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Tuesday, March 30, 2004
The End of the Beginning

March is a bad month for me. Last year, it was March that led me to realize that I suffered from major depression.

This March, I'm getting divorced.

I'm not going to go through all of the details of why, other than to say it's my fault; I've been a lousy husband, and quite frankly, my wife deserves better. Remarkably (and sadly, since I'm learning this too late) my wife has been forgiving of my mistakes. But she just can't live with them anymore.

We'll do what's best for our daughter. We're doing what's best for us, even if it hurts like Hell.

So I will resume posting soon--next day or so. I'm sorry for taking such a long break, but I couldn't do anything else.

Monday, March 29, 2004
One For My Baby

As sung by Frank Sinatra

It’s quarter to three,
There’s no one in the place ’cept you and me
So set ’em’ up joe
I got a little story I think you oughtta know

We’re drinking my friend
To the end of a brief episode
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road

I know the routine
Put another nickel in that there machine
I’m feeling so bad
Won’t you make the music easy and sad

I could tell you a lot
But you gotta to be true to your code
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road

You’d never know it
But buddy I’m a kind of poet
And I’ve got a lot of things I wanna say
And if I’m gloomy, please listen to me
Till it’s all, all talked away

Well, that’s how it goes
And joe I know you’re gettin’ anxious to close
So thanks for the cheer
I hope you didn’t mind
My bending your ear

But this torch that I found
It’s gotta be drowned
Or it soon might explode
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road

Friday, March 19, 2004
All Charges Against Yee Dropped

Yikes. Great job, guys. Way to drag this guy's name through the mud, accuse him of being an al Qaeda mole, and then...drop all charges. Big ups!

Let's Fighting Love

When al Qaeda struck our nation on September 11, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld immediately advocated striking a nation that had nothing to do with the attack:

"Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq....We all said, 'but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan," recounts [Richard] Clarke, "and Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.' I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with [the September 11 attacks].'"

But they did, because they're all sorta bad! And stuff!

And they tried to kill Bush's dad!

And...they have...weapons of mass destruction program related activity books! (Fun for the whole family!)

Thumbs-up, Rummy. Glad to see you had your eyes on the prize.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Socialists Ahead Before M-11

At least that's what the Moonie UPI says. So if the people of Spain didn't change their minds at all as a result of the bombing, who is that a victory for?

10 Dead in Baghdad Blast

Not good. The attack was on the Mount Lebanon hotel:

"I heard the explosion and I ran down the street, and saw many, many people killed. There were children dead," said Raad Abdul Karim, 30.

He said the neighbourhood was mixed, populated by Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds.

"They are ordinary families," he said. "I don't know why this happened."

Soft target, evil people retaliating against new US sweeps, you know, the usual.

This is (if possible) more disturbing:

Iraqi police and coalition soldiers cordoned off the area. U.S. soldiers from the nearby "Green Zone" attempted to go into the area to rescue victims but were driven back by angry Iraqis.

Iraq has gotten safer for US soldiers lately. But it's gotten worse for civilians. This is not a good day.

Democracy in Action

Further evidence that the Spaniards made the correct choice:

In the first frantic hours after coordinated bomb blasts ripped through several packed commuter trains Thursday morning, the government of outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar undertook an intense campaign to convince the Spanish public and world opinion-makers that the Basque separatist group ETA had carried out the attacks, which killed 201 people and wounded more than 1,500.

Beginning immediately after the blasts, Aznar and other officials telephoned journalists, stressing ETA's responsibility and dismissing speculation that Islamic extremists might be involved. Spanish diplomats pushed a hastily drafted resolution blaming ETA through the U.N. Security Council. At an afternoon news conference, when a reporter suggested the possibility of an al Qaeda connection, the interior minister, Angel Acebes, angrily denounced it as "a miserable attempt to disrupt information and confuse people."

"There is no doubt that ETA is responsible," Acebes said.

Within days, that assertion was in tatters, and with it the reputation and fortunes of the ruling party. Suspicion that the government manipulated information -- blaming ETA in order to divert any possible link between the bombings and Aznar's unpopular support for the war in Iraq -- helped fuel the upset victory of the Socialist Workers' Party in Sunday's elections. By then, Islamic extremists linked to al Qaeda had become the focus of the investigation.

There's more, of course. So what do you call it when the people of a nation turn out a government that's more interested in obfuscating the truth in order to protect itself politically than going after the terrorists who killed hundreds and wounded thousands?

A victory in the war on terror.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004
And Your Sister...I Think Her Name's Sedna....

A new planetoid has been discovered approximately twice as far out as Pluto. Sedna is approximately 800-1100 miles in diameter, about 70% the size of Pluto, and larger than Quaoar, a planetoid that was previously the largest known trans-Plutonian object. Sedna is also the most distant known object in the Solar System.

Of course, many scientists have argued that Pluto does not deserve to be known as a planet, but rather as a planetoid. Certainly, it seems more like Sedna and Quaoar than, say, Earth or Saturn. Nevertheless, it seems doubtful that people would accept the downgrading of Pluto--or adding Sedna as the tenth planet. And of course, regardless of what we call it, Pluto is going to go about its business untroubled by what we call it.

It's the Best Show On TV, Mister!

Funny stuff for the day: Random Law & Order Plots.

Why the Popular Party Lost

Not because Spaniards turned chicken, not because they wanted out of Iraq, but because Aznar was playing cynical games with the bombings:

So, the PP knew that their antiterrorist policy (against ETA) was one of its main winning cards, and they didn't hesitate to blatantly manipulate the 11-M attack, suppressing information, calling people to demonstrate against ETA, knowing all the while that the Antiterrorist Information Brigade had as good as discarded ETA authorship a few hours after the attack. The antiterrorist police heads even threatened to resign at the madness of it all, and this was leaked to the opposition and the press. And all the while the state TVE showing documentaries about ETA activities right until late Saturday night, on the eve of the election, and failing to report live on Minister Acebes informing about the Al-Q line of investigation which he had been forced to acknowledge - forced by his own angered police heads and by the media which had all the information but was withholding it just long enough for the Minister to do the decent thing. This heartless manipulation of the dead for political gain clinched it - it was the last straw, it galvanised a portion of apathetic socialist voters who would have otherwise abstained, galvanised first-time voters, and galvanised Izquierda Unida voters (which include communists) who opted for heaping their vote on the PSOE for a higher chance of defeating Aznar (IU lost 5 seats because of that). In Spain, government change has always been heralded by a higher participation of voters. In a nutshell, many Spaniards felt badly abused, and acted accordingly. So, yes, 11-M influenced the vote, but not because we are overcome by fear, or because we think that we can avert further attacks, but because we will only put up with so much lying and manipulation, and especially not when it is the dead and their families that are being heartlessly and shamelessly manipulated.

So it was not craven capitulation, but righteous anger at lies that forced out the Popular Party. Hmmm...there may be a lesson for the US yet.

Age Ain't Nothin' But a Number

So I turned thirty on Saturday. Don't bother writing me to kid me about being over the hill. It doesn't bother me all that much. I moved to the suburbs, where I live with my wife and daughter. I have a minivan. I'm not cool, or hip, or now anymore, but then again, I never was. Oh, there are times when my back gets creaky and I wish I was younger physically. But mentally? No way.

I haven't written anything since Thursday, which is directly tied to my birthday. I was planning on writing some this weekend, but I got waylaid.

On Thursday, after I got home from work, my wife asked me to go to the airport and pick up her mom. Since my wife had to work that evening, I thought little of it; I simply put the kid in the back of the van and headed off to Minneapolis/St. Paul International.

While idling in the arrivals area, a man, his face obscured by a scarf and a black knit cap, approached the passenger side window and took a picture, and then abruptly walked away. I was confused, to put it mildly. While I considered what had just happened (was he a psychopath? An art student? A bored businessman?) the same man approached the drivers' side window and knocked.

I suppose I should've driven off at that point, but instead I rolled down the window and asked, "What?"

The man pulled down his scarf, and it took me a few minutes to process that I was looking at one of my best friends, Andy Crouch, who had flown in from Boston for the weekend. He and my wife had been planning this for about four months, and neither had let on about anything.

He hopped in the car and we headed back to my place. We met up with my friends Don and Marne for dinner, and then went back home to meet my friend Lubbock, who was up from Iowa. (Actually, her name is Erika, but she's called Lubbock because she's from Texas, but not, in point of fact, from Lubbock.) After all of that, my friend Chris arrived for a nightcap (the next day he had a DJ gig, and Saturday he was to go to a job fair in Osh Kosh). I was delighted by the turn of events, and looking forward to the rest of the weekend.

Friday was a pleasant day; we took my daughter in to get her ears checked after her latest ear infection, then Andy, Lubbock, and I headed up to Minneapolis to visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Kieran's Irish Pub, and Surdyk's liquor. Later, we grabbed some Thai food and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law watched my daughter while we went out (after a few misfires) to Green Mill. There, I saw more friends I hadn't seen in a while--Sarah, Ana, Spencer, Jenny, and April all showed up, along with Don, Marne, Andy, Lubbock, and my wife. It was a nice evening, seeing people I hadn't seen for a while, drinking a martini or two, and having a lovely time.

At midnight, I turned thirty. I didn't mind.

We got back around 12:30. After getting everyone situated, it was about one in the morning when we turned in. Before I went to sleep, my wife asked me to set an alarm for 8:30 the following morning, so she could get up and go grocery shopping for dinner that night. Since we weren't expecting anyone until six, I suggested we go later--say, eleven or so. Besides, I wanted to go, as my wife is a vegetarian and I wanted some chicken to show up for the fajitas. "Oh, just set the alarm," my wife said. "If I'm too tired I'll just turn it off and go back to sleep."

Now my wife is capable of obsessing about things, which is good; I am not, and we balance out nicely. I figured that she might be happier with less sleep and groceries shopped for, so I acquiesced.

At 8:15, her alarm went off. "Get up and take a shower," she told me.

Now, I wasn't expecting to go with to get groceries, so I asked why.

"Because I'm bossy," she replied. "Go."

Well, my wife now has proof that she can pretty much ask me to do any random thing and I'll do it; I took a shower.

I got out and got dressed, and my wife informed me that she wanted me to go grocery shopping. Well, fine. We made up a list and got ready to go, when the doorbell rang.

It was my sister and brother-in-law, there to surprise me with breakfast.

Well, this made a little more sense then. On my way out, my wife tucked an envelope in my inside pocket that said "DON'T SHOW JEFF." I asked what was in it, and she said maybe I could look at it later

We went up to the Original Pancake House, where we met up with my parents for breakfast. I'd never been there before, but my folks had spoken highly of it before, and it lived up to the advance billing. There was also good news: my sister and brother-in-law had put an offer in on a house! (Later that day, they'd find out they got it.) We had a nice breakfast, and I left with my parents while my sister and brother-in-law went back home to work on getting their house ready for sale.

My parents took me out to buy me some clothes--their gift for my birthday. While there, we saw a car go through the window of a shoe store. (Happily, nobody was hurt.) Afterwards, my parents took me on a short drive--so they said, anyhow. We ended up in downtown St. Paul, and they asked me if I could direct them to Key's Café, which I was happy to do. As we arrived, my parents told me this was where I was supposed to be, and dropped me off.

It wasn't exactly where I was supposed to be. There are two Key's in St. Paul, and this was the wrong one. Fortunately, when I entered Key's and saw nobody I knew, I called my wife and told her. She relayed to my parents, and they came back to get me. A quick trip later, and we were at the other Keys, where I met my friends Brian and Tory for lunch.

We had a lovely lunch. We reminisced about the company we'd all once worked for, PC Rx. An interesting company, that; let's just say that when your company is raided by the FBI, it's a good hint that you're not working for the most honorable people. Still, we had fun talking about all the characters we'd worked with.

After lunch, Brian and Tory drove me south on Cedar Avenue to the Minnesota Zoo. By this time, I was starting to realize that the rest of the day had been planned out for me. I met up with my father-in-law and brother-in-law for a 3-D Imax show, Ocean Wonderland. We had fun watching it;the effects were quite amazing. (Afterwards, while waiting for the next leg of the trip, I discussed the forthcoming election with my staunchly Republican father-in-law. He's not sold on Kerry, but he's sure not sold on Bush, either. If Dubya doesn't have him secured, he's in big, big trouble.)

My friend Don came to pick me up next, and we went up to downtown Minneapolis to Let It Be Records. Back in the day, before Napster was a word people understood, Don and I would spend a lot of free time combing indy record stores for used CDs. We saw Soul Coughing play a CD release concert at Let It Be back in the mid-nineties, and it was fun to go there again. Don picked me up a couple CDs for my birthday. I got Elephant by the White Stripes on Don's recommendation, as well as the eponymous Rage Against the Machine debut (which I used to own, but left on a bus). Gotta tell you, the White Stripes album is quite good.

Afterwards, we drove to our old neighborhood in St. Paul. Don and I passed our old house on Portland Avenue, where he, Andy, and I used to live. I had a good idea of where we were heading next, and who I was meeting. Sure enough, we were at Sweeney's in St. Paul, our old local. And there was Andy, Lubbock, and surprisingly, Chris and his fiancée Jenn. Chris did not go to Osh Kosh this weekend--it was the preceding weekend. And he did well at the job fair, so that's good news. We had a couple beers and some nachos and pretzels, and enjoyed the ambiance. I had special reason to: not only had Andy and I spent many a night at that bar when we lived in St. Paul, but I met my wife there on a blind date. While at the bar we also saw my old friend Kevin, who stunned us all by telling us that his wife is pregnant, and due in a week! (Shows you how often we talk to him--Mosher, we've got to keep in better touch!)

We went on after that for a martini at Mancini's, and then back down 35E to Cedar Avenue, towards the southern suburbs. Soon, we were back in Lakeville and heading towards my house.

When we got there, everyone who had joined me during the day and several who hadn't were there for a party. My in-laws, my family, our good friends--all were there for the evening. It was a fun party, with the obvious level of planning that my wife puts into everything.

It was a great surprise.

We had fun; we ate, we laughed, we reminisced. Being a father is great, but you don't see your friends as much as you'd like. But that's life. There's never enough time to do everything you'd like. The best you can do is take advantage of the time when you've got it.

It was the best birthday I'd ever had, surpassing the previous high of my 25th, when Andy, Don, and the rest of my friends threw me a surprise party. My wife pulled off a great surprise, and now I have a high standard to meet. I don't think I'm going to do as well; I've only got a week.

So that's why I didn't write anything from Thursday 'til today. I hope you all can forgive me. And to all of my family and friends, thank you so very much. I love you all more than words can express. But I think you knew that already.

Monday, March 15, 2004
Sharpton's Out

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Yeah, What He Said

One of the disturbing emerging memes is that the victory by Spain's Socialists (who campaigned against the war in Iraq) somehow represents a victory for Osama bin Laden. Sully gives one example:

It's a spectacular result for Islamist terrorism, and a chilling portent of Europe's future. A close election campaign, with Aznar's party slightly ahead, ended with the Popular Party's defeat and the socialist opposition winning. It might be argued that the Aznar government's dogged refusal to admit the obvious quickly enough led people to blame it for a cover-up. But why did they seek to delay assigning the blame on al Qaeda? Because they knew that if al Qaeda were seen to be responsible, the Spanish public would blame Aznar not bin Laden!

In other words, it was okay for the Popular Party to seek to hide evidence tying the bombing to al-Qaeda, because the people of Spain were too dumb to deal with the information.

Give me a break.

Gulf War II: The Vengeance was not a popular war in Spain. A majority of the country opposed it, and while it is true that the Popular Party was leading in the polls before Thursday's horriffic attack, that was in no small part due to the economic gains under Aznar.

With the terror attack--and Aznar's subsequent attempt to cover up the real culprits--the people of Spain had to take international affairs into greater account. And they decided that it was better, on the whole, to back a party that wanted to pull out of Iraq.

Is this appeasement? Well, I can go into many reasons why, but I'm one of those soft Kerry supporters. So instead, I turn to Jacob Levy, who will never be confused for Dennis Kucinich:

If the Socialists were not appeasers before M-11-- if a victory on their part wouldn't have been a victory for terrorism-- then the intervening act of terrorism doesn't change that. Part of what it is to maintain a free society in wartime is to retain the ability to switch back and forth between the credible patriotic governing parties. "Don't switch horses in midstream," Lincoln's re-election campaign slogan, can't have more than prudential weight.. While I might think that Britons were wrong on the merits to throw Winston Churchill out of office while World War II was still being fought, their doing so didn't constitute any kind of victory for the Axis. The U.S. Presidency changed party hands five times during the Cold War, with none of those representing a victory for the Soviets.

"But wait," you say. "The British and Cold War cases are cases in which the two parties didn't much differ on the conduct of the wars in question. The Socialists ran against the war in Iraq!"

Well, yes. But the war in Iraq isn't just synonymous with the war on terrorism. I supported the former, and supported it for reasons closely tied up with the latter; but they're not just the same thing. And, in any event, Spain didn't contribute combat forces to Iraq, and the new government won't get much of a chance to cast Security Council votes on whether to begin the war. The effective difference between the two governments will be small. Spain provided some important diplomatic support for the Iraq war, but its importance was overstated by its temporary presence on the Security Council. (Remember the dramatic US-UK-Spain summit in the Azores just before the war began-- the one to which Australia and Poland weren't invited despite the fact that they had troops on the line and Spain didn't? All about UN politics.) And it's entirely possible to be vigorous in the prosecution of the war against al-Qaeda while opposing the war in, and withdrawing peacekeeping troops from, Iraq.

Of course, we know this is a dry run by certain folks on the right. Matt Yglesias sums it up nicely:

But of course logic has nothing to do with this. The right would like to set up the following argument: If there are no attacks between now and the election, then Bush has defended us from terror and deserves re-election; if there is an attack between now and the election, then voting for Kerry would be appeasement.

But of course, it wouldn't be. John Kerry is not intent on transferring control of Alaska to the Palestinians, and he isn't intent on surrendering our position in Kabul, either. Arguments over the hows and whys of both major candidates' anti-terror policy is important, even vital. But let us not delude ourselves into believing that a vote for the Socialists, the Democrats, or the Republicans represents some sort of capitulation in the War on Terror. It does not.

Using 9/11 For Partisan Gain

I don't know if the Bush ads crossed the line on using 9/11--but this damn sure does:

...[Karen] Hughes has already been intimately involved in many of Bush's most controversial moves. She helped craft the poorly received State of the Union address, then closely advised on the much criticized campaign ads that used images of 9/11. As the Bush team sorts out its internal mechanics, it will press the advantage of incumbency. Administration sources tell TIME that employees at the Department of Homeland Security have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month.

Look, the President has the advantage of incumbency. Should any actual disasters hit (God forbid), the President will be able to look Presidential. But ginning up some flimsy excuse for our President to get publicity on the taxpayers' dime is politics of the worst sort.

Ezra Klein is asking people to shout this one from the rooftops. Amen. Bush should not be using the Department of Homeland Security (a department he opposed) for political gain. He already did that in 2002.

It Depends On What the Meaning of "Imminent" Is


SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you this. If they did not have these weapons of mass destruction, though, granted all of that is true, why then did they pose an immediate threat to us, to this country?

Sec. RUMSFELD: Well, you're the--you and a few other critics are the only people I've heard use the phrase `immediate threat.' I didn't. The president didn't. And it's become kind of folklore that that's--that's what's happened. The president went...

SCHIEFFER: You're saying that nobody in the administration said that.

Sec. RUMSFELD: I--I can't speak for nobody--everybody in the administration and say nobody said that.

SCHIEFFER: Vice president didn't say that? The...

Sec. RUMSFELD: Not--if--if you have any citations, I'd like to see 'em.

Mr. FRIEDMAN: We have one here. It says 'some have argued that the nu'--this is you speaking--'that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent, that Saddam is at least five to seven years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain.'

Sec. RUMSFELD: And--and...

Mr. FRIEDMAN: It was close to imminent.

Sec. RUMSFELD: Well, I've--I've tried to be precise, and I've tried to be accurate. I'm s--suppose I've...

Mr. FRIEDMAN: 'No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world and the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.'

Sec. RUMSFELD: Mm-hmm. It--my view of--of the situation was that he--he had--we--we believe, the best intelligence that we had and other countries had and that--that we believed and we still do not know--we will know.

It's all a myth! Donald Rumsfeld didn't actually say what he said! Damn liberal media.

Shorter Conservative Bloggers

Because Spaniards chose to oust their government due to their handling of the Iraq war and the recent terrorist bombings, they are cowards who are ready to hand over Spain to al Qaeda.


Sorry I haven't written in a while--I'll go into detail why in a bit. Meanwhile--back to it!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Marshall Field's on the Chopping Block?

Just three years after changing the Dayton's stores (and Hudson's, for those of you in Detroit Rock City) into Marshall Field's, Target Corporation is considering selling off its department store division, which includes Marshall Field's and Mervyn's.

Target Corp. is headquartered in Minneapolis. There was much angst in the Twin Cities when Target decided to change the names of its flaghip stores. (At the time, Target was known as the Dayton Hudson Corporation.) To this day, native Minnesotans are apt to slip and refer to Field's as Dayton's.

But at the very least, Field's remained a Minnesota company. Look for blood to run in the streets if, say, Macy's buys Field's. Well, maybe not quite, but people will be grumpy.

Target Corporation has no plans to divest itself of its namesake discount store, Target, which is far more profitable than its department store division.

Restoring Dignity to the White House

Just remember when entertaining donors: Lincoln Bedroom bad, Camp David good.

Okay, and I guess Lincoln Bedroom good, too:

President Bush opened the White House and Camp David to dozens of overnight guests last year, including foreign dignitaries, family friends and at least nine of his biggest campaign fund-raisers, documents show.

In all, Bush and first lady Laura Bush have invited at least 270 people to stay at the White House and at least the same number to overnight at the Camp David retreat since moving to Washington in January 2001, according to lists the White House provided The Associated Press.

Some guests spent a night in the Lincoln Bedroom, historic quarters that gained new fame in the Clinton administration amid allegations that Democrats rewarded major donors like Hollywood heavyweights Steven Spielberg and Barbra Streisand with accommodations there.

That scandal and Bush's criticism of it is one of the reasons the White House identifies guests. In a debate with Vice President Al Gore in October 2000, Bush said: "I believe they've moved that sign, 'The buck stops here,' from the Oval Office desk to 'The buck stops here' on the Lincoln Bedroom. And that's not good for the country."

Flip? Flop.

The Buck Stops There

Strong leadership in times of change usually goes hand-in-hand with responsibility. Kudos to our President for daring to be different:

And therefore, in 2002 and early 2003, the television screens across America had banners saying, "March to war" -- and, as business leaders, you understand that's not very conducive to investing capital. Marching to war is not a positive thought. But we overcame that challenge. Thanks to hardworking people and leaders, entrepreneurs, we overcame that challenge. And now we're marching to peace.

So the fact that we were marching to war had nothing to do with it. It was all the media's fault!

And the bad economy since "Mission Accomplished" is...well, it's someone's fault. It certainly isn't George's fault. No!

He's Not Not Interested....

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was asked if he would serve as John Kerry's running mate. His response? "John Kerry is a close friend of mine. We have been friends for years. Obviously I would entertain [such an offer]." He went on to say that he thought the prospect unlikely.

If I'm John Kerry, I am calling John McCain at this very moment and offering him the slot. Yes, he's pro-life. Yes, he's a Republican. But Kerry/McCain? Come on, it's a no-brainer. That ticket destroys Bush/Cheney. It's not even close.

Do it, Sen. Kerry. Do it now.

(By the way, doesn't this sort of indicate that John McCain ain't exactly on the reservation? I mean, a Republican senator in a close election would be expected to respond by saying, "I stand firmly behind President Bush." By not saying that, McCain speaks volumes about where his support lies--and perhaps, where the support of other moderate GOPers lies.)

Tuesday, March 09, 2004
We Want Roy! We Want Roy!

Will deposed Judge Roy Moore (CP-Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery) run for President as the Constitution party candidate? Well, here's what the Judge has to say: "I don't rule out anything. But I have no plans to do that at this time."

In the nuanced world of politics, what does that mean?

"I'm probably gonna run."

I, for one, am all for it. Run, Roy, Run!

No Hack For You

Dish Network has yanked Viacom's channels. Smooth move, everyone.

Once again, to both sides:


Consumers don't give a flying fig about either of your positions. We care about product. The ultimate result of this mess will be:

1. Fewer Dish subscribers
2. Fewer Viacom viewers

Period. A pox on both your houses.

What's worse (at least as far as I'm concerned) is that DirecTV is in similar negotiations....

John Ashcroft and I Have Something in Common

Both of us are now sans gall bladder.


Glenn Reynolds is oh-so-angry that some of those criticizing Bush over the use of 9/11 imagery in his ads are--gasp!--ideologues:

Whether or not there's financial chicanery, however, doesn't account for the many other anti-Bush connections of the "spokespeople" criticizing the ads, which were ignored in mainstream press reports, but noticed by bloggers with Google. (More of that here, here, and here.)

Don't journalists, like, find out stuff about people for a living? Or have they outsourced that to the blogosphere?

I don't know, Glenn, why don't you ask Valerie Plame about the evenhandedness of the press? Why don't you ask Howard Kurtz about conflict of interest?

The press loves conflict, and they love patterns. Right now, the pattern du jour is "the inept Bush campaign." I know it's frustrating--hey, for three years it was "the Invincible George W. Bush," so I know how it is to be on the other side.

But the media isn't conspiring to hammer Bush. They got a press release from some relatives of 9/11 victims and they ran with it. Welcome to electoral politics.

Jebus, Glenn, you'd think when you decried the horrible media, you'd remember how much coverage the push-polls against McCain in 2000 got. Or how many lies were told about the "lies" Al Gore supposedly told. Or Bush's massive flip-flop on the Department of Homeland Security. Karl Rove campaigns dirty. Hell, I respect that about the guy--he wants to win, and wants it bad.

But now, when someone with tenuous ties to the Kerry campaign plays the same game, you want to call a foul. Sorry, Glenn. Turnabout is always fair play.

And He's Got Cooties!

Is it me, or is this GOP attack on John Kerry a little over the top?

Kerry Claims Foreign Leaders Support Him. “‘I’ve met foreign leaders who can’t go out and say this publicly, but boy they look at you and say, “You’ve got to win this, you’ve got to beat this guy, we need a new policy,” things like that,’ he said.”




“In the past few weeks, speeches by the Massachusetts senator have been broadcast on Radio Pyongyang and reported in glowing terms by the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), the official mouthpiece of Mr. Kim’s communist regime. … ‘Senator Kerry, who is seeking the presidential candidacy of the Democratic Party, sharply criticized President Bush, saying it was an ill-considered act to deny direct dialogue with North Korea,’ said the news agency. … Pyongyang’s friendly attitude towards Mr. Kerry contrasts with its strong anti-Bush rhetoric.”

But not only that...Kerry has a French cousin! That's right, a cousin...who's French! And people in Europe like him! You know...Europe! And there are also European singers who like him!

My God, we must stop this menace...before it's too late!

Really, folks, come on. Is this the best you can do? Your candidate is on trial for his political life, and this is the best you've got? European cousins and North Korean radio stations? It's like you're not even trying.

If this is the kind of talent animating, I think we're in good shape.

Also, as Ezra notes, this ad opens the RNC up for a counterpunch. By going so over the top, they drive away independents and open Kerry up to ask, "Why does the RNC hate Europe? We fought on the same side against communisim for half a century. What does the RNC have against that?"

Keep attacking, guys. Please, God, keep attacking.

Evidently, Telling the Truth Is Not a Virtue

Bill Bennett lies about Andrew Sullivan's position on open marriages--after Sullivan had already told him to stop.

A liar and a compulsive gambler. But at least he's not gay....

Spalding Gray Dead at 62

Actor and writer Spalding Gray, best known for his monologue film Swimming to Cambodia, is dead. His body was recovered from the East River. He was 62 years old.

Gray suffered from depression, as did his mother before him. His mother's suicide in 1967 at age 52 informed much of Gray's work. In 2002 Gray attempted suicide himself, after a car accident left him in poor health. It is believed that his death was the result of suicide.

As some of you may know, I suffer from depression. For the past year, I've been treated by a combination of Lexapro and therapy, both of which have helped me immensely. I've tried to keep this from becoming a blog about depression, but in light of Gray's suicide, I just want to tell anyone out there who may be suffering with depression to seek help. Now.

Depression is not a personal failing. It is not a character flaw. It is a disease, like cancer or heart disease, and it responds well to treatment. There is no shame in getting treatment for cancer, and there is no shame in getting treatment for depression. Millions of people--like me--are better for having been treated. You aren't alone, and you can find happiness again. For your family, for your friends, and most of all, for yourself, please find help before it's too late.

Breakin' II: Electric Boogaloo

Jesse Taylor needs a break from blogging. Well, we all do sometimes. Hey, it ain't easy coming up with new, insightful stuff every day, which is why I try to simply regurgitate a standard litany of talking points. (Kidding! Regurgitated talking points make up only 44% of content on The Blog of the Moderate Left. The balance is 32% banal observations, 14% random crap, 9% partisan sniping, and 1% well thought-out and interesting commentary.)

I hope Jesse comes back soon. He's a terriffic writer. In explaining why he wants a break, he says, "When I write, I no longer think of what I want to say, but instead all of the things that are going to be wrong with it." Nobody is more critical of a writer than that writer himself. Jesse, I haven't noticed many postings going awry.

That said, take as long as you need, chief. Writing is difficult, which is why so few people do it with any success. When you're refreshed and ready to write, we'll still be here.

Wishful Thinking and the Wishful Thinkers Who Think It....


Monday, March 08, 2004
Rehnquist Mulling Retirement?

Wowie wow wow wow. He's apparently playing a bit coy...but this would be a doozy. He certainly has incentive to resign now if he believes Bush is going to lose...rats fleeing a sinking ship and all.

The Bush Ads

Let me say something that may surprise you.

I don't think the latest round of Bush ads cross the line.

Oh, I think Team Dubya could've been smarter; it's pretty obvious that using images of firefighters carrying the dead out of Ground Zero would stir things up. And it certainly had to be obvious to Karl and Co. that there would be at least a few family members of the victims of 9/11 who would object, and vocally, given that the ads certainly were trying to tie 9/11 to George W. Bush.

But the fact that Bush would try to use 9/11 as a campaign issue was unsurprising, to say the least. What has Bush used up to this point to justify--well, every action he's taken since the morning of September 11, 2001? His very campaign slogan--"Steady Leadership in a Time of Change"--refers implicitly to the attacks that "changed everything." Politicize 9/11? Bush did that back in the fall of 2002 when he took the Department of Homeland Security bill, a bill he'd been decidedly cool on, and discovered he could use it to cudgel Democrats. The only surprise I had was that he used such a pianissimo approach.

No, the big surprise with this mini-tempest was not that Bush used 9/11, but that the Kerry campaign was ready to respond.

Was this calculated outrage, ginned up out of whole cloth? No. But was the outrage channeled by the Kerry camp? Of course it was. And bully for them. Wonder why Bush has gotten no bounceout of his big ad buy? It's because every story about the ads has been about Bush politicizing 9/11.

Now, you may say "Jeff, how cynical! How can you endorse such tactics?" Hey, did Mike Dukakis go let Willie Horton out of jail personally? Did he beat teachers who dared to recite the Pledge of Allegiance? Did Bill Clinton flee to Russia to avoid the draft? Was Al Gore a serial liar? No, no, no, and no. But the GOP made plenty of hay out of three minor incidents, and used mock outrage to seize the Presidency in 1988 and 2000, and to try to seize it in 1992 and '96. Do I think George H.W. Bush cared for a second about whether Massachusetts schoolchildren recited the Pledge or not? Of course he didn't. But that didn't stop him from using the issue to great effect.

The Democrats have watched and learned. And now we're playing the game. This issue will die out soon, but the damage will have been done. When Bush gets more straightforward about trying to tie 9/11 to himself (a la the floated "Acceptance Speech at Ground Zero" [please, God, please!]) he'll have to tread lightly, to avoid running into a "see! Told ya!" buzz saw.

And that won't have to come from Kerry. The media loves patterns. They'll be on the lookout now, and they'll find the evidence soon enough.

Nicely done. I think this may be a fun election after all.

Poll Watch

Latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup, likely voters:

Kerry 52%
Bush 44%
Nader 2%

Latest Washington Post/ABC, registered voters:

Kerry 48%
Bush 44%
Nader 3%

Kerry 53%
Bush 42%

Well, this looks more like reality on the Whe Who Shall Be Ignored front. 2%? 3% A little high, perhaps, but in line with expectations. It's interesting that in the Post poll, Nader's very presence in the race helps Bush.

No bump for Bush. These poll was taken after the "It's Morning in America So Don't Change Horses In Midstream Because America Needs Steady Leadership In Times of Change" ads started running. Back to the drawing board, Karl.

As for John Forbes Kerry--he's in even better position than these polls would suggest. Undecideds tend to break slightly away from incumbents (cf. Clinton/Dole '96). That's why poll watchers are usually most interested in an incumbent's poll number. Greater than 50% is good. Ideally, you want to be in the mid-to-upper fifties.

44% is...well, it just plain stinks. There's no other way to put it.

It's a long race, but Bush is still in trouble. And the latest round of ads don't look to be the cure to what ails him.

And If You're Really Good, We Won't Stone You Anymore!

Via Atrios, some tremendous progress in Afghanistan:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai offered Afghan men a trade today in an attempt to convince them to let their women vote in upcoming elections.
"Please, my dear brothers, let your wives and sisters go to the voter registration process," Karzai told a gathering to mark International Women's Day. "Later, you can control who she votes for, but please, let her go."

What's sad, of course, is that this is significant progress.

Thank God my daughter was born in this country....

Martha, Martha, Martha!

Mitch Berg notes that while the usual suspects are carping about whether or not Martha Stewart was targeted for her gender nobody's really questioning her guilt.

I was one who thought Martha may have been targeted disproportionately. Nevertheless, if Stewart was guilty of a crime (and she's guilty of four of 'em), she deserves to be punished. The motivation of the prosecutor in this case is irrelevant. Stewart was tried and found guilty by a jury of her peers, in what was by all accounts a very fair trial.

The sad thing for Martha is that all of this was so avoidable. Had she just admitted to the SEC that she may have traded on insider information, she would've gotten away with a parking ticket. Now, she goes to prison, probably for twelve-to-eighteen months. It's not the crime, it's the cover-up. Sorry, Martha, but you did this to yourself. Now, you reap what you sowed.

Miami, Miami, You've Got Style....

Miami Herald Florida poll:

Kerry 49%
Bush 43%
Nader 3%

Bush's anemic support in this poll has to be deeply worrisome. Bush must win Florida to win reelection. He has every advantage there and he only has 43% support. This is big bombad problem for Bush. If John Kerry can hold the lead in Florida, he will win the presidency.


Dick Meyer wonders if Bush and Rove have lost their mojo. No need to wonder--they have. The reaction to the Bush commercials is all about Bush using 9/11 footage. Heck, I'm not even particularly offended by the ads. Bush may have wanted to use another image, but it's not like I didn't know this was coming. But so bland were the ads that the complaints about their touch on 9/11 became the story of the ads. Anything positive that may have come out of them for Bush has been obliterated.

It doesn't matter how much money Bush has if he can't get his legs under him. The Bush campaign is the Minnesota Vikings of politics--great on offense, highly suspect on defense. Bush is on defense right now, and if he can't figure out how to take the ball back, Kerry may just ram the ball right down his throat.

Show Some Love

Go give some money to John Kerry. Hey, ads don't buy themselves.

Mea Maxima Culpa

Mitch Berg takes me to task for my *ahem* less than sympathetic note on John Ashcroft's recent hospitalization.

And I deserve to be taken to task. While I have no love for Ashcroft, wishing ill upon one's enemies is flatly wrong. I was wrong to even joke about a scenario where Ashcroft "...was just going to be sick for a few months, and had to resign for health reasons[.]" For that, I apologize to my readers.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Dick Morris is predicting a Bush landslide. This ensures a John Kerry victory in November, as Dick Morris is wrong 95% of the time. Thanks, Dick!

Poll Watch

ARG Florida:

Kerry 45%
Bush 44%
Nader 4%
Undecided 7%

Ruh-roh, Rorge. Florida is a must-win for Bush; without it, it's hard to see how he puts together the electoral math to get to 270. (Don't tell me he can win California, because he can't; Bush is no Schwarzenegger.) Now, Florida has hardly been secured by Kerry, but this is a state where Bush would seem to have some advantages, a state he's pumped money into since taking office. He shouldn't be tied here, not at this point. If Kerry can win Florida, he will win the election. Period.

Ashcroft in Hospital

Attorney General and Witchfinder Senior John Ashcroft (R-Eden) is in the hospital for pancreatitis brought on by a gallstone. He is expected to make a full recovery, which is too bad--not that I wish ill on Ashcroft, but if he was just going to be sick for a few months, and had to resign for health reasons....Ah well, not to be, I guess.

Seriously, get well soon, Mr. A.G. I don't like having to feel sympathy for you.

Saletan and Weisberg on the Bush Ads

A great back and forth. I especially like this line from Will Saletan:

There is also some explicit dishonesty. The text of "Safer, Stronger" begins: "January 2001, The challenge: An economy in recession. A stock market in decline. ..." In fact, as Bush acknowledged quite recently in his Meet the Press interview with Tim Russert, he did not inherit a recession from President Clinton. The recession began two months after he arrived, in March 2001.

This is the only demonstrably untrue statement to be found in these three ads. Tellingly, it is also nearly the only statement of fact in any of them.


Friday, March 05, 2004
Turkee for Kerry

Atrios decided to try to raise $1000 every Thursday through the campaign for John Kerry.

This Thursday, he's raised $20,771.28.

So he's like, done for twenty weeks, right?

Giddy Up, Giddy Up, Giddy Up Now....

Anyone who's seen the mediocre-to-bad Wag the Dog remembers the campaign slogan of the fictional President--"Don't Change Horses in Midstream." The ad was lampooned throughout the film, the kind of vacuous statement about nothing that incumbent Presidents tend to run on when they lack vision.

Sorta like "Steady Leadership in a Time of Change."

The ads are slick. They're edited tightly. They have all the right images--schoolkids, African-Americans smiling, puppy dogs, the American flag, know, all the happy images that say "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Everything is wonderful here in the good ol' USA." The President says he has a vision for the future. Of course, he doesn't share the image, but whatever.

There's something hollow to the ads, however. Maybe the campaign will fill out a bit as things roll on, but right now the ads are so slick that they sort of slide on by. Yeah, it's a nice spot. It's just the spot anyone with some media savvy would've put together.

But about 70% of Americans are media-savvy now. And because the ad is so much what we'd expect, it just doesn't resonate. Now, maybe I'm wrong...but I just don't think the ads work.

Not only are they mediocre ads at best, but they've committed a cardinal sin--they've angered people.

The families of some 9/11 victims are up in arms about some images in the ads showing the burned-out World Trade Center, and firefighters carrying a victim from the rubble. The Firefighters' Union is criticizing Bush for using firefighters when he hasn't adequately funded them. Nothing horrible or overwhelming--but it's never good when your first salvo in the ad wars creates negative press.

Color me unimpressed. Bush needs to run on something more substanative than this. For the good of the country, I hope he has more substance somewhere.

Iraq Didn't Distract From the War On Terror, Except When It Did

So you may have heard recently of this guy, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. He's a major figure in al-Qaeda, the guy who supposedly wrote the memo detailing how al-Qaeda needed to forment civil war in Iraq. He's the guy behind the bombings that killed hundreds in Iraq this week.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration had three chances to wipe out al-Zarqawi. And they passed all three times.


Because it would impede our bid to topple Saddam.

So we had a bead on a senior al-Qaeda official. We could've killed him. Three times. And instead, we let him go to focus on toppling a dictator who, while evil, posed no immediate threat to the United States.

The next time someone on the right asks why I am so frustrated by the President's foreign policy--this, right here, is it.

Got Legs

L'affaire Plame might be about to get very, very interesting:

An article in tomorrow's Newsday reports that the Plame grand jury has subpoenaed Air Force One's phone records for the week prior to July 14th, 2003, the day Robert Novak published his original column outing Plame as an undercover CIA operative.

Also, the Newsday report notes the investigation is focusing on the White House Iraq Group--which included such minor figures as Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Condi Rice, and Scooter Libby.

Ruh-roh, Rorge.

Here's What My mp3 Player is Playing

"Down to This (Live Rev 105 Version)," Soul Coughing
"Clocks," Cold Play
"Madeline and Nine," Mike Doughty
"The End of the Tour," They Might Be Giants
"Let Me Clear My Throat," DJ Kool
"Rusty Cage," Johnny Cash
"Don't Fear the Reaper," Blue Oyster Cult
"The Book of Love," The Magnetic Fields
"Zero," Smashing Pumpkins
"Caryadid Easy," Son Volt

Poll Watch
or, Let's Get Ready To Rumble!

Here we go. Latest AP/Ipsos-Public Affairs:

Bush 46%
Kerry 45%
Nader 6%

And so it begins, much as I suspected. A flat-footed tie out of the gates. Okay, Bush has a statistically meaningless 1% lead, but never mind that--this poll shows what I think we all knew: this race is going to be close, it is going to be hard to pick the winner until (and maybe, God forbid, after) election day.

For Bush, this is something, anyhow. He appears to have crawled out of the trough he was in a few weeks ago. But he's still sub-50%, which means he's still in serious trouble. The new ad campaign (more on that later) is meant to burnish his image; we'll see. The duckies-and-bunnies approach (which--funny--fails to mention our President's great Messopotamian triumph) should give him a slight boost in the coming weeks. I emphasize "should."

For Kerry--well, leave aside that two months ago, nobody thought it would be Bush v. Kerry. If you had told mein, say, April of 2003 that the AP poll would have Ralph Nader at 6% and the presumptive nominee would still be in a dead heat with Bush, I would've been ecstatic. He has a great chance here, folks. Now he has to raise money (Bush currently leads him in that category, $104 million to -$5 million) and get going. If he can ride out the next month or so, he should be in very good position.

As for He Who Shall Be Ignored--I just don't see 6% actually voting for him in November. In 2000, he was floating around 5% in polls before losing 40% of his support on election day. Not to mention that Nader will fail to get on the ballot in many, if not most states. And besides, I'm betting that half of this support is grumbling Deaniacs and Kucinich supporters--and I'm betting most of 'em will come home before it's all over.

Finally, the dog that isn't barking is a righty independent--say, Roy Moore. Could it happen? Maybe.

All in all, it's close, folks. We're going to have to open our wallets and give freely of our time. But this is a winnable race--and I believe we will win.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Antibacterial Soaps Are Useless

No, they are. you go.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell Is Out

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) will not seek reelection this fall. This turns what was a fairly safe GOP seat into a toss-up, especially since Republicans fully expected Campbell to run, and had no contingency plan.

9/11 Commission to Bush: Testify

So Bill Clinton will testify before the full 9/11 commission, and George W. Bush won't.

At least, that was the Bush administration's plan.

But the 9/11 commission has balked at the bush administration's proposal to limit the testimony of Bush and Cheney to one hour each--and then, only with the Chair and Vice Chair of the commission:

We have held firm in saying that the conditions set by the president and vice president and Dr. Rice are not good enough," said Timothy J. Roemer, a former Indiana congressman who is one of five Democrats on the 10-member commission.

Mr. Roemer said that former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore had agreed to meet privately with the full bipartisan commission, and that Samuel R. Berger, Ms. Rice's predecessor, would testify in public.

"It's very important that we treat both the Bush and the Clinton administrations the same," he said.

The mantra from the Bushies has been that 9/11 was all Clinton's fault--that failures by the Clinton administration led to the 9/11 attack, and that there was nothing Bush could've done to prevent the attack. Yet Clinton (and Gore) has agreed to testify before the commission with no limits on questions or time.

So again I ask: what is Bush afraid of? Why won't he address the commission? I'm not looking for political points, I just want to prevent another attack.

Why does the President care more about his own political fortunes than he cares about the people he's supposed to represent?

And Now...Vice President!

With the race for the nomination effectively over, it's time to start looking at who John Kerry can tap to be his Vice President. A few candidates spring to mind:

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM)

He's Latino, he comes from a swing state (and a swing region), he's articulate. He also has foreign policy experience, and he would be a credible President. Richardson has a little baggage (which kept him off the ticket with Gore), but time heals all wounds, and he's got a great shot at the number two slot.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN)

He's a moderate Democrat who could presumably bring moderates into the fray. He has executive experience (he is a former governor). He comes from a red state, but he's popular in Indiana--it wouldn't be bad if we could pry it out of the Bush column. And he's a rust-belter, which is arguably going to be the region where this is decided. Still, he's a fellow Senator, and it might not be the greatest idea to have two Senators on the same ticket.

Fmr. Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA)

He's a Southerner. He's a war hero. He had Kerry's back before having Kerry's back was cool. His 2002 loss is a symbol to rank-and-file Democrats of everything they hate about the GOP. Then again, he's a former senator. He did lose in 2002. And there's no guarantee he could help Kerry win in the South.

Sen. John Edwards (D-NC)

The last time two primary foes shared a ticket was 1980, when Reagan and Bush did. The last time two Democratic primary foes shared a ticket was 1960, when Kennedy and Johnson did. As much as Kerry praised Edwards and vice versa, I just can't see this marriage happening. Then again, most of the party wants this to happen, so you can't discount it.

Fmr. Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA)

Popular, moderate, hawkish, Southern. Sam Nunn would seem a perfect counterweight to John Kerry. He oozes gravitas. And he'd be a good President if he had to be. In many ways, he'd be a Democratic Dick Cheney (you know: without the evil). Then again, he's been out of office for a while. Could Kerry reach this far into his bag of tricks? I don't think so.

Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.) (D-AR)

My boy Wes would certainly help Kerry on foreign affairs. And he's Southern. But he's also a bit gaffe-prone, which is something you don't want in a Veep. I don't see it, but don't count him out quite yet.

Fmr. Gov. William J. Clinton (D-AR)

Just wanted to see if you're paying attention.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)

On the list because every conservative will claim she's going to be Kerry's VP. She will not be. She brings no regional advantage, no state advantage, she's a divisive figure, and she's not one to share the limelight. She might be a good minority leader; she'd be a terrible Vice Presidential candidate.

Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL)

One word: Florida. Graham is popular in Florida, and it's tough to believe the President can win without Florida. He's got executive experience, he'd be a credible President. He's a bit old (yes, 67 isn't ancient anymore, but it's not young, either), and he didn't go anywhere as a Presidential candidate. Then again, only a few wonks even remember he was a Presidential candidate, so that won't hurt him. He's on the short list.

Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN)

He's bright, he's articulate, he should be House Minority Leader. He's a centrist. He's young (34) and charismatic. And he'd be the first African-American to be on a major party's ticket. One problem, though: since he doesn't turn 35 until May 11, 2005, he'd be Constitutionally ineligible to ascend to the Presidency if John Kerry died in the first four months of his term. That may not seem like a big deal, but in the unlikely event it happened it would mean a few months of President Hastert--and questions after May 11, 2005 about whether Ford would be eligible to ascend, or President Hastert would remain in office. Is an enormous potential Constitutional crisis worth Harold Ford? Not given his age. He's got a lot of chances left.

Fmr. Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin (D-NY)

Another name that's being touted that I just don't understand. Yes, he brings credibility on domestic issues, but it's not like he was a highly visible Treasury Secretary. And he'd give the Naderite wing of the party a chance to shout "See? Wall Street!" for three or four months. He's not a bad guy. But he's not VP timber.

Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO)

He's a rust-belter, and he's well-respected. He's devoted his life to public service, and the unions like him. He's from a swing state. But his dismal showing in Iowa makes one question just how big Gephardt's coattails are. Still, he's a party fave, and he's got a decent shot.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

It won't happen, but man, if it could....

The Field

And then there's everyone else, and when I say everyone else, I mean everyone else. Who thought Joe Lieberman or Dick Cheney would be the number two guys in 2000? Who thought Jack Kemp would come out of nowhere to be Dole's VP candidate? Who thought Clinton would pick fellow Southerner Gore? Who thought Dukakis would pick Bentsen? Dan Quayle? Dan Quayle?!?!?

Guessing about Vice Presidents is fun, but more often than not, it turns out to be the last guy you'd think. Justice Alan Page (DFL-MN)? Could be. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS)? Maybe. Bill Gates (Rich-WA)? Why not? More than likely, the candidate for Vice President will be the last person any of us expect. But it's fun to speculate anyhow.

At any rate, here's my current ranking (in order of likelyhood) that someone will get the number two slot:

1. Gov. Bill Richardson
2. The Field
3. Sen. Evan Bayh
4. Fmr. Sen. Max Cleland
5. Sen. Bob Graham
6. Rep. Dick Gephardt
7. Sen. John Edwards
8. Fmr. Sen. Sam Nunn
9. Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.
10. Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.)
11. Fmr. Sec'y. Robert Rubin
12. Sen. John McCain
13. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton
14. Fmr. Gov. William J. Clinton

Bring. It. On.

First, the numbers:


Kerry 64%
Edwards 20%
Kucinich 4%


Kerry 58%
Edwards 24%
Lieberman 5%


Kerry 47%
Edwards 41%
Sharpton 6%


Kerry 59%
Edwards 26%
Sharpton 4%


Kerry 72%
Edwards 18%
Kucinich 4%


Kerry 51%
Edwards 27%
Kucinich 17%

New York

Kerry 61%
Edwards 20%
Sharpton 8%


Kerry 52%
Edwards 34%
Kucinich 9%

Rhode Island

Kerry 71%
Edwards 34%
Kucinich 9%


Dean 58%
Kerry 34%
Kucinich 4%

And now, we can all say for certain:

It's Over

Sen. John Kerry is going to be the Democratic nominee for the Presidency of the United States. He is the guy; with Edwards' impending withdrawl, only pretend candidates Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton, and Vermin Supreme remain in the race--and all of them have an equal chance (0%) of beating Kerry. It's over and done with. Now on to the general.

The Lazarus metaphor has been overused, but before we move on, just take a second to think about where John Kerry was on January 3. He was done. His campaign had been completely written off. He was yesterday's news. And today? He's won 27 of 30 primaries and caucuses, he's got a hammerlock on the nomination, and he's the party's standard-bearer. Not a bad reversal of fortune.

As for John Edwards: he's a talented candidate. He got my vote last night. He will be an asset to this party, and (I hope) Attorney General for President Kerry. I look forward to Edwards' 2012 campaign. He has earned another shot.

But this just wasn't his time. Maybe if Clark had lost in Oklahoma, Edwards could've gotten it down to a two-man race a bit sooner, won Tennessee and Virginia, and had a clearer shot at Kerry. But it didn't happen, and now John will bow out gracefully (though he could've waited until polls were closed last night; my good friend Don was furious that he cast a ballot for a candidate who dropped out.)

Howard Dean wins Vermont. Good. Dean worked too hard not to win anything. Earning the endorsement of his home state on the final day of a competitive primary was a nice postscript to his campaign. It doesn't change anything--he's still out of the race. But it's nice for him to at least know Vermont Democrats are behind him.

Kucinich? Sharpton? Heck, I hope they stick around for a while. They make Kerry look moderate. They provide convenient punching bags for the de facto nominee. If Kerry for some reason wants to have a debate, they're around. They have no chance at winning, but they're no longer interfering with anything. Let 'em stick around.

In the end, it's Kerry. Congratulations, John. Now beat Bush.

Here it is, the final Who's Up, Who's Down, and Who's Out?

Who's Up

BIG WINNER: John Kerry

He is the winner. The big cheese, the head honcho. He's the guy, and there's nothing (short of heart attack or sudden, major scandal) that can stop him. It's time for him to mull who his choice for Vice President is, shore up his stump speech, and get ready for the onslaught of George W. Bush.

Who's Down

No viable candidates are down this week.

Who's Out

BIG LOSER: John Edwards

Actually out.

Edwards ran a good race, but he had to win--well, somewhere in order to continue. He didn't. He only came remotely close in Georgia, and even there, he lost by a significant margin. Minnesota, a state he thought he could have, gave him a double-digit drubbing--as did every other state. It was a nice run. But it's over. Thanks, though, for coming close in Wisconsin; it gave the campaign another couple weeks of life.

Dennis Kucinich

Not that he was ever in. If you want to know why the Minnesota DFL drives me crazy, all you have to do is look and see that Kucinich took 17% of the vote in our caucuses. Dennis couldn't even get to double digits in his home state of Ohio. Ah, the DFL. Still wacky and liberal as ever.

Al Sharpton

Will probably drop out now that the primary season is done. After all, he's not going to get much more attention, and therefore he won't be able to increase his personal revenues. Then again, it's not like he's campaigned yet; maybe he'll still be running in 2005.

Power Rankings and Odds

1. John Kerry (1) 1:1

Dropped Out: John Edwards (2), Dennis Kuinich (3), Al Sharpton (4), Howard Dean (5)

Tuesday, March 02, 2004
WARNING: Spoilers Ahead!

Slate is running with the early exit polls:


Kerry 63%
Edwards 26%
Dean 5%


Kerry 50%
Edwards 39%
Sharpton 7%


Kerry 59%
Edwards 28%
Sharpton 4%

New York

Kerry 61%
Edwards 21%
Sharpton 10%


Kerry 75%
Edwards 16%
Dean 3%
Kucinich 3%


Kerry 58%
Edwards 30%
Kucinich 10%

Rhode Island

Kerry 70%
Edwards 21%
Dean 5%


Dean 63%
Kerry 33%
Kucinich 3%

Look out--Deanmentum!

Of course, Minnesota has no exit polls as we caucus.

My 10-for-10 prediction looks to be accurate-ish; Dean winning Vermont means precisely nothing to the campaign. If Edwards can't even win Georgia, it's over.

I Gots The Urge...To Fisk!

Thank God for Town Hall. It's like a one-stop shop for wingnuttery.

This week's wingnut: David "I'm The One Who Isn't Addicted" Limbaugh:

Political campaigns ought to be about helping the electorate to determine the candidates' respective positions on the issues, but Democrats, in a number of ways, are determined to obscure rather than clarify, and there has to be a reason for that.

Lay it on me, baby.

Just look at some of the things they do, all the while pretending to champion "democracy." They try to disenfranchise the military vote. They try to muzzle political speech through draconian campaign finance reform legislation.

Damn liberal Presidents, signing the McCain-Feingold law. Oh, wait, Bush signed it? Nevermind.

They circumvent the will of the people through judicial activism and by blocking the appointment of constitutionalist judges. They seek to intimidate Republicans from discussing the Democratic candidates' records on the issues, such as Kerry's softness on crucial weapons systems, by falsely characterizing such legitimate inquiries as negative campaigning. (All the while, by the way, they flagrantly engage in true dirty campaigning, such as falsely accusing Bush of felonious AWOL while in the Air National Guard).

They land on aircraft carriers and proclaim that the mission is accomplished. They fly to Iraq with a plastic turkey. They refuse to extend the life of the 9/11 commission for fear of political repurcussion...oh wait, damn it, that's the Republicans. Would someone bring me the right list of talking points, please?

They willfully alter their stated positions on issues, just to avoid giving President Bush credit for doing what they -- the Democrats, not Republicans -- wanted in the first place, such as throwing obscene amounts of federal money at public education.

First, the obscene amount of money came with a number of strings attached. Second, the obscene amount of money, while promised, never actually materialized. Other than that, No Child Left Behind has been swell.

They gratuitously attack the president for almost anything just to have something to criticize him about, such as their ridiculous rush to blame him for the unrest in Haiti. Their knee-jerk reaction to everything is "It's Bush's fault," rather than attempting to contribute constructively to formulating solutions for the problems. They criticize Bush for his unilateralism, then condemn him for not intervening unilaterally in Haiti.

All right, you've got us there David. I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

They mislead the public by saying Bush misled the public about intelligence information on WMD to which they had equal access and upon which they based their decision to support his decision to attack Iraq. They mischaracterize the terrorist activity in post-war Iraq as discontented Iraqis longing for a restoration of Saddam's benevolent rule.

And I just want to say that you, David Limbaugh, may think it's cool to italicize every pronoun in that sentence, but we both know that Bush was the one who decided to go to war in Iraq, not the Democrats--and that it was Bush and Cheney who were claiming Saddam had WMDs as late

As for the question of whether Iraqis are pining for Saddam...I have yet to see this argument made by anyone. Please cite?

They attempt to paint the president as insensitive to the "working class" because one of his economic advisors truthfully stated that "outsourcing" jobs can be beneficial to the economy because of comparative advantage -- a concept even few liberal economists would dispute. They don't tell their constituents, whom they would prefer to exploit, that while some domestic jobs are lost in this process, everyone's prices for goods are reduced, including those whose interests they pretend to safeguard.

And of course, while it's great that prices are falling, when your annual salary is $0.00 it doesn't matter how little ramen noodles cost at Wal-Mart.

It's not just the Democrats in general who play these games of obfuscation, but also their leading presidential contender John Kerry. At least with President Bush, you generally know where he stands on the issues. He is a strong conservative on defense and taxes, and mostly conservative on social issues. He is much less so on the spending side, particularly with respect to education. And his stand on immigration has angered many on both sides. But he has not been afraid to stake out positions, even if they are unpopular, which is relevant to both character and leadership.

And more than that, he has not been afraid to stick to those positions, even when it is obvious that they are flawed. Bravo, Mr. President! You keep saying that Saddam had WMDs. 'Cause he did, even if he didn't!

John Kerry simply will not make his positions clear. Do you think there is any chance he will proudly proclaim to the general electorate the recent finding of the National Journal that he was the most liberal senator in 2003? And Kerry calls Bush extreme? Based on Kerry's various statements and past record, a reasonable person with considerable intelligence would have difficulty determining his positions on: the propriety of making a candidate's military service, especially in Vietnam, an issue; states' rights concerning gay marriage; attacking Iraq; helping to rebuild and facilitate democracy in Iraq; free trade; deficit spending; No Child Left Behind; "special interest influence;" the Patriot Act; capital punishment for terrorists; and even his commitment to his faith.

So John Kerry is an inveterate liberal. And he's also a moderate, waffling charlitan. Nice how those both work for ya.

Why do Democrats work so hard to conceal their liberalism? What are they afraid of? Well, you can be sure that it is not that they are ashamed of their views; it's that they know those views are unpopular with the public when presented clearly.

Yeah. That's it. We fear saying things like "hey, maybe we should think about balancing the budget" or "yeah, maybe going into Iraq when there weren't WMDs wasn't the greatest idea." It terrifies us. Why, it's not like there are people who write in favor of liberalism. That's because we're so ashamed.

Democrats are always trying to create the illusion that their ideology is mainstream -- it's no accident that they are always the ones talking about the nation being divided 50-50.

Well, that, and the nation seems to be divided 50/50.

But that's wishful thinking on their part. They know better, which is why they have had to resort to this litany of dishonest and antidemocratic tactics to compensate for the unpalatability of their leftist policies. If the candidates were required to ingest a truth serum before each campaign stop, the November election would be a blowout -- not in their favor. And Democrats know it. So they'll continue to hide the ball.

Uh, Dave? We're not the party whose leader led us to war on shoddy intelligence, then lied about it.

Until the day comes when our President comes clean on the intelligence--or lack thereof--that led us to war in Iraq, I'll stack the Democratic party's institutional honesty up against the GOP's any day of the week.

So what does the GOP have to hide? Are you ashamed?

More Crushing of Dissent

Hey, if Glenn can use it....

Here's a happy, tolerant missive from "a patriotic American" whom the FCC is supposed to "serve and 'protect.'"

Fine them, imprison them along with the majority, if not all national news media including ABC, NBC, CBS , PBS they are anti

American, anti Chritstian, anti Republican, pro death for babies and seniors. They are not reporters by fear and sex

peddlers and bias against anything good. [sic]

Well! Just goes to prove that being pro-American means not having to care about that pesky First Amendment.

Ain't No Fisking Like a Pandagon Fisking....

When I came across this moronic Dennis Prager column (I know, redundant), I knew it was ripe for a fisking from the opening paragraph:

America is engaged in two wars for the survival of its civilization. The war over same-sex marriage and the war against Islamic totalitarianism are actually two fronts in the same war -- a war for the preservation of the unique American creation known as Judeo-Christian civilization.

Amazingly, nobody is more anti-gay-marriage than our enemies in the Islamic world.

I just couldn't bring myself to fisk it, though. Thankfully, Jesse did:

One enemy wants to kill you and destroy the fundamental structures of your government. The other wants to register at Sears, because there's this grill they've had their eye on.

One enemy believes that it is their mission to kill innocent civilians in hopes of enacting radical political change. The other hopes to enact not-so-radical political change so that they can spend the rest of their lives arguing over who forgot to pay the water bill and complaining that they never go anywhere nice anymore.

Bang bang, motherfucker. It's kill or be invited to the wedding shower. And I'm all showered out.

Yeah. Or something like that.

Super Tuesday

Well, I'll be caucusing today for John Edwards. I like the guy, I think he's got a terrific stump speech, and I think he's a better candidate to run against Bush in the fall. That said, I'm not living in fear of a John Kerry candidacy. While I would prefer Edwards to Kerry (and would've preferred Clark), Kerry was always one of three candidates in the race that I felt good about.

At any rate, I don't think my support is going to matter much. While Minnesota is one of three states Edwards has a shot at (the other two being Maryland and Georgia), he's got slim hope of winning any of them. My prediction tonight: Kerry 10-for-10, and this race is over. That's not what I'm hoping, but I think the writing is on the wall.

An Argument Against Homosexuality

Why should we oppose homosexuality? Because gay sex is too good:

"Untrammeled homosexuality can take over and destroy a social system," says Cameron. "If you isolate sexuality as something solely for one's own personal amusement, and all you want is the most satisfying orgasm you can get- and that is what homosexuality seems to be-then homosexuality seems too powerful to resist. The evidence is that men do a better job on men and women on women, if all you are looking for is orgasm."

Damn! And all this time I've let my sexual orientation decide who I have sex with. I've been after women because, you know, I'm attracted to them (not so much to men). But instead, I should just be having sex with my male friends because we'll give each other better orgasms. Of course, there is that revulsion I have to having gay sex, but I'm sure I'll get over it.


Monday, March 01, 2004
A Response to Mitch Berg's Open Letter

Mitch Berg has an open letter to gay marriage activists up over at his blog. Now Mitch is not a fire-breather; quite the contrary, he's the one who proposed the best compromise on gay marriage ever. Nevertheless, Mitch is coming out against gay marriage--and challenging supporters of gay marriage to put up or shut up.

Mitch goes through some exposition before getting to the heart of the matter:

Neither Sullivan nor any other pro-gay-marriage activist I've heard has addressed either my major concerns about the issue, or the one, overriding point that Sullivan, as eloquent as he is, consistently fails to touch. If the state tosses out the traditional definition of marriage, what replaces it? "Two people who love each other?" So now the state must toss out a 10,000 year old definition of "Marriage" - as stable and cross-cultural a concept as humanity has ever shared - and cough up a definition of "love", a concept that changes every generation or so? Where do you draw the line between "people who can marry" and those who can't? And by "line", I mean a line that will pass logical muster in a court of law, a place that doesn't easily forgive intellecual and logical sloppiness. Please show me a line that will allow two "people who love each other" that will not allow any pair of roommates or pals or co-conspirators to call themselves "Married" for any reason they want. By the way, "people do that today - look at Britney Spears" will not cut it as an answer; if two people marry for any significant amount of time, then dissolution has serious penalties, even in our no-fault culture, especially if kids are involved. And do you think opening marriage to gays will lower the number of frivolous marriages? What's the over-under on Rosie O'Donnell's marriage?

Fair enough. I'll respond.

First of all, I'll stipulate for the purpose of argument that the definition of marriage is stable and cross-cultural. I can show many reasons why it is not, has not been, and likely never will be, but that's beside the point. The fact is, most Americans do have a clear idea of what marriage is, and it is the union of a man and woman who love each other. Or as Minnesota Statute 517.01 states:

Marriage a civil contract.

Marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, is a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties, capable in law of contracting, is essential. Lawful marriage may be contracted only between persons of the opposite sex and only when a license has been obtained as provided by law and when the marriage is contracted in the presence of two witnesses and solemnized by one authorized, or whom one or both of the parties in good faith believe to be authorized, so to do. Marriages subsequent to April 26, 1941, not so contracted shall be null and void.

But this, of course, leads to an obvious answer to Mitch's second question: what is the new definition that can pass legal muster? Quite simple:

Marriage a civil contract.

Marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, is a civil contract between a man and a woman two people, to which the consent of the parties, capable in law of contracting, is essential. Lawful marriage may be contracted only between persons of the opposite sex and only when a license has been obtained as provided by law and when the marriage is contracted in the presence of two witnesses and solemnized by one authorized, or whom one or both of the parties in good faith believe to be authorized, so to do. Marriages subsequent to April 26, 1941, not so contracted shall be null and void.

Strike thirteen words, add five. Not difficult, not at all. The courts wouldn't even blink.

Now wait, you say--didn't Mitch say "Please show me a line that will allow two 'people who love each other' that will not allow any pair of roommates or pals or co-conspirators to call themselves 'Married' for any reason they want. By the way, 'people do that today - look at Britney Spears' will not cut it as an answer[.]"

Yes he did--but he can't take that off the table, because that's the heart of the issue.

The fact is that heterosexuals can get married for any dumb reason they want. Most don't. I didn't. I'm sure Mitch didn't. But some--like Britney, Carmen and Dennis, et. al. do. Can we really say that two men who want to get married must somehow rise to a higher moral standard than, say, a man and a woman? Why? To prevent fraud? How many people get married for immigration reasons?

The fact is, you can't argue that gay people might get married for bad reasons. Some gay people certainly will get married for bad reasons. Some straight guy friends may get "married" for fraudulent reasons. But unless you can show me where in the law we prevent heterosexual marriages for fear of fraud, you can't argue that this is a killer of gay marriage.

As for the Rosie O'Donnell marriage, I give it three weeks, which is about the amount of time it will take for the courts in California to quash the marriage licenses issued in San Francisco.

As for Mitch's other objections:

Stop trying to do this through the courts.

I understand what you're saying, and I can sympathize. There is a good argument to be made that the reason Roe v. Wade is still raw is that it was imposed on the nation by an activist Supreme Court.

Then again, when Loving v. Virginia was decided, support for anti-miscegenation laws dwarfed support of banning gay marriage. Over 90% of Americans were in favor of letting some states keep the races "pure." An activist court decided that case (and changed the definition of marriage in this country, for what it's worth). And now, only 38 years later, the idea of making a marriage of a black man and a white woman illegal just for the color of skin involved seems barbaric.

Activist courts can make bad decision, but they also serve as a guarantor of liberty. If the courts let majority rule decide everything, we'd still have segregation. I'm not saying that we should use the courts as our only line of attack. I am saying it remains one, and supporters of gay marriage would be fools to ignore it.

Take the time and effort to convince those who disagree, rather than condescend to them.

I agree with this wholeheartedly. I don't think everyone who opposes gay marriage is evil. Many truly believe that they're right.

They're wrong, and history will judge them wrong. But history will undoubtedly judge me wrong here and there, too. There's no sin in being wrong--and great sin in ignoring those who are wrong.

Rebuke Gavin Newsome, Rosie O'Donnell and the rest of the scofflaws.

Already have. I agree that while the images of gays marrying in San Francisco are moving, the way this came about was all wrong.

Learn and listen. Want to learn something about prevailing against popular sentiment? Take a look at the NRA and the Concealed Carry Reform movement.

There are all sorts of reasons to learn from other movements, and we should. But don't kid yourself, Mitch. If the NRA could've found an activist judge in Pipestone County to strike down the county-by-county rules on concealed carry, they'd've done it in a heartbeat. They chose the legislature because it was the avenue they were most likely to prevail in. Indeed, if you were going by polls, most Minnesotans were lukewarm on "shall issue." The NRA didn't care, nor should they have; we live in a republic, not a democracy.

I hope this is what Mitch is looking for. I encourage the dialogue--because only by discussing these things can they be brought to pass. And I look forward to your response, Mitch.


I'm increasingly convinced that this is a parody. But it's high-grade parody.

God Hates Shrimp

And he hates shrimp-lovers more. Boycott Long John Silvers! Boycott Red Lobster! Boycott Popeye's! And we must certainly stop the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, which has opened up a restaurant in the Mall of America!

This abomination must not stand!

Tomorrow, the Caucasus!

Ha, ha! Just kidding.

Tomorrow, the Caucases!

That's right, folks, tomorrow is Super Tuesday, and in Minnesota, that means it's caucus time. Every two years, I attend the DFL caucus (some years, like 1998, I attend the DFL and Independence Party caucuses, but that's another story altogether.) And every time I attend the DFL caucuses, I notice two things:

  • I'm one of the most conservative people in the room
  • The most contentious issue is invariably something trivial, i.e. ballots are not pre-printed, the single-floor building lacks an elevator for the disabled, etc.

Now, if you've been reading my site you know I'm not a conservative. My relative standing in the caucuses has far more to do with the extreme nature of those willing to put up with caucuses.

So my friends, today I urge you to attend your caucus.

If you don't know where to go, the Minnesota DFL will help you. If you're a moderate Republican, the GOP will tell you where to go, too. And if you're a wacky third-party supporter, the Independence Party and the Green Party are caucusing, too.

Please, take time out of your schedule to caucus. The people who attend the caucuses are the ones who end up writing the platform for the party. When the "Democrats" are pushing free houses for all, it's because people at their caucuses told them to.

Obviously, if you don't live in Minnesota, you'll have to check your own party's website to find out where to go. But do it. All our parties--Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, everyone--need voices from the real world in them. Be that voice. Caucus.

White House: Aristide Signed Letter of Resignation

So says Scotty Mac. I miss the days when this would be the end of the issue for me; sadly, the administration lacks a do you say? Ah yes, credibility. So does Jean-Bertrand Aristide, though, and I tend to doubt that he was deposed by the US. Then again, I thought Saddam had WMDs, too, so what do I know?