began his bid to be John Kerry's vice president.

Semi-chilled Bud Light was the drink of choice, as it was on the Clark campaign bus. The already paper-thin wall separating the young Clark media embeds and the young Clark staffers was finally torn down, and both sides joined the general in the kitchen. There, at the top of his lungs, the former Supreme Allied Commander sang Madonna's 'Like a Prayer' and Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin'.' One ex-Clarkie quipped, 'The scariest part was that he knew all the words.'"

Yeah, yeah. I know. He's a freakshow on wheels, a complete failure who nobody can understand how he ever came to get into West Point much less earn four stars and who should have been put away in a looney bin years ago because he's such a hated grudgebearing egomaniac, hypocrite and phony like all those other generals who have been thrown on the ash heap of history.

But, since 2000 showed us that the most important quality in a president seems to be whether you would like to have a beer with the guy, put me down as one of those losers who would would much rather hear Wes Clark sing "Like A Prayer" over a couple of lukewarm Bud lights than hang around with a towel snapping, frat boy cheerleader asshole whose idea of fun is an evening hazing of fuzz faced freshmen followed by a hilarious late night round of cow tipping. But, that's just me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


Check out "The Rope Of Our Ends" over on American Street.

And, I've got much more saved up for good ole Hullabaloo starting tomorrow. Check back.

For instance, can anybody explain to me why this is ok?

Musharraf says no to nuclear site inspections

Pakistan would in no circumstances permit foreign inspectors to enter the country and monitor its nuclear weapons or civil nuclear facilities, General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's military president, said on Tuesday.


...Gen Musharraf, whose "rogue scientist" account of the scandal was endorsed last week by George W. Bush, the US president, said he was confident no further proliferation would take place from Pakistan.

I must once again set forth the proposition that, as with Iraq, we must immediately invade Finland. After all, they might someday have the capacity to maybe form the intent to think about possibly collecting the information that could lead to the development of programs that could produce weapons of mass destruction. That is a grave and gathering danger. We cannot wait for the smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud. (Plus, the place is just crawling with Vikings, terrorists extraordinaire.)

Pakistan, however, is not a problem. move along, folks.

At what point do Republicans literally turn themselves inside out with their internal contradictions? Do you think it's physically painful to have this kind of moral clarity?

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

New Blog

Welcome to a great new group blog, Daily News Online. There's some serious talent writing for free over there...

I also have a little piece up on American Street today about the General.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Kerry's Secret Weapon

Super smart commenter Sara points out something very interesting that may very well be a potent arrow in Kerry's quiver:

Well next month we have yet another book to digest -- from the inside of the Bush White House. Richard Clarke, the former NSC counterterrorism expert from Bush I, Clinton and 2 years plus of Bush II is publishing his insider book that takes no prisnors. Word is that Rove is very afraid of what Clarke has to say -- particularly because Clarke was the August 6 2001 briefer of Bush, and there is a good deal about how he got told never to raise such matters again with Bush. Book will get big play. Richard Clarke knows where all the bodies are buried.

The close collaborator with Richard Clarke -- going back to Bush I at NSC was Rand Beers -- who quit last summer in disgust, and walked down the street and volunteered his services to Kerry, where he has been ever since. Beers eventually drew Joe Wilson into the Kerry camp. Taken together this represents about 75 years of high level Bureaucratic Counterterrorism experience -- and it is super connected with every establishment going. To put it mildly, Kerry is not going into battle unarmed and with pacifist intents. If Bin Laden's been warehoused for use in October -- these are the guys who know it, and know who else knows

Kerry's foreign policy team is formidable and the fact that he has Wilson, Clarke and Beers on board, all of whom have been on the inside of the Cheney administration is very, very interesting.

If Kerry's biding his time with the kind of explosive info that could expose Bush on 9/11 then he is a major league threat. Big Time.


Lord Saleton is upset that Clark is stopping Edwards from stopping John Kerry. That bastard General just won't lie down when he's told to by members of the press who "are itching to write him off." He's screwing up the whole storyline.

When Wes Clark entered the presidential race five months ago, I said it was a rebuke to John Kerry for failing to catch on as "the candidate with the war record, the candidate who was supposed to keep the party in the center and fend off the standard-bearer of the left." I still think it was a rebuke. But Kerry reclaimed his role, and now Clark is clearing his path to the end zone by blocking the only candidate who could stop Kerry: John Edwards.

First Clark squashed Edwards' official campaign kickoff in September, leaking word that very day that he would get into the race. Then, a week ago, Clark beat out Edwards for third in New Hampshire by a fraction of a percentage point. That cost Edwards the ability to claim plausibly that he had continued his momentum from Iowa. Tuesday night, it happened again: Clark eked out a margin over Edwards in Oklahoma so narrow that the state election board will have to review the ballots before declaring an official winner. Edwards argued that he had "exceeded my expectations" and that his finish in Oklahoma, combined with his win in South Carolina, was "a continuation of the surge we've seen in other caucuses and primaries."

Nice try. I think Edwards would be the strongest Democrat in the general election. Nobody expected him to do this well in Oklahoma. But when the history of the 2004 race is written, my guess is that we'll look back at Oklahoma as Edwards' Stalingrad. He had to kill off Clark. The media were itching to write off Clark, and a no-win night would have given them license to do so. Now they can't. Clark will go on to Tennessee and Virginia, where he'll do what he did in Oklahoma: split the non-Yankee vote and keep Kerry in the lead. Maybe Edwards will win Tennessee and Virginia, and Clark will fade. But by then it may too late to stop Kerry.

Edwards was clearly pining for a Clark defeat in Oklahoma. He delayed his flight to Tennessee more than an hour as he waited for the last returns to trickle in. On CNN before the Oklahoma returns were final, Edwards said, "This race has narrowed dramatically tonight." He said the differences between himself and Kerry would "become clearer and clearer as the race focuses on the two of us." On Fox News, Edwards said the contest was looking "more and more like it's a two-person race. I'm looking forward to that two-person race."

Oops. A couple of hours later, Clark took the stage in Oklahoma to declare, "The results are in! We have won!" Rubbing it in, Clark boasted that a week earlier he had "won the non-New England portion of New Hampshire." It's a thin but valid claim. And now Edwards will have more trouble running as the outsider against Kerry, because Clark will run as the outsider against both senators. As Clark put it to Larry King Tuesday night, "I'm an outsider, Larry. I haven't been in the Senate. I didn't vote for No Child Left Behind. I didn't vote to go war with Iraq, and I didn't vote for the Patriot Act." The general who auditioned for the role of John Kerry is ending up instead with the role of Howard Dean.

He even uses the words "audition" and "role." Please spare me any more superior e-mails about how silly my thesis of politics as showbiz is.

See, Clark was the guy who was supposed to stop Dean, but Kerry stopped him instead and now he's going to win because Clark is trying to stop Edwards. Doesn't Clark know what his role is supposed to be? Didn't anybody give him the new script for gawdsake? The idiot actually thinks he's running to win when everybody knows that he and Dean have been written out.

Kerry and Edwards are the new It Boys. Dean and Clark are like so 2003.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Salon Giv Atrios Turkee

Is there any further doubt that the media consist of people so obtuse that there is no explanation for them other than that they are actually the abandoned household pets of aliens from another planet? You simply cannot be this cretinously stupid and have a brain larger than the size of a walnut.

This is priceless:

Not surprisingly, journalism experts suggest anonybloggers are operating outside of any reasonable ethical line. "One of the things that's going to have to become a standard for the Internet is, if you want to be taken seriously, you have to be identified," says Alex Jones, director of Harvard's Shorenstein Center. "Anonymity is almost always, for the mainstream anyway, something that says, 'Be very, very careful.'

One might also say that if you want to be taken seriously by the mainstream you probably should not attach your real name to a piece that reveals you to be an utter moron.

It is indisputable that we "anonybloggers" (aka pseudonymous writers, for those who didn't major in massage therapy at San Quentin Community College extension) are certainly operating outside any ethical guidelines and I would suggest that all "professional" mainstream Salon.com writers "be very, very careful" lest they accidentally find themselves all alone in the woods with the Blair Witch. She's real, you know. Oh yes she is.


The Savior of 9/11

Interesting article from Slate. I do believe this is the way it will come down:

The Bush rally does, however, provide some insight into the general-election campaign message that the Bush-Cheney campaign is trying out. If the Democratic primaries and caucuses over the next four or five weeks are a referendum on John Kerry's electability, it's worth knowing what he's expected to be electable against. Monday's rally is the second Republican event I've attended this campaign—the other was in Nashua, N.H., where John McCain stumped for the president—and the president's re-election argument, as advanced by his surrogates, couldn't be clearer. The Republicans want the threshold question of this election to be: On Sept. 11 and Sept. 12, 2001, would you rather have had George W. Bush as president or his Democratic opponent?

Both Bush rallies that I've attended emphasize the idea that the president merits re-election as a reward for past performance, as much as—or even more than—any promise of future results. "On Sept. 11, when this nation faced in many respects the greatest threat to our security, President Bush stood forward, led this nation with clarity and with strength, which has earned him the admiration and appreciation of the overwhelming majority of Americans, and I believe has earned him another term as president of the United States of America," McCain said in Nashua. The speakers at Monday's event strike similar notes. "This is a man who has restored peace to the American homeland, after we suffered the worst attack we have suffered here since Pearl Harbor," U.S. Sen. Jim Talent says. U.S. Sen. Kit Bond puts it this way: "I'm most concerned about the war on terror. When Sept. 11, 2001, hit us, George Bush knew what to do."

It's not going to be about Iraq. Certainly, Kerry is going to have a hard time making the argument. His explanation for his vote is reasonable but sounds like it isn't. Both Bush and Kerry, for different reasons, will take it off the table.

It's going to be about 9/11. Picture the flags, the music, the tearful testimonials, Chris Matthews going on and on about the big bullhorn as phallic symbol. He kept the babies safe and kicked the Taliban's ass and didn't wait for permission from any old cheese-eating bastard to do it. Bin Laden is irrelevant. He kept the babies safe.

Kerry had better get his rhetoric together and stop with the "IIIII led the fight against the Dingell-Daschle compromise in 1986 when my goooood friend the Senatooor from Delawaaaare and I stood firm for working women and the Contras in the funding for the Omnibus Spending bill 227 that offered nothing for the nuclear freeze under the Salt III treaty banning all long range ballistic child care vouuuuchers. I stoooood firrrrrm then and I'll stand firrrrm agaaaain!"

The Republicans are going to reply, "When America was attacked, George Bush knew what to do. He kept you safe."

It's bullshit. But, it's effective.

The Big Winner

I've been taken to task for complaining about the media and upon reflection I think the criticism is valid. I keep forgetting about the all American belief that winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. I was cruelly reminded of this on inauguration day 2001 when a neighbor of mine said simply "Stop your bellyaching. Americans respect winners. Bush deserves to be president because he is the president." Winner John Kerry is quoted as saying something similar:

He is impatient with Democratic oratory about the "stolen" election. "Stop crying in your teacups," he told one audience. "It isn't going to change. Get over it."

That's winner talk. One reason that Kerry is the winner is because he knows how to talk like one, as when he said, (in response to Dean's vaunted internet presence) "Well, the last person I heard who claimed he had invented the Internet didn't do so well." The media's ears are well tuned to that kind of language. It feels right to them.

Whining about the media's unfairness or RNC cheating or primary voter's laziness or the Supreme Court stopping the vote count is useless. It does not matter how it happens, the end justifies the means. If you can't make it happen, you don't deserve to win, even if the deck is stacked, the media are useless lemmings or the other side hacks into the Diebold voting machines. If the game is rigged a true winner would make sure it's rigged in his favor. That's the American Way.

So, while it is certainly true that Kerry is not even close to attaining the required number of delegates, he is the winner because he has won and that means he will keep winning. And that is exactly what the Democratic Party wanted. The entire point of pushing up the primaries was to get a winner as quickly as possible. The DNC apparently knew that Democrats in these new early states would have no clue that they were playing a hugely important role in picking the nominee so they'd go with whoever Iowa and New Hampshire chose simply because they figure those guys "did the research."

And, if there are two states in the country that we can rely on to pick winners for us it's Iowa and New Hampshire.

At least we won't have to go through another losing nominating process like the last time we had a large field. In 1992, they didn't even hold the New Hampshire primary until the end of February, fergawdsake. Bigtime Loser Clinton won just 3 of his first 14 contests. In fact, he finished fourth four times, often behind "Uncommitted."

Here's the breakdown:

IA caucus: Harkin 76.4%, Tsongas 4.1%, Clinton 2.8%, Kerrey 2.4%, Brown 1.6%

NH primary: Tsongas 33.2%, Clinton 24.8%, Kerrey 11.1%, Harkin 10.2%, Brown 8.0%

ME caucus: Brown 30.3%, Tsongas 29.0%, Uncommitted 16.1%, Clinton 14.8%, Harkin 5.2%, Kerrey 3.0%

SD primary: Kerrey 40.15%, Harkin 25.25%, Clinton 19.12%, Tsongas 9.6%, Brown 3.9%

CO primary: Brown 29%, Clinton 27%, Tsongas 26%
GA primary: Clinton 57.2%, Tsongas 24.0%, Brown 8.1%, Kerry 4.8%, Uncommitted 3.8%, Harkin 2.1%
ID caucus: Harkin 29.7%, Tsongas 28.4%, Uncommitted 17.2%, Clinton 11.4%, Kerrey 8%, Brown 4.5%
MD primary: Tsongas 40.6%, Clinton 33.5%, Brown 8.2%, Uncommitted 6.4%, Harkin 5.8%, Kerrey 4.8%
MN caucus: Harkin 26.7%, Uncommitted 24.3%, Tsongas 19.2%, Clinton 10.3%, Brown 8.2%, Kerrey 7.6%
UT primary: Tsongas 33.4%, Brown 28.4%, Clinton 18.3%, Kerrey 10.9%, Harkin 4.0%
WA caucus: Tsongas 32.3%, Uncommitted 23.2%, Brown 18.6%, Clinton 12.6%, Harkin 8.2%, Kerrey 3.4%

ND primary: Clinton 46.0%, Tsongas 10.3%, Brown 7.5%, Harkin 6.8%, Kerrey 1.2%

AZ caucus: Tsongas 34.4%, Clinton 29.2%, Brown 27.5%, Harkin 7.6%
SC primary: Clinton 62.9%, Tsongas 18.3%, Harkin 6.6%, Brown 6.0%

As everyone keeps pointing out to me, that was a long, long time ago. Everything has changed completely. There is no point in even thinking about it, now.

Still, there is one important lesson to be learned from the past. By drawing out the primaries the way they did, the Democrats had far too much time to think about who they were voting for and they often voted for someone who wasn't a winner. If Bill Clinton couldn't win Iowa and New Hampshire, he had no business being the nominee. But, nobody told the voters or the press (who were fixated on Ross Perot at the time) so he managed to eke out the nomination when it was obvious that either Tom Harkin or Paul Tsongas should have run against George Bush.

It is a good thing we've learned from our mistakes. We won't let that happen again.

Friday, January 30, 2004

As The Election Turns

The next time anybody starts reaching for their smelling salts because of negative campaigning, they should recognize that one of the main reasons politicians resort to it is because the flaccid political press corps will not cover anything that falls outside of their settled narrative unless it's a deliciously vicious stab in the back. (And for reasons unknown they will cover Joe Lieberman as if he were a serious contender with endless droning televised interviews and serious examination of his performance in debates.) Other than that, it would appear that only a full-on, feral attack by rivals will shake their attention from the story they decide is the story that must be told.

The story of the Democratic campaign for the presidential nomination in 2003/2004 is "The Howard Dean Story."
Whether he's winning or losing, the plucky governor from Vermont and his erstwhile campaign manager are the only story they wish to tell. Even John Kerry, the man who looks as if he is going to sail through the nominating process without Democrats ever taking a real look at him, only exists as a sub-plot to the ever exciting "Dean Phenomenon." (I realize that Kerry got skewered early last year, but the only people paying attention at the time were 3 bloggers and Ed Gillespie.)

The Dean rise and fizzle is an interesting story. But, the continuing obsessive attention it is getting is not only destroying Dean's chances of coming back, it has ruined everyone else's chances of getting any oxygen whatsoever. Kerry wins the nomination because he beat Dean in Iowa, period. The press framed the election in those terms and those terms seem to be propelling the voters to assume that this is the contest. Nobody else exists, except as they relate to Howard Dean.

(The big story of the debate last night, for instance, wasn't the debate at all. It was the fact that Joe Trippi was going to speak out on Deborah Norville's show following the debate. And, he delivered a soap opera worthy performance. And there is no greater sign that the tabloid artists are taking over the story then the appearance of Lisa "Gary Condit did it!" Depaulo. There she was, showing all of her noted objectivity practically delivering a big juicy lewinsky to Trippi, right there on TV. )

There is no oxygen left after that kind of thing. My favorite candidate, Wesley Clark, has apparently vaporized, for instance. Despite the fact that as of yesterday he held the lead in 3 of the 7 February 3rd primaries, was well in the mix in 2 others and had plenty of money to continue, the NY Times and Washington Post did not even acknowledge that he was at the debate last night in their first editions, although they quoted Lieberman and Kucinich at length. (I wrote to both papers and was informed that they would add something about him in later editions. They did; it was pathetic.)

I don't think there is any malice or political bias, it's just that Wesley Clark existed in their minds only as the Anti-Dean and, as such, is irrelevant in the current plotline of Dean the soap-opera and Kerry the juggernaut. They are obsessing on Dean's demise from frontrunner to such an extent that they apparently see no necessity to examine Kerry's questionable statements, gaffes and inconsistencies. (I think we can all say with some assurance that the Republicans will have no trouble making up for lost time on that count.)

Dean fucks up. Kerry wins. Let's move on to the general election.

So, what should a candidate like John Edwards or Wesley Clark do in this situation? They both have good reasons to challenge John Kerry's unexamined claim to electability. He represents, in many ways, a return to the 80's for the Democrats and another round of liberal bashing on a scale we haven't seen since Dukakis was derisively accused of being "a card carrying member of the ACLU." (Most importantly, his appeal as a veteran is going to be shredded by the RNC in ways that already make me sick to my stomach.) Clark and Edwards are new faces who don't have the tired familiarity and old fashioned bombastic rhetoric of a liberal Senator from Massachusetts (ohjayzuz) who has a record of voting, a personal life and a public statements so long that Rove can spoon out a psuedo scandal a day into the yawning maw of the political media until Kerry has been morphed into a bizarre combination of Hanoi Jane Donald Trump, Al Gore and Foghorn Leghorn.

Nonetheless, it looks like Kerry is poised to win, Dean is poised to be the goat and everybody else is poised to disappear because nobody can get their message out over the rank silliness of the media narrative --- at the very time when people are actually paying attention and need the information.

So, the other candidates will go negative. It's the only way to make the mediawhores look up from their soap opera scripts and sniff the air for something nasty and enticing. Once they do, of course, they will tut-tut about how sad and desperate it all is. But, they have no choice but to try to change the narrative and refocus the little lemmings in another direction. It's not pretty, but I can't see what other options exist.

Normally, I would not encourage the Democrats to go negative on each other. However, I think if they are going to do it, the time is now. If Kerry sweeps on Tuesday, the game is over before he has been properly tested. And, then we're stuck. I like Kerry, and I voted for him in 1984. I'm a liberal, after all. But, he has got some general election weaknesses you can drive a semi through. The voters need to know this and he needs to show how he's going to deal with them before we make this decision.

The Dean story has so overshadowed everything else, for good and ill, that the other candidates have not gotten a proper airing. If Kerry can take the kind of heat that Dean underwent, then he deserves to win. But, to let him win as a default is a grave mistake.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Ooooh, so that's why they call them "mediawhores"

Final note from Sunday night: Which well-known “Fox Democrat” approached the comedians’ table and boasted about how much money Fox pays her? (Brought it up twice!) “That’s exactly what we’ve been saying,” one mordant wag later said.

Via the incomparable Daily Howler

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Card Smarting

Regarding the post below, I thank those who wrote to fill me in on the meaning of Dean's speech. I had read it, and the two articles I linked and was skeptical of the McCullough spin. However, I don't think it was out of line for me to have had questions about Dean's comments even though he made it clear that he was a believer in privacy rights. The substance of his remarks about this new technology was, at least, murky.

I realize it isn't the biggest deal in the world and I don't plan on making a crusade out of this. It's just a hot button issue with me. I'm dead set against a national smart-card and I'm extremely resistant to using property rights (in the guise of copyrights) as an excuse to further encroach on individual liberty.

Having said that, it goes without saying that our civil liberties would be in much safer hands with Howard Dean in charge than Junior and the Calico Cat-Man. I never meant to suggest otherwise.

Dean On Individual Liberty

I just got a note from Charlie Stross asking if I knew anything about this. I confess I didn't, but after reading the article, I am concerned. I'm one of those "left-libertarian" types on the political compass (I score in the same area as Noam Chomsky, if you can believe that) so privacy and civil liberties are a huge deal to me.

Do any of you internet Deaniacs out there have some information about this?

Dean's current stand on privacy appears to leave little wiggle room: His campaign platform pledges unwavering support for "the constitutional principles of equality, liberty and privacy."

Fifteen months before Dean said he would seek the presidency, however, the former Vermont governor spoke at a conference in Pittsburgh co-sponsored by smart-card firm Wave Systems where he called for state drivers' licenses to be transformed into a kind of standardized national ID card for Americans. Embedding smart cards into uniform IDs was necessary to thwart "cyberterrorism" and identity theft, Dean claimed. "We must move to smarter license cards that carry secure digital information that can be universally read at vital checkpoints," Dean said in March 2002, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. "Issuing such a card would have little effect on the privacy of Americans."

Dean also suggested that computer makers such as Apple Computer, Dell, Gateway and Sony should be required to include an ID card reader in PCs--and Americans would have to insert their uniform IDs into the reader before they could log on. "One state's smart-card driver's license must be identifiable by another state's card reader," Dean said. "It must also be easily commercialized by the private sector and included in all PCs over time--making the Internet safer and more secure."

This article indicates that there might be something more to the story. I reserve judgment. But, I'd like to hear from people who could shed some light on this.

My Fearless Primary Prediction

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict with total confidence that today the people of New Hampshire are going to go into voting booths all over the state and vote for the candidate of their choice. The television pundits will begin to hint broadly at the winners at about 3pm eastern time based upon exit poll information they have promised not to share with the public until the polls close. Unable to help themselves, they will wink and nod and "let slip" all kinds of information to those who are watching closely.

Then, about 30 seconds after the designated closing time they will reveal the winner.

That's my prediction.

Oh, you want winners and losers?

Well, my crystal ball is as foggy as always, but it looks as if the New England homeboys Kerry and Dean are going to come in 1st and 2nd, which is only noteworthy because both of them have already performed a Lazarus-like resurrection. Third or fourth are probably Clark/Edwards --- which means that New Hampshire could have been predicted last fall with almost total accuracy.

The real story of New Hampshire is that Howard Dean has the humility, nimbleness and flexibility to learn from defeat and live to fight another day. He's shown me more in his handling of the post Iowa bitch lap than he did in all the months of Deaniac fever. If he comes back strong tonight the slate is clean and he's back in business.

One thing seems sure. The pundits' pronouncements of inevitability or death should probably be seen as signs that the opposite is true. So far, they have written off Kerry, Dean and Edwards at least once and if Clark doesn't take 3rd today he's next. And so far, they have been wrong each time. The February 3rd race will probably show who has legs and who doesn't, but tonight the pundits are going to make a bunch of premature pronouncements about all of the candidates that I guarantee are wrong. Their track record in this race so far is worse than I've ever seen it.

As I said before, I'm not afraid of a long primary fight. It's the best show on TV. Bush is sinking in the polls (even the virtually guaranteed SOTU bounce didn't happen) because he's being shown up by all of our candidates as a gibberish babbling moron every time you see him speak. People had forgotten what president's are supposed to sound like. We're reminding them every day.

I say let's keep it going for as long as possible. We can take the pressure and so can our candidates. You can't buy this kind of exposure.

Ten Patriots

As we all sit on pins and needles today awaiting the outcome of a very exciting primary I think it would do us all good to take a step back and give a word of thanks to the ten Democrats who had the guts and the stamina to take on The Mighty Wurlitzer and all that that entails. You have to admire every single one of them for being willing to put themselves through the meatgrinder of modern politics, sacrificing their time, their families and personal reputations to face a shallow derisive media and a ruthless, highly motivated foe. They are patriots, one and all.

In putting themselves in the line of fire, these Democrats have finally changed the political narrative that seemed to be frozen in time after 9/11. They took on the Warrior King from every different angle – from Howard Dean’s brave dissent on the Iraq war to John Edwards’ brilliant assessment of Bush’s “war on work” to Kucinich’s erudite defense of liberalism to Clark’s scathing expert critique of Bush’s failed foreign policy to Kerry’s fighting words against the special interests to Sharpton’s witty prodding of Democrats’ consciences, to Carol Mosely-Braun’s smiling reminders of the concerns of women to Bob Graham’s important early assessment of the terrorism threat. The message is finally out there. The inexorable Bush juggernaut has been stopped.

All of these people have been out there making our case for us, getting the Democratic view before the people, reminding Americans that there is a different way, that there is a better way. They’ve challenged the prevailing storyline. People now see that they are not alone in mistrusting this administration. They realize that even though the press behaves as if Bush is invincible, there are many people in the country who beg to differ.

Most importantly, even though there are some frayed feelings between the various camps and we are all pulling for our candidates to prevail, it’s clear that these ten patriotic Americans have actually pulled the Democratic Party together. They gave us hope, they gave us inspiration and most of all they gave us our voice back. The Democratic position is once again getting equal time.

To all the Democratic candidates, each of whom has more intelligence, integrity, courage compassion and common sense in their little fingers than the entire Bush Administration combined --- I salute you. I’d be proud to have any one of you as my president.

Cross posted on American Street where there are many interesting items to read. Go.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Oh My Goodness, Here's Another One

President Bush defends drug addict and possible felon as "great american":




President Bush expressed support of radio star Rush Limbaugh in conversations with top staff on Thursday, a senior administration source told the DRUDGE REPORT.

"Rush is a great American," the president said of the beleaguered host, who has championed the conservative movement for decades. "I am confident he can overcome any obstacles he faces right now."

Limbaugh is to host his daily broadcast from New York City on Friday.

This is troubling. I'm afraid that I'm going to have to demand that President Bush at least distance himself from these remarks. He will definitely have to disavow the Oxycontin-popping, doctor-shopping, parking-lot drug scoring, "great American" at some point unless he is willing to be held accountable for Limbaugh's drug use.

You can tell a lot about a man by his friends....

McAulife Rips Off His Tutu On National TV

From the Karl Rove "I wish I'd never told Fred Barnes to make a big deal out of this" department:

BLITZER: Terry McAuliffe, when Wesley Clark was on that stage with Michael Moore, one of his campaign supporters, and Moore called President Bush a deserter and General Clark refused to distance himself from that comment right away, was that a huge blunder? You don't believe that President Bush was a deserter, do you?

MCAULIFFE: Well, Wolf, in order to to be a deserter, you have to actually show up.

Let's just deal with the facts. As you know, when President Bush got out of college in 1968, it was at the height of the draft. It's well known that the president, former president, used some of his influence to get George Bush into the Texas National Guard.

He then wanted to go to Alabama and work on a Senate campaign. So he went to Alabama for a year while he was in the National Guard, and he never showed up.

I mean, I would call it AWOL. You call it whatever you want. But the issue is the president did not show up for the year he was in Alabama, when he was supposed to show up for the National Guard.

BLITZER: All right.

MCAULIFFE: And I think that's what Mr. Moore was trying to say.


BLITZER: Hold on one second. I'm going to let you respond.

But I want to make sure I heard you right. Are you saying you don't dispute what Michael Moore was saying, branding the president of the United States as having been a deserter?

MCAULIFFE: He never should have called him a deserter. There are other issues that you can say -- AWOL, just didn't show up for duty. But he shouldn't have called him a deserter. Let's get out of this discourse in American politics. Let's just deal with the facts.

BLITZER: All right.

MCAULIFFE: The facts are that George Bush didn't show up when he was supposed to in the National Guard, and that's just the fact.

But I wouldn't call him a deserter, nor should anybody call the president a deserter.

GILLESPIE: Well, Wolf, I'm glad to hear Terry acknowledge that what Michael Moore said was reprehensible. But Terry's wrong that the president was AWOL in the National Guard. That is not accurate. The president served honorably in the National Guard.

This is one of the -- the Democrats throw these charges out there. They're just completely inaccurate, and it's unfortunate that they stoop to this kind of politics.

But we're going to hear more of these kind of attacks against the president, personal attacks, because they don't want to talk about their policies because their policies are wrong for America. Raising taxes, reducing our national security expenditures and making us weaker when it comes to winning the war against terror are the wrong policies for America. That's the bottom line, and that's why President Bush is going to be successful in November.

BLITZER: Ted Gillespie and Terry McAuliffe, we'll leave it right there. But we'll have both of you back. I understand both of you will be here in New Hampshire on Tuesday. You'll probably be on one of our shows here on CNN. Thanks very much for joining us.

Quick ... the smelling salts!

Now, there was a time when it was considered a-ok to call the president a rapist, a murderer and pervert and a traitor all within the space of one segment of Hardball, and there was nary a complaint. They drew pictures of his penis, psychoanalysed both him and his wife, accused them of sexual deviancy, assault and corruption on an epic scale.

But, that was a different time. Let the word go forth that we must all line up behind our Dear Leader and NEVER, EVER even hint that he is anything less than perfect. It's treasonous, actually. Terry McAuliffe is obviously an enemy combatant who belongs in a 3x5 cell in Gitmo.

Bipartisan Disavowal Treatment

Peter Jennings, Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer and others have been relentless in their pursuit of a proper repudiation of Michael Moore and his deserter comment from Wesley Clark.

As many of you know, I am a big believer in the newdisavowel movement in this country. Guilt by association is an excellent political shortcut and I'm all for it. As Peter Jennings said at the debate the other night, "You can tell a lot about a man by his friends." Politicians, bloggers, supporters and others must realize that they are not only responsible for their own words, but they are responsible for their friends' words as well. And, if anyone takes issue with your friends you must be prepared to defend or reject them on that basis alone. It's the American way.

But, I do wonder if the media's new insistence on taking responsibility for your supporters words is in danger of not being seen as fair and balanced and I think that would be such a shame. For instance, while I'm sure it's nothing to worry about, I was struck that nobody seems to have asked the president about this:

Miller Emerges as New Voice for Bush Re-Election

Sat June 28, 2003 03:10 PM ET

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - A new voice has emerged in the re-election campaign of President Bush, that of Dennis Miller, who is gaining a reputation as a conservative comic by attacking Democrats with biting humor.

Miller flew on Air Force One from San Francisco to Los Angeles with the president on Friday, and later gave a stand-up routine at a Bush fund-raiser in Los Angeles.

"I spent an amazing couple of hours with Dennis Miller," Bush said during his Los Angeles speech after Miller's routine. "He keeps you on your toes."

He added: "I was also honored to meet his wife, Carolyn. Like me, he married above himself. It may not be all that hard, in his case. But I'm proud to have his help."

Miller, who was an analyst on ABC's "Monday Night Football, had an HBO comedy show and does commentary for Fox News, adds a celebrity touch to Bush's re-election campaign, much like actor Bruce Willis did in 1992 when Bush's father ran for re-election.

Bush remained offstage until after Miller's often caustic comic performance during the fund-raiser that drew in $3.5 million, most of it in $2,000 checks from 1,600 people.

For instance, he took aim at West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, a Democratic elder statesmen who has questioned the Iraq war and its chaotic aftermath.

Even some in the crowd of Republican loyalists booed when Miller said of Byrd: "I think he must be burning the cross at both ends."

Responding to the boos, Miller said: "Well, he was in the (Ku Klux) Klan. Boo me, but he was in the Klan."

He likened the nine Democratic presidential candidates running to unseat Bush in 2004 to the 1962 New York Mets, perennial losers, and called them an "empty-headed scrum."

He had a special barb for one candidate, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who has questioned the Iraq war, comparing him to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who followed a policy of appeasement of Nazi Germany in the years before World War II.

"He can roll up his sleeves all he wants at public events, but as long as we see that heart tattoo with Neville Chamberlain's name on his right forearms, he's never going anywhere," Miller said.

I would be hesitant to call this political hate speech and gawd knows, that Hitler ad that was on the Move-On web-site for 3 and a half minutes was shocking in its allusion to Bush and incipient naziism. But, it seems to me that the whole forearm tattoo reference to Chamberlain might also be seen as a bit tasteless as was the crossburning thing. I could be wrong. (Calling the Democratic candidates "empty headed scrum" is just fine, of course. Who doesn't believe that?)

I realize that nothing could be worse than implying that our Codpiece in Chief is anything but brave and true and heroic, but I still think it could be said that the media aren't holding him to the same standards if they don't at least ask him if he thinks he might want to disavow Miller. He did spend time with him on Air Force One and he did say he was "proud to have his help...." after he made those comments.

I'm sure Bush will clear this right up in a hurry and everyone can get back to harrassing Democrats as it should be. It's just a little housekeeping, that's all.