Monday, December 20, 2004

Bush: TIME's "Man of the Year"

It's worth mentioning that getting on the cover of TIME this time of year isn't necessarily like winning an Oscar...
The winner must be "the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or for ill, and embodied what was important about the year, for better or for worse," he said.

Past notables include: Hitler, Stalin and Ayatollah Khomeini. Everyone acknowledges that bin Laden should have "won" a few years back, but TIME was afraid to make him the selection.

I guess Georgie is a fitting "Man of the Year" after all.

[UPDATE: James Wolcott has a great piece on TIME's Special Presidential Ass-Kiss Issue. MORE: Wolcott references this NY Press column. It's worth a read on it's own.]

Bush: Running the Asylum?

Digby thinks that Bush is calling his own shots now. the proof is in the screw-ups:
All we need do is look to the Kerik debacle to see that Bush himself is now making decisions and he is doing it against the will of his advisors. It is obvious that Kerik appealed to Bush as a man's man. It was a sympatico relationship --- a pair of testosterone cowboys, one blue, one red, in love with their images as tough guys who take no shit. Bush saw in Kerik the man he now believes he is --- self-made, salt of the earth, leader of men, killer of bad guys. The empty frat boy and the crooked bureaucrat teamed up as adventure heroes.

The minute I read about this I knew that this had been a case of Bush saying "I take the man at his word, Alberto, now make it happen." This wasn't sloppy vetting. It was Junior issuing an edict based upon his vaunted "gut" with the predictable result. And I have no doubt that rather than blame himself for this mess, the Preznit blames Kerik for not being the man that Bush wanted him to be and blames the others for being right. (And I imagine that Bush will stick with Rumsfeld no matter what for the simple reason that so many want him out. That's the way dumb megalomaniacs think.)

This is the big story of the second term. Bush himself is now completely in charge. He did what his old man couldn't do. He has been freed of all constraints, all humility and all sense of proportion. Nobody can run him, not Cheney, not Condi, not Card. He has a sense of his power that he didn't have before. You can see it. From now on nobody can tell him nothin. It makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, doesn't it?

Actually, I see it as good news. Bush is clearly incompetent, and the more often he ignores advice and freelances, the more he will fuck up and screw his "legacy" and his Party in '06 and particularly '08. That is as long as someone besides a few lefty blogs is pointing it out.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall chimes in.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Shopping: Blue Christmas

[via Altercation] If you are doing any Chistmas shopping this year, it's a good idea to support the companies that support progressive causes. I don't mean you have to buy everybody something from Heifer (though that would be nice), I know people still want to give and receive some "regular" gifts. So when shopping online or in actual stores, reward the company that supported Democratic candidates over Republicans this past year. Buy at Barnes & Noble (or better yet, Powells) instead of Amazon. (though you can feel free to use my wishlist for a reference to take elsewhere). When in doubt, support your local merchant (always a way to combat the Wal-Marts)

Here is a site that links to blue retailers. Here is the site that allows you to search companies contributions. Some of the criteria are confusing, some are based on executive. And here is a site with a handy list and printable pdf.

A couple of surprises on the lists? The surprising "red" corporation? H.J. Heinz Company--[2% Democrat / 98% Republican] I guess Teresa has no pull at all. And suprisingly "blue" – Amerada Hess--[94% Democrat / 6% Republican] I am astounded there is a major oil company with a breakdown like this. If you live on the East coast, buy all your gas at Hess stations! And buy every kid one of these (always a favorite of mine). Everyone else go to BP or Amoco (slight republican support as opposed to every other company that donates to Republicans in numbers similar to octane ratings).

You can feel good about supporting/shopping with: Barnes & Nobel; Bed, Bath & Beyond; Crate & Barrel; CVS; J. Crew; fly JetBlue; L.L. Bean; Mattel toys; Progressive Insurance; Sharper Image; Sony; Whole Foods; Toyota

Boycott: Applebee's; Ace Hardware; Brooks Pharmacy; Domino's pizza; ExxonMobil (special consideration among oil companies for atrocious environmental and human right record); Wal-Mart (surprisingly donated 22% to Dems, but still an evil empire)

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Politics: The Rude One says it best

The Rude Pundit has the best takedown on the whole "Bush Administration Pushes the Supreme Court to Allow Ten Commandments in Public Buildings" bullshit.
Here's what the Rude Pundit wants hangin' in every courthouse, in every statehouse, in every outhouse in Uhmerka: a big, bloody, flesh-stripped, weeping Mel Gibson-approved Jesus, nailed to that motherfuckin' cross. He wants it to be there next to the flag in the IRS offices, in the Homeland Security offices, every fuckin' public building, every school, everywhere. It'll be mandated: flag, portrait of Bush, bleedin' Jesus, yowling in pain 'cause those fuckin' nails hurt, motherfucker. That way, every time someone walks into a government building, oh, that person'll know the score: this is a Christian nation, asshole, get used to it

Read the whole thing.

Baseball: Now starting at second base...Nomar Garciaparra!

This would have been so crazy, I'm almost curious enough to wish it happened...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Politics: You can't make stuff like this up

Bush introduced Mike and Sharla Hintz, a couple from Clive, whom he said benefited from his tax plan.

Last year, because of the enhanced the child tax credit, they received an extra $1,600 in their tax refund, Bush said. With other tax cuts in the bill, they saved $2,800 on their income taxes. They used the money to buy a wood-burning stove to more efficiently heat their home, made some home improvements and went on a vacation to Minnesota, the president said.

"Next year, maybe they'll want to come to Texas," Bush quipped.

Mike Hintz, a First Assembly of God youth pastor, said the tax cuts also gave him additional money to use for health care. He said he supports Bush's values. "The American people are starting to see what kind of leader President Bush is. People know where he stands," he said. "Where we are in this world, with not just the war on terror, but with the war with our culture that's going on, I think we need a man that is going to be in the White House like President Bush, that's going to stand by what he believes.

and today...
Des Moines youth pastor is charged with the sexual exploitation of a child. KCCI learned that the married father of four recently turned himself in to Johnston police.

Rev. Mike Hintz was fired from the First Assembly of God Church, located at 2725 Merle Hay Road, on Oct. 30. Hintz was the youth pastor there for three years.

Police said he started an affair with a 17-year-old in the church youth group this spring.

Love those moral values...

Politics: Oh, you mean there are Democrats in Congress?

You know the Democratic Party is completely marginalized when NPR can spend ten minutes (back to back news stories) on the passage of the Intelligence Bill and not utter the word 'Democrat' once. Seriously, I am not exaggerating. Listen to them. It is as if the Democrats don't even exist.

People who have been paying attention know that Democrats overwhelming supported various version of this bill all along in both Houses. The only reason this even came to a vote was the pushing of the Democrats and a few Republicans against the ridiculous partisan "leadership" of Dennis Hastert, and the sitting-on-his-wallet-fat-with-political-capital President.

Republicans get credit for another thing they dragged their feet on all along. Democrats are less than afterthoughts. Is this the bold, new "opposition party" we have to look forward to? Nice going, you bunch of freaking jackasses.

Baseball: $60 million over four years? No thanks. I'll take my chances...

Nomar Garciaparra - SS - Cubs
Cubs re-signed shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to a one-year, $8 million contract. The 31-year-old Garciaparra remains a premier offensive shortstop, but the questions about his durability and his defense led him to pursue a one-year deal this winter. He'll try to rebuild his value in 2005 and get back some of the money he's missing out on after turning down $60 million and $48 million contracts from the Red Sox.

I hope Nomar can survive on $8 mil... Seriously, I wish Nomar the best; hope he's happy in Chicago, has a huge year and gets himself a nice contract next year. Oh, and he really needs a new agent next time around.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Politics: Screw Granholm

Bush's reelection was obviously the worst thing that happened on November 2. But I was braced for that. The result I actually took the most personally, or felt more disappointing, was the passage of Michigan's Proposal 2 – one of the many bigoted, gay-hating Amendments. I had to go to work the next day and see my coworker try and keep a brave face after two-thirds of her fellow Michiganders made clear their hate/fear of her and legislated her a second-class citizen. I am just so completely ashamed that our society feels the need to so personally rebuke and reject a segment of the population and go out of its way to legislate discrimination.

There's a whole story that unfolded over the last week about a Republican lawmaker (from a town called Gaylord of all places! Suppose that might keep him up nights?) who wanted to start pushing this crap right away. He wants the State to remove from an already negotiated labor contract a provision for same-sex partnership benefits for state workers. I wanted to write about this all week, but I was too busy. Kevin Drum beats me to it. (Andrew Sullivan also started on this, but he stupidly referred to this as an Ohio issue. Get your shit together, you of all people, Andrew.)

Well, it's over before it even got started. Governor Jennifer Granholm, the supposed "bright, rising star in the Democratic Party", caved after one day and axed the benefit.

Pushing for this kind of [bullshit] erosion of any semblance of minority rights was inevitable after the passage of the Proposition, and the Governor likely faced an eventual court loss under the new "law of the land," but I don't understand her rationale for rolling over so quickly. Just once I want to see a Democrat face some heat and fight for something just because it's the right thing to do, even if it's hopeless.

This might turn out to be some brilliant political jujitsu that Granholm uses to surprise me and everyone else with. Let's hope so. But from where I sit right now, she caved at the first chance. I have no use for that shit. Screw her.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Misc: Dictionary for Dummies

You're probably already aware that "blog" is 2004 Word of the Year based on online lookups at Merriam-Webster. But did you know that "incumbent" and "electoral" were #2 and #3?

No wonder Bush got reelected.

Politics: The Case for Dean

Joe Trippi makes the case for his old boss as DNC chair in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed. Read the letter on his blog, here. Trippi also contributes at the 'Hardball' blog, and he's pissed at Kerry and again stumps for a Chairman Dean. Dave Neiwart expands on that thought, and supplies two links to convince the good doctor to step up: Driving Votes and DraftHoward. Go sign the petitions.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bush: Ridge Out

Officials: Ridge Resigns Homeland Post

WASHINGTON (AP) - Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has informed the White House and department staff that he has resigned, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

In an e-mail circulated to senior Homeland Security officials, Ridge praised the department as "an extraordinary organization that each day contributes to keeping America safe and free." He also said he was privileged to work with the department's 180,000 employees "who go to work every day dedicated to making our company better and more secure."

A news conference has been set for 2:45 p.m.

Who'll replace him? Eventually Bush is gonna run out of incompetent White House insiders he can foist on the country for these important posts. Maybe Barney's dog-walker is in line for the job? And if they're a minority, they can cow the Democrats into a weak-kneed confirmation for them too!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Before George Was President

Dana Carvey and Will Ferrell in an SNL skit before George W. Bush was elected for his first term.

Father And Son Go Hunting [A picture and transcript only, if there ends up being a video link I'll add it.]

Too bad SNL and the Daily Show are the only "media" that give Bush the treatment he deserves. Oh, ad of course this is a little less funny (and more tragic/scary) now that this idiot has been re-elected.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Bush: In or Out? National Security Edition

I might have used the old "Who's Hot/Not" format, but Ezra at Pandagon sums it up like this...
In or Out? National Security Edition

In: Condoleeza Rice
Accomplishments: National Security Advisor during first stateside attack since Pearl Harbor. Had been preparing to give a speech on 9/11 declaring a national missile shield the country's number one defense priority. Did not catch the Niger uranium lie (See Hadley, Steven). Characterized the August 6th PDB as a "historical document".

Out: Colin Powell
Accomplishments: Enormously popular and experienced public servant. Deeply respected by the Europeans. Discomfort and warnings re: Iraq now seem prescient.

In: Alberto Gonzalez
Accomplishments: Loyal to Bush. Judged the suspension of the Geneva Conventions legally justifiable and desirable, thus helping America down the road towards its greatest national embarrassment in recent memory.

Out: John Ashcroft
Accomplishments: Excellent singer, crafted the PATRIOT Act. Was amenable to Russ Feingold's civil liberty concerns, but overruled by the White House.

In: Stephen Hadley
Accomplishments: Told by Tenet that the Niger claims were weak and shouldn't be used by the President. Neglected to tell either Bush or Condi.

Out: Dick Armitage
Accomplishments: Extensive overseas combat experience, both in Vietnam and Iran. Oversaw diplomatic and negotiating missions with Europe, the Soviet Union and the Middle East.

Kind of makes you understand how the guy traded Sammy Sosa, doesn't it?

Yup. Luckily the Rangers were only armed with bats and 90mph fastballs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Bush: The Grand Plan

Andrew Sullivan's got it figured out:
But the real genius of the Rice appointment is domestic. She will become the second most powerful African-American woman in America. And she will become that as a Republican icon. That has to have an impact on the way at least a small minority of black voters will view Bush (and not a few other minority voters). Add in Clarence Thomas as Supreme Court Chief Justice, and you have a diversity record in top appointments that puts every previous Democrat to shame. That's partly what Bush is doing. He won't admit it, of course. But then it only works if he doesn't.

The finale he doesn't mention is that Rice will be on the ticket in 2008. Bank on it.

Politics: Liberalism Urbanism? has an interesting piece on what the alternatives are to liberals and the blue states...
[...] As the South knows well, there are interim measures between splitting the nation and submitting to a culture pushed by a hostile federal government. Having lost any say in how the nation is run, liberals may be about to discover states' rights -- for better or worse.

[...] Liberals have long opposed the growth of state power, and for good reason. The century's most significant clashes over federalism have been over civil rights, with the national government forcing the South to submit to desegregation. Since then, fights over everything from abortion to school prayer have pitted Northern liberals, who want to use the federal government to enforce individual rights, often in the face of hostile majorities, against Southern conservatives, who believe that communities should be free to set their own norms.

Now, though, it's liberal enclaves that feel threatened by the federal government, and who will likely need to muster states' rights arguments to protect themselves from Bush's domestic policies.

On the other side, conservatives stop advocating for states' rights as soon as they get their hands on the levers of federal power. It's an interesting reversal.

In the article, they link to a feature in The Stranger, a Seattle alternative weekly, which advocates a more scorched-Earth (or scorched-rural) approach. A new "urbanism" that seeks to consolidate the Democratic ideals in the cities and discards the rest of the country. An extreme, but interesting idea...

It's time to state something that we've felt for a long time but have been too polite to say out loud: Liberals, progressives, and Democrats do not live in a country that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico. We live on a chain of islands. We are citizens of the Urban Archipelago, the United Cities of America.

[...]An overwhelming majority of the American popuation chooses to live in cities. And John Kerry won every city with a population above 500,000. He took half the cities with populations between 50,000 and 500,000. The future success of liberalism is tied to winning the cities. An urbanist agenda may not be a recipe for winning the next presidential election--but it may win the Democrats the presidential election in 2012 and create a new Democratic majority.

Those are the demographics they base the argument on. I'm not sure it jibs with population trends (away from cities?). Though Kerry won urban areas by a whopping 60 percent--that actually represents a 15 percent drop in urban support from 2000 when Gore won the election. So there might be something to it. Here are the policies/plan they advocate...
To all those who live in cities--to all those depressed Kerry supporters out there--we say take heart. Clearly we can't control national politics right now--we can barely get a hearing. We can, however, stay engaged in our cities, and make our voices heard in the urban areas we dominate, and make each and every one, to quote Ronald Reagan (and John Winthrop, the 17th-century Puritan Reagan was parroting), "a city on a hill." This is not a retreat; it is a long-term strategy for the Democratic Party to cater to and build on its base.

Sounds good to me. Here's where they start to get a little bit ""...
To red-state voters, to the rural voters, residents of small, dying towns, and soulless sprawling exburbs, we say this: Fuck off. Your issues are no longer our issues. We're going to battle our bleeding-heart instincts and ignore pangs of misplaced empathy. We will no longer concern ourselves with a health care crisis that disproportionately impacts rural areas. Instead we will work toward winning health care one blue state at a time.

When it comes to the environment, our new policy is this: Let the heartland live with the consequences of handing the national government to the rape-and-pillage party. [snip] But if West Virginia wants to elect politicians who allow mining companies to lop off the tops off mountains and dump the waste into valleys and streams, thus causing floods that destroy the homes of the yokels who vote for those politicians, it no longer matters to us. Fuck the mountains in West Virginia--send us the power generated by cleanly burned coal, you rubes, and be sure to wear lifejackets to bed.

Wal-Mart is a rapacious corporation that pays sub-poverty-level wages, offers health benefits to its employees that are so expensive few can afford them, and destroys small towns and rural jobs. Liberals in big cities who have never seen the inside of a Wal-Mart spend a lot of time worrying about the impact Wal-Mart is having on the heartland. No more. We will do what we can to keep Wal-Mart out of our cities and, if at all possible, out of our states. We will pass laws mandating a living wage for full-time work, upping the minimum wage for part-time work, and requiring large corporations to either offer health benefits or pay into state- or city-run funds to provide health care for uninsured workers. That will reform Wal-Mart in our blue cities and states or, better yet, keep Wal-Mart out entirely. And when we see something on the front page of the national section of the New York Times about the damage Wal-Mart is doing to the heartland, we will turn the page. Wal-Mart is not an urban issue.

Of course much of this is antithetical to true liberalism. White Jews from New York (among others of course) went down to the South in the Civil rights Era to fight for the rights of blacks they would never otherwise meet or know. Long has the liberal movement been predicated on rights for all disenfranchised or downtrodden. Why else would one care what happens in South Africa? But what do you do when those in red-states vote (and choose) that life. And viciously reject you and your concern in the process. This is what many refer to when they say these red-state voters voted against their own interests. I don't agree with that entirely. Religion and culture are their interests and in this election they decided it was the priority. We might disagree with that decision, but the article contends they should live with the consequences and we should not feel bad about it. I am tempted to agree. Call me elite enough times and I'll start acting like it...

There is something to this plan. I love Austin and San Antonio. I'm sure Boulder is wonderful. I don't want to cast these places off to wallow in the seas of red hell that surround them. This plan offers a "life raft plan", if you will.

I live in Ann Arbor, one of a few blue islands in an otherwise pretty red state. Greenbelt initiatives, medical marijuana, these are addressed at the local level, and contribute to the quality of life in this city. Our entire County voted the "right" way, even resoundingly rejecting the Prop 2 / Gay-bash amendment. Politics really is local, and this takes it back to that level.

How many times do you need your helping hand slapped (or bitten) before you stop offering it? You start pulling your fingers in and before you know it, you've got a fist.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Politics: kos Nails It

[I'm not going to link directly to the post because it has over 720 comments, and I know that it always bogs down my browser when a thread gets that big. Go to the homepage and just read the post, then enter the comments if you dare.]

Here are the highlights:
I always, always laugh when I hear one of these insiders talk about the "disaster" that a Dean chairmanship would wreak on the party.

I mean, disaster compared to what? Being shut out from all levers of government? From the White House, Supreme Court, House, Senate, majority of governorships and majority of state legislatures?

How about the disaster of three straight losing election cycles? That's not a freakin' disaster?

Dean means reform. Simon Rosenberg means reform. There are probably other dark horse candidates out there who would mean reform.

And that's what we need. Reform, not status quo. The status quo is untenable. I'm tired of losing, and that's the only thing the current gang has delivered.


So don't be fooled by this "centrist" versus "liberal" scare tactics you'll hear from Lieberman and other party "leaders". It's scare tactics. The real battle is not ideological. It's between those who would rather keep the current system intact, regardless of its flaws, and those who want to scrap the darn thing and rebuild a stronger, more vibrant party.

I've been meaning to write more about my support for Dean as DNC chair. Kos just summed it up perfectly and I don't have mudh to add right now.

Plenty of people were on board with the Dean gets to replace McAuliffe as DNC Chair plan assuming Kerry would win. They were happy to credit Dean for the spine injection he gave the Party. Since Kerry lost, the firing squad is now looking to blame the left-wing of the Party and the stop-Dean movement has begun. Or the "Anybody But Dean" movement. And we all see how well those turn out...

Politics: Cheney Profile

The last Esquire had a good profile on Dick Cheney by Walter Russell Mead. I'm not sure if that link will work or not. The site says premium content for subscribers only, but I could read it and I haven't gotten Esquire in years. Try it. The article is long but worth reading.

Bush: How "Quaint" [updated]

Yeah, I've been out of the loop for a few days, so I have some studying up to do on Gonzales. There plenty of reasons why he is a bad appointment for AG (or anything else). Going back to his days with Bush in Texas preparing the Execution "Cliff Notes" for Governor Fucking Lazy Ass, or his job as lawyer representing Enron. Neither of which are strong qualifications in my book. Let's not forget the right-off-the-bat conflict of interest of the President's lawyer now heading up the White House / Valerie Plame investigation...or Lieberman's Enron probe. The Justice Department will play a big role in those matters, and the democrats need to ask him on the record in confirmation hearings how he'll handle them as AG.

We all knew Bush had bigger plans for Alberto Gonzales. He's been loyal, and in this Administration that matters more than any possible qualification or accomplishment. He's a good story (migrant roots and all, plus the first Latino to this post or higher) and it will be tough for Dems to fight his eventual promotion. I can hear the Sunday morning race-baiting already...

But when it's all said and done, somehow I'm thinking we'll wish Bush saved Gonzales for a Supreme Court nomination instead...

UPDATE: Some places to read up on Gonzales: The Atlantic Monthly (subscribers only - which I am, but I need a mailing label to register. I'll do that and post some excerpts, if worthy), a 2002 profile in The New Republic which drives home the point that Gonzales would likely be a better SC Justice (think Souter) than WH counsel or AG. This Slate piece is full of links. Josh Marshall weighs in, Matt Yglesias counsels "Opposition, Not Obstruction" and Atrios agrees. So do I.

After reading all of the above, I'm still in the same spot. Bush was going to nominate/appoint Gonzales to something, and he's going to get confirmed.

Gonzales' track record indicates he does his best work (as well as independent and suprisingly moderate thinking) in a different branch of government than his benefactor. He was actually a pretty good Texas Supreme Court Justice (for a Republican in a state like Texas appointed by a guy like Bush). If he were to reach the Supreme Court and the safety of a lifetime appointment, I think he would turn out to be the best Justice we ever could have gotten out of Bush. I've read it somewhere that "Gonzales is spanish for Souter." His nomination to the Court would be a risk I'd happily take. Especially if we trade up from Renquist for a relative moderate like Gonzales. Instead, Gonzales will be "lost" at Justice, and we'll be treated to the much more idealogical Miguel Estrada (or worse) for the Supreme Court.

As White House Counsel and A.G., he will still answer to the President (and more importantly be subject to the religious right's pressure on the White House) and be a bad combination of Ashcroft and Gonzales' own incarnation as Bush's lawyer. That's unfortunate for Gonzales, who I'm sure would rather have the spot on the bench and be happier doing that job unencumbered, and for the country, which would be far better served with Gonzales on the Supreme Court than whoever is eventually nominated.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Politics: The Trouble with Harry

[Note - 11/15: I wrote most of this on the 5th, but a discusion over at the Baseball Crank made me come back, finish and post it. I dated it the 10th so it wouldn't get buried beneath last week's long-ass "liberal media" screed.]

Not an encouraging first step for the recovery of the Democratic Party. Harry Reid is the new Senate minority leader. But what's worse is Harry Reid is the also the new Tom Daschle...

After all the misery and mourning I've done over the last few days, not one second of that time was spent feeling bad for Tom Daschle or his loss. If we're giving away Senate seats by the handful, I'm fine with his being one of them. Sure, I'd rather've won the Senate and held his seat, but I was done with him as leader a long time ago. Good riddance, Tom.

Tom Daschle may have been a procedural master. He might have been a nice guy. He might even have been a great Senator. But he was a shit leader (Majority and Minority). His mealy on-camera persona was the very embodiment of the Washington politician people don't like. His responses to the Republicans whiny and weak. Basically he came off like a (try as I might to find a different word...) pussy. And in this age of "the Democrats are weak on morals and weaker on defense" I've got no use for guys like that being the public face of the Party.

Long before 9/11, under Daschle's "leadership" the Senate Democrats were led like a pet dog into the car by Bush's promises of a ride to the park, when every one of them should have known they were going to the vet to be "fixed". After 9/11 they were completely neutered. And muzzled. And then tied out behind the garage. Every once in a while Bush would call them up to the porch to beg for scraps, and then laugh as he kicked them back down to the dirt.

No more. I wanted a real debate for a real opposition leader for a Party that was going to try and function as best they could in an unenviable position to try and put a brake on this out of control radical agenda we'll be facing.

What does the caucus do? Quickly rush selection of a new leader with little or no debate. Who do they pick? Another "nice" guy from a red state. Yeah, Reid just won re-election, but he had to support the Patriot Act, Partial Birth Abortion ban and other non-Democratic platform issues to do it.

Durbin, Schumer, hell, even Kerry would all have better choices for personality as well as having completely safe seats so they could oppose the Republicans without regard for covering their own ass. In fact, not only would they be free to push a more progressive position, they'd actually be representing their contituency in the process.

Politics: Liberal Media, My Ass

At what point will everyone acknowledge that there is no such thing as a liberal mainstream media anymore...
The media gives Bush a mandate
Falling to its knees in record time, the press predicts the president will be a uniter this time -- really.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Eric Boehlert

Nov. 10, 2004  |  With a dead-even race that featured nearly endless possible Electoral College configurations, Election Day promised to bring a certain number of surprises. But perhaps none was as unexpected as the notion that President Bush, the most conservative and polarizing president of his generation, would come through the other side of the campaign as a moderate with a mandate. Yet in the days immediately following the historically close vote, that's how the political press corps often portrayed the president.

[...] When not busy describing Bush as a would-be centrist, White House aides were anxious to claim a sweeping mandate from the close election. And as liberal media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting documented, it worked. USA Today headlined a Nov. 4 story "Clear Mandate Will Boost Bush's Authority, Reach," which said that Bush "will begin his second term with a clearer and more commanding mandate than he held for the first." (The first being when he lost the popular vote to Al Gore.) The Boston Globe asserted that Bush's victory grants him "a clear mandate to advance a conservative agenda over the next four years," while MSNBC's Chris Matthews insisted, "To me the big story is the president's mandate. The president has a mandate."

But as Al Hunt noted in the Wall Street Journal, Bush's victory was "the narrowest win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916." (Presidential reelections in recent decades have all come with comfortable margins of victory attached.) In fact, Bush's final margin was almost identical to Jimmy Carter's win over Gerald Ford in 1976, when there was very little discussion of a mandate for the Democrat. And it's hard to imagine that if Kerry had bested Bush 51 percent to 48 percent and collected just 15 more electoral votes than needed to win, the press would be so liberal with talk of a mandate.

Some journalists, dwelling too much on 2000's unprecedented election model, seemed to confuse winning an uncontested election with receiving a mandate. "In capturing both an electoral majority and the popular vote, Mr. Bush lays claim to another four years in the White House with a newly minted mandate," the Dallas Morning News wrote, as if winning both the popular and Electoral College vote were somehow unusual in American politics.

In its Nov. 4 editorial, the Columbus Dispatch stated that "President Bush won reelection decisively in the Electoral College tally." Decisively? In the past 80 years, only three times have presidents been elected with fewer than 300 electoral votes. Bush accounts for two of the three anomalies; in 2000 he won 271 electoral votes, and in 2004 he captured 286. (Carter is the third example, with 297.)

[...] And the press's now familiar deference toward Bush was on display in the New York Times over the weekend in a news story addressing a confirmed string of serious election mishaps in the crucial state of Ohio. "The way the vote was conducted there, election law specialists say, exposed a number of weak spots in the nation's election system," the Times reported. Yet before stating that fact, in its very first sentence, the Times article made the blunt assessment that "voters in Ohio delivered a second term to President Bush by a decisive margin" (emphasis added). Bush won Ohio by 2 percent. In fact, of the 30 states Bush carried last week, only two were won by slimmer margins than that in Ohio -- Iowa and New Mexico, which Bush won by 1 percent. Yet the Times, in an article documenting the shortcomings in Ohio's voting process, seemed to go out of its way to suggest, erroneously, that the too-close-to-call state voted for Bush by a "decisive margin."

Not content to misrepresent the Election results, the press also has to work overtime giving Bush a pass on his campaign-without-substance and get an headstart on carrying the Administration's water for the second term

[...] Meanwhile, press accounts subsequent to the election have been filled with reports about Bush's second term and his "very ambitious agenda," as the Associated Press described it. However, during the campaign very few journalists pressed Bush on his unusual decision as a sitting president not to articulate his vision for the future, beyond stump speech lines about lower taxes and less government. As NBC's David Gregory noted, after the election, "It's the agenda that Bush rarely if ever laid out in detail during the campaign."

For instance, Bush's sudden announcement last week that he planned to move aggressively to privatize Social Security may have caught some voters off guard. As Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson (professors at Yale and the University of California at Berkeley, respectively) noted in the New Republic, "On Social Security, administration officials have had four years to develop specific proposals. They have held back precisely because once an actual proposal is outlined it becomes clear what a dreadful deal it will be for most Americans." (Recent polls indicate a majority of Americans oppose the idea of privatizing Social Security.)

The administration obviously "held back" in blatant ways on other contentious initiatives, and met little or no questioning from the press. Few journalists addressed head-on the decision by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist -- a political ally of Bush's -- to issue what now appears to be a deliberately misleading statement about his health, just one week before the election. More important, the all-out assault on Fallujah in Iraq, which some experts believe will include the heaviest fighting U.S. soldiers have faced since Vietnam, was finally launched, less than a week after the election. On the same day, the Iraqi government declared a 60-day state of emergency for most of the country. The two long-pending moves were likely put off until after the election for the simple reason that they could have potentially hurt Bush at the polls.

In fact, since Election Day some journalists have acknowledged that certain sensitive topics were deemed off-limits by the White House, or taken off the table for purely political reasons. "In Iraq, the American forces have been poised to make a major assault on Fallujah. We all anticipate that that could happen at any moment," said NBC's Tom Brokaw on Nov. 4. Addressing Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, Brokaw asked, "What about other strategic and tactical changes in Iraq now that the election is over?" (emphasis added). Miklaszewski confirmed the obvious: "U.S. military officials have said for some time that they were putting off any kind of major offensive operation in [Fallujah] until after the U.S. elections, for obvious political reasons."

Appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources" over the weekend, former CNN Washington bureau chief Frank Sesno, now a professor at George Mason University in Virginia, talked about Bush's second term: "How is the press corps going to react to the president? Are they going to see the wind at his back and feel all the pressure from conservatives and others, and become a sort of chorus press corps? [Or] are they going to become an attack dog press corps?"

Judging from the very early returns, the White House doesn't have to worry about any pit bulls in the press corps.

Indeed. The only thing wrong with the whole column is that, at the beginning, Boehlert claims it's a "surprise" that this would happen. There's no fucking "surprise" about it. It's been happening since Bush ran the first time, all the way through his first term, and hasn't let up since.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Politics: It's Fun to Be Elite...

Yup, it's exactly what you'd expect. And it's damn funny.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Politics: Mr Not-Nearly-As-Furious As Steve G.

Steve Gilliard makes me look like Mary Poppins.

Some good stuff scattered throughout the rant...

Misc: Bad week for candidate's families

Watch out if your dad/husband runs for President:
Howard Dean's daughter injured in wreck
NORTH HAVEN, Connecticut (AP) -- The daughter of former Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean and four other young women were taken to a hospital Sunday after their sport utility vehicle rolled over on Interstate 91, state police said.

She was treated and released along with three others, so it seems she'll be fine. They are all lucky to essentially walk away from a rollover accident. When will people stop driving SUVs? It never would have happened in a regular car...

I neglected last week to offer my best wishes (I don't pray) to Elizabeth Edwards as well. I hope she makes a full recovery. I suppose it is somewhat of a relief to the Edwardses not to have anything else on their plates at the moment...

Misc: Leave Me Alone!

Got an email today...
A directory of cell phone numbers will be published soon. (which is good)
This will open the door for solicitors calling our cell phones using up our minutes. (not good)
The Federal Trade Commission has set up a do not call list.
You must call FROM the number you wish to register.
The number is 1-888-382-1222,
OR you can click on the link below to register your cell phones on line.

Register Online

Unfortunately, the Do Not Call list won't solve the problem of my cell phone being one number off from the local Lowe's...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Misc: Lt. Bush Reporting for Duty?

Perhaps the President figured he'd make up some of that Air National Guard time he owes...
Fighter jet strafes New Jersey school
Friday, November 5, 2004

LITTLE EGG HARBOR, New Jersey (AP) -- The target was an object on the ground well within the confines of the Warren Grove firing range, a 2,400-acre scrub pine expanse used by the military to train pilots in bombing and strafing techniques.

But when the heavy gun in the left wing of an Air National Guard F-16 fighter jet fired Wednesday night, it sent 25 rounds of 20mm ammunition smashing through the roof and zinging off the asphalt parking lot of the Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School 3 1/2 miles from the range.

Military investigators are trying to determine how it could have happened.

Oops! Maybe the military investigators will want to start with asking why the Air National Guard practices strafing runs in the middle of the night, from 7,000 feet and why the hell the pilot was nowhere near the range.

Kinda glad I don't live anywhere near a military base (that I know of...)

Friday, November 05, 2004

Politics: Howard Told Us So

Reading the whole Juan Cole/gay marriage thing reminded me about why I supported Dean so strongly. Now this isn't going to be a "Howard Dean would have been better than Kerry" post. I'm not saying Howard Dean wouldn't have gotten his ass kicked if he were the nominee, he probably would have. He couldn't pull it off in the primaries and he wouldn't have in the election, but he has been proven correct every step of the way over the last two years.

This gay marriage issue is just another specific thing that Howard Dean had right a year and a half ago. Dean really had the whole government/marraige point exactly right. Dean believes pretty much just what Cole outlines below, and used it as the basis to legalize civil unions in Vermont.

He was also right that the Rebulicans would use "God, gays and guns" as a wedge to win the election. He was right about the War, the capture of Saddam, you name it. Too bad the guy who could see the landscape best ended up marginalized...

Any flaws as a candidate are stellar traits for the new Democratic Party Chairman, and he should get the job.

Politics: Sounds Like a Plan

Brilliant strategy from the second smartest person here in Ann Arbor*:
[The Democrats] also need to start defusing deadly cultural and "moral" issues that have been so effective for the Republicans. And they need to be sly about it.

For instance, a lot of Democrats would like to see gay marriage or at least civil gay unions passed into law. This is a matter of equity, since gay partners can't even get into a hospital to see an ill partner because hospitals limit visits to close family.

This issue scares the bejesus out of the red states.

But if Democrats were sly, there is a way out. The Baptist southern presidential candidate should start a campaign to get the goddamn Federal government out of the marriage business. It has to be framed that way. Marriage should be a faith-based institution and we should turn it over to the churches. If someone doesn't want to be married in a church, then the Federal government can offer them a legal civil contract (this is a better name for it than civil union). That's not a marriage and the candidate could solemnly observe that they are taking their salvation in their own hands if they go that route, but that is their business. But marriage is sacred and the churches should be in charge of it.

If you succeeded in getting the Federal government out of the marriage business, then the whole issue would collapse on the Republicans. You appeal to populist sentiments against the Feds and to the long Baptist tradition of support for the US first amendment enshrining separation of religion and state.

But the final result would be to depoliticize gay marriage, because the Federal government wouldn't be the arena for arguing about it. The Federal government could offer gays the same civil contract status as it offers straight people who want to shack up legally but without the sanction of a church. As for gays who wanted a church marriage, that would be between them and their church (remember, the Federal government is not in the business, but would go on recognizing church-performed marriages as equivalent legally to the Federal civil contract). The Unitarian Universalists could arrange it for them. The red states' populations can be hostile to the UUists all they like, it wouldn't translate into a victory at the polls for a Republican president.

The final outcome would be both more progressive (the Federal government should not in fact be solemnizing a religioius ceremony like marriage) and also advantageous to the Democrats, and it would leave gays actually better off.

There are other such strategies that could be adopted. But it seems clear. In 2008, the Democrats have to find a way to get back a couple of big red states. They can't do that unless they find canny ways to defuse the cultural issues the Republicans have been deploying so effectively.

This is a perfect example of the kind of thing the Republicans have done to us. Use of language, hot issues, and referendums. Turn it around on 'em. What religious chump would argue with "strengthening the church?" this plan's so crazy it just might work!

Before getting into the gay marriage thing, Juan Cole analyzes who wins Presidential races for the Dems and surmises we need to find "a southern governor with a southern accent who is a Baptist" to run for President. I'm not sure that's 100% true or who that "dream candidate" might be, but I agree with Prof. Cole, her name isn't Hillary.

* Oh, and the smartest person in Ann Arbor? Not me. I'm an idiot. But my wife's pretty damn sharp.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Politics: This Fucking Sucks.

It doesn't look good for Kerry. Even if he wins.

It's 2:00 am and it really looks like we won't have a definitive answer until 11 days from now. I can't believe that's the case, but unless Bush picks off a few (4 of 6?) of the remaining non-Ohio states, no one gets to 270 and they cannot declare the winner.

Even if Kerry wins "electorally" this country is fucked. Republicans strengthened holds on the House and Senate, and will thwart him at every turn. President Kerry will take office after losing by 3% and over 3 million votes. He will be given no grace period or leeway at all. Hell, even I have to admit that's some pretty good grounds for "sore loser" status.

I'm going to sleep totally depressed. The electorate of this country just overwhelmingly approved the worst President of our lifetimes. The damage done to the environment and the Supreme Court will be decades-long. We are laughing-stocks (or worse) on the global stage. Here in Michigan, ignorant voters (I'll call 'em ignorant, because the initiative was so misleading, and the alternative is that they are hateful bigots) overwhelmingly approves constitutional discrimination for an entire class of citizens.

My wife has to drive through Canada to go to New England next week, I'll have her keep an eye out for a nice '20s bungalow...

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Baseball: Wow.

Wow. I don't really have much to say about the Red Sox right now. It's hard to put into words, and I am far too frazzled to attempt it right now. I'm glad they went through the Bronx to win it all. The ALCS really was the high point of the post-season, and vanquishing the Yankees along the way really makes this sweet.

Oh, and I couldn't be happier for Derek Lowe... I like Lowe a lot, and he is the perfect embodiment of a maligned Boston player making up for past performances and proving the too-harsh Boston fans wrong.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Politics: Sullivan Make It Official

Andrew Sullivan makes it official. Today he endorses John Kerry for President in The New Republic.

Don't dismiss this as "Who care what that guy thinks." I have my problems with Sullivan, but he is a good writer. He is a Republican and he is conservative. That is exactly why his endorsement has meaning and wieght. Try as he might to stick by his man, George W. Bush, Sullivan has been forced to reevaluate. The President has not turned out to be the President he ran as, nor the man Sullivan endorsed in 2000.

His endorsement for Kerry is fraught with doubts about the candidate that I don't share, and he concedes too much success to Bush, but Sullivan's conclusion is correct. He approaches this Election in terms of "Risk Management." While not enthusiastic about Kerry, Sullivan weighs the risks/rewards of each candidate on an array of issues, and comes up Kerry nearly every time. Particularly, and most notably, on the War in Iraq and the War on Terror.

This endorsement is not a complete surprise. Sullivan has been disenchanted with the President for some time now, but I thought he'd simply refrain from offering an endorsement. Andrew Sullivan commands a vast audience online and in multiple magazines (often including the back page in TIME), so this endorsement, like the many newspapers who have switched from endorsing Bush in 2000 to his opponent in 2004, should be welcomed as the great news that they are.

Pass this along to anyone you know who isn't quite sure about bailing on Bush or can't quite bring themselves to vote for Kerry. Sullivan makes a compelling case.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Baseball: Papi Renovations for Fenway.

Twice in the World Series David Ortiz has hit balls down the line in Fenway Park that have sailed clear over the top of the foul pole. One fair for a home run and one ruled foul. Do the guy a favor and add another twenty feet to the top of that thing. He's going to be playing here a long time...

Friday, October 22, 2004

Politics: MVP

Jon Stewart is the Most Valuable Player in the media. And he's just joking around...

Watch this.

Politics: Bush Ads Kick Ass

Yup. You read that right. Bush's ads are good. Better than Kerry's. They are Grade A bullshit, but they are good.

Bush's ads are like actual, creative, clever major ads you see companies saving for the SuperBowl. Check out "Wolves," "Risk" or "Don't Take Chances." Yeah, they are fear-mongering and misleading (particularly the outright fabrications in the health care ad), but they are slick, powerful and, I imagine, thoroughly convincing to an uninformed viewer.

Kerry's ads are the same old political campaign ads we've been seeing for twenty years. In many cases, no better than your local candidate for State Senate.

What's my point? I don't know. Is this the Art Director in me frustrated at the lameness of my guy's ads? Yeah, mostly. Do I think it makes a difference? I don't know. Are any people dumb enough to believe Bush or his ads going to vote for him anyway? Probably.

At least our third-party ads kick ass on theirs. has some great ones in their 10 WEEKS campaign (esp. Weeks 3, 5, 7, and 9 -- the new Margaret Cho one sucks, bad timing), and's "Threats" is funny and clever, and "Permission" is moving. Good stuff.

Politics: Joke of the Day

What's the difference between Vietnam and Iraq?

Bush had a plan for getting out of Vietnam.

Baseball/Society: Get A Grip, People.

I'll give New york fans (Yankees and otherwise) credit for only one thing: They know how to celebrate a Championship with (no, not class, but) a degree of restraint and control. Maybe it's because they've won enough that's it's become routine, but I lived in Metro New York from 1986-2001 (the last six in Brooklyn) and during that span there were eight Championships (4 Yankees, 2 Giants, 1 Mets & 1 Rangers) and I don't remember any significant riots, destruction or trouble after any of them.

I read a story like this, and all I can think is a shifting, "What the fuck is the matter with people?"
Red Sox Fan Killed by Police Projectile
BOSTON (AP) - A college student celebrating the Red Sox come-from-behind victory over the New York Yankees was killed after a police officer called in to control the rowdy crowd shot her in the eye with what was designed to be a non-lethal projectile.

Victoria Snelgrove, a 21-year-old journalism major at Emerson College, was hit by a projectile fired by an officer on crowd-control duty. Snelgrove, of East Bridgewater, died of a head injury at Brigham and Women's Hospital later in the day.

My first reaction was, "What the fuck is with the Police, shooting people in the face with crowd control weapons?" Then I thought, "Okay, errant rubber bullet, a horrible accident." Then I read:
"Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole said officers were using projectiles "designed to break upon impact, dousing the target with (pepper-like) spray.''

"While I firmly and emphatically accept responsibilities for any errors,'' O'Toole said at a news conference Thursday, "I also condemn in the harshest words possible the actions of the punks (Wednesday) night who turned our city's victory into an opportunity for violence and mindless destruction."

First, that Commish sounds like she's got something to prove. When your Police just killed an unarmed female student, tone down the "punks" talk. Your Department screwed up, show some fucking contrition. I don't know the circumstances of the incident, stories have little or no details. But unloading on crowds with what sounds like pepper-spray paintballs is just overkill. And if it is a pepper-based weapon, am I wrong in assuming the face is the target? "What the fuck is the matter with the Police?"

But it really comes down to the fans. I just don't understand the mentality that results in the riots, fires and car-flipping that seems to be the response to winning a Championship. I could understand it more after losing, but winning? All I want to do (drunk or not) is jump up and down, run around hugging and high-fiving people. When the Pats won a trip to the SuperBowl in '97, I was there, and had no desire to run down and tear up the field or pull down the goalposts. I never run out from a bar or Superbowl party and start lighting cars on fire, and I don't understand why anyone would. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that Boston is going to burn when the Series is over -- win or lose. "What the fuck is the matter with these people?"

It sounds like the Police over-reacted in this situation, but they have to be prepared for total mayhem, so I'm sure they are twitching with a hair trigger. The Boston mayor is "considering prohibiting liquor sales and asking bar and restaurant operators to ban live television coverage during games to curb the rowdiness. Since people won't accept responsibility, I, as mayor, will take it into my own hands,'' Menino said Thursday. No alcohol or live games in bars? That's insane! there'll be a riot when he makes the announcement! But what the hell is he supposed to do?

People are fucking idiots. Sure, the Sox might win the first Championship in 86 years, or they might blow it in spectacular fashion. Either way you don't need to run outside throw anything through store windows, flip anything over or light anything on fire.

UPDATE: The only excuse for wanton destruction is the inability to get your computer to properly print a document for no apparent reason. If there were a car in my office right now, it would be upside down and engulfed in flames...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Baseball: Yankees Post-Mortem

Batting Coach -- I'd like to personally thank Batting Coach Donnie "Shitcan" Mattingly for single-handedly ensuring that the entire Yankees lineup finished the season below .300. I'd like to nominate him to being the new "Curse for the Yankees" since they never won a playoff series while he was a player...and he is now taking his toll as a coach. I love to hate that guy.

Kharma Overdose -- Bucky F. Dent throwing out the first pitch. Hey, "Fuck You, Bucky!"... Mickey Mantle's birthday? "Have another one on me, Mick!"... Offering the Red Sox owners the "Babe Ruth box" to watch the games. No thanks, George.

Derek Jeter's career ALCS average is .268, not what one might expect, eh? That's not to say anything negative about Jeter, I just found that number surprisingly low, he must have saved the hits for big spots.

Brian Cashman -- How good is Cashman, really? Over the last four seasons: 2001 Lose Series to Arizona, 2002 Lose playoffs to Angels, 2003 Lose Series to Miami, 2004 Lose playoffs to Red Sox.

The start of the decline? You bet. And this team has not gotten younger in any sense of the word. Vasquez and A-Rod are the only guys on the right side of thirty (and they'll be 29 and 30 next season).

Now, obviously the Yanks won the Division each of those years, and were widely regarded as the Best Team in Baseball every one of those years, so some credit is due...but does it go to Cashman?

The original home-grown core of the team was already in place for him. Attracting free agents to a team with unlimited financial resources and four Championships isn't really a challenge, nor does it require any creativity. He simply opened the checkbook for the prominent free agent or mercenary player of the year.

The final results of the last four years I noted above make it likely he'll be available (because Steinbrenner's standards have become maniacal), but I'm not so sure Cashman's all he's cracked up to be.

Steinbrenner will make Beltran his new GM's number one target. I hope Beltran looks at this declining Yankee "dynasty" and says, "No thanks, Houston's been a blast, I'm staying here."

Housecleaning? -- Steinbrenner's likely to go ballistic. I don't know the contract status of anybody, but this team will look different next year. Will Torre be back? If not, Stottlemyre will go with him. The pitching staff (bullpen and starters) is ancient. The bench is worse. Nobody in the minors... Who do they bring in? Overpaying for Pedro? Beltran? A second baseman?

This team could turn into the 2004 Mariners, or better, the late '80s-early '90s overpaid, underachieving Steve Howe/Tartabull-era Yankees. That, I would love to see...

Baseball: Priceless? How 'bout Speechless

I can barely get my head around what has transpired. Simply amazing. I'll try and write something when my thoughts are coherent. Some stuff I've read today and over the last few days:

Great game diary here.

Sports Guy is flashing Pedro-in-'99-type stuff.

The Crank's got no dog in this fight, but still (as usual) worth checking out. Great comment in today's thread: "Fox needs to take a camera, put it in Steinbrenner's office this winter and make a reality TV show out of the ensuing mayhem.

The Clown can kiss my ass. What the hell is he going to write about now? Shaughnessy is probably rooting against the Sox in the WS so he can continue to ride his one-trick "Curse" pony.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Baseball: Call Me Mr. Delirious

Unbelievable. The Red Sox are actually making me forget about politics for whole evenings at a time! If the Red sox beat the Yankees in the most improbable comeback in sports history and win the World Series, George Bush could resurrect Hitler to replace Cheney and I wouldn't care if he was re-elected.

Just an incredible game last night. something is up this year. Things are happening that never happen for the Red Sox or happen to the Yankees: Line drives ripped down the line foul in huge spots -- for the Yankees... Controversial home runs in Yankee Stadium for the Red Sox!... Ridiculous rulebook plays you'll ever see again, ruled against the Yankees at home... All night long in Game Six (that's right, Game Six) the little things that always happen for the Yankees were happening for the Red Sox. Maybe the guy running around the Stadium dressed as the ghost of Babe Ruth actually pissed somebody off -- I don't know, but something turned.

[Continued in the comments, because I start to really ramble -- click below to read the rest]

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Polls: Dumbest Poll Headline? CNN.

On my homepage:
States Ranked: Smart to Dumb
The smartest state in the union is Massachusetts. Find out which state has landed in 50th place--for the third time in a row.

Hmm. I wonder. What's the criteria here? Where is Connecticut (where I grew up), New York (where I used to live) and Michigan (where I live now)? Let's see...
1. Massachusetts
2. Connecticut
3. Vermont
4. New Jersey
5. Wisconsin
6. New York
31. Michigan (yikes!)
50. New Mexico

But here's what the results are based on...
These are the findings of the Education State Rankings, a survey by Morgan Quitno Press of hundreds of public school systems in all 50 states. States were graded on a variety of factors based on how they compare to the national average. These included such positive attributes as per-pupil expenditures, public high school graduation rates, average class size, student reading and math proficiency, and pupil-teacher ratios. States received negative points for high drop-out rates and physical violence.

So this ranking isn't based on a state's actual population at large at all. This is pretty much a ranking of school systems, if anything, not a reflection of the smartest or dumbest states. and I'm not sure I trust it for an accurate ranking of schools either. I know small classes and more money generally mean good things for students, but is that a direct correlation to "smarter" and "dumber"?

Keep this garbage poll in mind the next time you see a poll trumpeting "Bush's 8-point lead" or "Kerry Closing Fast." These jackasses often don't know what they are talking about, and when they do, they skew the presentation to fit a predetermined storyline.

Baseball: Heart Attack

The Red Sox actually are trying to kill me. I know it. If not from cardiac arrest, from lack of sleep.

Tivo-ing a 5:00 game to watch at 10:00 doesn't always work out... Can Schilling possibly come back and throw a no-hitter tonite, just so I can go to bed at a decent hour?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Politics: Partisan Hackery, Part II

Tom Tomorrow takes up where Jon Stewart left off, and he nails it.

Politics: Fake News - 1, News That Still Thinks It's Real - 0

Jon Stewart just absolutely dismembers Tucker Carlson on 'Crossfire.' Stewart pretty much lambastes the media as a whole, but since it's Carlson who engages him, he bears the brunt of the attack.

I heard this on the otherwise-awful Randi Rhodes Show on Air America in the car, and went home hoping to find out if CNN repeats 'Crossfire.' Shockingly (especially for a show that aires live in the mid-afternoon when nobody is home) they don't. Not to worry it's all over the "internets" now. Streaming video here. Transcript here.

My favorite moment?
STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?

STEWART: Absolutely.

CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...

STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. What is wrong with you?

(APPLAUSE) CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you -- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.

STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far -- you would not believe what he ate two weeks ago.



STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...

CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.

And this was good, too:
CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.


STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.

He was brilliant. It is the best fifteen minutes of television I've seen in a long time.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Behind the Curtain

Mr and Baby Furious (aka Matt & Charlotte)

War: Utterly Inept

This time I actually am surprised. I mean, they can't be this incompetent, can they?
U.S. Orders Freeze on Zarqawi Network Assets
Fri Oct 15, 2004, 10:41 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday ordered a freeze on assets of the militant group led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which has claimed responsibility for a series of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control added Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group to its list of suspected terrorists and terrorism financiers.

The move, which came a day after Britain ordered banks to seek out and freeze any assets of the group, blocks any accounts, funds and assets of Tawhid and Jihad in the United States.

Zarqawi's network has emerged as the United States' top enemy in Iraq, and has claimed responsibility for a long list of attacks including two suicide bombings in Baghdad on Thursday which killed at least five people including three Americans.

The group also beheaded British hostage Kenneth Bigley last week and Americans Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley last month.

The United States suspects Zarqawi and his group of links to al Qaeda and of conducting some of the deadliest attacks of the Iraqi insurgency.

That's right it says 2004, not 2002 at the top of the story. When I read something like this, I have to wonder how the hell anyone can think this Administration knows what the fuck they're doing in the War on Terror?!? They were linking Zarqawi to al Qaeda two years ago!!!! He was the guy running the camps in Northern Iraq that the Administration themselves said was making nerve gas, training terrorists, etc. and "we better invade right now...see?" *

This is the guy leading the insurgency in the country we are occupying, and we've known about him since before we set foot in Iraq. Now they get around to freezing his assets? This is the " enforcement...detail-oriented" stuff the Right likes to make fun of Kerry for. Our Incompetant in Chief will point ot this as "proof of our efforts to defeat these enemies" when it is, in fact, proof of his utter inability to execute this war in any capacity. If Bush is reelected, and his strategy is just more of this same level of rank incompetence, this War is doomed.

* I've been meaning to write about Zarqawi for a while now. Every time I read about him or see his face I can't help remembering that the Administration knew his location, knew he was running a camp, and claimed he was trying to make Ricin to use against Europeans. This was a situation perfectly tailored for a Tom Clancy-style Special Ops mission... Instead of pre-emptively striking an actual threat, they chose to leave him in place because it would bolster the case for the War. They claimed his presence in Iraq was proof that Saddam had links to al Qaeda, never mind that Zarqawi's activites were in the part of Iraq beyond his control. In fact, his camp was in an area patrolled by our planes. Politics won out over military strategy and basic logic, and he's been kicking our ass in Iraq ever since. Now we find out he's had the financial freedom to make that effort easier. Un-fucking-believable.

Politics: RNC Fraud, Part II

I talked about Nevada and Oregon below, but you may (or not) recall that earlier this week in South Dakota, several Republicans were forced to resign positions in the Party for questionable handling of absentee ballot registrations [via kos].
Larry Russell, 3 others move to Ohio campaign

South Dakota campaign official who resigned after questions arose over absentee-ballot applications will work in Ohio for the Bush-Cheney campaign, an internal Republican Party memo indicates.

Larry Russell, who was chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party's get-out-the-vote operation, resigned this week after questions were raised about the validity of some of the 1,400 absentee-ballot applications gathered, largely on college campuses, by the program Russell led.

[...] When South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Randy Frederick announced the resignations of Russell and five others Monday evening, he said the state party has a "zero-tolerance policy."

But an internal Republican Party memo obtained by the Argus Leader said Russell would be going to Cleveland "to lead the ground operations" for President Bush and Vice President Cheney there.

Ohio is a swing state considered vital to a successful presidential victory.

"Zero tolerance policy" for fraud? Bullshit. Sounds more like the Party merely wants to put these unscrupulous crooks to better use in a swing state. Forced to resign over accusations of fraud? The GOP rewards you with a promotion from South Dakota to run the Bush/Cheney campaign in the biggest city in the key swing state.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Politics: RNC-sponsored Voter Fraud

In Nevada:
Voter Registrations Possibly Trashed
George Knapp, Investigative Reporter
 (Oct. 12) -- Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building may be affected.

[...] Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assistant to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.

[...] The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee. Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to investigate. 

In Oregon:
Company claiming affiliation with the non-partisan ‘America Votes’ group appears to represent the GOP
Mail Tribune

A local librarian checking on a company’s request to set up a voter registration booth in the library discovered the company was not affiliated with a non-partisan national group as it claimed.

Sproul & Associates, Inc. of Phoenix, Ariz., phoned and mailed the library in September, saying it had been hired by America Votes.

That came as news to America Votes.

"This organization (Sproul) absolutely has nothing to do with America Votes," said Kevin Looper, the state organizing director for America Votes.

[...] But the man behind the matter says it was an innocent mistake.

"We were not trying to copy their name," said Nathan Sproul, owner of the consulting and management company. "All we were trying to do is register people to vote."

In September, the Jackson County Library Services Central Library received a letter from Sproul & Associates, Inc. which began:

"Our firm has been contracted to help coordinate a national non-partisan voter registration drive, America Votes! in several states across the nation."

[...] Sproul & Associates, Inc. is a political consulting firm headed up by former Arizona state Republican Party executive director Nathan Sproul.

[...] She said she learned on the Internet that Sproul & Associates is actually a partisan political consulting firm, so the library cannot support them.

The toll-free number which librarians were given connects to an answering machine stating that if the caller is interested in canvassing neighborhoods in support of the GOP, he or she should leave a message with contact information.

Sproul said Monday the name selection was an honest mistake.

"You telling me that they even exist was really the first time I’d heard it," said Sproul. He said his company, hired by a number of clients to register voters, came up with what he believed was a generic name. He said he had not heard from the original America Votes.

Sproul said his company was just trying to get more people registered to vote and were not promoting any issue, candidate or party.

Can you believe the balls on these guys? This is organized fraud on a national scale. And this Sproul guy lying his ass off that he never heard of America Votes! is total shit. Even if I were willing to believe it, (which I'm not) they failed to exercise due diligence when forming their organization. And they still fraudulently claimed to be non-partisan!

So, let's get this straight... this is the former head of the Arizona Republican Party running a partisan consulting firm directly funded by the Republican National Committee, going around to swing states pretending to represent a non-partisan registration organization so that they can register voters in public buildings, that's bad enough and illegal. But--they're only turning in the Republican forms and destroying any Democratic registrations!!

Oh, this is also the same group that gathered questionable signatures for Nader. Why am I not fucking surprised?

It's too bad 60 Minutes' credibility is in the toilet, because this is a big story and deserves wide exposure. The RNC needs to pay some serious consequences for this, and I don't mean $75 per violation as Oregon law states--the RNC will happily write that check--I'm talking RICO charges, jailtime and permanent bans on these fucking crooks from ever being near the political process again. Ed Gillespie ought to be frying for this.

Kerry better start running away with this election, because if it's close at all, the Republicans are poised to steal the Presidency again.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Politics: Absolutely Unbelievable.

This Administration is so incompetant executing this War, they don't even know how to hide it -- or that they should:
Attacks on Iraq's rebel-held cities will be delayed, officials say. But that could make it harder to allow wider, and more legitimate, Iraqi voting in January.

By Mark Mazzetti, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.

Although American commanders in Iraq have been buoyed by recent successes in insurgent-held towns such as Samarra and Tall Afar, administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Fallouja and Ramadi — where the insurgents' grip is strongest and U.S. military casualties could be the highest — until after Americans vote in what is likely to be an extremely close election.

 "When this election's over, you'll see us move very vigorously," said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Once you're past the election, it changes the political ramifications" of a large-scale offensive, the official said. "We're not on hold right now. We're just not as aggressive."

What's worse? That they brazenly execute the War based on political priorities and get away with it, or that they just gave the insurgents a one-month "heads-up"?

Kerry's gotta stop wasting time explaining what his position was two and three years ago, and whether we should have gone into Iraq, etc., and steer the discussion to a searing indictment of the absolutlely incompetent job the President is doing in the War right now. I'm not saying Kerry's going in choosing the terms of the debate, but by not effectively changing the discussion, he's to blame. The only debate left is supposed to be "all domestic", so he may have missed his best opportunity to really confront the President and address this issue on a grand scale. It's the pitch he keeps whiffing on, and he should be belting it over the fence.

Blogs: The Rude Pundit

Anytime you think I'm a bit too colorful in my language, go check out The Rude Pundit. Be warned. The Rude One employs the kind of language that got cut out to get a Tarantino flick down to an "R", but damn, he's funny and he's right.

Baseball: R.I.P. Cammy

Ken Caminiti has died of a heart attack at age 41. A shame indeed. Caminiti was one of my favorite players. As a tribute, I'll have to dig out the old Padres Caminiti jersey I bought during his MVP season.

Unfortunately he's now remembered primarally for admitting to using steroids and his battles with alcohol and drug addiction. Because of this, the Cammy jersey has been buried deep in the closet for some time now. Plenty of ribbing when you show up for softball wearing that shirt.

A three-time Gold-Glover, Caminiti made some of the best third base highlight plays we'll ever see. Headlong dives into dugouts and stands, gunning guys out at first from the seat of his pants... It was his reckless abandon at third that made him one of my favorite players. In 1996, he seemed to put it all together to have a truly dominant season. That year Baseball Tonight was like his personal highlight show. He made spectaular plays at third, countless clutch hits and home runs. I'll always remember the story of the Snickers bar and IV during the games in Mexico versus the Mets. He was the very definition of Most Valuable Player and was selected unanimously at season's end.

We've since learned, through his courageous admission, that was the first year his shoulder pain forced him to try steroids, and his downward spiral began. His demise will hopefully serve as a warning to athletes about the hazards of steroid use, and non-athletes about the dangers of drugs.

Ken Caminiti was a true warrior, the biggest shame is that he was so competitive as to destroy his own body and life in the process.

I'll miss you Cammy. And I'll wear the shirt with pride.

Politics: Energy Policy Anyone? Bueller?

Gregg Easterbrook does a nice job analyzing what should be a much more prominant issue in this campaign. Energy Policy. What can a President hope to achieve? What are the two plans? What's realistic in an energy policy?

It turns out one candidate has a pretty good, scientifically sound, realistic and beneficial plan that will quickly pay dividends in consumption, pollution and national security. Hint: It's got nothing to do with invading other countries or drilling in the Grand Canyon...

[Note: To read the article you'll have to register for The New Republic's free content]

UPDATE: So, it spoils my fake suspense from above, but the subhead on the TNR table of contents is too good to let pass:

Turn On by Gregg Easterbrook
The best reason to vote for John Kerry? He might be the first president in decades with a real energy policy.

He's right, this is another reason why Kerry's got to quit fighting on the President's terms and territory. I know Iraq and the War are important, but where Kerry really distiguishes himself is in areas like this. Hopefully the final "all-domestic" debate will allow for this.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Politics: Bush Goes Out On a Limb: Denounces Slavery...or did he?

One of the more bizarre moments in the debate the other night was when Bush surprised us all by coming out against... slavery!?! When asked about who he would appoint to the Supreme Court, Bush goes off on Dred Scott? What the fuck? I had no idea where he was going with that, but now I learn there's a very specific reason he brought it up. It's very clear code for the pro-life community that he intends to overturn Roe v Wade. Of course he's too chicken to scare swing voters by saying that, but he can wink at his base by leaving the rest of us wondering why the hell he's talking about slavery.

UPDATE: An excellent breakdown and discussion thread on this "Dred Scott = Roe v. Wade" codespeak here.

More needs to be said about the ramifications on the Supreme Court from this election. The next President might be appointing anywhere from one to three Justices to lifetime appointments on the Supreme Court and this is rarely given any prominence. This and the environment are the two areas where Bush will do his most severe and lasting damage to this country and those two issues are practically off the table, which is exactly where Bush wants them. Kerry needs to get on this. If Bush wins, he could pack the Court with three new wingnuts, and make Thomas or Scalia Chief Justice -- moves that will screw this country many times over for the next thirty years. More on this here, here and here, and a pretty good breakdown of potential nominees here.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Politics: Debate review

Will Saletan at Slate takes serious issue with Kerry's performance Friday night ("Strikeout: Kerry blows the second debate" -- link)

I agree with a lot of what he points out, but Saletan goes a little too hard on Kerry. He made mistakes and missed opportunities, but I don't think he did himself (or sustained) any damage -- I prefer to think of the missed opportunities as "Kerry still won, looked credible and convincing, but missed the chance to kick the complete shit out of Bush on a national stage." Which would have been nice... I guess when I look at it that way, it is pretty disappointing. Sigh...

Reminds me of the old SNL debate skit where Dukakis/Lovitz looks at the camera and deadpans "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy."

Friday, October 08, 2004

Politics: She's becoming a must-read

Tina Brown has a nice breakdown of the VP Debate, and Cheney's performance in particular. This is the second nice column* she's had in The Post of late. I don't always agree with her 100%, but it's nice to read something so entertainingly well-written as well as substantitive.
Dick Cheney's bullet head and nuanced basso anchored his thoughts to his words and filled out the frame of the screen, while beside him Edwards bobbed like a tethered balloon...The Cheney team was smart to decree the VP debate had to happen from plush swivel chairs. The veep always operates from a rumbling crouch, but Edwards is not a guy who does well at sitting still.

Money quote at the end:
Cheney doesn't pass hot potatoes. He eats them, with plenty of sour cream.

* The other column nailed the whole Rather/memo fiasco better than anything else I read or heard.

Politics: His transformation is now nearly complete...

Andrew Sullivan makes the case.
THE UNDERLYING FACT: [...] The fundamental question in this campaign is the war in Iraq. Was it worth starting? Has it been conducted well? Will it make us safer? My answers to those three questions are, briefly, yes, no, and, it depends. But from a broader perspective, the following facts are simply indisputable. The fundamental rationale for the war - the threat from Saddam's existing stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction - was wrong. Period. In the conduct of the war, it is equally indisputable that the administration simply didn't anticipate the insurgency we now face, and because of that, is struggling to rescue the effort from becoming a dangerous mess. Period. So the question becomes: how can an administration be re-elected after so patently misjudging the two most important aspects of the central issue in front of us? It may end up as simple as that. Maybe, in fact, it should end up as simple as that.

He's making the case on a dialy basis, I expect he'll be making his Kerry endorsement (for what it's worth) any time now.

Speaking of Kerry...why can't he state the case this clearly? This is a compelling enough argument for all but the most die-hard Bush/war supporters.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Politics: What was Bush writing down during the debate?

The notes Bush was taking during the debate.

UPDATE: Additional copies have been unearthed.

Politics: Dissection

Digby holds the curtain open...
On Thursday night sixty-one million people watched George W. Bush for the first time since 9/11 not as that symbol, but as a man. And for those who had not reassessed their belief in his personal leadership since 9/11, it was quite a shock. Their strong leader was inarticulate, arrogant, confused and immature. They must be wondering who that man was.

[...] He actively promotes the notion that he is a man of action yet in the single most important moment of his life he froze in front of school kids, continuing on with a script prepared before the national psyche was blown to bits. He didn’t take charge. He didn’t react. He was paralyzed at the moment of the nation’s worst peril.

Read the whole thing. It feels good, and it's chock full of devastating links.

Politics: Quote of the Day

"No matter how you feel about Bush, watching him speak is difficult. It’s like watching a drunk man cross an icy street," - Tucker Carlson, on Real Time with Bill Maher.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Politics: The Presidential 2000

Channel-surfing on a Saturday night, and I come across the Bush/Gore Town Hall Debate from 2000 on CSPAN (yeah, I'm pathetic). Watching it again now, four years removed, a few things jumped out at me:

1. These debates were contentious. We've only seen the first one this year, and this was the final debate from 2000, but Bush and Gore went after each other constantly. Sniping back and forth. Most of it would start with a bullshit charge from Bush, many outright lies, and Gore was clearly agitated. He would chastise Bush when it was his turn, and showed his displeasure when it wasn't. We all know now how this would come back to haunt him.

2. Gore -- Al Gore might have been the most well-prepared, intelligent guy to ever run for President. The thoroughness of his answers, the expertise he seemed to offer on every answer from farming to non-proliferation, to renewable energy, was nothing short of amazing. I still believe that he would have been a tremendous President. He was just that good--virtually a Presidential machine, a robot programmed to perfectly perform the job. I remember in 2000 knowing his resume, and sitting there being impressed with his ratttling off figures and terminology, knowing he was kicking Bush's ass and walking away with the race. But he wasn't programmed to become the President.

Gore really did lack an ability to "connect" with the audience. He was too perfect. In posture. Pronunciation. In a funny way, he he really did "know it all," and it's hard to fault him for that, but his style really wasn't good. He wasn't "robotic" in charisma, but rather, he was something worse. He was kind of off-putting, and at times even kind of a jerk. He must of been at his wit's end with Bush lying about him and issues on the stump and in the debate, because he was really kind of a dick about it at somem moments. He didn't quite make Bush sympathetic, but he often left those exchanges looking like the jerk, not Bush. I can see how it hurt him. It would never have influenced my choice, my mind was already made up, but I can see how an undecided voter in a non-incumbant election might have gone for the "other guy", even if it was George W. Bush. In fact, perhaps because it was George W. Bush.

The good news: John Kerry, for all his flaws, is not Al Gore. I think he'll be much better attacking Bush and not looking like the jerk at the same time. Kerry may have seemed like a stiff and not the best campaigner at times, but he is more smooth than Gore.

3. Bush -- It may be 20/20 hindsight, but I can see how he won. Up against Gore, he was perhaps the perfect opponent. Truly the anti-Gore. And since most people knew little about him, he wasn't too scary to take a chance on. He lied his ass off, spoke in broad, simple strokes, and hit all the right notes, plus offered voters the nice bribe of free money. In the coin flip election of 2000, it was a winning formula. Since the media wasn't going to call him on it, and Gore looked like a baby trying to do it by himself, Bush got away with it.

The good news? This isn't 2000. Kerry is challenging the incumbent Bush. Bush has a record everyone is familiar with now. He is no longer an unknown quantity. Also, I think his honeymoon with the media is ending. He was pretty widely panned after the first debate, not declared winner for simply not soiling his diaper. Exhibit A:The picture on the front of yesterday's USA Today shows the pre-debate handshake, and they choose one with a Presidential Kerry towering over a particularly pinheaded, awkward faced Bush.

But the best news is this: The George W. Bush of 2004 looks like he's undergone four years of shock treatment compared to the guy I'm watching from 2000. It's astounding how much Bush has lost off his fastball. 2000's Governor Bush is answering a question on education for two minutes off-the-cuff and in a conversational, appealiing way that I really don't think he's capable of anymore. Perhaps he's just that much better in the Town Hall format, but I don't think so. He hasn't looked this good in a while, and I don't know if they can massage it out of him again in time.

4. What Is and What Might Have Been -- During the debate, each candidate had an eerie moment of precognition... Both in response to the same question. Here's Bush's:
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: What would make you the best candidate in office during the Middle East crisis? [Now remember, this is a Israel question. There is no other Mideast crisis in 2000.]

BUSH: I've been a leader. [huh?] I've been a person who has to set a clear vision and convince people to follow. I've got a strategy for the Middle East. [blah, blah...] A leader also understands that the United States must be strong to keep the peace. Saddam Hussein still is a threat in the Middle East. Our coalition against Saddam is unraveling. Sanctions are loosened. The man who may be developing weapons of mass destruction, we don't know because inspectors aren't in....

Don't forget, this is in the year 2000!!! And we are supposed to beleive this wasn't something thay had planned all along? It only came up after 9/11? This was before the election! It slipped right by, because who the hell cared about Saddam Hussein back then? Cheney & Co. tipped their hand early... And Gore's precog moment:
In the Congress, in the House of Representatives, I served on the House Intelligence Committee and I worked hard to learn the subject of nuclear arms control and how we can diffuse these tensions and deal with non-proliferation and deal with the problems of terrorism and these new weapons of mass destruction. Look, we're gonna face some serious new challenges in the next four years...

Too bad he wasn't the President. He likely would have read a report titled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US." with a bit more gusto. Geez, he probably would have written it.

Follow-Up -- As I typed this, the VP Debate came on, and Lieberman sure as hell didn't do Gore any favors. God he is awful. Cheney's practically upbeat next to him... A terrible choice.

It's often easy to just dismiss Bush as an idiot, and kind of wonder how the hell anybody voted for the guy. Watching this old debate has given me a little better feel for how Bush got the election close enough to steal. An it leaves me feeling a little bit better about our chances this time.