Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Saddam May Be Tried In Secret

In Iraq a member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council Iyad Alawi has told the London-based newspaper al-Hayat that Saddam Hussein's trial might be held in secret. He was concerned about the "possibility that he will mention the names of states and the names of persons to whom he has given bribes and wealth. We don't want him to mention all that on television." Iyad Alawi continued "There are lots of existing documents, and we don't want to worsen Iraq's relations with others. Alawi also said Hussein deposited as much as $40 billion in foreign accounts under fictitious company names around the world. The New York Times though cites a unnamed US official who says the report is "completely wrong."

Flakey Albuquerque Party

I'm in New Mexico for about a week, so for the next few days, this blog is BlogforArizona(andNewMexico).

I applogize for the last post, I had taken an Ambien and stationary objects were starting to crawl around the room as a wrote it :)

Yesterday I visited Albuquerque's Dean State HQ at 2929 Coors Blvd., NW, Suite 101D. They are very visible, Coors being one the major arterials in ALBQ. They have a huge, handpainted Dean sign out on the street, which is very well done. Until you look very closely you cannot tell it was hand made. The office is around the back of the large office complex in which it resides. There is ample parking and multiple entrances. They have more room than they actually need, so they can expand when the time comes, and large lobby/reception area, that can be used for large receptions or parties.

I met Mona, who is a former AFSCME representative and retired from the city planning department, though she is still so young looking I was inclined to disbelieve it. She wants to attend law school and become a Congresswoman in Dean's second term. Heck yeah!

I also met Van, who recently came on board as Assistant Campaign Manager. Van worked on the Gore campaign last time around and is well aware of Bush/Rove's dirty tricks. We're lucky to have him. Apparently, he is from Phoenix and good friends with our own Frank Costanzo.

After I left the office I went to a New Year's house party for Dean here in Albuquerque at the home of the Flakes. Kathy Flake is the fundraising coordinator for New Mexico. She has a lovely home in the Tanoan subdivision in the Northeast part of town. There were between 35 and 40 people present, and the press was there in addition; two reporters from the ALBQ journal and a photographer. This was just one party, though likely the largest, of 17 around New Mexico last night. There were parties in all the places one would expect, 2 in Albuquerque, 3 in Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and Farmington. But there were also parties in less likely spots like Hillsboro and Radium Springs.

Just before 8 local time Tipper Gore started off the teleconference by introducing Al, who spoke for about 10 minutes, then introduced Dean. Dean's stump was fairly stardard faire, plus a strong appeal to come help in Iowa. He took four questions from the highest grossing house parties around the country. Somewhat surprising to me, the highest grossing party was in St. Paul, MN.

At the end of the call, all lines were opened for a hearty "Happy Dean Year" from all 1400 parties across the nation.

I'm off with my wife, Lauren, to Santa Fe next were we are staying at the Casa Pacifica for several days. I will probably have a few spare moments to hook up with the Sante Fe Deans. The B&B has wifi access, a key selling point for me, so I may blog as well.

--Posted from Albuquerque

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Anybody But Dean, Anti-Dean, ABD, Turd Blossom We Love You!

Official seal of the "Stop Dean" crowd.

Oh Baby Troll, do drool upon us your largess. Make for me of your pablum, snot and feces, gold for pursuit of the cause. So long as trolls lurk beneath our electronic bridges they will continue to inspire visits to the magic temple, I invite squawking inanities that inundate our lovely little comments boxes across the Deansphere. Kick the baby! Er... CLICK the baby :)

---Posted from Albuquerque, MN

Monday, December 29, 2003

Parts of Patriot Act II Signed Behind Media Smokescreen

Parts of Patriot Act II were signed behind a media smokescreen by Bush. On the same day as Saddam Hussein was captured, a Saturday, Bush signed H.R.2417, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004. This was the first time that Bush has signed on a bill on a Saturday since he signed the budget authorization last year preventing the govenment being shut down.

Little wonder he wanted the bill to be no more than a footnote in the media. § 374 of the bill changes the definition of a financial institution for the Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978 (12 U.S.C. 3414). This is an important goal of PATRIOT II, slapped into the intelligence authorization. The result is that the FBI can now use National Security Letters to demand, without a need to demonstrate any probable cause, your financial records from:

- an insured bank
- a commercial bank or trust company;
- a private banker;
- an agency or branch of a foreign bank in the United States;
- a thrift institution;
- a broker or dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission
- a broker or dealer in securities or commodities;
- an investment banker or investment company;
- a currency exchange;
- an issuer, redeemer, or cashier of travelers' checks, checks, money orders, or similar instruments;
- an operator of a credit card system;
- an insurance company;
- a dealer in precious metals, stones, or jewels;
- a pawnbroker;
- a loan or finance company;
- a travel agency;
- a licensed sender of money;
- a telegraph company;
- a business engaged in vehicle sales, including automobile, airplane, and boat sales;
- persons involved in real estate closings and settlements;
- the United States Postal Service;
- an agency of the United States Government or of a State or local government carrying out a duty or power of a business described in this paragraph;
- a state or Indian licensed casino, gambling casino, or gaming establishment with an annual gaming revenue of more than $1,000,000
- any business or agency which engages in any activity which the Secretary of the Treasury determines, by regulation, to be an activity which is similar to, related to, or a substitute for any activity in which any business described in this paragraph is authorized to engage; or
- any other business designated by the Secretary whose cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory matters.

The Letters served by the FBI include a gag order, so you never learn about the seizure of your records. The FBI no longer needs to compile reports for Congress accounting for the use of such Letters, either. In fact, there is no need for the FBI to report the use of National Security Letters to seize financial records to anyone outside of the Executive branch.

So, in summation, the FBI can invade every aspect of any American's financial life with no judicial oversight, and no disclosure to you or to Congress. If that is not a recipe for abuse, I don't know what is.

Have we learned nothing about ensuring limited and honest government by setting up checks and balances in 220 years of democracy? This law gives the Executive branch absolute, unchecked power to invade the privacy and seize the financial data and records of every American. You can be sure that the Executive will use this unchecked and secretive power wisely. Right. This isn't just wrong, it's monstrously stupid and asking for Bush and Ashcroft to extend their efforts to treat the American people as the enemies of the State.

Friday, December 26, 2003

The Trial and The End

The desire to drag the issue of how to treat and try Saddam into the muck of patriotism, support of the troops, and SH's 'evil' is overwhelming, I know. But all of that simply politicizes the issue, to no useful end.

It is absolutely shameful that the people who are supposed to be faithfully executing the laws of our nation are instead forthrightly breaking them because it is momentarily popular to do so. The Geneva Conventions are not just international laws, they are OUR laws.

Giving in to the desire for revenge and revilement of our enemy feels mighty sweet. Makes us feel righteous and powerful. I bet there would have been a lot of support for just lopping the heads of every Nazi and Jap bastard we caught after WWII. But history's judgement would have been harsh, and rightfully so.

The measure of a civilized people is not obeyance of the law when it is easy, but when it's hardest. We are failing that test, and I am disgusted by that failure, as is most of the world and a great many Americans, I am happy to report.

There are only two issues here: Saddam should not be subjected to interrogation or torture, and neither the US nor Iraq should try Saddam. Already Rumfeld has so much as said that if Saddam was abetting attacks on US forces he would be, and Military Intelligence conveniently annouced today that they find that he did. They claim is culpable for the deaths of 200 troops. It is only too clear that Saddam will be tortured or cohersively interrogated, and that he cannot get a full, fair, and open trial from either the US or the Iraqi puppet government. He has already been subjected to publicity and ridicule of the very sort which Rumsfled complained of when American soldiers were taken prisoner. Apparently, there enough standards for everyone, and so everyone gets his own.

For the sake of historical accuracy and the healing of the Iraqi people, which may only begin with the truth, Saddam must be given due process. Instead, his trial will turn into a show trial mockery of justice that will reflect poorly on America, set poor precedents for the future behavior of nations, and leave thousands of greiving Iraqis in the dark with thier grief. Justice for Saddam is not for his sake, it is for ours and theirs. Honor is a gift a man gives himself, so too with nations. Victims only heal when the world can hear their story, so too with Iraq. We musn't allow the Bush Administration to spare themselves, and us, the shame of complicity with evil.

We are throwing away our honor and the respect of the world because a hick President and his draft-dodging, pollyanna Administration think they can wring a few points out of it at the polls. I find it the very height of irony that ignorant blowhards, whose knee-jerk belligerence is taken for love of country, think that what these people are doing is some sort of patriotism; they are in fact shitting on our flag as ignorant citizens applaud their shameful performance. The only legacy this behavior will leave is surety in the minds of the world that Americans are no longer people of honor and moral vision, but rather children let loose with all the power in the world, but lacking the wisdom to wield it.

Every day I grow more ashamed of what fear has made of some of my fellow citizens. Groveling snots willing to trade their freedom and self-respect for empty promises of safety in a dangerous world. Living is a risk, no government can change that fact. People throwing away their freedoms to obtain empty reassurances would be of no concern to me, except that they cannot rid themselves of their freedom or their integrity without stripping me of mine.

So to those of you who are willing to make that trade, (and from the comments I get I know a few of you come here) those who are supporting this trainwreck of a President even in the face of incontrovertable evidence that he lied to us all, spent our fortunes like a partyboy with a trust fund, and treated the Presidency like his personal legacy, not an honor or a sacred trust, I say grow the hell up. You have been endulging in W's fantasy world for too long now. Like a child looking for limits W has swept this country from surplus into deficit, from prosperity into despair, from peace into war, from unity at the tragedy of 9/11 into bitter division. History will record him as the worst President this nation ever had the misfortune to be swindled by. The damage he's done will take a generation to erase.

If you do love this country, it's time face facts; playtime is over.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Why Does the Establishment Hate Dean?

It isn't about policy, left vs. right, third-way triangulation, or anything like that. The sustained attack of the Democratic establishment on Dean is only about money. Money, which creates institutional and personal power, and determines the balance of power in this nation.

The leaders of the DLC, including Clinton behind the scenes, want to keep control of the way the Democratic party operates the cash register. The "New Democrat" move to the right was engineered in order to compete with Republicans for corporate contributions. The DLC believes this is the only way to compete with the GOP in the long term, and they may well be right. Unfortunately for us, it also means there is little to no counter-pressure to the corporate agenda.

If Dean takes over leadership of the party in a crusade against corporate money in elections, Dean kills the goose laying the golden eggs. If Dean is unable to radically reform the campaign finance system, eliminating or at least limiting the GOP's ability to raise corporate cash, the Democrats could be put at a permanent competitive disadvantage. Given that Constitutional law at the moment equates money with political speech, their concern is not ill-placed. Not every Democratic candidate has the ability and appeal to raise money the way Dean does; without Bush in the mix, it is doubtful that even Dean could do it. So the DLC is simply defending the status quo from someone they see as a grave threat, not only to their personal power, but also to the very survival of the Democratic party.

There is nothing Dean can do to heal the breach. Adopting a set of positions or spinning his place in the political spectrum can do nothing to reassure the DLC and party establishment. Some see Dean's fundraising revolution as simply a temporary measure; something he can weasel out of later. Some believe as strongly as he does that campaign fundraising must change and have thrown in their lot with him. Some think that Dean has taken a fatal and irrovocable step by deciding to fund his campaign solely with individual contributions. They think that if Dean wins, it will lock the party into the same promises he has made. This is why he is getting such resistance in the party; no other reason. Anyone who thinks that policy or centrist vs liberal labels is at issue is incredibly naive. Only one thing matters at the highest level of either party: money. Policy is just a way to attract votes to your ticket and donors to your fundraisers. Within the ideological limits which define each party, party members are not inclined to quibble too much about policy. It's only when policy positions threaten the flow of financing that things will get acrimonious. Well, Dean's fundraising promises are seen as an irresponsible and unsustainable gamble by the party establishment. That's why the establishment equates Dean with bin Laden.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Does the Lybia WMD agreement justify Neo-Con pre-emption?

The "Bush Doctrine" recieved a big boost as to its efficacy, if not its legitimacy with the Lybian agreement to ditch their WMD programs. Or so some would have you believe.The truth is a lot more complex and almost a decade in the making. The WMD deal with Lybia is the product of a long-term trend in Lybian politics due to economic drivers and the long-term involvement of allies and international institutions building confidence over a sustained diplomatic effort.

The wildcard is, of course, Burlesconi's claim that Qadaffi told him he caved becuase he was frightened of Bush. Bullshit. Burlesconi will say anything for his buddy Bush; they are practically the same scumbag in two different skins. Burlesconi is buying a chip in the big game with his ridiculous claim about his conversation with Qaddaffi. There is simply no way in hell that a dictator would so baldly admit of such a thing to the Italian PM. The story is clearly a fabrication. Give it about 2-3 weeks and some lame excuse for how the story was gotten wrong will come out. Of course, by then the idea the Bush's "doctrine" worked to frighten Qadaffi into collaboration will be set in the public mind and the facts simply won't matter to most people. The pattern of this media-op is so common with the GOP that one could with justification claim that it is S.O.P. to lie early and loudly, and let the opposition debunk you later.

The loud assertion of the lie, which bolsters your claim or policy, will linger well enough to largely overcome any later debunking. Of course, the debunking can always be dismissed as obfucation and political maneuver by your opponents. Goebbel's advice to lie loudly, often and big works all the better in a corporatized media environment where the electorate has a very short attention span.

For Vietnam Vet Anthony Zinni, Another War on Shaky Territory

Four Star Marine General Anthony Zinni denounces the Iraq wars aims. Zinni is no peacenik; he thinks that plenty of places in the world "need their asses kicked". He no tyro; he commanded Desert Fox, the Middle Eastern theater, and was special envoy to the Middle East in 2001. He is no Democrat; he endorsed Bush in 2000. He is no suck-up; the General is coming out swinging. He says that the Bush Administration had no idea what they were getting into and lied a blue streak to get us there.

Zinni's opposition and critique must give Republicans a healthy pause in their arrongant certitude about the proper course in Iraq and the rectitude of pre-emptive war. It will separate those capable of independent thought from the absolutely unsalvagable facsist tools. Don't look for news of Zinni's opposition to be strongly promoted by the press. Expect it to lurk at low volume until a critical mass of doubt is reached, at which point Zinni's story will explode.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Supreme Court Takes Cheney Energy Task Force Case

The Supreme Court accepted cert on the Cheney Energy Task Force case. Cheney maintains that essentially he is above the law by his assertion that because of separation of powers, no court has the power to compell him. This Administration really has no shame. They claim the courts cannot enforce the law against the Executive Branch. If ever there was a precedent for anarchy, this is it.

The argument that the executive is immune from judicial process is also a shameless double standard following the 1997 finding that discovery (which certainly entails judicial orders) could proceed against a sitting President-- Bill Clinton. The case was of course Jones v. Clinton, in which depositional testimony of the President led to his impeachment based on a possible lie in a civil proceeding completely unrelated to his duties as President.

Of course, everybody knows that Bush has lied many, many times, even to Congress; yet he is not impeached because his own Party controls Congress. Now Cheney is claiming that the principle under which Clinton was compelled to testify in Paula Jones' harrassment case is unconstitutional. The gall and outright inconsistency of these people's arguments is simply stunning, isn't it?

I got a comment a few posts back on the blog entry regarding the Bush Administration's lies about how Saddam was caught. The comment in response to my observation that this constituted yet another bald-faced lie by the Administration was essentially, "Who cares?" Let a Democrat make a single misstatement, no matter how trivial or immaterial, and he is a liar who can never be trusted and doesn't deserve to hold public office. When GOPer lies blatantly about critical matters of public policy and the historical record, the response is a yawn.

Many Republican's actually seem to feel like their people's lies are justified and that those of Democrats are evil. Where does this double standard come from and how is it tolerated by otherwise ethically-minded folks? Why does the charge that their President is a slimy liar roll off their backs, but any Democrat's lie nettles them like a burr under the saddle?

Court Upholds Sentence for Bush Threat

Court upheld a 3 year sentence on bipolar man who prophesied that Bush might burn during a visit to his hometown. Upholding his tradition of persecuting the mentally impaired, Bush's Justice department has ensured that Humphreys will serve out his sentence in a hospital ward.

He was convicted of threatening to kill of harm the President under 18 USC § 871 -- which reads, in part:

"...Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States, the President-elect, the Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President of the United States, or the Vice President-elect, or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat against the President, President-elect, Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President, or Vice President-elect, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."

I have studied the behaviour of political assassins under the foremost expert in the field, Professor (now emeritus) Clark of the University of Arizona. Humphreys does not fit the profile of a Presidential assassin at all. Punishing him for an injudicious comment to a stranger over a beer looks like a politically motivated prosecution-- Humphreys committed a thought crime against our esteemed leader-- welcome to W's Amerika. Don't burn any bushes.

The Amazon Primary

Based on book sales figures, Dean is way out in front of the pack. Dean's book is ranked 770, currently; up from the 1056th position cited by the chart. Also, not reflected in this chart is the fact that Dean actually has three books out that are about him, though only one is by him. These other books are ranked 6,158 (Lisa Rogak, Howard Dean in His Own Words), and 6,264 (Ed. Dirk Van Susteren, Howard Dean: A Citizen's Guide to the Man Who Would Be President). All three books are ranked about the next closest competitor, Dennis Kucinich.

Of course on cannot forget "Howard Dean: The Dean Deck Playing Cards" which are ranked 53,024. All these fine items are available on the side bar of this site where your purchases raise money to put Dean books in local libraries.

Monday, December 22, 2003

nationalpolls.gif 764x523 pixels

An excellent compilation of national polls. It shows Dean's remarkable take-off in the summer and the collapse of other campaigns, expecially Kerry. Clark's numbers are also put in perspective as he hovers in the second tier after an impressive launch. Click on the thumbnail for the full size chart.

You'll notice that the lesson of this chart is that once dean passes you in the polls, the game is over. The other candidates' campaigns have now almost exclusively become about stopping Dean. The hyperbolistic trand of Dean's support looks rather unstoppable, though. Only actually voting and time will tell, but I would be surprised in Dean doesn't come in first in all but two or three of the earliest primaries. OK looks like Clark may take it. AZ is extremely competitive between Clark and Dean. Clark has solidified his support in AZ recently, mostly at the expense of Lieberman and Kerry. Finally, MO remains a bastion of strength for Gephardt, though it looks like he's been solidly thrashed by Dean in Iowa. WDC, IA (caucus), NH, DE, NM (caucus), and WI are solid wins for Dean. It's hard to tell what will happen when candidates start leaving the race, a lot of voters will be up for grabs to whomever can snag them. Probably by March 2nd, and certainly by March 9th the nomination will be all over but the crying. with CA, TX, NY, FL, Mass, and OH decided sufficient delegates will be tied up that the nominee will be a decided, though the details of any coalition he'll need to secure the requisite number of delegates may still be at issue.

This is where Clark's assertion that he would never take the VP slot may come back to haunt him. His statement was probably politically neccessary to let let voters know he is in it for the win not the wing position, but it may limit his ability to negotiate with his delegates at the convention is some unfortunate ways.

Operation Hero Miles - Official Website

Operation Hero Miles - Official Website

Now here is a worthy cause this holiday season. No matter what you may think about the war in Iraq, you can help bring some of them home to their families this holiday season. I'd better stop before I get mushy.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Who Really Found Saddam?

Who Really Found Saddam?

Saddam may have been captured weeks before by Kurds, drugged, and planted for America forces to find. Kurdish forces apparently may have acquired Saddam after he was betrayed by the father of woman Uday raped. The triumph of America intelligence may be yet another bare-faced lie by the Administration. Are there any diamonds this Administration can't turn to coal?

American reports have the Kurds in a minor supporting role. But intelligence source coming to light indicte that Saddam may have been held for a number of weeks by Kurdish forces while the 25 million dollar reward for his capture was negotiated.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

DLC objectively pro-Bush?

Use of negative campaigning is known to have two effects, rallying voters who are already committed around their chosen candidate who is being attacked (the source of 'Teflon'), and suppressing turnout among both partisan and independent voters leaning toward the party of the candidate attacked.

Studies by Iengar and Ansolabehere identify suppression of turn-out to be the strongest effect of negative campaign messages. This is the main reasons why "attack" ads and negative messages are effective; not because they persuade voters to switch sides, but because they disgust voters, make them apathetic about the political process, and measurably less likely to vote.

So one has to wonder, what is the DLC actually trying to do with its incessant attacks on Dean? The main effect of their actions is to discourage new voters from entering the party, and to keep some of the newly energized voters backing Dean from voting in the primaries. The DLC are certainly sophisticated enough to realize the effect their efforts will have. One can understand, even if one finds it reprehensible and counter-productive, why Dean's rivals would attempt to use negative campaigning to improve their own chances, but what is the motive of an organization which supposedly not endorse candidates, nor even attempt to influence elections, to use negative political messages against Howard Dean? Given that political professionals assuredly know that the result will be reduced Democratic turnout, it reasonable to assume that either they don't care about this effect, or it is their goal to suppress Democratic participation.

The suppression of turnout caused by negative campaign messages is efficacious through the entire election cycle, not just the Primaries. People who decide not to participate in the Primaries are very likely not to participate in the General election, either. So why, given that the GOP already has, and doubtless will continue to use negative campaigning to suppress Democratic turnout, would the DLC endanger the Democratic Party's General election chances by further suppressing turnout?

Could the true aim of the DLC's attacks on Dean not primarily be to affect the primary results, but to increase the likelihood that the Democratic nominee, no matter who it is, will lose to Bush in 2004? It serves the Clinton's purposes to engineer a General election loss for the Dems in 2004. Other have pointed out that a loss in 2004 perpetuates Bill Clinton's de facto control of the Party for another 4 years. It also allows Hillary Clinton to benefit from that control to become the presumptive nominee for 2008, facing a non-incumbent GOP nominee who will likely have to endure a bruising primary campaign.

If a Democratic loss in 2004 is the likely effect of the DLC's actions, it is fair to impute that this is their purpose, or at least that they don't care if the Democratic nominee loses in 2004. What does it say about the DLC that they seem to be working against their own Party's interest? Can the DLC any longer be trusted to put the Democratic party's, and Democratic voter's, interests first? In fact, doesn't their behavior make the DLC objectively pro-Bush?

If you don't like what the DLC is doing, and you want the Democratic nominee to win in 2004, take action against the DLC. Turn off the DLC's taps and starve the organization of any resources: no donations to the New Democrat Network. Democrats should also express their displeasure with the DLC's actions by repudiating the DLC and resigning if a member. Seek resolutions denouncing the DLC's inappropriate electioneering at the local, county, and state party levels. Write to your elected officials who are members of the DLC demanding that they pressure the DLC leadership to stay out of the Democratic primary and cease acting to suppress Democratic turnout, and suggest they resign. A complete membership list of elected officials is available at New Democrats Online.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Democrat Attack Ads Coming Down

An attack ad produced aired by a shadowy 527 run by recently resigned Kerry and Gephardt staffers, which questioned Dean's ability to keep this country safe and associated Dean's face with bin Laden's, has been taken off the air. It was pulled in response to heavy criticism by the unions and other donors who unwittingly paid for the spot's production and air time.

Pretty sad when the constituents have a better sense of propriety than some the candidates.

I think that what is doing right now is the wave of the future in political advertising. They requested their members to create 30 second ads, collected them and put them on line and now members are voting on their favorites. They expected 200-300 hundred; they got over 1000. When members get it winnowed down to the very best ads, celebrity judges will pick the final candidates and they will raise the money to put the ads on the air. If you would like to put in your two cents about how Progessives should critique Bush, go to

Maybe some day candidates will do the same thing, allowing supporters to create ads for them and choose the best ones to air. Now that's a grassroots capaign. Do you think Dean should try this approach? His ads have been very pedestrian so far.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

CBS News | 9/11 Chair: Attack Was Preventable | December 18, 2003 01:15:08

CBS News | 9/11 Chair: Attack Was Preventable | December 18, 2003 01:15:08

The Irresistable force of the Bush Administration's perfidity has just hit the immovable object of America's Holocaust. Bush can dance his dance and try to assault the objectivity of the commission, but give that the chair is his own appointment and a Republican, he'll have a hard time discrediting them. This is the beginning of the end for Bush.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Dean to get creamed on tax issue?

To get over the hump when raising taxes the only way to do it is to make any other option seem like freshly brewed evil. Dean needs to characterize the Bush tax cuts in even starker terms. He has used 'borrow and spend' and clearly demostrated the the middle class didn't get a tax cut, they got a 'tax shift' (a Sharpton bon mot) as revenue shortfalls hit state and local governments, forcing them to raise taxes and/or cut services. Finally, he has clearly laid out the benefits expected from a tax roll-back and called for a return to the 'Clinton tax code'. None of this really puts a nails Bush's irresponsible tax policy to the wall.

People don't actually respond all that well to the idea that wealthy people get the most out of the tax cut. It's true, but it's just not a big seller; Americans all think they are wealthy for some damn reason. 1/3 of people think they are in the top 5% of income; which means that 25% are seriously deluded. What I like is the 'birth tax'; the 26K that every child now born owes right out of the gate to pay for W's deficits.

That doesn't go far enough though. I think you need to make people feel a little sleazy by insisting that they are stealing from their own children because they want to have their cake and eat it to. This has to be done by proxies; you can't have a candidate calling people baby muggers. The more you hammer the theme of responsiblity to our children and that Bush's tax cuts are allowing us to pick our children's pockets, the more people will be repelled by the whole idea of W's cuts. Getting rid of them is then 'protecting our children' and not 'raising taxes'.

We gotta get mean and rhetorically nasty to make tax increases a viable electoral strategy. There has to be a lot of tough love, and the electorate isn't going to much care for the person delivering the news that they are shaking their own kids down for cash. We also have to get a good deal more perjorative on Bush's tax policy. It should NEVER be called a tax cut. Always call it something like tax shift, tax bribe, tax swindle, Federalized ponzi scheme, raiding your savings account to give you a loan, mugging your children to give you a bribe, or, my personal favorite, the "Bush thinks you're stupid" tax code.

What brutal rhetorical devices would you use to discredit the Bush tax swindle?

Monday, December 15, 2003

Dems lose hot campaign issue?

The more I absorb the coverage of the caputure of Saddam, the more I'm convinced that the real story that spins out of this among real people is: Great! Now where's bin Laden?

Almost without fail people with an ounce of sense have the very same reaction: It's good that Saddam has been caught. Let's make him pay for his crimes against Iraq (note that NOBODY demands he pay for crimes against America), and let's get on with finding bin Laden and destroying al Qaida.

Most also hope that violence in Iraq will now abate; they are going to be disappointed in this wish, I fear. Note that people DO NOT say THEY feel safer with Saddam in custody, only that they hope the troops stop dying. If it were not well concealed that the U.S. has taken thousands of casualties in Iraq so far as well, people would also surely express a hope that the soldiers stop being maimed and injured as well.

In a very real way, this removes a useful distraction for Bush. As long as we occupy Iraq and Saddam was free, there was an unhealthy preoccupation with the WRONG villian. Now that there is no longer a scapegoat hiding in the desert, Bush has to deal with the real issue: al Qaida and bin Laden.

Unfortunately for him, the Democrats' questions about his ties to Saudi Arabia and the bin Ladens are going to get more frequent, and more pointed, now that bin Laden will re-emerge as public enemy #1. The investigation into 9/11 will also be pulled out of the Administration's coal bin and dusted off now that the 9/11 commission is set to release it's wholly inadequate report. Bush will be facing charges of obstructing the investigation, underfunding the commission, and slow-walking the investigation in general. When combined with the recrudescence of bin Laden, these issues and anger of the 9/11 families are going to be a much larger political liability than they have been over the last 2 years.

No, the GOP has nothing to celebrate in the capture of Saddam. If they were really smart, they would have dropped him back down a very deep hole rather than pulled him out and put him on camera.

The Dems, if they play it right, and it looks like some of them will (Liarman and Swearry excepted), the capture gives them a change to demostrate clearly that Saddam is not the issue. As long as the removal of Saddam and the hunt for Saddam antimated the occupation, the issues were obscured. With Saddam gone, his evil no longer serves as an easy justification for continued occupation or facile rationale for it. "We got Saddam," will serve as justification for carte blanc for about a week and then people will take the acheivment for granted. Now Bush will have to deal with the reason we continue in Iraq in a much more policy and real-politik driven fashion. If he draws down forces with violence continuing, he looks weak. If he steps up the reprisals or goes with an Israeli type strategy of selective assassination and ever-tighter control as is rumoured, Iraq will explode.

No, I don't envy Bush when he finishes with whatever ceremonial theater Rove contrives for the capture of Saddam. The long term liabilities far outweigh the benefits gained.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Saddam pried out of his hole

Army tells of pulling Saddam from hole. 15/12/2003. ABC News Online

The news of the day, and likely for months to come, is the capture of Saddam Hussein. Personally, I thought he would be in Belorus, or some other haven, not in his hometown in a hole. You can be sure though that the Bush administration will try to get as much political mileage out of this as possible.

Saddam's capture is great news for the Administration and good news for the great majority of Iraqi people. It is also great news for the Democratic candidates, believe it or not. The issue which redeems all the Rah Rah jingo-bull the GOP will try to surround this event with is how, when, where, and under what conditions will Saddam be tried?

The strongest push will be to try Saddam in Iraq. The problem with this is that Iraq does not have a sovereign government to try him. The provisional authority is completely the creature of the US and thus will not be a suitable forum in the eyes of many. I have little doubt that the Administration will get its way in this, however. It will reduce the legitimacy of a trial in the eyes of the world and especially in the eyes of Ba'athists.

The second major issue will be the death penalty. If Saddam were tried by the ICC in Den Hague, death would be off the table. The GOP won't stand for that. Their solution will be some hastily cobbled together tribunal under the Iraqi P.A. which allows the death penality. This will not win points with the world community, but likely will with most Iraqis and American's.

Finally, and most important, how open will the trial be and will Saddam get to mount his own defense? Saddam has a lot of damaging dirt on current Administration officials' complicity in, and acceptance of, his crimes. These revelations before a U.S. audience could be very damaging to the Administration. They will try to close the proceedings, or at least that part including Saddam's defense.

This is where the Democrats come in. They need to insist on a fair and open public trial. He can be tried in Iraq, but the ICC should do the trial to ensure fairness, or he should not be tried until Iraq is given back its soveriegnty. The capture of Saddam could ironically become a powerful anodyne for the return of Iraq to self-rule. They must insist on full and open press access to the trial, especially for a complete withdrawl of all sensorship of the Iraqi press, and not allow national security to be used to throw a blanket over any portion of the proceedings. They should ridicule the idea strongly that a deposed dictator pulled out of a hole poses any risk to our national security, especially given that his regime has been "destroyed" by America.

Saddam's capture is an opportunity for the Dems to show some spine and leadership on international affairs, if they roll over and allow the Administration everything they are going to demand, they will look weak and pussilanimous. If they stand on principle from the very begining, American's natural curiousity and attitude of entitlement to information will work in their favor to make sure that Saddam's capture benefits the Iraqis (as a truth commission, of sorts), nettles the Administration, and plays well for the Dems. If they are not carefull, this could become a year-long morality play / penny dreadful propelling Bush into another term.

Finally, they need to constantly reiterate the fact that good intellegence, a lead from a relative in the case, led to Saddam's capture, and that the Administration's hard-ball tactics in Iraq make such cooperation increasing unlikely. Without such intelligence and cooperation, stopping the insurgents or liberation fighters who are killing our troops, is very nearly impossible.

The Gore Endorsement

Some commentators have suggested the the Gore endorsement represents a raproachment between Dean and the DLC, as Gore is a founding member of that group. I beg to differ. Dean did not seek Gore's endorsement, Gore gave it spontaneously when he saw the power of Dean's drive to the White House. No, Dean is no being pulled into the DLC's dinghy, Gore has jumped ship.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Beyond the Red and Blue

10 region electoral map

This is an interesting tool for thinking about electoral demographics: a 10 region delineation of the US by reliable demographic an electoral features. This model is a much better way to think about the political landscape of the US. The accompanying article presents a fairly compelling picture of what each party needs to concentrate on in order to capture the Presidency and make strides in taking or holding Congress.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003


Today, I don't have a theme- just some thoughts.

Dean recieved an endorsement which will prove even more important that Gore's in the NH race: the NH NEA. The powerful teacher's Association sets a precedent for other states' Associations to follow with endorsements for Dean.


The Bush Administration lives in fear of Dean. You can tell by the tone of their attacks. They are not attacking him on policy so much as they are attacking his electability.

"'The best thing Bush has going for him is that Dean is a weak Michael Dukakis,' a key Bush official told the Daily News. 'Dukakis won 10 states. Unless things turn very bad for Bush, I don't see Dean winning more than five.'"

Now, I see this sort of statement as an attempt to frighten Dems away from nominating Dean. If the Bush Administration was convinced they would beat Dean mercilessly, why wouldn't they encourage his nomination?

Were I Rove, and I really wanted to face Dean, I would be saying that I was afraid of his candidacy and had great respect for his ability to compete in the General Election to encourage his nomination. The fact that they ridicule his candidacy and say how easy they think he will be to beat only establishes that they are shitting their pants over the prospect of facing him in November.

Of course, the idea that Dean will only carry 5 states is ludicrous. Dean will carry every state Gore carried and likely several more. The anecdotal evidence and polling figures show independents and Republicans pulling away from Bush in large numbers is overwhelming. Indpendents dislike Bush as much or more than Democrats, and many Moderate and classically Conservative Republicans are disgusted by what Bush has done while in office. Between the likely higher turnout among Dems, the disproportionate swing to the the Democrats among Independents, and cross-over votes from fed-up Republicans, the likely outcome of a Dean candidacy is to pickup a few additional battleground states which Bush won narrowly in 2000 and shoring up support in those Gore won narrowly. Add to this the fallout from the steel tarriff debacle in steel producing states and one or two more major states fall into the Democratic column.

What I am seeing is an increasingly desperate GOP which realizes privately they are in terrible trouble. They need to stop Dean from capturing the nomination every bit as badly as the other Democratic candidates. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if the Republicans were supporting the campaigns of some of the other Dems unbeknownced to them.


The Supreme Court's ruling on McCain-Feingold may well leave the GOP scambling for means to distribute the funds it needs to compete. Dems have a distinct advantage in 527 charitable organizations. This could tend to level the playing field somewhat. Expect the GOP to be scrambling to organize 527s for lobbying purposes in great numbers over the coming year.


The war in Afghanistan is heating back up with Operation Avalanche. 2,000 soldiers are being deployed into lawless areas of the country in order to try to reassert control over Taliban held areas. The wave of Taliban attacks against aid workers, U.S. soldiers and Afghan government officials has belied American claims that it is winning the war to stabilize the country. Two years after the fall of the Taliban, some 11,700 soldiers - mainly Americas - remain in Afghanistan on combat missions against the Taliban and their allies, remnants of al-Qaida, and followers of renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

But Saturday's airstrike - which targeted local Taliban militants but killed children playing in a village in Ghazni province - highlighted the risk that a heavy U.S. military hand may only alienate Afghan civilians. So far, bombing raids on suspected resistance targets have resulted in the deaths of 15 innocent children. The U.S. response? The children are being used as human shields. Too bad, but not our problem.


President Bush's brother Neil has entered into a consulting contract with a Chinee chipmaker for 400K per year. This, at a time that the president has promised to crack down on Chinese trade abuses. Now, I can't say what actual expertise Neil has in making computer chips, but it simply looks like an attempt to buy influence with the Bush family - big surprise, eh? I suppose the lesson that Bush family can teach us is that the more often, and the more blatant your corruption, the less likely people are to notice it or make a big deal of it; it's only to be expected.


The GOP refused to exentend unemployment benefits, again. This will mean a cold and cruel Christmas for thousands of families.

House Republican Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said extending the benefits was unjustified when unemployment is going down in the country. ``It's a question of whether we continue to be in an extraordinary unemployment environment, and we are not,'' Blunt said.

What?!? What the hell does aggregate unemployment have to do with the suffering and ruin of families affected by long-term employment? Nothing. That excuse is nothing more than a thinly veiled "fuck you" to every out-of-work person in the country.

In fact, unemployment did decline from 6.1% to 5.9%. Of course, that doesn't account for those who have been looking too long and given up, dropping out of the labor market, thus no longer being counted in the statistic. This is clear evidence of the irresponsible, coldhearted philosophy of the GOP. The GOP is perfectly willing to spend 373 Billion on their omnibus spending package to line the pockets of their contributors, but refuse a few million to prevent the suffering of families thrown out of work by thier disastrous policies. These misplaced priorities demonstrate how far from basic human decency and concern for the American people the GOP has moved.

This Congressional GOP deserves to lined up against the wall and fired - with no unemployment benefits and no prospects for a new job.


The Bush Adminstration recently announced that Iraqi reconstruction contracts would only be awarded to countries who originally supported the war. Specifically, that leaves out Germany, France, China and Russia, all of whom are incensed by the move. Of course, in its wisdom, the Administration is also currently engaged, though the good offices of GOP fixer James Baker, in negotiating forgiveness or refinancing of funds owed by Iraq to these very same nations. Think that the Europeans won't mind being denied the benefits, while being asked to make the sacrifices? Don't count on it. They are already studying the legality of this rule under international trade law and will surely take us to task if they possibly can.

Monday, December 08, 2003

That's All folks

Gore Endorses Dean

Turn out the lights, the party's over... The most important endorsement yet falls to Dean. Al Gore has decided to back Dean's bid.

This will essentially end Lieberman's campaign and draw a great deal of mainstream Democratic support to Dean's campaign. The only endorsements more important than Gore's are those of the Clinton's. Hillary yesterday declined to attack Dean on any issues and claimed that she will back whomever becomes the Candidate, inching her closely to a concilliation with the fact that she will not be President until 2012, at least. Although, I must say that the seemingly impossible looks increasingly likely - a Dean/Clinton ticket in 2004. If the reproachment between the Dean movement and the DLC continues, I would not be surprised by Hillary coming on the ticket in exchange for Bill's support.

Bill himself remains enigmatic. He surely does not want to lose de facto control of the party, but he is becoming more and more hemmed in by events and his relegation to a secondary role is likely inevitable. There have been suggestions that Bill could take a key role in the Dean White House. It would be a balancing act, but Dean has already promised to send Bill to the Middle East to negotiate a peace. Such a role implies an appointment as Secretary of State. Building a core team of advisors and likely cabinet officers will probably not happen until a Vice-Presidential candidate is chosen, but I'm guessing the Bill will be an early member of the team. Bill as SecState, Hillary as VP, and Gore as SecInt would load Dean's Administration with key DLC members who enjoy a great deal of support, while keeping the truly key policy positions open for Dean's own people.

Once Dean is in a position to encapsulate the Clinton Administration and the Gore Adminstration that might have been, and the pary is aligned behind him, they will all have to start working to undo the damage to Dean's image they did in trying fruitlessly to stop him.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

G.I. Joke

Shrub Action Figure, as it should be done:

John F*** Kerry

In what Presidential historians are calling a first, Kerry broke out the potty mouth to shore up his floundering bid with young readers of Rolling Stone. Or with those who are even semi-conscious, if this story finds legs.

Here is the relevant passage:

Did you feel you were blindsided by Dean's success?

Well, not blindsided. I mean, when I voted for the war, I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, 'I'm against everything'? Sure. Did I expect George Bush to fuck it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did."

In case you missed it, that is Sen. John F. Kerry (no more wondering what the F. stands for) getting earthy with the all-purpose American word. Fuck. Fuckin'-A Mr. Senator, did you just say "fuck" in response to a question about Howard Dean?

There are rumours that following a debate earlier in the season Kerry was heard to chant under his breath, "Dean, Dean, Dean..." over and over. Many thought Dean might be getting under Kerry's skin a bit. Apparently, he certainly the fuck is.

Gephardt was considered somewhat daring and fire-eating for calling Bush a "miserable failure," but how much more cred do you get for calling him a fuck-up?

You can count on there being a question about this at the NH debate on 9th. The question will likely be something like this:

"Senator Kerry, in a recent Rolling Stone interview you used some very strong language about President Bush's record in Iraq. I appologize the audience in advance. You said that you didn't expect Bush to F*** up as badly as he did in Iraq. Would you care to repeat that criticism, or did you regret the use of such strong language about the President?"

It won't be edifying, but it will be entertaining to see how he deals with it, and what mileage, if any, the other candidates try to squeeze out of it. Personally, I hope he repeats his little rant verbatim on live TV; it certainly couldn't do his campaign much harm, and who knows, maybe America is ready for a new fucking President?

Saturday, December 06, 2003

The End of the Presidential Primary?

The National Conventions were made irrelevant as decision-making institutions by the Direct Primary. Does the Dean campaign's apparent capture of the nomination herald the marginalization of the Direct Primary in its turn by the internet and predictive polling? Not a single legal vote has been cast to select the Democratic Presidential nominee, but almost two months in advance of the first contest, Dean is already acknowledged by most, including the great majority of Democratic insiders, to be the presumptive nominee. Why? Money. Polling. Grassroots organization. Key endorsements. Dean has these resources at his command to a much greater extent than any other candidate, and most recognize that there is now little chance of stopping him from capturing the nomination. Most will give you the same answer when asked how he did it: the internet. But that's only part of the story.

Dean combines a very appealing and galvanizing message with an openness to the bumptious energy of the grassroots community of activists who were just waiting for a call to action and to whom the net is part of daily life. Before Dean even formed an exploratory committee,, among other net based activist organizations, were tapping the energy, disaffection and money of this constituency. It's not surprising, nor is it coincidence, that the only "primary" yet held was that of, which Dean won handily. The commonality between MoveOn's and Dean's appeal is the key to their success among this constituency: antipathy for Bush.

In politics, they say competition breeds participation. What many feel to be Bush's unprecedented misuses of power, irresponsible legislation and retrograde regulatory agenda have stirred Democrats, many independents, and even some Republicans, into early and urgent political action. Feeling the gains of the last 70 years slipping away, the old New Deal coalition demographics, and the growing urban professional class have been stung into a swarm of political activity far earlier than is normal for a Presidential primary.

Looking for an outlet for their concern and urgency, they have invested heavily and early, both in time and dollars, in those organizations, causes, and people who seemed most willing to take the fight to the source of their concern. Overshadowing all is a desire to forestall the possibility of four more years of Bush. Is it then any wonder that all this energy has gone overwhelmingly into the Dean campaign? This early pool of support, when combined with the nearly free transmission of message, strategic direction, and resources the internet provides, allowed Dean to perform political feats never before possible. Dean has consistently been able to draw crowds where no one thought there were any, raise money where no one had bothered to look, and convert voters early and permanently all across the country with a powerful message of change. Dean's campaign has grown so swiftly, so resolutely, and so early, by tapping into voters' already roaring appetite for change which Dean was the first to recognize.

The internet was a key ingredient. The grease on the electoral wheels. But the technology that really enables the most inexpensive transmission of a political message, and which is responsible for most of Dean's success, is simple email. Used by every campaign for a decade or more, email is the true workhorse of any internet political campaign, hence the great importance affixed to the size of a candidate's email database. There is nothing extraordinary about Dean's internet strategy; what is extraordinary is the message itself and the eagerness of voters to receive it. The message is what is building Dean's hyperbolistic momentum. The internet carries it, polling sustains it, traditional media buys broaden it. These three elements combine to create a virtuous cycle for Dean that no other candidate has been able to stem or emulate. Even though attacks rain down on Dean from every conceivable political angle, Dean cruises on. Even though on many key issues the other candidates have grown to sound remarkably more like Howard Dean than they did 6 months ago, Dean continues to forge ahead as the others lag behind or peter out. Even though all of the candidates have web sites, some even more professional and innovative than Dean's, Dean's coffers are filled by internet contributions, while other candidates survive on scraps. Even though other candidates had early advantages of party support, name recognition, contacts, or presumptive nomination that translated into substantial leads in the polls and fundraising when Dean was just an asterisk, everywhere Dean went, votes flowed to him. Even in states he never visited his numbers surged, and kept surging.

The lesson is that the Dean phenomenon is not easily reproduced. It cannot, and should not, be expected that successful nomination races of the future will, or even can, follow the course Dean has plotted. It cannot be expected that the combination of internet presence, early polling, grassroots enthusiasm and an appealing message to core Democratic constituencies will remake the Direct Primary process into a largely pro forma exercise that it looks to be this cycle. Indeed, many politicians are looking to reproduce the Dean Factor. But although the amazingly early de facto selection of the Democratic Presidential nominee is enabled by reproducible factors, it is actually caused only by the existence of what a very large number of voters consider to be an extraordinarily bad President, who lacks legitimacy and governs unapologetically from the extreme right, having run on a platform of moderation.

Without Bush, there could be no Dean Factor. Dean does not herald a sea change in American politics, a break-through in electoral techniques, nor a genius strategy which can be adopted by a perspicacious candidate to make the internet rain money and the grassroots leap to their commands; Dean is breaking all the rules only because Bush is in office-- breaking all the rules.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Is There a Draft in Here?

I just recieved my second stage Selective Service System Board Member application today. The Bush Adminstration isn't quietly rebuilding the Selective Service System for no reason. Bush intends to draft if elected. The current troop level in Iraq has the armed forces stretched plenty thin, and our reserves are being hammered with extended tours of duty. If there is a international crisis requiring a commitment of troops, we simply wouldn't have the troops to respond.

If Bush wins re-election he WILL draft to up our overall troop strength and rebuild our reserves while committing even more citizens to die in Iraq. Apply to staff the Boards, the only insurance we have have to ensure that the right people are on the draft boards should the unimaginable happen and Bush be re-elected.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Math Lesson

I get really tired of hearing from Democrats, who really ought to know better, that Dean wants to raise taxes on the middle class by repealing all of Bush's tax grift.

Here is the real deal:

Bush has raised the tax burden on Americans by a good deal more than 1 TRILLION dollars.

Once you have bought the candy and eaten the candy, any dimestore clerk can tell you that you must also PAY FOR the candy. Well, we've gobbled up over a trillion in goodies that somebody will have to pay for. That someone is you.

Bush has ensured that the massive debt he is pilling up will be paid back disproportionately by working people, by giving massive tax cuts to the hyper-rich, many of which don't kick in for years, or sunset and then resurrect years down the road (when the debt is being paid down). Ergo, more of the burden will fall on people like us. Ergo, we will be paying for more than our share for this fiscal orgy in which the GOP is engaged when the bill finally comes due.

Not only have revenue sources been "enhanced" elsewhere in the govermental system to make up for the shortfall (higher state, sales, and property taxes, lower benefits, higher fees and tuitions), the stimulative effects that tax cuts would normally have are dampened because there were no cuts in government spending to offset them. The result is ever-mounting debt which bogs down growth.

There is, of course, some growth, last quarter proved that, but absent jobs and with consumer spending outsripping consumer income, any growth is just a house of IOU's.

Who gets to pay the debt? Disproportionately, the working people of America have that dubious honor. The longer it takes, the more we will pay in interest to fatten the proverbial cats to ever more hyperbolistic levels of corpulence.

So, is it best to repeal all the Bush cuts, or only those benefitting the hyper-rich? If we repeal only the hand-outs to the hyper-rich, we will labor longer under a mountain of Bush-debt, paying more interest all the time. Who owns that debt? The hyper-rich. Either way, they win.

That debt must be retired and the debt paid down so that America can once again stand on a firm fiscal base, foster sustained economic growth, and pay for social justice. All the other candidates wish to keep Bush's cuts for the Middle Class. It is short term political pandering at the expense of fiscal responsibility. They will prolong the pain of a sluggish economy that isn't producing jobs, foster skewed investment markets, and pour ever more money into the pockets of America's creditors.

We let the bull loose in the White House china closet. Bush has done the damage and there is nothing we can do to un-spend the money he's squandered. We have to bite the bullet and clean up after the drunken frat-party that was the W Mis-Administration. It's our government, we have to take responsibility for it, even if the current Resident won't.

It's time to put responsible adults in charge of the country again. Dean is the only Candidate who sounds like one.

The US Terrorism Plot That the Media is Ignoring

The Memory Hole > The US Terrorism Plot That the Media Ignores

If you want proof that terrorism is not taken seriously in this country unless it rides in to town in a jhelaba and waiving a copy of the Quran, just consider the latest in homebrewed Texas-style terror.

As we speak. a terrorist network is unraveling involving potentially hundreds of subpoenas and arrests across the nation and there is nary a peep on the networks about it. Could it be because these terrorists are motivated to destroy their fellow Americans by the very same racist and sectarian religious sentiments that pervade the White House? Could it be that revelation of the very serious danger of domestic terror from right wing, Christian fundamentalist crackpots might take American's eyes off the ball that the Administration so badly needs us focused on at the moment - Muslim fundametalist crackpot terrorists?

I can't think of any other reason why the Administration would not be hootin' it up over foiling a large and well-developed terrorist plot in the homeland.

The Hollywood Primary

Though California's primary puts residents far enough along the process that they won't have much effect on the nomination, certain CA residents hold an unusual amount of clout in the Democratic primary: Celebs.

Howard Dean has done great box office with Robin Williams, Helen Hunt, Rene Russo, Glenn Close, Susan Sarandon, Paul Newman, and, of course, Rob Reiner and Martin Sheen.

Madonna, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Norman Lear, Hard Rock Casino owner Peter Morton, Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen are among those available to do lunch with Wesley Clark.

Edwards received the maximum individual donation, and possibly a three film deal, from Jeffrey Katzenberg. But Katzenberg's DreamWorks partners, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, have yet to open their checkbooks. Lieberman has gotten to yes only with Jerry Stiller.

Dick Gephardt has got digits for Chevy Chase, Morgan Fairchild, and "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin. Tony Bennett will be doing a NY fundraiser for the Gep' on Dec. 11th.

Kucinich is getting a lot of his calls returned from the entertainment industry. Ani DiFranco, Willie Nelson, Pete Seeger, and Michelle Shocked, among others in the music industry are lining up for a duet with the Gandhi of Ohio. Among entertainment artistes, Yogi Kuchy numbers Edward Asner, Ed Begley, Jr., Linda Blair, Peter Coyote, James Cromwell, Hector Elizondo, Danny Glover, Elliott Gould, Joaquin Phoenix, Eric Roberts, and Roy Scheider as members of his Grandfalloon.

What does it all mean? Not that much. Just that there are a lot of rich, famous people, who are fortunately able to put the general welfare and a degree of idealism ahead of their financial self-interest. If they couldn't, they would all be voting for Bush.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

In the chutzpah war, Dean has Bush's draft number

Takes One To Know One - In the chutzpah war, Dean has Bush's draft number. By William Saletan

Saletan comes to no real conclusion in this article, but if read correctly, the message is clearly that Dean is on the right track. When under fire over your military credentials, the best tactic is a frontal assault as brassy as your danglies will allow. Dean swings serious weight. Into the Bush fusillade of "attacking the President for attacking terrorists" and crossfire from Kerry proxy Cleland, charging Dean with "weaseling out" of service for accepting a 1Y deferment, Dean doesn't back down or concede, or even really acknowlege the attack. He steps up his own attack, goes over the wall, and carries the fight to Bush's greatest weaknesses- Iraq, terror, bin Laden, and North Korea.

Dean charges Bush with having no understanding of defense, betrayal of the armed forces, squeezing the morale out of the troops, failing to defend the country, calling the Iraq play out of self-interest and convenience, failing to stand up the Saudis, allowing North Korea to become a nuclear power, and ignoring his only qualified advisor - Colin Powell.

Wow. Right on! That's the way you win hearts and minds and get people to listen. Attack. Attack with conviction. Never say Uncle. Ignore the opponents attacks as irrelevant and beneath contempt. Wade in with both fists pumping and don't stop until one of you is finished.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are watching the begining a of Democratic victory in November! No other Democrat has the sheer guts to rip Bush a new one like this. Nothing short of this bare-knuckles brawl to the bitter end will drag Bush out of White House and kick his ass back to Crawford where it belongs.

Dean understands, as no other current Presidential Candidate understands, that agreeing with Bush, conceding to Bush on any point, especially National Defense, is deadly to Democratic chances in '04. Simple as that. Bush must be discredited and destroyed in the eyes of the majority of voters to beat him.

This country is cut in 3rds. 1/3 loves Bush and won't budge. 1/3 hates Bush and will vote for anyone but him. 1/3rd like Bush and think he's a pretty effective leader who tries to do the right thing, but don't agree with him on policy. That third has to never, ever even consider voting for Bush in November. How to do that? Make them see that not only is Bush misguided, he's incompetent, he's mendacious, and his policies are harmful to America.

Dean can do that, the others can't; they're too compromised right out of the gate by their votes on Iraq. Only three candidates remain untainted besides Dean- Kucinich, Braun, and Sharpton- and they can't win; not enough money, too liberal, too black, too female. Clark also did not vote for war, but he supported it completely. His attempts to distance himself from that endorsement of the war have been inept and unconvincing. Few buy his bullshit for minute; those who support him simply don't care. How can a General lose to a AWOL influence pedlar, they calculate? He can't lose, therefore I will support him. Maybe he wouldn't lose. But he'll never get the chance to prove it, he can't win the primary. The progressive left knows Clark is full of shit and they'll never vote for the man. Party loyalists know he's damn near a Republican, they'll never vote for him. Primary candidates do not get votes to suit a party strategy, they get votes because people like him, regardless of his supposed electoral chances in the primary. Between those two Democratic constituencies who don't like him, Clark is dead in the primary. He can't win. He should have accepted an early offer from Dean and saved himself alot of trouble. It's the last peace offering the DLC and Clinton's adherants will recieve, everything else from here on they'll have to earn.

Only Dean can carry the standard for the Dems on Iraq. He's not compromised to the left, he's never endorsed this war. He's not compromised to the party establishment; as much as they hate him for disturbing thier plans, Dean doesn't need them in the primary and they will reconcile themselves in the general or face another 4 years, minimum, of exile from power.

Iraq was piss-poor policy, founded on lies and manipulation of intellegence. There may never have been a more cunning and brash malfeasance by a modern Presidential Administration. Leiberman, Edwards, Kerry, and Gephardt would try not make it an issue in the General election. And be destroyed. They would allow Bush to shape the message and take the initiative on National Security, and lose the votes of enough of that middle 3rd to lose the election.

It's pure idiocy to avoid the issue. Iraq is the center peice, the crown jewel, of Bush's foreign policy; it is the "central theater" in the war on terror. The fight must occur here, on the "enemy's" own ground, or Dems WILL lose the election. Anyone tells you otherwise, they're fools, or agents for the other side. Once again, alone among the Dems - Dean demonstrates that he gets it. "It" being the White House.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Grassroots Bush?!?

Election Is Now for Bush Campaign

WaPo outlines some features of the Bush re-election campaign. A key figure, topping their story, is that Bush has a database of 6 million emails, 10 times the size of Dean's.

I think this is, at best, a mischaracterization, or simply a lie. If the Bush Administration did NOT have voter lists, including email, of millions of likely voters, I would be amazed. But that is not the same thing as a cleaned and ongoing contact list of self-registered supporters and donors, which is what Dean has. Even the most marginal spammer has lists of millions of valid email addresses, many of which are even accredited leads, but that doesn't mean they are going to win the Presidency on the strength of their power to spam.

I contend it is, in fact, impossible for the Bush campaign to have a database of 6 million supporters equivalent the quality and value of Dean's 600K. In order for Bush to collect those names from voluntary supporters by self-registration, at least substantial portion would have to come via Bush's web site. Some might come from telemarketing or direct mail, but those methods are substantially more expensive, and thus much less likely to be used to generate a supporter list. Establishing a web prescence and then steering supporters to register there has an incremental cost very near to zero, while telemarketing and direct mail has declining per unit cost that never comes near to zero. Thus anyone with any brains, and I credit Bush's campaign advisors with some of those, will use the former method whenever possible in preference to the latter methods.

So, all factors being roughly equal, one would expect that if Bush had collected a list of equivalent quality to Dean's, but 10 times the size, his site would have ten times the traffic. Even if one concedes that Republicans behave radically different than Democrats, registering much more often, while visiting much less often, one might generously determine that Bush's site operates with 10 times the efficiency of Dean's. In which case, the sites of the Dean and Bush campaigns might have equivalent traffic.

They don't. Not hardly. A head-to-head comparison between the sites shows that Dean's site far outstrips Bush's at every point on the graph. Those 6 million names were not collected by as voluntary registrants, they were mostly purchased wholesale from a vendor. Any spammer will tell you that one tenth of one percent is a good return on even a clean list of proven leads. Being generous and assuming an amazing 10% conversion rate to Bush solicitations to register and/or donate, Bush still only equals Dean's reach.

Even if Bush has what proves to be 600K solid supporter's email, their fundraising power is unproven. Those who are likely to donate and have the money are likely already at their limits. Those who haven't benefited from Bush's economy and are voting against their interests are probably going to free ride on the famous Bush large donors. If the little guy isn't pissed off by getting screwed, why would he dig down to donate?

Mass email lists are likely to be much less effective a fundraising tool for Bush. The "grassroots", aka astroturf, efforts of Bush are much touted by the GOP as their secret weapon, but I think it is likely that at least some of their efforts will accrue to the befit of Dean. The GOP is always advantaged by an apathetic, non-voting, uniformed public; they may be playing with fire trying to raise the roots. News | MoveOn moves up News | MoveOn moves up

A good read on the development and techniques of Currently Moveon is mobilizing volunteers nation-wide to pitch and hold press conferences introducing the new anti-Bush ads they will be running nationally. If you aren't a member of Moveon yet, I strongly urge you to sign up.

December Meetups

East side NEW!
Morris K. Udall Center
7200 E. Tanque Verde

El Pueblo Community Center (Map)
101 W. Irvington

Northwest YMCA
Shannon and Magee

Hotel Congress
311 E. Congress St.

Northwest Community Center
2160 N. 6th Ave.
Note that only lists three sites,  but there will be meetups at all locations. Please bring donations to Meetups for the Food Bank (canned soups, boxed breakfast cereals, and macaroni and cheese) and the Veterans' Hospital (clothing for the cold weather:  heavy duty men's pants, jackets, sweaters, etc.) or to your nearest Dean HQ.

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