The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Friday, January 30, 2004

Botox-gate has made it to CNN. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Looking at the full text of the GQ piece on Trippi that spawned the robo-call allegation, there's greater context to the sense that Trippi knee-jerk fingered Kerry on the issue...
Almost on cue, his little dog, Kasey—an overly caffeinated terrier who appears on the Dean Web site as the "director of canine outreach"—comes scampering into his office. "Kasey!" says Joe. "Sit!" He rises from his desk and stands menacingly over the dog. "Would you rather work for John Kerry or be dead?" The dog whimpers. "WOULD YOU RATHER WORK FOR JOHN KERRY OR BE DEAD?" Kasey rolls over and acts dead.

"Good girl! Good girl!"
"We're about to do something really fucking dumb," he recalls telling the various groups he's done his presentation for, if "we" don't rally around Dean. "All because of what? 'Cause John Kerry keeps telling you we're not electable? What the fuck makes him electable? We're kickin' his ass! Last time I checked, the only way you're electable is if you're the nominee."

Trippi also loved to tell his audiences, "I don't care if you run out of the room right now and tell John Kerry" everything he's shared. "Because there's not a damn thing he can do about it."
Oh, and,
Trippi sits in the back of the bus from the airport to the first event in Austin, on a Pepsi-induced high. For the entire ride, he and his partners—McMahon and Mark Squier—joke about how they could "whack" John Kerry in the next debate, which was going to be sponsored by Latinos.

"Maybe we should attack Kerry in Spanish!" Joe suggests. "He won't know what we said!"

"No," says McMahon, "we should ask Kerry a question in Spanish."

They ponder the ways Kerry could "nuke us."

"It could be a race between us and the ketchup money," says Joe. "But it won't be a race between us and Kerry."
Though I did find this amusing:
More yuks ensue over the fact that John Kerry is also in Texas tonight and "only twenty people" showed up for his Texas Meet-n-Greet. "But if those twenty people e-mail one hundred people.," says Karl, cribbing the Dean stump speech. Dean cracks up, then decides to go to bed. "See you in five hours," he says, retreating to his room.

"Let's go find a bar," says Joe.
We don't know if Kerry did this, as Trippi would blame Kerry for the leaves falling off the trees in October. (though I do like Joe Trippi, because of him and Dean, we now have a whole stable of candidates who learned to not be afraid to vigorously attack Dubya, or at least they did more quickly)

What we do know, however, is that somebody did do this. It's the sort of nonsense that's usually reserved for Republicans in general elections (you know, the "clear all unpaid parking tickets and bills" stuff, and the "be sure to go vote on wednesday!" stuff). I'd like to know who was resonsible. Going after one candidate (Kerry) sans substantial evidence, as Trippi (and to a lesser extent, Kos) did, is not the way to go, but to be genuinely concerned about this isn't tantamount to fratricide.

I do take issue with one tidbit of Ezra's analysis of the issue:
There are also plausible theories implicating Lieberman, Edwards, Bush and even Dean himself in this.
So... Dean spends $10 million, or maybe more, in Iowa over about two years, and then sabotages himself? Or some orange-hatted, highly-motivated (if poorly trained, hehe) Dean underling suddenly gets all nihilistic or anarchistic and pulls funny stuff with the database, which wasn't working anyway? If you're wearing an orange hat and you came from a distant part of the country to a plains state with continuous below-freezing temperatures, then you're a true believer.

Also, wasn't it in Lieberman's interest to have a wide margin between Dean and Clark/Edwards in New Hampshire, and thus a weakened Clark campaign?

Alright, I have some rather serious duties to attend to in the next 36 hours, so no posts probably until tomorrow night, possibly sunday.

Here's the highly-specific version, of what Ping told me the other day, from Ping himself. After explaining how negative ads and lack of caucus training were two factors in Dean's Iowa performance, he offers a third:
You're likely to have heard the first two reasons from other pundits, but this part of the story is less often told. The Dean campaign relied on an ASP to develop and host its voter database. The week before the primary, the database became unusably slow and crashed several times, losing data and spreading panic. Thereafter, the data entry process fell apart: some people were entering data using a web form, others were typing their records into Excel spreadsheets, and — unbelievably — others were copying data records out on paper by hand. Stacks of information on hard-earned Dean supporters were never entered, and other Dean supporters were annoyed because we called them twice by mistake. If the story gets out, it may go down in history as another famous case of a software problem with severe repercussions. The software was written by developers at external company who probably had hardly any campaign experience, so it failed to meet the needs of the volunteers and campaign staff. And because it was developed outside, no one within the campaign had the knowledge or access to fix it. I even heard that the stress of dealing with the campaign and the software problems caused several employees at the company to quit. On top of it all, of course, paying this company also cost a lot of money. It comes down to the core problem i've been complaining about over and over: the software development teams are not connected to their users. Campaign software must be written by people with serious campaign experience, or at the very least with their input.
Ping also has a blog, by the way.

Thursday, January 29, 2004


Quick takes:

--Kerry did a bang-up job in this debate, a calm and collected frontrunner. I agree with Ezra that Kerry's speaking style has much improved. And oh by the way, his forehead looked great. But before you say the B-word, remember that this was a highly-visible television event, and all the candidates were likely wearing some degree of foundation makeup so their faces didn't look flat or lifeless on camera.

--Edwards was very, very good, and will probably hold on in South Carolina. His stuff on the job issue and the medical malpractice issue was very impressive.

--Dean looked like a man whose heart simply wasn't in it. He sounded tired, unhappy, and almost as if he was mailing it in. Hopefully he'll have his speechmaking ability back up to par when he delivers the keynote address at the convention. (sigh)

--Clark held his own, but wasn't wholly impressive. Kerry and Edwards still do a much better job at giving substantive answers, and it's a little late in the game at this point for him to be at this point on the learning curve in debates.

--Sharpton was solid, and landed a good set of zingers.

--Kucinich thinks he's the Trojan horse of a hypothetical brokered convention. I love you man, but . . . riiiiiight...

--Lieberman is still in the campaign for some reason. He really must be smoking something. In that respect, he'd have a better chance running for president of Joemaica.

--Brokaw was a decent moderator, aside from frequently having to be corrected for mischaracterizing various issues and positions.

Back late tonight maybe...
Here's another reason why I don't support John Kerry, at least not yet.

UPDATE: Amend the above to be prefaced by "If true," which was my intent. My apologies.

Drudge uses a few highly-selective photographs to suggest Kerry had botox, and floats them on his website for a couple of days.


Political gossip columnists like Lloyd Grove (formerly of the Washington Post, now with the New York Post) pick up the story and give it "legitimacy".

Soon Kurtz will chime in. Brit and the boys from "Special Report" have probably already given their two cents. Wolf and Woodruff will follow shortly thereafter.

Maybe I'm too cynical. But the Gore-ing of Kerry is about to hit its stride.

The worst part is that Ralph Nader may compound the problem by identifying the problem as being that Kerry is "too centrist".
The Horse has its own take on Botox-gate. hehehe.

Also via the Horse, the backstory on the Al Franken throwdown at the Dean rally, from The Hamster.
You have only those two choices

Hesiod says in this post on David Kay's call for an investigation into the Iraq intel failures:
Now, if you were President of the United States, and you discovered that one of the central reasons you sent our young men and women to fight and die in a war was faulty or poor intelligence on the country we invaded, you would be livid with anger, right?

You would be calling for heads to roll, firing people left and right, and demanding that a full investigation be launched to get to the bottom of it.

After all, if our intelligence was so bad in this case, what other important information is also so utterly wrong? You'd want to fix the problem right away, to protect this country's national security.

That's what any President would do, Republican or Democratic, conservative or liberal, if the facts I described (and David Kay describes) are true.

Any sane, rational, competent, and responsible President, anyway.

So what is the White House's view on investigating pre-war Iraq intelligence "failures?" They seem awfully non-chalant about the whole thing, don't they? They don't seem particularly concerned, or upset. There are no reports of President Bush chewing out George Tenet, or Condi Rice. No one's been fired. No one's even been reprimanded, as far as we know! In fact, they are downright hostile to the very idea of such an investigation.

How can that be?
He's quite right. Even when the Bushies have tried to sound serious about finding the supposed Iraqi WMD, their reasons have been clear: To demonstrate that their professed rationale for going to war was legitimate.

Think about it. Let's say the Bush administration had intelligence that Iraq had all the chemical and biological weapons that Dubya mentioned in the 2003 State of the Union address and Powell mentioned a few days later at the United Nations. And let's also assume that Bush and his people actually believed all that intelligence was accurate. And then we invade Iraq, topple the Ba'athist regime, and have hundreds of thousands of boots on the ground, not to mention David Kay's team searching for WMD. And after several months of searching, none are found.

So for all that to be true, the Bushies, who allegedly believe their pre-war intelligence, know that there are Iraqi WMD, but they can't find them. Isn't that, um, a concern to national security? Especially after all that looting and chaos immediately after our entrance into Baghdad? And if there were also Al Qaeda and other terrorists in Iraq, as Bush and especially Cheney have suggested, couldn't those loose WMD that the Bushies know exist but they can't find, fall into the hands of people much more dangerous to us than Saddam ever was? Have we heard a peep from the Bushies about any concerns like this? The only thing we hear is a message of "we will be vindicated".

If the Bushies were bullshitting us from day one, that's inexcusable, as well as grounds for immediate impeachment/firings. If, on the other hand, the Bushies wholeheartedly believed the intelligence they told us about in late 2002 and early 2003, then their conduct now is equally as troubling, if not much worse.

Hesiod highlights the important point that there hasn't been any head-rolling in the administration appropriate to the realities of WMD intelligence. But the fact that the administration only wants to find weapons, any weapons at all, just so they can say "I told you so!" not only speaks volumes about the adminstration's character, but gives me very grave doubts about their actual concern for the security of the American population.

In other words, the Bushies show the same amount of concern about fake loose WMD in Iraq as they do about real loose WMD in the former Soviet Union.

The Center for American Progress has the list:
"There's no question that Iraq was a threat to the people of the United States."
• White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan, 8/26/03

"We ended the threat from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction."
• President Bush, 7/17/03

Iraq was "the most dangerous threat of our time."
• White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 7/17/03

"Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to the United States because we removed him, but he was a threat...He was a threat. He's not a threat now."
• President Bush, 7/2/03

• White House spokesman Ari Fleischer answering whether Iraq was an "imminent threat," 5/7/03

"We gave our word that the threat from Iraq would be ended."
• President Bush 4/24/03

"The threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction will be removed."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 3/25/03

"It is only a matter of time before the Iraqi regime is destroyed and its threat to the region and the world is ended."
• Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke, 3/22/03

"The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder."
• President Bush, 3/19/03

"The dictator of Iraq and his weapons of mass destruction are a threat to the security of free nations."
• President Bush, 3/16/03

"This is about imminent threat."
• White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03

Iraq is "a serious threat to our country, to our friends and to our allies."
• Vice President Dick Cheney, 1/31/03

Iraq poses "terrible threats to the civilized world."
• Vice President Dick Cheney, 1/30/03

Iraq "threatens the United States of America."
• Vice President Cheney, 1/30/03

"Iraq poses a serious and mounting threat to our country. His regime has the design for a nuclear weapon, was working on several different methods of enriching uranium, and recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 1/29/03

"Saddam Hussein possesses chemical and biological weapons. Iraq poses a threat to the security of our people and to the stability of the world that is distinct from any other. It's a danger to its neighbors, to the United States, to the Middle East and to the international peace and stability. It's a danger we cannot ignore. Iraq and North Korea are both repressive dictatorships to be sure and both pose threats. But Iraq is unique. In both word and deed, Iraq has demonstrated that it is seeking the means to strike the United States and our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 1/20/03

"The Iraqi regime is a threat to any American. They not only have weapons of mass destruction, they used weapons of mass destruction...That's why I say Iraq is a threat, a real threat."
• President Bush, 1/3/03

"The world is also uniting to answer the unique and urgent threat posed by Iraq whose dictator has already used weapons of mass destruction to kill thousands."
• President Bush, 11/23/02

"I would look you in the eye and I would say, go back before September 11 and ask yourself this question: Was the attack that took place on September 11 an imminent threat the month before or two months before or three months before or six months before? When did the attack on September 11 become an imminent threat? Now, transport yourself forward a year, two years or a week or a month...So the question is, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?"
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 11/14/02

"Saddam Hussein is a threat to America."
• President Bush, 11/3/02

"I see a significant threat to the security of the United States in Iraq."
• President Bush, 11/1/02

"There is real threat, in my judgment, a real and dangerous threat to American in Iraq in the form of Saddam Hussein."
• President Bush, 10/28/02

"The Iraqi regime is a serious and growing threat to peace."
• President Bush, 10/16/02

"There are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists."
• President Bush, 10/7/02

"The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency."
• President Bush, 10/2/02

"There's a grave threat in Iraq. There just is."
• President Bush, 10/2/02

"This man poses a much graver threat than anybody could have possibly imagined."
• President Bush, 9/26/02

"No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/19/02

"Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent - that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain. And we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons. Iraq has these weapons."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/18/02

"Iraq is busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents, and they continue to pursue an aggressive nuclear weapons program. These are offensive weapons for the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale, developed so that Saddam Hussein can hold the threat over the head of any one he chooses. What we must not do in the face of this mortal threat is to give in to wishful thinking or to willful blindness."
• Vice President Dick Cheney, 8/29/02
Remember this list whenever someone from the administration, or their conservative friends, suggests that they never said or implied that Saddam's Iraq was an imminent threat.
From today's daily Dean mailer:
Governor Dean is off this morning to campaign in key states holding contests on February 3rd and February 7th. We will be focusing resources and effort on the February 7 contests in Michigan, Washington, February 8 in Maine and February 17 in Wisconsin.
A good strategy there. Conceding the February 3rd states in favor of campaigning in much more fertile ground seems like the thing for him to do. Could it be that Gore's man is trying to get him out of the 50-state-style strategy? Or the tight financial situation the campaign's in?

I'm not a big fan of the whole "such-and-such has to hope for such-and-such to do badly so that such-and-such can..." stuff, so I don't buy the "keep Kerry strong because Dean thinks he can beat him" idea. If I were Dean, I'd hope for a big split next tuesday, with Edwards, Clark and Kerry all winning primaries. Of course, I, Brendan, would love to see that, because I want this to be a long, hard, press-receiving nomination struggle.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Lost among the hoopla of Kerry's big win in New Hampshire was the big drama: How would Bush do as a write-in candidate on the Democratic ballot, compared to the Dems as write-in's on the Repub slate?

And now we know.

First, the Dem primary: Bush finished 9th, with 115 write-in votes, enough for 0.1%, though looking at the total amount of votes, I think they rather charitably rounded up.

But what about the Republican primary?
1. Bush - 53,749 - 85.4%
2. John Kerry (write-in) - 1,420 - 2.3%
3. Howard Dean (write-in) - 974 - 1.5%
4. Wesley Clark (write-in) - 851 - 1.4%
7. John Edwards (write-in) - 808 - 1.3%
10. Joe Lieberman (write-in) - 511 - 0.8%
20. Dennis Kucinich (write-in) - 28 - 0%
21. Carol Moseley Braun (write-in) - 15 - 0%
22. Dick Gephardt (write-in) - 14 - 0%
23. Al Sharpton (write-in) - 11 - 0%
That's 4,632 votes for Democratic candidates in the Republican primary, totaling 7.3% of the GOP primary vote.

That, ahem, far dwarfs Bush's meager total of 115 votes in the Dem primary. And the one where a significantly-larger total of people voted at that. And Kerry finished both 1st and 2nd!

Now if only Edwards or Clark could stand up to him next week...

...that, according to Truth Laid Bear's ecosystem dealie, Daily Kos has taken the lead in visits per day over Professor InstaHack.
-Grateful Dead, "St. Stephen"

Over at CalJunket (an awesome blog, btw), Rebecca Brown has questions, and being a registered voter of some sort, I have answers... or I think I do... anyhoo...
Is anyone besides me bothered by the fact that voters vote for whom they think will win and not the candidate whom they think would be the best leader?
While the factual answer to that question is likely "yes!", I don't think this is necessarily an either/or situation. I think a lot of Democratic voters will go to the polls (and have already gone) with a synthesis of those two overlapping concerns in mind. Given the nature of our nominating system and the challenge of campaigning against a perceived "popular wartime preznit", the ability to beat Bush -- and I'm a little worn out on the E-word right now -- is a factor in the decision-making process of Democratic voters. And rightfully so: Painting with a broad brush, Dean, Clark, Edwards and Kerry would all lead the country in a relatively comparable way (all better than Bush, mind you). However, their differences in their perceived general-election weaknesses (Dean's lack of military service, Kerry's "northeastern-liberal"-ishness) are, at present, larger than their differences in leadership and policy.

I think Dennis Kucinich would make an excellent president. I also think Bush would have a damn easy time scaring middle-America and culturally pigeon-holing the Congressman from Ohio.
Does it annoy anyone else that political media coverage is devoted to speculation rather than analysis of the candidates' ideologies and issues?
Oh that's a big hell yes. Of course, Gore got the same speculative, non-substantive treatment back in 2000, and the focus on trivial bullshit, from "inventing the internet" to "Love Story" and so on, overshadowed the staggering policy differences between he and Dubya, caused voters to believe that very little was at stake that year, etc. And now we're one bad day at work for O'Connor or Rhenquist from some real bad consequences. Oh, and there was that whole imperial oil-war thing. Dang it.
Is anyone else bothered that genuine diversity of political thought is drowned out by a cry for simplicity and the demeaning of "fringe candidates"?
Yes, I can't remember seeing Dennis on TV for more than 10-seconds in the past month. The media basically got fed up covering him, the thinking being something like "at least with Reverend Al, we get jokes". I saw him speak way back in the spring, and I was impressed (save for his incomplete and carefully-worded explanation of his abortion flipflop). I'm happy that his constituency ran within the party rather than without (he proudly stated, "I'm a green Democrat!" at the event), but the way the media has treated him has been a shame.
Do any of my readers thirst for a more intellectualized political atmosphere not driven by television ratings but by consumer advocacy?
Well, 1) I'm more of a hunger guy, 2) I'm an animal, then I'm a human, then I'm a person, then I'm a musican, and then I'm a consumer, and 3) If "consumer advocacy" is a code-word for His Holiness Saint Lazy-Eye, then that's "Bush advocacy by proxy", though 4) If not, then yes!

UPDATE: Oh, I almost forgot to link to this post from Kossack Chris Bowers, on some strikingly similar issues.

I altered the HTML here so that the columns do the whold percentage thing instead of specifying numeric width. I didn't know how to do that until about 3 minutes ago. Shows what I know.

Trippi's gone. (careful, it's a Pickler)
Howard Dean shook up his presidential campaign on Wednesday after absorbing back-to-back defeats, replacing his campaign manager Joe Trippi and bringing in a longtime associate of former Vice President Al Gore to try and stabilize his faltering candidacy, Democratic sources said.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Dean told congressional supporters in a telephone conference call that he was installing Roy Neel as campaign CEO. Dean added that Trippi would remain on the payroll, the source said. But another source said that Trippi had decided to depart the campaign rather than accept the change.

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

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

Before leaving the campaign, Trippi thanked the staff, telling them how proud he was of their efforts. "I may be out of the campaign, but I'm not out of the fight," Trippi was quoted as saying.
From the looks of it, Joe Trippi was well-suited to manage Phase 1 of the Dean campaign (creating an large organization and revolutionizing the way money is raised, yadda yadda), but rather ill-suited to manage Phase 2 (you know, the actual short-term campaigning and voting). Trippi's oddly narrow-visioned late strategy of "endorsements first! everyone else, just hold on!" didn't exactly come through with flying colors in Iowa.

This is quite a shakeup, but will it help? It wont matter if Dean doesn't win at least one state in the next batch of primaries. Hell, if he has to, he should just hang out in Delaware all week, a state in which none of the other candidates will seriously campaign, and hand out orange caps to the entire population of Dover.

Reports in the last 18 hours have said that Dean doesn't want to limit his focus to a couple of the seven February 3rd states, but rather wants to keep his campaign spread out. Baaaad idea, and I wonder if there was a Trippi/Dean disagreement in this matter that lead to the end of Trippi as manager. Why does Kerry have all the momentum? Because he pooled all his energy into a state, and came out with a win. Superficial as it is, people respond to success, and a string of 2nd and 3rd place finishes next week for Dean, even if he picks up a handful of delegates in each state, will not be perceived as success.

Apparently one of the reasons Newsweek's Howard Fineman thinks his fellow Howard, Mister Dean, has seen his campaign tank in the last two weeks is because Dean failed to appreciate Fineman's special brand of humor.
Dean is in many ways an unassuming guy, but he doesn’t like criticism, and can’t stand being teased. I had dinner with him in late 2002, just as he was gearing up to run. He told me that he wasn’t a typical liberal, and by way of explanation said that he had supported civil unions, but also had never supported gun control. Being the jerk that I am, I said: “Well, governor, I guess you have the gay hunter vote locked up.” (It was a fresh joke at the time.) His response was an icy stare. Maybe it wasn’t that funny. But he couldn’t fake tolerance for sophomoric humor – and isn’t that required in politics?
Sometimes, you don't even have to check if something made it into the magazine or was just a "web exclusive".

Of the list of factors cited by Fineman, I'd say about half of them are actually valid, I'll let you decide which half.

Lastly, via Kick the Leftist, I see that Joe Trippi might be getting bumped out of his manager position, at least that's what MSNBC is reporting...
New president. Now.

So now the right wants us to believe that John Kerry gets botox?

This is unbelievably stupid. How I long for the good old days, when the media only gave John Kerry shit for what kind of cheese he eats.

For those who might fall for this tripe, allow me to explain...

"Before" pictures all depict Kerry with raised eyebrows.
"After" pictures all depict Kerry with his eyebrows in their usual position.

Now... go look in a mirror, and see what happens to your forehead when you raise your eyebrows.

Heck, I'm in my low-20's, and I get lines!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


Not as many words from me on this primary, mostly because I don't care terribly much, I'm more excited about next week's set.

Looks like early reports of a close Kerry victory (and a 4th place finish for Clark) were a bit off. I'm looking at you, Drudge.

Anyway, Kerry won by around a dozen points, with 3/4 of the precincts reporting. If I'm Kerry, I have to feel pretty good right now, because I just won a 2nd primary with around the same percentage vote total as the first one. I'm not sure what that means. Maybe it means that Kerry is really a man in his upper-30's. (:

Dean trailed Kerry by a lot, but possibly more important, he put a lot of space between himself and third place, so that will probably be enough for him to claim "victory" in New Hampshire after the Iowa debacle. He's already playing it up as a "solid" second place. With his money, his 50-state strategy and his support network, he'll have a fighting chance in the upcoming primaries.

Also, it looks as if Clark has held off Edwards for third place. This was the ordering I hoped for (though neither got the support I had hoped to see). I want strong Clark and Edwards candidacies going into the next round of states (here's why, aside from the fact that I really like both of them), and I think Edwards can handle a 4th place NH finish better than Clark can.

Also, Lieberman hasn't packed it in yet. We'll see how long this lasts...

Salon interviewsThe Rev. Mark Stanger of Grace Cathedral in SF, who got invited to an early screening of Battlefield Jesus The Passion.

The verdict? Boring, gratuitously gory, dull, and probably not as useful a tool for conversion as some might hope.
Kevin Drum has a big chunk of exit polls posted. All but one (the LA Times) have Kerry leading by a small amount.

All of them, noticeably, have Dean topping 30%. First of all, my predictions went to shit. Second of all, 30% seems like one of those good arbitrary numbers that the media will adopt as part of their "Dean is rebounding" line. And reasonably enough, because he was as far down as the upper teens according to some polls as recently as a few days ago.

As someone who is relatively uncommitted right now, and as someone who doesn't want to see Clark or Edwards knocked out of the race (particularly the former), I wouldn't mind a close finish between Dean and Kerry here.

Ha ha. In your face, Cold Mountain.

I see the best supporting actor nominees, yet I see neither Sean Astin nor Andy Serkis. For shame.

Early picks:
Picture: Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King
Actor: Sean Penn (move over, Michael Moore)
Actress: That's a tough one. Hmm, the little girl from Whale Rider got nominated, wow. But I'll just be lazy and root for Naomi.

Okay, I'm sure I'll change my mind 50 times, and maybe, just maybe, I'll see some of the actual movies these people are in.

I mentioned earlier today that Professor Michael Gordon, of PoliSci129 here at ucsb, had sent to his students a National Review article on Kerry's hawkish stance on Iraq in 1997.

A student responded to this addition, saying:
What on earth does a 7 year old speech have to do with the present. If the current intelligence was wrong or subject of a little english, how does that affect Kerry's electability....unless it is used as a smear.
I would have preferred if the emailer broght up the fact that the UN inspection regime was getting lots of shit from Saddam at the time. Anyway, maybe Gordon will make that distinction in his response:
No, no smear: I actually like Kerry. That has nothing to do with the contradiction in his behavior: he urged unilateral war if need be in 1997, and voted for the war Bush waged, only to waffle since then to court Democratic voters. The connection is spelled out in my commentary. If, oppositely, Bush were found by David Kay to have fudged the WMD figures, I would favor impeachment. Simply because you support a policy or a candidate or a president doesn’t remove the obligation to apply universal criteria, political or moral, in judging the appropriateness of conduct.

You might ponder why, if Saddam was a threat warranting unilateral war 7 years ago , he was less a danger last year? Actually, Bush didn’t wage a unilateral war, and the US and the UK tried for six months to get UN Security Council support for the war. If I understood Kerry’s position 7 years ago, he wouldn’t have wasted much time, if any, trying to get that support.
Oh well, a bit too much to hope for. I'll have to email him.

(inspired by another hesiod post)

Looks like he finally found those "crosses row on row" that he had thought were in Arlington.

Yeah, right.
A well-placed source says that the president will “most likely” drop Dick Cheney from his re-election ticket and his first choice for a replacement is former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“The issue of Cheney’s health will probably be given as the reason,” says the insider. “There’s a short list of possible replacements, and Rudy is at the top of the list.”
Kicking and screaming. Kicking. And Screaming. That's how Cheney would be dragged out of his White House office if he were replaced. It would take months to repair the surprisingly deep scratch-marks on the walls of the West Wing. Hell, the GAO would probably estimate the damage cost to be even higher than anything of which the outgoing Clinton staffers were even accused.

It does, however, play into Bush's central campaign theme of "vote for me, because I was the one reading about goats on September 11th, 2001."

UPDATE: People have been talking about Rudy as GOP Veep as far back as 1998. From a February 1998 NY Post piece by FREDRIC U. DICKER:
LIBERAL PARTY leader Raymond Harding yesterday predicted the Republican Party would make major inroads with heavily Democratic city voters by choosing Mayor Giuliani to run for vice president in 2000.

"I think they should consider putting him on the ticket for vice president," Harding, a top Giuliani political adviser who normally steers clear of giving advice to the GOP, told The Post. "The Republicans have historically made a major omission by ignoring the urban vote throughout the nation, and Rudy might just suit the bill to address that, given his record," Harding continued.

"The mayor has an unlimited political future because of his achievements in New York City. He's a great national star," said Harding - insisting he doesn't know if Giuliani wants to run for national office.

While Giuliani himself has repeatedly refused to discuss a possible national run, political intimates and top state GOP operatives say the mayor is definitely considering such an effort.
One significant drawback of putting Giuliani on the ticket is that Bush wants to make the Culture Wars a fundamental (har har) part of his campaign strategy in '04, and Giuliani's stances on choice and gay rights kinda throw a wrench in that.

(Sure, Cheney has a lesbian daughter, and thus, has carefully-worded positions on gay rights and gay marriage. But by virtue of hypothetically being thrust into the spotlight at the '04 GOP convention, Rudy's views would be given a greater voice than Cheney, who's old news, and in his undisclosed location anyway)

From the Washington Post:
Political veterans got a sense of déjà vu as President Bush walked into the Nuthin' Fancy Cafe in Roswell, N.M., last week and told reporters that it was their duty to grow the economy -- by buying a plate of ribs.

"When you spend money to buy food, it helps this lady's business," the president announced. "It makes it more likely somebody is going to find work."

The moment was similar to one staged by the president's father in November 1991 -- when he, too, faced reelection during a time of stubborn unemployment. Then-President George H.W. Bush walked into a J.C. Penney in Frederick, Md., and bought four pairs of "USA" athletic socks for $15.

Back then, Pat Buchanan, who challenged Bush the elder for the Republican nomination, mocked him for an economic plan consisting of "going up to J.C. Penney and buying four pair of socks."

It's a good thing the current president's would-be rivals are distracted in New Hampshire, or we would surely have heard taunts that his solution for the 2.3 million jobs lost on his watch is to buy a platter of baby backs.
Put bluntly, Bush's buy-baby-back-ribs strategy of job growth is about as effective, and applicable to those currently unemployed, as the job training programs he proposed in the State of the Union address.

Let's start printing those "JOBS NOT RIBS" bumper stickers and mousepads...

(link via hesiod)
Sign MoveOn's petition to get their ad into the Super Bowl. So far, over 350k signatures...

From the looks of the latest tracking poll, you'd think that Howard Dean cut one at a big rally. (of course, he turned the radio up, so it was alright)

After coming within 3 points of John Kerry in yesterday's tracking poll, Kerry's lead suddenly more than quadrupled:
Kerry - 37 (31)
Dean - 24 (28)
Edwards - 12 (12)
Clark - 9 (13)
Lieberman - 9 (9)
Kucinich - 3 (2)
undecided - 3 (3)
The new drama for the New Hampshire Primary: Can Dennis Kucinich top Joe Lieberman? Pleasepleaseplease!!!

I think Edwards and Clark would gladly have NH just end so they can head down to the early February states, where the real competition heats up. I still think, though, that their vote totals in NH will be a bit higher than their poll numbers lead on.

UPDATE: Via Paul, I see that Wesley Clark has won the highly-competitive race in Dixville Notch and Hart's Location. Clark's secret? He convinced just over half of Dixville's Democrats that he is not a Republican. Heyo! But I kid, I kid.

But from what I hear, there is surely a good time to be had in Dixville Notch...

Because he's good enough, he's smart enough, and doggone it, he'll kick your ass:
EXETER, N.H. - Wise-cracking funnyman Al Franken yesterday body-slammed a demonstrator to the ground after the man tried to shout down Gov. Howard Dean.
The tussle left Franken's trademark thick-rim glasses broken, but he said he was not injured.

Franken - who seemed in a state of shock and out of breath after the incident - was helped back to his feet by several people who watched the tussle. Police arrived soon after.

"I got down low and took his legs out," said Franken afterwards.

Franken said he's not backing Dean but merely wanted to protect the right of people to speak freely. "I would have done it if he was a Dean supporter at a Kerry rally," he said.
Is someone gonna tell Rich Lowry? He's lucky, that coulda been him!

Apparently the guy he bodyslammed was a Larouche supporter. Why does that make it so much sweeter? It's too bad the guy didn't hit Franken back: he could have been arrested and thrown into prison, so that way he could have consulted with his candidate or choice.

(needless disclaimer, since lyndon calls himself a "democrat": I'm all for third parties, but until such steps are taken as the implementation of instant runoff voting (or a national second-ballot system), and a federal election holiday (or weekend elections), a left-leaning third party has no practical use other than to throw elections to the right.)

link via jb

When Joel C. Rosenberg brings up the fact that John Kerry had, in 1997, spoke of Iraq's WMD threat and advocated military action, possibly unilaterally even, he fails to mention that at the time, Iraq was not cooperating with UNSCOM inspectors, while in the run-up to Bush's war, Iraq produced a declaration of weapons that has been shown to be largely accurate, and weapons inspectors were receiving dramatically higher levels of cooperation from Iraqi officials.

P.S. The National Review article was recommended by "moderate Democrat" Michael Gordon, who should know that most knowledgeable moderate Democrats are able to see through stunts like that.

Monday, January 26, 2004

WOODBURY, New Jersey (AP) -- A couple who says their 4-year-old daughter saw hard-core pornography on a PG-rated movie tape from Blockbuster has sued the video company.

The plaintiffs, who were not identified, said the footage appeared on a "Home Alone 3" tape rented April 7 from a Glassboro store.

The pornographic material allegedly appeared for 10 minutes after the movie credits for the 1997 film.

According to the lawsuit field in Superior Court, Blockbuster "had a responsibility and a duty to inspect, monitor and ensure the quality and propriety of all video products purchased by its customers."

Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for Dallas-based Blockbuster Inc., said Friday that the company does not carry X- or NC-17-rated movies, and depends on renters to return a tape "in the same condition it was given to them."

"Unfortunately there are those rare instances when someone will abuse that privilege and damage one of our tapes," he said. (full story)
Well, if you see someone outside a Blockbuster punching himself in the ear, that's your man.

Come on, boys.
Female troops serving in the Iraq war are reporting an insidious enemy in their own camps: fellow American soldiers who sexually assault them.

At least 37 female service members have sought sexual-trauma counseling and other assistance from civilian rape-crisis organizations after returning from war duty in Iraq, Kuwait and other overseas stations, The Denver Post has learned.

The women, ranging from enlisted soldiers to officers, have reported poor medical treatment, lack of counseling and incomplete criminal investigations by military officials. Some say they were threatened with punishment after reporting assaults.

The Pentagon did not respond to repeated requests for information about the number of sexual assault reports during the conflict. Defense officials would say only that they will not tolerate sexual assault in their ranks.
So far, all evidence to the contrary.

I'm a bit too tired to provide much insight beyond that this is not how we're going to set a good example, whether it be in Iraq, America or anywhere else. Sigh.

SK Bubba has a veritable clearing-house of what the right-wing blogosphere has had to say about David Kay and his inspectors in the past several months.

Depending on which polls you believe, Kerry leads by either a lot (12-15%) or a teeny bit (3-5%).

Zogby called Iowa pretty well, with their daily tracking poll catching the Kerry-rise trend and the Gephardt-fall pretty accurately. So let's look at their latest tracking poll of the Granite State, with the previous day's numbers in parentheses:
Kerry 31 (30)
Dean - 28 (23!)
Clark - 13 (13)
Edwards - 12 (9)
Lieberman - 9 (9)
The Others - Starring Nicole Kidman (and some other people)
Zogby's showing a real Dean surge here, now within the margin of error (4.1%). He probably doesn't have to win to beat the expectations game, a solid second should be enough to put yaaahhhhrr-gate to bed for the most part. (btw, read today's Horse on that subject)

If Edwards finishes in 3rd place ahead of Clark, that could give him quite an advantage (perhaps only in the media, but whatever) heading into the southern primaries. I'm sure he wishes the NH primary was a week from now instead of tomorrow: With Kerry Dean and Clark all attacking eachother, Edwards could have scored an Iowa-style victory if he had more time.

Might as well make a prediction, which I'll also submit over at Daily Kos.
Kerry - 29
Dean - 27
Edwards - 20
Clark - 18
Lieberman - 4
Kucinich 1
Sharpton 1
Both Edwards and Clark want Dean to do well, as a strong 2nd from Dean would blunt some of Kerry's momentum.

I think the deeper I dig into the possibilities, the more likely it would be that I'd be wrong, so I'll make like Mary Queen of Scots, and quit while I'm ahead. did Drudge's expose'-series on Edwards fizzle out, or something?

Sunday, January 25, 2004

You decide.