Monthly Archives: October 2004

Prediction Time

I posted a prediction on Kos a few weeks ago that I think is pretty good, but I’m going to post one last one tonight with just 48 hours left.

Popular Vote:

Kerry 49%

Bush 48%

Electoral Vote:

Kerry 296 (Gore +FL +OH +NH -WI -NM)

Bush 241 (The rest minus one faithless elector in WV)

Senate:

Democratic 50

Republican 49

Independent 1

House:

Republican 226

Democrat 211

Indpendent 1

UPDATE I’m going to go out on a limb and say that while there may be a few voting problems here and there, this election isn’t going to be close enough to steal in the end. However, knowing that the Republicans are the way they are, I predict the Grand Shenanigan of 2004 to be a lame duck recess appointment to replace Chief Justice Rehnquist.

UPDATE Map:

The Coup D'etat of 2004?

The Conservatrons are in trouble and they know it.

Sure most Americans think Bush will win (no doubt because CNN and USA Today use the flawed Gallup Poll that assumes that minorities will vote in LOWER – percentage – numbers than 2000), but most polls showed Bush with about a 3% lead on election eve in 2000 and he still lost. What happend? Beyond the drunk driving charge (as if that is worse than being a deserter from the military) the polls underestimated the Democratic ability to get out the vote. A high turnout still favors Democrats and every early indication is that the turnout in 2004 will be much higher than in 2000. Moreover, self-evident concerns about the draft have increased the youth (18-24) vote, which favors Kerry by a 2-1 margin (according to the LA Times) and is underepresented in polls because many youngsters have not voted before or else they use cellphones, have no landline, and are thus unavailable to pollsters.

Another wildcard that favors Democrats is the overseas vote. By all accounts, record amounts of non-military Americans abroad are voting this year. The GOP has tried to ameliorate this by guaranteeing that almost every active military personnel (a group that still favors them – although not by as much as in the past) will vote, but an even split on total overseas votes still favors Democrats comapared to years past.

Bush has not been able to break fifty percent in most national polls. His Nature Conservancy/Terrorism ad featuring adorable wolves (Vote for George Bush or else John Kerry will restore ecoloical balanace and allow predators their appropriate place in the ecosystem. You see, evolution states that the overall health of a species is actually helped, over time, when a predator is able to thin out the sick and weak… and, I mean, be afraid; wolves; scary; it’s hard to be an Idaho rancher. Vote Bush! Terrorism! Yeah. Be afraid. Oh the baying of the hounds! Awooooooooo! Werewolves of London!….) has been ridiculus to the point of parody.

What would you do if you were in the Conservatrons’ shoes and you loved power but hated Domecracy?

The registration fraud, missing ballots, poorly designes ballots and other chicanery are red herrings in this election. The real potential for fraud lies in the “challenegers:” groups of GOP lawyers who will sit in polling stations to make sure that no one votes inappropriately.

Right.

In the highly charged, vicious atmosphere of this campaign, thoudands of voters, many of them minorities, who have never cast ballots before will be voting. They will arrive in polling stations, accompanied by their knolwdegeable get out the vote personnel, only to find a person to challenge their fitness to carry out their role as a citizen and vote. Throw in a few N-bombs, some pushing and shoving, and it is not difficult to imagine violence breaking out. A large-scale fight would then complicate the voting for everyone else at that particular polling place.

Prepared for the meelee, the GOP echo-chamber would no doubt be in full Willie-fnord-Horton mode. One can almost ˙ear MSNBC:

Conservatron Hack: “Y’know Chris {Matthews}, it just goes to show, people who haven’t voted before, they just aren’t aware – aren’t familiar with some of these fair election laws. In districts that typically have high turnout there have not been problems. But traditionally lower income – whioch are lower turnout areas – that is where you see these irregularities popping up. And it’s a shame that they do not care about – do not understand the law.”

Matthews: “So you are saying that confusion lead to the riot.”

Conservatron: “Yes Chris, we haven’t seen these problems in areas that always have a very high turnout, it’s just a misunderstanding of the legality of the vote……..”

Al Smith once said, to paraphrase, that the problems of Democracy can be solved by more Democracy. Michael Moore has promised that he will have cameras at the ready in voting precnts, especially those in minority areas, across America, ready to record any intimidation that takes place. Starting a fight at a polling place is the best way for the GOP to steal this election; it leaves no “paper trail” of unsent ballots or fradulent convict lists. If the video cyclops of Democracy is upon polling places, however, the images that come out of this fights may appeal to many Americans latent sense of equality, rather than their latent racism. And that may be enough to stop this dirty trick before it starts.

100,000 Dead

When all of the adrenaline, nerves, clouds, and so forth settle from the election, I’m sure that the fact there are 100,000 dead Iraqis will depress me more than anything. This is tragic. Where does it stop?

Pat Robertson Told Me I'm A Prophet – A Parable

After the first round of the baseball playoffs I decided to bet ten dollars on the proposition that the Boston Red Sox would win the World Series. Mathematically they had a 25% chance, but I thought they honestly had more heart and soul than the Yankees this year and that defeating the New York Baseball Hessians would give them the confidence to get over the top. Yeah, I know, what about “The Curse?” Well, the 2-1 odds (I bet ten dollars to win twenty, most bets involve betting 11 dollars to win 10) made the expected value of the bet high enough for me to make it, curse or no.

After three games my reasoning looked poor. For unrelated reasons, I decided to unwind with some vicodin and six shots of rum one night when I was abruptly visited by Pat Robertson. He was a gaunt and terrifying figure, sitting in a rickshaw made purely of diamonds that glistened like the white eyes of a mako shark before it bites a tuna. Pat was being pulled around in slow circles by an emaciated slave on loan from his African mining plantation. He told me that he had been having one of his regular conversations with God over maple scones and peppermint lattes at Starbucks the other day, and God had told him that the Red Sox were going to win the World Series.

“You’re shitting me, Pat,” I said.

“God didn’t shit Jesus,” Pat replied and with that he blew crystaline diamond dust into my face and disappeared with a poof.

That was one weird dream, I thought as I awoke in my chair, still wearing last night’s clothes, with granules of sugar all over my face for some reason.

Weirder still, the Red Sox won the next four games and the series in one of the great comebacks in sports history.

The night of the final game I decided to put sustainable practices to work by cooking some cacti that I had bought from a shaggy gentleman who had a stand set up outside of the local CostCo. “I harvested them in the Oregon desert,” he had said. By purchasing them I was keeping my money in the local community. As I finsihed my stewed cactus I began to think on how cactus does not actually grow in the Oregon desert. Just then Pat Robertson appeared. He was atop his diamond-riskshaw, being pulled by his slave. He was eating a pizza that was constructed entirely out of diamonds, his scabbard teeth crushed the diamonds with a sound like dry snow crunching beanth heavy boots. The diamond shards cut his gums and maroon blood spilled down his chin like ice cream melting on the face of an over-exicted toddler.

“Still think God is shitting you, biatch,” Pat said, droplets of blood splicking out of his wrinkly mouth and landing on my shirt.

“What else does God have to prove to me?” I asked.

“Baseball is America’s past time,” Pat explained. “Of course the World Series has to come down to Massachusettes versus Texas. The Rocket and the ‘Stros are gonna’ deck the Cards, fool.”

I awoke the next morning with a terrible cough. I was all stuffed up and achy and my shirt was covered with stains from pomengranite seeds for some reason. After I laid down my ten dollars (to win $10.80) on Houston I began to take Robitussin, but the cough and cold just would not go away. I turned on the ball game. I was starting in on my third bottle of ‘Tussin when the Cards broke through on Clemens and scored four runs. Any keen watcher of sports knows when a team is beat. And the Astros were beat. I chugged the third bottle of Robitussin and suddenly Pat Robertson’s slave dragged his diamond rickshaw through the television screen and into my living room. Pat was wearing a leather dog collar with pointy diamonds the size of kiwis studded all around it.

“What the hell, Pat?” I exclaimed. “The Astros are over.”

“Oh, I was just doing shots of buttery nipples with God, and he decided that the Cardinals are going to win.”

“Wha…?”

“I am a Prophet,” Pat said as he unscrewed one of the pointy diamond studs from his collar. He began to carve the words DEF LEOPARD into his arm. “Sometimes God tells a prophet what he is going to do. Sometimes, when all evidence points to the contrary of what God said, God just arbitrarily changes his mind to correspond with what all of the factual evidence indicates.” The maroon blood from Pat’s arm was collecting in a writhing pool on the wood floors. It turned green, began to bubble, and coalesced into a Hobbit. The Hobbit began to do an Irish jig. “Being a prophet means reporting what God says when he changes his mind. A year ago God told me that Bush would win the election in a landslide. Lately, God has been looking at the polls and has has told me that the election is actually too close to call. Even further back God told me that the new war in Iraq would be easy as pie. Then last week, God reminded me that he actually told me that there would be lots of casualties. God’s works are mysterious, but now you know their magic, so you are a prophet. God tells you what he believes, and then changes his mind until the facts agree with him. As one who speaks for God, it is your job to predict events, and then change your prediction until it is correct. After all, God cannot be wrong.”

“But I bet ten dollars on the Astros!” I cried.

“Enough!” Robertson snarled. The green Hobbit began to kick me in the shin. I tried to retaliate but I was frozen to the chair. The Hobbit was relentless and just as the pain became too terrible to bear the world went to black.

I awoke the next mornning with bruises covering my shins. The pain was sharp and I could barely walk. For some reason there was a sticky pool of Jagermeister on the floor next to a knocked-over bottle, but at least my cold was cured.

Bush Knows Where Osama Is But Won't Get Him

From a speech given at the alma mater of the authors of this blog:

Bin Laden is living in South Waziristan in the Baluchistan Mountains of the Baluchistan Region, Lehman told The Sun after delivering a keynote speech on terrorism at Pitzer College in Claremont to kick off the university’s three-day writers festival.


In the exclusive interview, Lehman said, “There is an American presence in the area, but we can’t just send in troops. If we did, we could have another Vietnam, and the United States cannot afford that right now.’

When pressed on why the United States couldn’t send troops into the region to capture the world’s No. 1 terrorist, Lehman said the Baluchistan Region of the country is filled with militant fundamentalists who do not recognize the legitimacy of President Pervez Musharraf, a close ally of the United States. “That is a region filled with Taliban and al-Qaida members,’ he said, acknowledging that Pakistan’s security services also are filled with many who agree with bin Laden’s beliefs and would aid him if U.S. Special Forces entered the region.


“Look,’ Lehman said, “Musharraf already has had three assassination attempts on his life. He is trying to comply, but he is surrounded by people who do not agree with him. This is not like Afghanistan, where there was no compliance, and we had to go in. We’ll get (bin Laden) eventually, just not now.’

In other words, we can’t go get him because OUR FUCKING ARMY IS I-FUCKING-RAQ.

How can ANYONE vote for this FUCKER? aaaaaAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!

Tough on terror my ass. Safer my ass. F#$% you, Mr. President. You are letting a murderer get away so that you can fight your Book of Revelation Oil Corporate Crony Imperial Iraq war.

Unfuckingbelievable.

The Crystal Ball

Right before the Swift Boat debacle and the attendant drop in the polls, I wrote this:

I think Kerry’s strategy of sitting back and let Bush screw up is going to start costing him in the coming weeks. I’ve seen encouraging polls from Florida and Michigan today, but I can’t help but freak out a little bit. It’s looking too good and there’s still too much time left.

The Bush attack machine is getting traction on Kerry’s war record. Stupid, yes, but they are.

I’m going to predict this: we’re close to tied after the RNC, and the debates better do some good for Kerry in Florida (I don’t see how Bush can win without Florida and Ohio).

Not bad, eh? I did freak out. And I continued to freak out until the first debate. But since then, I can just feel it. We’re going to win. I could go into all the reasons why I think this is so, but mainly I just think that it comes down to this: even his supporters know that Bush has basically fucked up. They don’t have the energy level that Kerry’s supporters do. Independents are for Kerry. Ohio is for Kerry. I think Kerry is going to close the deal in the next week.

Malkin

OK, I shouldn’t be baited. I was one of the easiest kids in school to pick a fight with because I can never “let it go” or whatever. I know better than to care about this bitch, but seriously…

From her column. (ugh)

But Rosie [the Riveter] is gone. And in her place, we have Hysterical Women for

Kerry. They are self-absorbed celebrities who support banning all guns (except the ones their bodyguards use to protect them and their children). They are teachers’ union bigwigs who support keeping all children hostage in public schools (except their own sons and daughters who have access to the best private institutions). They are sanctimonious environmentalists who oppose ostentatious energy consumption (except for their air-conditioned Malibu mansions and Gulfstream jets and custom Escalades).****

They are antiwar activists who claim to love the troops (except when they’re apologizing to the terrorists trying to kill our men and women in uniform). They are peace activists who balk at your son bringing in his “Star Wars” light saber for the kindergarten Halloween parade (but who have no problem serving as human shields for torture-loving dictators). They are ultrafeminists who purport to speak for all women (but not the unborn ones or the abstinent teenage ones or the minority conservative ones or the newly enfranchised ones in Afghanistan).

There are enough straw-(wo)men there to thatch Versailles.

(1) Anti-gun celebrities who want armed bodyguards.

No, see, they’re not for there not being guns anywhere. They’re just against you being able to buy an uzi in Wal-Mart.

(2) Teachers Union Members With Private School Children

Right. Those rascally rich teachers.

(3) Greens with LearJets.

Because two wrongs make a right.

(4) Anti-war activists who love the troops

Because supporting the troopse means “send them to fight the wrong enemy with no equipment.”

(5) Human-shield Peaceniks

Raising your kids to be violent is better! lol.

(6) Ultrafeminist Excluders

Because

If this was just Malkin I’d let it go, maybe. But the fact is, this kind of proto-nazi garbage is worse than telling you what to think, it’s telling you what other people think. Of course anyone in their right mind is going to disagree with the kind of straw-men hypocrites cited above.

Unfortunately for Malkin, the world would be a terrible place if everyone had to be perfect. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, but his writings inspired freedom later. And maybe Sean Penn has an armed body-guard, but I’m not sure that puts him a position where he can’t hope that inner-city children don’t get shot.

The reason these arguments get traction is because ad hominem attacks work best on people who are uneducated. They look at a man’s “ethos” and not his “logos.” Arguments are only compelling if you understand the facts around them. People intuitively think that men of bad character in one aspect (say, men who cheat on their wives) are incapable of being so in another way.

This is fucking bullshit. No one is perfect. Jesus said “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Malkin and her ilk want to cast a lot of stones, but none of them are without sin.

Flu vaccine? Sigh.

The Mary Cheney business is replaced with . . . flu vaccine? And no — this isn’t about health care or even drugs from Canada. Just flu vaccine — as sure a senior ritual as golf and breakfast at 4:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: Al-Qaeda ranks swell as Zarqawi movement pledges allegiance; stock market dips below 10,000 on oil prices over $50/barrel; less new jobs than new people every month; 45 million Americans without health insurance; CO2 levels rising faster than expected; more Americans than ever living in poverty; America’s reputation around the world diminishing. . .

If it quacks like a duck. . .

The mainstream media (Okrent) and conservative commentators love to make fun of the left for calling anything to the right of McGovern “fascist” or being more shrill, or whatever.

I’m not going to write a piece here explaining how the Bush Republicans “really” are fascists, but I will say that the difference is being relegated to the details, not the substance.

We can go around for hours defining the term “fascist.” No point. Let’s just ask ourselves a few basic questions.

(1) Was the current leader fairly elected?

Even the least shrill among us would say the election was “disputed.” The wise among us would say that Congress, not the Court should have decided the election in 2000.

(2) Do people, in general, have more or less freedom than before?

Think PATRIOT Act and the detention of citizens in violation of the Constitution and trial before “tribunals.” This mentatlity resulted in the abu ghraib scandal.

(3) Notwithstanding the rights of the accused, are people more or less able to act freely in the absence of law enforcement activity?

Five interests control the media. Ari Fleischer told us to “watch what we say, watch what we do.” Opponents of the President are derided as “unpatriotic,” thereby chilling dissent.

(4) Are those in power held accountable for their mistakes?

Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rice, and Powell are still in their offices. As are Wolfowitz and Feith. None of the Generals–only the non-coms–have been indicted for abu ghraib. O’Neill wasn’t removed for his failure to create jobs; nor was Lindsey. They were fired for not parroting about Iraq and other things.

(5) Does the government conduct secret business?

Right off the hop, Cheney conducted meetings on energy policy with oil company flacks. The President opposed the 9/11 commission. And now . . . . . . . the CIA is refusing to release its own 9/11 report before the election.

(6) Are the “proletarian” classes channeling their anger at the correct target?

Instead of focussing on the loss of quality jobs for working class Americans, and the attendant moral decay, many working class Americans are blaming it on a “homosexual” agenda (cf. Jewish agenda) and other failures to behave Biblically. Of course, our leaders never ask them or anyone to render unto Caesar that which is his.

So, we don’t have goose-stepping legions and book burnings. We don’t have people snatched away at night and killed. But in substance if not style, and in direction if not in actual position, America has grown more “fascist” under Bush.

A Slip of Truth?

In The Bush Dyslexicon Mark Crispin Miller undergoes a painstaking examination of George W. Bush’s bass ackward, agonizing prose and comes to the conclusion that W actually speaks concisely and clearly on issues related to retribution and punishment. He only gets tongue-tied when talking about compassion, broad philosophy and specific policy. The kicker, according to Mr. Miller, is that often Bush accidentally says the truth in these situations, only to reverse himself in midcourse and blurt out his breathless canned-Karen-Hughes-generated phrase. The “Bush Dyslexicon” then is both W’s accidental articulation of the truth, and our media’s inability to call him on it.

Witness today’s reaction by Mr. Bush’s to Senator Kerry’s charge that continuing our present course in Iraq will necessitate a draft: “Our all-volunteer army will remain an all-volunteer army. My opponent seems to be willing to say almost anything he thinks will benefit him politically. After standing on the stage, after the debates, I made it very plain we will not have an all-volunteer army. And yet this week… . We will have an all-volunteer army.” {Emphasis added}

To anyone 25-and-under, please heed the following bumper sticker:

VOTE DEMOCRATIC
THE ASS YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN

Winning an Undecided.

An ex-girlfriend of mine from a swing state called me last night. We caught up a little bit and then talked about what our friends were up to. Slowly but surely, the conversation drifted towards the election.

Trying to define in simple terms her political ideology is not possible. She was raised in a broken home and is surrounded by all of the fallout of it. Her mother is on her fourth–I think–husband (not counting my ex’s biological father). Her sister is a drug addict who is giving up her latest child for adoption. It’s all around her. This has turned her into a social conservative in many respects. She has a child of her own, and, after being pregnant, she says you can’t convince her that’s not a life in there, even early on.

But she is not homophobic. In fact, early in college most had pegged her as a lesbian because of her pink triangle displays, which were really just a show of support for her then-best friend. So far as I know, she’s not into institutionalized religion, but she said she was turned off by Kerry’s remarks about his catholic faith not dominating his policies.

On “bread and butter” issues, she is more likely to be brought into the fold. She scoffed at the token tax rebate from Bush’s summer of love as barely paying one bill. She worries about the wages her family makes and the disappearance of jobs and about the education of her baby in the future.

Her husband was in the military, and at least at one point they were worried that he would be called back into active duty, even though he was on “fleet reserve.” I’m not sure if that point has passed yet.

She does not like Bush. She doesn’t appear to be stoked about the war in Iraq, probably mostly because of the lies about it. But she says she doesn’t think she can vote for Kerry. I asked her what the main reason was, what was about him that turned her off so much.

Then she scared me, because her response was pure Rove. She thought he was hypocritical, and “at least I know where Bush stands” and couldn’t understand how he claimed to be Catholic (even if she has started going to church, she’s not Catholic) and be pro-choice.

I went to work. I said the Democrats are the center party, and they have been since Clinton, and Carter was too, even if the Congress then was liberal. I said that all of these “cultural” issues aren’t really what’s at stake here–what is is record deficits, tax cuts for the rich (she expressly rejects supply-side economics–how can we be losing people that reject supply side economics?! she also is pro-New Deal and pro-FDR!!!) and the “bread and butter” issues for your family. If you want the budget balanced, and you don’t want to be taxed to death in the future, put Kerry in there.

I told her that I thought it would be preferable if there were no abortions (I didn’t have the stat that abortions have risen during Bush’s tenure) and somehow it could be prevented (she’s very, very pro-birth control, too) and if not, that it should have been decided by the legislature, not the court. I explained that the reason it was arose out of a libertarian fear of Nazi controls on procreation (the Skinner case) but that it was kinda out on limb. I told her that I didn’t think that issue was going to change one way or the other.

I told her that I was catholic too, but I’ve been alienated by their attitude towards gays and early-term abortion. I told her, except Ireland, most of the predominatnly Catholic countries have legalized abortion, and they have catholic presidents and prime minsters for the most part. She’s not Catholic, so explaining this further would have been complicated.

We left the conversation with her sounding concerned about the economic issues, but unconvinced on the cultural ones.

You see, the cultural issues served as a “gateway” to fill her with spin about Kerry being a flip-flopper and so forth. The more I talk to people like her, the less I think Democrats need to learn how to talk about religion (Thomas Frank) or talk about values (John Edwards) but simply to make sure that people understand the connection between Democratic values and their positions on the economy.

Need more proof? Look at this article discussing abortion rates and economics.

The Draft

I get the mass e-mails from the Dean organization. Today, I got another one about the draft. The thrust of the message is to “demand truth” about the draft, but the link is to a site called http://petition.democracyforamerica.com/page/p/nodraft .

From the point of view of pure politics, this is genius. Young voters have the interests and idealism that makes them easy pickings for the left, but they never vote. The Dems have been looking for years for a way to mobilize them; and the Greens count them among the “majority” who don’t vote who will one day put the Green party into power. Feh.

Anyway, the draft is a perfect way to mobilize the young, especially this generation. Hyperactive, over-stimulated, over-sugared, self-centered children of Generation Y unite against doing anything that might help authority or others! The generations before us had FDR and JFK to call them to service. The Boomers, however, already having lucked out by the toil of their parents, were the beginning of this trend; until they were betrayed by Viet Nam and Watergate, they were still more likely drawn to service, but the fallout, as expressed in their children is amazingly different than the Greatest Generation.

There is a difference between being for the draft and being for war in general or any specific war. First of all, while I supported returning weapons inspectors to Iraq, after they found nothing and the rationales shifted and the adminstration was obviously lying, there was really no reason in my mind to support a war in Iraq at that point. We hadn’t finished the job in Afghanistan, and these elections notwithstanding (who cares about who is the de facto mayor of Kabul anyway?) there is still much work to do there. And, as has been pointed out at length, there is much work to do elsewhere.

Second, I did support the war in Afghanistan. I did support the first Gulf War–not in the abstract–but given the geopolitical and economic realities of the time, and given that it was well carried out. I am not a pacifist. Ideally, I would like to see world peace; realistically, I know we need defense.

But defense policy is carried out at the behest of a large array of interests that do not generally reflect either (a) genuine self-defense, or (b) the genuine pursuit of the interests of the population at large. It’s possible for this to be done because of the fact that many of these interests control the Government and to the extent they need military back up, they are offered a large and powerful army full of people who feel their purpose is to “defend” America, and want to be used, not shielded (in case you wondered why the military is pro-Republican). Shielding the military makes them feel weak and useless–which is why Democrats have been smart to emphasize this time around putting the blame at the top in Abu Ghraib specifically and in Iraq in general and to talk about the fact that the lies broke the promise to them to use them only when necessary.

So, as if now, we can have war without “sacrifice” (i.e. death of impressed soldiers, higher taxes, rationing, etc.) , we will have war and it will be war that is basically not diplomacy by other means, but trade by other means.



The draft could kill two birds with one stone. It could instill community values in a generation without them. It could instill caution into foreign policy that isn’t.

The argument against is that drafted armies are (1) immoral and (2) ineffective. First, anyone with a bona fide moral objection should be allowed to do AmeriCorps instead. (2) Wasn’t Abu Ghraib the exact kind of thing that trained soldiers were supposed to not do? We have an army of “independent” contractors out there that I doubt are more useful in general than draftees…. plus, it should be part of a democracy that the army is a real cross-section, rich and poor, of the country. No deferments. And it was deferments that kept the children of the powerful and decision-makers weren’t at risk.

If you went to the young in America and said–do one year in the army or AmeriCorps and we’ll pay for college, as is done in Europe, I think you’d get an overwhelming positive response.

Flip-flop Jiu-Jitsu

OK, please tell me if I missed something, but the way to handle the flip-flop thing isn’t to point out Bush’s own waffles. The way to handle it is to say, Mr. President you said you never made a mistake except Paul O’Neill… do you ever change your mind? I do. I’m a human, living on planet earth — what planet are you on?

For the Record.

Here’s a prediction that I just want to get down before I forget it.

If Kerry wins this election, and for one of the following reasons is not super-successful, I predict that the Republicans (a la Cleveland) will re-nominate George W. Bush in 2008.

Factors that will make this more likely: (1) Kerry winning with less than 280 EVs; (2) Major Democratic loss in 2006; (3) a major terrorist event in the US; (4) failure of Kerry’s plan in Iraq; (5) a precipitous drop in the economy. Granted, most of these would actually be Bush’s fault, but we know how it goes…

Look, it’s not like Bush is old, and it’s not like he’s going to go run some foundation for world peace or AIDS or something like that. He’ll just go fester around with his corporate buddies. They will have to fight a internecine battle within their party in order to regroup for 2006. If the McCain faction can’t win, or if the Bush/DeLay faction otherwise hangs on to power within the GOP in 2006, there won’t be anything better for him to do. No matter what else happens, if Bush loses, there’s going to be a “moderate” running in 2008, be it Giuliani, McCain, or perhaps even Ahhnold. But there are some also more conservative candidates out there: Gov. Evans of Colorado, maybe Frist, maybe Mitt Romney, but none of those latter candidates are going to do very good in blue states.

Corrolary prediction: Cheney won’t be his running mate.

Stomping on "Cockroach"

While working in the Ford White House Dick Cheney’s propensity for operating behind the scenes earned him the nickname “Backseat” from the secret service. A more appropriate nickname for Mr. Cheney would be “Cockroach.” Like a cockroach, Cheney’s very appearance suggests evil borne of squalor and disease. Knowing full well that his hideous form and all he stands for incites primal disgust Cockroach Cheney anonymously festers in “undisclosed locations” quietly and efficiently doing the dirty work of a wretched creature. One hundred years from now historians will marvel at how a man with a miniscule demographic base in Wyoming, holding an extreme to-the-right-of-Newt-Gingrich ideology, and almost completely deficient of charisma was able to be one of the most influential men of late 20th and early 21st century America.

In the television era, to the best of my knowledge, the only Vice-Presidential debate to have a meaningful impact on a Presidential election was in 1992 when Admiral Stockdale’s befuddled performance raised legitimate questions about H. Ross Perot’s judgment in picking him. Otherwise, even Lloyd Bentsen’s bitch slap of Dan Quayle in ’88 had only a negligible impact. We are, however, living unprecedented times and Dick Cheney is the most powerful and influential Vice-President in American history. Like President Bush, Cheney has inconceivably not had to account for most of his actions. John Kerry did not win his first debate with Bush because he spoke concisely and Bush looked like the Grinch that stole Christmas; he won because the truth was on his side. When Bush repeated his stock innuendo that he was striking at those “who attacked us” by invading Iraq Kerry finally said what any journalist worth his salt should have said three years ago (to paraphrase): “Osama bin Laden attacked us, not Iraq.” Bush stammered back “Osama bin Laden attacked us – of course I know that” and suddenly the Wizard of Oz was revealed to be a smug twit. (The media has actually cleaned up that phrase for Mr. Bush, in reality he said,” Sadd – Osama bin Laden attacked us…” as Mark Crispin Miller so brilliantly demonstrated in The Bush Dyslexicon, these verbal misfires are quite revealing!)

On Tuesday night Dick “Cockroach” Cheney will skitter out from under the fridge and onto the florescent-lit linoleum of American television for the only time in this campaign. Senator Edwards should not make Lieberman’s mistake and attempt to debate the monstrosity as a gentleman. When Edward’s (hopefully) confronts Cheney’s lies and secrets, Cheney will not pout and make foolish faces like Bush did. It does not matter. With the full illumination of accountable Democracy upon him, Cockroach should be revealed for what he is and America will follow its primal instincts and want to stomp him out.

The Ressurection of the Anti-Nuke Luddites

Bobby Kennedy Jr. has apparently decided he has an issue to raise his profile. It combines the fear tactics and stand-uppishness of the Bush administration’s war on terror with the righteous, almost reactionary, urgency of fringe environmentalism: nuclear reactors. In “Indian Point: Imagining the Unimaginable” RFK Jr. and Rory Kennedy spin a terrifying yarn about a terrorist crashing a plane into the spent fuel pools at Indian Point. They suggest it could render a Chernobyl-disaster sized area, including New York City, uninhabitable. (while they do point out that a Chernobyl style disaster is, by design, not possible in a US reactor, they do the Saddam Osama bin Hussein Laden Iraq 9/11 thing[1][2][3][4] by cutting to a map of the same size of the Chernobyl disaster over the tri-state area…)

For me, one of the first litmus tests of anyone claiming to be an “environmentalist” is if there is even a tinge of NIMBY-ness about what they are saying. The first would actually be if they are funded by an industry group, but NIMBY has to be up there. Kennedy suggests that New York s a bad place for a nuclear generator because the incident would cripple the world’s financial ystem. That may be true, but I’m not sure that the residents of [other place] give a shit about that compared with their own safety. They, of course, never suggest where it should go (the subtext is that there should be none). They never suggest that all nuclear power plants should be replaced with the latest generation plants that are much, much safer. They never suggest that gas/oil/coal burning plants would have to pick up the slack. They also don’t quite make it

clear to the layman that merely turning these plants off won’t resolve the high-level waste situation there or anywhere, so, why turn them off?

The second severe limitation of many environmentalists on the far left is their inability to deal with priorities. Even if we max out on renewable energy sources, we will still require a baseline, consistent load generating supply at some level that is not contingent on natural events. While I can’t help but chuckle at the inefficacy of America’s nuclear power policy, and I can’t help but squirm at the possibility of a nuclear accident, it just reinforces the out of sight out of mind issue with global warming.

Nuclear accidents are spectacular and sudden. They irrationally evoke the horrors of nuclear war. But, on the slight bright side, they are relatively localized, and can often be mitigated.

Global warming is slow and only perceptible in certain places at first. But for the thousands killed by record heat in Europe a few summers back, and the thousands of species going extinct that are quite literally destroying our web of life, the melting of ice shelfs, and the increasing violence of tropical storms, it is no joke. Because of the vague and slow progression of global warming, the best response mustered by the world is the deeply flawed Kyoto Protocol.

Yes, it’s a utilitarian calculation, but if you take global warming seriously, you have to grin and bear the possibility of nuclear accidents, even Chernobyl level ones. Because they pale in comparison to what may be coming our way in a few short decades.

Every time I roll out this chestnut, I get a bunch of flames from the left-flank telling me about how I’m a shill for the nuclear industry, they’ve brainwashed me, and that I’m drinking their glowing Kool-Aid. Nonsense. At least, it’s no more sensical than the suggestion that those who oppose nuclear power on any level in any form are de facto shills for the fossil fuel industry.

[1] DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT 9/24/2004

NORVILLE: Another big concern is — and you open the film with this possibility. Instead of heading down the Hudson and aiming for the World Trade Center, the terrorists could have as easily aimed for the big sitting duck, Indian Point.

RORY KENNEDY: Yes. American Airlines flight 11 flew over Indian Point on its way down to New York City, and had that plane banked left, you know, it’s really scary to think what New York would now be if that had happened. And what I can tell you is what we know from Chernobyl,[fnord] is that a 100-square-mile radius became permanently uninhabitable around Chernobyl [fnord] after that accident. And New York City is 35 miles south of Indian Point. But the heart of New York City, 42nd Street…

NORVILLE: And 20 million people live within…

RORY KENNEDY: A 50-mile radius.

NORVILLE: … presumably, the affected area, if…

[2] Hardball MSNBC 7/8/2003

MATTHEWS: Have they gone too far in exploiting September 11? Joining us is Robert Kennedy Jr., River Keeper’s prosecuting attorney and also Angie Howard of the Nuclear Energy Institute. Bob, is this an accurate depiction of what would happen if that nuclear power plant were hit by a terrorist?

ROBERT KENNEDY JR., RIVER KEEPER: The…

MATTHEWS: Well, the…

KENNEDY: Absolutely. Every fact — the thing that’s scary is not the ad. The thing that’s scary, Chris, are the facts. Every single fact in there has been rigorously verified by government agencies, like the National Research Council, Brookhaven Laboratory, and the intelligence agencies. Here’s what we know. We know that there are 17 times the stored radiation at that plant that was released at Chernobyl. We know that a terrorist attack could cause a spent fuel pool fire at the plant, and according to the federal agency, the National Research Council, 100 percent of the radiation would be released. If that were true, around Chernobyl there was 1,000 miles uninhabitable. Brookhaven lab and Princeton University estimate about 3,000 miles around Indian Point would be uninhabitable.

MATTHEWS: So, when you blow up a nuclear power plant, you create a nuclear event. Is that right?

KENNEDY: There’s a release of radiation, Cesium 137, which is stored there, which would make it unsafe for human beings to live in that area. Now…

MATTHEWS: Would it be a nuclear explosion like we just saw in the ad?

KENNEDY: It would not be an explosion. There would be a release of radiation. I don’t think that’s an explosion. I think that that’s a release of radiation.

MATTHEWS: Well, look at this person just coming apart there. Looks like they’re coming apart, these people.

[3] CNN LIVE SATURDAY 12:00 6/28/2003

WHITFIELD: And Mr. Lyman, we showed in the piece the ad campaign that started. Some are criticizing it as really striking fear unnecessarily in Americans. Do you believe it is fair to provoke these kinds of emotions with that kind of graphic advertisement?

LYMAN: I don’t think the issue is provoking emotions. I think the issue is a comprehensive and accurate risk assessment to let the people of New York City know what the potential health consequences are to them. Entergy is not providing that, and Riverkeeper may be going in the other extreme. I think the truth is somewhere in between, but it’s certainly closer to Riverkeeper’s claim, because there are credible terrorist events which could cause a core melt- down, lead to a breach of the bypass of the containment and a Chernobyl-style radiological release that could have a significant impact on New York City. There are simulations to show that the FDA requirements for recommendations for potassium iodine could be exceeded by 100 times.

[4]CNN Target Terrorism 3/2/2002

SNOW: What happens if a plane, God forbid, a terrorist, decides to go after a nuclear reactor. What happens if a plane heads towards a nuclear reactor?

LYMAN: Well, I firmly believe that the evidence shows that if a fully fueled jumbo jet, like we saw on September 11, crashed into the containment building at a nuclear plant or the spent-fuel building, where the highly radioactive discharge of the plant is stored, or auxiliary control rooms, that there is a very good chance that you could have a serious Chernobyl-type accident.

What about North Korea?

Bush has not shown the skill to pull off diplomacy and war. But, nevertheless, I have to admit I agree with him about North Korea. Of course–don’t be silly–debates are about eye-rolling and handshakes, not substance. But, again, Bush is right about North Korea, at least on that point about negotiations. His inaction is wrong. His loss of focus on North Korea to Iraq is wrong.

If ever there were a case for the Neo-conservative style approach, this might be it. Of course, there’s no oil in North Korea. . . but this is really the brutal, murderous, stalinist regime of our nightmares, and it does have atomic weapons and strategic weapons. It is a destabilizing force in Asia, which is as important now to our economy and will be more important in the future than the Middle East.

Bilateral negotiations reward bad behavior. They know that they can misbehave slightly and get more food and energy to prop up their regime.

What makes North Korea the only member of Bush’s “axis of evil” to be truly evil is that it is a state that it truly at war with its people. Iraq may have been run by a Sunni minority, but at least some large chunk of the population was invested. Islamist Iran too was created by a popular uprising. Bush’s axis of evil, and its unspoken member, Cuba, are merely old enemies of the US. There is another set of nations that are truly evil, intrinsically. North Korea is the only crossover. (This, to me, is the fundamental flaw of the Neo-Conservatives. If you’re going to be exporting “liberty” then you should do it to places that really need it, not places that we don’t like because of “old shit.”)

No, North Korea is truly a regime at war with its own people in the Orwellian sense. Millions of people there wer slaughtered as a result of a government induced famine. And in a near instant they could vaporize Seoul, South Korea. This is their barganing chip. But why do we listen?

We listen because we don’t want to piss off the Chinese. That’s why they need to be in on the discussions. If it really came to it, we could use nuclear weapons to prevent North Korea from being able to strike the South. And our army could easily grind down theirs if the Chinese don’t supply them this time.

This is no joke. I’m not saying let’s just push the button on them and go for it. But we shouldn’t reward their bad behavior either. We should do a little pushing. And if it means we have to destroy their nuclear facilites, then that’s what it means. This can’t go on forever.

This is serious folks. This isn’t Bush lying to the UN about WMD, this is real. They have ‘em and they can hit the US with them.

But, in order to make this situation resolve, we need the Chinese to be on our side (whatever buying off it takes).

He won. Now what?

Bush did not quite “shit the bed” as Kerry’s advisers were hoping, but he didn’t do a good job. He stuttered, he was angry, and he was preachy. He even tried to be “professorial” about North Korrea (why does Bush need a permission slip from China to defend America?). Kerry was succinct and clear.

Three polls show Kerry won. We know that much. Now what?

Kerry had to win to survive. The reason this race was important is that voters prefer Kerry on almost every domestic issue; foreign policy was supposed to be Bush’s strong suit. And while a better performance in the next debates might provide a great spin-line, it won’t change as many minds as this one.

Kerry should take the lead in the horse-race polls with in 7 days, and eek out a slim electoral lead.

The DNC is much more well prepared for the spin-dynamics this time around, hopeful this at least neutralizes the other side’s games, and at best sets the storyline.