Thursday, September 30, 2004

Debate Reaction: Bush was a childish jerk
Immediately after the 2000 debates the consensus was that Gore had won on substance, and then after 24 hours or so, that had totally flipped. Gore had sighed and eye-rolled his way into total unlikability.

Naturally I thought Kerry won tonight's debate on substance, hands down. He made a political slip with that phrase about a "global test" for pre-emptive war. Bush was on the defensive most of the night, as well he should be as the incumbent President. I wish he had shot back more directly at the President's insistence that he was shifting positions.

But maybe more important--hopefully. Bush looked like a jerk. He was angry, unhappy, impatient, looked genuinely (as opposed to putting it on for political effect) annoyed. By God, Kerry won the debate on style too. He looked calm, focused, confident. And if the American people have a shred of consistency in them, they should punish Bush for his behavior the way they punished Gore.

In years past, the message I would want to send after a debate would be one of policy substance. This year, the message is informed by 2000, and it also happens to be true...I say we tell it to anyone and everyone who will listen: Bush was a childish jerk. He didn't show the kind of temperament it takes to be a good President. We need a President for goodness sakes. How about acting like one.

But if Republicans want to actually compare candidates on substance, I think we come out very well there too...

What did you think?
A Brief Comparison of Republicans and Democrats
Democrat and former President Jimmy Carter thinks:
It is unconscionable to perpetuate fraudulent or biased electoral practices in any nation. It is especially objectionable among us Americans, who have prided ourselves on setting a global example for pure democracy.
Republican appointee and Chief Justice aspirant Antonin Scalia thinks(via Atrios):
Sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged.
Democrats are for fairness and free elections. Republicans are for orgies.
Muting tonight's anger and anxiety with fun for the whole family
It's debate bingo.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Child Exploitation at its Best
Lowercase Tees. Mommy wants a new President. (via
Kerry Endorsements
Go read, at TalkLeft, the text of endorsements from the Crawford, TX paper, and from one John Eisenhower, son of Dwight D, who until now was a Republican. Do you have any Republican friends? (I don't) If you do, that page might be a good link to get them thinking.
What's it like to have a leader who gives thoughtful, well-written speeches? I forget
Tony Blair's speech to the Labour Party today. He was going to apologize for the division in the UK over the Iraq War, but he pulled that sentence out. Still it's a good read. Can anyone enlighten me as to what or who "Red Ken" is?
Gore's Debate Advice to Kerry
In today's New York Times. Gore at his best.
Reasons not to take the Gallup poll seriously
1. Gallup's model for detecting likely voters is never right this far out. Was their final poll in 2000 close to the actual result? Yes. Was it close in late September? No, they showed Bush ahead of Gore by 8, 50-42. It actually ballooned to 13 points in mid-October, 52-39. In the real world, Gore won by half a point, making Gallup's mid-October poll off by 13.5 points. Did Gore make one of the great all-time comebacks, convincing some 7 million voters in the last 2 weeks? Of course not. Gallup's poll sample just sucked. It still does. They weight for census information, and go out of their way to get men on the phone, but refuse to weight for party ID. I know there are reasons not to, but the result is Gallup polls fluctuate wildly. It's not because so many people change their mind so quickly. It's because they're holding firm to an, apparently, outdated likely voter model. More numbers/info on that score here.

2. As we learned 4 years ago, the national polls don't matter. Even if the non-Gallup polls, showing Bush up by 3 or 4 are accurate, and they probably are, he could easily win by that much and still lose the Presidency. I've said it a million times, but if Kerry wins Florida, Kerry's going to win. Even the wrong-headed Gallup poll has Kerry down only 3 in Florida, way inside the MOE. The state polls, spread over all the polling firms out there, just simply do not support the Bush landslide predictions that the Gallup poll is suggesting.

3. If the voter registration numbers are correct in stories popping up, there could be an unprecedented number of first-time voters. Personally I believe change is a more compelling motivator for that kind of thing, than is status quo. It's reasonable to believe they signed up to help kick out the shrub. This could make the likely voter model that much farther off.

4. Their founder believes "the most profound purpose of polls is to see how people are responding to God." Wonder which candidate the Gallups are rooting for?

5. Undecided voters tend to break for the challenger 2 to 1, at least that's what everyone is saying. If this race is in truth closer than Gallup says, and if the undecideds go against Bush at that pace, then as far as I'm concerned it's basically tied. And then it's all about the state numbers. And if Kerry can get through this week's debate without totally falling apart in the presence of debate master Bush, he might even gain a point or 2 in the next Gallup poll.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Doing my part
Of course, like you, I'm terribly worried about the debate on Thursday. Why? Because John Kerry barely knows how to answer a question, where George Bush is a skilled, masterful orator, shrewd in his average Joeisms, brilliant in his analysis of an opponent's weakness. Have you ever seen a stronger debater than George W? He whipped the best Texas has to offer in Ann Richards; he sliced and diced the best national Democrats had to offer in Al Gore. The man should really destroy poor John Kerry.

In fact, if Kerry could even get out a few coherent sentences, or even stand up under Bush's withering attacks, you'd have to say he did quite well... It will be near impossible, of course. Bush is just too strong at the podium. A quick thinker, who bloodies his adversaries mercilessly with his consistent message and likable charms. Kerry meanwhile is hardly even human. His mannerisms are alien. Consistent messages are like kryptonite to him. I suspect half way through for him just to throw in the towel and say "I give up, O master Bush! Your big belt buckle Crawford ranch ways are just too intimidating! Your connection to voters makes even the yellowest of yellow-dog Democrats shed a tear!"

Should he even make it to the end of the debate, I dare say that John Kerry should be declared the winner...

Spread the word.
Religious Leaders for Same-Sex Marriage
Something called The Religious Institute has authored an open letter to religious leaders encouraging the affirmation of same-sex marriage on religious grounds. It's a nice effort, but mostly 4 pages of the same thing said 25 different ways. They could have axed most of it, saved the grant money that funded it, and left the one sentence that speaks most clearly: "Where there is love, the sacred is in our midst." Agreed. If it is anywhere, it is surely there.

Gay marriage will come eventually, but not until religious folks are persuaded or else so outnumbered they don't matter. The latter is not looking likely any time soon. MyDD links to an Annenburg Public Policy release that details the percentage of registered voters, by state, who are white, evangelical or born-again protestants. Want to understand the culture war? Massachussetts weighs in at 6%. Tennessee? Number one at 51%.
Kerry's Debate Challenge
Bush has clever, simple frames to issues that Kerry must rebut with equally simple, powerful volleys. He has to be prepared for:

1. On going to war, Bush has a line about having a choice in dealing with Saddam, something like "I could take the word of a madman, or I could take action to defend America, and given that choice I will defend America every time..."

2. On the state of the war, Bush only says "we're making progress." Kerry has to rebut that without looking the pessimist, and bringer of bad news.

3. On the benefit of war in Iraq, Bush wins crowds when he says we're fighting terrorists in Iraq, so we don't have to face them in America.

4. Bush says Kerry is sending the wrong message to insurgents and our troops by being critical of the war effort.

5. Bush says Kerry voted against funding the troops.

6. Bush says getting rid of Saddam was a good thing. Period.

7. Bush says Kerry has multiple positions on Iraq/war on terrorism. This is the killer, because, even though it's hardly true, it's become the story. So that if Kerry tries to sum up his position in a new way, Bush will claim he has taken yet another position. And should he revisit his position later in the debate with even the slightest alteration in wording, Bush will say Kerry has managed to shift positions mid-debate. It doesn't matter that it's not true.

How to respond to all that in a way that will control the post-debate spin? Somehow, Kerry's theme that Bush is in fantasyland and can't tell the people the truth about Iraq has to become the story, over the Kerry-shifts-positions idiocy.

Monday, September 27, 2004

He's right. I think.
Michael Kinsley on the logical contortions that drive the WWOVF? debate (Who Would Osama Vote For?):
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said recently that terrorists in Iraq "are trying to influence the election against President Bush." In saying so, Armitage is trying to influence the election in favor of President Bush. But he has no evidence other than these actions. And if their very actions send a clear message that they are trying to defeat President Bush, then the effect of those actions will be to help President Bush. So even if Armitage is right, he's wrong.
The best film of the year out on video/DVD this week. No, not Fahrenheit 9/11, which comes out next month and is fabulous. #1? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I will try to keep an open mind, but I don't expect to find a more thoughtful, engaging, fun, challenging and beautifully made movie the rest of the year. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and don't read about it before you do.

I know hype ruins everything, but how else would I get you to see it?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Who's better for the enemy?
Let's see if I have this straight. The violent US aggression that is the Iraq War is in no way responsible for creating new terrorists. But criticizing the war "emboldens" and "gives comfort" to the enemy?

Somehow I would have thought that killing the civilians and demolishing their infrastructure would create more determined terrorists than would speeches given on the US Senate floor. Republicans would have us believe that terrorists don't notice the bombs and US occupation because they're too busy watching C-SPAN.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Just plain nuts.
Hoping Team Kerry reads Political Animal
Kevin Drum has 2 must-read posts today: one includes a State Department map (that's right, our State Department) from 2001. It shows countries in which al qaeda was active at that time. Lots of countries from the Middle East roster are present, but....notably missing is one large one. Three guesses as to which Middle East country our State Dept. said lacked substantive al qaeda activity? Kind of shuts the door on the preposterous rationale for war that Bush's Allawi was peddling to Jim Lehrer last night, doesn't it?
JIM LEHRER: What would you say to somebody in the United States who questions whether or not getting rid of Saddam Hussein was worth the cost of more than a thousand lives now and billions and billions of U.S. dollars?
PRIME MINISTER IYAD ALLAWI: Well, I assure you if Saddam was still there, terrorists will be hitting there again at Washington and New York, as they did in the murderous attack in September; they'll be hitting also on other places in Europe and the Middle East.
Don't forget, that's not just a slip. They really can't do better than that. If we hadn't invaded Iraq, Bush-fools would have us believe, terrorists would have continued to strike here and in Europe. Those terrorists really are stupid aren't they? Don't they know we're over here?

Someone tell the families of the 8,000+ dead or wounded US soldiers that their role in Bush's plan is as bait. We feed the frenzy with them so that we can stay, how did Bush put it, "nice and safe and secure." "Bring it on" makes alot more sense now.

Even if that flypaper strategy could somehow work, it would be a horrific way to use US troops. But, alas, it is a preposterous, impossible idea, akin to trying to kill all angry people. If you want to get rid of an entire group, Mr. President, so that they don't come back, try exterminating a race. Your plan is more suitable for genocide. When you try to kill angry people, it just makes more people angry...

The other must-read Drum post explains why the Kerry strategy that says Bush is either not in touch with, or not admitting to, the world of reality is right on target. In retrospect, the lack of planning and the misjudgments that were Bush/Cheney's predictions are truly astonishing. And nobody was fired. We'll change that.
Bush: Too Stupid For Our Own Good
I hate it when W says something so foolish, with idiocy so rampant that you can't even respond to it without tying yourself in knots. As Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap once said, "There's a fine line between clever and stupid." So my immediate shock and glee over something I thought was the height of political dumb is now a kind of confused, stymied awe. Has his stupidity finally reached the level of clever?

Here's what he said (emp. mine) in a Q&A, at the end of a horrifying, horrifying press conference yesterday with Iraqi PM Allawi, in which our President proved yet again that all the foreign leaders he himself has installed really do support him 100%. Shocking, that.

Q: Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister, I'd like to ask about the Iraqi people. Both of you have spoken for them today, and, yet, over the past several months there have been polls conducted by the Coalition Provisional Authority, by the Oxford Institute and other reputable organizations, that have found very strong majorities do not see the United States as a liberator, but as an occupier, are unhappy with American policy and want us out. Don't the real voices of the Iraqi people, themselves, contradict the rosy scenarios you're painting here today?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me start by that. You said the poll was taken when the CPA was there?

Q One poll --

PRESIDENT BUSH: Okay, let me stop you. First of all, the Iraqi people now have got Iraqi leadership. Prime Minister Allawi and his cabinet are making decisions on behalf of the Iraqi people. Secondly, I saw a poll that said the right track/wrong track in Iraq was better than here in America. (Laughter.) It's pretty darn strong. I mean, the people see a better future.

Talk to the leader. I agree -- I'm not the expert on how the Iraqi people think, because I live in America, where it's nice and safe and secure.
So, Iraqis believe they are more on the right track than Americans do. Did he just admit that? Shouldn't the President of the United States care a bit more about what Americans believe? Isn't his job to put us on the right track?

But, wait....

We don't want to concede that Iraq is on the right track; disputing that is what the Kerry strategy is all about now. Iraqis may have the chance to be on the right track now that Saddam is gone, but that doesn't mean they're on it. In fact all evidence to the contrary. So, he's trying to get us to agree that Iraq is doing well by pointing out how much worse we think it is here at home? That clever, clever man.

Kerry/Edwards are going with the dispute-him-on-Iraq strategy rather than the opening that Bush admits America is more on the wrong track than even Iraq. They've incorporated the sound bite into an ad already, which you can view here.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Dreier outing hits the papers
LA Weekly has opened the door with a story reporting the online outing of the conservative Republican congressman. It will not hit major mainstream media of course, unless he goes around looking to get in front of a camera. The best news is that he likely will not be heard from again for a good long while. He is an annoyingly smug prick of an arguer. Wonkette suggests that his outing is not the best thing:
Our position on outing conservatives is simple: We think being a gay Republican must be torture enough. As for particularly virulent homophobes who are gay, well, they should be mocked and reviled because they're homophobes, not because they're gay homophobes.
LAWeekly believes they are employing the Barney Frank rule:
outing is only acceptable when a person uses their power or notoriety to hurt gay people.

Dreier clearly meets that standard, for his voting record is strewn with anti-gay positions. To cite just a few: He voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would have banned discrimination against gay people in hiring; voted for the gay-bashing Defense of Marriage Act; voted for banning adoption by gay and lesbian couples in the District of Columbia (3,000 miles away from Dreier’s district); voted to allow federally funded charities to discriminate against gays in employment, even where local laws prohibit such bias; and voted against the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Dreier is not just a political homophobe but a heartless AIDS-phobe as well, voting against the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program designed to give shelter to the impoverished sick, and against funding for the federal ADAP program that furnishes the poor with the AIDS meds they need to stay alive.
In a just world of reasonable people, Dreier would--now that the mask is off--realize the folly of his ways: that his extreme conservatism was a form of self-denial and shame. Then he would reverse his positions, now that he more closely resembles a whole person, fight for gay rights and the empowerment of the disenfrachised, and change parties. He would lose his Republican house seat, but would be well-positioned for a Senate run, or Governor, on down the road. His place in the Democratic Party would be almost limitless, assuming his issue shift was convincing, honest, and well-articulated.

But, of course, that's not going to happen. He will likely fall the way of Congressman Livingston. Never to be heard from again.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Kerry wins
ARG has released their polls of all 50 states. If the results came out the same on election day, Kerry wins with 270 electoral votes. Wisconsin and West Virginia are tied, but should Bush win both, it would still be 270-268 for Kerry.

How close is it?
In addition to the 2 tied states, 57 of the EVs are in 3 states where the poll shows only a 1-point lead (Florida and Penn. for Kerry, Colorado for Bush).

An additional 53 EVs are in 6 states where the poll shows only a 2-point lead (Oregon and Minn. for Kerry; Ohio, Nevada, Iowa, and NH for Bush).

So 68 are very tenuous for Kerry, 45 for Bush. I still believe that in the end those late deciders who are going to vote will come down for Kerry, unless he does something to blow it. If you don't already know you want to vote for Bush, you're either going to go for the other guy, or stay home.

It's good, but fragile, news. America Coming Together (ACT, the people benefiting from the Springsteen et al tour) is packing up their Michigan operation and moving to Florida.

One other interesting tidbit is it looks like Colorado may vote to split their electoral votes. That would go into effect this year, and virtually assures a 5-4 allotment one way or the other. It's close there, but would be gravy for Kerry. This is mostly bad news for Bush, taking away 4 votes from the 9 he would have gotten under the old system. There's no other state that's real close that Kerry could then afford to lose, but it's an interesting note. If it turns out that the change in CO (if it happens) impacts the outcome of the electoral vote (if it were the policy in 2000, Gore would have won the Presidency), it would be interesting indeed to see the fallout and challenges.

The funnest thing would be if all the Bushies vote it down and then Kerry wins the state and gets all 9 votes.
Your Homeland Security Department at Work
Making the world safe from folk singers. You're next Joan Baez! And anyone else who graduated from the Phil Ochs School of Acoustic Civilian Guerilla Insurgency. This land is not your land!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Happens ALL the time
OK, Mr. movie-review-guy, what is it, exactly, about the story of a woman kidnapped in her attic who manages to re-wire her smashed-to-bits phone so that it calls a young strapping guy she doesn't know on his cell phone, in a way that ensures it won't work again so she can't hang up, and convinces him that she is in trouble and he must come to her rescue personally, that's so freaking implausible??

It's just like a cross between "Speed" and "Phone Booth" right? Two films known especially for their real-life probability. In this case, the bus is played by a cell phone.

But really this exact scenario has happened to me at least twice. Now I just keep my phone off.
Zogby Poll Update
Zogby's battleground state poll update has been released. He uses a controversial, forward-looking Internet-based model that does not rely as heavily on home phone calls. The newest update shows Bush reclaiming Missouri and Nevada, gaining slightly in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and widening his lead in West Virginia. The good news is that Kerry holds on to a razor-thin lead in Florida, and a small lead in Iowa, looks solid in Minnesota and Michigan, and continues to make Arkansas close and closing back in on Tennessee. If all of these things happened on November 2, and there are no surprises in other states, Kerry wins.

ARG will release their next round of state polls soon, and they will no doubt be stronger for Bush, as most other polls lately have been (including scary Survey USA polls that show a dead heat in MD, a Bush lead in NH). Until then, this Zogby update provides mostly good news for Kerry. Can Bush hit a stronger point than this? As undecided voters split off from here on out I think the challenger has the advantage, so I think it can only get better, barring something bad happening, or a debate meltdown. Time to get tough, but no reason to panic.

Why not spend your anxiety time volunteering from here on out? There's plenty to do.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Chafee sets the stage for a switch
Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee is not voting for Bush in November. If Bush is re-elected and the Senate is 50-50, will he caucus with Democrats to try and keep balance in Washington? I'm hoping that's the next step.
Kerry on Iraq today
I didn't hear it, but the speech as prepared is a good read. Hammering home the theme that Bush/Cheney refuse to tell the truth about Iraq, both the reason for going and the present state, is a strong one. He must stay with it. Surrogates must pound and pound it until it starts to sink in. The President deserves to be on the defensive about Iraq, and Kerry has to put him there.

Here's part of the conclusion:
On May 1 of last year, President Bush stood in front of a now infamous banner that read “Mission Accomplished.” He declared to the American people: “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” In fact, the worst part of the war was just beginning, with the greatest number of American casualties still to come. The president misled, miscalculated, and mismanaged every aspect of this undertaking and he has made the achievement of our objective – a stable Iraq, secure within its borders, with a representative government, harder to achieve.

In Iraq, this administration’s record is filled with bad predictions, inaccurate cost estimates, deceptive statements and errors of judgment of historic proportions.

At every critical juncture in Iraq, and in the war on terrorism, the President has made the wrong choice. I have a plan to make America stronger.

The President often says that in a post 9-11 world, we can’t hesitate to act. I agree. But we should not act just for the sake of acting. I believe we have to act wisely and responsibly.

George Bush has no strategy for Iraq. I do.

George Bush has not told the truth to the American people about why we went to war and how the war is going. I have and I will continue to do so.
He offers 4 steps he thinks the President should take right now, and that he will pursue as President as part of his plan for Iraq. Why any American would want to continue on the course we're on now is beyond me.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The likelihood of God, the reliability of political polls, and the end of human civilization on Earth
Stephen Unwin's "The Probability of God" begins: "Do you realize there is some probability that before you complete this sentence, you will be hoofed insensible by a wayward, miniature Mediterranean ass?" Likely, you made it to this sentence, as the probability is so perilously close to zero that one can be forgiven for mistaking the two numbers as identical.

Probabilities and the predictions they birth can be tantalizing. Numbers seem to make concrete the unknown, and even the admitedly unknowable, and we eat it up. And Why? I think it's because scientists hoodwink us with their confidence. We rarely are told, or ask, the level of assumption and bias of either the equations/logic generating the conclusions or the scientist who decided on the them. Unwin tries to investigate God's existence outside of the role of faith and uses a mathematical formula--inputing numbers he believes in--to determine there is a 67% likelihood that a personal God exists. Michael Shermer of Skeptic magazine computes the exact same formula using numbers he believes in and concludes the probability at 2%.

Sir Martin Rees the astronomer brings his entire career of knowledge and study to bear in a new book, predicting that the chances of civilization lasting into the 22nd century are only 50-50 due to the rising number of ways developing to bring about the annihilation of humans. While a tad grim there, that prediction also seems a bit lacking in the courage department, assuring as it does that whatever happens, Sir Rees in a hundred years (or at the moment right before we're all wiped out) will be considered essentially to have been about half correct. And, not to mention that 50-50 is also the exact same probability one arrives at from a theoretical point of maximum ignorance. So why bother?

Those numbers and their level of insight is on my mind these days reading the wave of debate and consternation over the state of political polls, which are essentially predictions of how the election would turn out if it were held at that time. We understand that polls are "scientific" because they usually say that somewhere up front, to blunt our immediate reaction that 600 respondents couldn't possibly predict an election of millions. But, really, how do they work? Are they all scientific in the same way? Is there one scientific and one no-scientific way to poll an election?

The truth is they do not all follow the same rules. And, like the difference in variables used by Unwin and Shermer in predicting the existence of God, pollsters make similar decisions that affect the outcome of a poll. Some polls report the results just as the raw data presents, while others weight the results afterward to "more accurately reflect" the makeup of the voting public (usually based on previous election turnout). Some polls weight for party identification, so that if 50% of your respondents claim to be Republicans, their weight will be decreased before the results are announced, because in the last several elections self-identified Republicans have made up a much smaller percentage than 50.

Gallup is under fire, at least in the blog world (major media continue to present their polls as if they are not controversial), for basing the party ID weight on a model that has no reasonable basis, assuming the percentage of Republican voters to be well over where it actually has been in any recent national election. Not surprisingly, Gallup almost alone shows Bush with a healthy lead, along with the NYT poll, which uses a similarly indefensible model. And Zogby is claiming that traditional polling methods are more and more unreliable because they continue to depend on home phone calls. Respondent levels have dropped to nearly 25% from 36% 4 years ago. That means when you hear George Bush has polled at 50%, that's only 50% of the 25% that bothered to answer the phone and the questions. Why aren't polling firms required to report the results like that? I'd like to see it:

Not answering 52%
Not interested 25%
Bush 12%
Kerry 11%

I think it would make us a bit more properly skeptical. The question is, do the people not answering, or refusing to cooperate, represent a group that has characteristics that make them different, politically, than the group that answers? Or, are they essentially the same as the responding group, with the only difference being that they don't answer, or don't have, a home phone? Could that really be the only difference? This problem validates the necessity of weighting, but that also increases the amount of influence the pollster has over the results, depending as it does on the weighting model they decide to use, and the premise that Americans will turn out to vote, essentially, as they did in 2000.

But why would they?

People on all sides tell us this is the most important election of our lifetimes, and this is also the first Presidential election since Sept. 2001. So, if there is a time for voter turnout models to be quite wrong, one way or the other, it would be this year. I don't know which candidate it will benefit. And I don't think anyone does. Non-courageously, I see Kerry's chances at 50-50.

The sad thing, as I've said before, is that poll numbers do influence both turnout and results. I wish the media that report them would take that responsibility seriously. There are people--I don't know if they are more or less likely to be home, or answer their phone--who love jumping on a bandwagon. And the one making the rounds these days is that Bush is on the move.

Friday, September 17, 2004

A Democrat's Getting Elected in Oklahoma?
If PARLOCK is how they spell nutjob in West Virginia (see post below), in Oklahoma they spell it COBURN. He's running for the Senate (yes, THE Senate) against Democrat Brad Carson. Coburn's got all the great intangbles of Republican Conservatism in the South: what comes out of his mouth is the dumbest stuff you'll ever hear, he just might be somewhat insane, and oh yeah he is evil evil evil. If you're a Republican losing a Senate race in a state that's polling almost 70-30 for Bush, that's a good sign something is wrong with you. In this case, something is.

I'm not sure even Alan Keyes could have lost this one. Retaking the Senate is looking better and better all the time. Tenenbaum's charging in SC, Salazar is neck-and-neck with Coors in CO, Bowles is going to win in NC. Bob Graham's seat in FL could go either way. And of course we're gaining a seat in IL. And I'm reading that Barney Frank is in perfect position to take over Kerry's seat once he is elected President.
The world's most unlucky Republican
You may have seen the picture by now, or heard about it on TV/radio, the Bush supporter whose 3-year-old daughter was made to cry when evil Kerry supporter union thugs ripped her Bush/Cheney sign out of her hands at a Kerry rally. Phil Parlock, the father, has been all over the news, the victim of the day of those overly aggressive, partisan Democrats in West Virginia.

The blog "rising-hegemon" did what any good reporter these days should have done (it only takes .47 seconds), googled "Phil Parlock." In 2000, Mr. Parlock was similarly "assaulted" at a Gore event and got into the papers. And, whaddya know, if Mr. Parlock didn't find his way next to the most aggressive Democrats in 1996 too.

When a gun shot was fired through the front window of a local GOP meeting in Charleston WV 2 weeks ago while Republicans gathered to watch the Convention, making big scary news, guess who was there?

The guy has a knack for being attacked, no? He has had to deny publicly that this newest event was staged, even though the young gentleman sporting the union shirt and a scrap of the child's sign does look a good bit like his son....Check the rising-hegemon link for the pictures.

I personally know only a few people who would really take the time to go to a rally for one candidate and sneak in signs for the opponent. But I know nobody would would take their 3-year-old with them. How do they spell nutjob in West Virginia? P-A-R-L-O-C-K.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Dreier's Next?
I would have guessed Lindsay Graham, but the next DC "outing" target by BlogActive, the site that forced Rep. Schrock to drop out of his reelection bid, is Rep. David Dreier of California. Apparently his chief of staff has also been his roommate, and by the way brings in the largest chief staff salary of any House office, including the Speaker, according to The Blue Lemur. Like Schrock, Dreier also has his own litany of consistently anti-gay votes to deal with. I don't suppose we'll be as lucky with him, that he'll just resign and go away...

I'm still not convinced this is a good thing, this strategy, but then again if you live with and employ your gay lover while harassing and blocking the quest for gay rights, what do you expect?
Marketing Nerve
This genius strategy lends 2 opposing but possible interpretations to demonstrate the value of McDonald's food. Either: A) Eating happy meals will keep you thin! or B) If you're too thin, how about some happy meals!

It's true: the Olsen twins are advertising for McDonald's. Has the whole world gone insane? If this development doesn't make the Rapture Index go up, then it's really not worth a thing.
Accuracy in reporting
Would you say that coverage of Iraq in the news media has done its job in truthfully depicting this reality? Graphic via MyDD.

UPDATE: The site providing this graphic,, has updated it to indicate that September is on pace to surpass, by a long way, the number of troops wounded in August. It's still only a projection, but a sobering one. Fatalities are likewise looking to be higher than August, and the 3rd most deadly month of the war. Why is this war not the story??
New Blog
The American Constitution Society (ACS) now has a blog. Lots of good stuff there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

My Confusion
This is not anger, which I've left behind; and it's not frustration--like over not getting my way. This is genuine, bewildered, I-don't-understand confusion.

Considering the reality of Iraq, how is the Presidential race even close? We were all there last year when Bush said we needed to go to war because of Iraq's WMDs. So he was totally wrong, is changing the reasoning--which people seem to be going along with, shockingly--and worst of all, he's essentially losing the war because the judgment of those who advised him about the post-invasion situation were totally out of touch. Dead plus wounded US troops are now nearing 10,000.

I can see some forgiving him the mistake on weapons if peace and democracy were at hand, or even on the horizon. I would admit I was wrong about that. And I can see forgiving the difficulty of winning a war if the reality of nuclear or some horrendous capability and plan were found, justifying such a enterprise. I would admit I was wrong about that too. But it seems to me that all we've done is replaced one bad situation for Iraq (Saddam) with another (US--insurgents battle), so that now we're the bad guys and not Hussein. Why do Americans recognize the near impossibility of achieving peace between Israel and Palestine, but think that somehow this US-Iraqi skirmish will soon come to an end?

Why do they continue to trust this President with security and foreign affairs? And, oh yeah, the guy that attacked us in the first place, Osama, is still at large and no doubt orchestrating his next move. Do you think he'll cancel it because all of his troops are busy in Iraq? It's not like Bush had gained some huge national credentials over his career that buys him some time and patience. Why are the American people not poised to send him out on a rail? Shouldn't we be seeing 70-30 for Kerry? I'm serious. What's the problem?
The real meaning of bad weather
The spate of hurricanes is bad news for those in its path, but I've learned it's not a good sign for any humans. The increase in "wild weather" plus the increase in recent "earthquakes" has more than made up for the recent lack of unrest in Israel (who knew?) to push us closer to the rapture. So says The Rapture Index, which measures such signs and produces a daily rapture-likelihood score. This was going to become one of my favorite new sites to visit...until I realized it's not supposed to be funny.

Who does this sort of thing?

Monday, September 13, 2004

Joel Snider Responds
I wrote a response to Dr. Snider's piece on civility in public discourse here. He sent his regards and best wishes to everyone, and this response:
I appreciate Don's sentiment. I'd just say three things:

One, the context is primarily local. We've had too many letters to the editor which simply call names instead of dealing with issues. It is public discourse - between neighbors - at its very, very worst.

Second, MLK was indeed confrontational. The beauty of his approach was that he remained civil in his speech, despite the confrontation. He said:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
Strength To Love, 1963.

AND>>>>>>>>>>I only had about 500 words, so I couldn't cover it all!

If you would, please forward these comments to Don. They aren't meant as argumentative, for I surely understand where he is coming from. Lord knows I've wanted to vent my spleen over the war and the campaign. I have to apply what I wrote to myself daily!


I don't think we really disagree with each other. I only worry that there may be wrong reasons to value civility, and his piece raised those thoughts in my head, but I don't think of course that his reasons are those.

Thanks for sending word, Joel. Come by anytime!
From Kenny....Couples Counseling: The Presidential Debates
My brother's idea is that Bush and Kerry should debate under a counseling model, in which each candidate is required to make a good faith effort to restate his opponent's positions, as he hears them..."George, I hear you saying that September 11 changed everything and empowered us to run roughshod over the entire world depending on the price of oil, is that what you said?"

It's a brilliant idea. I would pay to see that conversation.
The Iraq War is a miserable failure (except politically)
Three things you need to read today:
1) Disaster in Iraq is made clearer by a retiring General, willing now to tell the truth, as reported in the Washington Post:
"When you order elements of a Marine division to attack a city, you really need to understand what the consequences of that are going to be and not perhaps vacillate in the middle of something like that," he said. "Once you commit, you got to stay committed."
2 and 3) 2 posts by Josh Marshall, back from vacation with lots to say. First, how Iraq has become a non-issue in the campaign, and its stubborn failure a political asset for the President. Second, he trashes the crazy argument that the War is a good thing because it allows us to fight the terrorists there, rather than here:
The only thing complicated about this argument is calibrating a hierarchy of all the levels of foolishness it embodies. Logically it is nonsensical; strategically it is moronic; morally it is close to indefensible.
Gotta run to class, but later today: Kenny has a brilliant idea about the Presidential debates, Pat Buchanan makes a frightening amount of sense, and Joel Snider responds to Article 19! So come back this afternoon/evening.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Caption Contest
Picture via Pandagon. Not sure what's going on here.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Back to Electoral Basics or "Florida is a large state"
No sense denying that the new polls show Bush gaining and Kerry slipping. This is a good time to remember that the electoral college is what matters. I think what Bush has done is to essentially shore up the Republican base, and steal some votes from Kerry among those obsessed with terror threats that buy into the Kerry-is-weak lie.

As for the election that means only that dreams of a big Kerry victory are not presently in sight. Bush made gains in states he was supposed to win anyway, but where Kerry briefly challenged. So we won't look to win Arkansas anymore, or Tennessee I'm sad to say, or Missouri, or Ohio. But those were never necessary. It's really all about 2 things: first, Kerry has to make sure he doesn't let Minnesota and Wisconsin both slip. That should not be difficult. Then he has to win Florida. It's all about Florida, and I haven't seen a single poll showing Bush gaining a lead to speak of there. Assuming Kerry holds on to the NE, including PA, and holds on in MI where he should, he simply cannot lose the Presidency if he wins Florida. Bush can win Alabama and Oklahoma by as many votes as he wants. We don't have to gain Arizona, or Louisiana, Ohio or West Virginia, and don't even have to hold on to Iowa.

Hold on to Wisconsin and Minnesota (or keep one plus New Mexico), and win Florida, and Bush is out. If I was Kerry I wouldn't leave those four states for the next 50 days.
September 11
The date should evok one name: Osams Bin Laden. The failure to round him up, or even really focus on him, is George Bush's failure. Kevin Drum has the post of the day on the subject, with help from Juan Cole.

Friday, September 10, 2004

What Makes a Controversy?
The one issue where we might have the rhetorical upper-hand over Republicans among the majority of Americans is in the regulation of assault weapons. We're against assault, conservatives are for it. Sounds like a frame Lakoff would like.

So why are we not yelling louder about the assault weapons ban being allowed to lapse by the President and Republican Congress? I know people are saying it's a bad development, but why aren't we screaming? Why isn't it a scandal? A Presidential campaign issue? This is even one Bush flip-flopped on, having previously said he was for keeping the ban in place.

I know it's hard to talk about more than one issue at a time, but I'd give up the national guard issue right away in exchange for a strong, focused, relentless campaign against Republicans and the President for being for assault weapons. It should be bigger than a one-mention story, which is all we've been getting. Guns are sexy, right? Media should like that.
CBS speaks out about documents
This is surprising:
"Contrary to some rumors, no internal investigation is underway at CBS News nor is one planned."
They will address the issue tonight, and will stick by their reporting and the documents, but it doesn't sound too convincing so far, frankly. This time, forgoing investigation sounds more scared than confident, I'm sorry to say.
My Life is Over
It was bound to happen eventually, but one of my students today told me (and everyone) that I remind her of her dad.

Don't they know the pain they cause?
Apparently not.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Lakoff Excerpt on Framing
Alternet has an excerpt from a chapter of Professor Lakoff's new book (you can get the book for free with a $25 donation to Alternet). Rorty says all words are metaphors, and Lakoff seems to take that fundamental idea into the nature of political rhetoric. It's good stuff:
When I teach the study of framing at Berkeley, in Cognitive Science 101, the first thing I do is I give my students an exercise. The exercise is: Don't think of an elephant! Whatever you do, do not think of an elephant. I've never found a student who is able to do this. Every word, like elephant, evokes a frame, which can be an image or other kinds of knowledge: Elephants are large, have floppy ears and a trunk, are associated with circuses, and so on. The word is defined relative to that frame. When we negate a frame, we evoke the frame.

Richard Nixon found that out the hard way. While under pressure to resign during the Watergate scandal, Nixon addressed the nation on TV. He stood before the nation and said, "I am not a crook." And everybody thought about him as a crook. This gives us a basic principle of framing, for when you are arguing against the other side: Do not use their language. Their language picks out a frame — and it won't be the frame you want. Let me give you an example. On the day that George W. Bush arrived in the White House, the phrase “tax relief” started coming out of the White House. It still is: It was used a number of times in this year's State of the Union address, and is showing up more and more in preelection speeches four years later. Think of the framing for relief. For there to be relief there must be an affliction, an afflicted party, and a reliever who removes the affliction and is therefore a hero. And if people try to stop the hero, those people are villains for trying to prevent relief.

When the word tax is added to relief, the result is a metaphor: Taxation is an affliction. And the person who takes it away is a hero, and anyone who tries to stop him is a bad guy. This is a frame. It is made up of ideas, like affliction and hero. The language that evokes the frame comes out of the White House, and it goes into press releases, goes to every radio station, every TV station, every newspaper. And soon the New York Times is using tax relief. And it is not only on Fox; it is on CNN, it is on NBC, it is on every station because it is "the president's tax-relief plan." And soon the Democrats are using tax relief — and shooting themselves in the foot.
Read the whole thing (or maybe make a donation and get the whole book!)
Apologies Coming?
It will really suck if those new 60 Minutes documents turn out to be forgeries.

UPDATE: Atrios links to info on the IBM Selectric, a typewriter introduced in the 40s that included capabilities that resembled proportional fonts. A comment in his thread points to this proof that Air Force commanders had access to such. "Bubba" points to images of Selectric fonts to demonstrate the "closed 4" that some are touting as proof of forgery, and he found that the Selectric II did indeed allow for superscripts.

Ain't the Internet grand?

UPDATE 2: Read the other side here. It's convincing also.

UPDATE 3: Kevin Drum makes me feel better about the documents, but not sure it really helps quell the controversy.

UPDATE 4: I'm starting to come down on the side of "forged." The superimposition of 2 documents, one typed in Microsoft Word 2004, the other the purported doc from 1973 in this post (admitedly at a horrible right-wing site) has me pretty well convinced (scroll down to its updates). If 60 Minutes has some real proof up their sleeve, this would be a real good time to let it out.
Republicans Like Dick, Cheney
Readers of the "zero-tolerance guide to punctuation", Eats, Shoots and Leaves will enjoy this development. The VP is in much-deserved hot water for his claim (which I mentioned and responded to here) that there is a danger of terrorist attack if we elect Kerry. He and his surrogates are claiming that he did not mean what he in fact said, and that if you listen closely to the entire statement you'll see that he only means that if we are attacked again, Kerry's approach will be reactive and not proactive. Of course that's not what he meant at all. He meant that because Kerry's approach will be reactive, terrorists will be able to launch a devastating attack here, if Kerry is elected. It couldn't be clearer from listening to, and reading, the statement.

But the White House transcript has been changed to try and emphasize their contorted interpretation. A period has been replaced by a comma. See for yourself if it makes any difference other than just muddying it up a bit. I don't think it really helps their case, but you've gotta give them points for creativity.

It did read:
It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, that we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again. That we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we're not really at war.
Now it reads:
It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, that we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again, that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we're not really at war.
What would they say if Clinton tried such a revision, or offered such a tortured interpretation of something he said so clearly? For more sentence/logic diagramming of this statement and the ridiculous Republican argument, which is obviously the sanctioned response(I've heard it repeated by at least 3 different GOPers), see Pandagon.
NY Times on Kitty Kelley book
Won't anyone just be honest about what they said, or about what they heard, anymore?
In a back and forth yesterday, Sharon Bush, the former wife of the president's brother Neil and a central source for the book, issued a pre-emptive retraction after a British newspaper printed an article on the book, quoting Ms. Bush as saying that Mr. Bush used cocaine at Camp David while his father was in office.

"I categorically deny that I ever told Kitty Kelley that George W. Bush used cocaine at Camp David or that I ever saw him use cocaine at Camp David," Ms. Bush said in an unsworn statement distributed by her lawyer, David Berg. "Although there have been tensions between me and various members of the Bush family, I cannot allow this falsehood to go unchallenged."

Doubleday, the book's publisher and part of the Random House division of Bertelsmann, said it stood by Ms. Kelley's reporting. The publisher said in a statement that Ms. Kelly met with Ms. Bush for a four-hour lunch on April 1, 2003, where an unnamed third party heard the conversation, and that Ms. Kelley's editor, Peter Gethers, discussed the same material with Ms. Bush over the phone.
The denial regarding knowledge of cocaine use by Bush is awfully limited isn't it? If she had never seen him do coke anywhere, anytime, wouldn't she have said that?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Blog News Roundup
On Wednesdays (and Mondays) I teach 47 classes, totalling 16,795 students, or at least that's what it feels like. So no time to write anything, just a bit of reading.
Kevin Drum has the best outline to get caught up on the developing Texas national guard story.
Kos tells of a potential electoral college surprise (though if it turns out 269-269, I wouldn't count on this happening.
Too bad this poll doesn't really count.
John Kerry's speech from earlier today.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Cheney is awful
"It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Cheney told about 350 supporters at a town-hall meeting in this Iowa city.

If Kerry/Edwards can't hit back strongly at this insulting, preposterous statement, then maybe they don't deserve to win.

How would you respond?

My suggestion: If the Vice President would pay attention, he would notice that we are being hit, every day, thanks to his, and the President's misguided, misleading, rush to war in Iraq. Now 1,000 US soldiers have been killed, over 7,000 horribly injured, and still counting, with no end in sight, and no plan for either peace or exit. Mr. Cheney may not be able to identify with those soldiers in combat, but WE ARE being hit when our sons and daughters are bombed and shot in Iraq. And here at home, did Mr. Cheney help protect us from being hit in the future when he convinced the President to shift our attention away from those who attacked us on September 11, and onto Iraq? When they decided not to fully fund homeland security measures, but shifted that money into Iraq as well? And he has the nerve to suggest that his judgment, and the President's, will make us less likely to be hit, this from the man whose judgment told him that our troops could bomb the Middle East and be greeted as liberators.

The idea that the policies of Senators Kerry and Edwards would make us less safe is an out-of-control, irresponsible scare tactic. Senator Kerry believes there are other approaches to American security than the present course--one based on the right priorities, the right balance of diplomacy with force, and with a realistic vision and plan for lasting peace, rather than everlasting war. The President and Vice President believe that all plans not their own are to the benefit of the enemy, an enabler of evil, and against America. We already knew that they consider other countries of the world to be "either with us or against us." It's a shame they have the same thoughts about disagreements with policy makers here at home.
Usually when the President says something weird, backwards, or just plain wrong, I can at least figure out what he meant to say, or was trying to express. Yesterday's remark has me stumped:
We've got an issue in America. Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country.
I welcome any interpretive help. You can watch the hilarious video here.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Nagging Question
Did the Partridge Family have a Dad? If so, where was he? And if not, why not? How did they explain it?

Sunday, September 05, 2004

I'm not above rumor-mongering at this point. And even though I don't frankly think that "revelations" about W's past are going to help the cause--the middle/undecided seem to be more excited about the integrity of conversions than they are willing to hold someone responsible for ancient transgressions--I link to Atrios who hints at campaign developments which may be coming soon. It may have something to do with this. But it would be nice if this wish (at the top of the page) came true.

I link, you decide. Will post updates here, if there are any.

UPDATE: Susan Estrich (former Dukakis campaign manager and, frankly, pretty much a hack) offers what may be a preview here.

UPDATE 2: More here on the content of the Kitty Kelley book, re Bush and cocaine.
Sticking it to senior citizens
Someone has to pay for Bush's spend-happy ways. It's bad enough that massive, record-breaking deficits of 2001-4 will have to be paid for by future generations. Just like we had to spend some of our surplus from the great Clinton economic years tackling the debt piled on us by Reagan and Bush I, future adminstrations will be shackled by our debts. But add to that insult the injury of shifting responsibility for the revenue that is coming in now.

The last month has seen confirmation of just who Bush and Cheney think should be footing the bill--at least that part of it we're paying now--for the wars, the rising health care costs, the tax cuts for the wealthy, the public education initiatives, the business subsidies, and the various safety net programs:

1. The middle class and the working poor should assume the income tax burden.
2. State and local governments should figure it out for themselves how to fund federal mandates and the needs of its citizens, including homeland security.
3. Veterans and active military, who are being asked to pay more of their health care costs, education for their children, are denied the child income tax credit for low-income families, all while being asked to serve longer (or return to service), in more danger. Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan would have also had their pay cut if Bush had his way.

And now we can add to that:
4. Senior Citizens. In a move that defies all election-year political logic, the Bush Administration has decided to show they can win while still pissing off senior citizens. Or maybe they're hoping those on Medicare won't notice that their premiums are going up 17%, the largest increase in the program's history, while the social security checks most seniors depend on for their income will increase less than 3%. Team Bush must be proud because they made the announcement on Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend when the news in Florida was all about the hurricane. The largest Medicare increase ever. Are they out of their minds?

Friday, September 03, 2004

Letting slip the truth
I think we would prefer to be treated like adults, not children, but chief of staff Andy Card says that's just how the President views the American people: like a 10-year-old. Can't we do better than the Kerry response here? It's not just that he's failed as a "family leader" (though clearly he has), it's that he's-the-parent-we're-the-children is an insulting, inappropriate model. It does certainly explain why he doesn't feel the need to tell the public the truth about things like war. We're just not ready to handle it....

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Late-night Response
Excerpts from Kerry's midnight response here.
Michael Moore in USA Today:Bush Speech Thread
If you haven't read his column today, it's good: he has a few ideas for Bush's speech tonight:
The other thing I would like to hear tonight is: Why haven't you caught Osama bin Laden? You've had three years to find him. The man killed nearly 3,000 people here on our soil.

Maybe Bush has no worse explanation than he just hasn't been able to do it. Well, if your town's dogcatcher couldn't catch a wild dog that has been on the loose biting people for three years, what would be the dogcatcher's chances for re-election? Not good.
What would you like to hear from him tonight? What do you expect? And, once it's over, what did you think? I expect him to come across as above the fray, while still insisting that Kerry's positions aren't right for the job. But he'll steal from Clinton and assure us that he has only disagreements, not personal differences, with his opponent.
Where are the Democrats?
Can we please get some prominent--PROMINENT--Democrats out there saying things like this (via Washington Monthly):
The main falsehood, we have gone over before (click here for the details), but it keeps getting repeated, so here we go again: It is the claim that John Kerry, during his 20 years in the Senate, voted to kill the M-1 tank, the Apache helicopter; the F-14, F-16, and F-18 jet fighters; and just about every other weapon system that has kept our nation free and strong.

Here, one more time, is the truth of the matter: Kerry did not vote to kill these weapons, in part because none of these weapons ever came up for a vote, either on the Senate floor or in any of Kerry's committees.

This myth took hold last February in a press release put out by the RNC. Those who bothered to look up the fine-print footnotes discovered that they referred to votes on two defense appropriations bills, one in 1990, the other in 1995. Kerry voted against both bills, as did 15 other senators, including five Republicans. The RNC took those bills, cherry-picked some of the weapons systems contained therein, and implied that Kerry voted against those weapons. By the same logic, they could have claimed that Kerry voted to disband the entire U.S. armed forces; but that would have raised suspicions and thus compelled more reporters to read the document more closely.
Where's Wesley Clark? Joe Biden?
CNN plays real journalists for a night
If you missed CNN's inquisition of Zell Miller last night, it is worth a read. My favorite part is where he almost tries to explain his pro-Kerry speech from 3 years ago as a mistake of youth:
MILLER: Look, John Kerry came back from Vietnam as a young man unsure of whether America was a force for good or evil in the world. He still has that uncertainty about him.

WOODRUFF: You praised him...

GREENFIELD: Then why did you say in 2001 that he strengthened the military? You said that three years ago.

MILLER: Because that was the biographical sketch that they gave me. This young senator -- not young senator, but new senator had come up there, and all I knew was that this man had won the Purple Heart three times and won the Silver Star and...
So, if you would just say whatever was put in front of you then, why would we believe that you aren't doing the same thing now?

(also you can see a video of Zell coming unglued and offering to kill Chris Matthews, duel-style here (scroll down)).

UPDATE/ADDITION: For a really good dissection of Miller and Cheney's speeches, read Professor George Lakoff's piece. His book "Moral Politics" is the next on my list to get.
Zell and Dick
Were they really as harmful to the GOP cause (especially Zell) as many commentors are saying today? Because, to me, Republicans always sound like that, and always make me as disturbed and frightened as those two did. Kevin Drum thinks that if more of the general voting public had seen last night's display, that Kerry would have the election won. I tend to think the opposite. The partisan crowd was cheering, but so was the "panel" of "undecided voters" MSNBC had convened.

I'm so confused as to when the unattentive wing of the American people finally decides to be turned off by nastiness. I'm afraid this glee over Zell's screed is premature and biased.

Did you see the speech? What did you think?
The Passion
Turning the other cheek is soooo 6 months ago. Looks like Mel Gibson is back on more familiar ground. His new production, "Paparazzi," would seem to be the good old vengeance-enabling tale of a man so wronged by evil-doers that he's free to inflict as much harm as he wants in response. There's only one good reason that allows us to kick so much ass with impunity: because the other guy deserves it. Sure, that means we depend on the existence of evil-doers to fuel our catharsis and give us a reason for living, but it's good entertainment right?
Joe Trippi Speaks
The Dean campaign manager has some advice for the Kerry campaign:
If the Dukakis campaign of 1988 taught Democrats anything, it should have taught us that you don’t sleep in August. Not against these guys, and not against anyone in this business no matter how formidable the lead. The Kerry campaign should have learned from their close call with the Dean campaign to never sleep walk or fall into the slumber of overconfidence again.

So wake the hell up damn it!
It would be nice.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

FYI: Jay Carson Sightings
Referred to as Democratic spokesman and "war room leader" here.

Way down in "the note" is this cryptic remark (thanks again, Deb. you did all the work on the blog today.), unexplained and no link: "Note to those following the RNC's poking fun at Jay Carson's statements on John Kerry. There's plenty more where that comes from!"

What's good for the goose might be good for the gander, might not
Ben Barnes is a Democrat in Texas who has been known in the past for bipartisanship. He also is apparently the guy who pulled the strings to get W into the Air National Guard instead of going to Vietnam. Contrary to Bush's statements that he just walked up and they happened to have a slot for a pilot, lots of folks were eager to get in and avoid service in the field of battle (not John Kerry).

Barnes is set to go public with his story on 60 Minutes, not this Sunday but the next, according to Slate (thanks, Deb). Of course this gives Rove and company plenty of time to mount a counter-offensive against Barnes before the story even gets out, and knowing our luck that will also be the week the general public finally decides they're through hearing about Vietnam and will take it out on whichever side of the aisle brings it up. So, I can't decide if this is good news or not, but I have sunk into deep pessimism, so my calibration is all off.
Protest Coverage
William Rivers Pitt is blogging his convention experiences, including protests, at the Truthout site here. And his new article, on Bush's terror war flip-flop (which he followed up with a flop-flip back) is here:
It is hard, while watching these guys flop around their own words like boated marlin, to avoid thinking about the thousands of troops deployed in Iraq today. These men and women were told they were leaving home to fight, and perhaps die, in the War on Terror. They left their families with Bush’s promise of inevitable victory ringing in their ears. Now, sitting in that scalding desert, they are being told that they are fighting a war that cannot be won. More than a few of them had already arrived at this obvious conclusion some time ago, but to hear the confused gibberish coming from their Commander-in-Chief must be like a kick below the utility belt.
And, thankfully it looks like th Clinton cavalry may be coming to the rescue, as Joe Lockhart has joined the Kerry team. The first press I've seen him get yet is a dandy (and uttered perhaps in Nashville!): "When the president admits that he's not confident they can win the war on terror, that's what people in politics call a problem."