Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Homicide via organized police enabling
There are not many things that piss me off much more than things like this. Former Representative (and former Governor) Janklow's records are being released now. Before his speeding finally took another person's life, it turns out Janklow had 12, that's right, 12 speeding tickets, that never negatively affected his driving status. But that's not even (literally) the half of it. Here's the infuriating part:
The study by the South Dakota Highway Patrol lists 16 times that troopers stopped Janklow, but never gave him a ticket or written warning. When asked why, they now say, they either "felt they were instructed" not to take action with the then Governor or "felt he [Janklow] had the authority" to not be cited. Another reason, the officers had too much respect for the office and position.
16 stops, are you kidding me? How about a little less respect for the ass, and a little more for those of us who have to share the road with him. Don't they look up records when they stop people? On their way to showing such respect, couldn't they have noticed that, with 12 tickets, he wasn't deserving?
A Comedian
The President makes a in Turkey:
Democracy, by definition, must be chosen and defended by the people themselves. The future of freedom in the Islamic world will be determined by the citizens of Islamic nations, not by outsiders.
Really, the speechwriters and the policy-makers ought to get together once in a while.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Kerry has Plans (and they make sense)
It happens every election cycle. The press covers only negativity and polls, we the people eat it up, and then "undecided" voters and the press together complain that the challenger's campaign is all about negativity and offers no positive vision or plan. Personally, I am more compelled by how awful the Bush administration is than how promising a Kerry Presidency would be. But, apparently many voters (the bizarre swing votes) don't think that way, or don't admit that they think that way. I can hear them now, in October they'll be saying "..but when is Kerry going to tell us what he would do, and not just criticize the President." And the media will nod their collective head.

So I'm worried that all the daily Bush-bashing (which of course I love, engage in, and think is fully deserved) would leave said voters to think that Kerry doesn't have plans or a positive vision. I read Kerry's speech today to the Rainbow/PUSH coalition with that in mind. The man does indeed have priorities and detailed plans, though you'd have to search the news, or read the speech yourself, to find out about it. Today's focus was on education, science and the "new economy." He has plans to make college more affordable for people who need it the most, to provide more incentive for graduation, and to encourage pursuit of degrees in science and math-related disciplines:
When the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite, America invested in a new generation of scientists and engineers, whose innovation paved the way for the information economy. But in the last 30 years, the US has fallen from third in the world to fifteenth in the number of new scientists and engineers in our workforce. And women and minorities, in particular, are choosing other careers. Women make up only 10 percent of engineers -- and only fifteen blacks and eight Hispanic Americans received PhDs in computer science a year. That’s a brain drain we can’t afford in this global era. But it’s one we can fix.
I like where he's going. Higher education and lifelong learning are going to be more and more essential going forward, and an invigorated scientific community may be even more so. Tying that lack to the need for improved employment opportunities among minorities strikes me as brilliant. The speech is here. Even more details are here. Is there any way to get the positive Kerry vision through the din of negative media obssession? New York Times coverage is here, but will anyone read it or hear about it? How hard will we have to look to find coverage of this speech tomorrow in local print and tv news?
Protecting the Self-Interest
Guess which Supreme Court Justice joined Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Stevens in a 5-4 decision that helps protect (for now) Internet pornography?

Monday, June 28, 2004

Priests can be short-sighted hypocrites too
A reader e-mailed this letter, from a Sojourners editor to Catholic bishops in the US, now that they've taken to excluding liberals from communion. He rightly believes that the Church may be missing the big picture...
I am perplexed why you have chosen the abortion issue as a litmus test for "full communion with the faith of the church." Sorry to speak so boldly, but you have no basis for so selectively narrowing your rich moral tradition.
Even on humanitarian lines, one would ask for irrefutable moral grounds that might justify the military attack of one country against the people of another. The fact that the Bush administration each day revises, redefines, and rewrites the reasons for taking the United States to war is sufficient proof that its justification was at best flawed and at worst fabricated.

I have not heard one U.S. Bishop even suggest that Holy Communion might be withheld for any politician who enacted, or voted for, the immoral pre-emptive invasion of Iraq. Yet the consequent loss of human lives - both Iraqi and American - and the devastation of Iraqi society have been nothing short of tragic. Furthermore, this act of spiritual arrogance - invoking God's guidance while invading - has deepened historical animosities that surely will lead to more senseless bloodshed in the Middle East and across the globe.
This move toward each other by President Bush and the Catholic Church is unsettling. In the context of faith-based and voucher initiatives which stand to engorge the coffers of the church with public monies, it's just about scandalous. And if HR 235 passes, it will all get much, much worse.
Not with a bang, but a whimper
Anyone else smell that strong scent of freedom coming from Iraq? Things sure are different now after the early handover of sovreignty. I guess they decided against a ceremony (that last-minute change must have really chafed the TV network programming fellas). Yep, democracy should be spreading across the Middle East like wildfire....aaaaany minute now.

Juan Cole, a blogger and History prof at the University of Michigan, has the best post on the situation I've read today.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Article 19 Movie Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
Fahrenheit 9/11: **************** (16 out of 19)
After seeing it, I conclude that the Cannes jury were mostly raving angry liberals (I approve, of course), no matter what they say. The film-making artistry here (not that it especially called for it) is nothing extraordinarily spectacular, and content-wise it's not especially focused. There's no need for it to be, but I had high expectations after that award. To me, it kind of played like a filmed version of a blog of the last 3 years: frustrated, sarcastic commentary over the news, sometimes devoted to serious things, sometimes not; sometimes investigative in nature, sometimes not; part criticism of the government, part criticism of the media.

It is powerful, moving, and relentless in its pounding of every self-serving angle that ties Bush and Cheney's past, plus corporate America's opportunism, to the present state of the country. At the same time, and more effectively, Moore reminds us of things today's media let us forget too easily: that many innocent Iraqis are being killed and, in a way, terrorized by this war; that our kids in combat are being damaged, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, by the experience; and that the military actively preys on, and depends on, the service of poor Americans, and then we fail to adequately take care of them in return for this gift.

It's a rallying cry for anti-Bush people out there, but don't know how many minds it could change, save the ultra-liberal Nader supporters, who may be persuaded finally that Bush must go. Even then, Moore's criticism did not spare congressional Democrats. Especially white ones. Use this thread for your thoughts on the film. I laughed and cried (literally), so it earns some stripes just for that; still maybe just a bit too scattered to reach any higher toward the coveted 19-star review.

UPDATE: box-office estimates put the film at #1 for Friday, despite being on only a third of the theaters of the bigger Hollywood films. All shows in Nashville were sold out. Smart move, Disney.
Dean supporters moving forward
Many of you have asked me what Governor Dean and his supporters are up to these days. DFA (Democracy for America) groups are still alive and meet once a month at meetups. The Nashville group has decided to actively support at least one General Assembly race Janis Sontany is the State House incumbent in the 53rd district, one of 5 women who voted against the constitutional amendment regarding abortion in committee, defeating it 5-4 when it looked to have enough votes to pass the full house, shockingly. This courageous vote has earned her a primary challenge, so we are doing what we can to volunteer and help her out.

Nationally, DFA promotes a group of 12 candidates around the country every few weeks, running for everything from local school board to US Senate, known as the "Dean Dozen." Some are incumbents, some challengers, some who can expect to win, some who probably do not. Hopefully, Dean supporters are showering them with money and volunteer work. It's an interesting list. Check it out. My favorites are Rob McKenna, running for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections in Florida on a pledge to provide verified paper trail for all voting machines, and Kim Hynes, running for State House in Connecticut. Regular Dean readers know her from her constant blog commenting. Eventually she was inspired to run herself, instead of just making noise. Now, Gov. Dean himself will be speaking at a fundraiser for her, even though by all accounts she has virtually no chance of winning. She does believe that by energizing enough liberal Democrats and young people to vote in that race, they may just tip the scales in Chris Shays' Congressional race. In a small way, her campaign could help turn control of the US House back to Democratic control. That is the kind of thinking and effort going into the Dean effort these days.

I did some door-to-door work for Representative Sontany this morning, and I heartily recommend that kind of involvement. She is accustomed to campaigning only with her family, so when a half dozen of us showed up to help out, you could tell that it's nice to have that kind of support. I know, you think you don't have time, but there are a million things you can do to help a campaign.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Weekend Viewing Pleasure
I know some of you out there don't have cable TV. Of course, I believe this is a tragedy all the way around, but your biggest loss is The Daily Show. Here's a link to one of the funnier bits, from a few days ago, courtesy of Overspun. Clearly Dick Cheney is going off the deep end.
I like Biden
I needed a cooling off period before coming back to Biden, after the way Joe Biden treated Governor Dean. He was against him and said nasty things. So, it's nice to be on his side again. Via Kevin Drum is this great round table put together by Rolling Stone. I'm quoting the same bits as Kevin, but the whole thing is a good read. I'm particularly floored not so much by what Biden says, but what he reports the President said, and asked, of him. (Emphasis is mine.)
Surely the Abu Ghraib prison scandal didn't help. Should Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or other Bush officials resign?

Beers: The Navy has a custom -- if a ship runs aground, the captain is relieved regardless of who is responsible. That's how Abu Ghraib should be handled.

Biden: I was in the Oval Office the other day, and the president asked me what I would do about resignations I said, "Look, Mr. President, would I keep Rumsfeld? Absolutely not." And I turned to Vice President Cheney, who was there, and I said, "Mr. Vice President, I wouldn't keep you if it weren't constitutionally required." I turned back to the president and said, "Mr. President, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are bright guys, really patriotic, but they've been dead wrong on every major piece of advice they've given you. That's why I'd get rid of them, Mr. President -- not just Abu Ghraib." They said nothing. Just sat like big old bullfrogs on a log and looked at me.
Biden: About six months ago, the president said to me, "Well, at least I make strong decisions, I lead." I said, "Mr. President, look behind you. Leaders have followers. No one's following. Nobody."
Shouldn't it be big news that the President was asking what to do about resignations?? It's unbelievable the self-image Bush has, as one who ("at least") makes strong decisions. I go back and forth thinking he may or may not have more upstairs. But I'm back to thinking he has no idea what he's doing. The neocons are running the asylum (vampires who must have a stake driven through their heart, according to one former Bush supporter in this round table). Bush could have shunned them and been a popular President; instead he's followed their every major recommendation, and so he's going to lose.

I heard Clinton on Larry King last night saying that in an election, the challenger gets to make only one Presidential decision--picking a running-mate. He hopes Kerry approaches his decision with a Presidential attitude in mind. It occurs to me that, given the same opportunity, Bush picked Cheney, and that has really sealed his fate. As for Kerry's VP, I don't think he could do better than Joe Biden. I don't know why we don't hear more of his name up there.
Correction: Jack Ryan...genius of forethought
JC Christian has uncovered Senate candidate Ryan's true master-plan intentions in a letter to Senator Allen, head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee. Obama better look out...this guy's much more crafty than I thought.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Getting Testy...Cheney uses the F word on the Senate floor
This is the greatest story I've heard all week, and from Senate picture day. You think Bush Administration leaders are getting a little defensive, feeling a little pressured, maybe a bit worried? From
Cheney, who as president of the Senate was present for the picture day, turned to Leahy and scolded the senator over his recent criticism of the vice president for Halliburton's alleged war profiteering.
Responding to Cheney's comment, Leahy reminded him of an earlier statement the vice president had made about him.
If you were Vice President, how would you respond back to the Vermont Senator? How about "go f*** yourself"? That's the route Cheney decided on, apparently. Will their powers of diplomacy never cease to amaze?
How do I get warts?
Apparently, breast milk is the secret elixir/super ointment we humans have been waiting for. Well, at least it cures warts. I wonder how that first got noticed? No word on the actual, medical application procedure, but I'd like to think it could be filmed and sold on the Internet.

I know there's at least one near-professional lactation expert out there. Stevie T, did they teach you about any special healing powers?
Superman is Born?
The moment the little boy was born, the hospital staff knew there was something unusual about him. His muscles looked nothing like the soft baby muscles of the other infants in the nursery. They were bulging and well defined, especially in his thighs and upper arms.

"Everybody noticed," said Dr. Markus Schuelke, a pediatric neurologist at Charité University Medical Center in Berlin.

The baby, it turned out in the first such documented case in a human, had a double dose of a genetic mutation that causes immense strength in mice and cattle. Drugs are under development that, investigators hope, will use the same principle to help people whose muscles are wasting from muscular dystrophy or other illnesses. Experts say the little boy, now 4½ and still very strong, offers human evidence for the theory behind such drugs.
But while the muscles in his arms and legs are twice as big as the muscles of other children his age, Dr. Schuelke said, "he is not extreme: you wouldn't recognize him if you saw him on the street."
Of course that's because he'll be wearing his reporter glasses. Duh...

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

How Progressive is Your Representative/Senator?
One of these days I'll have another half-original thought, but until then, I'll point you to a really fascinating site, which rates all Congressional Reps. relative to the "progressive position" on every vote cast. Of course, there are problems to that idea, like who gets to decide the progressive position?? But it's still interesting, and offers an automated, thorough approach, not the more politically motivated efforts of issue-groups. Also, breaks down by issue, and allows you to see every vote used to base the percentage.

Congressman Jim Cooper, representing Nashville, votes progressive 67.12% of the time. But my rep, Marsha Blackburn, whose screwed up district boundary covers a sliver in Southern Davidson County votes progressive 1.46% of the time.

Check it out: Progressive Punch
2 routes toward persuading the skeptical about gay marriage: pathos or pocketbook
Take your pick. One method works it's magic on the heart-strings all by itself...From The Nation:
For centuries, from ancient Roman comedy to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, lovers have been overcoming recalcitrant parents and progressing toward the triumph of a marital finale. Gay men and lesbians seeking to tie the knot in one stubborn county after another re-enact this familiar wedding plot again and again. In turn, the state, blustering about the end of civilization like the swaggering capitano of the commedia dell'arte, plays the villainous authority who thwarts the inamorati. The public is well practiced in whom to root for. At a time when tabloid headlines and reality TV shows make a nightly travesty of eternal devotion and connubial bliss, queer sweethearts have provided the season's most sincere and sentimental romantic comedy.
The other reaches for the purse-strings...
via Kos:
Allowing same-sex couples to marry would have a positive impact on the federal budget, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday. Same-sex marriage would boost federal income tax revenues by $400 million per year until the end of this decade, mainly because of the so-called marriage penalty, the office said. While Social Security payments would rise over time, as would spending on spousal health insurance benefits for federal workers, other expenditure items would be much lower, since spending on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income would fall. The net impact would be a federal budget savings of nearly $1 billion per year.
I hadn't really thought of either before. Whatever works...

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Illinois Republicans Have Strong Family Values
Upset, I suppose, that President Clinton and his sexual, er, clumsiness were going to steal the family values spotlight, Illinois Republican Senate candidate Jack Ryan called a news conference to raise awareness of the fact that he is, in fact, something of a freakshow. Apparently, divorce papers were unsealed, yadda yadda. Aren't candidates supposed to dump this kind of stuff on the media on Friday afternoon?

But setting aside his bad strategy, when did S&M, and exhibitionism, become serious campaign issues? So the man's got some whips and chains and likes to have sex in public (with his wife, by all accounts). We could use that kind of open-mindedness in the US Senate, right?

Doug, can you explain to us what the heck's going on up there? Didn't we already know this stuff about him, thanks to his primary opponents? And why is he getting up in front of people talking about it? He's only charged with being a freak, right? (No laws, vows, etc...) Does he really have to answer to that?
Nader in trouble in AZ, PLUS I switch positions...mid-post!
I want the democratic process to be as open as the next guy, but if it's true that Nader's petition to be on the Arizona ballot is in as much trouble as Kos's updates today and yesterday suggest, I have to admit it won't upset me too much. On the other hand, there's a backlash problem. Will Green/Nader sympathizers be too angry that such an effort denied him a place on the ballot (like he will probably be denied the Presidential debates again) to show up at all? Maybe reasonable liberals who otherwise would have come around to the reality that Kerry is the vote to make, will be too pissed at a system that would scrap Ralph to be able to participate?

I think I would prefer he stayed off the ballot on purpose, than being removed this way. I also think there's a chance keeping out of the debates is a bad idea. Wouldn't the good will on Kerry's part (if he came out in public in favor of including Nader in the debates) win points with that crowd? Maybe I'm just overanalyzing. Please, someone tell me what to hope for.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Economic Recovery?
There is a powerful graphic at the Economic Policy Institute site, demonstrating the difference between this "recovery" and the past eight. You should check it out. Remember, the red bar shows what a George W recovery looks like, the blue bar is an average of the previous eight. Kevin Drum, who also links to this graph, sums it up nicely: can anyone defend this? Easy. The free market extremists at the top of the modern Republican party argue that economic growth is caused by the risk-taking executives of Fortune 5000 companies, and therefore they deserve the benefits of that growth. Worker bees don't make any contribution — they just work — so why should they get anything?

Treating labor like a commodity is a morally bankrupt policy, but it's one that's become an epidemic in the Republican party: they don't just want a bigger piece of the pie anymore, they want the whole pie. Surely it's past time for George Bush's beloved "real America" to revolt over this cynical treatment from conservative elitists?
This is the 2004 message, not gay marriage, not abortion rights, not the war on terror even. We have represented economic hope throughout the world because our middle class has been strong, accessible (mostly), and allows the widespread chance for workers to enjoy their family and life, not just fret over them.

They say that in the big scheme of the expanding vastness of space, the galaxies that are the farthest away are also racing, and accelerating, away from ours at the quickest pace. That is what it feels like to be in the working poor (or worse) right now watching the wealthiest 1% of our citizens. It is not supposed to be like that in America.
First Rowland, then Delay?
The Governor of Connecticut can be compelled to testify before a legislative panel, so he's quitting. The occasional victory over a corrupt politician can indeed be won. I hope we're not limited to one every 15 years or so. If we are, I would have preferred getting a certain Texas Republican...

Of course, even with all this corruption all around us, the only misdeed by a politician we can count on hearing about all summer is revisiting Clinton-Lewinsky... With the book coming out, have you noticed how excited the TV pundits are about getting to talk about that again?

Saturday, June 19, 2004

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management
Cory Doctorow is a science fiction writer. He makes a living doing that, even though (he would say *because*) he makes his new books available for free download. He is also a passionate spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He made a fascinating, right-on speech,(no, lecture) to Microsoft's Research Group a couple days ago about the evils of DRM. Via Lessig:
When MP3 rolled around and Sony's walkman customers were clamoring for a solid-state MP3 player, Sony let its music business-unit run its show. . . .They spent good money engineering "features" into these devices that kept their customers from freely moving their music back and forth between their devices. Customers stayed away in droves. Today, Sony is dead in the water when it comes to walkmen. . . .That's because Sony shipped a product that there was no market demand for. No Sony customer woke up one morning and said, "Damn, I wish Sony would devote some expensive engineering effort in order that I may do less with my music." Presented with an alternative, Sony's customers enthusiastically jumped ship.

The same thing happened to a lot of people I know who used to rip their CDs to WMA. You guys sold them software that produced smaller, better-sounding rips than the MP3 rippers, but you also fixed it so that the songs you ripped were device-locked to their PCs. What that meant is that when they backed up their music to another hard-drive and reinstalled their OS (something that the spyware and malware wars has made more common than ever), they discovered that after they restored their music that they could no longer play it. The player saw the new OS as a different machine, and locked them out of their own music.

There is no market demand for this "feature." None of your customers want you to make expensive modifications to your products that make backing up and restoring even harder.
I'm a Microsoft customer. Like millions of other Microsoft customers, I want a player that plays anything I throw at it, and I think that you are just the company to give it to me.

Yes, this would violate copyright law as it stands, but Microsoft has been making tools of piracy that change copyright law for decades now. Outlook, Exchange and MSN are tools that abet widescale digital infringement.

More significantly, IIS and your caching proxies all make and serve copies of documents without their authors' consent, something that, if it is legal today, is only legal because companies like Microsoft went ahead and did it and dared lawmakers to prosecute.

Microsoft stood up for its customers and for progress, and won so decisively that most people never even realized that there was a fight.

Do it again! This is a company that looks the world's roughest, toughest anti-trust regulators in the eye and laughs. Compared to anti-trust people, copyright lawmakers are pantywaists. You can take them with your arm behind your back.
The whole thing is informative and a fabulous read.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Springsteen Petition
Don't know if this has a chance of happening, or even if anything good could come from it, but here's a petition I signed, and you may want to also.
Article 19 Film Review
Saved!: *********** (11 out of 19)

Some really funny moments. Nobody who needs to see it likely will. But I'm sure they feel the same way about me missing "The Passion."
I'm sorry...did you say "pastor's reception"?
Anybody got a thesaurus? I'm running out of words for "shameless." From today's NYT...
Mr. Bush's courtship of Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant denomination, began Tuesday when he addressed them in a live telecast from the White House and thanked them for their prayers. The campaign's appeals picked up in earnest the next day, when Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, who is now an official of the Bush campaign, arrived to ask pastors more explicitly for their help in winning votes.

Mr. Reed delivered his remarks at a Bush-Cheney "pastors reception," paid for by the Bush campaign. The hosts were the departing president of the Southern Baptists and three other prominent leaders, and the reception was in a conference room of a hotel adjacent to the convention. As the pastors came in, a campaign aide collected about 100 signatures and addresses from ministers pledging to endorse Mr. Bush's re-election publicly, to "host a citizenship Sunday for voter registration," to "identify someone who will help in voter registration and outreach" and to organize a " 'party for the president' with other pastors" on specific dates closer to the election.
I wonder if Ralph told them that if a line is crossed it is the church, not the campaign, that is at risk.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 Update
Bad news for Michael Moore fans. I've just read that one of his press strategists is Chris Lehane....the dufus who screwed up Al Gore's campaign, then went from Kerry's primary campaign, which was flagging under his leadership, to Wes Clark's, who looked to be picking up steam until Lehane came aboard. Of course, once Kerry was free of him, his campaign soared. No telling what he'll do for Moore's film. But 5 bucks says he had something to do with this fabulous press.
I am no expert in the law (if only there were one of those around to explain it...), but I refuse to believe that our Constitution supports the idea of states permanently revoking an ex-felon's right to vote. They committed a crime, they paid their penalty, they should be made whole, at least insofar as they're allowed to participate in their own democracy. So, even if Florida could get it right and remove actual ex-felons from the rolls, I still think it's horrible. Really, what is the justification?? If convicted of voter fraud/manipulation or something like that, I can see a judge imposing a denial of voting rights as part of your sentence, but once the sentence is paid, I don't see where states get off adding unrelated punishment.

And, if you guys think the immigration visa application system is slow and behind, try applying to have your voting rights reinstated in the sunshine state.
The Beasties
"Ill Communication" is one of my favorite rap albums, and I have to admit that list is shamefully short. So if I can I'll check out their newest release, the first since "Hello Nasty" 6 years ago. David Segal has a review in the Washington Post that considers the daunting task of rapping into middle-age, and says that the Beastie Boys have decided to embrace it, not fake it.
How many kids, for instance, will grasp the origins of "I've got billions and billions of rhymes to flex / Cause I've more rhymes than Carl Sagan's got turtlenecks"? And how many will understand the meaning of "On a track so slick it'll make you feel all queasy / Make you do like Fred Sanford with 'I'm coming, Weezy!' "? (And how many will spot the blooper: Weezy was the wife in "The Jeffersons," not to be confused with Fred Sanford's deceased wife, Elizabeth, on "Sanford and Son.")

There are plenty of allusions to vintage entertainment: the movie "Being There," the original "Star Trek" series, "Diff'rent Strokes." Even some relatively ancient commercials get name-checked. On "Rhyme the Rhyme Well" everyone hushes after this line: "Shhhhh. You heard me like I'm E.F. Hutton."
When artists grow older without continuing to innovate, it can be a bad scene. We'll see how BB make out--sounds like they're trying to walk that line with some semblance of integrity.
Be still my heart
The rational side of me says this is a horrible political idea, and will never happen (because it's a horrible idea), but Kos says there are increased, though still small rumors about a Kerry-Dean ticket, partly because of a new Zogby poll, which says Kerry-Dean would fare slightly better than Kerry-Gephardt (nothing shocking there; why not compare with Kerry-Edwards?) It sounds like Kerry knows he needs to create a spark with his choice, and with McCain firmly out of the picture, who does that leave?

On the other hand, I'm not sold on the "spark" theory anyhow. Can somebody tell me the last time we had a Vice-President with a considerably more dynamic personality than the President? I just don't know. I think people prefer to see a VP who's solid and stable, or young and full of promise, like maybe Edwards. Neither would exactly be Dean's public persona at this point.

Still, the Governor's everywhere..on CNN, Fox and MSNBC once a week, morning shows, radio interviews. You can read his newest interview, with Business Week, here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Spare Time
Guess who?
"Night after night for years he's been slipping out of the headquarters of the vast right-wing conspiracy, wolfing down spy novels and then reviewing them for So prolific and proficient has he been at this pursuit that he has attained the coveted title Amazon Top 500 Reviewer. . . .To earn this honor, [he] wrote 137 reviews, which were deemed "helpful" by 2,002 people."
Are we still paying for some monthly pension for him?
Bush and the "Proud Tradition" of the Southern Baptists
President Bush stopped courting Catholic guilt long enough to foment evangelical fervor yesterday, when he spoke live via satellite to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting. Most of it was predictable abortion/gay marriage/God-loves-low-taxes stuff. But my favorite moment was a seemingly benign remark right up front....
"Laura and I are also thankful for your prayers. I have felt them at crucial hours. Your convention has a proud tradition going back to your first gathering in Augusta, Georgia almost 160 years ago. You represent more than 16 million Southern Baptists and congregations all across our country, and many others who serve as missionaries far from home."
How about that meeting in Augusta in 1845? How did it come about? The Northern-based Baptist Home Mission Society had begun turning down slaveholders that wanted to take their, uh, love of different cultures into the field of church missions. Baptists in the South, wanting to uphold the dignity of the institution of slavery in the face of such discrimination, decided to establish their own Baptist body, because sometimes when your religion conflicts with your lifestyle it's easier to change your religion. That first meeting in Georgia organized just such a body, so slave holders could do the evangelical work of God with impunity, and with a support network of resources...the Southern Baptist Convention.

Though you wouldn't know it from their present state, the Convention does actually have a proud tradition, but just like it doesn't extend to the present day, it also sure as hell doesn't go back 160 years. What an odd thing for a President of the United States to say.

In January, 4 of the major predominantly African-American Baptist Conventions will meet together in Nashville, in a meeting that will be larger than the SBC meeting. I'm hoping that it will be President Kerry's first visit to Music City, but do you think a re-elected President Bush will bother to make a similar speech to this group? Tradition not proud enough?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Krugman on Ashcroft
Because the month has been so Reaganific, shamefully little attention has been paid to an event that should have been devastating to Ashcroft: his unbelievable hearing before the Judiciary committee last week, his first in more than a year, in which he both refused to turn over an official memo and refused to even try to cite a reason, in contempt of congress (luckily the Wash. Post got its hands on a copy...warning, lengthy pdf). The highlight of that C-Span insomniac special (I know, I have a problem)was Senator Leahy's recounting of the Attorney General's tenure to date. It's a beauty and worth a read.

Now that there's maybe a chance the media will change subjects (and if Clinton will stay out of the way for a minute), Krugman is picking up the echoes of this recent misbehavior by our Attorney General in a tamer, but strong, piece skewering that horrible public servant:
"First, there's the absence of any major successful prosecutions. The one set of convictions that seemed fairly significant — that of the "Detroit 3" — appears to be collapsing over accusations of prosecutorial misconduct. (The lead prosecutor has filed a whistle-blower suit against Mr. Ashcroft, accusing him of botching the case. The Justice Department, in turn, has opened investigations against the prosecutor. Payback? I report; you decide.)

Then there is the lack of any major captures. Somewhere, the anthrax terrorist is laughing. But the Justice Department, you'll be happy to know, is trying to determine whether it can file bioterrorism charges against a Buffalo art professor whose work includes harmless bacteria in petri dishes.

Perhaps most telling is the way Mr. Ashcroft responds to criticism of his performance. His first move is always to withhold the evidence. Then he tries to change the subject by making a dramatic announcement of a terrorist threat."
You know how Microsoft is always tipping off hackers with their constant security updates? I like the idea that if you want to monitor Ashcroft's blunders, you needn't investigate, just wait for one of his security alerts/indictment press conferences and work backwards.
Michael Moore Campaign
Kos is urging people to contact theater owners and urge them to show the Michale Moore movie (in response to the negative campaigns attempting to persuade them not to show). He has a list of email addresses.

Wanna know if and when the movie is playing near you? Check out this cool site:

Monday, June 14, 2004

The Pope as Kingmaker?
Not much time today to have many thoughts, much less express them, but here's what I'm reading/thinking about. Tell me what you think. Why is it not a bigger story, indeed scandal, that Bush is going to the Vatican for election help? Is this really a conscious Rove-led-effort to use Pope/bishop leverage, to expand the ranks of the religious right via...I dunno.. Catholic guilt? And could it possibly work?
NYTimes story here.
Kevin Drum commentary here.
Josh Marshall has his say here.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Nader Supporters
Arizona looks to be a swing state in November, so it was especially disappointing to hear that Nader just turned in his signatures to get on the ballot there. But, he might not make it. Democratic officials there are poring over his list and throwing out tons who are not registered names. But the most interesting thing is: of the 3600 good names so far, 1500 belong to registered Republicans.
The Last Word
Kevin Drum has the last word (far as I'm concerned) on the Reagan/George W parallel, putting Ronnie, finally on his proper pedestal. {and, wait, this cartoon does a masterful job as well}
"And lying about torture or WMDs? It's almost vulgar. Reagan told lies like that too, but he went further, routinely answering questions by telling us that, say, most pollution was caused by trees. Or that South Africa had eliminated segregation. Or that the Contras were the equivalent of America's founding fathers. There's a sort of ethereal majesty to these kinds of statements that removes them from the earthbound realm of mere cluelessness and makes them the stuff of legends.

So, yes, both Bush and Reagan are conservatives, they both loved tax cuts and tough talk, and they both had ranches and wore cowboy hats. But Bush would never dare tell us that most pollution is caused by trees. He just wouldn't have the vision or the guts."
RIP. Now, 4 1/2 months to figure out how to get Kerry elected.
Kerry segues
Kerry had no choice, of course, but to suspend campaign activities for a week. It demonstrated some respect, but also nobody would have paid him any attention anyway. I'm glad to hear, this morning in the weekly Democratic address, that our candidate is back on message, picking up a point that aligns him with the Reagans, and against the President. From
"'Chances are that you love someone with such a disease [Alzheimer's],' Sen. John Kerry said in the Democrats weekly radio address after suspending his campaign for a week to honor Reagan. 'You may be that someone ...

We must lift the barriers that stand in the way of science and push the boundaries of medical exploration so that researchers can find the cures that are there, if only they are allowed to look.'

Nancy Reagan, the former president's wife of 52 years, has personally appealed to Bush to drop his opposition to funding new lines of stem cells for research, a position Bush pledged to evangelical Christians who believe that harvesting such cells is immoral.
Kerry noted that progress has always brought with it ethical arguments -- there was once, he said, a vocal opposition to heart transplants on ethical and moral grounds.

'I know there are ethical issues, but people of goodwill and good sense can resolve them,' he said. 'For I also know the fear that most Americans feel at some point -- the fear of a diagnosis that may take our life or sentence us to a diminished life.'"
And what was the President's topic today in his weekly address? 3 guesses.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Now, they're just making stuff up
I started off slightly annoyed, then pretty tired of it, but now i'm just plain pissed off over Reagan Reagan Reagan on TV. It's not just the volume of coverage (if they weren't doing this, they'd just be cranking out useless Kobe/Scott Peterson stories), and it's not just that they gloss over the unpleasant bits of his tenure. They are just plain making things up that aren't true. And not just the partisan hacks like Peggy Noonan, or George Will (read this, also from Atrios, in your spare time, for more on Will). Here's Russert on Larry King last night(via Atrios):
"One other political point, the Republicans achieved control of the United States Congress for the first time in 70 years, of both houses, under Ronald Reagan."
Now, that's just not true, but of course Larry King didn't question him. One of the reasons I know that it's not true is that Republicans have been yelling for 20 years that the reason we had all those Reagan deficits was not the fault of the President (who merely proposed and signed the budgets...) but the fault of the Democratic congress.

How could Russert say such a stupid thing? Tip O'Neill (whose friendship with Reagan Russert is fond of pointing out) was Speaker for almost all of Reagan's 8 years, with Jim Wright picking up that job for a year or so at the end, and Tom Foley was the speaker from early Bush until the Gingrich revolution in 1994. Democrats had controlled the House, uninterrupted, since 1955 when Gingrich took the post. Republicans did take control of the Senate when Reagan came in in 1981, and kept it until the 86 elections, but Russert went out of his way to speak politics, to associate Reagan with Republican victory (right after discussing Bush/Kerry). Similar to the lie that Reagan left office the most popular President ever (if you said, no, it was were right), this one about congress will no doubt start making the rounds.
Leaving a Legacy
There's a movement afoot to get a new face on the 10 dollar bill. It's not who you think...

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Way to go, Bruce
Springsteen defends Gore.
How far have we come?
Andrew Sullivan has a transcript of a news conference with Reagan spokesperson Larry Speakes in 1982, shortly after the CDC announced that AIDS is an epidemic, with 600 cases. Let's not forget, Reagan's get-tough strategy with everyone may have brought back American pride and optimism in some sectors (I'm not even saying that's a bad thing), but he did it through a thinly veiled frame of empowered cultural sadism. It is a tribute to the undeniable victories of the cultural left that such speech is no longer acceptable. Those were not victories alongside, or even despite Reagan, they were victories over him.

I've just about had enough. Read for yourself to remember what 1982 was like.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The greatest web site ever
You might already know about this, but I've just found THE site that has the Internet living up to its potential, bringing communities together. It's the shizzolator. Enter a URL, like or any other, and watch the fun.
"'Indeed, you will find in these pages clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight' against global terrorism, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage said during a celebratory rollout of the report."
Or not. Looks like we hired the Enron accountants to gauge terrorist activities.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Duck Museum
What would the history of art look like if we were all ducks and not humans? See for yourself.
Krugman on Reagan
Watching all the old clips of Reagan I've marveled at one thing: I remember thinking he was quite dim-witted and confrontational. Somehow, compared to W, Reagan looks intelligent and down-right diplomatic. This morning, Krugman points to another area, taxes, where Bush has moved the bar into the realm of the ridiculous, where even Reagan feared to tread.
"Ronald Reagan does hold a special place in the annals of tax policy, and not just as the patron saint of tax cuts. To his credit, he was more pragmatic and responsible than that; he followed his huge 1981 tax cut with two large tax increases. In fact, no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people. This is not a criticism: the tale of those increases tells you a lot about what was right with President Reagan's leadership, and what's wrong with the leadership of George W. Bush.

The first Reagan tax increase came in 1982. By then it was clear that the budget projections used to justify the 1981 tax cut were wildly optimistic. In response, Mr. Reagan agreed to a sharp rollback of corporate tax cuts, and a smaller rollback of individual income tax cuts. Over all, the 1982 tax increase undid about a third of the 1981 cut; as a share of G.D.P., the increase was substantially larger than Mr. Clinton's 1993 tax increase.

The contrast with President Bush is obvious. President Reagan, confronted with evidence that his tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, changed course. President Bush, confronted with similar evidence, has pushed for even more tax cuts."

Monday, June 07, 2004

UPDATE: David Hasselhoff's Rap Career...It must be true
Earlier I reported the potential tragedy that David Hasselhoff may become a rap superstar. Today's news confirms that he is well on his way. To become legit he's going to need more than just a criminal record, but he's at least addressing that lack. Thanks Deb for the link.
Rumsfeld identifies the problem, admits to ignoring it, concedes defeat, somehow keeps his job.
I know everyone is quoting and linking to stories about Rumsfeld's answer to a question in Singapore yesterday. I'll quote the whole Q and A and link to a DOD transcript of the whole event, if you're interested. It's encouraging that he seems to have such a handle on at least one aspect of the real problem here; it's discouraging that the administration would seem to have admitted having no ability whatsoever in addressing it, hence has made apparently no effort whatsoever to even really think about it. Bold is my frustrated emphasis.
"Question: Mr. Secretary, you mentioned in your presentation from the campaign against global terrorism the importance of preventing a new generation of recruits flowing to the terrorist cause. I wonder if you’re satisfied with the strategy to defeat the national terrorism, is it in fact sufficiently coherent and coordinated to win? In particular, are you satisfied that the coalition’s political warfare operations have gained sufficient traction to prevent new recruits from signing up to the terrorist cause?

Rumsfeld: I’m certain we have not been successful. As the Prime Minister, I forgot whether he mentioned it in his remarks or at the dinner table, but clearly, if the schools that are teaching young folks are teaching them terrorism and suicide bombing and hatred instead of mathematics or science or language or things that can help them become productive members of the society, we’ve got a problem. The world has a problem. And it’s quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this. I think it’s very difficult for people who are not part of that religion to provide the leadership because what you have is a civil war, a struggle in that religion where a small minority of people are trying to hijack it and to focus it in a way that is hostile to civil society. Not the majority, by any means, but we as free people have not developed the skills to counter that. We’re not focusing on it. We’re focusing on law enforcement, we’re focusing on terrorist networks, we’re focusing on trying to defend against terrorist attacks, but terrorism is simply a technique being used by extremists. It is not the problem in and of itself, it’s a weapon that’s being used.
I love how he flows right from our having no skills in this area, as if it's a direct result of being a "free people," a natural outcome that leaves us incapable, to an admission that we're "not focusing on it," an entirely willful act of priority.

When military experts, like Zinni, criticize the lack of strategic planning in this operation, I assume this is the kind of thing he means. It seems like the military leaders are the only ones that understand problem solving, strategic thinking, and seem the most willing to acknowledge that military force is often not the tool to use, given the problem. What I hear Rumsfeld saying is that we are doing what we know how to do, even though it really doesn't address the problem. I can only assume he keeps his job because that is the outlook of the whole Bush team...

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Billmon on Reagan
I have nary an original thought about Reagan's passing. Mostly I'm annoyed that Republicans may have an artificial "win one for the Gipper" rallying cry to help unite them going into November. That's awfully heartless, I know. I do have admiration and sadness for any family that has had to endure that horrible disease for so long. But I can't help thinking that the absence brought on by his illness has made the heart of many Americans grow fonder of Reagan's legacy than it would have if he had been constantly visible, reminding us of his outlook and biases (think Michael Moore's interview with Charlton Heston...).

Billmon believes that impact to be a close relative of the present Administration:
"Looking back, it's also easy to see the propaganda connections between Reagan's war in Central America and the current Orwellian nightmare in Iraq. There were the same moral oversimplications - pure goodness versus absolute evil - the same flowerly rhetoric about freedom and democracy (to be administred to impoverished campesinos with machine guns and torture chambers.) There was the same lurid hype about the dire danger to the homeland - as when Reagan famously warned that Nicaragua was just a "two-day drive from Harlington, Texas."

And of course, we're even looking at some of the same actors - Elliot Abrams, John Negroponte, Colin Powell. To a large degree, the Reagan administration's covert wars in both Central America and the Middle East formed the template for how the war in Iraq was packaged, sold and - unfortunately - fought."
Oh yeah, and there was this little matter of exploding budget deficits thanks to the arms race, the ridiculous STAR WARS plan, and lowering of taxes. Will Reagan's economic legacy ultimately include--thanks to "trickle-down" theories in part--shifting the deficit hawk emphasis from the Republican toward the Democratic Party, a shift still taking place?
Article 19 Film Review
Super Size Me: ************** (14 stars)
Both fun and frightening. Would have gotten more stars if not for a few obvious arguments that were sidestepped, annoying me. Worth a look, and if you eat fast food (or have kids who do) more than once a week, or have kids who eat school "lunches," it's definitely worth making yourself think through. There's a lot of denial going on...

Friday, June 04, 2004

Sacrificing the environment to save the environment?
Kevin Drum has an interesting proposal at the end of his post detailing the oil crunch and its possibly impending explosion. The bad news goes like this:
"As demand has increased, OPEC's spare capacity has gone down from 15 million barrels/day to 5 million barrels/day to today's 2 million barrels/day. This means that even if there aren't any special problems, demand will start to exceed production capacity within a couple of years. And when that happens, prices will go up and stay up. What's more, with virtually no spare capacity around, every little blip in the oil supply will have potentially huge consequences. Stability of supply will become ever more important and American military policy in the Middle East will start to get really nasty.
The proposal is this:
"How about a deal that trades ANWR drilling for higher CAFE standards, for example? Sounds horrible, doesn't it? But it might be a politically feasible trade, and in the end the benefit from higher mileage cars probably vastly outweighs the negatives of another pipeline in Alaska. Consider it food for thought."
Would anyone actually go for this? Does everybody win or does everybody lose? How much higher do the CAFE standards get to be? That's the question that would inform my vote if I had one.
Economy Report
Jobs report is being hailed by both sides as very positive:
"The May tally by the Labor Department exceeded Wall Street's expectations for 216,000 new jobs and followed an upwardly revised total of 346,000 jobs in April and 353,000 in March."
I have to admit I'm surprised that the turn around has seemed to look for real. But Pete Stark reminds us that there is still a job deficit over the last couple of years, and there are plenty of symptoms indicating a tough time for workers, and those looking for work, if you take a longer view (pdf file):
"The prolonged labor market slump has taken its toll on workers’ earnings. Since the first quarter of 2001, aggregate wages and benefits have risen by just 8 percent. Profits, by contrast, have grown by 61 percent.

Overall, there are 8.2 million unemployed Americans, and about 4.7 million additional workers who want a job but are not counted among the unemployed. An additional 4.7 million people work part-time because of the weak economy. The unemployment rate would be nearly 10 percent if the figure included those who want to work but are not counted among the unemployed and those who are forced to work part-time because of the weak economy.

More than one in every five unemployed people – 1.8 million Americans – has been jobless for more than 26 weeks. The average spell of unemployment is 20 weeks, and remains at a level not seen since early 1984."
Republicans are using the short-view good news to justify a refusal to extend unemployment benefits. But the unemployment rate remains at 5.6% clearly there are many, many willing and able people who are unable to find work.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 Trailer
Trailer for the new Michael Moore film is here. Worth a watch...I can't wait for the release. This link takes you to a Quicktime version, but you can select Windows Media once you're there if that works better for you.
State Trivia Quiz
Which state is the most wired (most households with Internet access) in the country? 3 guesses. I would have failed this quiz miserably. Click here for the answer, and to read an appeal from the Democratic candidate in the hotly contested Senate race in that state.
Congrats Doug and Abby. My hospital correspondent tells me that Celia Frances and mother are doing fine. Wow the Article 19 family has added 2 new ones since this blog started. Who's next? Mark?
Bush on Tenet
Tenet's gone as CIA Director.
Strike #1: Woops! How did India and Pakistan get those nuclear weapons?
Strike #2: September 11, 2001
Strike #3: Don't worry. The case for weapons of mass destruction is a "slam dunk!"

In his typical, artful way as the nation's chief wordsmith, the President had this to say:
"George Tenet is the -- is the kind of public service you like -- servant you like to work with. He's strong. He's resolute. He served his nation as the director for seven years. He has been a strong and able leader at the agency. He's been a -- he's been a strong leader in the war on terror. And I will miss him."
Right or wrong, I have no problem chalking this up to the Al Gore speech. By all accounts, Tenet is a conscientious capable guy (separating him from the others on the Bush team), and I'd like to think that Al's scolding shamed him into quitting. Oh, no, sorry. He wants to spend more time with his family. And here I thought it was because his agency's failures have thrown the whole world into a tailspin. Will the Gore spanking bring down anyone else in the next few weeks? I'm predicting the only other one to go before November will be Ashcroft. That will be the Rove effect, not the Gore effect.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I'm Back
Back home for regular posting. I return to find 2 things of interest: Stephanie Herseth has helped the Democrats gain a seat in the house in a special election in South Dakota, although she must face off against the same Republican candidate in November, so it could be short-lived victory and well as a very slight one. In a state in which Bush pounded Gore, this is a nice accomplishment.

But also, there's a fabulous new sport, that might help those young adrenalin-seekers in the house learn to love at least one unsavory chore. Welcome to the world of extreme ironing.
"Budding extreme ironists are advised to start ironing in the safety of their back garden, before progressing to mountainsides, woods or public places. The basic equipment is an iron and board. Ironists are also advised to take full safety equipment such as harnesses, ropes and helmets where appropriate."
Here's a picture.