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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Stewart on Crossfire

posted by Jazz at 10/16/2004 09:16:00 AM


I was preparing to write a long piece on one of the most amazing moments in television to come out of this election season. However, I'm glad I looked at Dean's World first, because Joe Gandelman already did it for me, hitting all the points I wanted to. It was so well done that, for the most part, I'll just leave you to click over there and read it. The basic premise, however, is the shocking appearance by Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, on CNN's Crossfire. (Transcript here.)

Ostensibly, he was there to hawk his new book, "America (the book)" but they never got around to discussing that. While the hosts expected Stewart to be his normal, funny self, he set them back on their heels as he attacked them for being too soft on political guests. He accused the Crossfire hosts of performing theatre at a time when the public really needs them to hold their guests feet to the fire and get answers out of them.

In one of the lamest attempts at self defense ever seen, the hosts actually accused Stewart, in return, of being too soft on John Kerry when he appeared on The Daily Show. Stewart hosts a comedy show which he regularly describes as "fake news" and to hear CNN journalists saying he was just as bad was simply surreal.

Enough from me. As I said, everything I wanted to talk about is described at length on Dean's World. It's long but well worth the time. Give it a read.

Taking Sides and Drawing Lines

posted by Jazz at 10/16/2004 07:13:00 AM


It comes as no surprise, but The Moderate Republican has declared his choice in the election and he'll be voting for Kerry. In this post he gives a long and extremely detailed list of reasons, not only for his dissatisfaction with Bush and the current direction of the Republican party, but also the things he dislikes about Kerry and exactly what it was that tipped the balance in Kerry's favor.

"This is less about voting for Kerry than it is sending a message to the theocons: I will not support your bigoted and wrong-headed ideas. I believe in the traditional Republican principles of limited government, federalism and equality. This president has broken all three. If the far right can sit out an election to force a candidate they don't like out, moderates can choose not to vote for someone who doesn't reflect Republican values.

I will continue to work for change in the GOP. I will work through Log Cabin to get gay-friendly leaders elected to public office. I will go to GOP caucuses and district convention and be a voice for moderation and tolerance. I will work to take the party back from the extremists that now run it. It is my hope that come 2008 I can vote for Republican that reflects true conservative values (I'm looking at you John McCain and Chuck Hagel)."

The post is considerably longer and well worth the read. I was so impressed with it that I felt compelled to compose the following response to him.

Extremely well put, sir. While I'm sure we come at our reasons for wanting some fundamental changes in the platform from different angles, the end goal is the same. The party has veered dangerously away from the sensible conservative values of the past - fiscal responsibility, respect for individual rights and privacy, shrinking the federal bureaucracy, separation of church and state - towards a hawkish new neoconservative or theoconservative set of values. Our talk of having a "big tent" is nothing more than platitudes, mouthed to try to sway moderate voters, with no substance behind it. I don't care for John Kerry at all, but he'll be getting my vote as well.

How government handles the people's money in the treasury is surely important, but the most precious capital we have is the lives of our citizens, particularly those in our military. Bush has spent that vital resource foolishly and this must not be allowed to continue.

While I have great respect for McCain, there are other moderate Republicans who would also serve us well. As it says on a t-shirt my sister is fond of wearing, "sometimes the best man for the job is a woman." Sen. Snowe from Maine might just be our next best bet to run for President in 08. It's time we open up a true "big tent" and show that it is more than just words.

Friday, October 15, 2004


posted by Jazz at 10/15/2004 09:34:00 PM


I recently received, as a gift, a collection of Lewis Black's early comedy works on DVD. I've had the pleasure of meeting Lewis a few times now, and the guy is simply one of the best comics out there. His work on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart is one of the highlights of their program.

In the summer of 2000 he was doing a gig in New York. The last presidential election was in full swing, and he delivered the following bit of wisdom which, in retrospect, makes him look like a modern day Nostradamus.

"In my lifetime, I went from Eisenhower vs. Kennedy to George W. Bush vs. Al Gore. If this is evolution, in twelve years we'll be voting for houseplants. I have one. His name is Phil. O. Dendrum."

Get out the write in ballots. I'm voting for Phil early and often.

That Thing on Edwards' Lip

posted by Jazz at 10/15/2004 05:55:00 PM


Recently, Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune posted a blog entry where he suggested that John Edwards needed to have the mole (or whatever it is) removed from his lip. His reason was that it was distracting. I wrote him an e-mail expressing my disappointment with this position. In his blog entry for today he took the time to respond.

Jazz Shaw-- Have we come no further than this? Are we really going to suggest to a politician that they should have elective cosmetic surgery just to look better on TV?
Yes. I think appearances matter and that if an aspect of a politicians' appearance causes a distraction, as John Edwards' lip mole does, he should have it removed. For the same reason he combs his hair in the morning and puts on make-up when he goes in front of the hot TV lights.

Distraction? I'm still not buying it. There is constant criticism from all quarters when Hollywood starlets go under the knife to look better. Why would a politician get a pass on this? More to the point, not everyone is physically perfect, and yet many are of sufficient interest to interview. Were you to question Bob Dole, would his injured arm be a distraction? Would Max Cleland lose points on a talk show because he's in a wheelchair? It's certainly uncomfortable for a person with no disabilities to initially meet a handicapped individual. But haven't we come further than that? I don't believe that you can equate elective surgery, no matter how minor, to grooming.

I understand that a mole on the lip of John Edwards is not in the league of a missing limb, but the point still stands. Obviously the mole isn't malignant or a doctor would have long since moved to have it taken off. It doesn't seem to bother Edwards very much or he'd have chosen elective surgery long before running for the vice presidential slot. If we're going to deduct points from his message for something that trivial, we have a long way to go as a society.

Kerry's Lesbian Fixation

posted by Jazz at 10/15/2004 04:01:00 PM


Is it a fixation? Was it appropriate for him to mention Dick Cheney's daughter during the last debate? It's certainly a talking point which has the BC04 team screeching in righteous indignation. This is some very sensitive ground to tread upon, but I've found a source for opinion on this which I think merits a look. Dennis, over at The Moderate Republican has weighed in on two aspects of this issue that both deserve consideration.

Before I quote him, however, it seems prudent to mention that Dennis is coming at these questions from a fairly unique perspective. He's black, he's gay, he's a Republican, and he's a minister who lives in the mid-west. Now, I realize that many of you are fighting an immediate urge to rush out to his house and get a photo before the species is completely extinct, but let's respect his privacy, shall we? Before you click over and read his entire analysis, (which is well worth the time) allow me to chime in.

On to the two aspects of this which I found of interest. The first point Dennis makes concerns why it might be natural for Kerry to highlight the sexual orientation of the Vice President's daughter.

"First, this really shows how scared the far right is concerning homosexuality. For them it is shameful and should be something that is not talked about, in other words keep it in the closet. It seems like the Bush campaign and their far right allies want to use this opportunity to slam John Kerry as opportunistic and mean."

The second point, which took me longer to see, speaks to why it still might have been in poor taste. The analogy used rings true in my ears.

"However, John Kerry probably should have left mentioning Mary alone. Mickey Kaus noted if a white candidate had a black spouse, and the other candidate mentioned that when talking about race, it would be considered a little over the top. I think Kerry could have made the point without talking about Mary, but it was kinda like a tempting apple that he had to bite into."

A little over the top? That's putting it mildly. When you think of the comparison to a mixed race couple, the difference becomes obvious. Commenting that an opponent had a spouse of a different race would be political suicide, so there is a case to be made that a comment about a gay relative is equally suspect. On the other hand, however, is this a sign that our country as come a bit further in general acceptance of our gay citizens? To be comfortable in discussing it in a matter of fact, accepting fashion might actually be a sign of hope. We just need Republicans to start treating the subject in the same fashion.

I've gone on and on about the need for the GOP to open up a true "big tent" and to shed the image of the Republican party as the "good ole' white boys' club." This sort of incident is, I think, an indicator that the Democrats are still light years ahead on that score, and our party needs a wake-up call to the realities of a diverse, accepting voting populace.

Democrats Claim Their Share of the Stupidity Market

posted by Jazz at 10/15/2004 03:26:00 PM


Lately the news has included a cavalcade of venerable GOP pols who seem to be in a race to see who can embarrass the party fastest and in the most staggering fashion. Not to be outdone, at least on the local level out in the 'burbs, Democrats are staking their own claim to a piece of this promised land. Joe Territo brings us the heartwarming story of an aspiring young Democrat who ran for office while having a stockpile of somewhat .... "questionable" material spread all over the internet. In an entry appropriately titled, "Vote for Dork" we find:

"Elsewhere in the journal, he posted reflections on his personal life, two pages of responses to a detailed sex survey and musings about a pistol he hoped to buy. On a separate site, he described his occupation as a "Nazi admin."

Ooops. Click on over to Joe's blog. This story is worth the trip.

O'Reilly Really IS Multicultural and Moderate!

posted by Jazz at 10/15/2004 03:08:00 PM


I've been wrong about so many things lately that I've considered throwing myself into the crater of Mt. St. Helens once it errupts. However one thing that I was positive that I'd nailed correctly was the fact that Bill O'Reilly is an evil archconservative, pretilly posing as an almost undecided moderate to gain some journalistic street cred. Well, it's seems I missed on that one too. As James Wolcott explains today, evidence offered in his sexual harassment suit demonstrates that Bill is actually a multicultural renneisance man. Here's a taste:

'He regales the complaintant--and I think we all know how scary O'Reilly can be when he starts regaling--with stories about threesomes with Swedish stewardesses (Penthouse Forum fantasy, circa 1979), being massaged in Thailand by "a small brown woman" (he could consult the back pages of the Village Voice or NY Press and save himself the airfare), and the prospect of hitting on "hot" Italian women during his visit to the Vatican.

What this tells me that is Bill O'Reilly is far more multicultural than he has let on to his duped fans, deceiving them cruelly.'

Who knew? You'll need to read the entire entry on Wolcott's site to get the full, savory flavor of snark unleashed. And if you enjoy that, be sure to check out his book Attack Poodles. Hey, I'm a Republican and even I loved it.

Nader's New Slogan: "It's All About Nader"

posted by Jazz at 10/15/2004 01:26:00 PM


As many people have already noted, the NYT today published some rather sobering numbers about the possible impact of Ralph Nader on the election if it remains as tight as it looks.

Mr. Nader will be on the ballots in more than 30 states. Polls show that he could influence the outcomes in nine by drawing support from Mr. Kerry. They are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin. Moreover, six - Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin - were among the top 20 where Mr. Nader drew his strongest support in 2000. If the vote for Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry is as evenly divided as the polls suggest, the electoral votes in any one of those states could determine who becomes president.

Nader has lost any last shred of credibility and self-respect that he once had. Let's review - what is Nader's primary claim these days as his rationale for running for office? Answer: he wants to break up the two party system that has a stranglehold on American politics and is all a front for big corporate interests. A noble goal on the surface, I'm sure you'll agree. Now let's look at the reality. Ralph Nader may be a lot of things, but stupid is not one of them. Here are a few things that Nader knows.

- First, he knows that he's never going to be elected president. Geraldo Rivera will be elected president in a special runoff election against Chairman Mao before Nader sees the inside of the Oval Office.

- Second, he knows perfectly well that his statistically tiny support base is drawn almost exclusively from the furthest left fringe of the Democratic party. His core platform shares nothing with the Republicans, and if he is not to be elected, then a Democratic president will better serve his interests.

- Third, he knows that any votes he pulls will be drawn almost exclusively from Kerry supporters who could tip the election in a very close race in some key states.

So, what are we to conclude? The fact that he remains in the race shows that Nader has become nothing more than a hypocrite - a mewling toddler who is so angry at the parental system which won't give him his lollipop that he's going to ensure he covers it in dirt so nobody can eat it. Nader's claims to want a three party system were discredited by his reaction to Ross Perot. His acceptance of huge amounts of Republican (corporate) money to keep his floundering campaign alive put the lie to his blathering speeches.

Ralph Nader isn't interested in getting a third party candidate elected. He's interested in getting Ralph Nader elected, no matter what the cost. And in his anger over his failed political aspirations he's willing to hand the country over to an archconservative president for four more years. This is his mean spirited version of punishing us for not rewarding him.

All of this is a true shame. At one time Nader was an influential man who made a real difference to Americans through is consumer activism. He could have retired from public life when it was obvious that his support was not strong enough to be elected to national office, continuing to work behind the scenes for reform. Sadly, his ego got the better of him and he has devolved into exactly that which he claims to detest.

This topic brings out some wildly varied reactions from both liberals and conservatives. You'll find some other thoughts on this from both sides of the fence at Tapped, Taegan Goddard, Outside the Beltway, Power Line, Betsy Newmark, Oliver Willis, Pandagon, and TalkLeft.

e-voting Panic Alert

posted by Jazz at 10/15/2004 11:43:00 AM


John Kay at the Center Field has some insightful thoughts on what will happen if e-voting fraud or malfunctions cause obvious anomalies in the 2004 election. Here's an excerpt:

"Did anybody ask the computer science community? Sort of. There was a commission which didn't believe for a second that the idea of elections being electronicized now was being seriously discussed. The idea of near-term, unchecked, fully computerized voting was generally looked on with horror by most of the computer science community. But we thought computerized voting was going to be a hard sell when it was finally ready, and that there would be broad support for suspicion of electronically cast votes."

Friday Pet Blogging

posted by Jazz at 10/15/2004 06:48:00 AM


Just as she was about to make her dash out the window to freedom, the police yell "FREEZE!" at our cat, Spider.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

More on el Presidente "Goni"

posted by Jazz at 10/14/2004 03:59:00 PM


As reported earlier via Big, Left, Outside, the former president of Bolivia has been called by the Bolivian congress to come back to the country to stand trial for violent crimes against Bolivian citizens. Their congress is demanding that President Bush allow him to be extradited from his current plush digs in Miami.

The BBC has more on this.

Mr Sanchez de Lozada, 74, is currently in the US, where he fled after resigning from his post. <> "Congress voted overwhelmingly for him and 15 other members of his ousted cabinet to be put on trial. The vote was backed by members of his own party. Congress debated the motion for 12 hours before 126 of the 140 members decided to summon Mr Sanchez de Lozada for trial. Discontent with the country's economy also contributed to more than a month of violent protests at the end of last year. Dozens of people were killed in clashes between security forces and protesters. Opposition parties and labour unions accused the president of authorising excessive force and a campaign of repression against his political rivals."

This guy certainly seems like a very popular fellow back home. Will Bush and company send him back to face charges that he was a brutal repressor of his own people? We all know how Bush feels about people like that.

But wait, there's more. It seems that the peasants back home didn't think much of him either.

Thousands of Bolivian peasant farmers have begun marching on La Paz, calling for ex-President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to be put on trial.

The marchers blame him for the deaths of some 80 people last year in violent protests against government plans to export natural gas.

I do hope the MSM and the larger blogs pick up on this. If Bush is consistent with his rhetoric, he should have NSA folks on the way to pick this guy up already.

No story such as this is complete without a photo. So, for any Florida readers... have you seen this man?

I Never Forgot About Osama What's-His-Name

posted by Jazz at 10/14/2004 02:07:00 PM


Flipping through my list of daily reads, I've come across a lot of comments about Bush's serious gaffe at the debate - ok. One of them. Specifically when he claimed to have never said this or that about Osama. Pundits galore have taken him to task or defended him, some more eloquently than others.

This one, from Jeff at Red Hair & Black Leather, really stopped me, though.

"One more sign our Dear Leader is way past his freshness date (as if "internets" wasn't enough); he still doesn't understand that every single word he says is recorded somewhere, and just contradict yourself once. "Roll tape!" "I never said..." Liar!"

It includes comments from Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly. Give it a read.

Bolivian Congress Demands that Bush Extradite Former Prez from Miami

posted by Jazz at 10/14/2004 11:24:00 AM


We can't allow ourselves to get so distracted by the debates that we lose track of all other news, and this looks like a relatively big story. Hot off the press from Al Giordano at Big, Left, Outside we find that last night the Bolivian congress declared that former president Gonzalo "Goni" Sanchez de Lozada could be put on trial as a civilian in the deaths of numerous protesters while he was in office. I have not seen one American MSM outlet pick this up yet, nor any of the other blogs I follow. If you're going to publish a take on this story, you should really credit Big, Left, Outside. From Giordano's blog:

Last night, at 12:30 a.m., 126 members of the Bolivian Congress (out of 140, making the vote against Goni a crushing 90 percent on the second roll call) voted that Goni and members of his cabinet can now be subjected to trial as civilians for their alleged roles in the deaths of more than 80 civilian protestors during what is known throughout Bolivia as the "Black October" of 2003.

The gauntlet was thus thrown down to the Bush administration in Washington, which, according to
U.S. Ambassador David Greenlee responding to Bolivian journalists last night, has allowed the former president, Goni, to remain legally in the United States for the past year.

Apparently "Goni" was up to a number of highjinks but has since been hiding out safely in Miami, presumably living the good life on South Beach. The fact that their congress has called out in such a unified voice for his extradition should certainly get Bush's attention. With all of his concern over dictators around the world, and the works of evil men, I'm confident he'll jump all over this request.

You can read extensive details about this situation in another article published by Al Giordano at The NarcoSphere. Check the whole thing out while I cook up some popcorn for us to munch as we await the reply from Washington. (Assuming, that is, that any MSM outlets pick up this story.)

EDIT: Update to this story with more from the BBC.

Retraction on the Danziger Cartoon

posted by Jazz at 10/14/2004 09:02:00 AM


In a previous post I questioned why a recent cartoon by Jeff Danziger was being called racist. A number of helpful readers pointed out to me that it was clearly a reference to a black character from Gone with the Wind. To be honest, I was never that much of a GWTW fan, and haven't seen the movie in nearly two decades. I did not recognize the reference, but readers seemed sure enough that I contacted the cartoonist to ask about it. Jeff wrote back to me this morning with a copy/paste of a retraction which he has apparently posted regarding this cartoon. Here are his comments in full:

"Thanks for your admonishment on my cartoon. The imagery was in fact wrongly conceived and poorly applied, and for that your readers, and anyone else, have my apologies. With more thought, and heeding my wife's wise advice, I probably would not have used such a drawing. She has pointed this out with cold severity. My parallel to Prissy from Gone With the Wind, who knew all about birthin' babies, and then, when the baby was on the way, didn't know nuthin' about birthin' babies meant to chastise the administration, and Condi Rice in particular for having assured us that they knew of Saddam's nuclear capability even though there was plenty of doubt cast by the experts. New reports and investigations back this up. I am a veteran of the late great Vietnam War, and I am haunted by the parallels. These aluminum tubes may well be the Gulf of Tonkin of the next ten years. That war was based on the sloppy conviction that we couldn't lose, held first by JFK and then expanded by LBJ. Both men lied when they thought it necessary, and the current crowd is doing the same thing. Now GI's are getting killed, but as usual, the first casualty has been the truth. But Ms. Rice should not be ridiculed on the basis of her race or her resemblance to a movie stereotype, and I should not have done so. The cartoon has been withdrawn and I totally repudiate the imagery. I have been slagged by the right and the left, so I guess I am as wrong as I can be, though I am a member of neither side. I do several hundred cartoons a year and have been doing this for thirty years and I would point out that no complaints of racism have attended any previous work. In fact, a recent compilation of cartoons, entitled "Wreckage" from Steerforth Press, will prove this. Thanks for printing this on your site. And for the record I am an independent cartoonist. My views, as they say, are my own."

Obviously the general interpretation of what Jeff was doing was the correct one. My somewhat naive read on it was that he was poking fun at the apparent flip flop by Rice and other administration officials on the subject of the aluminum tubes in Iraq, combined with making a joke about poor speaking skills. (Though that is more typical of Bush than Rice who is actually quite well spoken.)

So, with that said, I have to retract my original assertion and state that Michelle Malkin, along with many other conservative pundits, was r.... ri... riiiiiii... ru... ru...

(Hold on a moment. I have to be ill. )

Ok, I'll spit it out. Malkin was right. I was wrong. Mea Culpa.

Rove Using Squirrels to Rig Election

posted by Jazz at 10/14/2004 07:40:00 AM


This just in from the battleground state of Ohio.

Squirrel Forces Teen Driver To Hit House

KETTERING, Ohio -- A teenage driver swerved to miss a squirrel, lost control and slammed into a home, causing major damage. The accident happened Friday afternoon on Broad Boulevard in Kettering.The 16-year-old driver told police that he lost control of his car after he swerved to miss an albino squirrel that ran out into the street. The accident caused windows to shatter and the garage to cave in when the car struck the residence.The woman who owns the home was not there at the time of the accident.

Officers said the teen was not injured during the accident. However, the squirrel was killed as a result of the accident.Some residents in the neighborhood said they suspect the teen was driving too fast. However, officers cannot confirm that the driver was speeding.Police said it is likely the teen will be charged with failure to control his vehicle.

What the story doesn't tell you is that the boy driving the car was a volunteer bringing in Democratic voter registration forms. The squirrel is a known associate of Karl Rove.

(Oh, fine. I made that last part up.)

Nader Out in Pennsylvania

posted by Jazz at 10/14/2004 07:07:00 AM


Things continue to be interesting in the Keystone State. (A name which I always thought was rather odd, since Pennsylvania is a commonwealth.) Just this week we learned that President Bush had pulled a lot of his campaign assets out of Pa. and wouldn't be going back there very often. While not admitting defeat, it clearly looks like they are ceding the state to Kerry.

Now, in another blow to Bush's hopes there, CNN reports that Nader has been thrown off the ballot in a very uncomplimentary fashion. The judge presiding over the case was quoted as saying,

"I am compelled to emphasize that this signature-gathering process was the most deceitful and fraudulent exercise ever perpetrated upon this court. The conduct of the candidates, through their representatives (not their attorneys), shocks the conscience of the court."

Ever since this election boiled down to the battleground states, analysts have been saying that the winner of the election would be the man who took two out of three in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Nader is now off the ballot in Ohio as well, but remains in the running in Florida. Higher than normal voter turnout in any of these three states looks to favor Kerry, so it will be interesting to see what effect yesterday's report about Republicans throwing away thousands of Democratic registration forms will have.

Stay tuned. This race is down to the last few weeks and, with the debates over, I expect it's going to get a lot more dirty from here on out. If the anticipated "October Surprise" of Karl Rove is coming, he's running out of time to spring it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Debate Post Mortem

posted by Jazz at 10/13/2004 10:40:00 PM


Before addressing the candidates, I'll just say that I was more impressed with the moderator this time than I could have imagined. You might think he's getting long in the tooth, but he had an arsenal of politely stated but very tough questions. He was on target talking about things that are important to most Americans.

My first impression of Bush and Kerry was that both candidates were far more in control than they were in the previous two debates. My gut level reaction to John Kerry was that he was, if anything, too aggressive. The moderator asked some pointed questions to which John Kerry only paid brief lip service and then switched to some seriously combative talking points to tear down Bush. They were valid attacks, but it did seem more like a stump speech at times and less like interactive answers to the questions.

Bush was on weak ground to start with. His record on domestic issues has been horrible, and Kerry called him on many points where he simply had no answer. Bush was much better on the split screen to keeping his grimacing under control, but he was obviously uncomfortable having the flaws in his domestic record thrown into such a harsh light.

The biggest contrasting moments came on gay issues. Bush got Kerry to own up to opposing gay marriage, (bad move, John, but too late now) but Kerry made a stance for equal rights in day to day life for everyone. Bush, being faithful to the ultraconservatives, was forced to try to paint some lipstick on the pig of bigotry and homophobia.

Kerry quote: "I'm tired of politicians who talk about family values, but don't value families." That was a hard hitting sound bite. Another very strong point came near the end when the candidates were asked about the division between the sides. That is a huge gap for Bush to address, and Kerry sent a tough message about reaching across the aisle. Bush has no ground to stand on there.

If Kerry had a stumbling point, it was when he claimed that Bush never met with the black congressional caucus. He meant to say that the President didn't meet with the NAACP. The Bush team is going to jump all over that one this week.

On the back door draft question, Kerry jumped all over Bush. It may not be practical, but he drove home the point that reservists belong at home taking care of homeland defense needs, border problems, and domestic emergency. Bush was forced to stumble back into saying that we need victory in Iraq to bring the reservists back home. It was a weak answer, and Kerry took that point like a wolf on fresh meat.

Some people might try to call this a Bush win simply because he managed to not self destruct when discussing his weakest points. Unfortunately for him, Kerry was sharp and on the attack across the board on gut level domestic issues. He had the message and he delivered it powerfully. I have to give this one to Kerry - he was powerful, presidential and clear. The facts were on his side, and he used them to great effect.

Edit: As with the last two debates, check out Joe Gandelman for what is arguably the most comprehensive analysis of last night's debate, along with a roundup of what bloggers across the spectrum are saying. Unlike more biased blogs (to either side) you can get a glimpse of, and links to, debate reviews from the left, right, and center.

Desperate for a Scandal, Part One Million

posted by Jazz at 10/13/2004 06:05:00 PM


EDIT: I'm not going to erase the first section of this post because when I'm wrong, or just plain stupid, I may as well own up to it and allow you to share in my humilation. (Bon' Apetite.) But I have now posted a retraction to this entry above. The cartoon mentioned here was, in fact, a blatantly racist jab at Condi Rice. Click on the retraction link to view my dinner of crow.

Every once in a while somebody has to check up on the deranged ramblings of right wingnut Michelle Malkin and see how well her tin foil hat is fitting these days. Sadly, that duty seems to fall to me. We have two items of interest to cover. The first is a post where she makes a scathing attack against editorial cartoonist Jeff Danziger for drawing this cartoon. (Take a quick look, please, or this entry will mean nothing to you.)

Malkin describes Danziger as taking a "sick racist shot at Condoleezza Rice." Perhaps my racism sensitive antennae aren't finely tuned enough. Perhaps I'm simply dense. I know that many readers of Running Scared lean more towards the left and are likely sensitive to racist ugliness when they come across it, so perhaps you can help me out. I'm not seeing it.

The cartoon shows a caricature of Rice, seated in a rocking chair, bottle feeding an aluminum tube. (One of the infamous aluminum tubes Saddam purportedly had for building nukes, since debunked.) Other animated tubes surround her. The quotes by Rice are, "I knows all about aluminum tubes.! (correction) I don't know nuthin' about aluminum tubes." At face value, Danziger is obviously poking fun at her defense of the aluminum tubes as proof that Saddam was building WMDs. Where is the racist part? Seriously, help me out here. Is it the bottle feeding? I don't think so. Is it the poor grammar in her claim and then retraction? If that's supposed to be the racist part, then Malkin is implying that any stereotyping of unintelligent people who speak poorly must be a slap at blacks. Excuse me, but I think 99% of such slaps are directed at Bush's poor speech and perceived lack of intelligence. Last time I checked, he was white. Where is the racism? Or is Malkin again just so desperate for something to accuse a liberal editorialist over that she's just making stuff up now?

The second post of note is her latest list of horrible crimes committed by Democrats against Republicans. We've covered this here before. All crimes by either side against the other are poison to me. (And we've certainly shown that Republicans give as good as they get.) Today, Malkin unleashed five more complaints.

The first is an incident is a complaint of window breaking. Be sure to check out the picture. It's definitely a car with a broken window, and likely two of them. There is a sign inside the window blocking the hole describing how horrible Democrats are, put there by the owner. There is no mention of any specific person who did this, or even a suspicion. Malkin blames it on "some Democrat" though.

Second incident, more broken windows. Again, we have witnesses and police stating that there were no messages indicating motive and no leads as to who did it. Sensing a theme here?

Third, a case of a GOP office being broken into and robbed. Thieves broke in and took petty cash and apparently attempted to take some computer equipment but left it behind. Yet again, no witnesses and no clues as to who did it. I suppose it's impossible that real thieves broke in to steal things? Yep... in Malkin's world it could only have been angry Democratic Kerry supporters. It was a robbery, Malkin. Wake up.

The fourth story is the already worn out tale of the Union protesters in Florida "storming and ransacking" the Republican office. I completely agree that they shouldn't have done it, but defacing one Bush poster and dumping some letters on the floor is a bit weak for ransacking. They need more practice I suppose.

The last story is of a Republican candidate for office receiving threats on his phone and some stalker waiting for him outside holding a sign that says, "Bang. You're dead." And once again we read a story where authorities (and the candidate) have no clue who the man is doing the stalking or what his motives are. No indication is given for why this maniac might have a beef with the Republican candidate. But again, Malkin is willing to blame "a Democrat" for it. Why bother with police investigations, eh Michelle? Hell, it was probably John Kerry himself. Go arrest him!

More from some opposing views at Woody's Woundup and Secure Liberty.

Bush on Gays

posted by Jazz at 10/13/2004 05:07:00 PM


Yes, I know that title sounds bad, but I'm in a hurry. The Moderate Republican speculates on exactly how and why Bush abandoned any sort of inclusion of gays in the GOP "big tent" since his election. It's short but to the point. Take a look.

For my money, I don't personally believe that Bush is either a homophobe or a racist. Bush is a capitalist. Money, and by inference, power, is what talks and everything else walks. Bush's base is composed of a lot of people who like to see the world in black and white with not so much black, please. And they have no use for gays beyond any possible political currency they might be able to nab by rifling through their pockets. Earnest support for gay and minority issues simply isn't seen as profitable by Bush's team or the ultraconservatives currently scripting the party's play.

In the end, this will be one of the biggest anchors dragging the Republican party down the drain. Unless, of course, we can get it turned around. Get out there and vote, people. Get Bush out of office and begin a dialogue at every level about why we lost, why the country won't support the unltraconservative agenda, which moderate Republicans are leading in the right direction, and what we can do to turn this sinking ship around.

The Third Debate

posted by Jazz at 10/13/2004 04:24:00 PM


I'm trying to be excited by the prospect of tonight's presidential debate, but the fact is, I can't. Yes, I'll be watching and I'll blog when it's over. But my expectations are much lower for this one. If this doesn't wind up being a tie in the eyes of all but most rabidly partisan, I'll be shocked. The polls show these two in a dead heat at the moment. They can't afford any serious errors, and thus will take no chances.

I'm hoping I'm wrong, but we'll know in a few hours.

Why am I Not Surprised?

posted by Jazz at 10/13/2004 04:04:00 PM


I wish I were, though. If this story is true, (hat tip to Josh Marshall) and it certainly seems likely, then at least one group of people conducting a get out the vote style voter registration drive were seen tearing up hundreds or possibly thousands of Democratic registrations, and only submitting the Republican ones.

"The state is investigating allegations that a Portland canvasser may have destroyed completed voter registration forms. A recent report says that a man paid to register voters was instructed to only accept Republican registration forms.

"Voters Outreach of America," the company he claims to work for, is largely bankrolled by the GOP. But the Oregon Republican Party says the man never worked for them.

This is the second complaint in one day against the company. In Las Vegas, Nevada the company's one-time registrar says his former employer only paid workers to collect Republican registrations.

Talking about his former boss, Eric Russell said, "We caught her ripping up the registration of Democrats, ripped them up right in front of us."

Russell saved some of the torn-up documents, and the county elections chief confirmed those registrations never made it onto Las Vegas voter rolls."

Josh Marshall has a bit more information on this story, though I'm still almost speechless.

"The head of VOA is Nathan Sproul, a Republican political consultant who used to be the executive director of the Arizona state Republican party. Before that, he was the executive director of the Arizona Christian Coalition.

In gaining access to venues to register voters, he has apparently been claiming that his group is part of America Votes, a voter education and registration groups put together by a consortium of Democrat-leaning groups like the AFL-CIO, Emily's List, the Sierra Club and others.

A quick scan of Nexis shows Sproul's outfit is also operating in West Virginia (see Charleston Gazette, August 20th), where they've already raised some controversy for misleading tactics if not destroying legally valid registrations."

There really isn't too much more to comment on here. Whether it was a Republican group or a Democratic group doing it, this is the absolute bottom of the barrel. If this isn't a felony offense offering a very long jail term, then nothing is. No matter how divisive the arguments or how bitterly fought the battle, the goal in the end is to get the maximum number of Americans engaged in the debate and voting for their choice. Deliberately destroying registration forms so that people arriving at the polls will find out they can't vote is a form of terrorism.

I'm not even sure if there is a provision in the law to allow people to still register and vote if their registration is deliberately tampered with. I wonder if any of the conservative blogs will pick up this story and join in condemning this? Time shall tell.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Sinclair Throws in the Towel

posted by Jazz at 10/12/2004 05:17:00 PM


The vice president for corporate relations from Sinclair Broadcast Group, Mark Hyman (please, no easy name jokes) was interviewed on CNN by Bill Hemmer this morning. In case you missed the runup to this story, Sinclair is the media conglomerate which owns a large number of television stations around the country who refused to air an edition of Nightline last April. The reason? Ted Koppel was reading a list of the war dead in Iraq and Sinclair said that it was a "political statement." Now, as I reported previously, they are going to show a 90 minute film by a branch of the Swift Boat vets bashing John Kerry the week before the election. They are going to preempt regular network programming to do it and present is as a "news" special.

Hemmer did a good job leading in to the interview and allowed Hyman to give his explanation of why they thought it was ok to air the story. He also followed up with a question about the Nightline incident and allowed Hyman to blather on a bit about why that *was* a political statement but this feature length advertisement from Karl Rove's personal 527 group wasn't. I thought that was fair enough - Sinclair is going to try to take the stand that they don't make political statements and they think that one of these incidents was such a statement and the swiftie ad isn't.

Then, however, Hyman simply stepped on his own foot. He made the following statement on CNN, and trust me... I couldn't make this kind of thing up if I tried.

"I think the question should be asked of the networks: Why aren't they talking about this issue? Probably perhaps more importantly: Why won't John Kerry speak with these Vietnam POWs? He has been avoiding them for 31 years. If he's afraid of a bunch of 60 and 70- year-old men who were wounded and tortured in Vietnam, what does it say about his ability to respond to al Qaeda if they were to attack the U.S. if he were serving as president?"

After finishing a speech about how you are an impartial news source and don't make "political statements" how could any sane person be caught on CNN saying that? You don't call that a talking point for the Bush campaign? This man is beyond the realm of delusion and wallowing somewhere in a deranged fantasy.

Catch more on this at Washington Monthly and Pandagon.

National ID Cards, Part Two

posted by Jazz at 10/12/2004 03:55:00 PM


Judging by the various e-mails and posted comments I received concerning the earlier post about the prospect of national ID cards, there is obviously some interest in it and a lot of disagreement with my premise. That's fine... healthy debate is A Good Thing. In the interest of giving fair treatment to all sides of the argument, I'll share a few of the incoming thoughts.

"As someone who grew up in a country with mandatory ID cards I can tell you that there is a much more sinister problem with that scheme... And voila, you have created a national citizen register. With the known lack of protection of personal data in the US every last detail of your life will become a matter of public record."

"While you point out positive things that could result, you also open the door to an Orwellian society. Having the government know that much about everyone at all times is a path to destruction for personal liberties."

"I really don't see how a national ID makes us safer."

John Ashcroft. The potential for abuse is there and if there is the potential men like Ashcroft will abuse it."

"where there's power to be abused, someone will abuse it. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and so on..."

"This is simply another step toward totalitarian regulation of a free people, if you can call us "free" in a time when our Justice Department has virtual carte blanche in its treatment of the innocent and guilty alike."

"Oh, yeah, I can see how this would make smaller government that interferes less. Not."

I'll confess. That last one hurt a bit, coming from The One True Tami, but my easily bruised ego will recover, I assure you. We'll get to her argument in a moment, and in the meanwhile you can read the full explanation of why she thinks I'm a babbling moron here. As to the other comments, I see a recurring theme. Orwellian societies, abuse of power, totalitarian regulation, a "national citizen register."

I'm not the type of debater who will pretend blindness and say, "How can you say that?" Obviously there is a lot of concern in the country about those issues, and twenty years ago I would have agreed with you completely. If you give the government access to that sort of information they could get up to all manner of highjinks. Why, just for a hypothetical example, they might do things like, oh... I don't know... gathering the names of known former political protesters and harass them about going to the GOP convention in New York. Or collecting names of black activists who conduct get out the vote drives in Florida and go to their homes to intimidate them and...

Ooops. Seems they're already doing that. I'm just as uncomfortable as you with the idea of the government having that sort of access. My point, as I said in the first entry, was that they already have it. If you have ever gotten a drivers license, insurance, a job where you paid taxes, or more examples than I could name, your information is already out there for the government to cherry pick as they choose. Several people commented that they could see the advantages for effective law enforcement, reduction in false arrests, and greater security from such a system. I offer in return that the perceived loss of privacy you fear from this national citizen's register has already long since happened. The bad result is already upon us. Why not take advantage of the good that could come from it?

This also ties in to my question of "who are we trying to protect here?" The watchdogs we have in place in our technologically oriented society have gotten better and better at shining a bright light at government cockroaches when they abuse information like this. Otherwise we wouldn't know about the scandals I mentioned above. But when information like this is available in a shared database to state police and federal authorities, law enforcement against actual criminals can be faster, cheaper, and more effective.

That last bit brings us to Tami's complaint - namely that it won't do anything to help reduce the size of government and lessen interference. I disagree. In the long run, (and it would be relatively quick at that) such a system could help reduce the need for federal government interference in criminal investigation. Something like this could vastly empower police at the state level and increase their effectiveness. The need for intervention by the FBI, NSA, etc. for domestic cases (as opposed to crimes committed on U.S. soil by foreigners) could be drastically reduced.

Let's say you are Linda the Lesbian. You've just left the Rainbow Coallition rally in the middle of downtown and are walking home proudly sporting your pink triangle pin affixed to your "Two good moms are better than one bad dad" t-shirt. Suddenly, a large menacing individual steps out from a car parked at the curb wearing a ski mask and begins to beat the holy living hell out of you while shouting endearing terms like, "Dyke! Commie! Godless Vermin!" When he's done he jumps back in the car and screeches off into the night.

With the blood streaming into your eyes you are unable to get the license number, but you know it's an in-state plate and you're able to pull out your cell phone and call 9-1-1. The police and the CSI team arrive quickly to help you. They get a fingerprint off of your purse and find some skin on your watch where the attacker scratched himself. Unfortunately, back at the lab, there are no hits on the fingerprints and the D.N.A. doesn't match any known offenders. The police begin an investigation, interviewing people in the neighborhood, getting a sketch artist to take a description from you, all the usual work. Will they catch him? Maybe. You can never underestimate the value of good detective work and shoe leather. But maybe not.

In the future with this national register, however, the police immediately get a hit that the guy was Bob Hutchington from Bayou Falls, Louisiana. Bob has a local history down there of beating up gays with his brothers Billy Bob and Bobby Ray. Nothing big... just a local record. Plus, Bob just purchased a ticket at the airport to fly back to the Big Easy. Police head over there and grab him at the boarding area.

Have we violated Bob's rights somehow? I don't think so. And let's face it, we really didn't like Bob anyway. The case might have gotten even worse for Jim Duncan. He's a local guy with a big build like Bob who has a record of causing trouble at gay rights parades. He had no alibi for where he was at the time and winds up sitting in jail as the police investigate everything about him while Bob goes back to work at the fish canning factory in La. We didn't like Jim either, but he wasn't the guy who beat you up and doesn't deserve to be in jail in this case.

The bottom line is, this could be an incredible tool to make people safer. And what you think you are giving up in return was taken away from you long ago.

National Women's College Day of Protest and Solidarity

posted by Jazz at 10/12/2004 07:27:00 AM


On Wed. Oct. 13th, in support of the young women at Wells College in New York State who are protesting the school's recent decision to go co-ed, women's institutions around the country are participating in a nationwide day of protest and solidarity. Candlelight vigils and periods of silence will be observed at multiple schools. You can read more about the activities at this web site, as well as getting updates on the progress of the protesters at Wells at their Save Our Sisterhood blog.

Since being evicted from the administrative building, the women have taken to living in tents on the lawn outside. A number of Wells graduates and other supporters have stopped by with food, drinks, and a welcome show of support. There is currently a "Voided Check" campaign in progress. Alumnae are sending in voided donation checks to the school, along with a note indicating that the check represents the amount of money they would have been donating to Wells had they not gone co-ed and that they can expect to receive a valid check in that amount if the school reverses its decision.

Here is one photo of the human barricade at the Wells administrative building. Click on the photo for more pictures from the protest. Notice that the women are all wearing symbolic black gags to demonstrate how their voices are being silenced in decisions regarding the future of their school.

Monday, October 11, 2004

National ID Cards

posted by Jazz at 10/11/2004 03:46:00 PM


I'll give fair warning here... if you are a reader who follows this blog because I oppose Bush and you think that I take all liberal left wing causes to heart, you may want to move on. This entry deals with the concept of national identification cards, and I completely support them.

Apparently, according to this nyt article, the House and Senate are working on rules for standardized national driver's licenses. This is a process that is long overdue and, in my never very humble opinion, doesn't even go far enough, although it does need some work. Here is part of that article:

"Following a recommendation of the Sept. 11 commission, the House and Senate are moving toward setting rules for the states that would standardize the documentation required to obtain a driver's license, and the data the license would have to contain. Critics say the plan would create a national identification card. But advocates say it would make it harder for terrorists to operate, as well as reduce the highway death toll by helping states identify applicants whose licenses had been revoked in other states."

This apparently has the usual list of suspects outraged. Marv Johnson of the ACLU had this to say:

"I think it means we're going to end up with a police state, essentially, by allowing the secretary of homeland security to designate the sensitive areas and allowing this integrating screening system. If the requirement to show the identification card can be applied to any mode of transportation, that could eventually include subways or highways, and the result would be to require you to have some national ID card, essentially, in order to go from point A to point B."

The only shortcoming of a plan like this is that fees are involved. If the federal government is going to require citizens to have a national ID and/or driver's license, then it should be free. Yes, that will cost taxpayer money, but not everyone has the disposable income to get such documents. Beyond that, what exactly is the problem with having a national ID card? Who exactly are we trying to protect here?

People like Johnson seem to feel that there is some inherent, unjust danger to normal, law abiding citizens if the government knows who they are and are able to locate them. Here's a news flash: if you were born in a hospital, have a social security number, have ever worked and filed a W-2 form, receive mail, drive a vehicle, rent or own a place to live, have a credit card, or any other number of things, the government can already find you. Yes, you can go into hiding by not going home, but if you are that obsessed with hiding from the authorities, you probably have a reason to. There are some people who are so far off the grid, living with none of these documents, that they could never be tracked down. But they don't have driver's licenses anyway.

The protections built into our constitutional system are designed to protect the innocent from unjust persecution by the government. Personally, I would like to think that a system that could eliminate me quickly as a suspect in a crime where I might be suspected, but which I did not commit, would be a good thing. If requiring an ID to take public transportation is a requirement that can protect you from false accusation and allow police to more quickly track down the actual perpetrator of the crime, where exactly is the injustice in that? If the ID in question is free for you to obtain, what are you losing unless you have done something wrong and have something to hide? And in that case, I'm afraid I don't have much sympathy for you.

The idea of a national ID is long overdue, but these measures still fall short. The technology is available to allow everyone in America to have an ID that identifies them without ambiguity and protects them from false accusation. Within two generations we could have a DNA sample on record for every person born that could be associated with their social security number, national ID, etc., and false arrests in cases with any sort of material evidence would be a thing of the past.

Orrin Judd seems to agree with me. TalkLeft predictably opposes this. Outside the Beltway seems to agree with me as well.

A Blogging Pet Roundup

posted by Jazz at 10/11/2004 10:57:00 AM


This is nice. Lots of links to pet blogging. (And no, I'm not only posting it because our dog Kenya is in there.) It's at The Modulator.

The Partisan Project

posted by Jazz at 10/11/2004 10:04:00 AM


In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, far west of the fashionable Philly cheese steak dens, a group of artists have combined their talents and resources to put the "art" back in "partisan" this year. Having realized that Pennsylvania would be one of the key battleground states in this years election, and with polls tighter than they were in Florida 2000, these artists decided that "a vote for this administration is worse than no vote at all" and set about trying to effect change.

The Partisan Project had a group of artists come up with fifteen different two color posters urging people to vote against the Bush administration. The artwork runs a range of quality and impact in my opinion, but it's worth a look. They are also seeking sales of poster packs and donations if possible to continue their efforts. While other groups have had more bipartisan "get out the vote" drives, these folks cut through the haze and simply picked a side.

You can read here as to who they are, what they are about, and what they have done. I'll share one poster of theirs with you. I've seen this one before, as it turned up at the RNC in New York this summer.

Welcome to the Cynical Retreat Center

posted by Jazz at 10/11/2004 09:21:00 AM


Out at the Chicago Tribune, Mary Schmich has a lovely break from all of the Kerry carping and Bush bashing. She introduces us to the newest "anti-spa", located in Washington, D.C. - the Cynical Retreat Center.

"The Cynical Retreat Center is the nation's first totally non-holistic sanctuary dedicated to the proposition that life is not a spa. In a world of feel-good fluff and puff, the Cynical Retreat Center is a refreshing step back into hard-core reality."

No retreat center worth its salt would be caught dead without an extensive list of workshops and courses to correct all of your many human flaws. The CRC has some beauties.

"Positive Thinking About Negative Thinking. When you look in the mirror, do you think, "I'm fat" or "I'm old" or "Nobody loves me enough" or "This country's gone to hell in a Prada handbag"? Congratulations. You're probably right. In this groundbreaking class, we teach you to stop feeling bad about feeling bad and just roll with the facts, ma'am.

How to Read a Newspaper 101. Don't. The news makes you feel bad.

How to Read a Newspaper 202. In this advanced seminar, you'll learn such stress-reducing tips as: When short on time, stick with the comics. Believe that the reporters did their best to write the truth, but know that you're never reading the whole truth. When reading opinion columns, take it for granted that the opinionator is at best moderately informed on the topic and just as likely to be wrong as right."

Now those are courses that I could get behind. Hell, I could probably teach them. There is so much more. Mary's column had me smiling all the way through. Give it a look. (Registration required, but it's free and well worth the two minutes it takes for today's column.)

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Bob Barr Questions the Party

posted by Jazz at 10/10/2004 07:12:00 PM


You may officially resume the watch for four horsemen in the sky. Old school, Eisenhower Republican Bob Barr is questioning whether or not it's worth voting for George W. Bush. You may remember Barr if you follow the ongoing conflict between traditional Republicans and the influx of "New Conservatives" currently writing the agenda. He's not in office any longer, after representing Georgia in the House in the late nineties. He conducted his affairs on a few simple premises... less taxes after reducing spending and the deficit, smaller government, increased power to the states and a basic regard for individual privacy. Wait... let me think... where have I heard that before? Oh, yes... from me.

Bob wrote an editorial this weekend where he finally decided that enough was enough. He is questioning whether or not he can, with a clean conscience, vote for Bush. This president represents everything that has torn apart the Republican party. Bob is mad as hell, and he just might not take it anymore. He may have not been the most forward thinking of men - his positions on expanding the "big tent" and general inclusion might not have been high enough on his priority list. He certainly cast a few votes out of party loyalty that might not have been made in a brighter light of examination. But he was one of a handful of medics gathered over the injured body of the old Republican party, hoping to get in a few minutes of CPR.

To quote the grand old man:

"When Bush became president Jan. 20, 2001, he inherited an enviable fiscal situation. Congress, then controlled by his own party, had -- through discipline and tough votes -- whittled down decades of deficit spending under presidents of both parties, so that annual deficits of hundreds of billions of dollars had been transformed to a series of real and projected surpluses. The heavy lifting had been done. All Bush had to do was resist the urge to spend, and he had to exert some pressure on Congress to resist its natural impulses to do the same. Had he done that, he might have gone down in history as the most fiscally conservative president in modern times.

Instead, what we got were record levels of new spending, including nearly double-digit increases in nondefense discretionary spending. We now have deficits exceeding those that the first Republican-controlled Congress in 40 years faced when it convened in January 1995."

This is an excellent first step. Bush is sliding towards what I am beginning to hope is a defeat in the election. And that defeat has to be a wake up call to the GOP. The country will not stand for radical conservative agendas that divide the nation. We don't need bigotry and prejudice written into the constitution. We need a fresh look at the values set down by the founding fathers for sensible government, where people can expect protection of their rights and freedoms without Washington dictating every aspect of their lives.

The time for this destruction of the party led by the ultraconservatives is long past. Bob Barr could be sending a very important message to the conservatives. Let's hope that enough listen.

Republicans Squash Civil Rights commission Report

posted by Jazz at 10/10/2004 01:03:00 PM


The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (web site) recently concluded a study on the civil rights record of the current administration. Suffice to say that it wasn't a pretty picture. However, there is only a "draft copy" of the report available. According to the NYT and confirmed by a press release from the USCCR, Republicans have succeeded in delaying the release of the final report until after the election. Having given it a first read, it's not hard to see why. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Voting Rights: The Bush administration did not provide leadership to ensure timely passage and swift implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. As a result, Congress did not appropriate funds for election reform until almost two years into the administration.

  • Equal Educational Opportunity: The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) does not sufficiently address unequal education, a major barrier to closing the achievement gap between minority and white students.

  • Affirmative Action: Instead of promoting affirmative action in federal contracting and education, the administration promotes "race neutral alternatives," in many instances not applicable and in others not overly effective at maintaining diversity.

  • Environmental Justice: EPA has taken few actions to ensure disparate impact of minority communities to environmental contamination.

  • Racial Profiling: The administration responded to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by instituting regulations that facilitate profiling rather than prevent it. Immigrants and visitors from Arab and Middle Eastern countries were subjected to increased scrutiny, including interviews, registration, and in some cases removal.

I realize that I've written about this to the point of putting many readers to sleep, but this is one of the chief failures in our party since it began its radical swing to the far right. There will never be any hope for the "big tent" to which party leaders claim to aspire if there is no honest effort reach out to minorities and give substantive attention to their needs and concerns. As recently as the Nixon era, Republicans were still drawing over a third of the black vote in this country. Now, in most areas, the percentages are in single digits. This report clearly details why continued lip service with no underlying substance will do nothing to change those figures.

Update: TalkLeft has more on this story.

Wired or a Back Brace?

posted by Jazz at 10/10/2004 11:01:00 AM


Ungodly Politics thinks that, rather than being wired for sound during the debates, our Commander in Chief has been wearing a back brace. Pictures are provided there. Here is one which I will shamelessly steal from Lazerus. Notice that, while riding in his good ole' boy pickup truck, a similar lump is seen under his cowboy shirt.

There are plenty of pictures in that post, so check it out and you can make the call. The question Lazerus poses is, and I have to agree, if this is a back brace then why wouldn't Rove let the Bush team just admit it? It would seem a far less nefarious revelation than allowing people to think Bush was cheating. Lazerus speculates that it comes from a fear of Bush being perceived as weak or physically disabled at this stage of the election. Another possibility which I've not seen raised is that this might be part of his safety gear. I don't believe Bush is allowed out of the West Wing without a bullet proof vest and various pieces of protective gear.

We'll need more information before I'd be willing to make a call on this one. A back brace doesn't sound terribly far fetched to me, though. Having had some severe back problems over the years myself, I can sympathize.

Wells College Protest Update - Student Evicted

posted by Jazz at 10/10/2004 10:01:00 AM


After a full week of barricading themselves in the college administrative building in protest of the recent decision to go co-ed, the young women of Wells College have been evicted from the building to live in tents on the grounds outside. There is some coverage of it Newday, and here is an update from their "Save Our Sisterhood" web site:

"The move to kick us out onto the lawn is cruel, to say the least. Where before we all had access to a building with heat, cooking facilities and bathrooms, we now have no running water, bathrooms or cooking facilities readily available. If the school is so worried about our health and safety, we should not be forced to live in such conditions."

I grew up in Upstate New York. The fall weather here is nearly as easy to predict as what justification Bush and Cheney will use for the invasion of Iraq next week. Some years, early October will see heat waves that have residents out in their shorts and t-shirts, wishing they hadn't closed up the pool so soon. In others, stores will be running out of road salt and shovels as an early blizzard buries the area. This year it's been crisp during the days, falling below freezing at night. Tossing these women outside to live in makeshift shelters is not the type of activity one would expect from a school administration who stated that they "fully supported the rights of the protesters to air their views" and gives the impression of arm twisting.

I have already spent enough of your time pontificating on why I support the continued existence of single sex institutions of higher learning for women. I've also clearly stated why I think this is a poor business move on the part of the college. At this point there is nobody who will carry on this discourse but the young women living in those tents. There have been a number of alumni stopping by to help out, but more company and support is always needed. If you are in the Finger Lakes area and can find the time, it would be wonderful if you could drop by with some hot tea, hot chocolate, or sandwiches and just lend an ear. This story is far from over.

Elmer Gantry in the White House

posted by Jazz at 10/10/2004 09:11:00 AM


It's been many years since once my high school English taskmasters forced me to read the Sinclair Lewis 1927 classic, Elmer Gantry. I was reminded of it today while browsing a witty column by Dave Rossie. The title character, Gantry, was born to wealth and privelege by the standards of the time and as a young man lived a life of debauchery. He later Saw The Light And Found God, becoming a born again speaker of the Lord's words and found himself uniquely suited for politics. The book opens with this passage:

"Elmer Gantry was drunk. He was eloquently drunk, lovingly and pugnaciously drunk...He was born to be a senator. He never said anything important, and he always said it sonorously."

Take a moment and replace the word "senator" above with "president" and tell me if that sounds familiar. This President's apparent disregard for the separation of church and state, combined with his willingness to shrug off governmental responsibilities on faith based charities which he wishes to fund with our tax dollars is disturbing to say the least. It is one issue that is consistently overshadowed by Iraq, but I think it speaks volumes to the direction in which the radical right is steering the GOP.

A well meaning, if hapless, former martini binger turned born-again governmental speaker may seem harmless on the surface. Digging a bit deeper, it's far from harmless and quickly approaching chilling. Wait a moment... was I talking about Gantry or Bush?


posted by Jazz at 10/10/2004 09:04:00 AM


John Edwards is the first guest on Meet the Press this morning. Tim came right out of the gate by reading Edwards a quote he made in 2002 urging President Bush to go after both bin Laden and Saddam. The quote included the phrase, "It's not an either-or choice. We can do both." This directly contradicts the current talking points which Kerry and Edwards are pushing so hard.

Obviously the comment was made during a time when everyone was going on bad intelligence regarding WMDs, etc. Still, I think the Bush team is going to jump on this with more cries of flip flopping. Edwards' people should have been ready for that one. The candidate had a very well phrased answer for it and seemed to land on his feet, but it's still damaging.

Your Quote of the Day

posted by Jazz at 10/10/2004 08:58:00 AM


Brought to you, once again, from James Wolcott. This, in response to the shrill cries across the blogosphere that George W. Bush had his answers fed to him via an earpiece during the first debate:

"He doesn't need the assistance of an electronic feed to hear voices in his head. Indeed, he is able to tune into favorite frequencies simply by adjusting his head like an antenna trying to pick up a Spanish station on UHF."

Sinclair Broadcast Group Crosses the Line

posted by Jazz at 10/10/2004 06:29:00 AM


In today's Los Angeles Times, a report by Elizabeth Jensen reveals that Sinclair will be broadcasting a biased documentary attacking John Kerry shortly before the election and labeling it as "news." They will be preempting network programming during prime time to do so. Many of Sinclair's outlets are in swing states, including Florida and Pennsylvania.

"Sinclair has told its stations ? many of them in political swing states such as Ohio and Florida ? to air "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," sources said. The film, funded by Pennsylvania veterans and produced by a veteran and former Washington Times reporter, features former POWs accusing Kerry ? a decorated Navy veteran turned war protester ? of worsening their ordeal by prolonging the war. Sinclair will preempt regular prime-time programming from the networks to show the film, which may be classified as news programming, according to TV executives familiar with the plan."

You may remember Sinclair from the fiasco they were involved in last April. At that time, they ordered all of their national affiliates not to carry an episode of Nightline where Ted Koppel read a list of names of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq. Sinclair representatives described it as "a political statement disguised as news content." Apparently irony and hypocrisy are running a neck and neck race at Sinclair.

This would be no different than any other large media group airing Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 just before the election and calling it news. There is an ongoing debate in congress about deregulation in the media and the dangers of allowing huge corporations to buy up and control large numbers of television, radio and newspaper outlets. The risk in this becomes evident when such mega-media entities then use their properties as a bully pulpit for a partisan agenda. The Sinclair situation should make it clear that more, not less regulation is needed.

A number of other people are commenting on this rather one sided story. You cand read more from Oliver Willis, a very good commentary by TalkLeft, The Poor Man, Corrente, and The Blogging of the President. Strangely, I'm unable to find a single conservative blog defending this move by Sinclair. Perhaps they're just not up and around yet.

Guarding Bob Novak's Constitutional Rights

posted by Jazz at 10/10/2004 05:41:00 AM


This morning's NYT op-eds include a rather alarmist call for the protection of the fourth estate regarding the Valerie Plame investigation. Times honchos Arthur Sulzberger and Russell Lewis are right to ensure that the constitutionally protected freedom of the press remains intact, but miss the mark on this case. Like so many other media analysts, they position the Novak story as a simple situation of a reporter protecting their sources. The Novak story does not meet the criteria for legal protection.

The media's role as a watchdog over possible illegal activity within government requires the assurance that officials be able to anonymously report criminal allegations without fear of exposure and reprisal. The first amendment, as it regards the press, was effectively the original whistleblower's law. This protection does not, however, give the reporter protection from being considered a material witness to a crime or, worse, a participant in criminal activity.

Bob Novak's sources in the Plame story were not leaking information about someone else committing a crime. They were revealing that Valerie Plame was a spy. Being a spy is not illegal. Releasing the identity of a spy is what is against the law. Novak's sources were not exposing a crime to him - they were the parties who performed the crime. This immediately made Novak the sole witness to the crime and, as such, bound to report the crime to authorities. By publishing his column, Mr. Novak then compounded the crime, violating the same law himself.

If you are a reporter and a highly placed corporate officer tells you of corruption inside that company, you may then report that information, spurring an investigation by authorities. You can not be forced to tell the police who gave you the details. It is their job to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. This does not, however, then give you the right to participate in the alleged corruption or receive profits from it.

After the story was published, several other writers came forward reporting that they too had received such information. We still have not heard if Bob Novak was even subpoenaed in this case. These people are not protecting journalistic sources - they are protecting criminals and have engaged in criminal activity themselves. It is high time that we stop this debate over Novak's first amendment rights which simply cloud the matter and get down to identifying the people who committed the crimes.