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Sunday, February 29, 2004


Am I the only one who thought that Elizabeth Bumiller made an ass of herself this morning in the NY debate? I know they probably told her to try to keep it moving, but she certainly seemed to relish interrupting with what were usually non-sequitors. She was inappropriately hostile, as if she were upset that the candidates were not giving her proper respect. It was odd, I thought. She should keep her day job as a Heather because she certainly isn't ready for day time.

Not that the others were great. Dan Rather looked as if he needed a double shot of espresso. I don't know what's happened to that guy. At one time he was right up there with Woodward and Bernstein in exposing a corrupt president. He personally turned poor Ron Zeigler into a walking rolaids commercial.

Oh wait. He 's still just like Woodward and Bernstein. Just like them he's part of a fat and flaccid establishment press that is paid to write historical fiction about Junior's bravery and go on television and profess to be willing to sign on to whatever the president wants him to do. I forgot.

Friday, February 27, 2004

The Price Of Allowing An Idiot To Be President

Ron Suskind has a mind blowing article up on Slate called The Free-Lunch Bunch - The Bush team's secret plan to "reform" Social Security.

During the 2000 campaign, candidate George W. Bush seemed particularly confident about his ability to pay for Social Security reform. Despite independent estimates that creating the kind of "voluntarily" private accounts he envisioned could cost more than $1 trillion, Bush consistently took the position that he could reform Social Security for free, without undermining promises to baby boomers anticipating retirement over the next several decades.

Why was Bush so sure of himself? According to documents unearthed yesterday from the trove of 19,000 files given to me by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, and a bit of additional probing, candidate Bush and later President Bush believed in the "Lindsey Plan." These documents show us what the president thought about Social Security reform at the only moment over the past three years—the fall of 2001—when he was fully engaged with this issue.

Larry Lindsey, Bush's tutor on economics during the campaign and later chairman of the White House's National Economic Council, devised a scheme based on creative accounting principles. Essentially, it proposed that the government would issue substantial new debt to sustain old-style benefits. This debt would be serviced and paid down by confiscating revenues from the higher returns from those opting for new-style personal accounts

For the first nine months of the administration, this was called the "free-lunch" plan—a painless way to convert to a blended, private-accounts model. Inside of the Treasury Department and the Council of Economic Advisers, however, officials were befuddled by it. Lindsey seemed to have never called upon analysts inside the Social Security Administration to run the traps on his idea. Treasury and CEA did—and the numbers didn't even come close to working out. But that didn't stop Lindsey, or the president, from believing in and promoting the "free-lunch" plan. These two memos on RonSuskind.com, which have never before been released, show what Bush and others in the White House were actually thinking about Social Security reform.


In the post-9/11 environment, the report vanished with little notice. But should the president take Greenspan's recent suggestion and instigate a debate about Social Security again, we will now have some idea what he means by "reform."

Junior's courtiers are magical thinkers. Bush himself is not nearly intelligent enough to understand this stuff and he trusts all the wrong people. His vaunted instinct is nothing more than emotional responses to appeals to his vanity. How is it possible for one administration to find an important position for every single nutjob in the party?

Oh that's right:

(This discusses foreign policy, but the total cock-up in economic policy is the result of the same forces.)

...Cheney was put in charge of the presidential transition (the period between the election in November and the accession to office in January). Cheney used this opportunity to stack the administration with his hardline allies. Instead of becoming the de facto president in foreign policy, as many had expected, Secretary of State Powell found himself boxed in by Cheney's right-wing network, including Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Bolton and Libby.

The neo-cons took advantage of Bush's ignorance and inexperience. Unlike his father, a Second World War veteran who had been ambassador to China, director of the CIA and vice-president, George W was a thinly educated playboy who had failed repeatedly in business before becoming the governor of Texas, a largely ceremonial position (the state's lieutenant governor has more power). His father is essentially a north-eastern, moderate Republican; George W, raised in west Texas, absorbed the Texan cultural combination of machismo, anti-intellectualism and overt religiosity. The son of upper-class Episcopalian parents, he converted to southern fundamentalism in a midlife crisis. Fervent Christian Zionism, along with an admiration for macho Israeli soldiers that sometimes coexists with hostility to liberal Jewish-American intellectuals, is a feature of the southern culture.

Let's face it. He's a childlike man who is manipulated by people who make him feel powerful.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

If That Is Indeed His Name

I don't know who the guy in the turtleneck is, but Atrios is a well known 52 year old performance artist. This guy is an imposter.

Smear Collectibles

John Emerson at Seeing the Forest has started a Kerry (and Cleland) Smear Page.

I think this is a good idea. We have to keep track of these things in some kind of systematic manner, if only for water cooler purposes.


John Kerry just gave me another good reason to vote for him.
It's been awhile since I heard a presidential candidate make a good argument against the death penalty. The last time, I think, was 1988 and that didn't work out too well.

Times have changed, though. The DNA revolution has proved that we are executing innocent people, which has always been my main objection to it. It's good to hear a national candidate make this argument at the right time.

Our death penalty system is a national disgrace. If they want to re-run the 1988 election, fine. Except for all the the peace and prosperity there's not a lot of difference between then and now.

Best Post Title Of The Week:

The Merchants of the Temple are Selling Sadomaso-catechisms

It's a damned good post, too.

Common Sense

When you compare the fortunes of the Hummer to those of its opposite—Toyota's hybrid Prius, which can get upwards of 50 miles per gallon—it looks like the market may be shifting. First sold in the United States in 2000, the diminutive Prius remained a curiosity as the Hummer rose to celebrity. But sales rose to about 20,000 in 2002 and to 24,000 in 2003. Since the new 2004 model was introduced in the fall, the Prius has been stomping the Hummer. In November 2003, the Prius outsold the H2 by a 2-to-1 margin, according to Autodata. In January 2004, Prius sales were up 82 percent from January 2003.

For the 2004 model year, Toyota initially boosted production 50 percent to 36,000. But demand has been strong enough that production has already been increased to 47,000. And that's still not enough. My Toyota dealer doesn't have a Prius on the lot and says that interested purchasers must put down a deposit today and wait six months. By contrast, my local Hummer dealer has several on the lot.

Comparing the Prius and the Hummer is like comparing apples and oranges, or apples and watermelons. The Hummer costs more than twice as much as the Prius—although the absurd, huge federal tax break available to purchasers of giant vehicles for business use reduces the price a lot. (Those who purchase a Prius receive a smaller and shrinking tax break.)


Those who buy Hummers and Priuses are symbolic, marginal buyers. But economists will tell you that behavior at the margins can influence entire markets. In the summer of 2002, the marginal buyers were pushing hard for the gas guzzlers. Today, more people are clamoring for fuel-efficient cars.

It's amazing how rising gas prices and a shitty economy can force big macho Americans to wake up. Or listen to their wives...

Constitutional Tinkering

The great Charles Pierce writes in on Altercation today to acknowledge the fact that Andrew Sullivan does seem to be genuinely anguished over Karl Rove's craven capitulation to the wing-nuts. He also points out something that I think is important and has not been discussed in any depth (except by me -- to me) which is that this is just the latest in a whole line of assaults on the constitution.

Pierce points out that that this isn't the first time that the constitution has been used to discriminate. Indeed it our sacred document was founded on the heinous 3/5th compromise, so one could say that it took a civil war to purge the document of its inherent discrimination. But, even more recent history shows that a blatant disregard for the constitution, the traditions undergirding it, the fundamental firmament of it have been declared fair game by the right wing.

The impeachment is the best example. That provision clearly was designed not to be used as a political football, what with its super majority requirement for conviction and the obvious definition that it apply to high crimes and misdemeanors. It was used only once prior and that was while the country was just emerging from a civil war in which the president was perceived to be sympathizing with the losing side. Never before had anyone thought it should be used in a case of minor sexual indiscretion that caused no threat to the nation (as a "pillow-talk" spy scandal would, for instance.)

Clinton's impeachment was used as a blatantly political weapon to force him to resign, which thankfully, with the backing of the American people, he did not do. Nevertheless, it loosened the informal but serious restrictions against a powerful congress usurping the will of the people by attempting to remove a duly elected president on dubious legal grounds. Politicians had always before tried to steer clear of this type of unreviewable constitutional messiness because it is just the kind of thing that could truly destabilize what has become the most remarkably stable democracy on earth. No more.

Then, just 2 years later, unelected Supreme Court judges who had been appointed by the candidate's father and/or party decided a national election despite the fact that the constitution laid out a complicated scheme to require that elected representatives resolve just such issues in the congress and be answerable to the people for the outcome.

And as Pierce says:

Why shouldn't C-Plus Augustus look upon the Constitution as little more than a Post-It note for his campaign? It's not like We, The People respect it that much any more. We -- and our representatives -- handed the Bill of Rights over to John Ashcroft for use as a bathmat, after allowing its provisions to be recast as "loopholes" in our jurisprudence and our popular culture for nearly 30 years. The fact that Congress has willingly deeded over its war powers to the executive -- apparently in perpetuity -- is treated as the natural order of things, and not as the towering constitutional heresy that it is. Let's not even get into the fact that any country that truly respected the Constitution would have taken Tony Scalia out for a walk years ago.

There is an undemocratic strain in the modern Republican party that gets stronger and stronger as the far right exerts its muscle. As I wrote here, on American Street, this is becoming a rather serious problem not only for Democrats who have long had to deal with this stubborn GOP unwillingness to compromise on anything, but for Karl Rove who is finding out just what a problem it is trying to govern when a large portion of the electorate insists upon moving further and further to the right every time you compromise or appease them. At some point, the country, moderate at heart, stops supporting such rightward actions and rebels.

This is what forces the GOP to nuclear options like constitutional amendments, violent demagoguery and impeachment. If you can't persuade a majority, and they can't, you end up trying to rule by force.

The far right wing is a very dangerous movement, as Dave Neiwert and others have laid out in such detail. I'm sorry that it took something this obviously bigoted to get someone like Sullivan's attention, but I'm glad it finally has.

However, the fact is that they have been willing to tinker with the constitution for purely political reasons for some time now. It's probably not a good idea to support that no matter who is on the receiving end. It's bad news for everyone.


If they think it's a good idea to turn America's attention to the fact that Bush lied and exaggerrated and misled the American people on Iraq dozens of times on national television, in great detail, so be it. It's hard to make this president look even worse than he already does, but watching a bunch of blowhard GOP Senators try to explain his actions might just do it.

Awakening The Mook Vote

Billmon talks about Howard Stern's booting from six Clear Channel stations on Tuesday, ostensibly because of Stern's Stern's Tuesday broadcast in which they say he used sexually explicit language and graphically discussed a pornographic videotape. (He interviewed the man attached to the appendage in Paris Hilton's video.)

Understandably, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I'm sure he's never before sunk so low as to feature an interview with someone in the (gasp) porn business.

Obviously, Clear Channel would never, ever try to censor someone for political reasons. That's just unthinkable. So, even though some people might think that his Monday broadcast was the real reason he was fired, they wouldn't be right. Clear Channel, home of Rush Limbaugh and Dr Laura, would never try to stifle free speech by firing someone who said something like this:

Howard: ...over the vacation I read Al Franken's book, Lying liars who... it's great.

Robin: Yeah?

Howard: It's a great... He is phenomenal.

Artie: He's a funny guy.

Robin: That's the one that Bill O'Reilly was upset about.

Howard: I can see why.

Robin: Yeah?

Howard: He does a thing. It's really funny... I bought the book, and I said on my vacation I'm going to read Al Franken's book. Lying liars who lie... I don't even know the title. And uh... the first page he insults me.

Robin: Really?

Howard: yeah, he talks about how I'm, like me and uhh Ann Coulter are McCarthyites or something... like ya know it's was just really insulting. And I And I And I And I just said, ya know...

Robin: You, and Ann Coulter, that's interesting.

Howard: I can get past this if Al doesn't like me. But, I'm not even sure why I'm like McCarthy, but, evidently I am, according to AL and ya know what, if Al says it it must be true because

Robin: because you loved this book and he was right on about everything...

Howard: I loved the book, and he seems to be right on about everything. If you read this book you will never vote for George W Bush.

Robin: Yeah?

Howard: Because, what he does is, he takes everything that you've seen in the newspaper, and goes back and he get 12 Harvard kids...

Artie: (Laughing)

Howard: ...to research everything and to find out what really happened...

Robin: uh huh?

Howard: and when you find out the truth about stuff, it is just frightening and he does a chapter on uhh on Hannity and Colmes from the Fox news network that is so funny... I mean I can't even tell you how funny it is.

Robin: Really? I've got to get this book.

Howard: Somebody outta fund him some money then let him make a movie like what's his name does, Micheal Moore.

Robin: Yeah.

Howard: Yeah. He is he is really good.

Robin: Well he's going to be on that radio, the liberal radio network.

Howard: I'll listen to him. I'll listen to him if it's as good as that book.

Robin; that's what he's planning to do

Howard: Lying liars who lie or something like that

Robin; I know it's all about lies that lying liars tell.

Howard: Yeah, and it's really funny.

Artie: Well he's one of those guys even if you disagree with his politics you think he's funny...

Howard: Yeah!

Artie: ...because he's such a funny guy

Robin: But he convinced you it sounds.

Howard: Oh oh... he was so it was awesome, the book is awesome. I'm going to give tone...

Robin: All right, I'm going to get it.

Howard: ...to Scott Depace who's like one of those guys who the republicans can do no wrong.

Fred: (Southern Accent) No thank you!

Howard: (Southern Accent) I'm not readin' that!

Fred: (Southern Accent) I'm not readin' nun uh dat der bull...

Robin: (Southern Accent) I don't want my mind opened.

Howard: (Southern Accent) Don't open up my mind.

Robin: (Southern Accent) I like it closed.

Howard: Well I've been feeling really horrible about George W Bush since what's going on with the FCC and what's going on in this country with stem cell research. What's going on now

Robin: the abortion thing

Howard: the abortion thing. I feel that there's way too much government in our lives, and I can't believe G W Bush is behind it. I think this guy is a religious fanatic and a Jesus freak.

Robin: Uh huh.

Howard: and he is just on a hell bent on getting some sort bizarro agenda through, like a country club agenda that his father will be finally proud of him. And uhh I I umm I don't know much about Kerry but I think that I'm one of them anybody but Bush guys now, ever since the FCC stuff went down and it directly effects me and even some of the things with the economy.

Baba Booey: Don't you think that it's weird...

Robin: Well, the economy is a big a huge issue.

Howard: I don't think G W is going to win. What do you think of that?

So, suddenly John Hogan, Bush Ranger and CEO of Clear Channel discovers that Howards Stern talks about pornography on his show and is offended.

The day after Stern made the above remarks.

Coincidence, I'm sure.

Billmon believes that Karl is orchestrating this and using Clear Channel as a cut-out to appeal to the religious fnatics who seem to be holding his hand over a flaming burner these days. He may be right.

But, he also says, and I agree, that they are playing with fire with another Bush constituency --- the "Fuck You boys," as Stan Greenberg calls them, or simply the "Mooks" as I call them. Young, white, male assholes, basically. If they vote, it's usually because they've been told to by their culture heroes.

The mooks worship Howard. He is their Rush Limbaugh and if he turns it into a crusade, they'll vote. These guys are amongst the vast alienated 50% of Americans who aren't usually interested in politics. Take away their Howard and they just might get motivated.

The mooks are unhappy.

Might I just mention before I get a slew of e-mails about what a misogynist jerk Howard Stern is, that I agree that he's a misogynist jerk but at this point I just can't get too worked up about it when Rush "Hitlery killed Vince Foster" Limbaugh is being feted at the White House and given a national forum in which to excuse his felonious money laundering and doctor shopping. If he has freedom of speech, then Stern has freedom of speech, period. And if Stern can bring in a few mook votes then I'm with him. I have no interest in playing purity games when this kind of blatent corporate/political gamesmanship is going on.

Furthermore, it's just a little bit galling that a violent, pornographic snuff film that features 15 minutes of big juicy close-ups of hunks of flesh flying off the human body as it is flogged with barbed whips is deemed appropriate for children by supposedly good Christians while they have a complete hissy fit over a 5 second long shot of Janet Jackson's nipple on television.

These people are intellectually incoherent and have no business lecturing anyone in this country about morality.

Corrected to reflect that the correct sadistic flesh gouging implement of the period was not barbed wire, but barbed whips.

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.