Easter Lemming Liberal News

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Ani DiFranco Live


So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter DiFranco Live

Who besides Ani DiFranco would begin an album with a piercing buzz and a muttered "I don't know why the f**k I play acoustic guitars"? But then who else would release a double-disc concert set only five years after the last one? Like 1997's Living in Clip, her latest live document is sublimely packaged and messily recorded, and features the backing of a howling audience and a hot jazz-rock band. Highlights include a funky, almost gangsta take of her best New York song, "Cradle and All"; Julie Wolf's grinding organ on "Napoleon"; and the previously unreleased post-9/11, antiwar poem "Self Evident."

a reviewer - "Her music has always spoken to me when I have nothing else to comfort me. This album is a live album, somewhat raw, but still Ani. If you have never seen her live, buy this album and then go see her. You will not be disappointed."



Electing the Electable


Wow, David Brooks can be funny and mostly true: A review of primaries so far.

...It became an election about itself, with voters voting on the basis of who could win votes later on.

It's the tautology, stupid.

So New Hampshire voters who had dismissed Kerry as a pathetic, unelectable loser days before took a new look at him after Iowa and figured that if he could win an election, he must be electable (which is sort of definitional), and concluded he is a triumphantly electable winner. Now Kerry is riding this great wave of electability, and he has a huge seething army of fanatical Kerry supporters who will follow him to the death, unless, of course, he stumbles — in which case they will abandon him faster than you can say "electability."

as janette says - "Electability, schmelectability."



Secret blog of slain CNN employee


The weblog, titled "Memories of a war torn heart: Sometimes I feel like screaming", was started just one week before Duraid was killed.

The following poem, "Risks" -- printed in English and signed "anonymous" -- was found in Duraid's personal car in Baghdad. The nature of the poem is similar to other material on his short-lived blog. It is presumed that Duraid did not author the poem, but that the handwriting was his (a quick Google search turns up the same poem on various "inspirational quotes" webpages throughout the 'Net).

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams, before a crowd Is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is To risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing dies nothing, Has nothing and is nothing.
They say they avoid suffering and sorrow, But they cannot learn, Feel, change, grow, love, feel.
Chained by their attitudes, they are slaves.
They have forfeited their freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
-- Anonymous

From BoingBoing



David Hasselhoff - I helped bring down Berlin Wall


Why come I am not in the museum?

The actor and producer, who says he is working on a film version of TV series Knight Rider, claims he is partly responsible for the fall of the concrete divide.

Speaking to German magazine TV Spielfilm, Hasselhoff said in 1989, the year the wall fell, he had helped reunite the country by singing his song 'Looking for Freedom' among millions of German fans at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Includes a luvey-duvey picture for all you empty-head, good-hair fans.




I am listening to the best radio station now


And it's mine.

My Launchcast - Last songs

Simon and Garfunckel - America
Al Jarreau - After All
Paul Simon - Gone At Last
Tenacious D - Cock Pushups
James Taylor - Fire and Rain
Enya - The memory of trees
The Everly Brothers - Since you broke my heart

oh well -6 out of 7 isn't bad




State Department goes to more imperial font


US State Department bans Courier from all official correspondence, replacing it with "more modern" Times New Roman...




Transcript of Joe Trippi interview on MSNBC


...We all sat around in a room and said how would do you -- how could you possibly match that kind of force? I mean, brute force and it's all by pioneers and rangers bundling hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars for the president. And there is only one way. It's a couple of million Americans giving $100. And that's the only way to do this. And if you can do it, you not only will change presidents, you'll change this country forever.

You want to help here in this country? It's because the special interests stop it. And, you know, you want a balanced budget. You want real campaign finance reform. You want real policies. The only force in this country is the people. That's what the constitution says. And this is our shot. That's what I say....




Dean team has a plan


Our goal for the next two and a half weeks is simple—become the last-standing alternative to John Kerry after the Wisconsin primary on February 17.

Why Wisconsin? First, it is a stand-alone primary where we believe we can run very strong. Second, it kicks off a two-week campaign for over 1,100 delegates on March 2, and the shift of the campaign that month to nearly every big state: California, New York, and Ohio on March 2, Texas and Florida on March 9, Illinois on March 16, and Pennsylvania on April 27.

In the meantime, Howard Dean is traveling to many of the February 3 states, sending surrogates—including Al Gore—to most, and conducting radio interviews in all. We believe that one or more of our major opponents will be eliminated that day, and that the others will fall by the wayside as our strength grows in the following days.

The media and the party insiders will attempt to declare Kerry the winner on February 3 after fewer than 10% of the state delegates have been chosen. At that point Kerry himself will probably have claimed fewer than one third of the delegates he needs to win. They would like the campaign to be over before the voters of California, New York, Texas and nearly every other big state have spoken.

We believe that when the voters of the post-Wisconsin states—which constitute 75% of the delegates that will be chosen in the states—compare Howard Dean and John Kerry, they will conclude that Dean, not Kerry, has the best chance to beat George Bush, because only Dean offers a clear vision of change and a record of results that contrasts against the rhetoric emanating from Washington.

Has such a strategy ever worked before?

No. It's never been tried.


But prior to this year, no candidate had ever raised $46 million dollars, mostly from ordinary Americans giving $100 each. Prior to this year no candidate for President had ever inspired the kind of grass-roots activity that has been this campaign’s hallmark. Prior to this year no candidate for President had so clearly revitalized his party, allowed it to reclaim its voice, and shifted the agenda so clearly to a call for change.

Let the conventional wisdom and the media declare this race over. We’re going to let the people decide.

Roy Neel




Krugman - Where's the Apology?


George Bush promised to bring honor and integrity back to the White House. Instead, he got rid of accountability.

So where are the apologies? Where are the resignations? Where is the investigation of this intelligence debacle? All we have is bluster from Dick Cheney, evasive W.M.D.-related-program-activity language from Mr. Bush — and a determined effort to prevent an independent inquiry.

True, Mr. Kay still claims that this was a pure intelligence failure. I don't buy it: the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has issued a damning report on how the threat from Iraq was hyped, and former officials warned of politicized intelligence during the war buildup. (Yes, the Hutton report gave Tony Blair a clean bill of health, but many people — including a majority of the British public, according to polls — regard that report as a whitewash.)

In any case, the point is that a grave mistake was made, and America's credibility has been badly damaged — and nobody is being held accountable. But that's standard operating procedure. As far as I can tell, nobody in the Bush administration has ever paid a price for being wrong. Instead, people are severely punished for telling inconvenient truths.



Georgia considers banning 'evolution'


The state's school superintendent has proposed striking the word evolution from Georgia's science curriculum and replacing it with the phrase "biological changes over time."

Educators and legislators criticized the proposal, saying science teachers understand the theories behind evolution and how to teach them.

"Here we are, saying we have to improve standards and improve education, and we're just throwing a bone to the conservatives with total disregard to what scientists say," said state Rep. Bob Holmes, a Democrat.

Social conservatives who prefer religious creation to be taught instead of evolution criticized the proposal as well.

"If you're teaching the concept without the word, what's the point?" said Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Republican. "It's stupid. It's like teaching gravity without using the word gravity."



An HMO Manager Goes to Heaven. . .


Two doctors and an HMO manager died and lined up at the pearly gates for admission to heaven. St. Peter asked them to identify themselves.

One doctor stepped forward and said, "I was a pediatric spine surgeon and helped kids overcome their deformities." St. Peter said, "You can enter."

The second doctor said, "I was a psychiatrist. I helped people rehabilitate themselves." St. Peter also invited him in.

The third applicant stepped forward and said, "I was an HMO manager. I helped people get cost-effective health care." St. Peter said, "You can come in, too."

But as the HMO manager walked by, St. Peter added, "You can stay three days. After that, you can go to Hell."

On Beliefnet



A Long Democratic Campaign


Kos - Media failing its job. Good.

The media has one overriding job this campaign season -- to whittle the field. For several decades now, the mass media has had the power to drive candidates out of the race by simply ignoring them, by pulling coverage and by showering attention on the perceived front-runners.

After Iowa, with Gephardt out, everything was going according to plan. But NH proved different. A shocked media couldn't believe Lieberman was sticking around. And what about Clark? Shouldn't he be dropping out as well? And let's not get started with Dean! He screamed! And didn't you hear the rumors that he was broke? (Reality -- he has $5 million in the bank.)

Didn't these candidates realize how expensive it was to cover their campaigns? Why where they being so difficult?

The media is clearly ignoring Clark, yet he is still raising money, still campaigning hard, and still generating decent poll numbers. Dean is raising more money than ever before (as hard as it may be to believe). Edwards is still showing good numbers despite his NH falter.

None of these guys are going anywhere, any time soon. Even Lieberman has no incentive to bow out, with all that Joementum and all.

So where do we stand? Kerry is running ads in all the Feb 3 states. He's trying to do what Dean did in Iowa -- empty the bank to deliver the knockout blow. Kerry seems to be making the same gamble, that he can end everything next week. But all Edwards needs to stay in it is a SC victory, and he seems sure to grab it. Clark needs that Oklahoma victory, which he'll get. So he won't go anywhere.

And Dean is marshalling his resources for the Feb 7 and 8 caucuses. And given the Feb 3 spending of the other guys, Dean may very well have the upper hand in those contests. Victories here and there the rest of the month could keep each of the candidates well in the running, with no one near the necessary delegates for victory.

Ultimately, anything that takes power away from the mass media and its shameful coverage of the race (e.g. Dean's scream, Kerry's botox, etc) is a powerful victory for democracy.

el - I agree with this comment - Excellent post, Kos. I for one am very glad for this long primary season this year, practically a barnstorming tour of anti-Bush rhetoric. Two more months of this will be great.




Kerry #1 Senator In Special Interest Money


Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who has made a fight against corporate special interests a centerpiece of his front-running campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, has raised more money from paid lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years, federal records show.



Friday, January 30, 2004

Editorials Question Bush's Role in 'Cooking' Up a War


An E&P survey of the top 20 newspapers by circulation found that as of Wednesday, 13 had run editorials on Kay's resignation as chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq last Friday, and his statement that no WMDs exist in Iraq, and likely did not exist in Iraq during the U.S. run-up to war.

Nearly all of those papers blamed intelligence failures for the miscalculation and called for a full probe. But eight of the 13 -- most of which supported the war -- also raised the issue of White House deceit and its possibly blind pursuit of intelligence that fit its plan for war.



A majority of British voters call Hutton report a whitewash


A majority of voters thinks the Hutton report on events leading to the death of Dr David Kelly is a "whitewash", a YouGov poll for The Telegraph says today.

The public expressed doubts about the report's one-sided verdict, which savaged the BBC while exonerating the Government, as Tony Blair claimed a second scalp with the resignation of Greg Dyke, the BBC's director-general. He also secured an "unreserved" apology from the corporation's governors.

The survey found that 56 per cent of people interviewed said Lord Hutton, as a member of the Establishment, was too ready to sympathise with the Government.

Only 34 per cent thought his report represented a thorough and impartial attempt to discover the truth about Dr Kelly's death.



A trip with Trippi


GQ - Trippi is insanely crazy.

irony -

"Don't yell so loud!" Dean is saying. "Karl Rove'll hear you over in Crawford!" When he says Bush is from Texas, they boo. "You're right, you're right, the president comes from Connecticut. Isn't this a great crowd? I'll tell ya, I won't get away with talking like this eight months from now. I'll have to be presidential."

el - except for the impression it leaves that the Dean campaign is young people this is the article on Trippi and Dean.



DEMS' RACE AIN'T OVER YET


Dick Morris - Only the liberal wing of the Democratic Party has reached a conclusion in its designation of Kerry as their finalist for the nomination. There is still a big opening for a moderate candidate such Edwards or Clark.

Remember, the one-two finishers in New Hampshire were favorite sons from next-door states: Massachusetts' Kerry and Vermont's Dean. It was quite natural that they'd draw two-thirds of the votes, especially considering the amount of time each has spent in that state. But it doesn't mean the nomination is over or that a liberal will necessarily win.

Democrats held two primaries on Tuesday in New Hampshire. In the liberal contest, Kerry bested Dean by a sufficient margin to endanger the ex- governor's candidacy. But the moderate primary was essentially a three-way tie —Edwards and Clark at 12 percent each, with Joe Lieberman only slightly behind at 9 percent.

The race will not remain a Kerry-Dean contest, but will evolve, as it always does, into one between one liberal (likely Kerry) and one moderate.

el - Perception is everything, Dean is not a liberal, Kerry is, but Dean gets the liberal vote, Kerry gets the moderate vote, Edwards, Clark, and Lieberman split different forms of the conservative vote, and Kucinich and Sharpton get the very liberal vote. Edwards is moderate-conservative populist, Clark is centrist-authority figure and Lieberman is conservative social issues and foreign affairs and liberal all other issues.

Now that Kerry is alone at the top as the frontrunner, he'll start getting the bulk of the criticism and media scrutiny. As he comes to be seen as the reincarnation of Ted Kennedy and Mike Dukakis (he and Kennedy share Bob Shrum as their common media man), the center will grope for an alternative. Then the process will really get under way.

Because of the truncated nature of this year's political calendar, it will all happen quickly. But stay tuned, it will happen.

el - Dean's message should be he is the candidate who is not the typical politician and who tells the truth.



Kerry and the Party Establishment


Here's the Republican Party line for the near future, coming from a conservative pundit near you: Sen. John Kerry is the establishment candidate who derailed Howard Dean's brave insurgency on behalf of a frightened party leadership.

The party-liners will then predict that Dean's intrepid supporters, intent upon real change, will -- and should -- continue to vent their rage and take Kerry apart. Many who will be saying this were, just a couple of weeks ago, trashing Dean as a dangerous, unelectable, flaky dove. That won't bother them a bit. The identity of the Democratic front-runner has just changed, so all the hostile fire must be redirected Kerry's way.

Republicans have good reason to trash the Democratic leader early, first Dean and now Kerry. The New Hampshire Democratic primary turnout of more than 210,000 voters broke all records by far. The exit polls suggested that independents rushed to pick up Democratic ballots -- and those who did vote were very unhappy with President Bush. More than 80 percent of the people who voted in the Democratic primary said they were either angry or dissatisfied with the president.

The Republican establishment knows it has a problem. That means that its claims in the coming weeks about Kerry and the other Democrats should be verified before they are trusted.



Diane Sawyers - Dean Scream Overdone Story

Local Station -- The "Dean Scream" -- The Version of Reality You Didn't See.. or Hear on TV




Dean has at most ten days to turn image around


Not a link or story, my gut - he probably only has by this weekend.



Kerry Has Huge Lead in Two Biggest Tuesday States


Kerry leads Arizona and Missouri, Clark holdes narrow lead in Oklahoma, Edwards in South Carolina. Dean will struggle to get any delegates.





Dean led To Dem party rise


Pundits will be discussing for a long time the meaning of Dean, and will work to dissect what happened over the last six weeks. I've written about this some already (see Making Sense of Dean), but I think the easiest way to understand what has happened is that Dean, like many innovative insurgents, has had trouble turning his dynamic insurgency into a sustained and serious candidacy. But regardless of the outcome of the Democratic nomination, like many other insurgents he has created a vastly different political landscape and language.

The Dean insurgent phase - from June 2003 to Jan 2004 - also coincided with a remarkable rise of the Democratic Party. In our June poll from last year all Democrats trailed Bush by 16-20 points in direct matchups. Today, in the latest Newsweek poll, all Democrats are within the margin of error of Bush, and Kerry actually leads. As Dean the insurgent changed our Party the public responded to our new, stronger and better approach and we gained 15 points across the board for all candidates.

Dean?s full-throated indictment of Bush has become the industry standard; the tone, tenor and style of his Internet communications have been emulated by everyone in the Party and even Bush; and perhaps most importantly and lastingly, he has allowed the Party of the middle class to once again understand how to make the middle class a partner in our politics and not just consumers of our policies.

My fellow New Democrats, this is what we've been calling for for twenty years - a politics driven by the interests of the middle class. What many in our movement have not understood is what Trippi understood ? that to be true to our word, to be the true champions of the middle class, we would have to fundamentally change our politics, and make it more participatory, more open, more iterative, and more democratic.

el - Simon Rosenberg is considered a controversial New Democrat.



The public must look to what is missing from the report


Scott Ritter - Given Rockingham's penetration of Unscom at virtually every level, there existed a seamless flow of data from Iraq, through New York, to London, carefully shaped from beginning to end by people working not for the UN security council, but for the British government. Iraq's guilt, preordained by the government, became a self-fulfilling prophesy that only collapsed when occupied Iraq failed to disgorge that which Rockingham, and the rest of the UK intelligence community, had said must exist.

By focusing on a single news story broadcast by the BBC, Hutton has created a political smokescreen behind which Blair is seeking to distract the British public from the harsh reality that his government went to war based on unsustained allegations that have yet to be backed up with a single piece of substantive fact. Lord Hutton was in a position to expose this; he chose not to. It is left to the public, therefore, to carefully examine his report, looking not for what it contains but for what is missing.

The Hutton Report - Kelly Whitewash at a glance.



"We were overwhelmed by the theocracy of evil"


Mr Kay said that while the group's 1,400-strong team was still searching for weapons, he believed that efforts so far had been "sufficiently intense" to conclude that no WMD would be found.

But just as the Hutton report did not find fault with the Government, Mr Kay refused to criticise the Bush administration, claiming that while the intelligence cited by the President and his senior staff was flawed there was no political pressure on intelligence analysts to "skew" their findings.

Critics of the Bush administration claimed that intelligence was "cherry picked" and skewed to make the case for war and that caveats about the lack of solid intelligence about Saddam's capabilities were ignored for political reasons. They said putting the blame on the intelligence community amounted to a "whitewash".

Scott Ritter, a former chief UN weapons and an outspoken critic of the invasion of Iraq, said last night: "I am at a loss to explain what happened in the UK and in the US. I think we were overwhelmed by the theocracy of evil in that we assumed he intended to obtain WMD and then everything that happened was interpreted with that assumption. It's insane."

Senior officials have admitted that the question of flawed intelligence is something the White House will be forced to confront sooner or later.

Of all the senior officials who made claims about WMD, Vice-President Dick Cheney remains the only one who continues to make the case that Iraq was armed. There are rumours that Mr Bush may be considering dropping Mr Cheney as his running mate in the election.



Ritter Was Right; Kay Was Wrong


I am not the only one going on email crusades to change media coverage and get balanced viewpoints. I have learned being more positive works better though.

Here Steve Phillion shares his emails with CNN's Aaron Brown.



Too Little, Too Late


OpEd News commentary by Becky Burgwin

- The press did its job of destroying the most innovative and gutsy candidate in the race with its usual skill and aplomb and a bunch of mea culpas aren't going to change that.

Here's what they did. They brought down the candidate who's done more for the Democratic Party and politics in general than anyone in recent history, at a time when our country was in desperate need of a shot in the arm. They beat him to death for 6 months and then they kicked him when he was down. I know, I know this is how they operate...

Yesterday, Diane Sawyer admitted that Howard Dean's "I Have a Scream" speech was played by the media in a way that was misleading. You think? To hear her say this is vindicating, but it's way too little and way too late. Even I knew that the feed from the microphone was editing out the crowd noise, so why didn't she? Then she says she called a bunch of the cable news channels and they all admitted to getting carried away and airing the clip way too many times.



Now With Bill Moyers


NOW tonight - The Rev. Joseph Darby and labor leader Harris Raynor share their views on the Democratic contest in South Carolina.



Record Number of Jobless Workers to Go Without Aid


An estimated 375,000 unemployed individuals are exhausting their regular unemployment benefits in January without qualifying for any further assistance — and are receiving neither a paycheck nor unemployment benefits. Based on the latest data, nearly two million unemployed workers are expected to be in this situation during the first six months of 2004.

In no other month on record — and in no other six-month period for which data are available — have so many unemployed workers exhausted their regular unemployment benefits without being able to receive additional aid. This finding holds even if the number of exhaustees in previous years is adjusted upward to reflect the growth in the labor force since then.



Kurtzman Watches Late-Night So You Don't Have To


Best of January -

"Lieberman did well in the exit polls. Every poll said he should exit. ... He came in fifth. The man skipped Iowa and moved to New Hampshire. Even Seabiscuit is going, 'Lieberman give it up.'" —Jay Leno

"Kucinich got one percent of the vote. And the sad part is there's a three percent margin of error. That means Kucinich could actually owe votes." —Jay Leno

"It's weird watching President Bush struggle with excuses for why we went to war. As he struggles, it reminds us all what a terrific liar Bill Clinton really was." —Craig Kilborn

"Oscar nominations came out today. Up for best actor, Sean Penn for 'Mystic River,' Jude Law for 'Cold Mountain,' and of course, George W. Bush for 'Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction.'" —Jay Leno

"A Newsweek poll said if the election were held today, John Kerry would beat Bush 49 percent to 46 percent. And today, President Bush called Newsweek magazine a threat to world peace." —Jay Leno

"Rush Limbaugh is in trouble. Prosecutors say that they have enough evidence to put him away on 10 felony counts. This would be the biggest blow to the conservative movement since Anne Coulter announced she had a penis." —Bill Maher

"Democratic candidate Wesley Clark revealed this week that he got half a million dollars last year lobbying the Bush administration for security software. You know what you call a Democrat who makes half a million dollars lobbying the Bush administration on security? A Republican." —Jay Leno

"As you know President Bush gave his State of the Union Address, interrupted 70 times by applause and 45 times by really big words." —Jay Leno

"In last year's State of The Union, Bush said there was no doubt that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Last night, Bush said they had 'weapons of mass destruction related program activities.' What’s he going to say next year — Iraq had weaponish thing-a-ma-jig whatcha-ma-callits." —Jay Leno

"President Bush said that American workers will need new skills to get the new jobs in the 21st century. Some of the skills they're going to need are Spanish, Chinese, Korean, because that's where the jobs went. Who better than Bush as an example of what can happen when you take a job without any training." —Jay Leno

"Under everyone's seat in the House of Representatives last night, there was a foiled package containing a hood in case there was a chemical and biological attack. One embarrassing moment last night. Trent Lott opened the hood and said, 'Shouldn't there be a white robe in it?'" —Jay Leno

"Due to budget crunches, Bush has had to scale some of the programs. He has a new program, 'Leave A Couple of Kids Behind.'" —David Letterman

"John Kerry’s victory over Howard Dean has completely changed the presidential race around. Now instead of the rich white guy from Yale who lives in the White house facing off against the rich white guy from Yale who lives in Vermont, he may have to face the rich white guy from Yale who lives in Massachusetts. It’s a whole different game." —Jay Leno

"The big surprise — John Edwards came in second. He was very eloquent; he said we have two America's — one for the rich and one for the poor. Today President Bush said, 'Why don't you become president of the crappy one.'" —Jay Leno

"Much of John Kerry's recent surge has come at the expense of Howard Dean. The situation reflected in his hot new bumper sticker, 'Dated Dean, Married Kerry.' It's cute and a lot more tasteful than the alternative version, 'Dated Dean, Married Kerry, Finger-******** Kucinich.'" —Jon Stewart

"The race for the Democratic nomination is getting tight. In Iowa, it is a four-way dead heat — Dean, Kerry, Edwards and Gephardt. It is so close, Fox News doesn't know who to smear." —Bill Maher

"President Bush wants to put a man on the moon by 2015. Well forget about the moon, why don't we go to Afghanistan and find Osama bin Laden." —David Letterman

"President Bush said again today that he wants to send Americans back to the moon, then to Mars and then onward into space. Of course he realized that Americans don't have any more friends on earth." —Jay Leno

"Last night we had Carol Moseley Braun on the program. She's explaining to me why she should be the next president of the United States. I get home that night, check the Internet, and she dropped out of the race. ... My guess is this whole presidential run was a ruse to get on this program. Gore did the same thing." —Daily Show host Jon Stewart

"Al Sharpton said the Democratic Party has to stop treating blacks as their mistresses. Sharpton then explained a mistress is where they take you out to have fun, but they don't take you home. Was that really necessary to explain what a mistress is to Democrats?" —Jay Leno

"According to a new study, most Americans under 25 get their information on politics from the internet — which may explain why the Democratic frontrunner is Senator 'You Can Add Inches to Your Penis.'" —Conan O'Brien

"President Bush announced a major new plan for the United States to put a man on the moon, which would be a really big story if this were 1962. Bush said he didn't remember anything about the 60's — I guess he wasn't lying." —Jay Leno

"President Bush announced we're going to Mars, which means he's given up on Earth." —Jon Stewart

"Yesterday, the Pentagon announced it will take over Halliburton's role in transporting fuel into Iraq. They think by getting rid of Halliburton and cutting out the middle man they can just screw the American taxpayer directly." —Jay Leno

"Brewing Company has released a new beer called 'Govinator,' which is a tribute to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The beer is made from ingredients that are in no way qualified to be in a beer." —Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update"

"NASA said the rover on Mars discovered a muddy black liquid. If it's oil, some little green men are about to get their asses kicked." —Craig Kilborn

~Compiled by the incomparable Daniel Kurtzman



Waking Up at the High School Level


"Then you wake up at the high school level and find out that the illiteracy level of our children are appalling." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2004

"I want to thank the astronauts who are with us, the courageous spacial entrepreneurs who set such a wonderful example for the young of our country." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C. Jan. 14, 2004

"One of the most meaningful things that's happened to me since I've been the governor — the president — governor — president. Oops. Ex-governor. I went to Bethesda Naval Hospital to give a fellow a Purple Heart, and at the same moment I watched him—get a Purple Heart for action in Iraq — and at that same — right after I gave him the Purple Heart, he was sworn in as a citizen of the United States — a Mexican citizen, now a United States citizen." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 9, 2004



Dean - Going For Delegates Tuesday, Not Wins


Doesn't Need to Win Any State Tues

Democrat Howard Dean said Thursday he's focusing his presidential campaign on winning delegates, defying conventional wisdom that he needs a state victory next week to keep his troubled bid alive.




If This Can Be Proved Kerry's Dead


It's no secret that Dean has faced some nasty robo-calling and push-polling in Iowa and NH, as well as NM and elsewhere.

The Dean campaign keeps fingering the Kerry camp, and it's hard to see who else might be responsible.

The calls were targeted at Dean in Iowa and NH -- the two states that were must-wins for both Dean and Kerry. Gephardt might've been behind a robo-calling effort in Iowa, but he'd have no reason to do the same in NH.

Who else, the Republicans? Problem is that by all reports, these robo calls have specifically targeted Dean's "1s" and "2s". That level of sophistication would require an extent of polling unlikely from the GOP. Only Kerry would have conducted the type of polling identifying levels of support for Dean in both Iowa and NH.

So it's all anecdotal, but the evidence suggests dirty tricks from the Kerry campaign. The thought literally makes me want to puke (some of the calls suggest Dean is not a real Christian because he's married to a Jew). None of the other candidates have faced this type of puke tactics, so there's only one guy engaging in it.



Perle Supporting Terrorists


Pentagon adviser Richard N. Perle, a strong advocate of war against Iraq, spoke last weekend at a charity event that U.S. officials say may have had ties to an alleged terrorist group seeking to topple the Iranian government and backed by Saddam Hussein.

"All of the proceeds will go to the Red Cross," Perle said. Informed that the Red Cross had announced before the event it would refuse any monies because of the event's "political nature," Perle said: "I was unaware of that." Perle declined to say how much he received.

The MEK, though listed on the State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations since 1997, in the past year has been the subject of an administration tug of war over its status. The group maintained for the past decade thousands of fighters armed with tanks, armored vehicles and artillery in three camps northeast of Baghdad along the Iraq-Iran border. U.S. analysts concluded its primary support came from Hussein's government, despite some financial backing from Iranian expatriates.



To the left on your radio dial


Enter Central Air, scheduled to hit the airwaves as early as March. Its masterminds say it will be tailored to appeal to people with MoveOn.org politics who crave Rush Limbaugh-style bite. Less earnest than National Public Radio and not as strident or suffused with the victim/oppressor paradigm as Pacifica, it will bring a populist, late-night-television sensibility to radio.

When it launches in March or April, it will broadcast 14 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, on stations it is buying -- or whose airtime it will lease -- in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Miami, Pittsburgh and Boston, says Mark Walsh, the chief executive officer of Progress Media, which he co-founded and which is the parent company of Central Air. "In division, there's a media opportunity," Mr. Walsh continues. "In a divided nation, at least there are opinions, information which takes a side."



Bush Lied To GOP - Medicare Drug Bill $530 Billion, Not $400 Billion


NYTimes - The bill passed narrowly in the House after Republican leaders gave assurances that the cost would not exceed $400 billion.

The Congressional Budget Office said in November and again this week that the cost was about $400 billion for the 10-year period 2004 to 2013, the amount originally proposed by Mr. Bush. But White House officials said Thursday that the president's budget would put the cost at $530 billion to $540 billion.

At the same time, the officials said that the overall budget deficit for the current fiscal year would exceed $500 billion. The deficit for fiscal 2003 was $375 billion, a record amount.

Mr. Bush says his budget request, to be unveiled on Monday, will cut the deficit in half within five years, by promoting economic growth and keeping spending under control.

The Medicare law, which Mr. Bush signed on Dec. 8, will offer drug benefits to 41 million elderly and disabled people. It will also give insurance companies and private health plans a huge new role in the Medicare program.

"The news on the Republican Medicare bill gets better and better for drug company profits and H.M.O.'s, and worse and worse for seniors and the Medicare program," said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts.

Administration officials said they had not concealed information about the cost of the new drug benefit. But in their zeal to secure passage of the legislation last fall, they played down concerns about the cost.

From the Washington Post - The White House has concluded that adding prescription drug benefits to Medicare will cost one-third more than the $400 billion advertised by Congress and the administration when President Bush signed the bill into law less than two months ago, federal sources said yesterday.

"I'm not sure I've ever heard of such a big discrepancy . . . weeks after legislation is passed," said Gail R. Wilensky, a Republican health economist who ran the Medicare program in the first Bush administration. "If people thought they were voting for a $400 billion budget, it's distressing."

Yesterday, both sides were furious.

"Not any senior has seen any assistance, yet we've just slugged the taxpayers for another $140 billion," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who fought unsuccessfully for provisions designed to reduce drug prices.

"All of us were afraid it was going to be greater than the estimate," said Rep. Mac Collins (R-Ga.), who said that he and other conservatives had felt pressured to support the bill, knowing that Bush was eager to sign it.



Gingsberg - People Should Speak Out To Protect Civil Rights


Ginsburg, speaking to a group of women's rights lawyers, was asked if people's rights were in danger.

"On important issues, like the balance between liberty and security, if the public doesn't care, then the security side is going to overweigh the other," she said.

That would change, Ginsburg said, "if people come forward and say we are proud to live in the USA, a land that has been more free, and we want to keep it that way."



Workers' wages and benefits grow by O.7%


Economic Growth Not Going To Workers

The 0.7 percent increase in compensation was the smallest since the fourth quarter of 2002 and was slightly weaker than the 0.9 percent rise that economists were forecasting.

Wages and salaries went up by 0.5 percent in the final quarter of 2003. That marked the smallest increase since the fourth quarter of 2002 – and represented a slowing from the 0.7 percent increase in wages and salaries registered in the third quarter.

The moderation in compensation came as economists believe the economy slowed in the fourth quarter after growing at a blistering 8.2 percent rate in the third quarter – the strongest performance in nearly two decades. Analysts predict economic growth in the final quarter of 2003 clocked in at a rate of 4 percent to 5 percent, a still healthy pace. The government on Friday will provide its first estimate of economic growth in the fourth quarter.

In a second report from the department, new claims for unemployment benefits last week dipped by a seasonally adjusted 1,000 to 342,000, the lowest level since the end of December, a sign that the pace of layoffs is stabilizing. Claims hit a high last year of 459,000 in the middle of April. Since then, they have slowly drifted downward.



Dean questions Kerry's record in debate


Democrat Howard Dean, on the attack in the last debate before next week's seven crucial presidential contests, has questioned front-runner John Kerry's record in Congress and accused his rivals of co-opting his message.

Dean said on Thursday Kerry had sponsored nine bills related to health care in the Senate during his 19 years in office "and not one of them passed."

"If you want a president who is going to get results, I suggest that you look at somebody who did get results in my state," Dean said during a debate in South Carolina.

Dean, who rose to the top of the Democratic pack on the basis of his blunt attacks on Bush, the war in Iraq and the Democrats who supported it, accused his rivals of adopting his message on changing Washington and drawing new people into the party.

"The truth is I stood up for that message when nobody else would. I stood up against the president's war in Iraq when nobody else would, except for Dennis (Kucinich)," he said.

"When you go to elect a president, you want somebody who's going to stand up for you. How do you know anybody else is going to stand up for you if they wouldn't do it when it really counted and when it wasn't popular?" Dean asked.


Thursday, January 29, 2004

"Quirks of Injustice"


If you saw Diane Sawyer's incredible "World News Tonight" show closer last night (and on GMA again this morning) — about how the network tape showing Dean's "I Have a Scream" speech was totally misleading because of Dean's use of a directional mike — you realize how easily a presidential campaign can be done in by the quirks of injustice.


Time to Pony Up Boys


OK, it's time for all those warhawks who were busy breathing the neocons' exhaust back when were invading Iraq to come through on their promises, now that it's clear that those of us who questioned the existence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction were right and they were wrong.

Especially Bill O'Reilly.

"And I said on my program, if -- if -- the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again."

"If weapons of mass destruction aren't found,... I will have to apologize because I bought into it... All right, a month from today, we'll do this story again."


He didn't do the story again.

Jonah Goldberg who went even further:

So here's the deal: George Bush -- who has rightly been much more reluctant than Tony Blair to toss the U.N. a bone when it comes to the potentially lucrative prospect of rebuilding Iraq -- should make it known that if Coalition forces find no Iraqi WMD while we're in there, we will defer to the U.N. on how to run postwar Iraq...I am still confident we will find plenty of such weapons -- Saddam didn't buy those chemical suits and atropine injectors because Glamour magazine says they're all the rage...


I wonder what the radioheads said?



The privileged act worried


Boston.com Populist messages worrying privileged class

First, Democratic candidates find themselves sounding "populist" on economic issues because that's the message that rallies voters. Bill Clinton, the shrewdest Democrat in a generation, sounded very populist when he won the presidency. His 1992 campaign manifesto, "Putting People First," aligned Clinton with the pocketbook concerns of ordinary Americans. Clinton's accommodation to Wall Street came later.

Second, when Democrats win, it's usually because voters support them to redress the inequities between society's most powerful and the average American. Democrats lose when that message gets muddled. In 2000, Al Gore alternated between sounding populist and sounding confused. When he sounded populist, his support surged.

Third, Kerry's populist declarations ring especially true in the Bush era. Voters are vaguely aware that HMOs, drug companies, and oil companies have too much entree to the White House at the expense of ordinary people. It's good politics for a major candidate to validate those misgivings and pledge to remedy them.

Regular Americans have been intimated by 9/11, but they know this economy isn't serving them well.

Finally, it's no surprise that elite media and other business-affiliated institutions make clucking sounds whenever Democratic candidates champion ordinary people and call for regulation and taxation of society's most powerful. But it is distressing to hear other Democrats, or well-intentioned media commentators, accepting that bogus framing of the real issue.

Wall Street might have been spared the carnage of 2000-2001 if tougher financial, accounting, and securities regulations hadn't been gutted in the 1990s (with Lieberman cheering on the repeal).

Nor is there anything radical about wanting the public sector to fund public education, universal health coverage, and decent child care. Kerry and the other populists in the Democratic field should take these elite assaults as signs that America's most privileged are getting a little worried and wear them as badges of honor.



Black voters essential for Dem candidates and up for grabs


In the race for Democratic delegates, the big prizes next week are Arizona and Missouri. But for those looking ahead to November, the most important contest may be in South Carolina. Not only will next Tuesday's vote in the Palmetto State mark the first primary in the South, but also the first in a state where African American voters are likely to determine the outcome.

Now, the race in South Carolina shapes up as a four-candidate contest between Edwards, Kerry, Clark, and Sharpton. But nearly 20 percent of South Carolina Democrats remain undecided, according to a recent poll by the American Research Group from Jan. 23-24.

"If Sharpton gets half the black vote, he could wind up being the winner, because the rest will split between the other candidates," says Bill Lynch, former vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee and a longtime political operative who has advised Sharpton's campaign. Lynch says blacks may be tempted to back Sharpton, even if they know he'll never be the nominee. "That's what they did with Jesse Jackson," who won the Democratic primaries in South Carolina in 1984 and 1988.

The concerted push by Edwards and Clark, local observers say, could rapidly eat into Sharpton's apparent edge among black voters. In fact, Kerry, Dean, Edwards, and Clark may be counting on the fact that, for most black voters, the most important agenda is defeating George W. Bush.

Dean had been trying to present himself as the man who could take on Bush, in part by bringing black and white voters together. It was Dean who argued that the Democratic Party needed to adopt a new "Southern Strategy," and supporters like Jackson Jr. credit him with being the first candidate to address the issues of race in America head-on. But Dean's message -- that Republicans have won the South by dividing the region along racial lines -- has been largely co-opted by Edwards and others.

Having slipped badly in the South Carolina polls -- he drew the support of fewer black voters polled than either Kerry or Edwards -- Dean's campaign is now shifting its focus to the Feb. 7 primary in Michigan, where blacks account for nearly 20 percent of likely Democratic voters, and where Dean believes he can draw strong support.



Vote for your candidate - not the most electable 2


The latest Newsweek poll finds 78 percent of voters feel Mr. Bush will be reelected. But while about half of Democratic voters would support a candidate who reflects their own views, 39 percent want someone who can simply take back the White House.

Such calculated strategic voting is driven by an anger and dislike of Bush - for the 2000 election anomaly and his actions, such as the Iraq war. Many candidates are focusing on their ability to win rather than how they would govern. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark even held an "electability rally."

But elections are diminished when voters don't choose a candidate who best represents them, putting pragmatism ahead of principles. If every voter simply tried to figure out what other voters want in a president, who would be the authentic voter?



Dems in full voice against Bush


For the first time, the United States is hearing sustained criticism of its president and, though the Democratic presidential primaries have been going less than two weeks, the effect has been immediate. Bush was already rattled and preoccupied with his suddenly full-throated opposition even before the Iowa vote. He scheduled his state of the union address to follow it by a day, and it was the most poorly rated in modern times. By last weekend, his approval had fallen below 50% in a Newsweek poll and he was three points behind Senator John Kerry, the new Democratic frontrunner.
In New Hampshire, the turnout for the Democratic primary was the greatest in history, reflecting their determination to oust Bush. Intensity of feeling against the president has combined with the need felt for an electable candidate. Democrats don't want either political clarity or political skill, but both in one package. Now, amid the din, the party is finding its voice.


Voter turnouts show Dems 'energized and angry'


Democrats' record turnout in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, following similarly heavy attendance at the Iowa caucuses last week, shows that the party is organized and motivated to oust President Bush next fall, Democratic and Republican political operatives say.
More than 208,000 people voted in New Hampshire, easily topping the 170,000 who turned out in 1992. That year, like this one, there was a crowded Democratic field and no dominant front-runner in the early contests.

In Iowa, about 124,300 went to caucuses, more than twice the number who attended in 2000. This year's total matches 1988, when an estimated 125,000 Iowans voted in another crowded field. Some Democratic officials say the 1988 estimate was inflated, which would make this year's turnout a record.

"Democrats are more energized and angry than at any time since Lyndon Johnson's presidency," says Curtis Gans of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate. "That probably translates into higher turnout and more Democrats at the polls" next fall.



"IMMINENT THREAT"


White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday lashed out at reporters yesterday saying "some in the media have chosen to use the word 'imminent'. Those were not words we used." But almost exactly a year ago, it was McClellan who said the reason NATO should go along with the Administration's Iraq war plan was because "this is about imminent threat." Similarly, when White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether America went to war in Iraq because of an imminent threat, he replied "Absolutely."

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked whether Iraq was an imminent threat and replied affirmatively, citing 9/11 as justification: "Go back before September 11 and ask yourself this question: Was the attack that took place on September 11 an imminent threat the month before or two months before or three months before or six months before? When did the attack on September 11 become an imminent threat? Now, transport yourself forward a year, two years or a week or a month...So the question is, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?" And despite the Administration's efforts to pass the blame for failure to find WMD onto the intelligence community, Rumsfeld essentially admitted that the intelligence community had, in fact warned the White House of the weakness of its WMD case – yet still raised the "imminent threat" specter. On 9/18/02, he said "Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent - that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain."

"GATHERING" THREAT: McClellan told reporters that the White House only "used the phrase 'grave and gathering threat.' We made it very clear that it was a gathering threat." According to the Roget's Thesaurus, "gathering" is a direct synonym of "imminent". A synonym, we might recall, is defined as "a word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word" – meaning the White House's continued attempts to differentiate between the use of "imminent threat" and "gathering threat" are hollow and silly semantics. It was President Bush who said in October 2002 that Iraq was a "gathering threat" – and has continued to repeat this phrase for the next two years.

"IMMEDIATE" THREAT: Once again, Roget's Thesaurus defines "immediate" as a direct synonym of "imminent" – and the Administration also repeatedly used this phrase to describe Iraq. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told Congress on 9/19/02 that "No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."

"URGENT," "UNIQUE," "TERRIBLE, " "MOUNTING" THREAT: Other phrases of similar hue to "imminent" were also repeatedly invoked by the Administration to play on America's post-9/11 fears. The phrases "urgent" and "unique" threat were also repeatedly invoked. As President Bush said on 11/23/02, "The world is also uniting to answer the unique and urgent threat posed by Iraq." He said on 10/2/02 that "the Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency." Vice President Dick Cheney said on 1/30/03 that Iraq poses "terrible threats to the civilized world." Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said on 1/29/03 that "Iraq poses a serious and mounting threat to our country."

- Progress Report



Edwards campaign tries to benefit from Dean's woes


Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is trying to take advantage of two unexpected political developments: Howard Dean's misfortunes and a surge in campaign contributions triggered by his own strong showing in Iowa.

It's enabled the North Carolina senator to look beyond his Southern base and pay for advertising in some states with delegate contests after Feb. 3, allowing him to compete more effectively against front-runner John Kerry, Edwards' strategists said.

While Dean is facing a serious financial crunch, Edwards' campaign said Thursday it had taken in $1 million in new contributions since Edwards' surprise second-place finish in Iowa's Jan. 19 caucuses.

Of that, $700,000 was raised over the Internet.



Medicare Drug Bill by the Numbers


Estimated cost of the Medicare drug bill over 10 years: $400 billion

Estimated increase in drug industry profits: $139 billion

Additional payments from government to insurance industry to participate in Medicare: $14.2 billion

Members of the United States Senate: 100

Members of the House of Representatives: 435

Washington lobbyists who work for the drug industry: 675

Political contributions from the drug industry to Republicans (2002): $21.7 million (74 percent of total)

Political contributions from the drug industry to Democrats (2002): $7.6 million (26 percent of total)

Average elderly American's drug costs in 2002: $2,400

Portion of his drug costs covered by the new Medicare drug benefit: 45 percent

Average markup on United States drug prices relative to Canadian drug prices: 45 percent

Average profit margin of Fortune 500 firms (2002): 3.1 percent

Average profit margin of the top 10 drug companies (2002): 17 percent

Increase in elderly Americans' Social Security checks (2002): 2.6 percent

Average price increase in the 50 prescription drugs elderly Americans used most (2002): 6 percent

Retirees with health insurance before Medicare was signed into law: 50 percent

Retirees with health insurance today: 96 percent

Medicare administrative costs: 2 percent

Average administrative costs of H.M.O.'s: 15 percent

Compensation package, including stock options, for the chief executive of one Medicare H.M.O. in 2002: $529 million

Number of elderly Americans dropped by an H.M.O. (1999 to 2003): 2.4 million

Political contributions from the insurance industry to Republicans (2002): $25.9 million (69 percent of total)

Political contributions from the insurance industry to Democrats (2002): $11.7 million (31 percent of total)

Number of months after President Bush signed the Medicare bill that H.M.O.'s will receive more money from the government to participate in Medicare: 3

Number of months after President Bush signed the bill that elderly Americans will receive a drug benefit: 25



Dean Not Expecting Feb 3rd Victories


Howard Dean, his campaign reeling, acknowledged on Thursday that he's unlikely to win in the seven states next up on the Democratic campaign calendar, while front-runner John Kerry dismissed a Republican attack on his defense record as ``the greatest form of flattery.''

In two decades in the Senate, ``I have voted for the largest defense budgets in the history of our country,'' said Kerry, rebutting the latest criticism from Republican chairman Ed Gillespie.




Riding the Crazy Train


Whoa! That was quite the steroid-infused performance. Who's the guy's political consultant — Russell Crowe? He was so in-your-face, smirking his trademark smirk, it was disturbing to think of him in charge of the military. It's a good thing he stopped drinking and started talking about God.

You wonder how many votes he scared off with that testosterone festival: the taunting message, the self-righteous geographic litany of support? The Philippines. Thailand. Italy. Spain. Poland. Denmark. Bulgaria. Ukraine. Romania. The Netherlands. Norway. El Salvador.

Can you believe President Bush is still pushing the cockamamie claim that we went to war in Iraq with a real coalition rather than a gaggle of poodles and lackeys?

His State of the Union address took his swaggering sheriff routine to new heights. "America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country," he vowed.

Translation: Hey, we don't need no stinking piece of paper to bring it on in other countries. If it feels good, we'll do it, and we'll decide later why we did it. You lookin' at me?



Block that meme!


Clay writes:
What if Dean supporters believe that believing is enough, and what if the Dean campaign’s brilliant use of tools to gather the like-minded both online and off has fed that feeling?

The Cluetrain Manifesto author writes: Well, sure, what if? And what if not? From Day 1, the Dean campaign has explicitly aimed at using on-line to move people to-street ("mouse pads and shoe leather"). Large numbers of people who have never before been active in campaigns have come out to do the real world stuff that campaigns are made of: I was at a half-day meeting in southern New Hampshire for organizers — you know, the type that have to put on mittens because they're going outside — a couple of weeks ago that pulled in 700 people. Over a hundred thousand people turn up for MeetUps in real-world watering holes. Thousands of people went to Iowa, which is reportedly a real state, although it does seem rather improbable. I spent yesterday standing in the cold holding a Dean sign.

Yes, my evidence is anecdotal. But Clay's is speculative.

An even better long examination of Clay Shirky's comments is here.



Condoleezza Rice Leads New White House Offensive On America


The White House went on the offensive today on the issue of Iraq's weapons program, as President Bush's national security adviser brushed aside calls for an independent investigation into pre-war intelligence.

The adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said Saddam Hussein had contemptuously rejected many opportunities to tell the world about the weapons of mass destruction that he had or did not have. And she asserted, as top Bush aides have done repeatedly, that the ouster of Mr. Hussein was a good thing.

el - I often have had the choice with Rice with thinking she is stupid or she believes the American people are stupid. For many reasons I go with the latter.



Peggey Noonan Confirms Suspicions


Let me assert something that I cannot prove with a poll but that is based on serious conversations the past few months with Republicans and also normal people: 9/11 changed everything.




Dump Cheney Now!


Thanks to David Kay, we now have an amazing image of the president and the dictator, both divorced from reality over weapons, glaring at each other from opposite sides of bizarro, paranoid universes where fiction trumped fact.

It would be like a wacky Peter Sellers satire if so many Iraqis and Americans hadn't died in Iraq.



The Fight To Build A Democratic Movement


The Dead Center

Senator Lieberman's defeat on Tuesday could be a good indicator of which side is ahead. To their detriment, Mr. Lieberman and the perennially dour Democratic Leadership Council have been deeply wary of any hint of a progressive movement, preferring instead an uninspired centrist message that echoes Republican themes.

On the other extreme is Howard Dean, who could be called the quintessential "movement" Democrat. His campaign is both grass-roots and reformist, and is based on the proposition that ordinary people must be empowered to "take back America." Similar threads can also be seen in the campaigns of Senators John Edwards and John Kerry. (Full disclosure: I've been helping Senator Kerry.) It was no accident after last week's caucuses in Iowa that a beaming Senator Edwards told supporters they had "started a movement to change America."

A fierce battle for the White House may be exactly what the Democrats need to mobilize a movement behind them. It may also be what America needs to restore a two-party system of governance and a clear understanding of the choices we face as a nation.

Robert B. Reich, former United States secretary of labor, is a professor of social and economic policy at Brandeis University and the author of the forthcoming "Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America."



Trippi Couldn't Be Persuaded to Stay On


On Wednesday, after absorbing his second straight loss of the presidential season, Democratic candidate Howard Dean retreated home to Burlington and sat down with campaign manager Joe Trippi to talk about the future.

Dean told Trippi he was concerned about the lack of organization in his headquarters, according to campaign sources familiar with the conversation. Trippi was doing too much — strategy, response, media message — and, as a result, the overall campaign was suffering.

The candidate said he wanted to bring in Roy Neel, a longtime Al Gore advisor, to act as the chief executive officer. Trippi's response was quick: Fine, but he would leave.

Surprised by Trippi's reaction, Dean tried to talk him out of it — and was later joined by other senior advisors — but Trippi could not be dissuaded.



The Punch and Judy Dean Show


Diane Sawyer's interview with Howard Dean and his wife last week was a textbook case of everything that is wrong with television coverage of politics. It reduced his campaign to the banal level of mere personality and perceived missteps, replacing issues with image ? it was a frame-up.

Out of the 96 questions that Sawyer asked, 90 were about personality and temperament and only six were even vaguely about issues; virtually all 96 were hostile and negative. Thirty-six were about Dean's supposedly out-of-control Iowa concession speech, his alleged bad temper and the loss of momentum of his campaign. ("So did you lose your temper at [your son's] hockey game?") The 10-second yell in his Iowa concession speech was replayed three times during the interview, along with riffs by David Letterman and Jay Leno. ("How does it feel, to be the object of all these jokes?")

Twenty questions were about Judy Dean's absence from the campaign, which appeared to fault her for failing to stand by her man while at the same time criticizing the couple's decision to be interviewed together.

More



Race Will Go On Into March - Austin Hopes


The Democrats, Scrambled

Maxey said that whatever it looked like on TV, for the campaign crowd it was "inspirational." The trouble is, of course, that for most voters the TV is the campaign, and Maxey anticipated, "If the media doesn't blow him out in New Hampshire, the race remains wide open."



ABC NEWS GETS IT


The last story on ABC News tonight was Sawyer taking the media to task for "playing the Dean Scream tape over 700 times over the course of 3 days". She included footage recorded at the event in which the yell of the crowd completely obscures Dean's "screaming" moment. And she included testimonials from every news agency but CBS (yes, even FOX) saying that they had overplayed the story. CNN even apologized to the Dean campaign.

Is it too little too late? Maybe. But it could help.

el - Did she mention that she had played the scream three times during her Howard and Judy interview?

In NH it wasn't a big story but the pervasive national media bias was apparent.

However, the biggest applause line of the night came not from Dean, but from a man who prefaced his question with a statement: "Thank you for not apologizing for your enthusiasm in Iowa." Dean adroitly seized the cue, replying with exaggerated calm, "We're going to win in New Hampshire, South Carolina," and on down the list of early primary states. Another roar, more laughs, more warmth to stem the bitter cold outside.

After the rally I asked Dean if he thought that he was being targeted by the big media. He mentioned the study of network TV bias, then retreated to conventional wisdom: "I got disproportionately negative coverage because I was the front-runner; I'm not a conspiracy theorist."

I am. Throughout the speech and subsequent Q & A, I saw not a hint of "the fierce grin and red face" described by The Times on Iowa caucus night. But this is the same newspaper that preposterously called Bush "somber" and "determined" in its headline describing the State of the Union address, while ignoring the dreadful smirk that played on the president's lips -- a smirk that said, "I don't give a damn what I'm saying; I'm getting away with murder."



In Passing


"A new poll by Newsweek magazine shows that if the election were held today, John Kerry would beat President Bush 49% to 46%. In fact, President Bush then called Newsweek magazine 'A threat to world peace.' " — Jay Leno on NBC's "Tonight Show."

"Undecideds for Clark"— A homemade sign at a Clark rally Sunday in Henniker, N.H.



A Dis-Endorsement of Dean


David Corn -- This has nothing to do with the former Vermont governor's loss to Senator John Kerry in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary. It has to do with Dean's decision to fire Joe Trippi, his campaign manager, and hand control to Roy Neel.

Neel might well be a fine person, a good CEO, a believer (on his own time) in the values of the Democratic Party. But he was a bigtime player in the very game that Dean claims he wants to destroy. Dean's choice of Neel suggests Dean is clueless or disingenuous. Does he not know what it means to head the U.S. Telecom Association? Does he not understand that it is wrong--or, at the least, ill-considered--to place a lobbyist at the front of a charge on Washington? Was he not worried that this action would cause his opponents, the media and--most importantly--his devoted supporters to question his sincerity and his judgment?

More on Dean from Corn here: In politics, swiping issues is a form of flattery. So Dean should feel complimented, small consolation as that may be. His "take back America" campaign--which he claimed was enlisting citizens in a grassroots effort to challenge the money-and-power ways of Washington--not only inspired hundreds of thousands of people to donate and volunteer but also persuaded Dean's rivals that anti-special-interests populism was the ticket to the White House, or at least the Democratic nomination. When Kerry seemed in trouble at the end of last year, he started selling himself as "The Real Deal," ready to confront the powerful interests. Weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Edwards honed his "two Americas" routine, which became the best speech of the race. By election day, few thematic or policy differences existed among the four leading candidates. They could all say, "I am a Howard Dean Democrat." That was not so, though, for back-of-the-packers Senator Joseph Lieberman and Representative Dennis Kucinich. Lieberman, who could give a speech on healthcare and not mention insurance companies or HMOs, polled 9 percent. And Kucinich, whose radical populism includes a call for a universal, not-for-profit, single-payer healthcare system, netted a measly 2 percent.


Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Why Do You Have To Win A primary?


Kaus wonders: Why does a Democratic candidate have to win a primary somewhere, sometime to be viable? With the proportional allocation of delegates, it's possible to actually win the nomination without ever winning a primary. All you have to do is finish second in a lot of contests and accumulate delegates while the other candidates perform inconsistently. (That result wouldn't be undemocratic--sometimes Everybody's Second Choice is in fact the candidate who should win. Such a plodding-but-widely-acceptable candidate might also be the strongest opponent for Bush.)

Pendragon disagrees - but as Easter Lemming I am not buying his arguments. Superdelegates will gravitate toward a viable candidate even if it is not their favorite candidate. A second choice might be seen as more favored by Independents or possibly even Republicans but not a majority of the Democrats compared to a candidate. If one candidate always won but not clear victories doesn't that represent a problem and not an endorsement? And if more than one candidate wins different states, everybody's nice second choice starts looking better and better. This is how Edwards did so well in the Iowa caucuses, he was a lot of people's second choice.

His best argument might be his final argument - "There's also the electoral issue of how a guy running number two can keep up a second-place profile over dozens of contests. Logistically, not-winner-guy is going to fall off the map when it becomes obvious he can't seal the deal anywhere." It took a long time for Clinton to close the deal and Tsongas kept winning but not by large amounts. Clinton was a more electable candidate once his negatives were overcome. I don't think Tsongas would have won the White House even if he was more likely to win the nomination. I see similar problems for Kerry - can he win the party but not the White House?



Comments on replacing Trippi on TAPPED


TAPPED: PERFECT STORM HITS BURLINGTON Neel's hiring reflects Gore's influence in the campaign. The former vice president has spoken to Dean several times since Iowa and helped to convince him to give Neel a higher profile. Gore has been critical of Trippi in these conversations, according to sources.

No word yet on whether or not Steve McMahon, Trippi's partner at Trippi, McMahon & Squier, and Dean's media advisor, will stay on. But the campaign source said, "There's no one more politically inept I've ever seen than Steve McMahon," and blamed him for the campaign's terrible ads in Iowa.

According to Marc Ambinder, the former Dean embed at ABCNews.com, the relationship between Trippi and Dean soured after Iowa, where only around a third of the voters the campaign promised Dean showed up at caucus sites.

HOWARD'S END? None of this has to do with Trippi. Tactically and strategically, Trippi ran a brilliant campaign. He turned Dean from a dark horse into a frontrunner, and in doing so, changed politics forever, whether or not Dean wins. And it's especially odd that Dean would hire Neel as a replacement. Neel, a former Gore aide, is a classic K Street Democrat, a Beltway insider with a thriving career lobbying for the telecom industry. Those of Dean's hard-core supporters who aren't disillusioned by Trippi's firing will probably will be by Neel's hiring. More to the point, Neel's one of the guys who was in charge of Gore's lackluster 2004 campaign.

I find it interesting that while Dean has the gumption to do something decisive (if stupid) like firing Trippi, Wesley Clark seems to lack the wherewithal to something decisive (and probably smart) like firing some of the guys on his own campaign.



Final NH Results

Candidates Votes %

Sen. John F. Kerry 84,229 38%
Howard Dean 57,788 26%
Gen. Wesley K. Clark 27,254 12%
Sen. John Edwards 26,416 12%
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman 18,829 9%
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich 3,104 1%
Rep. Richard A. Gephardt 398 0%
Al Sharpton 345 0%
President George W Bush (WI) * 115 0%
Katherine Bateman 92 0%
Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. 88 0%
Carol Moseley Braun 82 0%
Edward Thomas O'Donnell Jr. 80 0%
Willie Felix Carter 77 0%
Randy Crow 72 0%
Vincent S. Hamm 55 0%
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (WI) 54 0%
Robert H. Linnell 47 0%
Gerry Dokka 41 0%
Caroline Pettinato Killeen 31 0%
R. Randy Lee 15 0%
Mildred Glover 11 0%
Leonard Dennis Talbow 10 0%
Fern Penna 7 0%
Harry W. Braun III 6 0%

Source: AP

EDITOR'S NOTE: WI = Write-in Candidate



DLC Slams Dean


Republican Lite - Candidates like Kerry who supported middle-class tax cuts picked up 70 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, crushing candidates like Dean who reflexively opposed them. As in Iowa, the Blair Democrats who supported the use of force in Iraq solidly defeated Democratic candidates who tried to stoke anger against it.

The Democratic Party heads for November far, far stronger by voting for hope over anger.

el - interesting that they are singing the praises of Kerry who is the most liberal (but a politician and wishy-washy) and not Edwards, Clark or their favorite Lieberman. I think in December the establishment got scared and decided to stop Dean whatever the cost, however the means.



Latest State Polls

RealClear Politics

Leaderboard - BOLD where Dean should get delegates.

SC - Edwards
AZ - Kerry
Del - Dean*
MO - Dean*
NM - Dean*

OK - Clark

MI - Kerry
TN - Dean*
VA - Dean*


* Poll before Iowa, all are before NH results.





Iraqi's Threw Out The British in 1920 - Will The U.S. Be Next?


Whispers of "revolution" are growing louder in Baghdad this month at teahouses, public protests and tribal meetings as Iraqis point to the past as an omen for the future.

Iraqis remember 1920 as one of the most glorious moments in modern history, one followed by nearly eight decades of tumult. The bloody rebellion against British rule that year is memorialized in schoolbooks, monuments and mass-produced tapestries that hang in living rooms.

Now, many say there's an uncanny similarity with today: unpopular foreign occupiers, unelected governing bodies and unhappy residents eager for self-determination. The result could be another bloody uprising.

"We are now under occupation, and the best treatment for a wound is sometimes fire," said Najah al Najafi, a Shiite cleric who joined thousands of marchers at a recent demonstration where construction workers, tribal leaders and religious scholars spoke of 1920.

Sistani's representatives expect widespread civil disobedience and violence if elections are deemed impossible.

"They know what will happen if they do not listen to us," said Sabah al Khazali, a religious scholar who joined last week's demonstrations. "They know this is a warning."

To many Iraqis, today's U.S. occupation reads like an old play with modern characters: America as the new Britain, grenade-lobbing insurgents as the new opposition, and Ahmad Chalabi and other former exiles on the Governing Council as the new kings.



Ignoring Bush's Lies, Again


"I said in the run-up that Saddam was a grave and gathering danger, that's what I said. And I believed it then, and I know it was true now. And as Mr. Kay said, that Iraq was a dangerous place. And given the circumstances of September the 11th, given the fact that we're vulnerable to attack, this nation had to act for our security."

Leaving aside those incoherent references to "programs" and what the world obviously "felt," what is most notable in Bush's answer is that he again said Saddam "did not let us in." This is the second time he has made this weird statement, as if Hans Blix and UNMOVIC had never existed, nor conducted the most intrusive weapons inspections ever done in Iraq. (The first time was last July, when Bush said, in the presence of an astonished Kofi Annan: "And we gave [Saddam] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in.")

How dare the press mock Howard Dean when they listen respectfully to this arrant lunacy?



Democracy Now! Questions Democrats About Previous Iraq WMD Claims


Amy Goodman is on their case. Howard Dean appeared honest. Kucinich and Sharpton were right - no evidence of WMDs.
Everyone else appeared to be typical politicians.



MyDoomB spreading, worse than first


A new version of the "Mydoom" e-mail worm that appeared on the Internet Wednesday makes it more difficult for computer users to download updated security software and instructs infected computers to attack Microsoft Corp.'s Internet homepage, security experts said.

The worm prevents victims from getting on Microsoft's Windows Update page, which hosts the company's latest software fixes and patches, as well as more than 60 other sites that contain anti-virus software. It also blocks Web site advertisements that are provided by Internet ad firm DoubleClick Inc.

Mydoom.B replaces the older version of itself on infected computers, said Tony Magallanez, a systems engineer with F-Secure Corp., an anti-virus company in San Jose, Calif. The first version punches a hole in the victim's Internet connection that allows attackers to take control of the computer or install malicious software.

Magallanez said that Mydoom.B does not require users with computers infected by the first version to click on a new attachment to activate it. Instead, Mydoom.B scans the Internet for infected computers and updates itself.

A one-two sucker punch. This will be bad.



Current Mydoom email virus worst ever


THE Mydoom computer virus is rapidly becoming the largest virus outbreak ever, and now accounts for one in every 12 emails sent.

Mydoom was overtaking the Sobig.F virus, clogging the internet with some 100 million infected emails in its first 36 hours and prompting the FBI to launch an investigation.
But analysts said that the slowing or crashing of computer networks may only be the start of the problems from the worm, which installs a program on infected computers allowing a hacker to take control and launch additional attacks.

The virus is programmed to launch denial of service attacks on the SCO Group, suggesting it could be linked to the company's legal action against Linux software.

He said virus uses "a very cleverly crafted social engineering trick," making the email appear to be error response or technical messages, inducing more users to open the virus attachment that causes it to spread further.

DON't open error messages with attachments





Copying Frontrunner Kerry, Dean Shakes Up Staff


Trippi is Out, Gore associate is in

Howard Dean shook up his presidential campaign on Wednesday after absorbing back-to-back defeats, replacing his campaign manager with a longtime associate of former Vice President Al Gore to try and stabilize his faltering candidacy.

"Governor Dean asked Roy Neel to join the campaign CEO and Joe Trippi resigned as campaign manager," said Dean campaign spokeswoman Tricia Enright.

Dean offered Trippi a spot on the payroll as a senior adviser, a source said, but he decided to quit the campaign rather than accept the demotion.

In the call with lawmakers, Dean expressed his determination to remain in the race, and said he hopes to finish at least second in the upcoming round of primaries and caucuses.

At the same time, several lawmakers bluntly told the former Vermont governor that he needed to demonstrate his ability to win somewhere -- and that second place wouldn't suffice. "He said he understood," said one lawmaker who was involved in the call.

"This is a great campaign to change the country," he said. "I regret anything I may have done to let down the hundreds of thousands of people who support Howard Dean. I hope they will stay with Howard Dean. This campaign can change the country."

In a sign of Dean's money woes, he staff was asked Wednesday to defer their salaries for two weeks.




Don’t count out Howard Dean


MSNBC - New Hampshire may already have narrowed the race to a two-man battle for the nomination: Kerry versus Dean. They remain the only two with the money and the organization to fight the long war for Democratic delegates. But there is one giant difference between the two campaigns. The diehard Deanies, unlike the Kerry stalwarts, must still overcome the voters’ doubts about their candidate.

They were there as Dean poured hot coffee for his freezing New Hampshire fans outside a polling center Tuesday. “Last night was fabulous,” Jo-Ellen Thornton told the former governor, referring to his fired-up town hall meeting in Exeter. “You were back to your old self. We just lost you for a couple of days.” With precious little time before the next showdown, the Deaniacs can’t afford to lose him again.



Dean hitting his stride...


Dean's Stump Speech Is Impressive Again

Dean's head appears to finally back where it should be. And by "back" I mean, of course, that he's looking forward again.



Dean Vows He Won't Scale Back Campaign


NEDRA PICKLER - "We're going to try everywhere," he told The Associated Press. "We've got a hard — we've got a strategy and a good organization to win everywhere and we're going to try to get as many delegates as we can everywhere."

Dean acknowledged disagreement on his staff about how the one-time front-runner should proceed as they approach next Tuesday's seven primaries and caucuses, with 269 Democratic National Convention delegates at stake.

Several aides want him to concentrate his attention on one or two of the seven states holding primaries and caucuses next Tuesday, New Mexico and Arizona deemed the most promising. Under this plan, Dean would make minimal effort in the other five states, and save his resources for contests in Michigan, Washington and Wisconsin later in the month.

An exit poll conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International showed Dean was very strong among New Hampshire voters who consider themselves very liberal, were opposed to the war, were angry at Bush, and who thought the most important candidate quality was standing up for what they believe in. He lagged behind Kerry among voters who most wanted a candidate who could beat Bush and a candidate who had the most experience.

One-third of voters said they do not think Dean has the temperament to be president.

While Kerry had a 3-to-1 lead among those who decided in the last week, Dean and Kerry were about even among those who decided in the last three days, suggesting Dean was able to stop his slide.



10 Things You Learn From NH


Capital Games - David Corn

1. Performance doesn't matter.
2. Screaming is bad.
3. Not hot enough is better than too hot.
4. Unions can help only so much.
5. Early results are just that.
6. In politics, it is easy to get away with plagiarism.
Unless you're Senator Joe Biden. His campaign was derailed in 1988 when it was discovered he had lifted a speech line from a British politician. But this year, the candidates readily stole rhetoric from another--with Dean being the victim of most of the theft. His rap against the special interests was lifted by Kerry, Edwards, and retired General Wesley Clark. (Senator Joseph Lieberman, though, wouldn't touch it, and Representative Dennis Kucinich had his own version.) In New Hampshire, it was hard to keep track of who said what about HMOs, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, energy firms because they all were saying the same thing. And they all assailed Washington lobbyists and proposed similar-sounding measures for reducing the influence of lobbyists. Dean tried on occasion to note that he had been the first in this campaign to crusade against special interests and that the others had jumped aboard the train once they saw the results he had achieved. But Dean did not beat that drum too loudly. This sort of argument is hard to make without sounding bitter and petty.
7. The war in Iraq still does not matter.
8. There's a Northern yearning for a Southerner.
The combined votes for Edwards and Clark nearly equaled Dean's total.
9. Don't enter a presidential race late.
10. Voters don't want boldness.


el - Voters want reassurance.



At the Dean Rally In NH


Talking Points Memo -- I don’t know how it seemed on television (you have me at a disadvantage on that one). But in person he seemed strong and commanding, hitting each of the key points he’s been working over the last week. And though the crowd seemed subdued for most of the evening, they were electrified by Dean, with shouting and cheering and foot-stomping all through his speech.

When it was over, the reporter standing next to me, turned and said: "If he would have given this speech last week, this would be a very different story."

el - Dean has been misrepresented and pounded on and pounded on for months. For what? For being right and telling the truth. If he is not elected he is probably going to come back as a Senator. No matter what happens in the election he is not going to go away.





Beating Bush is Only Goal - No 3rd Party National Vote


Winning nationally is what matters in 2004. The goal has to be beating George W. Bush and helping the Democrats retake the Senate and House of Representatives so that we can bring to an end the Republican stranglehold on the federal government and ensure some semblance of citizen involvement.

The reasons are pretty basic:

1. Truth is not Bush's strong suit.
2. The Bush administration is the most overtly, fanatically and aggressively partisan in recent memory.
3. The war in Iraq.
4. Bush's raging unilateralism.
5. The environment.
6. The economy.
7. Right-wing judges.
8. John Ashcroft and the USA PATRIOT Act.
9. Crony capitalism.
10. The First Amendment.

The best way to deal with these issues is to find a Democrat willing to take on the president and for progressives to get in the trenches and help and not to sidetrack the debate by fragmenting the opposition to Bush.

Keep in mind the history of third party movements, especially at the national level. Rarely do they poll more than a handful of votes, and when they do they tend only to play the spoiler role, handing elections to candidates with political agendas radically different than their own.

So while I remain an advocate for third parties, I've come to realize that my idealism is misplaced in a larger system that ensures they remain at the margins. The system, as currently constituted, is rigged against third-party candidates -- whether Green, Reform, Libertarian or other. Voting for the Green candidate for higher office too often means stealing a vote from the more progressive of the two major party candidates and giving the election to the more conservative one -- generally the Republican. That seems ridiculously counterproductive.

Until we make some changes in the system itself I have to make the pragmatic choice and cast a negative vote against President Bush and hope for the best. -- The Populist


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