Cool news.
Researchers at the University of Calgary have found that nerve cells grown on a microchip can learn and memorize information which can be communicated to the brain.

"We discovered that when we used the chip to stimulate the neurons, their synaptic strength was enhanced," said Naweed Syed, a neurobiologist at the University of Calgary's faculty of medicine.

The nerve cells also exhibited memory traces that were successfully read by the chip, said Syed, co-author of the landmark study published in February's edition of Physical Review Letters, an international journal.

The immediate uses involve coordinating a human brain with artificial devices like appendages or optics, to replace body parts that do not function correctly. But this is just the beginning. Instead of implanting these devices into an organic body... perhaps someday we may choose to transplant (download) our brain's electro-chemical pattern into a database, somewhat similar to Phillip Dick's half-life solution to physical death. In other words, when we get to the point where we can no longer extend our physical body's lifespan, we may choose to download ourselves to a database. Our physical body will be gone, but our loved ones will still be able to communicate with us via a database interface. Or when our physical bodies fail, we may choose to clone a new body and download ourselves into a new body. Hence, extending our lives indefinitely.

BACTERIA - Fractal Life

Here's an interesting set of pictures of bacteria that grow into fractals patterns. Or are they a continuation of the fractal mode?



Mark Kleinman links an excellent Chronicle of Higher Education article that sheds some light on contemporary MDMA research. All of us old club-heads remember when our scene was devastated by the Crackhouse Laws, based primarily on flawed research. Basically, venue owners could be prosecuted under the crackhouse laws because they provided an establishment that promoted MDMA use. Flawed research "proved" that MDMA literally turned user's brains into swiss cheese. Now we learn that the researchers were confusing methamphetamine with MDMA. WHOOPS!

This, of course, will not prevent conservatives from attempting to control the substances/chemicals that flow into or out of my body. MDMA and LSD are old news anyway. Today's kids are hooked on different chemicals.... the ones sold by the drug companies, promoted on television by the drug companies, endorsed by Congress(ional drug company lobbyists). Yes, today's kids aren't hooked on non-addictive drugs like MDMA or LSD. By the time they enter high school, they are offered emotion controlling substances like xanax, prozac, zoloft. Who's pushing these drugs on today's youth? Parents, television, counselors, the church, and state.

It's a changing of the guard.... Tim Leary and Ken Kesey have now been replaced by Pfizer, Inc. Even Phillip Dick couldn't have envisaged a dark future.

POLITICS - Buyer's Remorse

Ahh. Even when I feel bad about my life, I can always have a laugh at the expense of a hypocrite like Andrew Sullivan. I love this capper at the end of this post.
Those of us who supported this president in 2000, who have backed him whole-heartedly during the war, who have endured scorn from our peers as a result, who trusted that this president was indeed a uniter rather than a divider, now know the truth.

Hah. Fucking HAH HAH HAH. I knew in 1994 that Bush was a divider, not a uniter. Those of us who actually knew something about Bush in 1999 were aware that this President was going to push a conservative agenda unparalleled in American history.

But it gets better...In another post, Andrew proves that he does not understand his enemy.
I refuse, in short, to be put in a position where I have to pick between a vital war and fundamental civil equality. The two are inextricable. They are the same war. And this time, the president has picked the wrong side. He will live to be ashamed that he did.

How on Earth is Bush going to be ashamed of his actions? He doesn't answer to his parents. He doesn't answer to the American public. He certainly doesn't answer to foreign homosexuals.

George W. Bush answers only to his God, the divine being who placed him in the White House. Nothing short of Jesus personally endorsing gay marriage will change George Bush's position.

Nothing on Earth is going to shame George W. Bush. This man has no concern for the poor, minorities, education, science, real nationa security, etc. etc. If he was capable of shame, then he surely would have displayed it by now.

George W. Bush represents the extremists elements of the Religious Right. This was not a secret in the 2000 election. True, you had to look behind the veiled statements of the Bush-Cheney campaign. But they were there from the very beginning. I can understand why conservative homosexuals might be upset right now, but they certainly should not be surprised. They elected Bush. They better be prepared to live with the results of their actions.

Here's a little tip to homosexuals that is applicable to every single interest group in the nation: DON'T ELECT POLITICIANS THAT HATE YOU

SITE NEWS - Updates

Sorry for the lack of updates. I'm working a late shift right now, and my entire schedule is a bit screwed up. Also, I'm pretty damn depressed right now, and I just haven't felt like updating. Perhaps this will become a depression blog for a couple weeks. Who knows.


POLITICS - I Hate Joo!!!

I occasionally go to the National Review Online's Corner to get a good laugh. Here's something that caught my eye:

The more eagerly the Left embraces Jew-hatred, the more actively it seeks to equate itself with the Jews, in effect to claim that the various components of the Left are the genuine heirs of victimized Jewry of old, rather than the actual Jews, who have turned out to be something of a disappointment.

A case in point: the spread and evolution of symbols used to identify concentration camp inmates. To equate themselves with Jews, homosexualists have adopted the pink triangle, which the Nazis to identify homosexual men, as a contemporary political symbol. Not to be left out, lesbians have adopted the black triangle, even though it was used to identify "anti-social" behavior in general. And, increasing the absurdity, some are now claiming that a burgundy triangle identified "transgendered" prisoners.

Well, wouldn't you know it, illegal aliens now have their own triangle, a blue one, which the Nazis in some camps used to identify foreign slave laborers or stateless people. The Blue Triangle Network is the sponsor of the "National Day of Solidarity with Muslim, Arab and South Asian Immigrants," scheduled for this Friday, February 20, with all the usual boilerplate about "first, they came for the communists" and "no one is illegal," plus all the usual affiliations -- the ACLU, the Palestine Solidarity Group, La Resistencia, the National Lawyers Guild, and, my favorite, "Raging Grannies Without Borders."

I'll admit that I'm a bleeding heart liberal Leftist. However, I seem to have missed the last memo indicating that I am supposed to embrace "Jew-hatred". Do I personally hate Jews? Evidently so. To my defense, I'd say that I hate all organized religion, especially those members who seek to exploit religion to drive a particular political ideology. While I usually focus my wrath on conservative Christians, I guess I need to pay attention to these Right Wing Jews who insist on using their history as a wedge between our two main political parties.

Like most on the Right, Krikorian is distorting the issue. The Left aren't "heirs of victimized Jewry of old". The Left have inherited a history of torture and death at the hands of Nazis that is separate from Jewish victimization. Jews would like us to believe that they, and they alone, are the only ones who suffered at the hands of Nazis. However, that is not the case. Nazis persecuted a number of different groups including non-traditional women, homosexuals, and foreigners. While some of these citizens may have been Jewish as well, many were not.

To be clear, sexual deviants were categorized separately from the Jews. The Jews wore the star of David, "deviants" wore pink triangles. "Various components of the Left" are legitimate victims of the Nazis. They don't have to inherit that designation from the "victimized Jewry of old".

Some Jews, evidently including Krikorian, are only concerned about exploiting the history of the Holocaust to gain sympathy for Jews everywhere. They discredit themselves when they belittle or ignore the tens (possibly hundreds) of thousands of non-Jews who died at the hands of the Nazi regime.

Then again, ignorance and hyperbole are the only reason why NRO exists in the first place. No, the left isn't embracing the hatred of all Jews. We just hate certain people who happen to be Jewish. There is a big difference.



To: Haiti

From: George W. Bush

: Karl Rove has been perfectly clear on this issue. We will not get involved until Aristide "finds" a memo tying Guy Philippe to Al Qaeda. We have supplied the memo, and Fox News is waiting with a camera crew to film. If you will not be our partner in the war on terror, then we will not defend democracy in Haiti.

: Don't even think about evacuating to Florida. My brother runs that place, and I've given him permission to defend our homeland against foreign insurgents. So don't even try it.


POLITICS - What Would Kerry Do?

The conservatives demand to know: What is Kerry's plan for the 100,000+ troops in Iraq right now?

This strikes me as an obtuse inquiry for several reasons.

First, Bush made the decision to put those troops in Iraq. Not Congress. Not Kerry. Not the UN. Not Saddam. This was Bush's call. Why don't we demand answers from the man responsible for placing our fellow patriots in harm's way?

Second, Bush is responsible for the lack of post-war planning. Not Congress. Not Kerry. Not the UN. Not Saddam. Again, this was Bush's call. If post-war Iraq wasn't such a clusterfuck, we wouldn't even have to ask Kerry how to get out.

Third, Bush will hand Iraq over to the IGC on June 30. Kerry's inauguration won't occur until January 2005. Unless the conservatives are interested in recalling President Bush and replacing him immediately, there's no reason for Kerry to discuss what he would do in Iraq right now. Why don't we ask Bush what his plan is? That certainly seems more important than grilling John Kerry over hypothetical situations.

To be fair, this is a legitimate issue. However, there's little use to compare John Kerry's war plans to those of George Bush's. Currently, Bush has no plan and Kerry has no plan. They seem comparable so far. If John Kerry actually has a plan, even if it is only loosely grounded in reality, he is light years beyond President Bush. I don't know if the conservatives want to open this can of worms. I suspect even Dr. Seuss could come up with something more coherent than the Bush Administration.

POLITICS - Compassionate Conservatives

From the New Democrat Network blog
Not only are the Republicans breaking their promises on education, they are breaking their promises on tax cuts for families. As I outlined last December, the White House and Republican leadership – forced by bad publicity to pledge to extend the $400 child tax credit to the millions of low income families left out by the GOP plan – broke that promise too. And in his new budget released two weeks ago, President Bush left these children behind once again.

Now you can hear from the hardworking families themselves through an innovative new video by Progress through Action, an affiliate of the Center for American Progress. Hear how these hardworking mothers – some with their husbands serving in Iraq – struggle to pay for clothes, school supplies, and heat, all while wondering why families with higher salaries got a tax cut. Kudos to the Center for helping fuel the fire, and to Senator Blanche Lincoln for her on-going leadership on this important issue!

Click the link and watch the video. Listen to the first-hand accounts from military mothers who "didn't make enough money" to earn the child tax credit. It's time to expose these "compassionate conservatives" as the dirty, greedy worms that they are. There's no compassion here. Only pure greed. Pure, unadulterated greed. What would Jesus do? In 2004, I suspect that He would vote ABB!!!

MOVIES - The Greatest Snuff Story Ever Told

Warning. This is a bit of a blasphemous post. If you're devout, you may want to avoid it.

Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ debuts in a week. Christians, Sadists, and Masochists will line up in theaters across the country to witness the finest quasi-snuff film made since Trent Reznor's X Files. If Gibson would've just added a little more leather, he could've doubled the profits by selling the video in XXX and bondage shops. But this, of course, isn't the focus of the movie.

This movie is about Jesus. No, not the Jesus who was concerned about the meek, the poor, the destitute. This is about the other Jesus who was tortured and killed like any common criminal. You see, you can't truly understand Jesus unless you've seen him whipped and beaten into a mound of hamburger.

Did the Jews kill Jesus? Yes!! No!! Yesno!!

Blech. WHO CARES? He's dead, and everybody seems to be ignoring HIS message. The Jews and The Religious Right aren't exactly bringing fish and bread to the masses, if you know what I mean. Contemporary Conservatives seem to prefer the Old Testament's "eye for an eye" message rather than Jesus' "turn the other cheek". And many Christians want to see Jews return to Jerusalem.... so they can all die and herald the Rapture. Is that would Jesus would do?

The best thing about this movie will be the accompanying views and reviews.

From Cindy Adams
MEL GIBSON's doing TV, preparing folks for the ceaseless, endless, pitiless, violence in his "The Passion of the Christ." He's previously had parlor parties, selected friends, who've shown it in home movie theaters. Rich friends. Poor one's with studio apartments don't have screening rooms. A routine is wine/champagne, hors d'oeuvres, buffet supper, desert, coffee, bucket of popcorn and 90 minutes of unrelenting beating, whipping, nailing, torturing and agony. The host's major problem being, what kind of wine goes with blood.

Per some who've sat through this: "Gibson clearly says the Jews killed Christ. In his movie, Pontius Pilate's a nice guy who wants to let Jesus go. The Jews say, 'No . . . give Him more.' Pilate's wife gives Jesus water. Pilate again says to release Him. Again the Jews won't."

One evening, all 50 guests, eerily silent at the end, left quietly. Two, whose professional relationships made them unable to walk out in the middle, said: "It's tough to take. Nobody should see this ugly horrible movie."

Cindy should have known. Sparkling white wine is fabulous with a course of divine blood and quiche.

Brent Bozell writes
Don't worry, film critics: It should be safe to assume that the crowds flocking to this R-rated movie will not be dragging their kids to see the pain inflicted in "The Passion." How wonderful it would be if Hollywood had such tender hearts for the well being of vulnerable children routinely sneaking into R-rated films with little resistance.

The secular cultural elites have reason to be frightened. Millions of Americans will be dazzled in the multiplexes watching a cast of non-stars speak in non-English about what Hollywood has seen for eons as a non-story. The hubbub should send a powerful message to Hollywood: Our culture could use more of this kind of artistic vision and exploration, and less of your nihilistic nonsense. There might be a new fad in town.

Hmmm. Conservatives won't take their children to see this movie, but a matinee of Matrix Reloaded is just fine for the kids, right? (I attended a Sunday matinee, and the audience was full of cowboys with their children.)

Yes, the evil secular humanists are quaking in their shoes over the possibility of a Christian Renaissance via celluloid. Nihilistic nonsense? Guess what? Most of the "cultural elites" that I know are just as sick of Hollywood's vapid productions, too. That's why they turn to independent cinema. Christians have been free to make their own films and television shows since the first electron gun was created. Why are they waiting for the star of Mad Max and Lethal Weapon to make fine Christian entertainment?

Jeff Houston adds
Through this perspective, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST elevates beyond a voyeuristic experience to that of an introspective one. The clear complicity of it all is personal and undeniable. The result is a film that no one will enjoy, nor forget. It’s as unentertaining as any film has been or can be. But it’s a rare achievement because it is so for all the right reasons. THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST will make people feel horrible yet fill them with hope. It may even make them feel guilty, but this Christ and His passion reveal the true embodiment of Unconditional Love. THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST will change lives, and its legacy—like its title Figure—will live on long after the criticisms.

Indeed. I could nearly say the same thing about the previously mentioned Nine Inch Nails Broken videos. It's an experience that you won't enjoy, or forget. And it is quite the opposite of 'entertainment'. Somehow, I doubt that Christians would care to endure the videos and reflect upon what they have seen. Yet, a Christian snuff film is worthy of our time and introspection.

Congratulations, Mr. Gibson. You've created a cult classic. This movie is going to be looped inside of every bondage S/M club in the civilized world. That's a feat that many secular humanists can appreciate.

POLITICS - Steady Leadership?

Conservatives claim that Kerry doesn't stand firm on his issues....

... So what do they have to say about George Bush's firm commitment to do nothing about gay marriage? This guy sounds like a broken record on this issue. Yes, he doesn't like homosexuals. But it's time for him to shit or get off the toilet, so to speak.

From the AP
Bush 'Troubled' by Gay Marriage Issue By SCOTT LINDLAW

President Bush said Wednesday he was "troubled" by gay weddings in San Francisco and by legal decisions in Massachusetts that could clear the way for same-sex marriage. But he declined to say whether he is any closer to backing a constitutional ban on such vows.

"I have watched carefully what's happening in San Francisco, where licenses were being issued, even though the law states otherwise," Bush said. "I have consistently stated that I'll support law to protect marriage between a man and a woman. Obviously these events are influencing my decision."

Yes, Georgie, obviously current socio-political events influence your decisions. Thank you for stating the obvious. I'm surprise that you couldn't fit in the words "madman", "dangerous", or "Since 9/11..."
"People need to be involved in this decision," Bush said. "Marriage ought to be defined by the people not by the courts. And I'm watching it carefully."

Yes, it's those damned activist judges ruining the American way of life. I agree. Activist judges certainly skewed the political process in 2000. It's too bad that election was defined by the courts, not by the people, right? Oh, I forgot. Liberal judges are activists, while Conservative judges are constitutional defenders.

What's worse for Bush? The fact that a majority of the people will not ratify the Muskgrave Amendment. So Bush is caught in between appearing foolish or appearing weak on issues. In other words, he can introduce the Constitutional Amendment to appease the Religious Right, but find himself eviscerated in the press for attempting to alter the Constitution with a very weak Amendment that has little chance of success. Or he can wisely ignore the Religious Right and attempt to unite Americans, which would be a perceived reversal of his initial platform. Judging from history, it's very unlikely that Bush will attempt to unite Americans over this issue.

I have to admit that I am surprised by the events of the past few weeks. Gay marriage has always been an equal-rights issue, but the public debate has been framed around morality. The tide appears to be turning now that the public is examining the critical issues of civil rights and couple benefits. I've heard/read several heterosexual commentators (conservatives and liberals) claim that they will have their marriages annulled and file for civil unions in order to show support to same sex couples. When my poli-sci class discussed gay marriage two years ago, a clear majority of the conservatives acknowledged that there is no legal reason to deny marriage to same-sex couples. While I try to avoid the use of personal testimonials in my posts, I would point out that I attended college in the heart of Texas. These people clearly condemn homosexuals, but they acknowledged that their morality should not dictate equal rights policies. This was a surprise to me at the time, but my conversations with other conservatives (outside of the class) seemed to confirm this view. I only mention my personal experience, because Prof. Glenn Reynolds shares one of his:
At the beginning of class I asked for a show of hands on whether gay marriage would be generally available within ten years. The answer, almost unanimously, was "yes."

I don't know how valuable this is as a predictor of what will happen, but it's an interesting indication of what people think will happen.

That seems like a big deal to me, especially since the response came from a Constitutional Law class. Equality is inevitable in a true democracy, and God damn anybody who stands in the way.

SITE NEWS - New Links

I added a new section of links titled Election Blogs. I visit most of these sites regularly, some of them daily. Plenty of good stuff.

In the regular links, I added Bill Maher, Margaret Cho, and Jim Hightower to the list. In addition, there's a link to Axis of Logic. Great site.



According to Fox News: Al Qaeda has cells in 50 to 60 countries.

Question: What happened to Bush's promise that he was going to go after the countries that harbor terrorists?

According to Fox News: We are shifting our focus toward the capture of Saddam.

Question: Why didn't we focus on Saddam in January 2002, not January 2004?

I ask these questions because Andrew Sullivan "fisked" John Kerry in the New Republic recently and offers this analysis:
Nowhere does Kerry say anything about the threat of Al Qaeda, or the designs of the Syrians or Iranians, or of Islamist terror-states more broadly. These real threats just don't seem to register on his radar screen. If this is the Democratic candidate's recipe to tackling the nexus of global terror, then he will be creamed in the fall. And he'll deserve to be.

OK. Well, let's fisk President Bush for a second. He completely ignored the threat of Al Qaeda, even though his administration was given a battle plan to attack Osama bin Laden in the beginning of 2001. Al Qaeda is spreading like the plague across the Middle East and Indochina, especially in Bangladesh. To date, Bush has attacked the country that has less connections to Al Qaeda than any of its neighbors, including Saudia Arabia, who are the big money men behind terror organizations. The citizens of the United States still face the threat of 'dirty' bombs, hijacked planes, bio/chem attacks, and the disruption of resource distribution (water, energy, food).

How, exactly, is Bush planning to address the 'designs of Syrians and Iranians'? We can all agree that we don't have time to wait and see if the 'Domino Democracy' Theory is going to work in the Middle East. Our little trip to pee in Saddam's sand box has only served to agitate the Islamist terror-states, and possibly helped deliver WMD (related program activities) right into the hands of these terrorists because we failed to secure possible WMD sites.

Do the real threats register on Bush's radar? That's the real question that needs to be answered regarding 9/11. The Bush Administration did not register Al Qaeda as a threat until it was too late. Period. No arguments accepted. Bush has been playing "catch-up" ever since. Bush's record as a "war president" is a study of reaction, not action.

Kerry will need to explain his position on global terrorism, and his plan to combat it. However, his record indicates that he will exhaust all other options before sending Americans to die on foreign soil. These other options include strengthening domestic security (which Bush has mostly ignored), strengthening foreign relations (which Bush has mostly ignored), and pursue the money launderers that fund terror groups (which Bush has mostly ignored).

Will the Americans endorse this approach to 'tackling the nexus of global terror'? I guess we'll find out in November, but I doubt that he will be 'creamed' as Sullivan suggests. We're beginning to see that Bush's approach to global terror and security is a combination of empty rhetoric and shockingly inadequate strategy. If this election will be settled on strength of record, Bush is the one in trouble, not John Kerry.

POLITICS - Battle Plans

USA Today examines the topics/tactics used by Bush/Cheney 04 (BC04) to fight John Kerry. In short, there will be plenty of ammunition to be used against Kerry by BC04. However, some of the Dem candidates have tried to shoot down Kerry with the same ammo, and have had very little success. Even taking the "Massachussetts Liberal" label and Kerry's record of "flip-flop voting" into account, this will still be a very close contest.

In a close race, there are three ultra-critical questions: Who is the incumbent? How will the incumbent's record effect the race? Who is the strongest campaigner?

Bush, obviously, is the incumbent. Advantage his. But his record is a controversial, divisive issue. Neither candidate has an advantage here. But Kerry seems to be the strongest campaigner of the two. This will clearly become an advantage, and may be even more important than Bush's advantage as the incumbent. John Kerry narrowly kept his Senate seat in a close contest against a popular former governor, William Weld. In this USA Today article, he makes two particularly salient observations.
"I didn't think he ever got below the belt," says Weld, who lost 45%-52%. "His instinct is not to be personally offensive. ... I would anticipate a substantive campaign."

Weld says Bush had better not underestimate Kerry. In the final months of their 1996 campaign, he says, Kerry's campaign "turned on a dime. The ads got sharper, the stump speech got crisper." Weld predicts that "man-to-man combat" lies ahead.

I highlighted the sentence that strikes fear into the soul of BC04. They lost the popular election against a weak campaigner (and neutered debater), Al Gore. A man-to-man contest against Kerry is going to be very difficult to win.


RELIGION - Neoconservatives and Neochristianity

Know thy enemy. This essay examines the history of neoconservatism and neochristianity, and explores the Religious Right's agenda to redefine America. If you aren't familiar with Leo Strauss or Machiavelli, then you absolutely need to read this article to understand what drives today's neocons.

The Despoiling of America: How George W. Bush became the head of the new American Dominionist Church/State
It is estimated that thirty-five million Americans who call themselves Christian, adhere to Dominionism in the United States, but most of these people appear to be ignorant of the heretical nature of their beliefs and the seditious nature of their political goals. So successfully have the televangelists and churches inculcated the idea of the existence of an outside "enemy," which is attacking Christianity, that millions of people have perceived themselves rightfully overthrowing an imaginary evil anti-Christian conspiratorial secular society.

When one examines the progress of its agenda, one sees that Dominionism has met its time table: the complete takeover of the American government was predicted to occur by 2004.[14] Unless the American people reject the GOP’s control of the government, Americans may find themselves living in a theocracy that has already spelled out its intentions to change every aspect of American life including its cultural life, its Constitution and its laws.

POLITICS - I Wanna See The Reciepts

On Feb. 5, Howard Dean asked his supporters for $700,000 to air commercials in Wisconsin.
The entire race has come down to this: we must win Wisconsin. We must launch our new television advertisement on Monday in the major markets in Wisconsin. To do that, I need your help to raise $700,000 by Sunday. Please contribute today so that we can reserve the air time:

His supporters nearly doubled that amount. However, The Boston Globe reports that Dean had only booked $227,000 of air time with the $1.3 Million raised by his supporters.
Jay Carson, a Dean spokesman, said yesterday that the campaign did not mislead its supporters, despite the specificity of the appeal.

"We've put their hard-earned money where we think it will best help us here. We have enough on TV to be competitive, we have a lot in the field, and we're traveling more than anybody else," Carson said. "This money is being spent on Wisconsin. It's just being spent in different ways."

If I had donated to the Dean campaign, I'd be screaming right about now. How can a "fiscally conservative" candidate blow twice as much as his opponents and have the nerve to ask college students, teachers, and small families to contribute another million dollars? And add to it, the fact that he specifically asked for money to launch his new television campaign, his supporters doubled the amount that Dean requested, but the campaign only spends 17% of the money on advertisement time.

If Dean continues to stay in the race after tomorrow, he should quit accepting contributions. If he continues to take money, he needs to make a serious statement to his supporters and explicitly tell them that they are no longer supporting a serious contender. I absolutely support Dean's decision to stay as long as he wants. That's fine. But he needs to be honest with the thousands of Americans who are writing checks that could go toward bills, health expenses, clothing, education, gasoline, etc.

I don't care about Edwards, Sharpton or Kucinich; because they are not spending millions of dollars donated by blue collar workers. If Edwards drops out soon, the reason will be a lack of money. His contributors ponied up tens of millions of dollars to give Edwards a fighting chance. Now that he has little chance to win the candidacy, they are no longer contributing and he isn't selling a false hope to millions of young Americans by requesting an additional million for ad time. Sharpton and Kucinich just aren't spending a ton of cash. If they still have some left, they might as well spend it. They shouldn't go back to the donors and ask for more money like this is still December, before Iowa and New Hampshire.

Howard Dean has redefined campaign finance, and I applaud the work that he and his team have done over the last year. But you must be held to a different standard when you're taking money out of the hands of students, single parents, low income families, etc. instead of traditional high value donors. I'm not too worried about any of John Edward's donors missing a meal. But I have seen people on Dean's Blog say that they were cancelling weekend plans or eating Ramen noodles for a month just so they could donate to the cause. Dean owes an explanation to these people or some of them may not be so willing to participate next time...

POLITICS - No New Nuances

I know everybody's tired of discussing Bush's Meet the Press appearance. We all know that Bush seemed like a frat boy who spent all morning studying a couple notecards to prepare for debate. One of Bush's biggest supporters called his performance "erratic" and "bumbling".

Even though the MTP interview is "old news", I still have to recommend this Richard Cohen piece from yesterday's WaPo. He's basically pointing out the white elephant in the room. It's not that Bush seemed "unprepared" for the debate. (I suspect that his aides spent at least a dozen hours prepping him for Russert.) The problem is Bush himself. He can only see two sides to each issue, wrong v. right, us v. them, christians v. others. As a politician, he is the direct opposite of John Kerry, a man who spends considerable time researching issues and striking nuanced positions.

Of course, my words suck. Richard Cohen is a bit clearer.
After Bush's "Meet the Press" performance, countless commentators tried to figure out why he had done so poorly. Many of them focused on performance, political artifice -- the part of politics that looks so easy until, as Wes Clark did, you try it for yourself. Yes, Bush did not perform well. But even a brilliant actor needs material.

Others lamented Bush's verbal klutziness. If only he could talk like Tony Blair, one of them sighed. But the reason he cannot talk like Blair is because he doesn't think like Blair. The British prime minister can acknowledge an awkward fact, even a mistake, and keep on going. Bush can only insist that he is right. It doesn't matter that the facts have changed.

This had little to do with speech and a lot to do with thought. Once certainty is snatched from him, he seems in a state of vertigo where he grasps at certain words to steady himself. Dangerous. Madman. But if a madman does not have the weapons you said he did, then he is not dangerous, and if he did not have the weapons then maybe he was not as mad as we thought he was. There is much to ponder here.

SITE NEWS - Update Schedule

Sorry for the lack of updates over the last couples days. Hot Tuna is going through a period of Hot Depression and Cold Internet Connections. So, whenever I feel like posting, my connection is down. When my connection is up, I feel too down to post. What an ironic situation, eh?

So hopefully I/We will get back to a regular posting schedule. I'm still working on the design of the website, too. I'd like to have this blog up to speed by the end of the Dem primaries, and roll out the good stuff during the general election.

So, if you're reading this, thanks for coming. Hopefully this blog (and my life) will become less-sucky over the next couple months.

(And if you know anybody in the Austin area who needs a young programmer (or general office help), please contact me ASAP. I have a theory that my low self-esteem is somehow tied to my current unemployment status.)


POLITICS - National Guard Enthusiasm

Larry David served in the Army Reserve around the same time as George Bush. Like all good reservists, he has come to the defense of the President in, what else?, an op-ed.
Even though the National Guard and Army Reserve see combat today, it rankles me that people assume it was some kind of waltz in the park back then. If only. Once a month, for an entire weekend — I'm talking eight hours Saturday and Sunday — we would meet in a dank, cold airplane hangar. The temperature in that hangar would sometimes get down to 40 degrees, and very often I had to put on long underwear, which was so restrictive I suffered from an acute vascular disorder for days afterward. Our captain was a strict disciplinarian who wouldn't think twice about not letting us wear sneakers or breaking up a poker game if he was in ill humor. Once, they took us into the woods and dropped us off with nothing but compasses and our wits. One wrong move and I could've wound up on Queens Boulevard. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to find my way out of there and back to the hangar. Some of my buddies did not fare as well and had to call their parents to come and get them.


POLITICS - A Few Good Cysts

Oh wow. Bush's military records were released yesterday evening. What answers do these documents hold? What secrets do they reveal? It's a little ugly...
The records, while offering nothing further to prove Bush's participation with the Guard in Alabama, provide a number of extraneous personal details about Bush. His tonsils were taken out at age 5 and he had appendicitis at 10. A fatty cyst was removed from his chest in 1960, and he had a hemorrhoid while in the Guard.
- Washington Post

Special Snow Update

A rare evening of snow in Austin! But do the cats like it? More pics here.


POLITICS - Romance is in the air

Happy Valentine's Day from Fresh Catch, and the girl cats of Fresh Catch.

Coco (left) and Butters (right) are fresh back from San Francisco, and are celebrating their first evening as a married same-sex couple. (Yes, in case you didn't realize, gay marriage is the road to animal marriage, and hopefully man/animal marriage.)

POLITICS - The Bush Defense

Josh Marshall points out a great AP article concerning Bush's behavior in Alabama while working on the Blount Campaign.

Jean Sullivan, former Republican national committeewoman, worked on the Blount campaign, too. She comes to Bush's defense stating:
Sullivan, a former Republican national committeewoman, said Bush sometimes wore his military uniform and talked about serving with the Air National Guard.

Some within the Alabama Guard were resentful because Bush was from Texas and was spending only the minimum amount of required time on duty, said Sullivan. "It was just some idiots," said Sullivan.

Mad about rumors surrounding Bush, whose father was U.N. ambassador at the time, Sullivan said she called a Guard commander to explain that Bush was doing all he could while working on the campaign.

"The man called me back and apologized. I thought it was gone forever," said Sullivan. "And then I started hearing all this stuff a couple of weeks ago."

So Bush's main defender seems to admit that Bush was only serving minimal National Guard duty so he could work on a Republican campaign. Evidently, that's serving your country!!

But here's the best sentence that absolutely calls Sullivan's perspective into question:
Sullivan said she knew Bush drank during the '72 campaign, but usually just one or two beers at a time and not on a nightly basis. "He told me years later that was the only year he ever drank," she said.

Maybe she oughta read his biography sometime if she really believes that 1972 was "the only year he ever drank". Bush himself admits that he indeed was an alcoholic. He eventually matured and grew out of his "drinking phase"..... at the young age of 40!!!!!!!! So either he turned 40 in 1972, or he outright lied to the woman he seems to be his best defense. gg, bush.

Fortunately, another member of the Blount campaign offers testimony that seems more in line with the George W. Bush of 1972:
But a relative of Blount recalled Bush as a heavy drinker who was more interested in talking about his alcohol consumption than discussing his service with the Guard.

"He wouldn't come in until midday usually," said C. Murphy Archibald, Blount's nephew and an attorney in Charlotte, N.C. "He didn't seem to have any particular political interest in the campaign."

Blount lost badly to Democratic incumbent John Sparkman, and Blount's son, Thomas Blount, said Bush "got pretty drunk" the night of the vote. Thomas Blount described the president-to-be as "personable," but with a swagger.

Now that's the Bush we've known in Texas for the past twenty years.

POLITICS - The Kerry Scandal

Well, the blogosphere is quivering over the allegation by an internet gossip column that a scandal will soon tear the Kerry campaign apart. None other than General Wesley Clark said that the campaign will "implode" over this issue. (Which really makes you wonder why Clark endorsed Kerry this morning, but anyway...)

Yes, this is Clinton all over again.

Or so the Right wants us to believe...

The Sun has the details on this sordid affair...
PRESIDENTIAL hopeful John Kerry was branded a “sleazeball” last night by the parents of a young woman he allegedly tried to woo.

Alex Polier, 24, was named as the woman at the centre of a scandal that threatens to damage Democrat Kerry’s bid for the White House.

Her mother Donna claims Kerry, 60 — dubbed the new JFK — once chased Alex to be on his campaign team and was “after her”.

There is no evidence the pair had an affair, but her father Terry, 56, said: “I think he’s a sleazeball. I did kind of wonder if my daughter didn’t get that kind of feeling herself.

“He’s not the sort of guy I would choose to be with my daughter.”

Terry, of Malvern, Pennsylvania, added: “John Kerry called my daughter and invited her down to Washington two or three years ago.

“He invited her to be on his re-election committee. She talked to him and decided against it.”

Yes, this will absolutely destroy the Kerry campaign. He actually wanted a young, attractive coed on his staff (pun intended), and she declined the invitation. This will surely shake the Dem party to its very foundation.

You know... If we're going to trot out these type of allegations this early in the campaign, then let's go ahead and respond in kind...
The 38 year old Texas woman who, last December, filed a sexual assault lawsuit against President Bush was found in September, murdered by a gunshot wound to the head. A Republican coroner of Harris county, loyal to George Bush ruled the murder a, "Suicide."

Margie Schoedinger of Missouri City, Texas filed a bizarre sexual abuse lawsuit last December alleging that Bush had drugged and raped her. The lawsuit was so bizarre and convoluted at first glance that voxfux gave it a thumbs down as being at best, a disinformation campaign by the Bush team designed to drown out the Sherman Skolnick story about Bushes alleged long standing homosexual relationship with a college buddy. At worst, I thought the woman might be a kook. However in light of the new developments I believe I may have been wrong to have written off this story prematurely. The case was about to go to court - someone didn't want that to happen.
- VoxNews

If Rove thinks that he can paint an ugly picture of Kerry, BRING IT ON. Bush's picture is much, much uglier; especially if you want to get into the realm of quasi-news.


Christopher Hitchens, a man I hate to love, writes a damn fine op-ed about Howard Dean....

... and ends it with a sentence that I hope Dems will keep in mind throughout the end of the primary season.
This is not a time when the United States can afford even to flirt with the idea of an insecure narcissist and vain windbag as president.

An apt warning about a candidate like Howard Dean. But what about John Kerry? His sincerity is not in doubt, but I'm not so sure about the rest....

POLITICS - The San Francisco Treat

While the attention has been focused on Massachusetts, San Francisco upped the ante in the debate about gay marriage.

Meet the first officially married same-sex couple in America, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin (on right) and go read the San Francisco Gate article for the full poop.

What does this mean to Bush? In a word, I'd say he's "fucked". The battle lines of this election have been drawn. Kerry has the liberals, Bush has the conservatives; the fight is over moderates. They can't lose their core supporters, which means that Bush has to "defend marriage" with a constitutional amendment.

You see, Bush was waiting to see how the debate in the Massachusetts legislature resolved this issue. Many expect that the result will be a ban on "same sex" marriage, but allow civil unions with full recognition. Bush could let these legislators do all of the hard work, test the waters for various types of amendments, and then co-adopt the winning legislation into his own proposal.

Now he doesn't have the luxury of waiting for Mass. to define its own state laws. The State of California voted in 2000 to define marriage as a union between man and woman, but the city of San Francisco agrees with the Mass Supreme Court - Civil unions aren't equal to marriage.

Tomorrow Bush will be under a lot of pressure to introduce the Muskgrave Amendment. This will move the media debate about Bush's whereabouts in Alabama to whether Bush understands the difference between federal and state law. Should be fun.

So without further ado, here's the lovely couple who are destroying the very foundation of life itself (and they seem so innocent!).

POLITICS - A Union Between Man and _____

If marriage is supposed to be the union between a man and a woman, then how does polygamy fit into the picture. Who does more damage to the sanctity of marriage? Homosexuals or Mormons?

This has been on my mind since I wrote my last post on the subject. (Apologies to anybody offended by the last paragraph. It was just a bit of humor at the expense of a group of conservatives that I can't stand.) Check out the last word in the second sentence of the proposed amendment:
Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Is this a subtle shot towards Utah? It seems unlikely, because I doubt that Rove would risk offending a "Red-State" like Utah... I dunno, but this amendment has been carefully parsed by the Conservatives, and they wouldn't leave the word "groups" there for no reason. But what other "groups" are trying to get married to each other.


POLITICS - It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Lib

ABC's The Note is a great source for your daily election rhetoric. It's usually quite thorough, but they seem to have a lot of fun to boot.

Here are some highlights from today (which was been written in a curious form of Mad Lib prose):
Dan Bartlett's television appearances in the last few days make us think of a ____________ (barnyard or circus animal), but Scott McClellan's ____________ (adjective) daily briefing yesterday gave us ____________ (involuntary, violent action).

"Strong Leadership in Times of Change" is a fantastic campaign slogan because it ______________________________ (long, wonky but clever explanation).

BC04 spokesgal Nicole Devenish's position that the Bush campaign took their ad-like video off of the campaign Web site after NBC complained about the use of "Meet" footage because "it's important to have good relationships with the people who are going to cover us this year" would be best taken to heart by ____________________________ (Kerry staffer who should know better).

The thing most Democrats say Kerry lacks in order to put himself in a position to beat George Bush is a ____________ (noun), while others think he requires a ____________ (adjectival noun or body part) transplant.

Lucky for him, he will have the ____________ (adjective) David Wade with him on the road to help figure all this out.

Bush-Kerry will make the archive of the Yale Daily News ____________ (adjective), and the Bumiller-Betts relationship ____________ (adjective).

Garry Trudeau, on the other hand, will now become ____________ (mysterious adjective).

General Wesley Clark's campaign can be best summed up as ____________ (song title). Sen. Kerry's campaign can be best summed up as ____________ (movie title).

Maureen Dowd will say that Kerry is a ____________ (brand of car). The discussions within the Kerry campaign about how much access to give MoDo to Sen. Kerry will be ________________________ (adjective) and ___________________ (more intense adjective).

"90210" is to ____________ (name of current primetime "drama") as 527s are to ____________ (noun).

Rep. Kucinich is so ____________! (name of favorite soap star).

Karl Rove is so ____________! (name of adult cartoon character).


"George Bush in a flight suit uniform is the biggest example of political cross-dressing since J. Edgar Hoover. "
- Paul Begala , Crossfire

POLITICS - No Strings Attached

I think we're beginning to see why the Bush Administration wants to bury this issue.

Here's a graf that's appearing in newspapers all over the globe:
Questions have been raised about whether family connections helped him get into the Guard when there were waiting lists. Bush says no one in his family pulled strings and that he got in because others didn't want to commit to the almost two years of active duty required for fighter pilot training.

Don't believe me? Here is a google news search that contains that quote in over two hundred newspapers in the last 48 hours.

However, we know that somebody in the Bush family pulled strings to get him into the guard.... And those family strings came back to haunt him in a 1998 whistleblower lawsuit in Texas. I posted on this issue last week, but here's the critical link to a WaPo article about the testimony from the guy who got Bush into the guard.
Former speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Ben Barnes said under oath today that he recommended George W. Bush for a pilot's slot in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War at the behest of a Houston businessman close to the Bush family.

If you read the article, you'll see that a close friend of the Bush family contacted Ben Barnes, which contradicts the Bush Admin statement that nobody in his family pulled any strings. If Bush has actually stated himself that nobody in his family pulled strings, then he is lying. He's known since 1999 (and probably earlier than that) that Barnes' influence was the sole reason he was accepted in TANG.

If Bush or his staff have claimed that nobody pulled strings to get him in the Guard, then that is a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth. If journalists are going back and examining Bush's various statements about Guard service, then he is going to be in a little trouble. His statements are confusing and contradictary, and that whistleblower suit provides a lot of political ammunition to the Dems.

POLITICS - Biting The Hand That Feeds You

Here's a recent quote from Howard Dean:
"I intend to support the Democratic nominee under any circumstances," Dean said. "I'm just deeply disappointed that once again we may have to settle for the lesser of two evils."

I'd like to know exactly what Howard Dean means by that statement. It is very similar to remarks made by some voters during the 2000 election, specifically about George W. Bush and Al Gore. Ralph Nader attracted independents and greens because they viewed Gore as the lesser of two evils.

So I'd like to know if Howard Dean was referencing the 2000 election, or if he is extremely naive and doesn't understand that such a remark will be construed as related to the 2000 election.

In addition, I'd like to know how Al Gore, the lesser of two evils, now feels about endorsing Howard Dean. How does an established Washington insider like Gore feel about Howard Dean's rhetoric about Beltway insiders like John Kerry? It's ironic that Wesley Clark appears to be creating a "outsider" niche for himself inside the Dem party, while Howard Dean seems to be arguing himself out of the accepted boundaries of the party.

POLITICS - Gay Marriage

The Washington Post notes that Bush is ready to support a specific Amendment banning gay marriage. This has been a hot issue behind the scenes of the Republican party in DC, and it's about to break nationally. Unfortunately, the proposed amendment only serves to obfuscate the issue, but to be fair to President Bush, this proposal is a clear extension of his Administration's policy to be as divisive as possible. From the WaPo:
Musgrave's proposal, called the Federal Marriage Amendment, states: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

The second sentence is the deal-killer here. It possibly prohibits states from granting the legal and social benefits of marriage to gay civil unions. This amendment is a one-two knockout punch to gay couples. Not only does it forbid them from entering into a legally recognized relationship, but it will inhibit gay couples from fulfilling their legal and social obligations to each other. Even worse, this proposed amendment could even prohibit "common law" heterosexual couples from the benefits that they have enjoyed for decades.

This amendment, in its current written form, would set a dangerous precedent for contemporary politics. It is deliberately vague, and blurs the boundaries between federal and state law.

We need to be aware of our place in history. The constitution has worked pretty well over the past two hundred years, and we'll probably need it for another couple hundred. If we are going to modify this important document, then let's do it with clear and explicit language. To wit, Eugene Volokh says:
When you're deciding whether to support a proposed amendment, I think it's important to think about these ambiguities. Even a 50% or a 25% chance that an amendment will be interpreted to yield bad results might offer enough reason to oppose it (though of course much depends on how bad you think the bad results would be, and how good the good results would be). And if the amendment is still in the drafting stages, why not modify it to avoid these ambiguities in the first place?

Why not modify these ambiguities right now? Well, I think that they are there for a specific purpose.

These ambiguities are the result of a compromise in the Conservative party between the Christian Right and the Moderate Right. The Moderates know that they can sell an amendment that defines Marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but they realize that it's much tougher to sell the rest of the country an amendment to deny legal benefits to gay civil unions. However, Christians don't want gay couples to have any rights whatsoever, in fact, they don't want gay couples to even exist on the face of the planet. The Musgrave amendment plays to the Christian base, and places the Moderate issue of legal benefits in a gray, abstract zone.

Bush absolutely has to respond to the desires of the Christian right, and I think that's going to hurt him in this election cycle. He can't win the election without his base, but his base isn't going to accept an amendment that allows homosexual civil unions with full benefits. The question now becomes, "Will the rest of the country support a constitutional amendment that prohibits states from granting full legal benefits to same sex couples?" I don't think so.

This proposed amendment will be perceived as an attack on the homosexual lifestyle. The Repubs spoke out against homosexuals at the '92 National Convention, and while it charged the base, it also drove out some moderates and independents in the party. Millions of heterosexual Americans may want to reserve marriage for themselves, but they seem willing to share equal rights and benefits with their homosexual brothers and sisters.

Conservatives want to introduce this amendment, and hope that the resulting discourse will hammer out the details. That is definitely a common practice when creating legislation. By 2006, Congress could modify the language and allow civil unions with full benefits. But I don't think that we want to take that approach with this ammendment. The majority of Americans will be wary to support this current draft of the amendment once they hear five different commentators offer five different interpretations. After the WMD debacle, Americans want explicit language from our leaders. This amendment may be perceived as more "Bush-Speak" that shoots for the moon, but fails to deliver.

For more views on this, check out the last two days of posts at Volokh, Tapped, and James Joyner.

And what do the Aunt Tom Republicans say about this? The same thing that they said since 1978... "We're upset by this rhetoric, but we care more about tax cuts than our own sexuality. Of course, some of us are really close to leaving the Republican party, but we've been saying that for over a decade now. As long as we get our tax cuts, we don't really give two flying craps what our party says about our sexual freedoms. Erections may come and go, but hopefully we can make our tax cuts permanent!"


POLITICS - Bush Meets The Press

Bush was interviewed by Tim Russert on Meet the Press this morning. Here is the transcript. For the next day or so, Memeorandum points out the reactions across the blogosphere.

Bush certainly didn't offer any new perspective on his Administration's record, and it's still painfully obvious that "this talkin' stuff" is not Bush's strong suit as a candidate. The reaction from the left side of the media has been relatively low-key. A progressive friend noted last night, "It was just same 'ol, same 'ol." Bush performed as expected yesterday: slow, uninformed, all rhetoric.

But I am surprised by some of the reactions from the right. Peggy Noonan, Reagan's best speech writer, accused Bush of appearing "tired, unsure, and often bumbling". Instead of criticizing the president's performance, David Brooks' offers an alternative to one of Bush's replies. However, I think that these replies would leave the President vulnerable to criticism, too.
I'm not good at explaining the ideology that unites our foes and propels them to fight freedom. But I know that the threats we face are part of a universal hatred, and the only solution to that hatred is freedom — that we must undertake a generational challenge to spread democracy so people whose souls are now twisted can learn to love peace. We could not have allowed the Middle East to continue to drift down its former course.

Let's forget that such an eloquent response is beyond Bush's cognitive abilities (and the Republican party will suffer for it this year.) This is another example of the neocons attempting to use progressive values to displace the underlying reason for the new Bush Doctrine. The US has to be more proactive on the war on terror, and the Hussein family was a skeleton in our closet that had to be purged. I doubt that any Dem will argue those points. Unfortunately, Tony Blair provided the best arguments for military action that did more than pay lip service to contemporary progressives, while Bush went to the UN with his best Dirty Harry impression and challenged American liberals that we were either with him or against him.

Brooks sums one of the real divides between right and left in two sentences:
I look around and observe that many of my fellow Americans don't seem to be living on Sept. 12, the way I am. And if they don't feel in their bones the presence of war, I don't know what argument I can use to persuade them.

"War" is a strong word in our language, and is often used without appropriate context. Is this a military war like the first one that we fought in the Gulf war or this more like the war on organized crime? Conservatives continue to argue that this is primarily a military war, and I don't think they have made a successful argument to wit. The war on terror has been fought as far back as the 1976 Orlando Letelier assassination in Washington DC. (Whoops. We're not supposed to mention that name around the Bush family!)

In the three decades that we have fought terrorism against national and foreign interests, we have found considerable success when working within pre-existing legal and diplomatic structures. That is, of course, when we are not bypassing them to provide material support and training to people like Osama bin Laden. It appears that we've used our military to provide a necessary distraction to keep the terrorists on their side of the sand box, but our military solutions have not effectively stopped the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, or even the Ba'athists. And this Administration has yet to bring the mastermind of 9/11 to justice with the military or international law or even renegade Texas bounty hunters.

Brooks concludes his quasi Bush reply with this:
I could lose this election. I don't know whether the American people are with me or not. But I know our hair-trigger reputation has jolted dictators in Libya, North Korea and elsewhere. I know that if in 20 years Iraq is free and the Arab world is progressing toward normalcy, no one will doubt that I did the right thing.

Bush can only hope that the US public refuses to read newspapers and magazines, too. The progress in North Korea and Libya owe little credit to our cowboy diplomacy, rather that progress is the result of decades long economic turmoil, ineffective leaders, and our increased intelligence about their programs. And what exactly would qualify the Arab world as progressing toward 'normalcy'. Considering the history of that region, I'd say that the country is about as normal as it gets whenever a group of white people come over disrupt the power balance. If Iraq (and the Arab world) move toward a progressive democracy in the next twenty years, it will be the result of the intervention of an effective statesman. The guy who was on Meet the Press last weekend sure can't do the job.

SITE NEWS - Updates

Sorry for the lack of updates over the past couple days. The Hot Tuna machine experienced a complete operating system breakdown. Now I'm running a fresh install of Windows XP, and I think we're ready to get the ball rolling again.


POLITICS - Nice Guy Georgie

Consortium News has a good article about the dirty tricks used in Papa Bush's 1992 campaign against Clinton, including the controversial search through Clinton's (and his mother's) passport information. If you aren't familiar with story, go check it out. But it includes a great little anecdote about George W. Bush, speaking volumes of his 'character'.
In early April 1986, for instance, George W. was miffed at a prediction by the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt that Jack Kemp -- not Vice President Bush -- would win the GOP nomination in 1988. At a Dallas restaurant, Bush spotted Hunt having dinner with his wife, Judy Woodruff, and their four-year-old son.

Bush stormed up to the table and started cursing out Hunt. "You [expletive] son of a bitch," Bush yelled. "I saw what you wrote. We're not going to forget this."

Bush supporters have excused the governor's behavior that occurred before his 40th birthday on the grounds that Bush was still drinking heavily in those days. [WP, July 25, 1999]


POLITICS - Congressional Webpages

This, from Bill Frist's Congressional webform:

Due to upgrades to our correspondance system occuring between January 5 and January 25, Senator Frist's email contact form will be temporarily disabled...Again, we apologize for the inconvenince!

In one short paragraph, there are no less than 3 spelling errors. As a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, you would think that Bill Frist would work for more education funding for Tennessee. GG.


Thomas Schaller has an interesting proposal to Howard Dean (and his supporters). If he doesn't get the nomination, he should seek a more visible, proactive role in the Democrat leadership. Forcing change in Washington is not an easy task, and it's even tougher for a Democrat President in a Republican Congress. If Dean takes a leadership role in the Dem party, somewhere in the DLC or DNC, he can bring change to the Dem party. He can help rebuild the Dem's infrastructure so they can support the small and mid sized races.
In an earlier post, I off-handedly suggested that Howard Dean - who, barring a miraculous comeback, is out of the running for the nomination - would make a great chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

I've since ruminated on the subject at great length, and am now even more convinced of the idea. Here, then, are my Top 5 reasons:

1. Dean has been complaining vociferously about the national Democrats generally, and the DNC in particular. Taking over as chair offers him the perfect opportunity to show by his actions, rather than his words, how he would improve matters.

2. Dean is so unabashed about taking the fight right into the teeth of the Republicans, wouldn't he be the perfect firebrand to hammer the GOP without relent? You know, like when they start saying things like: "George Bush served honorably because, um, well, he got an honorable discharge, didn't he?" He'd be awesome on Crossfire.

3. Dean has already taught the DNC a lesson or two about small-dollar donor fundraising, and he could implement on a grander scale what he and Joe Trippi learned in 2003 at the DNC - thereby helping the party raise money in gobs.

You'll have to pay a visit to the Gadflyer for the other two reasons!

POLITICS - Special Favor?

The current debate about Bush's military record has focused on whether records support when and where he was prior to 1974. The Administration doesn't have to worry about AWOL allegations, because Bush received an honorable discharge. But there are allegations that Bush was blackmailed with this information by the very man who helped him get into the National Guard in the first place, former Lt. Governor Ben Barnes, who is also an old friend of George H. Bush.

In 1997, The Texas Lottery commission hired an employee named Lawrence Littwin. He questioned why the Texas Lottery contract wasn't up for rebidding. He was promptly fired, and he countered back with a lawsuit alleging that GTech was responsible for his termination. This re-opened the question of Bush's military background, a major subject in Bush's governor race where he steadfastly denied any special treatment. Texans for Public Justice has more on this.
Upon taking office in 1995, Gov. Bush appointed his personal lawyer, Harriet Miers ($22,000 to Bush’s gubernatorial campaigns), to watch over the Texas Lottery Commission. The Texas Lottery is intertwined with ex-Texas Speaker and Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes. In 1991, Barnes lobbied to create the Texas Lottery. The next year Barnes became arguably the highest paid lobbyist in Texas history. Gtech—the only contractor that the Texas Lottery has ever had—agreed to pay Barnes annual fees of up to $3.2 million. Barnes kicked back one-third of this money to a Gtech executive who was convicted in 1996 of taking New Jersey lobby kickbacks. In a further revolving-door scandal, Gtech hired top Bush aides Cliff Johnson and Reggie Bashur as lobbyists as they exited the Governor’s Office.

In the wake of these scandals, Gtech paid $23 million to buy Barnes out of his lobby contract and the Lottery Commissioners rebid Gtech’s contract. Gtech simply won the contract again. Gtech paid $300,000 in 1999 to settle a lawsuit by ex-Texas Lottery Director Lawrence Littwin. Littwin alleged that the commissioners fired him for digging into Gtech’s political influence. He said the company controlled the commissioners because of what Barnes knew about Bush’s military service. As House Speaker in 1968, Barnes wrote a letter to help get young George W. Bush a coveted spot in the Texas Air National Guard—far from the Vietnamese rice paddies.

This isn't just an issue of Bush's placement in TANG. This special favor became a compromising situation. Barnes held politically damaging information over Bush's head throughout the 90's in exchange for a lucrative arrangement with the Texas Lottery and its contractor GTech.

In his court testimony, Barnes clearly indicates that he arranged Bush's spot in TANG. Barnes then became the highest paid lobbyiest in Texas' history, reaping the rewards of being a Bush friend. GTech and Littwin settled out of court, and the subject of Bush's military record was closed again.

This was a fluid situation during the 2000 campaign, but the Dems never brought it up as an issue. I don't know if there will be any political fallout over this four years later or not, but it adds some context to this naive cowboy act that Bush displays.

I suspect that some upper Dems have seen Greg Palast's documentary Bush Family Fortunes. It features an on-camera interview with a former Lieutenant Col. at the TANG, Bill Burkett. He states that somebody within then-Governor George W. Bush's office contacted TANG and requested that Bush's pay and attendance records were purged. Greg Palast has this:
Seems that Burkett was in the office of the Guard’s Adjutant General when a call came in from then-Governor George W. Bush’s office. As is normal procedure, the call was put on the speaker box, but the request was not so normal. The Governor’s office was sending over an official biographer … and the Governor’s minions wanted to make sure the files did not contain not-so-heroic info. Burkett told me:

“I was in the General’s office, General Daniel James …. He gets a telephone call from Joe Albaugh, who was the Governor’s chief of staff, and Dan Bartlett … on the voice box … and they wanted General James to assemble all of the Governor’s files, that [Karen Hughes, Bush’s aide] was going to write a book…. But Joe told General James, ‘Make sure there’s not anything in there that’ll embarrass the Governor.’”

And there wouldn’t be. Burkett asked if the general’s staff really intended to purge the files; and sure enough, as evidence of the affirmative reply, he was shown the piles of pay and pension records in the garbage pails destined for the shredders. Colonel Burkett did not run off with those files so we can only conclude this: the only evidence that Bush showed up for duty during the war is now missing. Military pay records are public records – and now they are conveniently unavailable.

By the way, the White House, where Messrs. Albaugh, Bartlett and, of course, Mr. Bush, work, turned down BBC’s offer to deny the charges of the draft-dodge fix and the purging of Dubya’s files.

Is there any smoke there? I'm not sure. Legally, probably not, because this becomes an issue of "he said, she said". But this is explosive political information. If one of the networks ran a special like Palast's during prime time in the US, a very different image of Bush would emerge. If anything, it would strengthen the ABB message, because fewer Independents and Moderates are going to be able to identify with a man whose life surely redefines the word 'nepotism'.

This isn't an issue of whether Bush was AWOL, or where he was at for a particular year. The result of that experience is a dark undercurrent that runs through his social, political, and business relationships. This isn't just an isolated case of Bush returning a favor to the man who kept him out of Vietnam. Bush has also gone out of his way to protect the bin Laden family after 9/11, flying them out of the country before they could be questioned by intelligence officers. Why would he do that? Don't forget. The bin Ladens invested in an early George W. Bush oil company. They helped scratch his back when he was young, and he returned the favor when he got older.

There's a saying, "Money talks and bullshit walks". That's the Golden Rule in Texas, the oil industry, sports, campaigns, religion, alcoholism, cocaine addiction, and Washington politics...

There's no doubt that Bush lived by the Golden Rule his entire life.

POLITICS - The Field Is Narrowing

Tough AP Article by Ron Fournier about the current state of the Dem primary.
Two officials close to Clark, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the retired Army general considered dropping out of the race Tuesday night after scoring a single victory, a nail-biter in Oklahoma. They said his wife, Gert, helped talk him into staying in the race against the advice of some backers.

In another sign of trouble, Clark's staff agreed to a pay freeze to pay for television ads.

Confident of victory, Kerry opted not to advertise in the weekend states, though he will travel to them. Dean had no choice; he is short on money and is saving his resources for Wisconsin. And yet, to the dismay of his senior advisers, Dean raised expectations Wednesday.

"We are going to win the Washington caucuses," he said in Seattle.

One top adviser to the former Vermont governor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Dean will regret the remark when he loses. Another aide, when told of Dean's comment, wrote it off as an example of his boss' lack of discipline.

UPDATE: Link Fixed


POLITICS - Frugal Dean

I keep hearing that Dean is some fiscal conservative guru, responsible for balancing Vermont's budget...

I have to wonder. Are the citizens of Vermont looking at these books carefully? Because Dean has spent some pretty wild money in this campaign.

From the NYTimes:
Dean's presidential campaign spent at least $6,779 last year at Lake Champlain Chocolates, a premium truffle maker in Dean's home state of Vermont, on thank-you gifts for hosts of major fund-raising events. The Burlington-based chocolatier's specialties include the ``Chocolates of Vermont,'' a box with a different bonbon for each season.
Campaign finance reports for 2003 show the chocolate purchases were part of at least $281,000 in spending described by the campaign as ``paraphernalia.'' Other spending in that category included $2,772 at Kentucky's Louisville Slugger Museum and $691 at the Cabot Creamery, a stop on the Vermont Cheese Trail.

On another fiscal note... Jack O'Toole notes:
Another point worth noting: Based on these figures, Howard Dean appears to have spent approximately $207 for each vote he's received to date.

(Links Via PoliticalWire)

POLITICS - Blame Canada, Eh

Here's a sweet little message to Bush from our neighbors to the north... (Via Daily Kos)

POLITICS - Support Our Troops!!

Bush and the Republican GOP have been questioning our patriotism since taking office. But the media hasn't paid attention to see if this Administration has provided full support and resources to our military.

They haven't.

Craig B. Hulet writes:
There is an army of veterans twice the size of that involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom that have lost health insurance benefits since Bush took office. As many as half a million vets are homeless. Seven VA hospitals are being closed as part of an effort to "restructure" the Department of Veterans Affairs. Meanwhile, veterans of the Iraq campaign can fall in line with over 250,000 veterans who are already waiting at least six months to see a doctor.

The General Accounting Office estimates that 20 percent of Army Reserve and National Guard personnel have no health insurance at all. Although Bush did not hesitate to send Reservists and National Guardsmen to face death in Iraq, "bring ’em on..." Bush has consistently opposed any attempt to extend full benefits to them. Bush tried to cut monthly imminent-danger pay (called combat pay by the troops) and family separation allowance. But in the most outrageous statement to date George W. Bush Jr., who did not show up when called to duty during the Vietnam war, called a proposed increase in the sum given to families of soldiers who die on active duty "wasteful and unnecessary"!

This article shows the clear contempt that this President has for the armed forces. I'm ready for Kerry or Clark to go head-to-head with Bush over issues like these:
- According to the Pentagon’s "Operation Iraqi Freedom Lessons Learned" draft report, soldiers spent their own money to get better field radios, extra ammunition carriers to help them fight better and commercial backpacks because their own rucksacks were too small. This office has heard from several troop’s families that they are buying 223 ammo clips from suppliers here in the states because the ones they are issued jam too often.

- Marine Staff Sgt. Bill Murwin was treated at a military hospital in Germany and spent four weeks at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Part of his left foot was amputated. His medical care was free, but the government billed him $243 for the food.... Then, just three days after he received his first bill for the hospital food in Germany, he got a stern letter saying the bill was overdue. It warned that his account would be referred to a collection agency." (Source: Wounded billed for hospital food, By Bill Adair, Times Staff Writer St. Petersburg Times)

- VFW officials estimated the administration’s VA budget is at least $2 billion short of meeting the demand for quality health care. That would be troopers in the lower ranks, nobody would dare cut VA benefits of the Wesley Clarks of the world.

-In the same report it was noted that "Disabled American Veterans (DAV), an organization that since 1920 has helped U.S. combat casualties learn about the benefits they have earned and how to apply for them, has been obstructed in its efforts by Mr. Bush. The Pentagon has been severely limiting DAV access to wounded veterans on grounds of "security" and protecting their "privacy." The Pentagon protects the veterans’ privacy by not allowing them to speak with DAV representatives "unmonitored." (Ibid.)

Yeah, that's right, Bush. You said "Bring It On", so we're gonna fucking bring it, bitch. And you Daddy can't buy your way out of this one.


POLITICS - Special Interest Money

The Republicans want the issue of special interest money to be absent in the 2004 election. They'd love to see the Dems wreck each other over the subject, but they can't touch Kerry or Edwards in the national election.

Why? Because special interest money controls the very core of the Administration.

Matt Bivens writes this in The Nation about the Medicare legislation that was recently passed:
Public Citizen is calling for an investigation of Billy Tauzin, the Republican Congressman from Louisiana, who had a key role in writing the Medicare prescription drug law -- and now that he's done with that, got a big thank-you in the form of a sweet offer to lobby in Washington for the pharmaceutical industry. The compensation package, rumored to be somewhere from $1 million to $2.5 million a year, would be "likely the largest compensation package on record for anyone at a trade association," Public Citizen says. Tauzin hasn't said yet whether he'll accept it; he seems to have been given pause by the drumbeat of indignation that's risen at the idea.

"The record size of the [drug industry] contract and the fact that the offer became public less than two months after the drug industry scored a major victory with this legislation raises serious questions about whether Representative Tauzin's actions were tainted," says Joan Claybrook, Public Citizen's president. "While Rep. Tauzin was writing the bill, he put out the word that he was retiring from Congress and looking for new work. This doesn't pass the smell test."

Tauzin is not the only politician who seems to be cashing in his chips with the drug industry. Tom Scully, the White House point person on the Medicare bill, recently quit government to go work for law firms that represent pharmaceutical interests. "So we have a situation where the lead administration person on the bill and the lead manager on the bill in the House of Representatives are going to work for the pharmaceutical companies," Pelosi says. "I think it would be important to the American people to know when the negotiations for these positions began."

POLITICS - Don't Call Him Late For Desert

Ed Gillespie on CNN's Inside Politics today:
George W. Bush faced serious danger while completing his military service. Because flying a plane can be very dangerous.

Sounds great. Let's see Bush and Kerry discuss the dangerous situations they faced while serving in Vietnam. Kerry was running a gun boat in a foreign country. Bush showed up a couple weekends and flew a couple planes over Texas and Alabama.

Hey, George. Why don't you clear up these AWOL allegations once and for all? Go back and show us the bunkhouse you slept in while serving your country. Show us your medals for facing danger. Show us the pictures that you took while in service. I mean, if they had cameras in Vietnam, surely somebody had a camera in Alabama. Let's see some of the people that you faced danger with.

Most war veterans can supply this type of information at the drop of a hat. They live with this everyday. Surely if Bush was facing danger at every step, he'd have some strong memories, stories, and service comrades.

Unless, of course, Bush didn't really go to Alabama when he says that he thinks that he may have. At the time, he was an alcoholic and a rumored cocaine user. In fact, this around the same time when he wrecked his car and supposedly turned his life around. This, he has admitted to.

Ed Gillespie points out that Bush received an honorable discharge, which isn't possible if you have been AWOL. Heh. Bush received highly favorable treatment when he was sent to the Texas National Guard to fulfill his Vietnam service duty. His attendance record is like a block of swiss cheese, and it is certainly possible that his father, a high-ranking CIA official partly responsible for allowing foreign terrorists to assasinate Allende in DC, could have worked out a deal for an honorable discharge.

POLITICS - He Came, He Yelled, He Flew Back To Vermont

Mike Littwin provides a little more commentary on the crash of the Dean Movement. Did the media kill Dean? Did Kerry's army of robot telephone machines kill Dean? Did Gore lose this campaign for Dean? Read this article and decide for yourself whether Dean lost this battle himself, or did the entire universe lead a bipartisan assault on his movement?
But the real problem for Dean, it seems to me, is that he needed a second act. And for insurgents - think Gene McCarthy - that is never easy to come by.

Dean tried everything. They said he was angry so he embraced hope as a theme. He also embraced Gore and every establishment figure he could find.

Meanwhile, his campaign gambled all his money on two states. The gamble failed so badly that when Dean finished third in Iowa, someone made this fateful suggestion: Why not fire up the troops?

In the Kerry camp, Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam and then lost his Senate race when he was said not to be sufficiently patriotic, quoted from Henry V to get the troops going. Dean quoted from Rand McNally.

Boy, I love that last line.

(Via RealClearPolitics)

POLITICS - Number One, I Order You To Pick A Number Two

In today's NYPost, Dick Morris writes that the demise of the Dean campaign opens the door for a Hilary VP ticket. I've written about this recently, and said that her next move hinges on Rudy Giuliani and the Dem candidate. Morris concurs and adds an interesting point about Giuliani's stance on platform GOP issues:
But Hillary has one other good reason to say yes: Rudy Giuliani. If the former mayor runs against her for the Senate seat in '06, polls indicate that she would face a very, very tough fight. Her first race against Rick Lazio would be a cakewalk next to a battle against Giuliani.

Rudy may run against Hillary - even though he'd rather be governor - in order to accumulate points with the Republican faithful so that they consider him for president in 2008.

Giuliani's pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-affirmative action, pro-gay-rights positions won't endear him to the GOP right wing. But knocking off Hillary might engender the forgiveness he needs.

So, if Rudy might run, wouldn't it be the better part of valor to get out of the way of the charging bull and run for vice president instead?

I still doubt that Hillary is at the top of Kerry's short-list. John Edwards, Bob Richardson (New Mexico), and Bob Graham (Florida) would all fill out Kerry's ticket quite well. On the long shot list, I would put Hillary, Dick Gephardt, and John McCain. On the ultra-long shot list, I'd add Wesley Clark and Herman Munster (to give a little personality to Kerry). On the ultra-ultra long shot list, let's put down Howard Dean and Ted Kennedy.

Should the DLC focus on the North/South divide, or the East/West divide? I honestly don't know. I believe that Max Cleland (another long-shot VP) spoke about this briefly on Real Time with Bill Maher, but they didn't reach any conclusions. I think that Edwards is one helluva strong candidate, and he could play well in all four corners of the US.

But will that be necessary if Kerry can play well in the four corners, too? We'll have a better idea tonight, after we see how Kerry does with the southern and minority voters in South Carolina, New Mexico, and even Missouri. If Kerry is pulling high numbers across the board, then it may not be as necessary to find somebody like Edwards.

I like Hillary Clinton, but I don't know if she'd be the best choice for a successful Anybody But Bush campaign. I think that moderates and independents really do want a change in the White House. That's why a Gore-less 2004 Dem campaign has been so good for this party. All Democrats had to somewhat re-boot, and re-load with a new candidate. This fresh campaign is attractive to independents and moderates. It may not be time to re-open the nation's Clinton wounds, and we shouldn't do it if another less-controversial VP nom is in the wings.


POLITICS - Kerry's Money

Here's something that I don't understand about some of these arguments about the source of Kerry's money.

Has special interest money hurt Bush at all?

Is Bush really going to bring this up in the debates?

The Boston Globe reports that Kerry has accepted "...Kerry's history of taking more money from lobbyists and interest groups than any other senator in the past 15 years, nearly $640,000 in all."

Over the course of four Senate runs, that amounts to about $160K per election cycle, or less than $40K a year. Considering that Kerry sorta refuses PAC money, this doesn't seem like an outrageous amount of money. Also, there are very few indications in Kerry's voting record that a donation was a result of favorable influence. Yes, he has received money from groups who were on the receiving end of a good vote or influential letter. On the other hand, he has also voted against the interests of these lobbyists and special interests, too.

But this is the last issue that the Republicans want to bring to the forefront of the political debate. If the public goes over Kerry and Bush's finance and voting records, they'll lynch Bush in the streets. No, Karl Rove would like the Dems to tear up each other's credibility over this issue now, and become too fearful to bring it up again in the national election.

POLITICS - Show George The Door

Show George The Door

Sign up for TrueMajorityAction.org,founded by Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry's, and get a free Any Body But Bush bumper sticker.

POLITICS - Little Wonder

This GQ article about Joe Trippi, Dean's miraculous (ex) campaign manager, is incredible. It gives insight on what makes Trippi tick, but also on what went wrong with this campaign.

How could Dean have possibly wasted away most of his $40 million war chest?
Back when Dean was riding high, Trippi would sit in his office at five in the morning plotting new ways to "freak everybody out." Like running ads in Texas. Texas! The cojones. Or flying 500 evangelical Deaniacs from Texas to Iowa to knock on doors and say, "I'm from Texas! I know George Bush! He sucks!"—which, at the time, seemed like a brilliant idea.

I find this amusing because I live in Austin, Texas, and attended some local Dean functions. Now, I'm trying to imagine sending some of those people from Austin to convince Iowans to vote for Dean. A brilliant idea? Heh. Maybe for a fun sociological experiment, but not for a serious campaign. I doubt Kucinich even flies that high.

I always thought that many of the vocal Dean supporters spend too much time focused on the desires of the immediate Dean community, and in effect, they operate in a type of echo chamber where the platitudes of Dean never cease.
Trippi knew it wasn't enough to put up a Web site; you had to interact with them, empower them, listen to them. Which is why you would find him, at all hours of the night, instant-messaging perfect strangers out in DeanWorld.

Isn't that a little...weird?

"You don't get it," he replies. "It's them. These are the people who are doing it"—"it" being the Howard Dean phenomenon—"and I'm gonna pay attention to them."

"It" is the internet phenomenom, and it isn't exclusive to Dean. Trippi believes that all of the other candidates have a weblog because of Dean. I believe that weblogs are becoming much more popular, was one of the big buzzwords of 2003, and not exclusive to Dean or his community.

The internet is cool, hip, and flashy. It's fun to be part of a trendy community. However, that doesn't necessarily translate into national popularity. For example, look at the electronic music community. It had an established web presence since the mid 90's, had popularity among young Americans, and generated millions of dollars. It wasn't accepted by mainstream America, though.

The era of internet politics is beginning, but it isn't here yet. Dean may not end up as the new George McGovern, but as the new Barry Goldwater. Just like Goldwater introduced direct mail solicitation to the political process, Dean has introduced the internet. And both were considered a little too radical by their own parties to be elected as the national candidate.