Sunday, September 28, 2003
The Justice Dept. opens a probe of the White House on the outing of a CIA agent: ["The Wilson War Continues"]. It will be very interesting to see what happens with this.
Dean's Texas Rangers love to speed
So I'm traveling up I-93, north of Concord, to visit one of my sisters who is up for a short vacation with her grandmother, when three vans full of Howard Dean's Texas Rangers zoom by. The vans, labeled "Lakes Region," were driving way over 80 mph. Candidates and campaigners are always in a hurry. So, speeding vans with volunteers shouldn't be a surprise. But, it really doesn't look good when vans full of campaign workers are driving that far above the speed limit.
According to a press release forwarded by N.H. Press Secretary Dorie Clark, 146 activists from Texas arrived in New Hampshire to go door-to-door this weekend to share their experiences with President Bush.
More poll numbers
A University of Cincinnati poll released two days ago shows the faltering Joe Lieberman campaign with a solid lead in Ohio. Lieberman has 22 percent, followed by Dick Gephardt with 14 and Dennis Kucinich with 9 percent, his best numbers in any state poll but hardly anything to brag about since this is his home state. These are also some of Lieberman's best numbers, especially since he has slipped from the lead in South Carolina.
Zogby's latest N.H. poll shows Dean with a solid 10 point lead over John Kerry: Dean - 30 percent, Kerry - 20 percent, and Wesley Clark - 10 percent. Kerry has gained some points since Zogby's last poll, probably because he has been running cable ads for a number of weeks. A Marist poll of N.H. has similar numbers: Dean with 35 percent, Kerry at 22 percent, and Clark with 11 percent.
Speaking of Clark, even though he has only been in the race for days, he has pulled into the lead in Wisconsin with 18 percent. Lieberman is at 14 percent, with Dean at 11 percent and Gephardt at 10 percent.
According to internal polling released by the Edwards campaign, he has a 10 point lead in South Carolina: Edwards 23 percent, Clark 13 percent, Al Sharpton and Lieberman with 8 percent. This isn't too surprising since Edwards is from a neighboring state and has also tailored his trade message to target NAFTA job losses, a huge issue in South Carolina.
Lastly, a Quinnipiac University poll for New Jersey shows Lieberman at 17 percent with Clark at 16 percent, Kerry at 14 percent, Gephardt at 13 percent and Dean with 12 percent. Sharpton has 9 percent. New Jersey is one of the very late primaries, held on June 1, so the field will probably be whittled down by then.
Saturday, September 27, 2003
"CIA seeks probe of White House"
"The CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations that the White House broke federal laws by revealing the identity of one of its undercover employees in retaliation against the woman’s husband, a former ambassador who publicly criticized President Bush’s since-discredited claim that Iraq had sought weapons-grade uranium from Africa, NBC News has learned."More than likely, no one in the White House will be punished. They didn't punish the Clintons for the crap they pulled while they were monkeying with files and destroying their enemies. Remember Craig Livingstone and the FBI files? Did anything happen to him? No. Why will Bush get nailed?
Almost 35 million living in poverty: ["Poverty Up Second Year on Bush's Watch"]. A lot can be said about this but the headline shouldn't be so biased. Even if Al Gore was selected by the Supreme Court as president, this study would be the same or maybe even worse. Sure, Americans wouldn't be dying in Iraq and trillions wouldn't have been given back to the affluent. But, the economy would still be the same. The economy started tanking in the first quarter of 2000, during Clinton's watch. And, it would have continued no matter who was in power, since so much economic collapse had to do with the dot-con fiasco, corporate fraud - encouraged by the two major political parties - and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. All of these things probably would have occurred if Gore was elected. Had Gore won, he would be dealing with all this crap [sans Iraq] and the conservative/corporate media would be pummelling him hour after hour after hour. While it might be hard to imagine a worse Republican than George W. Bush, it is plausible. So, we might be a little better off that Gore lost because now, our nation has the chance to elect a better Democrat.
Here is an important line:
"The poverty line was defined in 2002 as $18,244 for a family of four with two children."
These are poverty numbers? Yikes! A single person can't survive on that, never mind a family of four. Granted, costs are lower in other parts of the country but this is pretty bad.
Another interesting line:
"The Midwest, where manufacturing industries have been hard hit in recent years, was the only region where median income fell and the only one where the poverty rate increased."
Two points: As I have said over and over again, the free trade cultists have destroyed our economy and the middle class. And, if the Democrats can nominate a fair trader, they could win over the hearts, minds, and wallets, of the people of the Midwest. All they need is one red state to stop this freight train to economic hell - started by Reagan, Bush 41, and Clinton/Gore - and continued by King George.
You know times are tough when ...
..."best dressed" socialites are busted for shop-lifting: ["Best-Dressed Socialite Charged with Shoplifting"].
The Boston Phoenix's new political reporter Adam Reilly gives his take on the debate: ["Al Sharpton steals the show at the CNBC-WSJ debate"]. Matthew Rothchild of The Progressive said Kucinich didn't hedge: ["Kucinich Shines in New York Democratic Debate, Should Take On Clark"]. And here are some quotes compiled by the San Jose Mercury News: ["Quotes From Democratic Debate in N.Y."].
Republicans for Dean?
One N.H. Republican is getting out the vote for Dean: ["Republican campaigner for 2 Bushes backs Dean"].
Friday, September 26, 2003
The Boston Globe breaks a big story about polling workers in Boston's Asian neighborhoods trying to influence the outcome of the election: ["Coercion of voters reported in Chinatown"]. This was the first election with the Accuvote optical scanning voting machines and things seem to go without a hitch - except that some poll workers may have been using the lack of knowledge about the machines to influence voters. Here are the posted results of the city council preliminary election: Election Summary Report. Look at the number of blanks: 230 - shockingly low compared to past municipal elections with those ancient lever machines. And only two overvotes, which means only two people cast a ballot with a mistake, an unbelievably low number.
However, look at the undervotes: 32,352 - a huge number. This means that only 4,000 voters cast votes for four candidates, while the other 32,000 plus, limited their choices to one or two candidates. Also, a disappointing 13.6 percent turnout. It would be interesting to see the precinct by precinct numbers. I also may take a look at past election results and compare them. The key to all of this is the optical scanning machines have provided an opportunity for the voters' vote to actually be recorded, especially in light of how many votes were lost in those ancient lever machines.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
For the last two decades of my life as an adult, not a summer has gone by where I didn't yearn for the good old days of misspent youth. Sure, it wasn't always easy but it could be extremely exciting.
One of the benefits of being a child of divorce was spending summers with my dad. Sometimes, it meant being dragged to some strange or even exotic locale to live. Most of the time, it meant being holed up on a boat somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
My father and step-mom were "liveaboards," meaning, they lived aboard a boat instead of a house. A few times, they would buy a house or get an apartment and try to live on dry land but would then return to the seas because they couldn't stand living on land.
While it may seem beyond civilized, it wasn't all that bad.
One summer we spent traveling the eastern coast. Later, we spent time camping from New Jersey to Maryland, until my dad bought a boat in Georgetown. We carelessly spent the rest of the summer swimming in the Chesapeake Bay - colored brown at the time - never knowing what chemicals or wastes were being dumped in there.
Several summers we lived in the Florida Keys where my dad went through what I called his "Falwellite" stage - attending a strict church a number of times a week and forcing me to do the same.
One summer, before turning 16, we sailed to the Bahamas and spent over a month island hopping. No, we didn't do the ritzy hotel route. We got to see the actual islands, how the people really lived in places while fishing off the boat for food and visiting shipwrecks. The water was crystal clear, and you could see the bottom in 20 or 30 feet of water.
Late into the trip, a hurricane named David blew through the islands, and we weren't as protected as we thought we were. The waves were coming over the small islands we were anchored behind and bashing the side of the boat.
Looking at the charts, my dad suggested we cross from one spot to the other, in what seemed to be a mile or two at best, to a more protective cove.
The trip took all day - with the huge swells tossing our 40-foot ketch into the air like a rubber duck, only to crash back down again. My brother was gleeful the entire time, acting as if he were in an amusement park, while I was repeatedly hurling over the side, my dad with a very worried look on his face wondering if we were going to make it or not.
But by 17, I had grown tired of spending summers with my father. I really wanted to earn money, chase girls, and hang out with my friends. Constantly spending summers being shipped off was getting tiresome.
So, I decided to go out a get a job just before I graduated high school, busing tables at a restaurant and spent my first summer working. This isn't a decision I completely regret, but I can't for the life of me remember what, if anything, I did that summer.
My dad would later become a minister and a missionary to Haiti, building a 95-foot sailing freighter piece by piece. The Miami Herald did a story about it referring to him as "Rev. Noah," a nickname people gave him after finding out he was building this huge boat in his backyard.
The boat, named "Tre Bon Nouvel" or "the good news" in Creole, took quite a while to complete and my family made a couple of trips to Haiti, the last one being quite rough.
The ship struck coral during a storm and almost sank. Thankfully, the Coast Guard managed to get to the boat in time and tow them back to the Keys for repairs. After this experience - and realizing the twilight years were setting in - my dad decided to stop going to Haiti.
Of course, I was bummed not only because I was so proud of his work but because I would never get a chance to go to Haiti with him on the boat he built with his own two hands. Sure, I would lose scads of money taking the time off. But how often does anyone get the chance to do something so meaningful?
Too many summers fly by without any memorable experiences. Yeah, you might remember a vacation or two, or some major life change you made but before you know it - poof - the summer is over - again - and you have nothing to show for it.
This year was a little different than most in that I made a point to go to the beach at least a couple of times. It wasn't a lost summer in the classic sense. I did take some time off. During the remnants of Hurricane Henri, two weeks ago, I was on Marconi Beach, watching the swells and 12 foot waves crash over me.
But on the drive home all I could think about was the fact that another summer had passed me by even when I tried to make sure it didn't. And with at least 25 years to go before retirement, the chance to return to the days of blissful and careless summers is almost none.
However, like we say after every Red Sox season, there is always next year.
I've been watching the rebroadcast of the CNBC Democratic debate and the trade issue came up. Brian Williams' question: "Free trade or Made in the USA?" Clark said he was a free trader and he was for open borders too. Yikes.
Check out Dan Kennedy's take on the debate here: medialog. A pretty thorough and accurate overview in my estimation. Here is what Knight-rider reported: ["Bush, Dean come under fire at 10-way Democratic debate"]. And Reuters: ["U.S. Democrats differ sharply on taxes, trade "]. Gephardt really nailed Dean about backing Newt Gingrich's plan to gut Medicaid and Dean lashed right back, although he did sound like a bit of a whine.
The proof, as Sen. Kennedy says, that the Iraq war was a fraud, is starting to be revealed: ["No WMD in Iraq, source claims"].
Largest arctic ice shelf breaks in two: ["Climate change blamed as largest Arctic ice shelf breaks in two after 3,000 years"].
A serious piece on Larouche
I forgot to post this article from a reader who emailed me a serious article in Newsday about Lyndon Larouche: ["Lyndon LaRouche's Long Campaign"]. Sure, the tenor of the article is a little on the sarcastic side, but in the years I have been following politics, I think this is the first serious article about the guy that I can recall.
A good way to make your point
You have to love these conservative kids sometimes. In another article from Newsday, the Young Conservatives of Texas held a bake sale and charged different prices for the cookies, based on a person's race or gender: ["Texas University Shuts Down Bake Sale"]. A brilliantly simple exercise that makes an important point. It is too bad that people were so offended by the truth. The truth hurts a lot of the time. But the simple fact is that affirmative action in college admissions punishes people [whites] due to the color of their skin and not the content of their character or their scores. It is reverse discrimination and it should end.
On the flip side though, the larger problem is that a person needs a college degree to get a decent job nowadays. The educating and elitist castes have basically destroyed the middle class by shipping the jobs overseas and forcing families into economic peril to pay for college to be educated by the same elitists who ruined the economy. I would bet a week's pay that the majority of the members of the Young Conservatives of Texas - or their parents who create policy in the political and business world - are free traders and therefore helped to create an economy where poor whites and poor minorities are fighting for crumbs while those people at the top reap the rewards of the squabbling. So, any conservatives who complain about the current state of the economy, which has everyone scrambling to get into a good college, have only themselves - or their parents - to blame for the set asides.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Wesley Clark admitted yesterday that he "probably" voted for Republican Richard Nixon in 1972 and also supported Ronald Reagan and John Kerry whacked him on it: ["Senator decries Clark's votes for GOP"]. Of course, as Ralph Nader stated so well in 2000, Nixon was a liberal compared to the Clinton/Gore administration, so Clark can get a pass on that. But backing Reagan? Yikes. That is not going to go over well with the liberals who vote in the Democratic primary.
Clark also unveiled a $100 billion economic plan ["Democrat Clark Lays Out $100 Billion Economic Plan"] which - smartly - would rescind the Bush tax cuts on people making more than $200k and send $40 billion back to the states. Another $40 billion would go to Homeland Security and $20 billion to business tax breaks. Of course, the Devil is in the details and just saying you are going to spend this kind of money doesn't mean anything. If the money is given to the states, and they throw it in their reserve funds, the spending won't do any good. If the money for Homeland Security is going to fund a Democratic version of John Ashcroft cataloging what Americans take out at the library, forget about it. And, if the business tax breaks are going to do nothing about jobs fleeing to countries with cheaper labor, then this plan won't accomplish much at all.
Dean leads in NH; tied in Iowa
American Research Group reported yesterday that Dean has a 10 point lead in NH with Kerry [21 percent] and Gephardt [8 percent] trailing. In Iowa, Survey USA reports Dean and Gephardt tied with 23 percent, Kerry at 17 percent and Edwards at 11 percent. Gephardt, who was thought to be a shoo-in in Iowa, has been trading off the lead position with Dean for about two months. Although, since the Iowa contest is a caucus, polling data doesn't mean very much. It will all be about who shows up in the middle of what will be a very cold January and is willing to hang around until the end. However, this is a surge for Edwards who has been at 6 percent for the last month.
'Beantown is Deantown'
Thousands turned out to hear Dean speak in historic Copley Square in Boston on Monday: ["Dean stumps in Kerry's stronghold"]. 2,500 during the lunch hour isn't a bad turnout at all. I like this line:
"A true Patriot Act is not born out of fear, but out of trust; it is not born out of division, but out of community; it is not born out of suspicion, but out of faith in each of us."Can Shaheen save Kerry?
Former N.H. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen has agreed to be the national chairman of John Kerry's campaign: ["Shaheen to lead Kerry campaign"]. One pundit on TV noted that Shaheen saved Al Gore's primary campaign when Bill Bradley was nippin' at his heels. The article also reminds everyone that Shaheen was Gary Hart's organizer in 1984 when he beat former Vice President Walter Mondale. The endorsement isn't a surprise since her husband Bill has been trying to build up support for Kerry around the state for months.
Gallup says Bush could lose ...
While national polls between two candidates are meaningless - since the presidential campaign is about 51 different battle grounds - it is interesting to note that the latest Gallup numbers have both Clark and Kerry beating Bush [Clark 49%, Bush 46%; Kerry 48%, Bush 47%] with Lieberman, Dean and Gephardt very close [Bush 48%, Lieberman 47%; Bush 49%, Dean 46%; Bush 48%, Gephardt 46%]. Again, as I have said before, it is anyone's game but the key is winning the individual states.
Sunday, September 21, 2003
If true, this is a pretty amazing revelation: ["9/11 Mastermind: Plan Involved 10 Planes"]. So, I guess the rightwingers can stop blaming Clinton for Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. This report insinuates that the attacks had nothing to do with revenge for Clinton bombing a pharmaceutical factory in Afghanistan back in Aug. 1998. The attacks were being planned years before the bombing. The bombing, of course, was Clinton's way of getting his Monica Lewinsky affair off the front page.
In fact, Osama's wrath could be put at the doorstep of Clinton's predecessor - Bush 41. Osama was angered that U.S. troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia after Iraq invaded Kuwait to "liberate" the people of Kuwait. Had the troops never been stationed there, Osama might still be our ally.
FTR, democracy still hasn't been established in Kuwait; the country is still ruled by a king. But we all know from history that the first Gulf War could have been avoided altogether, when Hussein met with U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie in July 1990 to discuss his border quarrels. Instead of trying to diffuse the situation, Glaspie said, "We have no opinion on your Arab - Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait."
Sure, it is a stretch to blame Glaspie and Bush 41 for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 - but it is a hell of lot closer to the truth than blaming Clinton. Had they acted differently, Glaspie and Bush 41 could have prevented the attacks altogether, and the thousands of people who perished on that day might still be alive today.
Exhibit A on why tabloids aren't so bad: ["Saddam in secret negotiations with US: newspaper"]. The only difference between American and British tabs is that the Brits often talk about political issues in the tabs while in the states, the tabs are obsessed with celebs. The Brits are obsessed with celebs too, but not like we are. Also, I would be remiss not mentioning that there are half naked young women in most Brit tabs, whereas in the states we have to make do with Britney and Madonna necking.
Hightower goes local
Former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower has been getting his columns published locally of late. Here is one from the Metrowest Daily News: ["The children left behind"]. I also published one in The Winchester Star a few weeks ago. His new book, "Thieves in high places," is sitting on my coffee table waiting to be opened. Soon, I promise.
Media reform conference
There is a media reform conference planned for Nov. 7 to Nov. 9 in Madison, Wis.: ["The National Conference on Media Reform"]. It caught my eye since it was linked on CommonDreams.org so I checked out the site. Interestingly enough, there are a whole slew of guests and all of them are liberal Democrats, progressives, or socialists. Almost no conservatives or moderates have been asked to be involved in the conference. Why is this? Are there no conservatives who think there are problems with media concentration? I would contend there are conservatives worried about media concentration. Charlie Reese of the Orlando Sentinel, Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice, or Christopher Hitchens are just a few libertarian commentators who could have been invited for balance. There are conservative watchdog groups, although most believe that all reporters are liberals; whereas progressives believe the media is too corporate. In some ways, both are right. But without a balance in the guests invited to speak, this conference will do nothing to fix anything and will probably become a liberal bitch session. And again, more preaching to the converted.
Wesley Clark continues to step on landmines all over the place.
First, he flips, flops, and flips again on his Iraqi invasion position, thoroughly analyzed on CommonDreams.org: ["Clark Says He Would Have Voted for War"] and ["Gen. Clark Says He Would Have Voted No on Iraq War"]. So, which is it, Gen. Clark?
Then, there is something I already expected about Clark – his involvement with the Clintons: ["Gen. Clark: Hillary Made Me Do It"] ["Wesley Clark, Clinton’s choice to prevent a Dean disaster"] and the flow of Clinton’s people to Clark.
From the Concord Monitor’s Capital Beat column, not yet posted online: Former Edwards, Gore, and Kerry press secretary Kym Spell has taken a job with Clark. When Kerry's folks found out that Spell was chatting with Mark Fabiani, a Clark adviser, about employment, she was given five minutes to clean out her desk. Former Kerry staffers: Spell and communications advisor Chris Lehane – all out the door. While Kerry says Howard Dean’s campaign is imploding ["Kerry Says Dean Is 'Imploding'"] it really looks to me like the opposite is occurring.
But how does Dean feel about all this Clark stuff, especially after encouraging him to be his VP? Some say he is speechless: ["Dean Speechless as Clintons Hijack Campaign"]. Here’s hoping we all see some more of Dean's now infamous hotheadedness.
While I am on the subject of Kerry and Dean, I have to promote this great column written by The Winchester Star's reporter Kristina Arvanitis about Democratic candidates trying to appeal to the youth vote via pop culture: ["Pop goes the Democratic candidates"]. It is such a great piece. Here is a great paragraph discussing one of those uncomfortable viewing moments:
"One was Kerry's horrific mangling of simple chords on his electric guitar and how he held the instrument like it was a live grenade. The second was my surprise that the socially liberal Moby decided to choose such a centrist candidate for president. The third – the most relevant reason – was that the concert was another sad attempt to appeal to disillusioned Generation-Y voters."
But let's get back to Clark for a moment. There was another scathing piece posted on counterpunch.org concerning the general's true military service: ["Wesley Clark for President? Another Con Job from the Neo-Cons"]. Some of this was posted in the Guardian.
I am beginning to wonder: With the PATRIOT Act and Operation Garden Plot still on the books, with the backing of the Clintons, DLC, and the same neo-con mentality that currently controls our foreign policy, and the fact that we don't know his positions on much of anything; do we really want a life-long military person in control of the nation?
Recent national polls show him vaulting into the lead. And when you consider everything posted above, it is reasonable to worry. However, since the national polls are irrelevant [note the post below entitled "State of the game, 2004" posted last Sunday, for a more thorough argument on why these polls are meaningless], I am not going to waste your time by posting this data. However, as the state by state polls start coming in, with Clark included in them, it will be interesting to take a look at his campaign’s affect on the race.
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Well, the former NATO General has decided to jump in: ["Wesley Clark seeks Democratic nomination"]. Some of my progressive friends are kinda going goo-goo over the guy but I just don't see it. So he graduated first at West Point and is a Rhodes Scholar. Big deal. Do we need more elitists in power or people with some experience living with the working class masses? Plus, we don't know anything about him except that he was against the Iraq war ... or was he?
FAIR released a report on Tuesday ["Wesley Clark: The New Anti-War Candidate? Record Shows Clark Cheered Iraq War as 'Right Call'"] which shows something else.
How about this excellent piece from the muckrakers at Counterpunch: ["A Vain, Pompous Brown-noser: Meet the Real Gen. Clark"]. Ouch.
Drudge has this: "Wesley Clark fundraised for Republicans in 2001, for Pulaski County Republican Party (Little Rock)... December 2001: Clark registers to vote in Little Rock as independent... But in 2003, now he is a Democrat?... " Hmmm. Gotta love how quickly they get this stuff.
However, are the Clintons behind all this? Some think so: ["Wesley Clark’s Newest Mission: Destroy Howard Dean’s Momentum"]. Makes you think.
On MSNBC's "Buchanan & Press" earlier tonight, Pat Buchanan said he didn't think Sen. Hillary Clinton was going to run. But then, he predicted a Clinton/Wesley Clark ticket, especially after reading Bubba's comment in the New York Sun:
"I was impressed at the state fair in New York, which is in Republican country in upstate New York, at how many New Yorkers came up and said they would release her from her commitment if she wanted to do it." He added, however, that Hillary "just doesn't understand how to walk away from that [promise]. So I just have to take her for where she is right now."
On "Hardball" later, Clark danced around some issues. Sure, he answered that he voted for Al Gore and didn't think Clinton lying under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, obstructing justice, and committing pejury was a high crime and worthy of impeachment. But on driver's licenses for illegal aliens, Clark said he couldn't answer and would have to get back to host Chris Matthews on the issue. Why couldn't he answer the question? If you aren't supposed to be here, why should you be granted a driver's license? I can't move to Italy or Mexico illegally and then demand a driver's license. Even most liberals think this is a bad idea. Why does Clark have to think it over?
Some other links: ["Wesley Clark - will he outflank the field?"] ["Sizing up the Wesley Clark effect"]
Interesting political stuff ...
Dick Gephardt has an audio link of one of his speeches set to techno music: ["Gephardt remix"]
Gephardt also has a "Only Dick Gephardt can beat George W. Bush. Find out why" link complete with a map of the states and a more extensive analysis of ["A Winning Electoral Strategy"]. Figures on the map say there are 203 Republican leaning states [although I would disagree that Florida and Vermont are leaning Republican] and 198 Democratic leaning states [sounds about right although I would put Minnesota, Oregon, and Vermont here as well]. The remaining states the Gephardt campaign dictates as "battleground" states with 136 electoral votes.
"As a moderate candidate with strong support in the Midwest and among labor households, Gephardt is better positioned to get these states into the Democratic column in 2004 than all rival Democratic candidates."
Couldn't have said it better myself. It is good to see others joining me in taking a serious look at the map of red states and figuring out which Democrat might actually be able to win this thing.
Dennis Kucinich is holding 1,000 house parties on Sunday in honor of peace day: ["HAVE A HOUSE PARTY FOR PEACE"].
Dean is in the middle of his "September to Remember" effort by having standouts on Saturday ["Dean Visibility Day"]. It should be noted that Saturday is also the day United for Justice and Peace is holding Bring the Troops Home rallies across the country. A national rally is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 25.
Interesting political items
As a collector of political buttons, I look for campaign items in an effort to find something unique and different from political campaigns. Of late, more campaigns are relying on low-frill items like label stickers instead of cool buttons. Sure, some sites have them for sale, but not for free. Probably because the campaigns will be shoveling all their money into television ads. Political items also make the campaigns fun and interesting since th items you can hand out to voters. Everyone always suggests emory boards with your name on them. I haven't seen any of those so far.
Here are some unusual promotional items offered by some of the 2004 campaigns:
The Draft Nader 2004 folks have bobbleheads! $20? A bargain, eh?
John Edwards' campaign is offering "Jog with John" headbands. For $44 you can Jog with John and help him become the 44th president.
I kinda like this one from the fake Joe Lieberman site: Build your own missile shield. Free? Perfect!
Sunday, September 14, 2003
With less than 20 weeks until the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, it is time to look at the Democratic primaries and reveal a few important things concerning the campaign and the process.
The inspiration for this post comes from a few things: Dan Kennedy’s post on Media Log.
First, Kennedy quoted from a section of the Nichols piece in which the writer states that Kucinich – not Dean – deserves the backing of progressives because he has actually challenged the Bush Administration in the halls of Congress. While Dean claims to be a "[Sen. Paul] Wellstone Democrat," it is Dennis Kucinich who can "claim Wellstone’s progressive populist mantle."
Kennedy's posted reaction: "Well, okay. Of course, this doesn’t answer the question, 'So just how badly do you want to lose, anyway?'"
Well, who is to assume that Kucinich can't win?
Let’s be honest here: Just about any of the Democratic candidates will be able to beat President George W. Bush in November 2004. Why? Well, the nation is divided between moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans – who essentially believe the same thing – with fringe left and fringe right groups on either side. Take a look at the Electoral College map recently released by Larry Sabato: ["Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball"]. Look at the map from the 2000 election ["map"]. East Coast, West Coast, metropolitan blue versus Midwest, Southern, and rural red – the nation is clearly divided.
But look closer.
Almost all of the blue is strong or very strong blue. Barring another major effort by Ralph Nader or a completely incompetent Democratic campaign like the one waged by Vice President Al Gore in 2000, there is a good chance the Democrats can hold their states. All the Democrats need to do is win one of the big Midwestern or Southern states. Kucinich would only need to win Gore’s states and Ohio and he beats Bush. Add a Midwestern or Southern governor to the ticket and Kucinich [or any Dem] is almost unstoppable.
Two other things Kucinich brings to the table the others don't: He is pro-life [although trying to subdue it during the primaries] and he is a vehement anti-free trader, a constituency that has been alienated in the past by Democrats, to Nader's benefit. The pro-life position renders Bush impotent on that issue. Kucinich could bring social conservatives back into the party and could also draw from people who supported Perot and Buchanan on the trade issue – millions of voters that either went to Nader or Bush in 2000. There would also be no Nader candidacy if he won since Nader has endorsed him.
So why take cheap shots challenging his ability to beat Bush?
Going back to Kennedy’s point, there is no guarantee that Dean is a shoo-in against Bush. Sure, it is possible, and Rove, Inc. can't wait to hang the gay marriage thing on the guy. But he really only needs one red state, again, looking at the map. If he wins, Dean should really consider Dick Gephardt – great with the unions and on trade which Dean is spotty on – or a Midwestern or Southern governor or senator to swing one of those red states. Same with Gephardt, if he wins, he should consider Dean to hold the left flank against Nader.
As an aside, both Gephardt and Kerry attacked Dean after his appearance on "This Week" this morning when George Stephanopoulos seemed to touch a nerve on Dean’s backing of NAFTA. From the Gephardt and Kerry press releases this afternoon, let's go to the transcript:
George Stephanopoulos: "You have changed on various issues. On NAFTA, you used to be a strong supporter."
Howard Dean: "George, you’re doing it again. I supported NAFTA and wrote a letter to President Clinton in 1992 supporting NAFTA. That’s different than used to be a strong supporter of."
Stephanopoulos: "You were a strong supporter of NAFTA."
Dean: "I supported NAFTA. Where do you get the 'I’m a strong supporter of NAFTA?' I didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t vote on it. I didn’t march down the street supporting it. I wrote a letter supporting it."
Stephanopoulos: "Are you ashamed of that now?"
Dean: "No, I’m not. I tell labor unions why I did it and because it did a lot of positive things for Vermont."
Stephanopoulos: "Now you’re…"
Dean: "What I see you doing is painting me into a corner that I was never in, and that’s what a lot – that in some ways is funny."
Stephanopoulos: "But I don’t get this. You were a supporter of it. You wrote a letter supporting it and talked about it."
Stephanopoulos: "And now you have a different position?"
Stephanopoulos: "Why isn’t it right to ask about that and explain what you mean?"
Dean: "It is. It is fine. I have no problem with you asking about it but don’t put me in a position, which most journalists do, including you, of you are a strong supporter of NAFTA and now it’s not true."
[Source: "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," 9/14/03]
Dean: "I was a very strong supporter of NAFTA. I believe it's going to create jobs in the United States of America."
[Source: "This Week with David Brinkley," 1/29/95]
Message to the Dean campaign: It looks like the opposition research on your candidate has been done. I hope there isn’t anything damaging out there.
But back to the point: The Electoral College figures point to victory even if a candidate is only in single digits in national polls this early in the race. Is it going to happen for Kucinich? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. I think the challenge comes from a lack of understanding – or completely ignoring – how the Electoral College works. The primary and final presidential campaigns will be individual contests for each of the 50 states and D.C. Each state is its own battleground, with its own landmines, media and voter mindset. Since both the primary and final campaigns are battlegrounds in multiple states, national polls questioning the voter preference of 400 to 1,000 people are utterly meaningless. Even if they could question 10,000 or 20,000 people in a national final election poll in an attempt to guess how 100 million or more will cast votes, it would be completely useless. However, the media relish these polls; using them every chance they can mostly because it is easy and you don’t have to explain the inner workings of the process. The candidates like them too; much to the chagrin of anyone who understands the Electoral College.
At present, I am receiving media releases from the Dean, Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, Kucinich, and Joe Lieberman local and national campaigns. I have covered a bunch of their campaign events and written stories for the newspaper. John Edwards’ campaign sent me a couple of press releases but then stopped. Despite contacting them numerous times, the Bob Graham, Sharpton or Braun campaigns have refused to subscribe me, not a good sign for their so-far failing efforts. Dean’s stunning surge into frontrunner status – altogether not that surprising when you consider the fact that he started his campaign so early – has sent the other candidates into a tizzy, blanketing the media with a new national poll every day showing that their candidate is actually on top.
Take Kerry, who knows it is 2004 or never. His campaign has sent out press releases in recent days showing off his national poll stature.
From Sept. 12: "John Kerry takes the lead…again."
"In a FOX News national poll of registered voters released today, John Kerry scored first among Democrats with 17% of the vote. This is the second national poll in a row that shows Kerry taking the lead, building off a successful four state announcement tour last week. (national CNN/Time poll of registered Democrats September 5 showed Kerry taking the lead nationally)."
Big deal – this poll is irrelevant. But it attempts to spin Kerry back as the frontrunner.
However, most polls put Lieberman in front:
Earlier today, ABC/Washington Post had Lieberman with 22 percent, with Dean, Gephardt, and Kerry all tied at 14 percent.
Yesterday, Sept. 13, Lieberman led Dean by mere tenths of a percent, 13.8 percent to 13.4 percent. Kerry had 13.2 percent and Gephardt 9.8 percent.
But go back further: On Aug. 31, CBS News placed Lieberman in the lead with 14 percent and Kerry was tied with Sharpton for fifth place [5 percent].
On Aug. 26, Zogby had Dean in front with 16.6 percent while Kerry was sitting in fourth with 9.2 percent.
On Aug. 2, USA Today/CNN/Gallup had Lieberman with 17 percent and Kerry in fourth again with 12 percent. On June 4, Gallup had Lieberman with 20 percent and Kerry in second with 17 percent.
However, neither Kerry nor Lieberman currently lead in any states. Lieberman was leading in South Carolina, the third primary, but Edwards has vaulted into the lead. Dean has handily taken the lead in New Hampshire and is nipping at Gephardt’s heels in Iowa. And again, the primary campaign is about who wins the first states in an effort to clinch the nomination. So in the scheme of things, these national polls mean nothing.
At the same time, the media seems to be painting the Democratic field as weak.
In most polls, a large number of voters have no preference or are undecided. This is not unusual during party primaries this early in the game. In fact, the current state of the campaign is similar to the 1992 primary campaign, as I have said in other posts ["Contenders scramble: But which Democrat can lead the nation?"]. Most people don’t know about the candidates because the news media doesn’t like to cover political campaigns in a serious way anymore. Look at what is going on in California. Everything is about The Terminator running for governor and not about what he is going to do.
As well, the media hasn’t found their darling yet. So, they will continue to try and encourage other candidates to join the fun, in an attempt to bring out a celebrity candidate. Once found, the media will be all over that candidate and will push its will onto the voters. You will start hearing words like "mandate" and "electable" as the media tries to push its interests on the voters. It has happened before. Look at Jimmy Carter’s campaign in 1976. The conventional wisdom is that Carter just came out of nowhere to win the Democratic nomination but the truth is actually the opposite.
Carter was courted by a number of people who were looking for a moderate Southern governor especially after Democrats saw Nixon’s sweep of the south in 1972. He was limited to one term as governor of Georgia. Carter was also a founding member of the Trilateral Commission, a super-secret group of insiders created by David Rockefeller that bills itself as a think tank that addresses "common challenges and leadership responsibilities of the democratic industrialized areas in the wider world." There were other candidates that year like Ok. Sen. Fred Harris, who was campaigning to nationalize the oil industry and decriminalize marijuana, then-Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown – who wanted to close all nuclear power plants – and a tired Mo Udall, so you could see why the media instantly warmed up to Carter and solidified his nomination.
But another reason the media believes the current Democratic candidates are weak is because the Clintons are constantly sucking up all the air around the campaign, with the speculation of Hillary running and Bubba’s rock star excursions to California to save Gov. Gray Davis’ ass. The former predator-in-chief was also at Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry Saturday attacking Bush, the Supreme Court, and talking about clean energy. Clinton had eight years to do something about our dependency on foreign oil and he didn’t do one lousy thing. He should shut up already. Sen. Clinton, to her credit, has continued to deny she is contemplating a presidential race, even though she has reportedly been meeting with advisors and consultants.
While we are months away from casting votes, things are just starting to get interesting.
Friday, September 12, 2003
Wow, what a loss: ["'Man in Black' Johnny Cash dead at 71"]. John Ritter also died.
Zogby: Draft Gore
In the wake of the Wesley Clark buzz, here comes this poll showing life in the Draft Gore movement, commissioned by the Draft Gore movement: ["Draft Gore: Gore in Statistical Dead Heat with Bush, Leads All Democrats in Zogby/Draft Gore Poll"]. "The country was evenly divided then and it is still evenly divided," said John Zogby.
Thursday, September 11, 2003
This morning, The Washington Post reported that Howard Dean and former NATO Commander Wesley Clark had a big pow-wow in Cali last weekend: ["Gen. Clark Reportedly Is Asked to Join Dean"]. This was a smart move on Dean's part in some ways; dumb in others. First, I don't know why everyone is so worried about Clark doing anything in the primaries. He has no base, no cash, and no home advantage that we know of. Sure, he is a media darling and he was against the invasion of Iraq. Clark will get a lot of free media and face time on television. But he is irrelevant in this process and isn't going to win the nomination. Dean is smart to talk with him, offer him a bone, or whatever, to keep him out. Dean already has Dennis Kucinich and to a lesser extent, Carole Braun and Al Sharpton, all bucking for the anti-war vote. He doesn't need another person in there and Clark could do some minor damage to Dean. However, putting Clark on the ticket does nothing for Dean strategically. What electoral votes does Clark bring to a Dean/Clark ticket? Which of the red states - those amber waves of Bush which start in Nevada and end in Maryland - does Clark help Dean win? None. Clark was in the military - so what? That doesn't mean a thing. Dean has a good chance to win the nomination even if I don't think he will. However, in order to beat George W. Bush, he is going to need someone from the Midwest or South to balance his "Northeastern liberalism" and someone who can get his agenda through the Republican-controlled Congress. Dick Gephardt fits that role; there are others, too. This is also why I suggest that if Gephardt wins he should pick Dean, vice-versa. If John Kerry wins, which I also doubt, he would be in a similar situation, although he would be better off with a Midwestern or Southern governor to balance off his Washington insider reputation. If Joe Lieberman wins, God help us all. He better put a Socialist on the ticket because liberals are going to abandon him for Ralph Nader and the Greens in a nanosecond.
'The right lessons?'
Political commentator Jon Keller of Boston's WB56 is looking for comment about the Sept. 11 anniversary and whether the country has learned the right lesson from the attacks: ["Keller's Hot Button"]. It should be noted that Keller is the same person who castigated peace activists calling for a sane policy in dealing with terrorists in the wake of Sept. 11. I don't know Keller's position on Iraq; but he was for the Afghanistan action and verbally humiliated anyone who wasn't.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
ABCNews shipped depleted uranium into the United States, past "security": ["Border Breach?"].
So much for doing the Christian thing
A Republican takes a serious political risk - in the name of the Lord - and he gets whacked 2 to 1: ["Alabama Voters Reject Massive Tax Hike"]. Where is the decency to the working class folks?
Rummy gets hammered by protesters at the National Press Club: ["Protesters disrupt Rumsfeld speech"].
Let LaRouche Debate?
Quick question: If Ralph Nader should have been allowed in the presidential debates in 2000, shouldn't Lyndon LaRouche be allowed to debate with the Democrats? ["Hecklers get out of control"] ["Audience members disrupt Democratic debate"]. Both were/are considered "fringe" candidates by the mainstream press and most voters. Sure, LaRouche would have probably gone off on the Queen dealing drugs or that stupid bridge he is trying to get built over Mongolia, but he still deserves to be on the stage. He has raised millions of dollars - legally this time - and millions more than lower tier candidates Braun, Kucinich, and Sharpton.
As well, there are thousands of Larouche supporters out there.
According to the FEC's Web site, Larouche received hundreds of thousands of votes in 1996 Democratic primaries: Including 35 percent in North Dakota, 13 in Oklahoma and West Virginia, 12 percent in Louisana, 11 percent in Nebraska, 8 percent in Pennsylvania, 7 percent in Arkansas, California [173,953 votes], Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Ohio. Larouche didn't fare as well in 2000, receiving 29 percent in Michigan, 22 percent of the vote in Arkansas, 11 percent in Oregon, 8 percent in Idaho, and 6 percent in Alabama and Oklahoma, and low single digits in most other states. But neither did Republican Alan Keyes - or the other "serious" Republican candidates in 2000 - who were allowed to debate even though they had no chance of beating George W. Bush or John McCain.
Lastly, other LaRouche candidates have often added color to other debates. Who can forget how hilarious Bill Ferguson was during the special election for the 9th Congressional District race after Joe Moakley died in Massachusetts. Ferguson, a black man, like many of LaRouche's supporters, which is why they were probably tolerated during the Black Caucus debate last night, was included in all the TV debates and had some classic lines. At a foreign policy debate I covered in Jamaica Plain, Ferguson got a round of laughs from this line about the Star Wars missile defense system:
"How is George Bush going to knock missiles out of the sky when he can't even prevent his own daughters from getting bombed?"Any claims that the stage is too crowded now are ludicrous. If you can fit nine, you can fit 10 - or more. And why are these people being arrested? So they disrupted a debate, it isn't like they robbed a liquor store or anything.
Here are some hot quotes from the debate last night:
On Bush's Iraq plan: "$87 billion is a lot of money. I'm glad the president finally found an economic program. Too bad it's in Baghdad," Mass. Sen. John Kerry.
On gun control: "If urban states want to have lots of gun control, let them have it; but just don't impose it ... on states like Vermont that have a very low homicide rate," former Vt. Gov. Howard Dean.
On blacks and the Democratic Party: "We help take you to the dance, and you leave with right-wingers, people who are antithetical to our history and antithetical to our interests. I say, in 2004, you're going home with us, or we're not taking you to the party," the Rev. Al Sharpton.
On Osama bin Laden: "This guy's got out more videos than a rock star and Bush's intelligence agents can't find him," Sharpton.
Fla. Sen. Bob Graham called him "Osama been forgotten."
On the PATRIOT Act: "We have to repeal the PATRIOT Act, which is the basis of fear that was drummed up in this country without any rational basis for protecting this country. We're being driven by fear and I have to say that it's time for us to challenge that fear," Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
"If the percentage of minorities in your state has anything to do with how you connect with black voters, then Trent Lott would be Martin Luther King," Dean
Monday, September 8, 2003
World Net Daily's Doug Powers said it would be a "dream matchup": ["Hillary vs. Dubya? Bring it on!"].
The Daily News' Zef Chafets agrees: ["Run, Hillary, run!"].
Friday, September 5, 2003
I had to work last night so I didn't see the debate in New Mexico. Gephardt got most of the lead quotes. But here is some of the reaction:
"Dems bash Bush: Charges fly at debate"
"Democrats rip Bush in 8-way debate"
"Democratic Rivals Focus Attacks on Bush"
"Democratic Rivals Focus Barbs on Bush"
"Democrats rip Bush during debate"
Globe does a Boston City Council story ...
Shock! Horrors! Well, it is one of those legacy angles on former Mayor Kevin White's daughter running: ["An ailing Kevin White takes to the trail"]. There are two, shock, two columns about the race today in the Herald - Carr's take on the White candidacy and Manly on at-Large Councilor Stephen Murphy and affirmative action - but you have to pay for them. I'll read them when I see the newspaper.
Thursday, September 4, 2003
Lieberman touts health plans
By Anthony Schinella/Staff Writer
This is the fifth in a series of articles about the Democratic presidential candidates on the campaign trail.
Ignoring the noise from the crowds enjoying their Sunday brunches, Lieberman promoted his "KeepCare" initiative to about 30 voters. The plan would provide a combination of tax credits, subsidies, and new choices for workers who have lost their health insurance due to layoffs. Under the plan, low-wage and unemployed workers with COBRA premiums would receive a 65 percent refundable tax credit. No worker would be required to pay more than 7.5 percent of their income to receive the coverage.
Lieberman - who was Vice President Al Gore's running mate in 2000 - said the current administration had done "absolutely nothing ... less than nothing" to address the problems with health care and lack of insurance.
"When I go around
Along with the tax credits, Lieberman advanced two other plans: MediKids and MediChoice. The MediKids plan would cover all children in
"[Under MediKids], when children are born, they will have a name, a birth certificate, and a MediKids card which would guarantee health insurance until age 25," he said.
The MediChoice plan would offer lower health insurance prices by combining the purchasing power of millions of uninsured citizens, Lieberman said. Insurance company profits would also be limited to 2 percent, he said, similar to plans offered to federal government employees.
If elected, Lieberman would also create a new program to find treatments and cures to devastating diseases, like cancers and diabetes. The initiative - called
"I know we can do better," Lieberman said, "And I am totally committed to dealing with this problem in a constructive way."
Dr. K. J. Lee, an author and member of the
"The senator's plan will eliminate the prior disease exclusion," he said. "Therefore, the plan will guarantee coverage between jobs."
Peter Sullivan, a
However, the costs, about $700 per month, were "still a difficult financial strain for the both of us," he said. Sullivan said most of his income went to keeping his business alive and his family relied on her employer's plan for coverage.
Lieberman was critical of the fact that health insurance for many people was tied to their employment. After a job is lost, families can face severe financial problems, he said.
Lee added that health care cost had increased exponentially more than the rate of inflation. But he said Lieberman's plan would use the private sector, with government oversight; in order maximize the greatest amount of coverage with the least amount of money.
Restaurant co-owner Chuck Stergiou said he employed 225 including 75 full-time employees, who share the cost of the company's plan. But in recent years, there have been problems with costs.
"This year, we had a rate increase of 15 percent, which didn't seem bad," Stergiou said. "But every year it is a battle to see how we can keep the costs of premiums down. We have been spoiled the last six to eight years. We got to the point where people would just go [to the doctor] because it was cheap. The toughest thing is finding a balance between employees using health insurance in the right way and [those who misuse the benefits]. As an employer, it is difficult. I hear complaints from employees that the premiums are going up while the benefits are going down."
Lieberman agreed it was difficult to find a balance. He called the Puritan Restaurant "a legendary place," noting when his wife was a nearby camp counselor, she used to eat at the restaurant regularly. Lieberman added that Stergiou had named two ice cream flavors after him and his wife, "Heavenly Hadassah" and "Cup of Joe," a coffee-flavored ice cream.
"I'm winning the ice cream primary," he joked.
In a short interview after the roundtable discussion, Lieberman called himself "an independent minded Democrat," who had learned from the mistakes of the Clinton Administration and missteps he believed other Democratic contenders were taking, especially on the health care issue.
"If you try to swallow the entire health care problem at once, you are probably going to choke," he said. "I pick off the most urgent pieces - children and workers who lose their jobs. I am also building a public/private partnership that will not be completely government controlled. I listen to people as go around campaigning for president. Besides losing their jobs, fears about health care are number one."
Wednesday, September 3, 2003
Here is my piece on the Lieberman event Sunday.
More on why the Democrats lose
Another example of why the leadership within the Democratic Party doesn't get it: ["Young Democrats' vision"].
So how is the Democratic Party responding to the fresh ideas, fresh enthusiasm and fresh money coming into the process? By scorning them -- and by fearing, rather than cultivating, them. Talk about being in the political wilderness.And if they aren't doing that, they are using people and then spitting them out. And they wonder why people are so dissolussioned.
Pretty interesting piece on Bush ignoring the primaries: ["Where's George? Bush a no-show for primaries"]. Of course, Skalka had to blame Nader:
Though Bush ultimately did win the state that fall, he did so with the help of Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, who may have siphoned support from Democrat Al Gore. In fact, Nader's votes could have made the difference for the Republicans. And depending on how the wacky 2000 race is sized up for history, New Hampshire's four electoral votes made the difference for Bush nationally. When Florida's chads were finally counted, Bush beat Gore by precisely four electoral votes.Skalka ignores exit polling data which showed that Nader took more votes from Republicans than Democrats in New Hampshire, by a two-to-one margin. Nader also received the support of seven municipal elected officials, all Republicans, including the mayor of Rochester, N.H. She ignores CNN’s polling which showed that if both Nader and Pat Buchanan had not run, the results in New Hampshire would have been the same: Bush 48 percent, Gore 47 percent and 4 percent not voting. The UNH Survey Center also did a post election analysis which showed that Nader’s support was evenly split down the middle between Bush and Gore. But hey, why look at figures when you are busy figuring?
Bush's Sept. 11 follies ...
"Bin Laden family's US exit 'approved'"
"Iraq Chaos May Cloud Bush's Sept. 11 Legacy"
Monday, September 1, 2003
Thanks Mario for kicking up more Hillary storm: ["MARIO: I'D JUMP ONTO HILL PREZ BANDWAGON"]. Ugh. Go away already! Susan Estrich was on FoxNews talking about how the Clintons are continually sucking up all the air from the Democratic Party. She is so right. I am so sick of them. However, it is funny that Cuomo rears his ugly head. I was just talking about how great Phil Hartmann used to do Mario Cuomo. On Saturday Night Live back in 1991, they did a bit on the anti-presidential debate - candidates who were refusing to run and why. Al Franken was Sen. Paul Simon, John Lovitz was Gov. Mike Dukakis, and Hartmann was Cuomo, looking sickly with his droopy face. "I have mob ties!" he screamed as his reason for not running. What a great bit.