Thursday, March 25, 2004


Continued horrid, frustrating, and painful computer problems.

Will be back when they are resolved. I apologize.

Thursday, March 11, 2004


Even though it's probably the ETA and not Al Quaeda, those people are still just as dead.

I've been worried for quite some time that terrorists would figure out how easy it is to hit soft targets in the West, and mass transit is actually more secure than many other places. Shopping malls, movie theaters, high school basketball games, office buildings, and crowded restaurants would all be good places to kill hundreds of people with one well-placed bomb.

Robert Kaplan has written about the way people react to ever-present danger in places like Lebanon and Israel. They basically have two choices:

1) Bunker down, keep out of public, and essentially close off most of life to avoid danger

2) Go on as if they weren't in any danger, even in the face of constant evidence to the contrary

Oddly, it's the people in #1 who end up the worse off, because every single one of them suffers the effects of terrorism. Every single one of them lives a shrinking, constricted life of limited opportunities, and making our day-to-day lives intolerable is one of the chief goals of terrorism.

Some of the people in #2 will end up being vicitms of terrorism, random street crime, or whatever else we worry about as we sit behind locked doors. Most victims will actually come from that group, as they're the ones in harm's way most often. But the vast majority of people who carry on with their lives won't become victims. That's what we need to keep in mind.

We can either take a small, calculated risk of becoming a victim; or we can guarantee that our lives are harmed. It's up to us.

Dear CNN, Fox, MSNBC, et al

Please, please stop replaying the video of the hockey player from the Canucks getting his neck broken. It's not as disturbing as your constant replays of the jet hittng the WTC on Sept 11th, but it's still really freaking me out.

On a side note, I'm glad my kid didn't want to play collision sports by the time he was old enough for me to let him (skateboarding and soccer are dangerous enough).

Thank you

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Just as I thought

Reader Sheila was nice enough to provide a link to a study ranking each Senator on a liberal/conservative scale based on their rollcall votes.

I guess saying Kerry has the 22nd most liberal voting record in the Senate just doesn't have the same ring to it.
Was suprised to see Kerry tied with Lieberman and ranked as slightly more conservative than Edwards or Clinton.

Robert Byrd has the distinction of the most liberal voting record in the Senate, and also happens to have the single safest seat in the Senate (even as a Red State Democrat). To have a chance of losing an election in WV, Byrd would have to get caught in bed with a dead woman or a live boy, and even then it would be too close to call.

I was also surprised to see Lincoln Chafee ranked as more conservative than every Democrat but Zell Miller, and McCain as the 4th most conservative Republican. Makes sense, though. McCain tries to push his Party a bit towards the center verbally, but pretty much toes the line in voting.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

First Line of Attack

Have noticed the exact phrase Most liberal voting record in the Senate being bandied about in regards to John Kerry (Chris Matthews used it last night at least twice). The wording is exactly the same every time I hear it.

This is not a coincidence. Much as the Republicans repeated invented the internet over and over again until it was conventional wisdom about Al Gore, they're gonna repeat most liberal voting record in the Senate over and over and over about Kerry.

Doesn't matter if it's not true (I'm thinking Kennedy, Feingold, Leahy, and quite a few others have more liberal records than Kerry). Doesn't matter if it's easily disproven (how easy was it to look up the exact quote of what Gore actually said about the internet?). All that matters is that it gets repeated.

You repeat something like this often enough and it gets planted in the mind, regardless of the facts (a good example is the constant repetition of Reagan won the Cold War over and over again).

Every single use of this phrase needs to be challenged, over and over again. If it doesn't, then the propagandists win.

Note to Arnold:

Borrowing $15 billion to avoid making difficult choices (most of whcih would break campaign promises) is not, in any way, fixing your state's budget crisis or solving any problem at all.

It is simply passing on your own problems to your children's generation (don't think for a minute that the debt will be paid off in your lifetime). It is also setting a bad precedent for dealing with, or more correctly, shirking future problems (much as Reagan set a precedent for Bush).

Welcome to Bush's America:

Faced with difficult choice?
Just pass it on to your kids
You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, February 26, 2004

What Greenspan Didn't Say

While I'm grateful that the Fed Chairman both embarrassed George Bush and pointed out a much needed truth by stating that the Federal deficits are a really big problem that we can't expect our selves to just grow out of, his framing of the debate was fundamentally dishonest.

Alan Greenspan seems to think that we should respond to the upcoming retirement of hordes of Baby Boomers by cutting their benefits. This, indeed, would disguise the size of our budget deficit (much as our current misappropriation of Social Security funds does). But it wouldn't really reduce that deficit.

The truth of the matter, and something you never hear on television, is that the Social Security fund is in surplus, has been for decades, and will be for decades to come. It's the rest of the Federal budget that is out of whack.

Social Security used to be pretty much a pay-as-you-go sort of deal. We'd take in roughly what we paid out, just like we claim to want to do with the rest of the government. But in the early 80's, Ronald Reagan ran into a problem. His tax cuts ans sepnding increases were inflating the Federal deficit ot unheard of levels. Instead of admitting the truth, that we couldn't afford to spend more money than ever before while drastically cutting taxes for rich people (sound familiar?)

Instead, Reagan and his budget people start, for the first time in their lives, expressing concern for the solvency of the Social Security system. The solution, of course, was to raise the payroll taxes on every single working person in the United States. This surplus, above and beyond what is needed to fund the program currently, is then loaned to the rest of the Federal government.

Conveniently enough, the government doesn't include this money borrowed from Social Security in its announced budget deficit. It's still borrowed, and it's still spent. But it's considered off the books, and doesn't go into the final number (I'm guessing that this will be somewhere short of $200 billion this year).

That's right, folks. The Bush deficits are a couple hundred billion dollars higher than announced, because this doesn't take into account that they're borrowing the Social Security surplus in addition to a crap-load of private funds. We only had a couple years where we were in a real surplus situation, and even them the surplus wasn't very big. Any intelligent person in the same situation would've used it to pay down their debt, not to fund a spending spree.

So when Greenspan tells us to cut Social Security benefits rather than dump Bush's tax cuts to balance the budget, he's really telling us Don't spend that Social Security revenue where it really came from, use it to continue hidng how fucked up our Federal budget really is.

For that's what we'd be doing. We'd be using taxes paid on earned income starting with dollar number one to offset tac cuts that only effect people who make hundreds of thousands a year (who, BTW, pay the same payroll taxes as someone who makes ninety thousand since the taxes are capped). Then we'd be cutting those same working stiffs' benefits when they retired.

This isn't too surprising. After all, one of the guys who came up with Reagan's end run around facing his deficits in the 80's was.....Alan Greenspan.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Quote of the Election

I'm going to do everything in my power to help re-defeat George W Bush.
- Jim Sasser (former Senator/Ambassador)

Why Kerry Should Want Edwards to Stay in the Race

There's been a lot of call lately for every Democrat to unite behind John Kerry as the Presidential nominee. This has some superficial appeal, but really isn't the best way to go.

The conventional wisdom is that a bruising primary with lots of mudslinging hurts a general election candidate, and this is true. Not only does getting slammed by people in your own Party weaken your support, but slamming them in return makes their supporters less likely to support you in the Fall.

But John Edwards has not run the kind of negative campaign that is actually going to hurt Kerry. Instead, Edwards has run a campaign based on the inequities in Bush's America and what he would do to redress them. This is exactly the kind of message the Democrats should want on the airwaves, and what they should want the voters thinking about. There is nothing in Edwards' message likely to hurt Kerry at all in a general election and quite a bit likely to help him.

The other reason Kerry needs Edwards in the race is that without viable opposition, Kerry stops being a story. Right now, John Kerry is a big deal wherever he goes and whatever he does. In fact, right now he's a bigger story than George Bush. Kerry can hog the limelight as long as he's in a competitive Primary. As soon as everyone else folds, Kerry's visits to swing states and policy speeches will get much less play.

There are plenty of Primaries left in swing states. It's in every Democrats interest that these Primaries get as much attention as possible and that the overall Democratic message gets out to the general public. They only do so as long as a viable opponent stays in the race, and John Edwards is the only one who hasn't gone negative on John Kerry.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

John Kerry Should Thank Howard Dean Profusely

By claiming the left wing of the Democratic Party as his own, Dean created space towards the center for Kerry to emerge as a "moderate" alternative. Without Dean in the race, Kerry would've been the most liberal viable candidate; and centrist support would've drifted to the candidate who best positioned himself as the moderate alternative to that liberal Kerry.

I don't know if the voter perception of Kerry as a moderate will hold through the general election. Unfortunately, most of the swing voters and Reagan Democrats probably aren't paying enough ettention right now to form a lasting impression of Kerry before the Bush war machine gets cranked up.

This could've all been different. If Dean had emphasized his moderate record as Governor rather than running almost solely on the war (until just before the election), he might've actually emerged as the moderate alternative, rather than as the liberal sacrificial lamb.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Political Notes

Judy Woodruff seemed really pissed the other day that all the Democrats spend more time bashing Bush than each other. I think the people saying that a long, contested Primary that focuses on how much Bush sucks and doesn't go bitterly negative is good for the Democrats are onto something.

Bush never seems more incomprehensible than when trying to explain away the whole WMD in Iraq thing. Admit it, George. There aren't any, and there weren't any when you invaded. Just admit it and change the subject.

Edwards and Clark both take a lot of the cultural wedge issues out of play, as neither is easy to portray as the elitist Yankee liberal the Pubbies like to run against. Kerry does. He defuses the national security issue pretty well, though. So expect a campaign based on abortion, gays and guns if Kerry gets the nod (with taxes and subtle appeals to racism thrown into the mix).

I really don't see how Bush wins a positive campaign based on the issues and on competence, so I don't expect one. Given how the Press loves to decry negative campaigning, they don't seem too upset that the Republicans will spend a couple hundred million dollars slandering the Democratic nominee. Of course, the Press will get most of that money as ad revenue, so don't expect an outcry anytime soon.

How the hell can anyone who gives a damn about the Bill of Rights not get pissed over the advent of First Amendment Zones. If you can stand on a streetcorner with a poster supporting a politician, then I should be able to stand next to you with one criticizing him. If I can't, then the 1st Amendment means nothing. I don't know how to make this enough of a political issue to get the Bushies to cut it out, but it needs to be done (and if it were a Democrat doing it, I'd publicly refuse to vote for him until he quit).

There are not words enough to state how pissed I am that my kids and grandkids will be paying off Bush's debt long after we're all gone. I was pissed at Clinton for cutting taxes in '96 as an election ploy when we still had a deficit, and I'm even more pissed now (cause the amount of money is much greater, not because of who's doing it).

Saturday, February 07, 2004


Curious Stranger has the lowdown on Chuck Robb, including drug use and sex with underage girls while Governor.

They just wanted a pliant Democrat, and they got one (I'm guessing they couldn't trust Hart or Nunn to take orders).

Monday, February 02, 2004

John Edwards for President

In these discussions about electability, we all talk about who would be the best candidate against George W Bush. This is very important, given that every viable Democratic candidate would make a far better President than Bush does.

Unfortunately, we often ignore the question of who we really want to become President. Last week I spent a good deal of time thinking about this and looking into the candidates stands on various issues. I came to a conclusion.

This is not a prediction of who will win, we'll know more about that tomorrow. I make this endorsement without concern for whether Edwards would make the best candidate against Bush (I acually think Clark probably would, with Edwards 2nd). This is simply about who would do the best job once in office.

I want John Edwards to become President.

I've often described myself as an old-school New Deal Democrat who puts more emphasis on economic than social policy. I also espouse a muscular, liberal interventionist foreign policy. Of all the candidates, John Edwards comes closest to my heart on the issues that matter most. But there is more to this as well.

Edwards is the only candidate who talks about the ongoing Brazilification of our society, its division into what he calls Two Americas. I'm very concerned that this division will become permanent, and that it will harden our society and make it both more violent and less stable as those who find the traditional paths to a comfortable life no longer there. He not only talks about it, he has very detailed policy proposals spelling out the myriad ways he would make America's promise available to all.

Edwards would make the tax code more progressive. One of the realities of the last 20 years is that the burden of taxation has been moving off of corporations and the rich and onto the backs of the middle class. By repealing those tax cuts that benefit the only the wealthy and leaving the rest, Edwards would help move the tax burden back to where it once was.

Edwards would make health insurance available for all children and for those adults who are otherwise uninsurable. To me, the logic of insuring all children is inescapable. They have done nothing to deserve either wealthy parents or poor ones, and their access to healthcare shouldn't be dependent on lucking into the proper parents.

Edwards would rebuild our relationships with our other nations, expand our commitment to humanitarian aid abroad, and do more to disrupt our enemies in Afganistan and elsewhere; while still leaving our capacity to act intact. Bush has done much to damage our international standing, much of it completely unnecessary. Edwards would rebuid this standing, which is absolutely essential to getting allies to help us abroad and to keeping America from becoming a target in the first place. He would take them into consideration in a way that Bush has not, but Edwards would not, however, allow foreign governments to have a veto over our use of force.

Most of all, John Edwards has the intelligence and adaptability to react to situations as they develop. If the last few years have shown us anything, it is that we don't know shit about the future. Remeber all those pundits saying the 2000 election really didn't matter much at all?

John Edwards is a man who can react to new situations, can think on his feet, and can be trusted to make intelligent choices.

For all these reasons and for many more, I want John Edwards to become President.

Feel free to comment one way or the other, and please take a look at Edwards' policy proposals.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Well, I was close

Don't know if this counts as a good omen for Kerry or not.

It was like an entirely new game started with a couple minutes left in the first half. Went from a defensive struggle to a shootout.

Don't know if that's an omen for the Primary either.

Prediction: Carolina by 3

Just like the Democratic Primary, this is either going to be a quick blowout by New England or a slow slog to victory by Carolina.

I'm going for the slow slog, but that may just be wishful thinking.

Saturday, January 31, 2004


How's that $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa coming along?

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Anyone From Iowa or New Hampshire?

There was some discussion on Bill Maher's new show last night that all the Deaniacs descending on Iowa and New Hampshire may have backfired. They drew a picture of a bunch of slacker hippie-wannabes with pierced noses telling traditional rural Dems who to vote for.

I was wondering if there was any truth to this.

Were the Deaniacs the sort of wild-eyed stereotypical radicals likely to turn off farm-state voters?
Or was that simply a bunch of horse-shit from people who weren't there?

I was kinda wondering about that whole Writing letters to Iowa voters thing myself. I can imagine that some of the people writing them might've gone a bit overboard in their fervor and scared the crap out of the typical suburban soccer Mom.

Am I the only one who thinks it's a sign that times have really changed when we have a woman doing the TV news named Soledad and no one even blinks?

Or when every white stockbroker's favorite athlete is a half-Thai, 1/4 black, 1/8 white, 1/8 Native American golfer with a Scandanavian wife?

Bet Against the Funeral Director

I've come up with a rule of thumb for wagering on Presidential elections (at least general elections).

See who looks most like a funeral director, and bet against him.

Shallow? Of course.

But no more shallow than letting the big donors decide, or the Supreme Court.

Gore - Bush
Clinton - Dole
Clinton - Bush
Dukakis - Bush (but this one was close)
Mondale - Reagan
Carter - Reagan
Carter - Ford

By my measure, Nixon was the last guy who won an election while looking more like a funeral director.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Watch This Video Right Now

Interesting KOS Diary on Kerry's stiff demeanor and it's portent for the Nov election:
Try to imagine courtroom whiz John Edwards one-on-one in a debate with George Bush. It would be the sort of one-sided slaughter the President of Mars so richly deserves. Dean would say two stupid things and 20 brilliant ones. Clark, whatever his other faults, radiates enough crackle to have leaped into national prominence as a TV pundit, for goodness sake.

Kerry would... umm... would... zzzzzzz...

I don't think this gets nearly enough attention from those picking Kerry based on electability. He's a boring guy. He's stiff, he's aloof, he's patrician, and he's a Yankee. Basically Kerry is a Yankee Al Gore with a better war record.

I liked Al Gore, and worked on his campaign. I think he would've made a pretty good President. But he wasn't a magnetic, charming guy, and efforts to make him come across as one always reeked of inauthenticity.

Like it or not, electoral politics is about wooing the voters and charming them with your personality. Clinton married this with popular positions on the issues, and he won. Gore was on the popular side of the vast majority of the issues, but he never made that connection with the voters. As a result, an incompetent faker pretending to be a Texas good ole boy conned his way within stealing range of the Presidency.

From what I've seen of Kerry lately, he's Gore redux. His stiff delivery of lines that should flow naturally like Bring It On, an uncomfortableness speaking to an audience, and a generally aloof manner will really hurt in November.

We need a candidate who makes voters feel comfortable with him as a person. I'm not even sure that voters can imagine Kerry as a person.

From a commenter on Daily KOS:
"In New Hamphire last night, Yalie 1 defeated Yalie 2 to secure his hold on the front-runner status in the Democratic nominating contest. Yalie 3 came in fifth but claimed to be tied for third."
"If Yalie 1 wraps up the nomination, he will have a face-off with Yalie 4, the son of Yalie 5."

"Skull and Bones was unavailable for comment."

Josh Marshall spent election day going to as many campaign rallies as possible with these highlights:
I’ve realized that it’s impossible not to believe Edwards is going to be the nominee while you’re actually watching an Edwards event. The certainty wears off a while later, of course. But while he’s got you in his crowd you’re under his spell. Tried. Tried again ... No, doesn’t work. There’s some sort of hypnosis. At least in the moment, he's that good.

[Clark]connected with the crowd. He hit the war issue hard --- Bush is someone who “prances around on the deck of an aircraft carrier.”

I'm only 7th in a google search for Burton bullshit.

This makes me very sad.

Who's the Big Loser?

Dean and Clark Both Lose!

Dean is toast. As I've said before, I don't consider him to be a flaming liberal, but his speaking style and his core of support among the left-wing has painted him as such. This has cost him his shot at the nomination. Moderates don't want him to win, and many liberals don't think he can.

Dean was building some bandwagon support before Iowa (even I thought he was inevitable), but it's all gone now. None of the anybody but Bush voters are going for him, and the upcoming primaries are all unfriendly. I see Delaware as the only potential Dean win next week.

Clark is hurting. He skipped Iowa to concentrate on New Hampshire, and still finished tied for third. Instead of Howard Dean, he's now faced with as chief rivals a better financed, highly decorated veteran with years of experience and a fellow Southerner who seems born to speak in front of an audience.

Clark needs a win next week or he's done. If I were him, I'd spend all my time in Oklahoma and North Dakota (at least I think it's North Dakota that votes next week :) ). Clark needs a win, any win. He should campaign where he has the best shot and the least competition.

While Edwards certainly wasn't helped, he wasn't hurt badly either. He went from dead-ass last to a tie for third in one week of campaigning, which tells me that he connects with voters when they get to know him. The longer he stays in, the more his support builds. People respond to John Edwards, which bodes well for him as the campaign goes on; but the longer Clark stays in, the worse it is for Edwards. He needs to pull away from the pack with a couple wins and build momentum for Super Tuesday.

He needs South Carolina, but he should also compete in Missouri, Arizona, and Oklahoma. Those are places where his background, his message, and his accent (yes, that matters) should go over well.

Who's the big winner?

Kerry Wins!

And he won in more ways than one:

1) He got the most votes and therefore the most delegates. While this is definitely a win, it also shouldn't be much of a surprise. He's from next door, and the Boston media market dominates NH. A loss would've hurt far more than a win helps, just as it has done to Dean.

2) More importantly, his opposition remains split. If either Edwards or Clark had emerged with big momentum, it really would've hurt Kerry in Yankee-phobic places like Oklahoma and South Carolina. An Edwards or Clark clean sweep in those places would've seriously dented Kerry's pitch as the most electable candidate.

The strategic voters who will vote for anyone who can beat Bush would think twice about turning their back on a guy who swept the South and Mountain West. As long as both Edwards and Clark are in the race, a sweep by either is much less likely.

Keryy needs to be very concerned about the expectations game. Novak, the Prince of Darkness, is on CNN right now saying that Kerry could sweep the next week's worth of primaries. I think there's chance he might only win a couple of them. If anything short of kicking ass next week is a defeat, then get ready for Kerry to get handed defeat.

KOS gives us the rundown on NH, including the fact that about 5% of the Republican primary voters bothered to go out in the cold to write in Democratic candidates (since registered Republicans can't cross over and vote in the Democratic primary).

One of his commenters, Maire, had this to say:
DEMs could have won in 1988 if we had selected a halfway decent candidate. We could have won in 2000 if we had reached out to the left and forged an alliance. We could even have won in 1984 if we'd had a dynamic candidate. Kerry is NOT DYNAMIC. The general population does not like watching grass grow or paint dry and that is what watching Kerry is like.

Then I found in her KOS diary some interesting observations about Wes Clark, and the comparisons to Eisenhower, our last former General in the White House (hint: She doesn't buy 'em).

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


Joe, it's over. Don't drag it out any longer.

Take a cue from Gephardt. He saw the writing on the wall and bowed out. You should do the same.

Spin it how you like, but you finished 5th in a state you'd been spending all your time and money in. One of the guys ahead of you only started campaigning there last week.

You've still got your Senate seat, which puts you one up on Gep. Go back to it, and be the best Senator from Connecticut you can be. Cause that President thing just ain't gonna happen. I'm sure you'd be better off now if you'd never caught Potomac Fever, but you did.

You will not be President.

It's over. Don't drag it out any longer.

Monday, January 26, 2004

33 year old Doonesbury cartoon poking fun at John Kerry.


1st: Kerry (by a pretty big margin)
2nd: Dean (barely)
3rd: Edwards (close on Dean's heels)
4th: Clark
5th: Lieberman

Lieberman drops out, blaming inability to raise money.

Dean limps on, but finds enthusiasm/money harder to come by than previously.

Clark continues on, but drops out after losing South Carolina to Edwards.

Of course, I could be full of crap. Dean could win handily, declare himself The Comeback Kid, and lead the pack once again.


Have just looked at 2 different electoral vote calculators. They both agree.

If the Democratic nominee wins every Gore state plus New Hampshire and Nevada, the vote will be evenly split 269-269.

I'm guessing that the House would then jump in to throw the race to Bush.

Would really suck to have 8 years of a fucker who never won the election even once.

Almost missed this brutal takedown of Bush's State of the Union Address by South Knox Bubba:
It was just... weird. It was all over the place with half-baked ideas and half-hearted, non-specific proposals. There was no flow or cohesiveness. The segues were disjointed and bizarre, like whole pieces of it were missing.........

.........The shocking thing this speech revealed was that Bush has absolutely no coherent domestic policies whatsoever. I wonder if he is even aware of what is going on out here. I was shocked that the GOP missed this opportunity to advance their domestic agenda, whatever it is.

I Want to Hate John Edwards

He's a multimillionaire former trial lawyer who looks like Robert Redford in The Candidate and has a decent shot at becoming the next President of the United States. He's 15 years older than I am, but looks like my younger brother.

Top that with the fact that he's running a positive campaign based on what he wants to do as President rather than just on running down his opposition. I'm sure he's nicer to old people and puppy dogs than I am, too.

Reminds me of a couple guys I knew in High School, Chas Morton and Matt Ligon (you too, Tommy). They were really smart, really athletic, ridiculously good-looking guys who it would've been easy to envy and hate. But they were both so damned nice that I couldn't hate them. That drove me nuts.


Just saw a Clark speech where he was bragging about never having cut a deal for votes as if it were a really good thing.

It's not.

His lack of legislative experience is Clark's weakpoint, not a strength. How is he gonna jam his agenda through an often hostile and always self-interested Congress if he doesn't have any experience arm-twisting and vote-buying?

I like Clark, and I think he has the potential to be a good President, but he'll need a VP and a staff with good political instincts much more than the other candidates.

Politically, he's the 2nd biggest loser from Iowa. He was expecting a resounding Dean victory to clear the decks and leave him as the principle alternative to the Gov. Now he's battking for 3rd in the polls with Edwards, and will have to fight with him to win the more conservative primaries in SC, OK, and the Dakotas.

He doesn't need to win NH, but a 4th place showing would really hurt Clark's campaign. On the other hand, a 2nd place finish would be a real boost.


Matthew Yglesias thinks that a 3rd place finish in Iowa actually helped Howard Dean by keeping the opposition from uniting around a lone opponent.

I disagree.

The fact that there are multiple viable opponents in New Hampshire helps Dean win New Hampshire, but his lousy showing in Iowa makes New Hampshire far more important than it would otherwise be. Lots of candidates have finished 2nd or 3rd in New Hamshire and Iowa then gone on to win the nomination. Howard Dean is not one of these candidates. If he doesn't win in NH, he's toast. He could drag this out as long as wanted to, with his strong finances and devoted core of supporters, but he'll still be toast.

After NH, the campaign moves to places like South Carolina, Michigan, and Oklahoma. These are not likely to be very Dean-friendly. The Super-Tuesday races in the South will likewise be a bloodbath for the Dean campaign if Clark and/or Edwards are still in the race.

The only races coming up where I'd consider Dean to even be competitive are Delaware and Washington. He needs a win in NH to keep him from completely disappearing from the radar. If he goes under, he likely won't come back up in time for friendlier races in the Northeast and West Coast.

As I've stated before, I don't think Dean is as liberal as either his supporters or the general public consider him. But that hardly matters now. As long as people think Dean is an unelectable radical, he might as well really be one. And screaming on TV sure doesn't help change that perception.

He doesn't win NH, and he's toast.

Faux "News" is apparently under orders to prop up Dean while taking down Clark and Kerry.

They also seem to be kind to Edwards, but that may be a miscalculation. I'd don't think he'd be as easy to take down as the Pubbies think.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Strongbad on video games, and you can play them at the end.

We Want Indictments, We Want Disbarments

Can you imagine if the Democrats had done this to the Republicans:
WASHINGTON -- Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.

This would be the only topic on cable news for at least a couple weeks. The pundits and talking heads would be screaming for indictments and disbarments. They would use this to tar all Democrats as dishonest sleazebags for supporting the people who did it.

So allow me to be the first.

We want indictments.

We want disbarments.

And any Republican who doesn't agree is a dishonest sleazebag.

The Democrats on the Judiciary Committee shouldn't even allow the quorum needed to meet until there are people behind bars.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Fuck You, Chevy Chase

Matthew Yglesias discusses counterfactual scenarios and gives us this:
My personal favorite, however, is what if Nixon had won in 1960 and had to deal with the pressures of the Civil Rights movement. At the time, the allegiances of African-American voters were roughly split. The GOP in the aggregate was more supportive of civil rights than were the Democrats, but the leading civil rights advocates in the government were northern liberal Democrats. There's a fair chance that the circumstances would have forced Nixon to become a civil rights champion (as they forced Kennedy and LBJ), no Goldwater campaign, and no southern re-alignment. You might have seen northern liberals move into the GOP which then would have become something like a European liberal party dominated by Olympia Snowe types while the Democrats became a vehicle for white class politics.

I see this as having been a very real possibility. For much of the 20th century, the Republicans were, on the whole, more liberal on social issues than the Democrats. This is understandable, as most rural areas were Democratic and most affluent urbanites Republican.

This lead to an interesting discussion of other scenarios amongst his commenters (TR wins in 1912, tries to jump into WWI too early, destroys support for him and his economic policies; Nixon wins in 1960, leads us into a bloody war in Cuba, etc).

My favorite counterfactual has always been:
Chevy Chase doesn't make Gerald Ford look like a complete fool every Saturday night, Ford ekes out a victory against Carter and gets blamed for all the badness of the late 70's (and possibly legalizes pot, in accordance with the wishes of many, including a young Congressman named Dan Quayle).

I've always considered Reagan's victory in 1980 to be much more of a reaction against Carter's ineefectual administration and against things completely out of Presidential control rather than a sudden embrace by the electorate of voodoo economics. Of course, the Reaganistas don't see it this way. They seem to feel part of some massive historical tide (a tide, of course, that has trouble actually winning elections without an incompetent opponent).

So, no Chevy Chase on SNL, No Ronald Reagan Memorial National Debt, no decades of neglect for alternative energy, no gutting of labor and environmental law enforcement, no shifting of the tax burden from the wealthy and corporations onto the backs of the middle class. No Chevy Chase, and my kid isn't looking at paying off the 1981 tax cuts for the rest of his life. Fuck you, Chevy Chase.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

How Free? How Independent?

Am wondering exactly how free and how independent we're really gonna let the Iraqi government be.

What if it wants a theocracy?

Closer ties to Iran?

What if it reneges on all Saddam's debts? (which I hope it does, as governments/banks that loan money to bastards like him shouldn't get their money back)

What if it supports Palestinian suicide bombers the way Saddam did?

What if it nationalizes the oil companies?

What if it wants to elect ex-Baathists, as some Eastern European countries have elected ex-Commies?

What if a relative of Saddam came to power

I'm asking because we've deposed leaders for things like nationalizing oil companies, and I really don't see the Bushies allowing the Iraqis the freedom to do stuff that pisses it off. Hell, we once deposed the elected government of Guatemala cause it pissed off United Fruit.

The things in bold are my guess as to what would be deal-breakers in this case. I don't know exactly what we'd do, and neither do the neo-cons (who never anticipated an Iraqi government that wouldn't do our bidding). I just know we wouldn't let things stand if the new Iraqi government reneged on all its debts and started nationalizing oil companies.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The Era of Big Government Is Back

Bush didn't say it, but should have.

If you like massive government programs that do nothing but buy off voters and contributors, this is your guy.

If you like the prospect of trillion dollar deficits, this is your guy.

And if you don't mind shuffling off today's spending on our kids and grandkids, this is your guy.

Will the last Republican to abandon fiscal conservatism please turn off the lights?

Monday, January 19, 2004

Holy Crap!

Howard Dean was on CNN a little while ago, looking like someone smacked him in the head with a crowbar.

I don't know what's a bigger shock:

1) Gephardt getting bitch-slapped by the voters

2) Edwards finishing a strong second

3) Dean finishing a weak third, getting lapped by Kerry and almost by Edwards

He has the money and organization to take this all the way, but Dean must win New Hampshire or he's toast.

Gratz to the Kerry and Edwards campaigns, you worked for this one.

FWIW: Kerry/Edwards wouldn't be a bad ticket. Not as strong as Clark/Edwards, but still strong.

FWIW, part II: Gephardt would make a fine Secretary of Labor, keep it in mind.

Liberal Oasis reminds us that it's less about how you do in Iowa than in how you spin it.

Who remembers that Clinton actually lost Iowa by 8% in '92, then went out and declared himself the Comeback Kid?

The Most Important Election Is Always the 2nd

The Shia outnumber Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq, and they would dominate any popularly elected government.

Unfortunately, there is nothing is the rehotric of their leaders, nor in the history of the Iraqi state that leads me to believe they'd have any interest in respecting democratic traditions.

Among these are allowing your opponents to be critical of you, allowing them to run political campaigns unimpeded, allowing votes to be counted honestly (a step we've had trouble with in recent years),and actually stepping aside if you lose.

We've seen plenty of mostly honest first-time elections when dictators have fallen or regimes have collapsed. What we don't always see is the winner of those elections ever leave the scene willingly.

I'm afraid that's what we'll see in Iraq. Some mullah or representative of one will take power, and that'll be all she wrote. We'll have either a kleptocracy like in Zaire, a thugocracy like Zimbabwe, or a corrupt Islamic Republic like in Iran.

But no matter what fucked up regime ends up in power, we'll get the blame.

People will forget how bad Hussein was, and they'l focus on the least flaw (or the giant, raging flaws) in the successor regime. And we'll get the blame for every damned thing it does. Count on it.


Never been to a Caucus, don't know much about how the votes get counted. But I got cable specifically so I could watch political stuff, so I guess I'll just keep watching these idiots drone on until we get some news.

Tomorrow, things should be a bit clearer. The latest polls seem to show Kerry and Edwards surging and Dean sliipping a bit, but who the hell really knows.

Strange Bedfellows

Michael Moore and George McGovern are both campaigning for Wes Clark, perhaps the most conservative Democratic candidate other than Lieberman.

Dennis Kucinich, the most liberal candidate, has apparently asked his voters to switch to John Edwards if they don't get the 15% needed to get to garner some delegates. He's about as conservative as Clark.

BTW: Neither of these candidates are anywhere outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party, nor are they in the same ballpark as people like Zell Miller and John Breaux. They're just not the obvious picks for liberals like Moore and Kucinich.

TV "News"

When did MSNBC become wingnut central?

I know I haven't had cable in a very long time, but they seem as bad as Faux "News" now.

Friday, January 16, 2004

New Term

Not real happy to see My Baby's Daddy enter the lexicon as a term of art. Never had a problem with people having kids outside of wedlock, but am old-fashioned enough to think that couples can take better care of kids than singles. This is especially true when the single in question is very young and never had a stable relationship with the father of her child.

When it's so common for women to get knocked up by someone they're not dating exclusively that you need a special term for it, that's a problem (I'm assuming here that the word boyfriend would suffice if he was, in fact, her boyfriend).


Whenever a competitor announces a new product, you can be sure that Microsoft will announce that it's working ona something that fills the same niche, but with more features. They'll do this even if they don't have such a product in development yet, or even if they have no intention of ever developing one. This mythical product is known as vaporware.

The intent of vaporware is to make the currently available competive product less attractive to both consumers and investors. Why buy this product when a cheaper one with more features will be available soon? Why invest in this product if one with the marketing muscle of Microsoft behind it will be competing with it soon?

In politics, we see vaporware either as a competing proposal that is much cheaper and/or puts off real action for years, or in the call for more studies or research. The Bush administration has gotten very good at the announcement of vaporware for maximum effect.

Worried about golbal warming? Don't worry, we're gonna study it some more to waste tim make sure we really have a problem.

We saw this with the big fuss they made over hydrogen fuel cell autos, which won't be commercially available for well over a decade. We have hybrid cars now, we can make regular cars much more efficient than we currently do; but why worry about all that if hydrogen fuel cells will solve all our problems? This is a very effective way to distract attention from things we could being doing now that the Bushies oppose for either political or ideological reasons.

I'd put school vouchers and the No Child Left Untested Act into the category of vaporware as well. Why fix up urban schools, reduce class sizes, and pay teachers enough to make it a truly desirable occupation (all things we could do now, but which would cost lots of money), when we can simply wait for the vast number of quality private schools that will magically spring into existence at some point in the future (and it would truly have to be a vast number to make a real difference in our educational system) or for market mechanisms to fix everything without having to spend more cash.

Bush's Mission to Mars fantasy looks like more vaporware. It's aimed far enough in the future that the Bushies know they won't have to pay for it, at the same time as it's used as the reason to kill off other programs now. Bloggers have noticed, but the mainstream press has ignored (surprise) that Bush proposes to cut funding for every NASA project that doesn't point to the Moon and Mars. Some of these are crappy money wasters (the Space Station), some are cost effective and scientifically useful; but they want to shelve it all. I'm guessing that this is mainly just a chance to help pay for the Bush tax cuts, with a bit of payoff to big defense contractors thrown in.

The question is, how long will the public accept Bush proposals at face value?, and will they ever start to look at them as the vaporware they are.

Civil Servants

Am reading Robert Kaplan's An Empire Wilderness : Travels into America's Future, which chronicles here in America the growing divide between those who can thrive in the global economy and those who can't, as well as the gradual dissolution of the nation-state, patriotism, and public services in favor of private security firms, private schools, and a sense of belonging more wrapped up in self or local than national identity.

Kaplan has explored the latter more fully in The Coming Anarchy : Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War, in which he writes about places that never quite got a national identity off the ground (think of how much fun we had with those who thought of themselves as Serbians first, members of the Orthodox Church second, and Yugoslavians only third, if that).

Kaplan describes the problem with the police in many Mexican cities. Rather than fighting crime, they are criminals themselves: working as security and hired muscle for drug runners, shaking down businessmen and civilians, even carjacking and armed robbery.

Instead of the mixture of desire to do good and the desire for a secure job with good benefits that drives people into policework here, they surely see more police driven by the desire to make a quick buck easily [this is not to say that Mexico doesn't have honest cops trying to do well, just that the incentives don't work that way].

This made me think of the problems with corruption endemic in many 3rd world countries' civil services, where a bribe is necessary to get a marriage license, to get a loved one's body from the morgue, to take a school entrance exam, for any of the things in daily life we've taken for granted.

An honest, decently paid civil service is one of the things that is absolutely necessary for a livable society. Some societies have one, some don't, and I honestly don't know how a place like Mexico or India will be able to clean their's up. I'm guessing the key will be to pay civil servants enough to make it a desirable job, then to be ruthless in getting rid of anyone corrupt.

But this isn't an easy problem to solve. Once the bribe-taking mindset becomes prevalent, it's hard to root out, especially for those places that don't pay their civil servants a living wage. If I was a cop who couldn't feed his family without bribes, I'd be shaking people down too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I Should Like Lieberman More Than I Do

At least on foreign policy matters, he and I both favor of muscular, interventionist liberalism; we're essentially Cold War Democrats. We believe that America has a positive role to play in the international arena (which sets us apart from a lot of other liberals), but that it can't do everything alone (which sets us apart from a lot of conservatives). Lieberman, Clark, and Kerry are the candidates I feel closest to on foreign policy, probably in that order.

Joe has a good environmental record, and is actually to my left on some other social issues like affirmative action. Like me, he doesn't buy into Reagan's dictum that government is the real problem. We both believe that the government can be and usually is a net positive in our society (of course, that's net, not in every instance).

So why don't I like Lieberman more? I'd divide it into one big policy difference and one smaller personal one.

When it comes down to it, Lieberman has simply become too comfortable with the concentration of wealth and of political power in fewer and fewer hands. Either he doesn't see these as a problem or he doesn't see them as being solvable. I, on the other hand, see that we need to prevent our slow division into have's and have-not's, into those with lots of power and those with noe if we're to prevent ourselves from being an increasingly brutal and dangerous society like Brazil or anyplace else with a wide and widening gulf between the rich and poor. Given my druthers, I'll choose Denmark over Brazil any day, and I see a steeply progressive tax code and strict regulation of corporate behavior as necessary to push us in that direction. I'm not sure Joe agrees.

On a strictly personal note, Lieberman's smarmy goody-two-shoes act gives me the creeps. It bugged me in 2000 when he spent most of the election lecturing Hollywood, and my reaction hasn't gotten any better.

We agree on more than I usually admit, but Lieberman and I are just too far apart on our vision of government regulation and of the tax code for him to be my guy. Sorry, Joe.

No Agua

Came home from work yesterday and there was no water coming from my taps. I figured that there was a water main somewhere being worked on, so I waited. Sure enough, the H2O started flowing again in a couple hours.

Like the last time freezing rain knocked out my power here in The London of the Piedmont (Buffet's description of Nashville's weather), this gave a bit of time to reflect on how soft and downright helpless Western Man has become. I may be able to fix a computer, drive a car, argue my way in and out of trouble, or even change a diaper; but put my ass in a situation with no electricity, no supermarkets, and no access to potable water and I'm in deep shit. And of the three, clean water is probably the most vital and hardest to get.

Millions of people, lots of them little kids, die each year because they have no way to get clean drinking water. Kinda puts my bullshit struggles in perspective, don't it? Makes me thankful to be here in America and feel a little unworthy of everything I've been handed at the same time.

SayUncle discusses freedom and what is necessary to preserve it and isn't happy with what he sees:

In short, guns are useless without the will to right wrongs and take risks. Sadly, I think America is at the point where most of us are unwilling to take risks, stand up for what’s right, and speak truth to power.

We sit by while our courts restrict speech; politicians authorize government agencies to snoop through citizen’s records without warrants; police randomly harass motorists; indoor plumbing justifies why police no longer have to knock and announce their presence before entering a suspect’s home; dissenters are quarantined to First Amendment Zones; judges tell people they can’t sell their book; local governments abuse eminent domain; men armed with machine guns parade around our large cities; people are detained without access to legal counsel, sometimes in secret; and the list goes on and on.

As long as Michael Jackson is in the news, Paris Hilton is sucking dick, and the latest reality TV shows are popular, we don’t notice. Or we don’t care.

Or we’re forced to pick two losing sides. Democrats and Republicans have equally deplorable records regarding civil liberties. It just depends which particular civil liberty you’re talking about. We often vote for the lesser of two evils.

It’s up to us to change it by holding politicians responsible. If we can’t do that now with our vote, we won’t have the will to do anything if our last hope turns out to be AK47s.


I hear lots of numbers as to how many Palestinians have been killed since the start of the most recent violence. Does anyone know how many of them have been killed by other Palestinians, either in bombings or killed for collaborating with the Israelis?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Just a side note, but I really miss Rabin. He's maybe the only one who could've guided Israel through this without the bloodshed we've seen. I was happy to see Sharon stand up to the wingnuts in his own party and say that settlements must be dismantled, but I have yet to hear of any actually being torn down.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Can't understand why everyone seems so pissed about Israel building themselves a security fence. Seems like a great idea to me.

It'll allow the Israelis to better protect themselves against suicide bombers and other terrorists (there've been no recent bombings originating in Gaza, cause they've already got a big fence around it), which is the obvious intent. What gets less attention is that it will also force the Israelis to abandon the far-flung network of settlements they've built, especially those which are dangerously close to Arab towns.

That's the thing about really damned expensive fences, you tend to build them in the shortest line possible, without detours for tiny encampments on some distant hillside. I wrote last year that the Israelis would eventually have to withdraw behind defensible borders, and I remember Thomas Friedman advocating back in the 80's that they should simply hand the Palestinians their land back and say You're independent, deal with it. Don't expect to be trading with us or taking jobs here anytime this century (not a quote, just the gist of his idea).

The Palestinians have no inherent right to work for Israeli companies, nor to trade with Israel. They only get to trade with and work for people they're at peace with, and they're not at peace. Nor are the 1967 borders sacrosanct. They were the product of war themselves, after all.

Israel should simply fence off what they need to keep and can sensibly defend, then slam the doors and declare the Palestinians independent. After that, they're on their own.

Update: Just heard that a woman waiting to go through security from the Gaza Strip blew herself up, killing 4 Israelis. While the crossings through security fences are obvious weak points, one possible solution (but an extreme one) is simply to not allow anyone to cross.

Either a Joke or the Worst Scam of All Time

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adress. You must cpotemle this pcesors by clicking on the link
below and enntering in the litle window your Citi ATM
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To veerify your e-mail adress and access your Citbiank account, klick on
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and pastte the link into the adress bar of your window.

Not a Fan of the Vanity Candidates

Just caught enough of the debate the other night to see Sharpton criticizing Howard Dean for not hiring enough blacks as Governor, which was just enough to annoy the shit out of me.

Cut the guy some fucking slack. He was Governor of freakin' Vermont, a state so white that it makes Idaho look brown. How the hell is he gonna hire many minorities in a state that doesn't have any to start with?

I know it would look bad to cut the vanity candidates out of the debates, but we really don't need to waste much time listening to guys who aren't really running for President. Let them draw attention to pet causes the same way everyone else has to instead of glomming onto free publicity from the Presidential Primaries.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Brian Linse agrees with me on possible VPs:
Edwards has always struck me as a Clintonesque candidate, and at the very least he should be considered as a great VP on a Wes Clark ticket if Dean tanks.

If Dean wins the nom? Dean/Clark would be the way to go for the best chance of ousting Bush Jr.

The Poor Man gives us a likely scenario for a Clark win, as he emerges as the main non-Dean candidate after NH then runs the table in the South and Mountain West.

Kevin Phillips is pissed and you should read what he has to say about the Bush family, inherited priviledge, and the future of politics in America:
This type of dynasty is antithetical to the American political tradition. The presidency is now subject to inherited views, inherited staff, inherited wars, inherited money, inherited loyalties. I'm not talking about particular policies -- I'm talking about a unique evolution of a corrupting institutional process in American governance.......

.......You have to focus on the Bush family itself. They have made the presidency into an office infused with an almost hereditary dishonesty. There's so much lying and secrecy and corruption to it. Just look at the way Neil and Jeb and Marvin and George W. have earned their livings, with all these parasitic operations: profiting from their political connections, cashing in on favors from big corporations and other governments. It's a convergence of arrogance -- the sense that you don't have to pay attention to democratic values. It's happening again with Halliburton. They can't help but let their old cronies in there to make buckets of money off the war.

VP Candidates

A few days ago, I wrote about Wes Clark being the most logical Democratic nominee not named Howard Dean, and that his choice for a VP isn't as constrained as Dean's is. I see the best choices for Clark as John Edwards and Jean Shaheen, both of whom I see adding something to the ticket nationwide, with the kicker of Edwards' regional appeal in the South and Shaheen delivering her swing state.

This made me think more about the strategy behind picking a VP nominee. There are two main schools of thought:

1) Pick a VP who helps you nationwide, even if only a bit, included in this would be picking a VP who fills in some of the gaps on your resume. This would be the rationale for Howard Dean to pick Wes Clark as his VP.

2) Pick a VP who helps you a lot in one particular area or key state. This would be the rationale for Gore to have picked someone like Bob Graham in 2000 (Graham would help in Florida and help with foreign policy in today's political climate)

The best VP picks, of course, are a mixture of both. They are candidates who have nationwide and regional appeal at the same time. Jean Shaheen would fit this category, as she could virtually guarantee New Hampshire and would add something in every state due to being a woman. Al Gore helped Bill Clinton in the South, and added foreign policy and legislative experience that reassured the rest of the nation.

An addendum should be that, of course, the VP should neither hurt nationwide nor in a particular region (and this obviously includes not picking anyone who is unfit to be President). This is where the Liberman pick failed. He did help in Florida and in California (where Gore didn't really need help), but he hurt elsewhere (I think the distancing Gore from Clinton thing was mostly of interest to the Press and was probably a wash).

As much as I'd prefer it to be otherwise, Lieberman's religion hurt Gore in Tennessee, Missouri, New Hampshire, Arkansas, West Virginia, and New Mexico, which he won anyway [this does not mean that I'm happy that there are still people who vote aginst candidates based on religion and ethnicity, but simply that they exist and that reality must be faced]. I also think his constant harping on Hollywood and rather conservative image probably drove a few more voters to Nader. He was obviously useless in the VP debate, but that is of minor importance in the big picture.

So who are the VP's I'd consider in '04?

A lot depends on the candidate doing the picking, and his particular needs. Next would be my take on the electoral map and where a VP might help most. Last, but not least, should be whether this election is one in which big risks are justified, and I think they are quite justified.

The first place people look for a VP are among other candidates:

Howard Dean: Good Presidential candidate, not a good VP candidate; centrist with public image of left-winger; no regional appeal outside the Northeast, which is already solidly Democratic (but would help in NH and Maine); MD gives added credence to postions on healthcare; excellent record as Governor; tendency to shoot off his mouth; main appeal is among the Democratic base; should only be considered as VP if needed to unite the Party; good campaigner

Joe Lieberman: Bad candidate, worse VP; has been far more critical of other candidates than any other Democrat in race, making it hard for him to turn around and join one of them; religion is both an advantage in some areas and a liability in others; soft campaigner; solid record as Senator; looks like Keebler Elf

John Kerry: So-so candidate, so-so VP; good military and foreign policy credentials; smart as hell; good ideas on environment and energy independence; trouble connecting with voters; weird hair; weirder wife; no regional appeal outside Northeast; would make much better President than candidate,kinda like Gore; in fact, much like Gore in many ways including all his weaknesses as a candidate

Dick Gephardt: Bad candidate, only slightly better VP; doesn't connect well with voters; so-so record in Congress; no eyebrows; some regional appeal in Midwest, but mostly among core Democratic groups; so-so campaigner; only a viable VP for an insurgent wanting to rebuild bridges with mainstream Democrats

Bob Graham: So-so candidate, better VP: got no traction in crowded field; solid foreign policy credentials; very popular in Florida, which should put him on anyone's short-list; weird diary habit; not an exciting guy, but might be perfect for a candidate who generates enough excitement on his own; would've won election for Gore in 2000

Wesley Clark: Good candidate, good VP; excellent military and foreign policy credentials; smart as hell; seems to be getting his footing as candidate and does well on stump; politcally untested; only candidate with an advantage on Bush/Cheney in military matters; slightly weird bugeyes; can be abrasive at times; background has great appeal among veterans, rural voters, and groups that might not respond to other candidates

John Edwards: Decent candidate, better VP; accent and background should have strong appeal across South and Midwest and in rural parts of West (even many non-Southern swing voters seem to respond to Democrats with Southern accents), but probably can't deliver NC; relatively untested; very telegenic; solid postions on a variety of issues; good campaigner; Clinton without the zipper problem

Not gonna consider the vanity candidates; will take a look at other possible Veeps soon.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Alex Frantz takes down Meet the Press, especially in its treatment of Wesley Clark:
...any sane person would rather meet the latest gaggle of 'Survivor' contestants than the hopeless crowd in the Washington media.

The first eight questions were largely host Tim Russert quoting back various statements Clark has made in the campaign about Iraq and terrorism. It was more an effort to make Clark respond to imaginary misstatements or express amazement at the fact that Clark has shown the effrontery, while running against Dear Leader, to actually criticize him than to explicate his views.....

.....It was a challenge, but the show managed to go downhill from there, with a panel discussion largely dominated by the spectacurly inane Bill Safire. Safire's meandering ruminations, focussed on his own obsessions with the Clintons and entirely divorced from any reality distinct from his own addled mind, have recently been an embarassment to Alzheimer's patients everywhere.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Just a Thought

There are only two guys running for the Democratic nomination who have had to win an election from a largely rural population, and only one who has won multiple elections from an overwhelmingly rural population. So maybe Howard Dean knows a little more about appealing to Red State voters than we give him credit for (with an honorable mention to one-election Red State winner John Edwards).

Now He Thinks He's Kennedy

We're staring at 6 trillion in national debt, a deficit in the 100's of billions, and we urgently need to invest in our domestic infrastructure (particularly transportation, but also water and electricity distribution), and Bush wants to permanently station men on the Moon. This makes no sense in a scientific or economic sense. I can only guess that his advisors think this makes him look forward-thinking and willing to invest in the future. Too bad he's not really forward-thinking and willing to invest in the future.

Update: Matthew Yglesias has decided that it's just a plot to piss him off.

And one of his commenters (JimBob) had this to say:
Like the african AIDS program, this thing is a fantasy, meant to distract and confound. It's not only not going to happen, it's not even going to get a modest legislative push. Think of it as a kind of political daydream.

The business of this administration is raiding the treasury for the benefit of the republican contributors (plus shitting of the constitution to gratify christian reactionaries). Everything else is just blowing smoke.

And fyreflye pointed this out:
If you read the fine print you'll see that Bush will be cutting back on science based projects to concentrate on the Moon/Mars fantasy. Like many other of Bush's great ideas it's a cover for destroying the program he's claiming to support. Look for the science cuts to go into effect while the space habitat projects are underfunded.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

If Not Dean, Who?

Earlier, I predicted that the Democratic ticket would be Dean/Clark (with an outside shot at Dean/Graham). I stand by that prediction, but there's always a chance that Dean isn't the nominee. Then what?

The media will be playing the expectations game with Dean in Iowa and New Hampshire. If they predict him to win by 10% in Iowa and 20% in New Hampshire, but he doesn't do quite that well; it'll be spun as a crushing defeat. Dean will have to survive a cycle of negative articles about how he's peaked and isn't meeting expectations.

It's likely that the non-Dean primary voters will slowly unite behind a single candidate (but I'm not ready to call it an Anybody but Dean movement). Iowa and New Hamshire should thin the field down to Dean and 1 or 2 others.

My guess is that Gephardt will disappear after Iowa, Kerry after New Hampshire, and Lieberman whenever he figures out that no one really likes him that much. Edwards has the money to hang on until Super Tuesday if he wants to pray for a sweep in the South and Mountain West, but he may bail earlier than that if he reads the writing on the wall.

My guess is that the non-Dean will be Wesley Clark. While he has no geographic base, he has a nationwide appeal that will help him all over the place (and he's coming up with some pretty damned good policy positions). Veterans, independents, more conservative Democrats, and supporters of candidates who've dropped out will likely see Clark as their candidate. This could give Clark staying power he wouldn't have in a crowded field, as former Lieberman/Kerry/Gephardt supporters pick him as their their 2nd choice.

If he does win the nomination, Clark will have a much greater choice of VP candidates than Dean, who'll need to pick someone with foreign policy credentials. He could go for a VP who can help in a key state or region. He could go for a member of a vital constituency (women, Hispanics, blacks). There really aren't any logical VP candidates who Clark would have to rule out the way Dean couldn't pick another Northeasterner or a Governor.

If I were Clark, my choice would be John Edwards. He's smart, he's capable, and people respond to him and his life story. Unfortunately, he can't guarantee North Carolina. But Edwards' accent, background, and appeal would help in states like West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. I even think he'd play well to rural voters all over the Midwest and West.

A Clark/Edwards ticket would have truly national appeal, and should win a bigger share of rural voters than any Democrats since 1976. These are the opponents that Karl Rove has nightmares about.

Update: Just thought of another VP for Clark that would make Rove sweat bullets, Jean Shaheen. She's been through multiple reelection campaigns, so any opposition research has already been used. She comes from a (small) swing state, and she would have a nationwide appeal that can't be denied. This is no Geraldine Ferraro; this is a woman far more qualified to be President than anyone currently living in the White House.

Taming Down the Language

I've noticed a recent trend that when a celebrity is accused, the media calls it sexual assault, not rape.

I've always thought that rape is forcible intercourse, and sexual assault is a crime of a sexual nature that doesn't involve actual penetration (groping, etc). So let's just call it rape even if a rich, famous guy does it.

Charles Kuffner gave us his worst movies of all time, these are mine.

I limited it to movies I'd seen all the way through, and that were actually intended to be good. Low budget quickies with no pretense of quality don't qualify.

Serendipity - Please tell me that Cusack agreed to make this idiotic "romantic comedy" in order to get funding for a more worthy project

The Piano - Overwrought, pretentious crap; plus Harvey Keitel naked

Godzilla - I was really excited about this, and took my son and nieces on opening day. Now I just want to kick Matthew Broderick's ass.

Hudson Hawk - Incomprehensible plot, didn't even make sense when I saw it for a 2nd time on cable without the distraction of being fondled in a drive-in by a 19 year old redhead

Demolition Man - Apparently, we'll all have violence bred out of us by the time I hit 60.

The Postman - What? One post-apocalyptic crapfest wasn't enough?

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones - The "romantic" scenes showed all the chemistry of Arafat and Sharon, and you could actually tell which parts had been inserted solely for the video game.

Much Ado About Nothing - Keanu Reeves is the single worst actor in film history, and this is the movie that put him over the top

Stayin' Alive - The sequel to Saturday Night Fever, for those of you who didn't know

Red Dawn - High school students defeat Soviet war machine, enough said

Rocky IV - The death of Apollo Creed

Pearl Harbor - Michael Bay desecrates dead sailors for profit, plus bad acting, sappy sentimentality, and a built in sequel with Alec Baldwin

Mouse Hunt - The things you do for kids

Congo - Still don't know what the hell happened

Caddyshack II - The single worst movie of all time, dreadful, pathetic, Agnes of God had more laughs than this steaming pile of shit

Wednesday, January 07, 2004


I agree with Andrew Sullivan on something*, dammit.

The Fundies say they don't like gay marriage because they want to protect the "sanctity" of the bond between a man and woman. If Jennifer Lopez' marital craziness didn't underscore it enough, the Britney Spears quickie marriage and annulment just points out that there's scarcely any sanctity left to protect.

Straight people can (and do) get married for the shallowest and stupidest of reasons. They marry people they barely know. They marry on impulse. They marry people they know they won't stay with for the long haul. I just love the irony that thrice divorced Newt Gingrich shepherded the Defense of Marriage Act through Congress.

Increasingly, couples have seen marriage for the shallow institution it has become and are opting out entirely. Most people know unmarried couples who've been together for years, have kids, and own property together. They may have a sacred bond, but they didn't bother having it sanctified by marriage.

On the other hand, gays can be in a committed 20 year relationship, but still aren't allowed to marry based solely on the basis of who they choose to love. They may want to marry for the financial and tax benefits, or they may really want to express a lifelong commitment. But gays really do want the right to get married.

Some people have proposed a waiting period for divorce and having to show just cause, like in the old days. Louisiana even has a "Covenant Marriage" with much stricter rules for divorce. But I think that's tackling the wrong end of the problem. We don't have an epidemic of committed couples calling it quits for superficial reasons, we have a problem with couples who never should've married in the first place.

My proposal is for all marriage licenses to have a one year waiting period. If they still want to get married after a year, I'm all for it. And I don't give a damn who they want to marry.

*Given the Republican propensity to only be liberal on issues that affect them directly, I imagine that I won't have to suffer through many more agreements with that idiot

David Neiwert is all over the downplaying of domestic terror for political reasons.

Essentially, it makes the American media very uncomfortable to refer to self-identified Christian terrorists like Eric Rudolph as Christians as opposed to to referring to the Sept 11th hijackers as Muslims. And the administration knows that many of those domestic right-wing terrorists support the same goals they do (but do so in a violent fashion).

Just as mainstream anti-war liberals didn't want to make a big deal about the SLA or the Weather Underground for fear of tarnishing their own causes, the mainstream Republicans are afraid that radical right-wing Christian terrorists would make them look bad. The FBI is still going after them, they just aren't given the resources of the hunt for Al Quaeda and their successes are scarcely mentioned by the top brass.

You should read the whole thing.

Tony Kushner being interviewed in Mother Jones:
And if Ralph Nader runs -- if the Green Party makes the terrible mistake of running a presidential candidate -- don't give him your vote. Listen, here's the thing about politics: It's not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.

I spent most of 2000 trying to convince Naderites of this. Elections are about choosing the best of the viable candidates, not an expression of self or an exercise in idealistic navel-gaving. Younever get to vote for someone who agrees with you 100% (I don't even agree with myself 100%). You pick the closest you can get out of those who have a chance of winning, not of all possible candidates everywhere.

Keep Pete Out

I ordinarily love players who used hustle and hard work to overcome the limitations of natural ability, and I loved the way Pete Rose played the game. He was a hell of a ballplayer, but his actions as a manager have brought disgrace to baseball. He doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

You may argue that what happens outside of baseball shouldn't affect Hall of Fame voting, but Pete Rose falls short of even this standard. His actions were not outside of baseball. They were taken while he was a manager (and possibly a player). He doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

By betting on his team (even if he never bet against it, which we'll never know), Rose crossed the most important line and violated the most sacred taboo in sports. Players and fans have the right to expect a contest played on the up-and-up, without gambling on the outcome by people who make the decisions. They didn't get that when Rose was a manager.

We'll leave aside whether Rose ever bet against his team, or whether masive gambling debts ever made him do favors for the bookies he owed money to. Instead let's just look at the ways a manager who sometimes bet on his own team can wapr the game.

Pitching:We can safely assume that Rose didn't bet on nights when he knew his pitching would be lousy, just as no one else would; but he not only had access to inside information on how the pitchers felt, he also had the ability to influence what happened on the field.

Maybe a pitcher was cruising, but his pitch count was getting high. A prudent manager would pull him out of the game in the interest of his health and longevity, but not one with tens of thousands riding on the game. Doc Gooden's career was shortened by a few games in which he was left in for over 150 pitches; can you imagine if we found out his manager had bet on those games? Any starting pitcher who ever played for Rose has got to wonder if his playing career was ever endangered by Pete Rose's gambling.

Of course, if the starter was having problems, Rose would've had no compunction about pulling him and perhaps wasting his entire bullpen to win that one game. He could always rest them on nights he didn't bet.

Days Off: Most players take a day off now and then to rest. We can safely assume that Rose played all his starters when he gambled, and gave the backups a chance when he didn't.

Proposition Bets: This is potentially the most troubling aspect of his hedged claim that he never bet against his own team. There are lots more ways to bet than win vs loss. You can bet on the number of stolen bases. You can bet on the total number of runs scored. You can bet on whether a team scores in a specific inning. The possibilities are endless.

Gamblers are always looking for an edge. Should we assume that Rose never bet on, say, the number of stolen bases (probably through an intermediary) but not the outcome of the game. That would leave him free to send the runners on every opportunity without regard for whether they won or lost. Forget about the hit-and-run or bunting a player to 2nd, we need them to get a steal. So we send them, regardless of the game situation.

Pete Rose has finally admitted his gambling, but he's done so to make money. He has a book coming out, and his timing was obviously planned to garner maximum publicity as Hall of Fame votes were announced. He also has the least contrie attitude I can remember of anyone admitting a mistake. He seems to be saying You said I could get in the Hall of Fame if I admitted gambling, so I'm admitting it. Now open the fucking door, asshole. Rose sees himself as the victim of all this, which is ludicrous. But that doesn't matter to me. It just means he's still got the problems that drove him to gamble so heavily in the first place.

Pete Rose gambled on games he managed. He brought disgrace to the game of baseball on the field. He doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

Update: Charles Kuffner has more about this, and has collected some relevant quotes.

An Idea

In the spirit of using persuasion to effect the public good rather than simply mandating behavior changes, I've got an idea that would be very inexpensive, remarkably effective, and would be very easy to implement:

All new cars and trucks sold in America come affixed with a 6"x12" placard stating in nice big bold letters it's average city/highway fuel economy that must be kept on just as license plates must be.

I'm guessing that a big fat 8 on the back of a Hummer would dampen its curb appeal quite a bit. People would still be free to buy the gas guzzlers, they'd just have to face the shame of everyone knowing exactly how wasteful they were being. Nothing like voluntary submission to peer pressure to change a society (notice how racism has become so socially unacceptable that even hard-core racists now seem ashamed?).

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

I am so tempted to stay up and watch Villa v. Man U in the FA Cup (on my spiffy new digital cable), but sleep prevails.

What Do We Really Want

Earlier, I suggested that, as an alternative to the draft, we could simply make government benefits dependent on having completed a term of national service (the military, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps would all count). We, of course, would have to drastically increase the options for national service and make them available even for those not physically equipped for the military.

You'd still be a citizen in all respects, you just wouldn't be eligible for things like free healthcare, free college tuition, and subsidized home loans unless you'd served your country. The idea being that we could accomplish most of the goals of a draft without resorting to imprisoning those who wouldn't go along. I envisioned bountiful benefits to entice virtually everone into national service, with the only abstainers either so rich the benefits wouldn't matter or so morally opposed that they'd be willing to forgogo without them.

Reader PJ from Maryland came up with another option. We could end up with a large majority of non-servers voting to eliminate most government benefits since they wouldn't get them. We would end up with a considerably shrunken state providing considerably shrunken benefits (which, of course, would mean a considerably smaller number of volunteers for national service). This is a possibility that I hadn't thought of, but one worth serious consideration.

I'd absolutely love a healthy national debate between those who favor:

1) Smaller government, with lower taxes, and a much lower level of services


2) Bigger government, with higher taxes, and a higher level of services that those receiving them have done something to earn (am not a big fan of the free lunch)

This would be much better than the current debate we have between those who favor:

1) Big government doling out largesse to the anyone who has the money to buy political influence, with taxes much lower than are required to pay for said largesse


2) Big government still doling out largesse to those who can afford to pay for political influence, but reserving some of it for those who can't, with taxes only somewhat lower than those required to pay for said largesse

I'm guessing that bigger government would win for a variety of reasons, but you could argue that either result would be better than what we have now. Either we'd be giving increased benefits to those who had proven their willingness to serve the United States, or at least we wouldn't be running up massive debts providing benefits to those not willing to work for them.

Don't we at least deserve a choice?

I'm no fan of today's big government, borrow-and-spend Republicans nor of today's skybox liberal Democrats.

I miss having real deficit hawks and populists to choose from. Can't we have them back, please?

Monday, January 05, 2004

I'm 19th in a Google search for Santeria Powerpoint.

I find this funny on many, many levels.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Basic Human Rights

I know that I mentioned a while back a New Republic article on gay Palestinians in Israel, but Instapundit pointed me to a post on the same subject that points to this article.

In a nutshell, gay Palestinians are subject to constant violence and harassment in their home territories, but pretty much left alone in Israel. Some fucker even tried to recruit one as a suicide bomber to atone for his deviant lifestyle.

I've never understood the blindspot that big parts of the American and European left have for brutal authoritarian societies that treat their women, gays, and ethnic and religious minorities like absolute shit. What's the appeal? Why do they identify with people who hate them and their lifestyles?

I'm not Jewish, but I know for a fact thatI'd feel far more at home in Israel, with its tolerance and diversity of lifestyles, than I would in any state in the Muslim world. Turkey is the only place that would come close, and that's because it's worked so hard to be secular. I just don't like theocracies, of any kind. Nor do I like non-theocracies like the Palestinian Authority where the bigotry of its majority is given full sway.

Is there any doubt that the majority of the Left in both the US and in Europe truly feels the same? Would they pick the close-mindedness and intolerance of most of the Muslim world over the relative freedom of Israel? I really doubt it. That's to not even mention Saudi Arabia, perhaps the least tolerant society in the world.

I'll just never understand why they support a society that they'd never willingly live in over one that approximates the conditions they live under now. Women are treated as full members of society. Gays can live their lives unharassed. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, and even Yankees fans are allowed to worship in peace. Israel ain't perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than elsewhere in the region.


1) Howard Dean will win the Democratic nomination and pick Wes Clark as his running mate

2) The big dollar slime war will start immediately, with the real whores in the "mainstream" media leading the way (Mona Charen, please pick up the white courtesy phone)

3) Some left-wing group will accuse Clark fo being a War Criminal, either for Vietnam or Kosovo (or both). Unlike anything else said by left-wing groups, this will get significant play from rightwing media outlets

4) The NRA will endorse Bush even though his stated policies on guns are virtually identical to those of Dean (i.e. He won't change any current laws)

5) The Republicans will attemp to paint Dean as a McGovern/Mondale/Dukakis lilly-livered liberal. Oddly enough, Dean's noted irritability will partially inoculate him against this. Stereotypical liberals are mild and apologetic, not irritable and possibly violent (as Matthew Yglesias has observed, it's easy to imagine Dean wanting to blow lots of shit up if need be).

6) Republicans will get some traction painting Dean as too "Pro-Gay" in places like Arkansas, Missouri, West Virginia, and Tennessee, but this will cost them any chance at New York or California and will hurt them somewhat in Nevada and Florida (attitudes towards gays have softened a ton in the last decade).

7) Healthcare will be a very big issue, especially among seniors who get pissed when they realize what a rip-off the Medicaire changes are. This will put Florida back in play, and may tilt Ohio Democratic (along with Bush's flip-flop on steel imports, which managed to piss off everyone)

8) There will be a whispering campaign to try to get Dick Cheney replaced by someone with more electoral appeal (Bill Frist being prominent in whispering his own name). It won't work.

9) At least one quite prominent Republican will endorse Dean based on either the budget deficit or on gay rights. This won't get nearly enough airplay.

10) A handful of unknown Democrats from the South and Mountain West (plus Zell Miller) will endorse Bush. This will get way too much airplay.

11) I will lose a small amount of weight, but not nearly enough

12) My apartment will continue to look like a War Zone, but the pile of magazines will shrink slightly

13) Beer will be drunk, Love will be made, music will be badly danced to, and incoherent midnight ramblings will be blogged

Saturday, January 03, 2004


First weekend of the New Year, and my Resolutions have all been broken.

I'm worthless and weak.

Friday, January 02, 2004


A couple years ago, I had one simple New Year's Resolution, to eat more JellyBellies. That's it. My Resolution was to eat more JellyBellies and I was a miserable failure. That year I ate considerably fewer JellyBellies than the year before. How pathetic is that?

Of course, breaking that Resolution didn't hurt me. And without the threat of imminent pain, I have no willpower. So this year, I have a set of Resolutions with built in repercussions:

1) Don't chase after the Flop with underpairs or straight draws with no other outs

2) Don't bluff after the Flop with unpaired overcards

3) Be willing to abandon big pairs on the Flop or Turn if you know they're beat

4) Get up and leave the game if everyone is playing too tight for me to make a profit

5) If the cards aren't good enough to Raise, then they probably aren't good enough to Call.

Breaking these Resolutions will cost me a crap-load of money, so let's see if I can stick with 'em. Wish me luck.