THIS BLOG HAS MOVED! It is now located at moderateleft.com
Other Fecke Stuff
The Valkyrie's Tale
My Friend is a Lawyer in Boston....
...And a Beer Journalist
My Friend's Friend's Brother Is In
Questions? Comments? Complaints? Email Jeff at email@example.com
© MMII, MMIII, MMIV, MMV, MMVI Jeffrey K. Fecke, All Rights Reserved.
Sunday, February 29, 2004
Aristide Flees Haiti
Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has fled the country in advance of rebel forces advancing on Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital.
What will happen now is unclear. The Haitian constitution calls for Supreme Court Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre to assume the Presidency, but Alexandre is an Aristide appointee, and it's questionable whether he would be acceptable to the rebels. Unfortunately, the most likely short-term scenario is chaos and anarchy, with a possible military dictatorship.
This would seem to be a perfect time for the US to send in peacekeeping troops. The Monroe Doctrine holds that we're responsible for nations in this hemisphere, and moreover, that we want to keep other nations out of this hemisphere. Unfortunately, it's hard to see where we'd come up with troops for peacekeeping in Haiti; our military is already stretched to the breaking point.
Saturday, February 28, 2004
Via the General, this brilliant take on the relationships between men and women:
I have other things that I have to worry about. Like were to sit in class. If you read my post from yesterday you would know that the night before I went with Stepha girl in my class to see Miss Saigon. The smart natural and polite thing to do would be to make sure to sit next to her the next day in class.
Is it parody? I sure hope so. Otherwise I have one little bit of advice for Stepha girl in his class: Run. Now.
Happy Birthday Werm
Happy Birthday to my good friend and conservative stalwart Brian Wermerskirchen. He's a radical righty, yet he loves the band Phish--go figure.
The Truthful George W. Bush
President Bush said he launched his drive for the FMA in response to the marriages in San Francisco. True? No.
Why lie about this? I mean, it's not like most of us didn't know this was coming. Does this administration have a purpose in its mendacity, or do they just dissemble for fun?
Over at Oxblog, Josh Chaftez has the running tally of Senators for and against the FMA. The current count:
Democrats For: 1 (three guesses who....)
Republicans For: 28
Total For: 29
Democrats Against: 38
Republicans Against: 5
Independents Against: 1
Total Against: 44
Chaftez also lists eight "cop-outs" and four undecideds, but it hardly matters now, does it? Not only do the anti-amendment forces have six more votes than they need to block the amendment, but they have a plurality of those Senators who have decided on the issue. They have a cloture-proof minority. In short: everyone worried about the FMA can breathe easier. It's toast.
Soft on Defense
We all know that John Kerry, Vietnam Hero, later voted to cut every weapons program the United States has, right?
It is instructive, however, to look at the footnotes. Almost all of them cite Kerry's vote on Senate bill S. 3189 (CQ Vote No. 273) on Oct. 15, 1990. Do a Google search, and you will learn that S. 3189 was the Fiscal Year 1991 Defense Appropriations Act, and CQ Vote No. 273 was a vote on the entire bill. There was no vote on those weapons systems specifically.
Not among many members of the SCLM.
Rick Santorum, Idiot
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Man on Dog) has gone 'round the bend:
[T]he consequence [of gay marriage] is very clear. Marriage loses its significance. People will stop getting married. Homosexuals will not get married; heterosexuals will stop getting married. And that to me is the real threat to the American family and to the culture generally.
So if gay people get married, everyone else will stop getting married?
I mean, I'm just unable to follow this line of reasoning. Marriage has a long tradition in humanity. Though it's taken many forms (polygamy being more the norm than people realize, with arranged marriage the norm for most of recorded history), people have been joined in matrimony for thousands of years. It probably predates the arrival of Homo Sapiens Sapiens on the planet.
And all this is just going to stop now that gay people can get married? People are going to look at each other and say, "You know, Gladys, I want to live with you for the rest of our lives, but now that gays can marry, it just doesn't mean anything. Let's live together and have sex with animals, and while we're at it we'll pledge ourselves to Satan?"
Look, marriage is a wonderful institution. I'm married, and I recommend it. That said, I can tell you that my decision to marry my wife was based on my desire to be with her for the rest of our lives. It had nothing to do with anyone else's marriage--gay or straight.
Here's a hint, Senator: marriage has already been devalued by the Britney Spearses and the Elizabeth Taylors and the Dennis Rodmans of the world. And still, people get married every day. The urge to marry is deeply human and it isn't going away. The urge to marry is so great that even gays want to do it. They want it so desperately that thousands are flying to San Francisco to get a piece of paper they know--they know--will be invalidated within a month or two. They go to get that paper so that, if only for a month, they will be married in the eyes of the law.
That kind of commitment cannot harm marriage, Senator, it can only strengthen it.
Atrios kindly quotes another Senator, Sen. Seaborn Roddenberry (D-GA):
Intermarriage between whites and blacks is repulsive and averse to every sentiment of pure American spirit. It is abhorrent and repugnant. It is subversive to social peace. It is destructive of moral supremacy, and ultimately this slavery to black beasts will bring this nation to a fatal conflict.
As Atrios notes, plus ca change, plus c'est la même chose.
Show Some Love
John Barrow is running for Congress in Georgia's 12th District. He needs your support. Go give him some money, and tack on $.37 to let him know where it came from.
Deaniacs for Edwards
Howard Dean may not have endorsed John Edwards, but Minnesota Deaniacs have. Now theoretically this should give Edwards a good shot in the caucuses on Tuesday, as the Orange Tuque Brigade is large in number. Then again, that's what we thought in Iowa when Howard the Doc was still running.
American Research Group Democratic Primaries:
Overall, things look grim for my boy Edwards. One would think he needs to win at least three states on Tuesday--and if he hopes to do that, Georgia has to be one of 'em. Moreover, he has to be at least competitive in New York, California, and Ohio to keep Kerry from sewing up the nomination. If Edwards can pull out wins in Georgia, Maryland, and a wild card state like Minnesota, he has a good shot in next week's Southern Tuesday. If not, it's game over, and time to annoint Kerry as The Man.
Friday, February 27, 2004
Vice President Edwards
I thought both Edwards and Kerry handled the VP question well, Edwards by talking about the formidable Edwards/Kerry ticket, and Kerry by thanking Edwards for his consideration. Nothing that's been said by either man would preclude the possibility of an Kerry/Edwards or Edwards/Kerry ticket, not even the flat denials of Edwards that he's interested in the number two slot. Still, I doubt such a ticket will come to pass; the last time two primary foes shared a ticket was Reagan/Bush in 1980. I think Kerry/Bayh, Kerry/Cleland, and Kerry/Richardson are all more likely than Kerry/Edwards. As for Edwards/Kerry...well, I'm caucusing for Edwards on Tuesday, but let's see him win a few states before we start wondering about that.
Dennis Miller's show is already being completely overhauled. Success!
Seriously, aside from Chris Matthews, is there anyone with any talent on MSNBC? (This is the channel that hired Jesse Ventura).
All I know is that watching Miller's show is like watching Louis B. Armstrong play the trumpet at a Daughters of the Confederate Revolution fundraiser. I don't know what that means, but I'm increasingly convinced that most of the time, Miller has no idea what he's saying, either.
UPDATE: Miller's show is actually on CNBC, which is even sadder.
No Turkee for Them
A bit from today's gaggle:
QUESTION: First, where the idea of a precedent is concerned, President -- sitting President Gerald Ford went up to Capitol Hill and actually testified before the House Judiciary Committee, so there is a greater precedent than what you're referring to.
Why isn't the President willing to help the 9/11 commission? I'm not looking for political points here, I'm looking for an answer: why won't the President fully cooperate with the people bound to investigate the events of September 11, 2001? Doesn't he want to prevent another tragedy? Or is he more interested in his political well-being than preventing another disaster?
The Rules of the Senate
Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) are holding up a transportation funding extension bill to force the House to extend the 9/11 commission's mandate. Good for them. This is why bicameral legislatures work well--because between two houses there's a good chance one of them will have some sense.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
The Passion For $
As regular readers know, I'm not a Christian. Though I was raised Methodist, I renounced my faith in my teens, and later converted to Unitarianism in my mid-twenties. I'm no less "Christian" than many others--I just felt that I was wrong to belong to a church whose central tenet--the divinity of Jesus Christ--was something I did not believe in. (For the record: yes, I believe in God, I believe in an afterlife of some sort, I believe in ultimate karmic justice. What God, what afterlife, and what justice are open to debate.)
Despite not being a Christian, however, I retain an affinity for the biblical stories of Jesus. While I don't believe there was a God named Jesus, I believe there was a Rabbi named Jesus--one who said a lot of heretical things, a lot of brilliant things, and a lot of frightening things that ultimately got him killed by the powers of his time. What he ultimately taught--tolerance, brotherhood, taking care of those less fortunate than you--was a powerful message, one that too many of His followers ignore.
This is a roundabout way of saying that I've been intrigued ever since I heard of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. The basic idea of presenting a passion play in Aramaic and Latin, of attempting to depict the betrayal and execution of Jesus interested me. Yes, Mel has some nutty religious beliefs, but so does Tom Cruise.
I was looking forward to the movie. But I'm beginning to wonder if I should go--because I'm not sure the people making the movie have their priorities straight. Why? In a word--nails.
That's Officially Licensed Passion Nail Jewelry to be precise. And licensed Aramaic witness cards. And lapel pins. And books. (Isn't this based on The Book?)
Now, I'm a free marketeer. I believe in market economies. But isn't there something unseemly about marketing Jesus' death? (Yes, Christians have used the cross as a symbol for millenia. But they weren't trying to make a quick buck on 'em.)
Jesus was a brilliant man, and hundreds of millions believe he was the human incarnation of God. One of my favorite bible passages is Mark 10:19-31:
19 "You know the commandments, `DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, DO NOT DEFRAUD, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.' " 20 And he said to Him, "Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up." 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. 23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!" 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, "Then who can be saved?" 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God." 28 Peter began to say to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You." 29 Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 "But many who are first will be last, and the last, first."
Jesus was not one for merchandising. He simply believed in helping those who were less fortunate. I think this is slanderous, and it diminishes greatly my respect for those who made this movie.
As for the movie itself, Even the Conservative Andrew Sullivan described it as pornography. Maybe I'll see if Miracle is still at the multiplex instead.
Meanwhile on Larry King Live
Sharon Rocha, the mother of Laci Peterson is really mad at Democrats for holding up "Laci and Conner's Law," a bill that would change the federal penalty from homicide to double homicide when a pregnant woman is killed.
Now, I'm on record as being opposed to murder, even when the victim is not pregnant. But this bill is the kind of shameless, pointless pandering that our government needs to knock off.
First of all, does anyone believe that the murderer of Laci Peterson would have been deterred by this? Does anyone believe anyone would be deterred by this? No, of course not. Like hate crime legislation (another pander), this does nothing more than make a key constitutent (in this case, pro-life groups) feel better. It does nothing to prevent crime.
Second, Ms. Rocha "[Calls] on [opponents] to look at how the laws in California and many other states have worked, and to vote yes. I call on them to look at how the laws in California and many other states have worked, and to vote yes." Yep, that's right, this is already the law in California, and Minnesota, and many other states. Did it save Laci or Conner? No. So why on Earth would we want to add a federal statute that won't save anyone either? And why is this so necessary if it's already the law in Ms. Rocha's home state?
Third, this is of course a naked ploy to criminalize abortion. If it's illegal to murder an unborn child, it's hard to argue it isn't murder to engage in an abortion. Quite flatly, the pro-lifers are trying to use the U.S. Criminal Code to muddy the waters on when life begins.
Finally, folks, Laci Peterson is dead. Her unborn child died with her. It's tragic, yes, but it's also one of dozens of similar murders nationwide. Laci was pretty, her husband and alleged killer is handsome, they got a lot of media coverage. But that does not mean that her family gains special dispensaton to force laws through Congress. Our system of justice is based on the dispassionate rule of law, and Thank God.
I applaud everyone who opposes this wasteful, pointless, useless bill. If "Laci and Conner's Law" was worth passing, it would've saved Laci and Conner's life. That the similar California statute did not is tragic--but it is proof that this is not the way to prevent future tragedies.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
No Turkee for CNN
CNN actually reports the Bush waffle on same-sex marriage that Atrios previously noted:
It was during a CNN Republican primary debate that year in South Carolina that he was asked about gay marriage. Bush said he would "stand up and say I don't support gay marriage."
Heh. For states' rights and against them. And that's just the President of the United States.
Another Republican Turned Off By FMA
Heck, they're bailing out in droves over at Even the Conservative Andrew Sullivan's site. I'm interested to see the next round of polling data. Something tells me it won't be pretty for the President.
The Fat Edge of the Wedge
Matt Yglesias brings up the new Washington Post poll on gay marriage, which has (very slightly) better numbers for FMA supporters--46% support, 45% oppose, 9% undecided. But here's the interesting thing about this poll: independents show strong opposition to the proposed amendment, with 56% opposing and only 35% supporting. (Democrats gave the amendment a slight plurality in favor, 48%-44%; Republicans essentially reversed independents with 58% support and 35% opposition).
I doubt many Democrats are going to rally 'round the President over FMA (I'm sure 15-20 will nationwide, but probably not many more), but I wonder how many independents may turn away from the President over this? It bears watching, and again belies the idea that this is an issue that will electrify America for Bush.
SCOTUS Upholds Blaine Amendments
By a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court has upheld a Washington State ban on divinity education. Chief Justice Rehnquist, writing for the majority, says:
The program "imposes neither criminal nor civil sanctions on any type of religious service or rite. It does not deny to ministers the right to participate in the political affairs of the community. And it does not require students to choose between their religious beliefs and receiving a government benefit."
Justices Thomas and Scalia dissented.
The case was closely watched, as so-called Blaine Amendments, which prohibit state funding of religious education, represent a serious challenge to the ability of state governments to give voucher money to private religious schools. Pro-voucher forces had been hoping that the Supreme Court would invalidate Blaine Amendments based on Locke v. Davey. Instead, the Supreme Court has given Blaine Amendments a ringing endorsement--something that represents the potential deathknell of the voucher movement at the state level.
Not being a voucher fan myself (based on fairness; I don't get a voucher for not driving on I-694, or using welfare, or going to state parks. Taxes on schools support schools, not individual students, and while I should be able to pull my daughter out of public schools and place her in private schools if I so desire, I shouldn't be rewarded for it), I'm happy to see this decision. It should be interesting to watch the fallout. Over/under on state Sen. Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater) offering up a Constitutional Amendment: 2.4 minutes.
Mitch Berg was happy about Bush's announcement, even though Mitch is personally opposed to it. Why? It's the politics, stupid. Mitch says:
Leaving aside the moral rights and wrongs of the issue, I think the Marriage Amendment is a can't-lose for the President. Most Americans across the political spectrum oppose gay marriage,,,,So in solidifying his base, I doubt Bush has lost the vote of a single person that would have voted for him.
Uh, Mitch? Here's one.
Bang-up job, Mr. President. Keep having big days like this!
Discount Blogger™ says that backing the FMA dooms Bush:
You can agree with his positions, or you can disagree with every one of them. I don't think anyone will disagree in a few months that he would have been much better off if he had just stayed out of it all. For opponents of the president, I think this constitutional amendment is a good thing. It's the last straw. It's one more step in solidifying the (mostly untrue) stereotype that people on the right in this country are racist, homophobic bigots.
I won't go that far. But I do think Bush is going to regret this.
The Narrow Edge of the Wedge
Yesterday, George W. Bush came out in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would become only the second amendment in the history of the republic to limit, rather than expand, civil rights. Now, conventional wisdom holds that because so many Americans oppose gay marriage (the numbers are usually about 2/3 of Americans in opposition), this is a slam dunk winner for the President, an obvious issue that will hurt the Democrats and help Bush.
But that's just not the case. The latest Annenberg Poll shows something surprising. When asked the question "Would you favor/oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution saying that NO state can allow two men to marry each other or two women to marry each other?" Americans said, simply: we'd oppose that.
Not by run-away margins. 48% said they'd oppose an amendment while 41% supported such an amendment. But the numbers get worse for the President. Only in the South is there a plurality in favor (48%-43%), while the swing Midwest opposes 47%-41%. Worse, the libertarian West opposes 56%-36%. Yes, California is part of the West and that weights things, but California voters were quite willing to vote a ban on gay marriage into law. (It goes without saying the Northeast opposes, 50%-36%).
The biggest problem for the President, though, is the standing of an amendment with independents. By a wide margin--52% to 37%--independents oppose amending the Constitution.
It's a wedge issue all right. But Democrats are at the thin edge of the wedge, not the President.
Now of course, all of this is academic. It's phenomenally difficult to amend the Constitution. The framers, in their infinite wisdom, required a 2/3 supermajority of both houses of Congress and 3/4 of all states to ratify an amendment. The Flag Burning Amendment, which has strong majorities in favor of it, has never been able to clear even Congress. This amendment, with a plurality of Americans opposed to it, has no shot at passage; there simply isn't the political will in the country to make it happen.
Perhaps sensing the inevitable, even House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) is suggesting that this may not happen. A vote in Congress would expose some moderate Republicans to uncomfortable votes. (Does Olympia Snowe really want to vote for the FMA?) Already, a few Republican representatives have suggested they won't vote for the amendment. There will, of course, be a few Democrats who vote for it (*cough* Zell Miller *cough*), but the Republicans need at least sixteen Democratic senators to cross over just to get it through the Senate, assuming the Republicans manage to get every single GOP senator in line.
So, to sum up: the FMA has little chance of passing and it's unpopular with the country as a whole. So thanks, Mr. President! We appreciate the wedge issue. Keep this up and the Democrats won't even have to campaign.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Marshall on Bush and the FMA
As usual, Josh is right on the button, especially with this:
A couple weeks ago I said we should be on the look out for stuff like this -- not just the move on gay marriage, but the whole descent into scurrilous attacks and divisive wedge politics as the president's popularity drifts downward. (Isn't the White House a bit worried that their line about the Democrats being negative and haters will be a little undermined by these tactics on their part?)
Well worth a read.
Putin has fired his cabinet. Hard to tell where this is going...other than towards a Putin dictatorship, but it's been going that way for a while now.
Much has been made of those anti-war protesters who held up "Bush=Hitler" signs. The facile comparison of Bush to one of the most evil men in the history of humanity was rightly denounced by the pro-war set. Of course, this helped the right; they were able to paint with a broad brush, and tar all anti-war folks with the idiocy of those in their fold--the willingness of some to violate Godwin's Law made the rest of the war protesters look bad.
So how does this make the right look?
Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization" during a private White House meeting with governors on Monday.
Now, one can have disagreements with the National Education Association. They oppose No Child Left Behind, for example, which Paige has steadfastly supported. But Terrorists? Really?
Maybe my memory is shoddy, but I don't remember any of my teachers blowing up a building and killing three thousand innocent people. I could be wrong.
The statement was so over the top that even John Cole felt compelled to respond to it, and eloquently, too.
Paige has apologized--well, sorta:
It was an inappropriate choice of words to describe the obstructionist scare tactics the NEA's Washington lobbyists have employed against No Child Left Behind's historic education reforms. I also said, as I have repeatedly, that our nation's teachers, who have dedicated their lives to service in the classroom, are the real soldiers of democracy, whereas the NEA's high-priced Washington lobbyists have made no secret that they will fight against bringing real, rock-solid improvements in the way we educate our children regardless of skin color, accent or where they live. But, as one who grew up on the receiving end of insensitive remarks, I should have chosen my words better.
No kidding, Rod. Sorry, but "it was a joke" doesn't cut it. You can't divorce the NEA from teachers, Rod, because the NEA is made up of teachers.
My mom is a teacher and a member of the NEA. She's been to their
Mark Kleiman says it's time for Paige to resign. I agree. This kind of mistake shows that Paige is incapable of handling cabinet-level responsibilities. He should go--now.
Bush Moves To Shore Up Base
GDub is going to back the Federal Marriage Amendment, stunning three people in Pipestone who lack televisions or any knowledge of George W. Bush.
While the AP story indicates that the proposed amendment would leave civil unions alone, there's certainly an argument as to whether that's so.
As for me, I go with the Daily Show last night, where Senior Moral Authority Stephen Colbert argued for the FMA, saying that there was a societal trend he disagreed with, and something must be done. Of course, when Jon Steward opined that an anti-adultery amendment might do even more to protect marriage, Colbert responded, "Okay, comrade! Get your jack-booted thugs out of my bedroom! Or, in my case, several undisclosed bedrooms."
The FMA will do nothing to strengthen marriage. It will merely enshrine bigotry in our Constitution for twenty or thirty years until it's amended out. Once in our nation's history did we add an amendment that dealt with a contentious issue of public policy. That amendment was repealed fourteen years later. The Constitution is not the place to make public policy, and with any luck, the Federal Marriage Amendment will go down in flames, the sooner the better.
UPDATE: Even the Conservative Andrew Sullivan reacts harshly to the President's declaration:
We must oppose this extremism with everything we can muster. We must appeal to the fair-minded center of the country that balks at the hatred and fear that much of the religious right feeds on. We must prevent this graffiti from being written on a document every person in this country should be able to regard as their own. This struggle is hard but it is also easy. The president has made it easy. He's a simple man and he divides the world into friends and foes. He has now made a whole group of Americans - and their families and their friends - his enemy. We have no alternative but to defend ourselves and our families from this attack. And we will.
Andrew, the Democratic party welcomes you! It's not too late to join--we'll welcome you with open arms.
Thanks to the Lucy Quinlivan at the St. Paul Pioneer Press for listing this site as part of her "Blog Bog." For the record, the other sites are Cursor, Drudge, Juan Cole, Kaus, Even the Conservative Andrew Sullivan, Josh Marshall, Insty, The McGill Report, and Power Line. I'm not sure I belong in that company, but I'm honored nonetheless.
Monday, February 23, 2004
The Horrifying Gay Agenda!
I've switched from Enetation to Haloscan. The bad news is that all of the old comments on the site are gone now. (Well, not gone. If I don't like Haloscan I can always bring Enetation back.) The good news is that I now have a fancy trackback feature, and since Haloscan tends to be a bit more stable than Enetation, the page should have fewer times where it simply fails to load.
So comment on comments, if you so desire....
Roy Moore For President!
Is former Judge Roy Moore going to run for President? I don't know, but I'd sure like him to. Run, Roy, Run!
Thought For The Day
"If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for ... but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that a truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires."
--Robert A. Heinlein
The Weakness of Bush
A number of bloggers have been commenting on the weakness of George W. Bush. Ezra says:
It's all pointing to something rotten at the center of the Bush presidency. Bush was supposed to be unassailably strong, the tone of the reports clearly show that his attacks were expected to be unstoppable effective. Were he not the President and this was merely a campaign, his obituaries would already be written. As it is, he has the time and money to pull it together, but I'm beginning to seriously wonder if he has the standing to do so.
Let's remind ourselves that the strategy that they're using is reminiscent of the one they used to justify the Iraq war. Before, during, and for a long time after the "end of major combat operations," the line was "just you critics wait! we'll find those pesky WMDs yet and won't you look like fools!"
I've even commented on the way Bush's current troubles may hurt him.
But let's not get carried away, folks. It's tempting to try to start a new meme, the "Invincible John Kerry/Edwards" meme, in which the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are bumbling fools, incapable of running a winning campaign.
They aren't fools, and they've won once before.
This is not to say that Bush is in great shape right now; he isn't. He's in a weakened position, and rebuilding his image will take time and effort by the GOP if they want to win in the fall.
But if the Karl and Co. successfully rehabilitate the President, he will be a formidible opponent. I still think Kerry and/or Edwards will win in the fall, but I am not deluded enough to think it will be a cakewalk. This is going to be a tough fight, and if we assume that GDub is inept, we will end up on the bad end of it.
Right now, we need to fight hard against Bush. We need to work our tails off to ensure his defeat. We need to make sure that we don't for a second assume that the White House will run a bad campaign. Indeed, we don't deserve victory if we merely coast against an inept campaign by Bush. (Not that we won't take it, but still....)
No, we need to be ready for the day the White House comes up off the floor and starts swinging. If that day never comes, great. But to assume it will never come is the height of arrogance.
Unrepentant Bush Voters Against Nader
Mitch Berg is concerned about Nader:
My biggest worry - in this election, Nader will serve the same role that Pat Buchanan did in 2000, once he left the GOP; he'll provide a safety valve for the Democrats. Without the resources of the mass of birkenstock-clad True Believers of the Green Party backing him, his candidacy will be merely a place for the left to store its lunatic fringe.
Hmmm...maybe Nader running isn't so bad after all.
Semi-Repentant Nader Voters For Anyone But Bush
2000 Nader voter and general third-party supporter Beast of Sound isn't hearing the siren call of Saint Ralph this time.
Sunday, February 22, 2004
Anyone who doubts this is all about Ralph's ego should watch the Meet the Press interview. Yeeks. He's so deluded he thinks Al Gore would've invaded Iraq. Way to pay attention, Ralph!
Seriously, what does he think he's going to accomplish here? Other than finally and utterly destroying his reputation on the left, that is.
Whatever. Run, Ralph, run. Sorry your ego couldn't let you sit this one out.
Saturday, February 21, 2004
Gay Marriage v. Civil Unions
Much has been made of this Josh Marshall post, in which Josh goes through a quite honest debate with himself:
My reason for not supporting gay marriage -- and I think there's a difference between opposing and not supporting, in this case -- is that it seems like a step that would trigger a backlash that would a) quite possibly prevent the adoption even of civil unions and b) provide a tool for conservatives to win elections and thus prevent or turn back various other progressive reforms that are no less important than this one. (Of course, this hybrid reasoning has all manner of uncomfortable echoes from the middle decades of the 20th century.)
I understand and sympathise with this line of reasoning. To some extent, I share it; it would be tragic indeed if by supporting gay marriage, Democrats pave the way for the Federal Marriage Amendment. Indeed, I have considered in the past few days writing a post quite similar to Marshall's.
But over the past few days, I have come to believe that I was wrong, and Josh is wrong. Gay marriage is an issue that Democrats can and should fight for--and it needn't cost us the Presidency.
First, let's take an object lesson in American politics: Jesse Ventura. In 1998, while running for Governor of Minnesota, Ventura took some radical stands. He came out as unabashedly pro-legalization of marijuana, and he stated flatly that he believed prostitution should be legalized and regulated for public safety and tax revenue.
Now, needless to say, neither was a popular opinion. Though no polls were done on the issues themselves, marijuana legalization hovers at about 30% support nationally, and one would suspect prostitution legalization would be at the 15-20% level.
What happened when Ventura took these outlandish stands?
His poll numbers went up.
Why? Because while most Minnesotans were opposed to these policies, they knew two things. First, it was unlikely that the legislature would enact them. But more important, it was refreshing to hear a politician saying what he actually believed, rather than what polls indicated he should say.
Gay marriage is an issue that is not popular; support is at about 33% nationwide. But that opposition is not deep. For most Americans, gay marriage is an issue that they are uncomfortable with and sort of opposed to, but if it happened, it wouldn't affect their lives much. For these Americans, a candidate and a party that took a principled, forceful stand may gain support despite being on the "wrong" side of the wedge--the candidate's honesty being more important, in the end, than the issue itself.
Yes, it's playing with fire. We don't know what the public would do for sure. But I believe that a principled support of gay marriage--or, barring that, at least a support of a state's right to decide the matter for itself--would be ultimately electorally neutral. The issue will energize the base of both parties (evangelical Christians will be out in force, but we knew that; gays, lesbians, and Democrats who are friendly to them will be out in force as well), but for swing voters, pocketbook issues will be far more important.
Finally, two thoughts with regard to the future--for we must look to the future of our party and our nation if we are to be worthy of winning a national election. Opposition to gay marriage is strong, to be sure. But among the youngest segment of the voting population, voters actually support gay marriage by a wide margin. It is only because the oldest voters oppose gay marriage so strongly that the polls appear so lopsided.
At some point, the Democratic party is going to have to work to attract young voters. Over the past two election cycles, the party has run as the party of prescription drugs and the lockbox, and little else. That is not the way to attract college students to the fray. But by pushing this civil rights issue, Democrats give young, libertarian-on-social-issues voters a reason to join the party--and a reason to stay.
The second thought is this: the history of our nation is one in which disenfranchised citizens gain equal rights. Gay marriage will be legal, sooner rather than later. The support among the youngest voters will move up as the oldest voters die off and give way. Certainly within the next fifty years, and likely within the next twenty-five years, gay marriage will be the law of the land.
We have the opportunity to be on the right side of history. Thirty years from now, our children will ask us what we believed about gay marriage. I don't want to tell my daughter I thought gay people deserved almost as much as her mom and I...but that they didn't deserve to be married like we were. I want to tell her the truth, which is that two people who love each other deserve the right to register that bond with the state.
We must support that which is just, that which is equal, that which is right. And it is right that gays and lesbians should have the right to marry the person they choose. We cannot advocate separate-but-equal to win an election. There are principles worth losing an election for, and this is one of them.
If You Don’t Mind, I’d Like To Take a Minute and Talk About John Edwards....
I went to the big Edwards shindig in St. Paul today, and if crowd size is any indicator, he’s got a shot in Minnesota. I arrived a half hour before the scheduled start (and an hour and a half before Edwards arrived) and was in the overflow room. The crowd was enthusiastic, and Edwards wowed ‘em as per usual. A few thoughts:
All in all, a good campaign stop. A note on windshields says Kerry is coming on Wednesday afternoon, but no specifics of where or when. Nice Carhart jacket, Kerry.
Friday, February 20, 2004
Gay Marriage and Bill Richardson
Gay marriage is evidently already legal in New Mexico. Who knew?
I'm Jeff Fecke, and I Approve This Message
With the end of the Democratic primary season fast approaching, we're about to hit the twilight netherworld of campaign law, when presumptive nominees for both political parties have emerged, but before post-convention spending caps descend. Conventional wisdom has always held that this is when President Bush will make his big move. He's already raised almost two hundred million dollars. The thought was that the President would use that money to build himself up into an impregnable fortress of a candidate, using the popular President's accomplishments in Iraq and the War on Terror to establish him as a Great Man, while the Democratic candidate, out of money and up against spending caps after a long primary fight would be impotent to respond.
But a funny thing happened on the way to this scenario: the President lost his credibility just as he needed it most.
It hasn't been one big thing, but a death of a thousand cuts: the lack of WMDs in Iraq, AWOLgate and the inept response to it, the weak State of the Union address, the Medicare bill's sudden jump in cost, the jobs forecast shenanagans, and the disjointed appearance on Meet the Press have all contributed to make the President appear out of touch and somewhat disingenuous. With this baggage, it will make it hard for the President to run as a uniter who beat Iraq; indeed, a campaign ad touting Iraq may hurt Bush somewhat by reminding people of the lack of WMDs there. A campaign ad touting the improving economy and the tax cuts may remind people that the recovery hasn't brought jobs with it. Bush has lost his mojo just as he needed it most.
This isn't to say that the President won't still run duckies-and-bunnies ads that aim to make him look good, nor that those ads won't be somewhat successful--Bush has to be getting near his floor of support, and undoubtedly some positive advertising will help reverse that. But if Bush wants to close the double-digit gap between himself and the Democrats, he'll have to do a little attacking, too.
In past years, this would've been no problem. The Bush camp would run an ad saying, say, "John Kerry came back from Vietnam and hooked up with Hanoi Jane Fonda. Kerry. Fonda. Think about it." At the end of the ad, identifying information would appear in two-point font tying the ad to Bush--so subtle that many would miss it.
But thanks to McCain-Feingold, that's going to be a little trickier this year. Under the rules set forth, any ad run by a campaign requires a coda. The candidate must appear on camera, saying "My name is John Smith, and I approve this message." It doesn't take a genius to realize that this will blunt the truly negative ads. If yoBush runs an ad saying "John Edwards steals candy from babies. My name is George Bush, and I approve this message," it's going to make Bush look like a sleazebag.
This is not to say that Bush can't attack the Democratic nominee--he can, and will. But those attacks will have to be more focused on issues, and less on character. And they can't get too nasty, lest Bush be tarred in the public's mind as a negative campaigner.
Of course, there are ways around this. Republican 527s can attack the Democrats at will, with no disclaimer. And undoubtedly, some will. (Bush 41 rode to election thanks to an independent group's Wille Horton ad.) But Democrats have taken the lead on creating 527s, while most Republican donors have given to the President's campaign directly.
Finally, should the nominee be John Kerry--and all indications are that it will be--Bush's money advantage will be blunted. Kerry is behind on fundraising, but once he's the presumptive nominee money should flow freely. And Kerry has already blown the spending caps, meaning he can spend every dollar he gets between now and July.
It will be interesting to see what develops over the next five months, and whether Bush is able to get himself out of the hole he's in. He's going to have to do it on his own, though: the structural advantages he enjoys are not enough, in and of themselves, to give him the victory.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Dahlia Lithwick on Memogate
Dahlia Lithwick is the reason I read Slate, and great analysis like this is why:
The saddest part of this memo scandal isn't that it betrays the same tragic "they started it" finger-pointing that has made it all but impossible to confirm judges in America. The saddest part is that private documents taken and passed on without consent—and no matter what legal language you can chum up to defend it, that is what was done—have given all of us a Fear Factor-worthy glimpse at the squirming ugliness beneath the judicial confirmation fight. Those GOP staffers and the conservative groups who back them have led us into the sausage factory and hollered, "Ew. Sausage!" And unless you are 7, it strains credulity to argue that this virulent lobbying, pressure, and backroom deal-making goes on only among Democrats.
There's also a good point-by-point analysis of who may be in legal trouble, and why. It's a must-read.
Fire Gary Barnett
I don't know how Gary Barnett looks himself in the mirror. It's bad enough that his football program appears to lack any institutional control. It's bad enough that there are enough allegations of impropriety to signal that his program has a sick, twisted culture that celebrates the abuse of women. It's bad enough that, when asked about all of these allegations, he issues a flat denial, rather than at least being open to the possibility that there may be some truth to them.
But when a former player--the second woman to play Division I college football--comes forward to allege that she was subjected to cruel abuse, taunts, and ultimately, rape by her supposed teammates, Barnett chose the high road.
He decided to trash Katie Hnida's skill as a football player.
The University of Colorado has placed Barnett on paid leave while they investigate. Fine and dandy, but I can tell you that if I were in charge, Barnett would be gone already. His statement was beyond insensitive--it demonstrated a coach so out of touch with reality that he is incapable of recognizing when his program is in trouble. It showed a lack of understanding of reality. It showed an epic lack of sensitivity (hint: when someone alleges rape, it's common courtesy not to tell everyone how bad that person is at his or her job.) And finally, his non-apology apology, "... I apologize for answering that question in a manner where I must have come across as insensitive," is not nearly enough to save him.
Colorado should fire Gary Barnett--and Division I athletics should start reassessing why they exist. When "sex parties" and strippers are considered acceptable recruiting tools, something has gone seriously awry.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Poll Watch II
Meaningless? Sure. But fun. Latest USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll:
Mythical National Primary
So...still Kerryriffic. Edwards can also make a claim on electability. The national numbers augur against any real chance for Edwards to make a game of it, but hey--you never know.
I Called It!
For once, I actually predicted something right, though I backed off the prediction almost immediately.
What did I predict, pray tell? Well, in the wake of the made-up Drudge rumor, I said:
Will this be enough to derail the Crimson Chin? Hard to say. It won't affect my vote (I was planning on writing a nice little piece on why I'll be supporting Edwards, and I'll be supporting him regardless. And I'll still vote Kerry should he get the nomination), but it may affect others, especially since Kerry's raison d'etre is electability.
The question: did the made-up scandal actually hurt Kerry? Maybe. Since the Crimson Chin's whole campaign is predicated on inevitablility, it probably hurt him to look, even briefly, evitable.
Of course, we now know that the whole Drudge story was kerfluffle, and that in and of itself may help Kerry rebound quickly. But Kerry should want to hit Edwards hard, right now. He needs to end this quick--before Democrats start wondering if a soft-spoken trial lawyer from Carolina might be more electable after all.
Howard Dean makes it official:
The fight that we began can and must continue. Although my candidacy for president may end today, the most important goal remains defeating George W. Bush in November, and I hope that you will join me in doing everything we can to support the Democrats this fall. From the earliest days of our campaign, I have said that the power to change Washington rests not in my hands, but in yours. Always remember, you have the power to take our country back.
Amen. Now, it's Kerry v. Edwards, mano a mano.
Maddux Back in Cubby Blue!
Yee-hah! Best of all, he didn't sign with the Yankees.
Prior, Wood, Maddux, Clement and Zambrano. Holy cow, that's a great rotation. Let's play two!
Last week, Mitch Berg accused me of cherry-picking when I posted on an ABC/Washington Post poll that showed Kerry well ahead of Bush. Mitch said:
That was one of VERY few polls showing Bush down this week - others showed him up nicely, NOT THAT IT MATTERS nine months before the election.
I agree that it doesn't matter a whole lot--there's a lot that can happen between now and November. But given that we spent the first three years of the Bush administration hearing about how Bush was 1) popular and 2) invincible, I think it's nice to see where things stand.
At any rate, this is a long way to go to introduce the latest CBS News Poll:
Generic Democrat 47%
Bush Job Approval
Was Iraq War Worth Costs?
And my fave:
Administration Policies Have Caused Your Taxes To:
Go Up 27%
Go Down 23%
Not Affected Them 45%
So here's another poll, and it isn't good news for George W. Bush. That's not to say that things won't change between now and November--polls are just snapshots of where things are now. But this poll does have a few warning signs for a President who wants to run as a popular wartime President.
He isn't a popular wartime President. And that's going to be problematic for his campaign.
Now, this isn't to say that the Bush campaign isn't capable of taking a different tack (my bet: kneecapping John Kerry), but it does suggest that Bush will need to find a different raison d'etre. He can't just run on Iraq. He has to run on something else. For all the talk of the Democrats' lack of vision, the Bush administration hasn't yet set forth a coherent vision for 2005-2009. Bush will have to do that if he wants to be rehired.
Not Dead Yet
First, the results:
John Kerry wins, but not convincingly--especially given that he was up by 40% just a week ago. Edwards doesn't quite get over the top, but he does enough to reignite his campaign, and give him a reason to compete on March 2.
Howard Dean got smoked in a state he had to--at the very, very least--come close to winning. His campaign is effectively done, even if he has an 11th-hour change of heart and keeps going.
Time for a game reset--Who's Up, Who's Down, and Who's Out?
BIG WINNER: John Edwards
For the first time in this race, the big winner isn't John Kerry. Yes, Kerry won, but Edwards' better-than-expected showing gives the media the opportunity to turn this into the Kerry-Edwards race they've been trying to since Mini Tuesday.
For Edwards, his campaign has a glimmer of hope again. If he can win a couple states on Super Tuesday (Georgia and Ohio would seem to be his best shots) then he would have a good chance to build in the Southern states that vote the following week. It's still a long shot, but it's better than no shot.
It's all relative. Kerry won, he's 16-2, he's got a commanding lead in delegates, and he's still close to a lock for the nomination. But by failing to kill off Edwards, he's bought himself a bit of trouble. Now he's going to have to wait a few weeks for the coronation, and he's going to have to keep fighting through mid-March, at the very least.
Not that this is a bad thing; in the end, Kerry will be a better General Election candidate for having to fight off a stiff challenge. And though I tend to favor Edwards, I still think Kerry has this pretty much in the bag. But it's still not the best day of the Kerry campaign, not by a long shot.
BIG LOSER: Howard Dean
When you get 18% in a state you had to win...when you fail to win any of the first eighteen states to hold primaries...when you start speaking of your campaign in the past tense...it's time to quit.
Yes, Dean is only "suspending" his campaign. That'll come in handy should John Kerry and John Edwards die in simultaneous meteor strikes. But a suspended campaign is a dead campaign, and while Dean may well putter along at the Kucinich line, any hope he might get the nomination died in Wisconsin.
So what's next for Dean? If I were him, I'd hook up with Joe Trippi and form the 527 to end all 527s. A 527 for America could turn Dean into a serious player this fall, and into the future. There are also some signs that Dean and Edwards might soon become Best Friends Forever, with Dean angling to block John Kerry. Whatever happens, Dean's impact on this race is undeniable and positive. By goading the Democrats onto offense, he helped put the party in a position where victory is possible this fall. Thanks, Howard. Now go home.
Okay, Terry: it's time to start restricting debates to candidates who actually could win something. That ain't Al.
According to The Economist, Kucinich has spent $4 million to garner two delegates. That's $2 million per delegate. And one of those delegates is...Dennis Kucinich. Ouch.
Power Rankings and Odds
1. John Kerry (1) 2:5
2. John Edwards (2) 100:1
3. Al Sharpton (4) One Quadrillion:1
4. Dennis Kucinich (5) One Google:1
5. Howard Dean (3) Off The Board
Dean to Suspend Campaign
His name will remain on the ballot, but Dean will stop campaigning.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
They've called it. One small step for a Democrat in a moderate-to-conservative Kentucky Congressional District, one giant leap for the blogosphere.
How Not To Do Things (Responsorial)
Eugene Volokh explains why Gavin Newsom isn't Roy Moore. I still think it's the wrong way to go about it, though.
Okay, I've been busily shoveling dirt on Howard Dean's political grave for a month or so now, and yes, I don't think he has a snowball's chance in Hell of winning Wisconsin today. But don't you think we could wait to report his loss in Wisconsin until he actually loses?
How Not To Do Things
I'm on record as a strong supporter of gay marriage. I believe fervently that there is no reason the state should fail to recognize a loving relationship between two people, whatever their sexes may be. That said, am I the only person who thinks what's happening in San Francisco is just the wrong way to go about things?
Yes, I think it's great that gays and lesbians are getting married, and I think it's wonderful that they can hold a piece of paper that says they're married, but folks--this is all going away, and quickly. California law is pretty clear on what constitutes marriage, and gay marriage is not included.
I'm not saying that's right, but simply choosing to implement a separate law in San Francisco by mayoral fiat isn't the way to change things. In a few months, gays and lesbians will be able to fly to Boston for a wedding. Hopefully, as the years roll by, more and more states will adopt civil union and marriage rights for gays. I truly believe that in my lifetime, gay marriage will be legal in all fifty states.
But it isn't right now. And to simply defy the law in order to pretend it is gets us nowhere. When the marriages registered in San Francisco are declared null and void, what will have been gained? Nothing.
I'm sorry to say it, but Mayor Gavin Newsom is in the same leaky boat as former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore. He's willfully ignoring what the law says in order to do what he thinks is right. That is not the conduct we expect from our elected officals. If Mayor Newsom wants to change the law, by all means, work for change--I'll support him. But if he just wants to pretend the law doesn't exist, he's a fool, and he's letting down his constituents.
So did George W. Bush pay for a woman to have an abortion? Larry Flynt thinks so. Of course, we have no actual proof or anything like that, but that didn't stop Matt Drudge from putting up the sirens and everyone from gossipping about John Kerry for a week. I, of course, could care less if this is true or not, but in the interests of fairness, I'm running with it. [Hey, Drudge was right about Monica! --ed. So what? Flynt was right about Livingston.]
It's a 5-2-7 On an Undercover Cop....
It appears that the FEC is set to allow 527s to raise and spend soft money in the support of candidates.
For those of you who haven't obsessively followed the ins and outs of campaign finance reform, 527s are independent grops that can raise and spend money freely to support issues and candidates. (Think MoveOn.) There have been questions as to whether 527s can spend money freely, or whether they are to be restricted like parties and candidates.
Now, my friends on the Republican side will suggest that I say good merely because most 527s are liberal-leaning. This is a nice side benefit, but it isn't the reason I support 527s.
527s are not political parties, nor are they political campaigns. They are an association of people and groups working independently to achieve their goals.
One can make an argument that the restrictions of McCain-Feingold should apply to candidates and parties--that by choosing to seek elective office, you agree to abide by rules set forth by the government when you campaign. But the same argument cannot be made about ordinary Americans working in support of an issue.
If I want to support prolife candidates, I should be able to give my money to a group that will advertise and work to elect them. If I believe in gay marriage, I should be able to give my money to a group that will work to support it. If I want to give ten billion dollars in support of these aims, I should be able to do it--because the First Amendment says I can.
Freedom of speech means that 527s must be free to spend and advertise as they see fit. If they aren't, freedom is abridged. I'm on record as having opposed the McCain-Feingold reforms. I believed--still believe--that we would be better off blowing all caps and restrictions and simply requiring immediate disclosure of all donors. That way, if President Bush wants to take $10 million from Halliburton, and Sen. Kerry wants to take $8 million from the AFL-CIO, they can--but they also risk the political fallout.
But no matter what one thinks of McCain-Feingold, restricting the speech of Americans (yes, even rich ones) in an effort to "get money out of politics" is not only foolish, but injurious to liberty. Will there be abuses? Of course. But regulating speech won't stop them--and it will hurt our nation far more in the long run.
Hannitized For Your Protection
What does a dating service in Hell look like? Hannidate 2004. I am not making this up.
All I know is that if there's one thing I hope to avoid in life, it's "Hannity style romance."
Show Some Love
Hey, there are sponsors over in the left hand column. So if you're in the Twin Cities and need a home and/or you're in Boston and need a criminal defense attorney, click on the ads.
Monday, February 16, 2004
The Real Infidelity Issue
Now the real story comes out:
A former intern who Matt Drudge claimed had had an affair with John Kerry called those allegations untrue, and released several photographs allegedly documenting an affair between John Kerry and Matt Drudge that had "gone on for years."
What will we tell the children?
Hats off to Matt Drudge for his valiant efforts keep the story alive, despite little inconveniences like, say, the truth. There may not be anything to the Kerry rumor but it's not Drudge's fault. He was led on!
Hee hee hee.
Dean Fires Campaign Chair Grossman
Yeah, it's from Nedra, but it still sounds like the truth. This would seem to be in response to Steve Grossman's calls for Dean to drop out if he loses in Wisconsin. All evidence points to Howard Dean limping on slowly to utter annihilation.
Got No Legs
The Kerry Affair story now appears to be completely false. Thumbs-up, Matt Drudge! Way to go!
Seriously, why does anyone report anything this guy says?
Memogate has legs, as it becomes evident that GOP thievery was more than just looking at some files that happened to be laying around:
The Senate sergeant-at-arms, who is nearing the end of an investigation into the tampering, told senators last week that the Republican staff members' activities went on much longer and were far more extensive than previously believed.
I will give credit to Orrin "My God Is Love" Hatch (R-Uplifting Music) for actually expressing some regret over the matter. As opposed to, say, Rick Santorum (R-Man on Dog Sex):
The most unrepentant of Republicans was Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a member of the Republican leadership. According to the newspaper Roll Call, Mr. Santorum told reporters that he still believed that "the real potential criminal behavior" was with the Democrats because the content showed their unwholesome ways of colluding with outside interest groups to oppose Mr. Bush's judicial nominees.
I'm shocked--shocked--that Democrats might be working with outside interest groups! Next you're going to tell me that candidates receive money from special interest groups in the form of "contributions."
This is the best thing that could've happened to the Democrats. Not only were the memos of little use in swaying anything, but the Democrats now can speak from a position of righteous indignation. Nice work, Mr. Miranda.
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Kerry and the Reporter
The more time that goes by without someone coming up with something to substantiate the rumor that John Kerry had an affair, the less likely that said affair will have an impact on the race. Essentially, while Matt Drudge reported a detail-free story, nobody seems to actually have any kind of actual information on anything.
This is not to say that it's impossible that an affair happened, just that without a tearful acknowledgement by Kerry's alleged partner, the story is not likely to have much impact.
Look, in 1992 we all pretty much knew that Bill Clinton was a philanderer. Even if Gennifer Flowers wasn't telling the truth (it appears, in retrospect, that she was), there were certainly enough rumors floating around to make Bill Clinton a modern-day Wilt Chamberlain. But people voted for him, because they just didn't care. Yes, we had the Lewinsky affair during the Clinton administration, but even that was less about adultery than a naked partisan grab for power--indeed, only by trumping up a perjury charge was the Lewinsky scandal able to become anything.
The Kerry situation isn't even Paula Jones-caliber scandal material. At wost, Kerry cheated on his wife, like Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, John F. Kennedy, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Frankin D. Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding...hey, the list of Presidents who had affairs may well be longer than the list of Presidents who didn't. Maybe it isn't the best thing the guy could've done, but absent any kind of evidence to back the story, it will end up with the George H.W. Bush-cheated story--a rumor that keeps floating about, that affects approximately three votes nationwide.
At any rate, this is my last comment on Kerry cheating. The evidence doesn't support a conviction on this one, folks, and moreover, I don't think it's going to be important in the long run. As I said before, it won't affect my vote--nor, I suspect, anyone else's.
Why Does Ann Coulter Hate America?
Ann shows her usual tact on actual war hero Max Cleland:
Cleland lost three limbs in an accident during a routine noncombat mission where he was about to drink beer with friends. He saw a grenade on the ground and picked it up. He could have done that at Fort Dix. In fact, Cleland could have dropped a grenade on his foot as a National Guardsman — or what Cleland sneeringly calls "weekend warriors."
I'm shocked and appalled, which is pretty typical of my reaction to Ann Coulter in general.
Friday, February 13, 2004
Latest ABC/Washington Post:
Approve 51% (Strongly 30%, Somewhat 21%)
Disapprove 48% (Strongly 34%, Somewhat 14%)
No Opinion 2%
No Opinion 1%
No Opinion 2%
Issues: Bush v. Kerry
War on Terror
An interesting, and extraordinarily bad, poll for President Bush. Yes, he has stronger core support, but that's because when your support drops to the low forties your support is ipso facto strong--because you're down to your core supporters. Kerry opens up the widest lead in any poll so far, and the good news for the Crimson Chin is that the whole cheating issue appears to be vaporizing quickly, without even entering the mainstream press. (It will appear in the Enquirer, but so what?) The Kerry cheating "scandal" may well have as much effect on the race as the George H.W. Bush cheating "scandal" did in 1992--i.e., none.
As for the polls, it's hard to stay for a Democrat to stay even-keeled when you see polling data like this. The fact is, Bush is on a serious slide right now. The AWOL mini-scandal appears to have reinvigorated the press, and the White House has done a singularly bad job at managing the issue. (Hint: when your candidate says he will release all documents, release all documents. Right now, it's not the relatively minor issue of whether Bush served that's getting him--it's the appearance of a cover-up.) And while the AWOL issue should burn itself out shortly without much of a resolution, the Valerie Plame investigation appears to just be heating up, with senior officials in the Office of the Vice President staring down potential indictments. Everything's coming up Kerry right now--but things will shift, and Kerry won't be winning forever.
But he's in great shape right now. Hey, better to be winning by 9% than losing by the same amount.
Bob Novak is a Troll
Oh, Bob. You claimed all along that the CIA told you to go ahead and out Valerie Plame because...well, you never really were very clear on that, but you said you were told it was fine.
Except for when it wasn't:
Two government officials have told the FBI that conservative columnist Robert Novak was asked specifically not to publish the name of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame in his now-famous July 14 newspaper column. The two officials told investigators they warned Novak that by naming Plame he might potentially jeopardize her ability to engage in covert work, stymie ongoing intelligence operations, and jeopardize sensitive overseas sources.
So Bob Novak outed a CIA officer that he knew was a CIA officer, and did it without regard for our nation's national security, for no other reason than to embarrass her husband. Novak is officially in the same scummy ethical category as the OVP--and he should apologize immediately for lying to the nation.
Thursday, February 12, 2004
Can't Buy Me Love
You knew something like this was gonna show up.
Matt Drudge is reporting [sic] that John Forbes Kerry may have cheated on his wife, multi-millionaire heiress Theresa Heinz.
Interestingly, it appears this story may have been shopped by former Kerry and late Clark press secretary Chris Lehane (D-Evil).
Will this be enough to derail the Crimson Chin? Hard to say. It won't affect my vote (I was planning on writing a nice little piece on why I'll be supporting Edwards, and I'll be supporting him regardless. And I'll still vote Kerry should he get the nomination), but it may affect others, especially since Kerry's raison d'etre is electability.
My guess? An Edwards surge in Wisconsin, and some ABK mo'--not enough to derail Kerry, just enough to take him down a peg and prolong the fight for the nomination.
Oh, and Howard Dean is still done. Like it or not, Edwards is the man in best position to take the ball from Kerry right now.
I haven't written much about the growing controversy over whether GDub adequately served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. For one, I don't really care. Oh, I think it's lousy that the President can't just come clean and admit that he didn't do his duty as he should've--the continued lying is irksome at best, and it ties into the pattern of deception that this administration has excelled at. But honestly, if the President would just say, "Hey, I did enough to get an Honorable Discharge. But I didn't do everything I was supposed to. Am I proud of that? No, but this was thirty years ago, and I'm not proud of many things I did then," this would be over for me. People make dumb mistakes in life, and the statute of limitations is something less than thirty years. If the President would just come clean, this would be over.
But one thing I do want to touch on is the silly meme that somehow criticizing the President's service or lack thereof is criticizing the National Guard.
My dad drew a lousy draft number. On a Thursday afternoon, he got a notice telling him to go to Chicago for a pre-induction physical. He never got there, because instead he went to Rockford for a National Guard induction physical. He spent the Vietnam war defending northwestern Illinois from invasion.
Why did he do this? So he wouldn't have to go to Vietnam. Period. He had no interest in the Guard, but he joined specifically so he wouldn't be drafted.
Is that dishonorable? I don't think so. I'm certainly glad he chose that route, as I wouldn't exist had he not. He served his country, and did his duty, and when the war ended and his term was up, he retired from the Guard and never looked back.
Things have changed since then, of course. With the end of the draft, the National Guard now sends troops to war--joining is no guarantee that you won't have to fight. But in the 1960's and 1970's, many if not most of the people in the Guard joined for no other reason than to avoid having to fight in Vietnam. To pretend otherwise is disingenous at best.
That doesn't make them bad people. In many ways, it's something to respect--rather than flee to Canada or ignore the draft, these people found a way to serve their country that didn't involve fighting in a war of dubious morality.
The questions about our President's service have nothing to do with him joining the Guard. Did he join to avoid service in Vietnam? Of course he did, and so what? The questions have to do with his service during his time in the Guard--whether he fulfilled the obligations he took on when he joined. This is what we need accounting for--and what the President has not yet fully addressed.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
If I had to pick one book to never, ever read, it would almost certainly be Feminist Fantasies, by Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schlafly. Just knowing that those two wrote a book makes me ill, actually reading it might destroy my soul.
At the very least, it will deaden your will to live.
Hell Freezes Over
Bill O'Reilly apologizes for believing the Bush administration on WMDs.
And the beat goes on....
Latest Power Ratings
What is this? It's this.
Moseley Braun 1%
Yes, Dennis Kucinich lost in Tennessee to not one, but two candidates who aren't candidates anymore.
Needless to say, a good night for John Kerry. He's now won two of three Southern primaries (so much for can't win in the South) and twelve of the fourteen contests so far. John Edwards finally sheds Wesley Clark, but Howard Dean just keeps running, continuing to deny Edwards the one-on-one shot against Kerry that he desperately needs. As for Dean--he averages 5.5% of the vote, and so far has taken less than 10% of votes cast nationwide. He really should quit, the sooner the better.
So with the pivotal Wisconsin Primary a week from yesterday, Who's Up, Who's Down, and Who's Out?
BIG WINNER: John Kerry
A month ago, John Kerry was being written off by me, by you, by everyone. What a difference a month makes, huh?
Whereas a month ago Kerry was struggling just to get into the top two in Iowa, now he's a colossus bestriding the field, a candidate who has won every state he had to and several he didn't. The stars have alligned perfectly: Clark hanging on in Oklahoma, just enough to buy Kerry another week of split Southern loyalty; Dean's ill-conceived bet-it-all-on-Wisconsin strategy; Bush's slow implosion. Should Kerry win Wisconsin convincingly (as seems likely), it's hard to conceive of a scenario that leads to his defeat.
He beat Clark, at least, and forced him from the race. He should have a good shot at second in Wisconsin. Indeed, he's the clear favorite to finish second to Kerry. But Clark is dropping out two weeks too late for Edwards; he has to hope that Anyone But Kerry fever sweeps the land.
No viable candidates are down this week.
BIG LOSER: Wesley Clark
And my streak of backing losers in the primary continues unbroken. With Gen. Clark's withdrawl, he joins my other failed primary candidates: Simon, Tsongas, Bradley, McCain, and now, Clark. Ah, Wes, we hardly knew ye. We'll miss the sweaters, the stars, the way you managed to get tripped up on domestic policy questions. But stick around General. President Kerry's going to need a Secretary of Defense.
Clark had the personal dignity to quit when it became apparent that he could not win. Will Howard Dean show the same force of character? Dean is, by all measures, not at all viable. He has been tested by the American people and found wanting. That doesn't make him a failure--many good men and women have run for, and failed to win, the Presidency--but at some point, his quixotic quest for the Presidency will start to hurt him. Howard, do yourself a favor: when you lose badly in Wisconsin, drop out.
Carol Moseley Braun beat him in Tennessee. If you can't beat Carol Moseley Braun when she's not even running you have no business running for President. Your time is up, Dennis.
He won't quit, because it's too lucrative for him to stay in. But he won't win, even if he's the last person left on Earth.
Power Rankings and Odds
1. Kerry (1) 1:10
2. Edwards (2) 10,000:1
3. Dean (4) One Million:1
4. Sharpton (5) One Quadrillion:1
5. Kucinich (6) One Quintillion:1
Dropped Out: Clark (3)
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup:
Mythical National Primary
None/Other/No Opinion 6%
Bush rebounds a bit, now has the slight edge in the general. It's too early to tell if this is an accurate reflection of a mini-bump for Bush or an outlier, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Bush rise a bit after a precipitous slide; just as the capture of Saddam Hussein gave Bush a temporary jump that ultimately reversed, so the lack of WMDs gives Bush a temporary hit that should reverse somewhat.
Kerry continues to stomp his Democratic competition. He now has majority support nationwide, which should be more than enough to wrap up the nomination sooner or later.
On a scale of zero to fourteen, zero being smart and fourteen being complete metaphysical stupidity, this fake interview of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court by Dennis Prager is an eighty. Jesse has already fisked it, but one passage got my attention:
Q: If your decision remains the law of your state, as little girls begin seeing women married to women in the media and in life, when they think about marriage, they will consider marrying a woman, not only a man. Does that trouble you?
Well I will.
I love my daughter. She's cute, and bright, and twerpy, and wonderful. She's a long, long way from being old enough to date, let alone decide who she wants to marry. But if twenty years from now, she brings home a woman and says this is the love of her life, the person she wants to marry, then yes, I will be as happy for her as if she was marrying a man.
I want happiness for my daughter. I want her to find someone she loves, someone who loves her back. I want her to find a life partner, a person who will care for her and a person she can care for.
The odds are that will be a man.
But it's possible it will be a woman.
And if that's the case, than that's okay with me. Because my daughter's happiness in life is the most important thing in the world to me--and I don't care who the person is who brings her happiness, so long as they are kind.