Saturday, February 28, 2004

Fun With Numbers, Part I: Rewarding the frontrunner
Doing a little Friday night research (since I'm not getting cancer) in vote totals. I can't believe this is the way we want to decide nominees. It's way better than a winner-take-all-delegates approach, but as a supposedly proportional system with allotments based on votes, it hardly lives up to the word.

Column 1 shows the approximate percentage of the raw vote won to date by the 6 highest-performing candidates.

Column 2 shows the percentage of "earned" delegates received to date, those which are allotted proportionally in a way that ties them to the outcome of the state's votes.

Column 3 shows the percentage of total delegates won to date including the super-delegate endorsements.

____________ 1 _____ 2 ______ 3
Kerry .........42.4.....59.1...... 61
Edwards .....26.4.... 20.5..... 17.9
Dean ..........12.6.... 11.9..... 14.2
Clark ..........10.8..... 6.5....... 4.6
Sharpton ......2.7......1.2 ...... 1.3
Kucinich .......2.2...... 0.8...... 0.7

This isn't just a super-delegate problem, even though the whole idea of a superdelegate is disturbing to me. Kerry has received just over 40% of the popular vote to date, but has compiled nearly 60% of the earned delegates awarded so far. Notice that Edwards and Dean combined are nearly tied in popular vote with Kerry (it's about 1.5 million to 1.4 million), but together they would still be behind almost 2 to 1 to Kerry in earned delegates.

Everything from the calendar to the superdelegates to the rules of viability are all designed to get this over with as fast as possible in favor of the establishment favorite. So what is the Democratic Party trying to do now? Drag it out as long as they can to get all the free press.

That's irony, right?

It doesn't look like it will matter this time around, because Kerry will probably win running away. But it wouldn't have to be much closer to be really messy. And one of these days we are going to have a brokered convention and the discrepancies in the system will be all too clear.

But the real disproportion present even now is coming in Part II.
"Following the rhetoric of fear, mistrust and piety" OR "Santorum opens his big mouth again"
A couple of times I've tried to put into words my thoughts on the gay marriage issue, but come up empty. Atrios (a prolific blogger, with a big following. I try to read him once a day) has summed up my impressions of the opposition to progressive change perfectly, or rather has let them speak for themselves, here.

Friday, February 27, 2004

The Dance
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo is good about posting long segments of the daily White House briefing when it's interesting. Today's post is a good example (excerpt below). I wonder if this means the whole press corps is growing a spine, or is it still just Helen Thomas? I'm so tired of the dance that is this Administration. I know it's the job of the spokesperson to never say "you're right; what were we thinking?" but it must suck to answer questions on behalf of a team that takes so many indefensible positions.

The truth is obvious: the President doesn't want to help the 9/11 Commission because it will make him look bad. He wants to sit with them for as little time as possible because he doesn't want to answer their questions directly, and it's easier to squirm for an hour than for longer. And he wants to limit the questioners to 2 to minimize the number of actual witnesses. Of course, this interview should be extensive and it should be broadcast for the world to see like the Clinton blow job testimony. But the dance is designed to hide the truth as best as possible. It comes out sounding like today's briefing and it makes me crazy. Here's one of the better moments:

"QUESTION: What the commission is asking for in that one hour is the entire commission, not just the chair and vice chair. Are you not agreeing to that --

McCLELLAN: The request came from the chairman and vice chairman, and the President looks forward to meeting privately with --

QUESTION: I know. But they followed up by saying that they want --

McCLELLAN: -- looks forward to meeting privately with the chairman and vice chairman to provide them with the necessary information.

QUESTION: Why not all of them? What's the problem?

McCLELLAN: Helen, we have great confidence that the chairman and vice chairman can share all that information with the rest of the commission.

QUESTION: Why do they have to share it? The others have ears.

McCLELLAN: They're going to have a public report. I talked about how this is extraordinary for a President to sit down with a legislative body such as the 9/11 Commission.

QUESTION: What's the President's problem, really, with meeting all of them?

QUESTION: It's a legislative body? I'm sorry.

McCLELLAN: There are lots of ways -- one, I have always said that there are lots of ways -- it's legislatively created, that's what I'm referring to. There are lots of ways to provide the commission with the information they need to do their work. And we have worked -- we have bent over backwards to provide unprecedented cooperation to the commission.

QUESTION: Not from what we hear."

Remember when Howard Dean said that he was sealing his Governor records so the press wouldn't find anything embarassing in there? (He said he was kidding, but still...) Would it kill McClellan one time to say "We're not cooperating fully, that's true. But it's only to minimize the chances either that fault will be found with the Administration or that the President will say something that could otherwise embarass the Administration."
Haven't the meddling French caused enough trouble?
Apparently, there is a link between mouth cancer and oral sex (simultaneously, and sadly, giving more weight to my suspicion that there is no benevolent God). Nothing about this can be good news for anyone.

I guess this is the wrong month to try impressing dates with the Journal of Cancer Research on the coffee table.

Do we know where to get one of those science-hiding machines the Bush Administration uses to get rid of facts they don't like?

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Picking up Mark's comment in a thread below is this interesting panel discussion in today's Tennessean with some church leaders and others who saw the Gibson movie, including songwriter Kyle Matthews, who I thought had the most interesting point, and I've only just now noticed that the best part, the last sentence that puts the fine point on it, was edited out of the print edition.

"Matthews: Mel Gibson has always made religious movies. They've just been about the religion of salvation through vengeance and violence. If you take any one of them—The Patriot or Braveheart or Lethal Weapon or Ransom — the theme is the same. At the beginning of every film, something really beyond the pale is done to the most innocent person in the story. Something that's so awful that for the rest of the movie, the main character can enact any kind of horrible violence, blow up everything and everybody, tenfold of what was done in the beginning. And you will cheer because it has been warranted and we are saved through violence. The Passion is different, in that Jesus never loses consciousness. Jesus never really cries out. He bears up under what I thought was unreal suffering. My concern is, how can you build a career and make millions of dollars on the religion of redemptive violence and retribution, and then suddenly make a film about redemptive sacrifice?"

Making that point a bit larger, isn't that the concern too of the Jewish community about this film? That the film itself will mark the initial act of horrible violence and filmgoers will be the ones looking for vengeance, violent or otherwise?

Will the point of the film (if it is indeed redemptive sacrifice) be missed? Hmmm, by Christians?
Songwriting Rights vs. Recording Rights and the case of Grey Tuesday
Before you believe that you're sticking up for neglected songwriters when you side with the recording industry in downloading controversies, remember this: once a song is recorded, you have the right to cover that song in your own recording without permission, so long as you pay songwriter royalties. You could only be sued if you were believed to have damaged the song somehow by your version. The songwriter has no right of refusal.

Recordings are controlled by record companies and play by very different rules. You can't use recordings for anything without getting taken to the cleaners by the corporate interests that rule the music industry. Their head-spins over Internet file-sharing is not about letting creative people retain ownership of their intellectual property, though they would love to keep that protect-the-artist myth alive. It's about ensuring corporate ownership over product.

One problem (of many) that arises from this vise-grip over recording rights comes to the fore thanks to technological advances that allow recordings to be plied and manipulated by creative composers. Call it parody; call it commentary, call it expression, it is anything but stealing. Which brings me to Grey Tuesday, a day of online civil disobedience in which hundreds of websites made available for download the controversial "Grey Album," a mix of Jay Z's Black Album and the Beatles' White Album that has caused EMI (owners of Beatles recording rights) to fall all over itself trying to stifle its distribution.

Grey Tuesday had many online tributes, but for a fabulous consideration, read Professor Lawrence Lessig's post. I'm no expert on the legal matters, but this is fabulous music, intensely alive and contemporary {Darn, I just realized I used the word "fabulous" in 2 consecutive sentences in this post. I suck!} I believe it is protected by the constitution. It would be nice if more officers of the court would defend this sort of thing as such. One of Lessig's points suggests that even if all 4 Beatles were to agree to endorse such a use of their creations, it would not matter. They do not hold the power to release their work in that way. So whose interests are being protected?
Will Nader save Bush from having to take da bait of Kerry all by himself? (sorry)
David Broder's new column remembers how John Kerry defeated popular Mass. Governor William Weld: by drawing him into a series of debates that showed his true policy positions, undercutting his personality/likability advantage. Nader, Broder argues, will keep Kerry from being able to force Bush out into the open:

"If you assume, as most Republicans and Democrats I've interviewed do, that Bush prefers as few debates as possible this year, Nader's candidacy gives Bush a great card to play. Whoever the sponsor, Bush as the incumbent can bargain for Nader's inclusion -- or use the issue of Nader's role to delay negotiations and reduce the number of debates that can be scheduled.

And if Nader gets into the debates, you can count on him making his argument that both the Democrats and Republicans in Washington are puppets in the hands of corporate interests -- a contention that thoroughly undercuts one of the major themes of Kerry's campaign, the argument that he would fight the "special interests" he claims have free range in the Bush administration."

If Nader is denied entry into the debates, Kerry will be blamed and could face backlash. If Nader is allowed in, Kerry will lose a fundamental tool in defining Bush, and Ralph will have cost the Senator more than just some votes of the far left. That is not to say that Kerry's plan would have worked. Before Bush is underestimated, I'll try not to forget that Al Gore was widely expected to overcome personality deficits to George W. through outclassing him in the debates, and that didn't exactly happen, even without Nader there. If Kerry's strategy centers on debates as a linch-pin, he's got more problems than Nader facing him.
With Friends Like These, Bush is in Trouble..
Fed chairman Greenspan offered up batting practice to Democrats yesterday by arguing for cuts in social security benefits "as soon as possible," while maintaining the Bush tax cuts should be permanent. The answer to this is, "well, duh. We'll have to cut all kinds of important things to keep that tax cut permanent." The last thing Bush wants to hear are economic gurus mentioning both of those things in shouting distance of each other. It doesn't matter much whether Greenspan really believes one impacts the other, affect by association will do the damage itself.

Voters in this country have been told for the last 3 or 4 years that social security is solvent for many years to come, and that no change to benefits or retirement age is necessary--candidates have been professing that every election cycle. Now to hear that we're keeping the tax cuts permanent and, by the way, now we have to do something about social security...that's all people will need to know.

Democrats had better have a field day with this. These tax cuts are making it impossible for our government to fulfill its obligations to the people. If sacrifice needs to be made, let the wealthiest among us go back to making it, not the retirees who have already done their part.
Interesting Times

Top 4 Google News terms right now?

Guantanamo Bay
Ralph Nader
Jesus Christ
Democratic Party

For how many of these 4 could the following headline apply? "Devotees fear backlash over piety could damage reputation, tarnish good work of the past."

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

First, it's not cool to make good grades in school, now this
Hopefully, this is not one of their biggest-selling products.

The facts are pretty clear. Young people have always underperformed in voting turnout, but it's getting worse. 18-24 year-olds made up 18% of the population in 1972, but 13% of the voters (72% ratio to meeting their place in the population). In 2000, that demographic made up 14% of the population, but only 8% of the voters (57% ratio). If we can't get young people vote at even a representative rate (and shouldn't they do even better than that?? then old people will continue to dominate elections, and a candidate like Dean will never have a chance. And it's probably worse than that as a percentage of registered 18-24 voters. Since the motor-voter laws passed well after 1972, it's easier now for a young person to register than ever before.

This is admitedly a cheap shot, but why am I not surprised that the President of this company, Urban Outfitters, is a big contributor to Rick Santorum and his PAC?

Picking the winner
Well, this proves it. We Democrats are lemmings. And I say Dean supporters should take heart. New poll numbers (posted by Kos) show Kerry romping over Edwards everywhere (including California) but Georgia, where he's merely pasting him. Here's the thing: Edwards doesn't have a likability problem (au contraire), no personality/temperament issues like those that supposedly derailed Dean. Still, voters are convinced it's Kerry. He's the guy. He's won states, and that's why he keeps winning states. Hard to defeat voting rationales like that once the ball starts rolling.

Why should this make Dean people feel better? Because apparently nothing could be done. Democrats simply believe that playing safe is a winning strategy, and that the safe play is old and griseled grizzled, knows Washington inside and out, and served in the military. Edwards is a perfectly good candidate, a far better campaigner, a grand vision to go along with particular plans and some clear dinstinguishing marks from Bush. There's no pro-Kerry reason why the 2 Senators should be anything more than tied. People don't like Kerry more, they don't believe him more, they don't know more about his plans, they don't know more about him. They've simply decided to stop deciding. Edwards will have to raise some serious doubts about Kerry to win anywhere but Georgia (which still will need some work) on March 2. And he has to sound like he really does have doubts.

Are those folks so accustomed to having IA and NH, plus a handful of Southern states, decide that they don't even really want to have to make a choice? I believe the more people focus on a choice between the 2, the more Edwards is the answer. I fear this needless, really mindless, nominating caution could turn into a Bob-Dole-like performance against the incumbent.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

What I Wish They Would Say
With word that the Bush-Rove team plans to start an advertising blitz, including ESPN, on March 4, to try to make some room amid their buckets of cash everywhere, the American Psychological Association may have just saved us from the barrage with their newest recommendation about the effect of television advertising (OR, I may have just struck some words from this article myself and added others I think could apply equally well):

"The American Psychological Association is calling on federal regulators to restrict advertising aimed at children eight and under dumb jocks, citing research that shows youngsters middle-aged insecure men accept a commercial's claims without question.

The world's largest association of psychologists said that studies have shown that young children white swing voters especially are unable to critically comprehend televised advertising messages and, as a result, are likely to accept commercials Republicans as 'truthful, accurate and unbiased. This can lead to unhealthy eating habits voting against one's interest as evidenced by today's youth obesity epidemic the dolt in the White House,' the APA said in a news release.

'All advertising to children voters too young foolish to recognize the persuasive intent of such messages is by its very nature exploitative,' the report said. 'While it is impossible to protect this age group from all commercial exposure, it is pragmatic to restrict efforts by advertisers when they focus primarily, if not exclusively, on this uniquely vulnerable segment of the child population."
Bush's Occupation Team "thought you said mid-WEST"; Unleashes the political madness of Iowa onto unsuspecting Iraqis
The UN report on the future of Iraq is out. According to WaPo, report author and UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi:

"said the first steps would be establishing an independent electoral commission and reaching agreement on election laws. That, he said, could be completed by late April or early May if U.S. and Iraqi officials get busy. Those moves would allow elections to be held eight months later."

Excuse me? If they get busy? What have they been doing all this time? If our plan hasn't included "election laws," what--you ask--has our plan been all about? Apparently we thought nothing would stoke a virgin democracy like a good caucus:

"The United States had hoped to create a provisional government through a complex system of 18 regional caucuses, a plan that did not gain support among Iraqis. {ed: shocking, that} The caucus system, Brahimi wrote, is 'not a viable option,' and U.S. officials 'themselves accept that it would be impractical to try and implement this system which is totally alien to Iraqis.'"

The most important, I'm guessing damning, fact to know about that progression is how long did it take us to get from that "plan" to that "accept(ance)"? I wish thinking about things like whether a system is "totally alien" were one of those things we got to earlier. While we're at it, can we fire whoever argued that it's not a true democracy until the Iraqi Steak Fry (hosted by Tom Harkin!) is up on C-Span 2?

Monday, February 23, 2004

Dean statement on Nader's announcement to run for President
This should put an end to the silly speculation about a Nader endorsement by Dean. Some Dean supporters, a small but vocal minority, will be turned off and will not like being made to feel Bush-complicit by voting for Nader. That's why it would be best for Ralph to drop out, or not get on the ballot in competitive states: to not put progressives of good will in that position. That's why I'm sure Gary Bauer won't run independent either, even though he would have equally good reasons to do so; but you can't blame me for hoping.
Steinbrenner will usually pay for a big bat...But maybe not this one
Balta relays that the Yankees owner was partially behind the vicious anti-Dean attack ads in Iowa. While that may translate into Dean delegates from Massachusetts, it means we probably can't depend on George contributing to help with the reported Dean campaign debt of around $500,000.00.

A conference call to supporters last week indicated that retiring the debt would likely have to be the first fundraising order of business for the re-tooling Dean movement, likely with a final online campaign fundraising bat, given Dean's refusal to fall back on commonplace budget balancing shortcuts. At the end of the Boston Globe story about the debt is this Roy Neel quote about the Governor's sense of fiscal responsibility and fairness:

"Everyone who is leaving will have been paid for every day they worked," Neel said. "We will not do what other campaigns have done, which is to ask staff to forgo payment they deserve."

But lost amid this continuing media obsession (he's out!) with anything that could be construed as more Dean campaign missteps is how common campaign debt is, and how moderate the Dean debt is, given the breadth and length of the campaign. A quick google reveals 6-figure debt from Carol Moseley-Braun's campaign, Al Sharpton's campaign, and apparently as of 6 months ago Gary Bauer still owes over 100,000 dollars from his 2000 bid for the Republican nomination. Campaign debt is a fact of life, whether you're a major candidate or an also-ran.

Curious though is this quote of 5 weeks ago, from the Moseley-Braun story, referencing a solution Joe Trippi seemed confident about:

"The campaign won't be asking for help with Braun's debts, but every candidate's debts will be cleared at a unity dinner fundraiser after the nomination, he (Trippi) said."

Seems like I heard Sharpton mentioning that as well at one point. Whatever happened to that unity dinner?

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Why Nader Offends the World of Dean
We shouldn't need any more proof that Dean and his supporters are Democrats and committed to supporting the nominee, and will not be jumping ship to Nader. In fact, Dean's campaign has ensured just the opposite, by: a) making the case better than anyone that Bush's policies (even those the Democrats supported) are harmful to the country; b) convincing liberals who may have voted 3rd party in a sure Democratic defeat that Bush is beatable; c) making the Democratic candidates immensely more palatable to greens and other left-leaning independents by improving their message and methods of announcing them. In announcing his Presidential bid, saying the Democratic Party is as hopeless as ever, Mr. Nader denies the Dean campaign ever even happened.

Whether or not we believe we made an impact in turning votes for Dean, we do believe we made an impact on the Democratic Party that is worthwhile. Clearly the terms of debate, even the tone of debate is Howard Dean's. More important, the priority of grassroots organizing and small-donor fundraising, things Ralph was supposed to care about, will never again be ignored in Presidential politics. The main reason Deaniacs will not flock to Nader is that we are pragmatic and believe in improving the Democratic Party from the inside as the best way to achieve change. But another big reason we won't is because this entry is a slap in the face to everything we accomplished, and mean to accomplish in the future.

For evidence already today that anti-Nader/pro-Democrats sentiment is pulsing through the Dean campaign, try this post from former Dean blogger-in-chief, Mathew Gross; and this one on no less than the official Dean campaign blog, written by Internet Outreach Director, Zephyr Teachout.

Who does Nader think he is?? I'm going to have to write anti-Nader haiku all afternoon to get this bad taste out of my mouth. Or maybe a latte and some sushi will do it.
They really do just ignore what they don't like
Which one of these statements did the Bush Administration's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality leave out of a final report on the nation's health--though present in the original draft--because, as Secretary Tommy Thompson explained, "some individuals took it upon themselves" to make the report look rosier than was warranted?

a) "We aspire to equality of opportunities for all our citizens. Persistent disparities in health care are inconsistent with our core values."

b) "Disparities come at a personal and societal price."

c) "Compared with whites, blacks experience longer waits in emergency departments and are more likely to leave without being seen."

d) "When hospitalized for heart attacks, Hispanics are less likely to receive optimal care."

e) "black children have much higher hospitalization rates for asthma than white children."

If you said all of the above you're right! They didn't want you to read any of those things!

I can't help but remember what Howard Dean regularly says about this ideological administration. As a pragmatic doctor, he would say, he sometimes had to change his mind about things, discarding old conclusions when new facts come along. In this right-wing administration, when new facts come along that challenge their conclusions, they throw out the facts! What else hides in there they don't want us to know?

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Dean's method vs. Nader's. Inside vs. Outside. What's so hard to understand?
What more can Howard Dean do to convince folks that he's committed to improving the Democratic Party from the inside? Once again, Instapundit tries to sow the seeds of doubt about the commitment level of the Democratic grassroots:

"If Dean's feeling shafted by the Democratic Party, a Nader endorsement isn't out of the question."

Does no one get it?

Dean pledged his support for Democrats, including the nominee, in the fight this fall, most recently here, and notice the first person ownership of the Democratic Pary in the headline and content in this Dean campaign post from last week. And, if that still doesn't convince you, how about this attempt at a direct refutation of this silly idea, from his speech to supporters last week:

"Let me be clear, I will not run as an independent or third party candidate and I urge my supporters not to be tempted to support any effort by another candidate.The bottom line is that we must beat George W. Bush in November whatever it takes."

There will be no Nader endorsement--direct, implied or otherwise--from Dean or from Trippi. To even suggest it is to totally miss the point of the Dean support grassroots, which is a Democratic Party movement, pure and simple, to improve and expand it. It has successfully done both and is not through trying in either respect. A challenge from within is different from a challenge from without. Like it or not, Howard Dean is a Democrat.
What have you done for me lately ever?
Daily Kos' DHinMI has the best analysis of the day, asking what social conservatives have gotten in return for their support of Republicans like George W. Bush. Highlight:

"Just look at the record. Since the early 1990's the Supreme Court has upheld both Roe v Wade and the use of affirmative action in college admissions, and it struck down state sodomy laws. More children attend day care than ever. More women work out of the home than ever, and most of them prefer to work out of the home even if it's not necessary for maintaining their standard of living. "Will and Grace" is mainstream, and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is on network television. The social conservatives' crusade against the teaching of evolution has had little success. And, like Kos, knowing that gay and lesbian couples are running down to the San Francisco City Hall to get married hasn't filled me or presumably anyone else with an unquenchable desire to run down to the local courthouse and file for divorce."

My question: if we have to deal with a Ralph Nader independent candidacy, can we pray for a Gary Bauer run as well? Whether God is Democrat or Republican, wouldn't she go for that?

{UPDATE: Or, better yet, let's hope God sends some smoke signals Judge Roy Moore's way!}
Trading meat for hay
This is how we're going to win the trade argument in November. Economic reality and Republican inability to hear what they sound like make 2 of the necessary 3 points to show that we're right and they're wrong on this issue. Now if we can just get Democratic rhetoric to rise to the occasion, we'll be getting somewhere.

The simple truth, and the one that must be made clearly and often, is this:Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, all believe in the value of trade. But some trades (ask the Boston Red Sox about Babe Ruth, or ask George W. about Sammy Sosa..) are losing propositions. While we're hammering away at the damage done by bad trade agreements, Republicans like Jennifer Dunn of Washington State (apparently a graduate of the Greg Mankiw school of Economics and Public Relations) help our cause with foolish statements like this, from today's NYT:

"Representative Jennifer Dunn, a Republican from Bellevue. . . dismisses the focus on outsourcing as 'a problem we are going to have to live with from now on. To my mind, trade is the one way we're going to create new jobs, so what we need are more trade agreements opening up more markets,'"

Democrats and other progressives believe in trade that is fair and that reflects our values; Republicans believe in quantity...if you trade enough meat for enough hay for long enough...

{UPDATE: Here's the good economic news. Manufacturing jobs have been found! Apparently I super-sized my order at a local manufacturing plant just today.}
The Fog of War
Tonight I watched the mesmerizing and haunting new Errol Morris film, "The Fog of War." His ability to piece together theme, story and pathos from interviews and historical footage has pioneered nothing less than a new genre of documentary film. This work is among his best.

Robert McMamera's description of the decisions surrounding the firebombing of Japan during WWII, and the scope of its devastation, will stay with me a long time; as will his steely declaration that when a power like the United States finds none of her allies of similar values to be in agreement with decisions to use military might, we ought to rethink our reasoning....Had we followed that simple rule, he maintains, we never would have been in Vietnam.

Part of the genius of this film is that the former Secretary does not come across either as terribly sympathetic, or especially unlikable, yet does seem genuine, and true to his memories and beliefs. He is also shockingly straightforward in his admission of the calculations of loss of life, and indeed engagement in "evil," to maintain freedom, as the President sees fit.

With the growing debate over our involvement in Iraq, and the spectre of Vietnam hanging over the 2004 Presidential race, this film is paritcularly emotional and riveting. I confess, I was a bit detached from the notion that the 30-year-old war and the feelings it raises could play a role in electing the next President, but now, a couple hours removed from The Fog of War, I'm trembling a bit at the prospect of re-opening such a deep national wound. This film is a reminder--at a time when we shouldn't need it, but seem to--of the hazards of war, and the humanity of the people making the decisions. Go see it!

{UPDATE: Before you hit the theater, take with you this brilliant reminder from Billmon about yet another connection of misdirection between Vietnam/LBJ and Iraq/Bush: the cost to taxpayers.}

Friday, February 20, 2004

Putting a fine point on it
Quote of the week on gay marriage belongs to the dynamic duo, Steve and Cokie. Try wrapping your head around this gem:

"Gay marriage more closely resembles abortion than it does freedom of the press."

Could there be a context where that would make any sense?
Change's gonna come
But in New Mexico? Who knew? I just hope Barney Frank's not right about the potential effects of this trend. One thing's for certain: with nothing else to hang their hats on, Republicans will have the nerve to claim this issue is the most important facing our nation.

{UPDATE} According to Atrios, denying same-sex marriage in New Mexico may have been illegal all along. So we're learning about their marriage laws, and I'll bet it won't be long before we also learn how quickly New Mexico Republicans can change them.
Please don't...
Amid frightening reports that Ralph Nader will announce his intention to join the Presidential race once again, I sent the following letter just now, and encourage everyone else to send your thoughts as well. Perhaps his mind can be changed in the final days. Send notes to:

Mr. Nader,
George W. Bush must be stopped. If he wins by percentages that reflect your role as an Independent candidate, I fear that every last bit of your good work will be forever forgotten. Thanks to the efforts of the supporters of Gov. Dean, Gen. Clark and Rep. Kucinich, the grassroots is poised to become a monumental force in this election, a force whose power will be predicated on a single-minded focus: removing President Bush. If we are successful, the effects will be much greater than a Kerry or Edwards Presidency, it will be a huge step toward returning political power back to the people. We the grassroots are ready to take ownership of this race. The last thing we need is a distraction, or a continuing question of the Democratic nominee. Our economy is in peril, and our Republic stands in the balance. Please join with us, and let's work together to keep a Democratic President honest once he's in... This is not the time for your candidacy. Last time will not be forgotten. This time would not be forgiven.
Thanks for listening,

Don Byrd
Article 27
The real "transference of support" question no one is asking yet...
Common question these days (laced with a ready tone of accusation): "Will Dean supporters stick with the Democrats and the nominee? Or will they bail and flock to Nader?" Instapundit believed he found evidence to support the latter assumption, and Billmon expressed the question in grander terms in a prediction he made in July, that is now coming back to him:

"I suspect that at some point – maybe in this election; maybe the next – a Democratic presidential candidate who is not Howard Dean is going to have to turn to Dean’s supporters and say, as Robert the Bruce says to Wallace’s supporters in the final scene of Braveheart: "You bled for him, now will you bleed for me?"

But the growing movement among Deaniacs, led by the Governor himself, to continue working toward electing Democrats, including the Presidential nominee, turns that question upside down, in a form that makes it much more powerful: Now that Howard Dean's candidacy/personality/electability is no longer at issue, will you non-Dean Democrats join with us in our efforts to elect progressive Democrats and uplift grassroots politics and funding methods? There's a Dean Meetup on March 3...and now it's got nothing to do with nominating Howard Dean for President... Come on in, the water's fine.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Dean is out...a disheartening, but necessary development, given the impossibility of nomination. Still, I think staying on the ballot while dropping from the race is not a positive thing for Senator Edwards, who would have benefited from a brokered convention, but who likely can't muster the percentage he would need to win outright in a 2-person race.

Nothing short of endorsement will send the message to Dean supporters that there is a difference between the 2 Senators. Leaving his name on sends the opposite signal, and runs the risk now that Kucinich and Sharpton will both beat him in many remaining states. That will not help in the attempt to persuade the convention that we Deaniacs offer substantial power