Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Brilliant at Breakfast

posted by Jazz at 9/25/2004 01:35:00 PM

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I was just intrigued by the name. Then the blog turned out to pretty interesting. Welcome to the blogroll. Check her out. I was pointed to this one by Tbogg.

Daily Show Viewers Most Informed, Study Shows

posted by Jazz at 9/25/2004 01:03:00 PM

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"Ummm, you do know this is a fake new show, right?" - Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central

Well, Jon, you may be dishing fake news, but that doesn't say much for viewers of your competitors, apparently. An alert reader e-mailed me a link to this recent study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. (Where do you people find this stuff?) It asked viewers in a national survey to take a knowledge test regarding six issues in the election in terms of what they knew about it, and where each candidate stood.

Voters who didn't watch any late night shows were only able to answer correctly on an average of 2.62 out of the six items. Viewers of Letterman and Leno didn't fare much better, both still scoring under half at 2.91 and 2.95 respectively. Stewart's "fake news" viewers, however, managed to score 3.59 on average - a full 16% above those not watching late night shows.

?"People who watch The Daily Show are more interested in the presidential campaign, more educated, younger, and more liberal than the average American or than Leno or Letterman viewers,? said Dannagal Goldthwaite Young, a senior analyst at the Annenberg Public Policy Center , who conducted the research for this report. ?However, these factors do not explain the difference in levels of campaign knowledge between people who watch The Daily Show and people who do not. In fact, Daily Show viewers have higher campaign knowledge than national news viewers and newspaper readers - even when education, party identification, following politics, watching cable news, receiving campaign information online, age, and gender are taken into consideration.?"

Keep watching, people. You seem to be the only ones who know what's going on.


Is O'Reilly Leaving Fox?

posted by Jazz at 9/25/2004 11:13:00 AM

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Dentists and insurance companies rejoiced today as, across America, tens of thousands of jaws dropped violently to the floor when Jeff Jarvis of The Buzz Machine reported that Bill O'Reilly may be a closet moderate or lefty. O'Reilly, author of the oh so ironically titled "No Spin Zone" editorial column, and perennial shill for Fox "News" is apparently featured in a 60 Minutes interview. When asked about his stand on various social issues and who he will be voting for, he allegedly replied thusly:

O'Reilly states he is pro-gun control, against the death penalty, for civil unions, for gay adoption (as a last resort instead of state custody) and mindful of the environment.

But when asked if he would vote for President Bush, O'Reilly left open the possibility he would vote for John Kerry.

"I've known Kerry for 25 years. He's a patriot. I'm listening to what he has to say," he tells Wallace.


I'm sorry. I know I should have given some warning before that in case you were eating or drinking anything. Assuming I haven't killed you, though, we are left to try to figure out how this came to pass. May I offer some possible theories?

Theory number one: O'Reilly really has been fair and balanced all along, considering all sides of the issues, and we just haven't gotten to see it because of the media where he is on display. But now, he feels forced to come out and speak the truth.

(I'll give you a moment to stop choking again.)

Theory number two: O'Reilly has been very vocal in acknowledging that he is perceived as an extremely biased right winger. This could be an attempt to build some credibility as an impartial source of commentary by falsely stating that he holds some traditionally liberal ideals near and dear to his heart.

Either is, I suppose possible, but neither of them sit well with me. Keeping in mind that I have absolutely no insider knowledge to support this, I have a third theory. O'Reilly is getting ready to jump ship from Fox. If this is the case, and assuming he is looking to move to a less radically right wing forum, he needs to start feathering a landing pad and building some credibility with more moderate and/or less partisan media powerbrokers and viewers. Getting some face time on the networks claiming these values and taking the "undecided voter" stance could be just what he needs to make such preparations.

Remember... if you see O'Reilly packing up his boxes at Fox in the near future, you heard it here first.



This Day in Publishing History

posted by Jazz at 9/25/2004 09:55:00 AM

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If you are interested in journalism and the freedom of the press, it is worthy of note that today, Sept. 25, is the anniversary of the publication of the first (and last) issue of the first newspaper in America. The paper, "Publick Occurrences" was published in Boston on this date in 1690. The full name of the paper (and possibly one reason for its lack of public acceptance) was actually, "Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestic Monthly Or If Any Glut Or Occurrences Happen Oftener."

Let's face it - that really doesn't roll off the tongue like "The Star Tribune" or similar titles.

Being that this was well before we had any official freedom of the press, public government reaction was swift and fatal. The Governor and Council in Boston quickly released a statement disallowing the publication, saying that it had "been issued without the least privity or countenance of authority." Sort of a reminder that you need to keep your eye on the ball when our politicians try to spin and control what information makes it out to the public.

You can see all three pages of the short lived periodical online here. Pick the large version and just use your scroll bar if you want to be able to read the text.

A sample to demonstrate the reporting methods of the times:

"There lately arrived at Piscataqua one Papoon from Penobscot, in a small Shallop, wherein he had used to attend upon the pleasures of Casteen, but took his opportunity to run away, and reports: That a vessel of small bulk, bound from Bristol to Virginia, having been so long at sea, till they were prest with want, put in at Penobscot instead of Piscataqua, where the Indians and French seized her, and butchered the Master, and several of the men: but that himself who belonged unto the ships crew, being a Jersey-man, was more favourably used, & found at length an advantage to make his escape."

Interesting to see that:
1. They weren't much on using periods then except at the end of paragraphs.
2. People from New Jersey were safer from highjacking and murder than Boston residents.

Take time to read that paper. It's a look into the distant past.


Saying Goodbye

posted by Jazz at 9/25/2004 08:07:00 AM

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In today's nyt, Carol Lee has written a simply heartbreaking tale of her cousin's iminent departure for Iraq after having been called back into the reserves unexpectedly under the "back door draft." It's a tale that you might want to read, as thousands of families are going through this right now all over the nation. I feel a bit more in touch with them now.

With my brother finally in town, the five of us gathered for a raucous sendoff. We started at our grandmother's house. She was ranting about needing a new cordless phone but refusing to buy one in a protest against how complicated they've become. We knew that her complaint was a front for her reluctance to replace the one on which Alan had slyly penciled "OLD-LADY" into the space for her phone number before he left for basic training nearly seven years ago. The prospect of her not being around to see him return this time must trouble her mind.

Later that night, we toasted Alan with shots of tequila and laughed until our stomachs hurt. I soaked in every bit of his wisecracking personality that I could - and realized what soldiers' families must all learn: moments like these call for ignoring the dire possibilities and parting as if there's no reason to think we wouldn't soon be back at the same place, picking up where we left off.





Friday, September 24, 2004

Oh dear. Breaking Up in the 21st Century

posted by Jazz at 9/24/2004 11:51:00 AM

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Via Eric Zorn's blog, at the Chicago Tribune, we are given a glimpse into something which is either revolutionary, or truly horrible. Perhaps it's a bit of both.

Dave is breking up with his true love, Laura Boles. Rather than some tacky, person to person fight over dinner, Dave sends her a powerpoint presentation as to why he is dumping her.

As was pointed out to me, the link no long works so I have removed it. Eric Zorn updated his website with the following information.

"Dave" hands "Laura Boles" the mitten in a 16-slide PowerPoint presentation that was available on the Web until recently, when hackers or pranksters took over the URL and inserted a very disturbing photo.

Apologies to all who clicked on that.

I don't know what the "disturbing photo" may have been. The link is just broken now. Sorry if anyone ran into anything ugly.

Friday Pet Blogging (Early Edition)

posted by Jazz at 9/24/2004 09:42:00 AM

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This is our 13 year old cat, Collin. He's looking just the same as you would if somebody woke you up from your nap in your comfy bed by sticking a flash camera in your face.



In Defense of Dan

posted by Jazz at 9/24/2004 07:16:00 AM

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Finally I am seeing some commentary from the MSM that is independent minded enough to say what I've been saying all along. Richard Cohen comes out and admits that, rather than being some shadowy cog in a vast left wing conspiracy, Dan Rather may just have screwed up majorly while in pursuit of a hot scoop. He also has some cautionary words for bloggers (and Ace of Spades, in the midst of a two week frenzy of mental meltdown should take note of this) about being too quick to crow about such downfalls.

"He's made mistakes. He has not handled himself well. He probably prejudged the story, maybe working backward from the conclusion, and for too long put up his dukes and got into a defensive crouch. Still, the fact remains that both he and CBS are guilty of making a mistake. It can happen -- bloggers and others take note -- when you commit journalism."

I think the phrase out of this entire column that caught my eye most was that last bit - "commit journalism." This is a cautionary tale for those who stand on the sideline, waiting like vultures to feed on the remains of those who wear out the shoeleather gathering the actual news first.

"The bloggers who were quick to spot the typographical discrepancies in CBS's tainted documents did their job. But it is only a piece of the larger job, which is to report the news. This is what Rather and CBS did -- not well enough, I grant you. But what animated them was good old-fashioned lust for the scoop. Believe me, those of us who have known such lust know it is blind. Rather would have done the same story on Kerry. It was, as Mario Puzo once pointed out in a somewhat different context, nothing personal. Just business."

Good job, Richard. If there were suddenly no more professional media outlets pouring news into the ether 24/7, there would be precious little for bloggers to talk about.



Peace in the Middle East

posted by Jazz at 9/24/2004 06:35:00 AM

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Yes, yes. I'm sure this will help out a lot.

Israel's bunker bomb buy irks Iran

Israeli military officials said Tuesday that the Jewish state will receive nearly 5,000 smart bombs, including the 500 one-ton bombs that can destroy two-yard-thick (two-meter-thick) concrete walls.

The main conflict in the Middle East, Kharrazi said, is Israel's "freedom to produce as much as they need -- nuclear bombs as well as other weapons of mass destruction. But be sure, any action by Israel certainly will be reacted by us, most severely," Kharrazi said after he met British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly's ministerial meeting.


We seem to talk endlessly about searching for bilateral solutions, compromises, etc. in conflicts between various nations in the Middle East. And yet, while we continue to rattle sabers or make thinly veiled threats against a number of Muslim nations, we turn around and pay for a shipment of thousands of shiny new bombs to Israel. And we are talking about a nation with a history of preemptive strikes against facilities in other countries. (Ooops. Well, I guess we really can't complain about that anymore, can we?)

But even with this, our leaders will still scratch their heads and say, "I wonder why the Muslims don't like us?"

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Conspiracy Theory de' jour: What Crashed Into the Pentagon on 9/11?

posted by Jazz at 9/23/2004 05:00:00 PM

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EDIT 2: Already getting, as I suspected, some feedback and e-mail saying this was debunked, but I'd like to find a link if possible so I can join with the ranks of others who can say, "Neener neener, here's why it's all faked." Did a few google searches but nothing yet.

Edit 3: Should have checked Snopes first. They have a fairly good debunking of it. I still say give the video (below) a look, though. Somebody with a lot of multimedia talent put it together, and hey, everybody loves a conspiracy theory. Thanks for the e-mailed links. I love reading about things like this!


Ok all of you armchair experts out there, I need this debunked. Let me start out by saying that I don't buy into conspiracy theories. I hate them. And this has all the red flags of a really well developed multimedia project to promote a conspiracy theory. But it asks enough questions that it's worth a minute to see if anyone has already debunked it.

The link I'm about to provide you goes to a flash video (and a fairly long one at that) from the Memory Hole which purports to claim that a Boeing 757 never crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. It speculates that it was either a missile or a military fighter jet, and that the Pentagon immediately shut down all information about it in the usual cover-up associated with any good conspiracy theory. The film is really excellently produced with a lot of production value and really gave me the creeps. But it very likely is full of holes that I just am not recognizing on the first few viewings. Maybe this has been around for a while and I just never saw it?

Here's the link.

Warning, if you don't have the latest Netscape (7.2) you'll probably want to use IE for it, and in any event, make sure you have the plugin for the latest flash player.

Here's your chance to educate me. Where is this story coming from and what is the real story that debunks it? This isn't a quiz. I honestly don't know. But watch the film anyway. Even assuming it is conspiracy theory bullhockey, it's pretty damned well made.

EDIT: Does anyone know of a way to save local copies of a video in that format?

Some Updating

posted by Jazz at 9/23/2004 04:03:00 PM

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Sorry for a lack of posts or chaos in the sidebar, but I finally decided to stop being a hypocrite and upgrade to the paid version of Blogroll now that it seems to be working in a stable fashion. If it looks like your link was lost, mispelled, mangled, etc. feel free to comment, e-mail, or hit me on the head with a nerf bat. Back soon.

And Now, A Word from God

posted by Jazz at 9/23/2004 11:28:00 AM

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God has announced that He wants John Kerry to win in Florida in November. This announcement was made in a not so subtle pattern in recent hurricane activity. This map from Turnspit Daily overlays recent hurricane paths on a map showing which counties voted Democrat or Republican in the 2000 election. (Click on image for original full size picture.)
(See EDITS below)



EDIT: I was informed by several people that I had broken the links in this post. My apologies and thanks for the heads up. Should be working now.

Personality Test vs. Politics

posted by Jazz at 9/23/2004 10:49:00 AM

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HT to Political Wire for finding this personality test online. It asks you a series of questions (took me under ten minutes) and rates how you see yourself and each of the candidates in five key areas of personality. It also shows how you compare yourself to the candidates. Mine was rather interesting. Give it a try.

Don't Do it, Joe.

posted by Jazz at 9/23/2004 10:22:00 AM

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Go convince Joe Territo not to switch sides and vote for Bush. Anonymous posts are even allowed, but it's always polite to leave your name.

Surferdude Kerry is a Weak Attack Strategy

posted by Jazz at 9/23/2004 08:13:00 AM

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Never one to shy away from covering the worst of political advertising, Mr. Left sneaks a peak at the latest conservative 527 group's attack on Big John. In this one, the PFA Voting Fund (whoever that is) depicts Kerry as a wind surfing cartoon figure.

Apparently hoping to court 12 year olds to vote, the self-proclaimed ?Political Truth Squad,? has paid to have a cartoonish ad run with John Kerry on a windsurf board superimposed on a big wave. Among other accusations, the ad at one point reads that Kerry, "claims to be the 'Big Kahuna' on terror."

Check out the entire article. It's amusing on one level, and yet frightening that this type of advertising really does seem to impact viewers and move the poll numbers.

Jon Stewart: Quote of the Day

posted by Jazz at 9/23/2004 08:00:00 AM

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From this interview in Time, via CNN, ("Ten Questions with Jon Stewart" which I highly recommend you read all the way through) we get today's quote. The Daily Show host comments on the need for more arbitration between opposing political views by the media:

That's the change I would like to see ... that the news media take a more active role in arbitrating, in mediating, in credibility. The way I've always looked at it is, politicians are ... when you go to a zoo and you see a monkey throwing its s___, you can't get mad. That's what monkeys do. But you want the media at some point to go, 'No! Bad monkey!' And that's really the direction that it should be going in. Not for Republican desires or Democrat desires but for truth.

Parlock Update

posted by Jazz at 9/23/2004 07:30:00 AM

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I know you've all been following the Phil Parlock story with breathless anticipation. Well, good old Phil is apparently on a roll. Following the now infamous assault on his tearful toddler's cardboard Bush/Cheney sign, he's still milking the situation for all the media ink it's worth. And you might not be terribly surprised to see that President Bush is getting in on the act.

According to US News Washington Whispers, the President has rushed into the opportunity to put on his "compassionate" mask and set things right for Parlock's curiously politically active three year old.

After seeing the picture of the tearful Sophia on her father's shoulders, aides said the president was sending her a little note Friday along with a signed campaign poster and an autographed photo of the prez and his dog. "Dear Sophia," Bush penned, "Thank you for supporting my campaign. I understand someone tore up your sign. So I am sending you a new sign and a signed picture. Please give my best to your family. Sincerely, George W. Bush." And on the picture, he inked: "To Sophia, Best wishes from me and Barney." Phil Parlock tells us it really wasn't necessary. "He already said 'Thank you' when he hugged her" at a previous Bush rally they attended, he says. "She bragged for days."

Aww, they even got Barney into the act. Could it be any sweeter in an election season? Congratulations, Phil. You've pulled off the hat trick. With one amazingly simple staged photo op you have managed to:

- draw attention to your local political ambitions as an empathetic figure
- paint the local Democratic Kerry supporters as violent thugs
- give Bush the chance to look like the caring, compassionate defender of innocents.

You can not buy that kind of PR for any amount of money. But with a child, a friend, and a digital camera, you can get it for free. My hat is off, Mr. Parlock. Sheer genius. We'll be sure to follow this story and see if it improves your chances in your fifth bid for local office.

Tom Ridge: Cat Stevens Fan?

posted by Jazz at 9/23/2004 07:21:00 AM

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Who knew? According to Jeanne Meserve of CNN, Tom Ridge is taking a closer look at how the former hippie singer (now known as Yusuf Islam) wound up on the "No U.S.A. for you!" list but insists he wasn't singled out for being a celebrity sympathetic to Islam.

"The system is not perfect here." Ridge called the singer "one of my favorite artists," and said his agency would take "a very, very close look" at the information that resulted in Islam being placed on the list.

As you may remember, Cat Stevens was the artist in the early 70's who sang, "I'm being followed by a moon shadow." Looks like that's not all that's been following you, eh Yusuf?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Monkey Business

posted by Jazz at 9/22/2004 06:10:00 PM

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The Moderate Voice brings us a tale of a monkey, a dead wife, and gun violence in a steamy tropical jungle setting. It also includes a picture of ... I dare not go further. Bad things don't only happen in America, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

(Oh, come on. If that doesn't get you to click on the link, your mouse is broken.)

Think You Know Dick?

posted by Jazz at 9/22/2004 05:47:00 PM

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This evening we revisit Middle Earth Journal and a review of a new book by John Nichols, "Dick: The Man Who is President." An excerpt -

Nichols relates Cheney's ascendancy as a tale of politics at its crassest. He tells how Dick, of an age to have served in Vietnam, cynically timed his schooling, his marriage, and then the birth of his first child in order to avoid the draft. He picks apart Cheney's relationship to his "home state" of Wyoming (exploitative), his Congressional voting record (which he used to establish himself as an arch-conservative and thus garner more power in the right-moving GOP), and his term as CEO of Halliburton (highly unethical). As Nichols puts it, "few corporations in the history of the world have ever arranged and maintained more deals with dictators than Halliburton did when Cheney was in charge."

Now, I've long been in the camp of those who feel that Tricky Dick Cheney has been pulling the strings on the Bush administration. He exerted tremendous influence on past administrations, and his financial clout to guide policy isn't exactly in question.

I can't specifically comment on this book because I've only just now ordered it, but it looks, at first glance, to be right on target.

Check it out.

Trotting Out More Rehashed (non) News

posted by Jazz at 9/22/2004 03:23:00 PM

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It seems that the right wingers are now gushing in an onanistic orgy of teenage schoolgirl giggling over the Swifties' latest piece of rehashed non-news, equal to the lefty's glee over Bush's 1976 DUI arrest. Wapo is reporting today about a Swiftboat Veterans for "Truth" ad being unleashed this week. This one is featuring Kerry's "secret" 1971 meeting in Paris with representatives of the Vietnamese delegation at the peace talks held there.

Nice job, boys, except Kerry testified about it in front of Congress later that same year. I suppose a lot of these bloggers weren't alive back then, so they can be forgiven for not knowing about it, but it was all over the news at the time and it was a non-issue, just like it is now. I'm sure that won't stop them from trying to paint him with the same brush as Hanoi Jane.

If you want to amuse yourself watching the typical feeding frenzy, you can check out the "gotcha!" posts and comments at Instapundit and Captain's Quarters. Shockingly, most of the other far right wing blogs seem to be intelligently staying away from this one. Good move, since they will look pretty silly very shortly.

Kerry is finally standing up, right or wrong, and coming after Bush on Iraq and continuing his stumping about the economy, jobs, and the environment. Bush is firing back with his patented "stay the course" speech on Iraq and defending his domestic record and talking about what he will do in the next four years. It almost looks as if the candidates are doing what we want and addressing the issues. Be nice if the 527's and the far wingers in the blogosphere could get over these fixations and pick up on the same theme.

I really don't care if Kerry was a valiant hero in 'Nam, or exaggerated some scratches for an early out. Bush may have been a guy who got a lucky break into the National Guard, or he may have used family influence as a favored son and went A.W.O.L. Kerry may have thrown away his medals, and Bush might have been snorting cocaine in between drunken driving busts in Maine. I happen to live in a country that's in the middle of a horrendously bogged down war in a place that is a total distraction from the war on terror we need to be fighting in Afghanistan. Too many of my friends are still unemployed or underemployed. My government is staring at a deficit that will soon engulf the planet like a black hole. Civil liberties are in question. I want to hear what both candidates plan to do about these things.

Feel free to live in the past if you must, but please allow some of us to worry about the future.

Update: Disappointingly, Power Line fell for the bait too. They're generally more sensible.

Analog Pong Unveiled

posted by Jazz at 9/22/2004 01:01:00 PM

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What's old is new, and retro is all the rage. That's why it probably shouldn't have come as any shock to find out that the gaming world, so long ago having gone ga-ga over digital, may be making the leap back to analog.

I had no idea what to expect from this, but the makers of analogpong.com have made a breakthrough in gaming realism that is nothing short of breathtaking. From the looks of the limited screenshots we were able to acquire, however, many users may have to purchase a significant amount of peripheral hardware that does not come standard with most systems. Here's one small shot smuggled out from their development team.



Senior testers put Analog Pong through its paces.

As you can see, this probably represents a breakthrough moment in gaming. Move over Sims, EverQuest and Final Fantasy. Analog Pong may very well have just changed the world.

Do NOT Torpedo the Debates

posted by Jazz at 9/22/2004 11:04:00 AM

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So much for a day of light humor and happiness.

I firmly believe that every blogger, be they ever so moderate, detached and "unshrill," will eventually reach a point where they must hoist up the skull and crossbones, unsheathe a saber, and just start hacking at the bastards. That time has arrived.

Commission on Debates May Not Sign Campaigns' Agreement on Formats

It's worth reading the entire article, assuming you can avoid vomiting, but I'll give you the short version. After a seemingly endless series of negotiations, the Kerry and Bush campaigns have submitted a series of restrictions they want placed on the format and handling of this fall's presidential debates which is only slightly shorter than Tolstoy's "War and Peace." Not surprisingly, the commission responsible for running the debates is balking at signing it.

The largest group of restrictions are obviously targeting the "town hall" style debate scheduled for October 3. In this forum, a number of undecided voters would submit questions to the moderator, and the people who are selected would get to ask those questions of the candidates. Apparently this freestyle form of inquiry was too much for at least one of the campaigns. They are insisting that the questions all be prescreened, and if the audience member changes the question at all as it is being asked, that the moderator cut them off and move on.

"If any audience member poses a question or makes a statement that is in any material way different than the question that the audience member earlier submitted to the moderator for review, the moderator will cut off the questioner and advise the audience that such nonreviewed questions are not permitted," the agreement reads."

On the surface, and this comes as no surprise, it would appear that the Bush campaign is behind most of these restrictions. However, the Kerry camp had a hand in it as well.

"The men who negotiated the agreement, James A. Baker III for Mr. Bush and Vernon Jordan for Mr. Kerry, did not return telephone calls Tuesday. But several people involved in the debate discussions said most of these details were demanded by the Republicans."

This is, to put it extremely mildly, beyond the pale. We have dealt with several years of a highly secretive presidency in which Bush has held less than ten percent of the number of open press conferences as his predecessors, and has cut off access to journalists who routinely try to throw any hard questions at him. He is facing John Kerry who has been virtually underground for the last month, taking almost no questions from the press himself. The conventions were, as expected, tightly scripted infomercials that had to run exactly according to the plan that would portray the candidates as Saints, with no debate or dissent allowed on pain of forcible eviction by security personnel.

After all of this, the one hope that America has to possibly find out exactly what these clowns are up to is the debates. This is a tradition that stretches back further than Lincoln v. Douglas. It provides virtually the only remaining opportunity to shine a bright spotlight of inquiry on these cockroaches and force them address the issues of concern to those who's votes they wish to obtain. Allowing either of them (or both) to force the debates into some form of scripted, partisan side show is worse than insulting. It is criminal. We may as well cancel them entirely and just go back to watching their endless mud slinging commercials which do nothing to inform the voters as to what the candidates actually plan to do if we elect them.

In case you can't tell, I am just about mad enough to spit nails at this moment.

I have a suggested format for you boys. What say we have people, be they media or independent voters, step up to a microphone and ask you questions that concern them. Then you get a few minutes to answer them. Then your opponent gets a shorter time for rebuttal. Sound familiar? It's CALLED A DEBATE. If you two manage to destroy the debates, I honestly hope that by some miracle, neither of you get to serve in the Oval Office. I'd sooner have Rush Limbaugh or Al Franken (or, God help me for saying it, even Dick Cheney) as my President if that turns out to be the case.

Happy Birthday Tbogg!

posted by Jazz at 9/22/2004 10:26:00 AM

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Tbogg is two years old. (Or was on Sunday, anyway.) Stop by and wish them well.

Private Entrepreneurs Horrified By New Legislation

posted by Jazz at 9/22/2004 08:49:00 AM

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It's getting tougher and tougher for small, private businesses to succeed in today's expanding web of legislation. And now, as the Greenville News reports, it's even illegal to sell your own urine.

Earlier this year Kenneth Curtis went to jail on a six-month suspended sentence because he sold some of his urine. Curtis is now out of prison.

For six years, Curtis and the courts did battle.

Curtis says he sold his, uh, product because he feels that random drug tests by companies invades privacy.

But lawmakers disagree and said he was in the business of defrauding drug tests, which could lead to dangerous workplaces. So, they passed a law making it illegal to sell pee for the purposes of defrauding a drug test.

Curtis' company - Privacy Protection Services - still maintains a presence on the Web, and the Web site has more than 123,000 hits displayed on its counter.

Source: Dave Barry's Blog





Tired of Your Religion?

posted by Jazz at 9/22/2004 07:10:00 AM

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And if so, who could blame you these days?

Are you a Christian? That's just dandy, but let's face it - everybody and their brother is a Christian. Not exactly trendy. Plus, you're immediately a de facto terrorist target.

Being Jewish is fine, but be realistic. Your Middle East travel options are pretty limited for the foreseeable future. And here at home you've got the fun bunch from the K.K.K. spray painting your temples and sewing swastika patches on your fine washables when you're not looking.

Muslim? Oh, please. Don't even tell me that you aren't tired of having John Ashcroft crouching behind your recliner all day and night. Besides, he leaves crumbs everywhere and that can attract rodents. And by now you probably need two PDAs just to keep all your jihads straight.

Perhaps you're an atheist or one of those wishy-washy agnostics. You've been steering clear of all this religion business, and that's great. But now, seeing all the omens of the impending End Of Days under the Bush administration, perhaps you're thinking of signing on for the afterlife just to hedge your bets.

Might I humbly suggest that you consider worshipping The One True Tami? You could probably do worse. And if you're not comfortable with worshipping her directly, Tami can set you up with a modified version of any of the current theologies suited to your individual needs. Why, I myself was, for a time, a member of The Bad Jews - a little known sect of Judaism that strictly forbids the eating of pork... unless you really like bacon.

Besides, Tami isn't just any blogger. She's a Jersey Girl. And you know what they say about them. (Nudge nudge, wink wink.)

"Errrr... no. Actually I don't know what they say about them. What do you mean?"

I have no idea. I just know that in both E.B. White's Elements of Style and the preface to the Oxford English Dictionary, it specifically states that every time you reference the phrase "Jersey Girl" it must be followed by a "nudge nudge, wink wink." I'm just following the rules here.

Legal Fine Print:
Caution. The above material includes "humor." This post composed by a professional driver on a closed course. Do not attempt at home. If you attempt to modify your life in any way based on material you read in this blog, author will not be held accountable for any incidents of arrest, detainment, forced hospitalization, dementia, or kitchen utensils protruding from your skull. Patent pending. May cause side effects including, but not limited to, fainting, shortness of breath, male menopause, death, or a rash between the toes.

Chemistry 101

posted by Jazz at 9/22/2004 07:01:00 AM

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Courtesy of Maxim.

Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar. The first one says, "Hold on. I've lost my electron."

"Are you sure?" the second one asks.

"I'm positive."

If you laughed at that joke, congratulations. You are at least as qualified as fifty percent of the current candidates running for the office of President. Get out there and start your letter writing campaign.

Legal Fine Print:
Caution. The above material includes "humor." This post composed by a professional driver on a closed course. Do not attempt at home. If you attempt to modify your life in any way based on material you read in this blog, author will not be held accountable for any incidents of arrest, detainment, forced hospitalization, dementia, or kitchen utensils protruding from your skull. Patent pending. May cause side effects including, but not limited to, fainting, shortness of breath, male menopause, death, or a rash between the toes.

Hump Day Humor

posted by Jazz at 9/22/2004 06:50:00 AM

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I finally had the opportunity to sit down and watch the tape of President Bush's speech to the U.N. I had every intention of posting an analysis of it here. Unfortunately I only made it about three minutes before realizing that I had grabbed two chopsticks left over from last night's take out sushi and was about to jam them through my ear drums. I come before you, hanging my head in shame. I have failed. I couldn't sit through it.

In order to brighten my spirits after that horror, I thought I would turn my attention to lighter things today and seek out some more humorous items to dwell on. We could all use a break, couldn't we?

Before I do, though, I will make a token referral to the President's speech, courtesy of Attaturk at Rising Hegemon. He managed to notice this one passage:

"We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace."

The fact that Bush himself fails to see the irony in this is fine by me. To be expected, really. But if nobody on his entire staff red flagged that before it hit the teleprompter, I have to wonder if there's anyone awake in the West Wing anymore.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Yikes! DC Media Girl Bites the Dust

posted by Jazz at 9/21/2004 04:29:00 PM

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DC Media Girl is off the air. A sad day.

I've written an e-mail to try to find out what happened. We shall see. Pity. 'Twas a good blog.

Still No Muzzle for Teresa *sigh*

posted by Jazz at 9/21/2004 03:22:00 PM

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I sincerely believed that we Republicans had the market cornered on embarrassing ourselves. However it seems that nobody in the Kerry family will suffer to be outdone at anything.

I have it on good authority that Kerry aides are running madly around the country scouring pet shops in every city, searching for a muzzle that can be fitted onto Teresa Heinz Kerry. TOO LATE! It seems that while speaking to the press, Heinz Kerry had a few words to say on the subject of her step-daughters Vanessa and Alexandra. In her latest effort to ensure that she won't be forced to move into the oh so poorly appointed and unfashionable West Wing, she said,

"I thought, 'I love kids, kids love me, I'll be fine.' Baloney,'' Teresa said. "You have to treat stepchildren like pets. You're nice to them but you don't get too close or they chew you up."

This was a great quote, Teresa. Making it in front of a group of mothers who ostensibly support your husband is sending just the right message. Memo to Big John: The weather in Sweden is spectacular this time of year. Perhaps your hard working wife deserves a nice, relaxing vacation over there... say until November 4th?



Speaking of "Desperate for a Scandal"

posted by Jazz at 9/21/2004 01:31:00 PM

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Today we return to our new favorite right wingnut, Michelle Malkin. Apparently seeking any crumb, however small, to cast Kerry as being anywhere near as corrupt and dishonest as the Cheney - Halliburton presidency, she is forced to dig pretty deep. As this week's winner of the "desperate for a scandal" award, Michelle tells us about John Kerry receiving donations from children who raised money selling home made campaign buttons and bracelets. What should have just been a cute election cycle fluff story, (it was featured on that hard hitting, no holds barred news show, "Regis and Kelly") was immediately seized on by Malkin to accuse Kerry of violating a provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law prohibiting contributions from minors.

Even after an alert reader pointed out that the provision in question had been overturned by the courts, so the "kiddy cash" was perfectly legal, she continues to call Kerry a hypocrite and berates him for "taking money from children."

In a last gasp attempt to come up with some sort of scandal here, she goes so low as to reprint a portion of an e-mail from a reader. I'll share it with you.

"It may be now legal for minors to donate to campaigns, but I believe there is a requirement that the donors' names over a miniumum [sic] amount be reported, is there not? Wanna bet that neither of these kids or their parents names aren't listed?"

Notice: no mention of verification that Kerry actually failed to report the names and declare the money. No supporting links or other documentation. Just a reader saying, in effect, 'I bet he didn't' and leaving that in her blog as if it were fact.

From her report, the two children in question raised and donated a grand total of $1,470. (Pretty damned impressive for an eight year old and a six year old if you ask me.) Let's see. Now Kerry only needs to find roughly seven million more kids like this to catch up with Cheney's Halliburton highjinks. Better get moving, John. Michelle is watching you like a hawk.

(Insert cheap rimshot sound effect for overly obvious conservative hawk pun.)

It's a Jersey Thing

posted by Jazz at 9/21/2004 01:20:00 PM

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"Fuggidaboudit." I'm not going to even pretend I know what this is about, but I'm always fascinated by odd things. Apparently The Penninsula Pundit is something to do with South Jersey being underwater. I'll let you know if I begin to understand after I see a few more posts.

Also, school, alcohol and guns. Three great tastes that go together. More Jersey Bloggy Goodness. Welcome to weblar.

(No. I don't live in Jersey and haven't for nearly ten years. I just find myself heading off on odd link chases at times.)

Your Quote for the Day

posted by Jazz at 9/21/2004 11:40:00 AM

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Please remind me to never, ever, under any circumstances, piss off James Wolcott for any reason. Today he examines Ben Ferguson, author of "It's My America, Too." The title of the post? "Baby Hooey." I can only say, "ouch."

"He wears his hair as if he's in the fourth grade, and I gather he has a chapter in his book about being a virgin. It's considerate of this baby whale version of Rush Limbaugh to be saving himself for some lucky gal, but I fear that when he finally does mate with Woman he may explode from years of self-denial in a spermatic supernova. I'd hate to be the person who'd have to tidy up afterwards. It's easy to make fun of little big Ben--so why not?--and yet underneath his pudgy exterior is a pudgy interior soaked in loathing and ignorance."

Read the whole article. Wolcott makes some excellent points about the rather faulty premise of this book. During the current era, complaining that conservatives don't get enough of a say in the running of the country is in the same vein as Budweiser yipping that they don't control enough of the domestic beer market. If anything, the liberals should be crying foul.


Moderate GOP Senator Will Not Vote for Bush

posted by Jazz at 9/21/2004 11:20:00 AM

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I have to send out a big "You Go!" to Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R. - Rhode Island) who has consistently been a voice for moderates in the Senate. For those of you just tuning in, Senator Chafee was the only Republican member of the Senate to vote against giving Bush authorization to invade Iraq.

Yesterday he gave an interview where he talked about his lack of enthusiasm for voting for the President.

-- Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee said Monday he plans to support his party in November but may write in a candidate instead of voting for President Bush. The Rhode Island lawmaker, known for moderate views that often run counter to the Bush administration, said he was going to vote for a member of his party even though he disagrees with the president on many issues.

Unfortunately, his future as a member of the party is somewhat cloudy. Yet again the conservative right wing may be driving more good people from the ranks of the GOP.

The Republican said the party's direction in the future will determine his political career as well. He said he's "not OK" with the conservative platform from the Republican convention, but would not say if he'd consider switching parties in his next election in 2006.

"It wasn't that long ago that moderates had more of a voice," Chafee said. "It's a cycle that I hope will come back."


Bill "Fox" O'Reilly Interviews Jon Stewart

posted by Jazz at 9/21/2004 11:11:00 AM

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Possibly the two most diametrically opposed talk show hosts you could find go at it in this interview. I'd really like to find out if anyone has the video of this session available online. In text you simply can't pick up how much is being said in jest and how much of it is intended to be serious, or at least partly so. For example, O'Reilly continually refers to Stewart's audience as "stoned slackers" and insinuates that Kerry is intentionally courting that audience. I take umbrage since I am a faithful viewer of The Daily Show. I may be a tremendous slacker, but I'm generally drunk and I never get stoned, thankyouverymuch.

Here's a portion of the transcript. You be the judge.

O'REILLY: You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary.

STEWART: If that were so, that would be quite frightening.

O'REILLY: But it is. It's true. I mean, you've got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night, OK, and they can vote.

STEWART: Yeah.

O'REILLY: You can't stop them.

STEWART: Yeah, I just don't know how motivated they would be, these stoned slackers.

O'REILLY: Yeah, it just depends if they have to go out that day.

STEWART: What am I, a Cheech and Chong movie? Stoned slackers?

O'REILLY: Come on, you do the research, you know the research on your program.

STEWART: No, we don't.

O'REILLY: Eighty-seven percent are intoxicated when they watch it. You didn't see that?

STEWART: No, I didn't realize that.

O'REILLY: Yeah, we have that there.

STEWART: We come on right after, I believe, puppets that make crank calls...

O'REILLY: Yeah.

STEWART: ... so we are, I think, the appropriate follow up...

O'REILLY: Yeah, and that's a great lead-in for you.

STEWART: It's a wonderful show, by the way.

O'REILLY: Puppets can't vote, but these dopey kids who watch you can.

STEWART: They actually can -- in Florida, they can.

O'REILLY: Puppets can vote in Florida.

STEWART: As long as they vote Republican.

O'REILLY: And they haven't committed a felony.

STEWART: And they haven't committed a felony, that's exactly right.



Kerry on Letterman

posted by Jazz at 9/21/2004 09:36:00 AM

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He did well on The Daily Show, but I'm beginning to think that maybe Kerry should let Edwards handle the comedy. Here's his "Top Ten List" that he did on Dave's show:

John Kerry's Top Ten Bush Tax Proposals.

10. No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. presidents.

9. W-2 Form is now Dubya-2 Form.

8. Under the simplified tax code, your refund check goes directly to Halliburton.

7. The reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair, it just makes me want to tear out my lustrous, finely groomed hair.

6. Attorney General (John) Ashcroft gets to write off the entire U.S. Constitution.

5. Texas Rangers can take a business loss for trading Sammy Sosa.

4. Eliminate all income taxes; just ask Teresa (Heinz Kerry) to cover the whole damn thing.

3. Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent.

2. Hundred-dollar penalty if you pronounce it "nuclear" instead of "nucular."

... and John Kerry's number one Bush Tax Proposal:

1. George W. Bush gets a deduction for mortgaging our entire future.

(Insert rim shot sound effect here.)

The Debates are On

posted by Jazz at 9/21/2004 09:08:00 AM

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Well, at least one of the debates looks good to go. As for the second one, which has a format of undecided voters asking non-scripted questions of the candidates, I'll believe that when I see it. That is exactly the kind of forum that Bush's Brain Karl Rove does not want his candidate getting into. Far too many chances for a slip up when Bush tries to freestyle his answers.

How this first debate goes will have a huge impact on how the rest of the campaign plays out. The Bush team is smart, make no mistake about that. They constantly point out how Kerry is the "skilled college debater" and give the impression that Bush is just a "plain talking good ole' boy." Don't be fooled. Bush has beaten a lot of people in debates simply because everyone buys into that image and "misunderestimates" him.

It is still true, of course, that Bush may slip up. If he does, this represents Kerry's best (and possibly only) chance to surge back in the polls and pull out a victory. The big worry here, of course, is the response from the Bush team. Karl Rove has been around far too long and seen too many elections won and lost to not have a plan in place for this. If Bush falters and his numbers start dropping, I don't think anyone doubts that Rove has an "October Surprise" waiting in the wings.

The big question is, what is it? Some other piece of damning "evidence" concerning some foible in Kerry's past? Might they pull Osama bin Laden out of a basement in Hackensack, New Jersey? No matter what, I have absolutely no doubt that Rove has at least one more rabbit left in the top hat. If Bush holds or increases a comfortable lead in the polls, particularly in the swing states, they may just coast on to victory. However, if he begins to slip as a result of the debates, keep your eyes on Rove. There will be a surprise coming.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Kerry Finally Steps Up to the Plate (Sort of)

posted by Jazz at 9/20/2004 04:48:00 PM

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All right, one more post today, simply because I think the Kerry speech at New York University this afternoon is important.

You can read the full text of his speech here, and I advise you to do so if you are interested in the future of the Kerry campaign, and our country's future in Iraq. I won't be quoting much of it, and it's rather long.

The first and largest part of the speech was a direct attack on Bush's history of our involvement in Iraq starting from before the war and running right up to the present. On one level I can understand this. The Kerry camp has learned the hard way that Iraq is the only issue that this election is going to turn on. There are many large domestic issues of great import, but people are going to vote on Iraq. We get it, and now so does Big John. Unfortunately, at least for me, that's just fluff for this speech. John, I already know that Bush screwed up Iraq royally. You're preaching to the choir. But in case there's anyone left who's been in a coma for the last four years, I suppose you have to point it out.

Then the speech gets interesting. He actually (and for the first time I've seen) lays out four points of what needs to be done. I was hoping he would say what he would do as president, but he said what he thinks Bush should do starting right now. He does redeem himself somewhat, however, by stating:

"This is what needs to be done. This is what I would do as president today. But we can not afford to wait until January."

It's still not, in my opinion, stating what he will do in January if elected. (You really need to do that, John.) But it is, at least, something that resembles a plan. Let's examine the four points he puts forth as his plan. (Each of them is expanded on in detail and I encourage you to read them. I'll just hit the highlights leading into and summarizing each.)

"First the President has to get the promised international support so our men and women in uniform don't have to go it alone. It is late; the President must respond by moving this week to gain and regain promised international support."

On the surface, I will admit, this seems fatuous. At this stage none of our reticent allies are going to put troops into Iraq. It would be political and literal suicide. However, that's not where he goes with this. Kerry suggests asking allies to open up training facilities in their own countries to handle the process of equipping and training security forces, engineers, and reconstruction personnel to facilitate the rebuilding of Iraq. This is a brilliant stroke, and I commend him for it. This is a way that allies could gracefully become invested in success in Iraq without endorsing Bush's military attack. I don't know if they would do it even for Kerry, but his chances of getting this offering are far better than Bush's. It was a great suggestion and I applaud him for it.

"Second, the President must get serious about training Iraqi security forces."

This is completely foolish. He misses the mark. Nobody will seriously believe that we haven't been trying to train up local forces to get the country going. The factors stopping it are many and beyond the ability of Bush or Kerry to overcome at this time.

"Third, the President must carry out a reconstruction plan that finally brings tangible benefits to the Iraqi people."

It's an excellent point, and I personally believe that the President could have channeled more money and more security forces into getting reconstruction going faster. Perhaps Kerry could do this, perhaps not. It is an issue that will always be impeded by the insurgents. As long as they hold sway and keep destroying things as fast as you rebuild them, the reconstruction will falter. It's a good point, but he only gets half credit there. You must achieve the fundamental steps before you can do that.

"Fourth, the President must take immediate, urgent, essential steps to guarantee the promised elections can be held next year."

This one is a total red herring, and I don't think any educated voter will fall for it. I don't see how John Kerry could make this happen any better than Bush is currently. The country is in total disarray and any attempt to line up voters at a polling place would likely get them shot. Again, this matter is a grand goal, but you have to achieve success on the ground before you can make it happen. This one is just another veiled attack on Bush. It's a clearly agreeable target being laid out which the President couldn't possibly meet under the current situation.

All in all it was a very good speech, and it gave some hints as to the direction John Kerry would take Iraq if he were elected. However, it left a lot unsaid and I wanted much more.

Warning: More Design Changes

posted by Jazz at 9/20/2004 01:47:00 PM

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Just a heads up. You'll likely be seeing some possibly nasty formatting problems and template changes today and this evening. Please bear with me. Running into problems where readers using a low screen resolution and IE for a browser are seeing the layout in a rather broken look.

May be scrapping this entirely for a different layout. Again, my apologies.

The Teenage Pundit

posted by Jazz at 9/20/2004 10:10:00 AM

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Tip of the hat to Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice for pointing me to this.

The Teenage Pundit. If you were to read a fair bit of the recent entries without knowing the background, I'll wager that you would be shocked to find out this guy is 13 years old. I know I was. Give him a peek.

And Now, Your Moment of Zen

posted by Jazz at 9/20/2004 07:54:00 AM

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Congratulations to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for two more big wins at last nights Emmy Awards. Possibly the only reliable source for news that we have left.

Think of the Future

posted by Jazz at 9/20/2004 07:05:00 AM

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A vote for Bush
or Nader
in 2004


is a vote for

Hillary in 2008.


Extremist? Pandering to the lowest common denominator in the GOP? Desperate?

You bet your Ashcroft it is. But these are quickly becoming desperate times, and such times call for desperate measures. We need something solid to offer to Republicans who may be tired of George W. Bush's ultraconservative message, his failures in Iraq and on so many other issues, but who are just not comfortable with Kerry. Also, the above statement is actually a fairly good bet if you stop and think about it.

Since her coronation as the junior senator from New York, Hillary Clinton has jumped on every chance for a photo op like a rottweiler on free sirloins. Anyone who somehow still believes that this hasn't all been an elaborate game plan to prepare her run for the White House is living in a fantasy world. But even at her most arrogant, I do not believe that Hillary would take a run at a seated Democratic president.

If you elect John Kerry, you give us the opportunity over the next four years to turn the party back around to a moderate, progressive platform, open our doors to broader participation across demographic lines, and nominate a sensible, centrist candidate to run against the obviously weak Kerry in 2008. Sure, Kerry is too liberal. But would you rather have that or two more wars to fight in the next four years?

If you elect George W. Bush to a second term, you're going to get Hillary. Judging by the shocking ease with which she carpetbagged the New York Senate seat in her first try, combined with her continued mind-boggling poll numbers, I don't think there's a force on Earth, in Heaven, or in Hell that could stop her if she goes up against any GOP opponent in '08.

By that time, four more years of Bush will only have served to drive more and more people away from the party because of his radical conservative agenda. The endless wars and mountainous deficit will have the country so sick of the Republican party that they would likely elect an actual donkey over any candidate we might put up.

Think of the future. Look at the long picture. Do you want to be sitting there in 2012 asking yourself, "Am I really better off after four years of Queen Hillary than I would have been if I'd just cut loose George W. Bush in 2004?"

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Your Quotes of the Day

posted by Jazz at 9/19/2004 11:53:00 AM

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Brought to you today by James Wolcott, author of "Attack Poodles."

"The environment. The judiciary. WMDs. The occupation of Iraq. The deficit. Pick a subject, any subject, and giving Bush the benefit of the doubt has been a guaranteed loser."

Brought to you by Jay Rosen of New York University, talking about the blogosphere:

"Citizens� media upends journalists� relationship with the public in ways that the Dan Rathers of that world have not begun to grasp. They�re dismissive of it, which means they�re scared of it. But they shouldn�t be.

This isn�t a war, it�s not even a revolution. It�s a reformation. The bloggers are at the door to the cathedral of journalism, nailing up their theses for a new and better order."


The Bitterness Isn't Just at the National Level

posted by Jazz at 9/19/2004 09:47:00 AM

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Some local news in Upstate New York has demonstrated how the petty, divisive tricks used by both parties permeate the political environment at all levels. Here's a story about a judge who had one of his rulings overturned by an appellate court and was ordered to hold a new trial in a case which he had dismissed.

Before you yawn and let your eyes glaze over, I will admit that this story does not, on the surface, sound exciting. Bear with me, please. This tale is actually rife with political intrigue, deception, and partisan highjinks.

This case would be far more juicy and enticing if it dealt with some sort of sex scandal, corruption, influence peddling or out of the closet gay politicians. It does not. It involves ... a traffic ticket. WAIT! Wait, come back! Don't just click on your bookmark file and move on to the next blog on your list. I promise you, it gets better.

The details in brief are provided here. A man is driving along a local road on a snowy winter day. He comes to a stop sign, applies his brakes, and his car slides a short way past the stop line. Seeing no cars coming, he takes his foot off the brake and continues through the intersection without coming to a full stop. Unfortunately for him, a police officer is parked near the intersection, sees the incident, and proceeds to pull over the man. A ticket for ignoring a stop sign is issued.

Some time later, the court date specified on the ticket rolls around. The man shows up in court. The judge asks how he pleads, and he replies "not guilty." The judge declares they will move immediately to trial, but the District Attorney is forced to admit that the officer who issued the ticket is not present in court and can not be located to testify. The judge dismisses the case and moves on to the next order of business. The District Attorney, shockingly for such a minor case, takes the time to file an appeal saying that the case was improperly dismissed and needs to be tried again. The appellate judge agrees and orders a new trial.

This is a real front page, critical hot story, right? Hardly. Contrary to what the District Attorney says in that article, this sort of thing happens all the time. I have personally witnessed a colleague who went to court to fight three traffic tickets and won two of them by virtue of the police officer not making it to court that day and getting a dismissal. Even if the case was dismissed too hastily, this is a tiny piece of local court activity of no import to anyone but the man getting the ticket. And even if he is found guilty he faces a maximum fine of $150 and three points on his license... not enough to lose his driving privileges, as he has a clean driving record. So why is it on the front page of the local papers and all over the evening news? Here's where it gets good.

The man in the car is the Vice President and General Manager of the local CBS television affiliate. The judge in question is the Republican leaning candidate for the open County Family Court bench in this fall's election. He just won the primary last Tuesday and is in a tight race against a more Democratic leaning opponent. The District Attorney is a prominent figure in local Democratic Party activities. Starting to get the picture yet?

The point of this article is not a story of a possibly corrupt judge handing out judicial favors to local media moguls. It is also not a tale of a partisan District Attorney wasting court time and taxpayer money to attack an opponent. It's a story of media coverage during elections. I did a Google search this morning, along with a search of the archives of the local paper online. I was looking for information about this judge's record and opinions on things like the availability of shelters and support groups for battered women... placement of children in the homes of gay and lesbian couples ... intervention by Social Services in the homes of children of drug abusing parents. You would think that information like that would be of interest to voters trying to decide on a new Family Court judge.

I found nothing of the kind. There were eleven different articles about this parking ticket case and various allegations of a whispering campaign saying that the TV executive offered to do a story about traffic problems in the area if the officer would tear up the ticket. (The executive denies this and there is no mention of it in the officer's report of the incident.) There was absolutely no coverage of the stands the two candidates take on social issues which relate to Family Court cases.

Every bit of media coverage concerned allegations of scandal, personal attacks, and partisan bickering. Sound like any national presidential elections you've heard of? The rotting away of the political process and public discourse in our country may start at the top of the tree, but it spreads all the way to the roots.

The GOP: All White Now

posted by Jazz at 9/19/2004 07:31:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

People seem to have a difficult time wrapping their mind around the question of why there are such disparities in political party membership along racial lines. The reason seems to be that it is a struggle to question something which one already accepts as a given fact to the point that the question itself becomes almost fatuous. Asking "why don't more blacks join the Republican party" is akin to asking "why don't more dogs drive cars?" Dogs are, by nature, pedestrians, just as blacks are inherently Democrats.

Obviously that isn't true, at least not in terms of some sort of genetic predisposition. But looking at the hard data of voting numbers it may as well be. However, it wasn't always this way. In today's NYT, guest columnist Henry Louis Gates jr. offers some history and an analysis of this situation. He included many comments from Dr. Michael Dawson, author of "Behind the Mule: Race and Class in African-American Politics."

In 1956 Eisenhower received over 40% of the black vote. Four years later, Richard Nixon still managed to get 32%. Today, in elections all across the nation, you can measure the percentage of blacks who vote Republican in single digits. Dawson believes that he can identify the exact moment in time when the Republicans lost, seemingly forever, the support of blacks in this country:

Oct. 26, 1960. Martin Luther King Jr., arrested in Georgia during a sit-in, had been transferred to a maximum-security prison and sentenced to four months on the chain gang, without bail. As The Times reported, John F. Kennedy called Coretta King, expressing his concern. Richard Nixon didn't. "It took courage to call my daughter-in-law at a time like this," King's father said about Kennedy at a church rally. "I've got all my votes and I've got a suitcase, and I'm going to take them up there and dump them in his lap."

It is still fair to ask the question, however, as to whether or not black voters are being well served by the Democratic party they support. Dawson has conducted extensive studies and reports that a majority of black registered voters are surprisingly moderate to conservative in their opinions on a variety of domestic issues. Looking at those points of interest, you would think that these voters would be better served by supporting the GOP. However the exit polls clearly indicate that blacks, by and large, do not cast their votes on domestic issues - they cast them on racial issues. And in that area, the Democrats captured the flag long ago.

Many voices in the party, mine included, feel that the time for racial preferences and quotas is long past. This, however, is one of several points that the Democrats will consistently hammer on to keep the black vote coming in. I don't know if there is any level of public discussion that can change these perceptions and open up the "big tent" of the GOP to greater minority participation. What I do know is that as long as this condition persists, the Republican party will continue to carry the image of being an exclusive good ole' white boys' club.