Friday, January 30, 2004

It is difficult to wrap my head around the consequences of this war.

Of course, the administration is scrambling to answer charges that they misled the public and rushed to war. They don't even want to admit the intelligence was bad, but I'm sure by tomorrow that will be their tune: oops, not our fault! In fact, they're blaming Clinton for leaving the CIA in the shape that it's in that it would give them such crap information. As Jon Stewart said last night, "ah yes, blame Clinton. Is there anything Clinton hasn't done?" Something like that.

Even if this was manslaughter as opposed to murder, a terrible mistake as opposed to a deliberate misrepresentation, we absolutely can not allow these people to have another chance. This is too terrible a mistake. Don't forget, the consequences of this terrible act include:

More than 500 American soldiers have been killed so far.

Between 8 and 10,000 Iraqis have been killed so far.

Thousands more soldiers have been injured in life changing ways: young men and women must learn how to live with blindness, loss of limb, illness that will leave them weakened for the rest of their lives, and emotional problems that will disrupt their lives at least in the immediate future.

Thousands more have lost their jobs. Those who are lucky enough to return in one piece are coming home to an economy where they can not find good jobs.

The cost of the war is $100 billion and counting.

What does this cost mean? It means that there is less for everything else. Less money for education and training; health care; police, fire, and rescue needs at home; roads and other public transportation; parks, waterways, forests; our administrative functions including licensing, record keeping, and oversight of publicly held corporations; our scientific endeavors that lead to new discoveries, new technologies, new jobs; childcare and family supports; libraries; community building events; environmental clean up; maintenance of our public spaces. The goods and services that it makes sense for our federal, state, and local governments to provide in return for our taxes. The huge deficit, now estimated to go beyond $500 billion in ONE YEAR, will have to be paid back by our children and their children. All the money for interest that could have been spent on their public spaces; their health and well-being; their economic prosperity....

I think we've had enough of George W. Bush's legacy.


You're not paranoid if they really are out to get you

This article by Denise Grady in the NY Times this morning is of particular interest to me.

Responding to criticism from conservatives, the director of the National Institutes of Health has told lawmakers the government should continue to pay for studies of sexual behavior because they could have a powerful impact on public health.

Last fall, the Traditional Values Coalition accused the institutes of paying for "smarmy projects" and studies of "bizarre sexual practices with little or no bearing on public health." The group asked Representative Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Republican who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to investigate.

It's just one of many examples of right wing freakazoids trying to take control of science. What is particularly worrisome is what I learned from the AP article, as published in the Des Moines Register this morning, that mentioned previous attempts to intervene:

But the letter was praised by Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, who last fall criticized NIH and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson for questioning researchers about their work. "I urge my colleagues in Congress and Secretary Thompson to respect Dr. Zerhouni's decision and disavow irresponsible attacks on science," Waxman said.

At the time, NIH officials said the calls were not meant to threaten researchers with the loss of funds but to inform them that their names were on a list being circulated in Washington.

Fuck y'all and your watch list!


Thursday, January 29, 2004

Fuck the beltway, with the beltway.

...says Ananna over at Atrios. Right on!


Robert Rubin (Thanks, Ananna!) has a great opinion piece in the New York Times this morning. He's highly critical of the DLC and its centrist message, and he calls for the building of a progressive political movement, rather than simply trying to win an election. I (and many others) have been saying this for a while (but who listens to Tomato when they can read the NY Times?).

I'd like to add one thing to Rubin's argument. We DO have a progressive political movement. Last election it was evident among the Greens and Nader. In the last several years, it's evident in the huge protests of the WTO and the war. It's been in progressive churches all along. This election it's evident in Howard Dean's organization. If we survive Bush's crazy right wing and the DLC and there is a next time, the movement will become bigger and even more organized. The choice for the Democratic Party is whether to embrace the movement that exists and is inevitable or be pushed to the side by it. The only question in my mind is whether the U.S. will survive the DLC and Bush's crazy right wing, not whether a progressive movement exists, is growing, and taking its rightful once and future place at the core of this great nation.


I wonder what kind of response a Democratic nominee would get if he responded to Republican attacks by saying, "with all due respect to American citizens who are being terrorized by you, fuck you, Mr. President."


As usual, the thugs are dissembling faster than we can keep up with their latest version of the truth. This is where we need Jon Lovitz' pathological liar character to do a perfectly appropriate spoof: yeah, that's the ticket!

Liberal Oasis advises this morning that Democrats ought to be hitting hard on whether or not there was justification for a pre-emptive strike, rather than making accusations that the administration lied. I agree that it doesn't matter whether they flat out lied or not, they still aren't qualified to run a taco stand, based on their terrible judgment in this matter.

But, I guess I have become one of those loonies that the DLC doesn't want in their party. I am sick and tired of being disappointed and frightened. It doesn't work to pick on them according to their own rule book, because they simply change the rules as they go along. From imminent threat, to weapons of mass destruction, to WMD programs, to WMD-related program activities, to grave and gathering danger. It's insane that we stand by and simply joke about this or something.

This country will not heal unless these lying criminals are called out for what they are. It's not just going to go away, anymore.


Why do I ever feel disappointed with the Democratic Leadership Council anymore? They have a really crummy article on their website that attacks Howard Dean and demeans his many supporters. From the article:

Put simply, Gov. Dean's support seems to have shrunk to the same hard core of upscale, antiwar, white liberals who were first attracted to him when his 2003 surge began many months ago.

Wow, what assholes.

I wrote them a note, of course, but I also looked on their list to see who counts as a "new democrat." I learned that my governor is on the list, so I wrote to him. Here is what I wrote:

Hello, Governor Vilsack. I am writing to ask for your help.

I noticed that you are listed as a "new democrat" under the auspices of the Democratic Leadership Council. I was dismayed to read a nasty article on their website ndol.org that insults Howard Dean and especially his supporters, who make up a decent portion of the Democratic electorate. For example, the article includes the statement, "Put simply, Gov. Dean's support seems to have shrunk to the same hard core of upscale, antiwar, white liberals who were first attracted to him when his 2003 surge began many months ago." This is terribly condescending and insulting to the many who caucused for Dean in Iowa, few of whom would consider themselves elitist. We are just like other Iowa Democrats who voted for you, and who appreciate your leadership.

The task before us is not simply to get Bush out of office. It seems to me that more importantly, we need to strengthen the spirit of our party. Divisive words such as those on the DLC website diminish us as a party, at a time where it is especially important for us to unite. I am writing to you, Governor, to let you know how you are being represented by the DLC, and to request that you put in a good word for all Democrats by asking them to change their tone.


...Honestly, I am looking forward to some action.


Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Bartcop declares

If the Democrats can't figure out a way to beat Bush now,

I demand to be made head of the DNC the morning after we blow this election.

As I have said before, I think we could run a stuffed bunny and beat the little prick in November. But if we can't beat him with a real life human being, then I demand that at least a stuffed bunny be appointed chair of the DNC.


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I don't think Democrats should be worrying about whether or not a candidate will be able to beat George Bush. We could run a stuffed bunny and beat Bush in November, if we don't wimp out. At the risk of sounding a little loony, let me make a comparison to the 2nd Lord of the Rings movie. (Actually, since "Rings III" picked up 11 Oscar nominations, maybe I'm not so loony.) Anyway, there is a scene where they finally pan across the fields outside Helm's deep, and Sauron's army is amassed there and it is just breathtaking. Evil orcs and shit as far as the eye can see. We keep looking at Rove and calling him an evil genius because he push polled John McCain out of the primaries, and we look at George Bush's 250 million and shiver in our boots because it's like this scene. Breathtaking in its enormity.

First of all, it takes less intelligence to do what Rove did than to do what someone like Rosa Parks did for social progress, for instance. Rosa Parks and others saw with clarity where the slim opportunities were to pull threads in the social fabric, unravel it carefully and reweave it into something stronger and more beautiful. Karl Rove pulled strings all right, but his actions didn't remake society. He participated in pulling us apart, and now practically all reasonable people from across the political spectrum are ashamed and dismayed at the dirty rags and scraps around us.

And Bush's 250 million isn't going to help him when he has nothing to say. His declaration that we would build a moon base was desperate and foolish, and no one was buying. His State of the Union Address was ridiculous and mean. World to Bush, we are sick and tired of being scared and worried about who you're going to piss off next.

Even if Bush's machine still reminds you of millions of mindless orcs clamoring at the gates, it doesn't matter who we nominate.
Saying that one candidate is stronger than another is like saying Merry is better with a sword than Pippin. We have several electable candidates. It's our organization and our spirit that are going to count.

That said, I think we have a great opportunity since we're in such a strong position. Bush is pretty well despised by every single person in the U.S. except for religious zealots, mercenaries, and brownshirts. They do not make up the majority of this country. We don't need to set our sights so low that it's simply about getting Bush out. We ought to set our sights a little higher, to rebuild our party around principles of equality, social justice, humanity, and economic prosperity for all. Organization is a no-brainer; we need to build our spirit.

And that's why I think we need Howard Dean. He presents a real alternative. He's moderate, which is indeed the counter to the crazy fucks currently in charge. More important, he won't roll over in the face of Sauron's armies. The others have proven they will indeed roll over; they already have. I hear people talking about a Kerry/Edwards ticket. I think that ticket is the least electable of the combinations being floated, because it presents little hope for real social change. It's still electable, though. But I think it will take everything we have to organize and get them into office, and we'll have nothing left over to reinvigorate our spirit. Sauron's armies will still be there.

Let's make it easier on ourselves and nominate someone who is exciting to everyone. Dean will turn out new voters, excite the more progressive among us to make sure we go out to the polls, and the opportunistic Democratic insiders will show up anyway, probably acting like they were always Dean's best friend.

And with renewed spirit, we can put Bush's supporter back where they belong, on the fringes of society where they can't threaten us anymore.


Michelle Goldberg in Salon reports from the Conservative Political Action Conference:

Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, gave a speech in which he accused supporters of gay marriage of "religious bigotry," saying, "Those who say I must turn my back on the tenets of my faith in order to be accepted by them are the ones who are intolerant."

What the fuck ever, dude.


Monday, January 26, 2004

We liberated Iraqi men from Saddam's rule. Now Iraqi women have to face the Governing Council we installed, as they replace secular Iraqi family law with Islamic law. Here are some of the treats in store for our sisters in Iraq:

If the resolution is to become a law, women in Iraq will become subjects of daily abuses and exploitation for not observing the strict Islamic law and traditions. Polygamy, minor marriage, pleasure marriage (mut‘ah), compulsory hijab, stoning women to death on adultery, acid-throwing on them, flogging for disobeying Islamic laws, beating women by their husbands, sexual segregation in public places will all be lawful. Women will be denied the right to leave the house without the permission of the husband, to travel without a chaperone, continue education after marriage, seek divorce, choose a partner without family’s consent, and custody of children. They will be prohibited from working in many fields and participation in sport, dance, singing or even listening to music.

Check out Equality in Iraq
Check out this letter.

Women in Iraq are afraid to leave their homes, for all the violence, chaos, and religious fervor. And American women aren't doing all that much better in Iraq. This is extremely disturbing. I'm not shocked that militarism goes hand in hand with sexual assault, but I guess I'm more than a little surprised that with scandal after scandal, the American armed forces still haven't figured out how to deal with it.

Don't forget the other country we "liberated," Afghanistan.

For most women, life has not changed much since the ousting of the Taliban. While ostensibly there are increased opportunities: women can go to school, receive health care and gain employment, in reality few women can take advantage of these possibilities and they are largely restricted to Kabul. According to the many aid workers and Afghan women that I spoke to, women continue to be very fearful of the armed US-backed mujahideen who exert control over much of the country. Most women, even in Kabul, still wear the burqa (the head to toe garment that covers the whole body) as a protective measure against public humiliation and physical attack. The U.N and international human rights groups recently released reports detailing increased incidents of beatings, kidnappings and rape by U.S-funded regional warlords and their militia, stating: "local militia commanders…violate women's rights and commit sexual abuse with impunity". - Meena Nanji. Check out RAWA for more information.

If you are a woman, the 'thugs never gave a damn about you and they never will.


I am trying not to trash any of the Democratic candidates, because I think any of them would be better than what we've got. However, I must speak truth to power, as they say. Kerry voted for the Patriot Act, for No Child Left Behind, and authorized Bush to go to war when everyone and their mentally challenged little brother knew Bush was going to go to war. These laws were unpatriotic, inhumane, and corrupt. We must offer a real alternative to Bush. People who are in favor of these laws as they stand and as they have been implemented are not going to vote Democratic anyway. Democrats are not going to bother to go to the polls if there is little alternative to what's there. It's not enough to play it safe. Gore made that mistake in 2000 when he backed away from his fine ideals. We have to have a contender who will call these laws exactly what they are: unpatriotic, inhumane, and corrupt. Apply, rinse, repeat. Wash that Bush right out of your hair!


Sunday, January 25, 2004

So, I tuned in to "Blogging the President" on streaming radio from Minnesota NPR. Boy did it pretty much suck. Good thing I didn't listen to the first hour. When I tuned in at the top of the second hour, it was a snooze fest, and the usual: people who don't know about something talking about it and being embarrassingly wrong. I and other people wrote in beforehand and asked why they had no women scheduled to be on the show. They were such morons they mistook the question as "why aren't there women bloggers?" Urg. Then the answer was equally egregious. Oh, there are plenty of women bloggers in the social realm, as opposed to the political. Bleh.

I only tuned in at all to hear my man Atrios. He got about 5 minutes at the very end of the show, duking it out with Andrew Sullivan who apparently had a bone to pick from the beginning. Andy, you sounded like a jerk. Ya know, being anonymous is sometimes a noble thing. Who really wants to know about you personally, Andrew Sullivan? Most people just want to get the news. Just give me the doddamned news already!

They should have had women on there.


I haven't thought much about the digital divide, but I'm going to, since it's apparent that you can't get decent news from television or newspapers any longer. I remember Clinton promised everyone was going to have a computer hooked up to the internet in their home, and I guess that didn't get as far as everyone. I think it's going to be recognized as crucial to democracy in the next few years. Maybe a wired laptop in every home should be the right of every American citizen. Seriously, this is among the most important issues facing voters, in my opinion.


Who's more presidential? You be the judge.


I'm working on the new wealth article. Did you know that 25% of American families are worth absolutely nothing?


Friday, January 23, 2004

MaxSpeak urges all bloggers to holler. I'll start with a growl:


sometimes I worry i’ve been sucked
into the dawn’s early light

this world was made for guys I think
I must have some guy in me somewhere
not down there mother said Be Careful
you’ll be ruined down there. but I don’t think
I was ruined in that ft. sumter holiday inn

I wonder early evening the air
is bluegray and I was standing
on the flightline with all the other
khaki antifaggots and they
weren’t staring at me for once or
asking for my ID because you need a
special card to get near the warmachine
you might throw a pigeon into a
precious engine by accident.
well they’re yours, citizen,
except you need this special card to be
up close and personal-like or some
boffo ged’d superman will be kickin your
ass to the ground and putting an M16 to
your head even if you are a girl

probably especially if you are
they always drive by in the truck a load
of em to stare at the girl with hair in her eyes,
but she doesn’t want to take her sunglasses off
she remembers her earplugs too because
you’re in the airforce now and they fine you
if you don’t take care she makes
this mental check is everything screwed on?

sometimes I worry that the bombs
bursting caused my deafness

so i’m wondering what am i doing
in a south carolina motel with a minor
league ball player who explains his significance
but when he says ‘my trailer’ I figure he’s not
quite the big time yet and i’m thinking
if I don’t screw him does this mean i’m cold?

enveloped in warm dusk we stood each alone -
no one staring at any one, just a hundred
crescents in a hundred heads paused
to watch these beautiful gray birds unhinged
from their moorings and the crew chief salutes
as he gives the tires a last kick

it must be noisy outside these plugs -
great orange plumes, but it seems peaceful
as they roll down the runway and into the night.


Thursday, January 22, 2004

Well, it had to be done. Someone had to keep track of Novak. Ew, something smells.


Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I just read this off the wires, actually from Salon.com:

Congress may extend some tax cuts that are due to diminish at year's end, including new child tax credits and a bracket expansion that lowered taxes for wage earners. But lawmakers have concluded that making all of President Bush's tax cuts permanent will have to wait until after the fall election.

It looks like they're going to extend the middle class cuts, but not try to make the filthy rich tax cuts permanent this year. One day after the SOTU address. That's kind of a bitch slap if you ask me.

Something else from that article popped out at me:

Also darkening the prospects for this year's efforts to make all the tax cuts permanent are looming deficits projected to top $450 billion this year.

Analysts at the Tax Policy Center, a program run by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, estimate that legislation cementing the cuts into law would cost at least $1.7 trillion through 2014. That could reach $2 trillion if Congress prevents the alternative minimum tax, a parallel tax system to prevent wealthy individuals from avoiding taxes, from hitting more middle-class families.

‘‘I don't know what kind of mood Congress is in to do another tax cut, given the budget deficits," said Stephen Moore, president of the conservative Club for Growth.

BOGGLE. With that much money, we could all have health insurance AND a time share in Paradise Island.

Wow, the rethugs sound depressed. Be on the look out. The only thing that brings them out of it is stuff like pulling the crutches out from under a wounded soldier on welfare.


The State of the Union: Well, I still don't know the SOTU. Dick Cheney's sock puppet didn't tell me. Here's my summary of the speech, anyway:

We have testicles and we will win against terra.
See that light at the end of the tunnel? Jobs!
Okay, I just hallucinated that, right?
Shout out to Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schafly!
God bless America (testicles)

The end .


Miserable Failure is a real postmodern guy. He knows how to explain the war on terra.


Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Last night, Kerry was the big winner in the Iowa caucuses, with John Edwards a close second, and Howard Dean a somewhat distant third. I ended up caucusing for Dean, and we got one delegate in my precinct, to Kerry's 2 and Edwards' 3. I'll take any of these candidates before I'll take Bush. I was disappointed last night that Edwards was making such a strong showing, because he just reminds me of a bad old boyfriend. He's charming, attractive, and acts like you are the center of his universe. By the time you realize it's all about him, it's too late and you're in too deep.

But I woke up this morning and remembered what had attracted me to him in the first place: a strong message of hope, a strong message of taking back the country and making it work for us. People always talk about how nasty trial lawyers are, and they are sort of miserable people to know on a personal basis, especially if they're good. They are smug and self-absorbed, and basically only appreciate others for their abilities to fawn all over them. But I sure do like it when trial lawyers stick it to amoral corporations that will do anything for the bottom line: pollute our air, water, souls.

I was annoyed with Kerry because he fought pretty dirty last week, but then in the final week of his campaign, he straightened up his act. People appreciate his foreign policy expertise and his liberal views on social issues, and I agree with them. But I can't help but wonder what the hell Kerry was doing while Sauron was hurling us into war. I mean, it was obvious to me that an authorization was going to mean a near-immediate mobilization. It was like looking at my 4 year old deny he made a mess that I watched him make.

Where was Kerry when the president gave John Ashcroft the power to stomp all over civil rights? Where was Kerry when the president spent like a megalomaniac on crack with a credit card?

What I'm saying here is that Kerry was a leading democrat in the Senate and he should have been standing up for us in very public ways. I haven't heard him standing up for us since, well, since this week when he stopped sticking it to Howard Dean.

Clark is the unknown here. What I've read about him is positive, and it would be a hoot to see him go up against Sauron in a debate. I wonder if the chickenshit president wouldn't agree to debate. Which is worse for your numbers, debating poorly or not debating at all? It's probably the kind of decision defendants in criminal trials make with their lawyers.

I know a ton about criminal trials. I have been watching Law & Order all my life.


Monday, January 19, 2004

Now, here is your homework:

What did they know and when did they know it?. I guess it depends on when you asked.


Hey there, answer my survey question!

Are you a pervy democratic candidate fancier?

Thank you.


in the final hours, I have come face to face with some rather disappointing news. Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards have struck a deal to have their people caucus for one another if they don't have enough get a delegate. The way the caucuses work, if you didn't already know, is that everyone stands for their candidate, and if your group makes up less than 15% of the total at the caucus, you don't get any delegates for your candidate. You have to either move with another group or not be counted. So if Kucinich's group is less than 15%, then he is telling them to move over with Edwards' group. And the same thing would happen in reverse, according to the campaign worker I spoke with. The problem with this is that Edwards gets the most benefit from this, since he is in a dead heat with the other top candidates, and his group is likely to be the one that can use the Kucinich votes.

Even if there is a caucus in which the Edwards votes go to the Kucinich group, Edwards benefits, because they won't go to his more serious rivals. There's something crappy about the whole thing.

Wow, I was leaning toward Dean anyway, but I was sure counting on Dennis to be the conscience of the Democrats. I'm deeply deeply disappointed.


I'm wondering if it's going to be almost as busy here between now and November. Iowa is considered one of the swing states since Al Gore won it by such a small margin last time, so I predict the republican machine will be out in force. Therefore, the democrats are going to have to come back by here. Personally, I don't think Iowa is a close race anymore. I think the dems are going to win here big. Admittedly, I have been refusing to pay attention to Sauron's gathering forces during the democratic primaries.

Being an optimist is a dilemma. On the one hand, you want to look for and take the actions toward a hopeful direction. On the other, there is the danger that the energy it takes to find the right way will take away from the energy you need to be vigilant.

There is hope.
There is hope everywhere.
Today God gives milk
and I have the pail. -- Anne Sexton

More about hope later...


Sunday, January 18, 2004

Tonight, we had the pleasure of going to the Kucinich rally at A Dong (Vietnamese) Restaurant right near downtown. We actually went to the Kerry rally at the fairgrounds first, but there was such a crowd that they wouldn't let any more people in the building. There we were, all bundled up with no place to go! So I said I remembered Kucinich was rallying somewhere and I bet if we drive downtown we could find it. I think Edwards, Gephardt and Dean were all down there somewhere. Downtown Des Moines is usually dead after hours, but press from all over the place were there, and plenty of people on the streets, though not for long since it's 7 degrees out. We saw a guy with a big Gephardt sign riding on a Segway. Wow. All I could think of was Gob on Arrested Development. Very funny show, by the way.

So anyway, we went to see Dennis and the crowd was definitely more the crunchy variety: lots of very young, very old, and college professor looking types. I agree with Kucinich apparently 100% according to President Match. But, I don't see myself as a radical. What's so radical about wanting health care, education, jobs and peace for everyone? Is that too much to ask?

I'm glad we have Dennis to remind us of what we really really want.


Here's a short presidential history lesson. It's simple lessons like these that make me extremely optimistic about our chances of healing this country, especially around November.


Friday, January 16, 2004

Carville's negative comments about Howard Dean are exemplary of another issue facing Democrats this election year: balancing support for a person with support for a party and the vision of that party. We all want a candidate we can get behind, one who is competent in both hard and soft areas. I can get behind several of these candidates; so many are good and they're not all the same. In the short run, we need someone who can take a leadership role in repairing the damage that most Democrats believe has been done in the last 4 years, in the face of what is sure to be a belligerent, oppositional congress. We need to get past our loyalties to individuals and individual approaches that seemed to work in a particular context, and remember (and recreate, if that's what's needed) our vision. For the long run, we need to develop a strategic plan for achieving that vision. We need to get past short term views, to the longer picture. This leader needs to govern as if he's simply one part of the river of human history, not as if it's his turn to shine and get what's due him.

I'm perplexed about the DNC right now. I want to give them money so they can give strategic assistance in congressional races. At the same time, I'm annoyed that they allowed the Dean bashing to go on for as long as it did, and to seem to come from the DNC itself. They need to unite us, not for the sake of the Clintons or their particular way of doing business, but for all of us, given current conditions and in light of a longer vision for the U.S. and the world.

In the coming weeks, I'm going to give via Atrios.


Thursday, January 15, 2004

Now, we're hearing that the four front-runners -- Dean, Kerry, Gephardt, and Edwards -- are in dead heat. I know it's just a lot of hype in order to build suspense, but what does that mean if it's true? I think it means that it's ALL GOOD. Any one of these guys would be okay with me, and surely can beat GWB.

Maybe Kerry will win the nomination and his wife will pull out her check book, and GWB will just go home to Crawford, tail between his legs. I don't exactly like when candidates win just because they happen to be able to afford a run, but it would be a sweet irony.


Every time the "press" unfairly trashes Dean, they inadvertently reveal something decent about him. Yesterday, it was the non-starter about how he wrote a letter of support to the court in support of a long-time employee who was getting a divorce. It turned out this employee had been an abusive husband, but it was pretty clear that Dean didn't know that. So all the media managed to demonstrate was that Dean is a nice boss who sometimes goes to bat for his employees.

Today, Maureen Dowd tries to trash Dean's marriage. Granted, she spends her first paragraph making fun of the idiot president's plan to fund pre-marital counseling. But it's just a lauch pad to go after the Deans, since Judy Steinberg has the gall not to accompany her husband all over the damn place, nor does she even dress very well. Instead, she *gasp* stays home with the kids and continues to work in her own medical practice. But doesn't Dean's marriage look a lot like many contemporary marriages? Most families have two earners, and most women are allowed to have their own interests, last I heard. Dowd mentions how John Edwards' wife gazes adoringly at him from the front row at a bunch of his events in Iowa. At the event I attended, they brought her up to the podium and she looked like a squirrel in the headlights. Who's with their kids, while they're schlepping around Iowa? It's obvious to me that it can't be too much fun for a shy person who isn't the one everyone's rallying around. Incidentally, Elizabeth has her own creds: she is an attorney and a literacy activist.

Anyway, it's not a cause for unique celebration when both partners in a marriage support each other in following their public ambitions. For me, it's a basic indication of the character of the two people involved. Dean, on the surface, seems a lot like the men I care to know, and that's all right with me.


Wednesday, January 14, 2004

"Them hos cain't stop a-hoin'!"

- at Atrios' blog, somebody named Vokr wrote this about the media's compulsions. I thought it was funny.


It occurred to me on the way to work this morning that George Bush IS a uniter, not a divider.

After all, he's uniting the rest of us around visions of transformation and plans for peace, democracy, and prosperity. That is a good thing.


I probably won't choose my candidate 'til I get to the church where my precinct's caucus is being held.

I have been annoyed with the Democratic insiders who seemingly bend over every time the Republicans say, "Assume the position!" But I have learned something from Dick Gephardt through his campaign. It's pretty damn hard to get anything through congress these days that would have any benefit for a lot of Americans. Caucusing for Gephardt is caucusing for someone who has been fighting for regular people all his life. At the same time, what I have learned from Gephardt has caused me to have a great admiration for Howard Dean. His campaign machine is such a hopeful sign: It really is built from the ground up, with the regular folks like you and me having as much of a hand in as we want to have. In the face of a press onslaught, we have only grown stronger. Dean will meet with you, look you in the eye, and tell you what you need to hear. Caucusing for Dean is taking back the airwaves, taking back the truth, and a start at taking back our country, I think.

This morning there were two very important letters to the editor of the Des Moines Register. One was from Dennis Kucinich, asking us to caucus for him, and caucus against the war in Iraq. Caucusing for Kucinich is caucusing for sanity! The other letter was from Gary Hart, in support of John Kerry, describing his extensive experience and expertise regarding national security. Caucusing for Kerry is caucusing for someone who has worked for peace and justice all his life, and who has the skills to get us out of the mess we're in.

Edwards, as I've written before, is smart and knows what it's like to be a regular American. He knows what we face every day, he understands how healthy families and peace and economic prosperity are all tied together, and has articulated some very good policies. His campaign is always positive, and makes me feel like we are going to get out of this mess! Caucusing for Edwards is caucusing for hope.

The others haven't been here as much, but I admire them for conducting their campaigns as well as they have. Sharpton, to some extent, has redeemed himself by making sure that the most important domestic issue - race - has a prominent role in the elections. Carol Mosely-Braun is an incredible woman. She is smart, articulate, and gives me hope that someday a woman will indeed be president. Clark made a choice not to campaign here, and I understand why he did it. I have been trying to learn something about him through the press. I think he's got a lot of good ideas, he has a good understanding of war and peace, and he has really considered women's rights.

I've never been a big fan of Joe Lieberman, but he's taken a progressive stance on some important domestic issues in the past. I'm sorry for him, to be honest. He's made a bargain with the devil. He's not only going to lose the Democratic nomination; he's going to be irrelevant to public life sooner than the radical right. He's anathema to most Democrats, and of course the republicans don't really want him.

On January 19th, I am faced with the dilemma of choosing among a number of candidates that I have grown to like, trust, and admire. That is a very good sign, I think.

I wish everyone in the country were able to experience democracy the way Iowans do.


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

"I mean, George Bush is not Hitler. He would be if he fucking applied himself." - Margaret Cho

Okay, that's funny.


I went out to see CNN's Judy Woodruff, Tucker Carlson, and Paul Begala do their shows live on location. I had this fantasy that I would be able to say the following: "It's a privilege to live in Iowa because we get to see all the candidates up close and personal. They are smarter, saner, better looking and better dressed in person than they are once you get done with them. I came out today to see if you were smarter than you seem on TV." No Dice. They hardly paid attention to the crowd, and used their friggin bus as a backdrop, rather than the campanile or some other neat looking campus thing. Since they lie about every other damn thing, they coulda parked the bus out in back of the studio and said they were live on location. I don't even think they had a local guest.

They did have Joe Trippi. He was great.

I had a little chat with Tucker Carlson, on the side. I told him I was a teacher, and he said his wife had an education degree. "Oh, does she teach now?" "Oh no, we have four children." "We have two." "So you know what I mean." Not really, Tucker. I'm a working stiff who is getting reamed by your president.

I overheard Tucker say he likes Dean. Now, I don't know what the context was. It coulda been, "For an angry nasty horrible little cunt, I like Howard Dean." But let's say it was that he genuinely had some positive thoughts about Dean. So when he asked the inane question of Joe Trippi, "What did Howard Dean mean about there being more Hispanics in combat if we give them citizenship," and Joe looked at Tucker with a mixture of compassion and irritation for the mentally challenged and said, "Come on, Tucker," I wondered if maybe it's all a jester act. Tucker and the rest really aren't hooers (I don't know why, but I think "whores" sounds better that way), but rather an intentional clown act, so people like Trippi (who rocks as a campaign manager, by the way) can get a chance to repeat their perfectly simple argument.

That's what I mean by optimistic observation.


Vilsack for President!

Okay, not really, at least not this year. But boy, his "Condition of the State" speech was wonderful. He paid a whole lot of attention to education, which just validates my point that Iowans really do pride themselves on their education.

He said a budget based on current revenues is just not going to cut it for our schools. I liked how he acknowledged the current conditions for what they are: "a struggling economy, a jobless recovery, and zealous federal tax cutting." Thank you for not tiptoeing around the elephant in the room. He's calling for some restructuring of taxes, to include higher taxes on some things and lower taxes on others. In particular, he discussed extending sales tax to services, and eventually lowering sales tax overall. I think it makes sense to do this, since we don't buy stuff anymore. Also, alot of those services are for rich people. The only worry I have is that service providers might get stiffed. Also, some service providers can't afford to be stiffed. I'll wait for the details, but I hope he doesn't have childcare in mind. It's already quite a bite out of most family budgets, and still the providers are barely making it.

Keep a good thought, and hope the idjits in the state legislature take him just a little bit seriously.


CNN will bring its "Inside Politics" and "Crossfire" programs live to Iowa State on Tuesday, Jan. 13, prior to the Iowa Caucuses.

The shows will air from Union Drive on the Iowa State campus, just north of the Memorial Union and south of central campus. The 40-foot CNN Election Express bus and the Iowa State campanile will serve as a backdrop for the outdoor broadcast.

"Inside Politics" with Judy Woodruff will air at 2:30 p.m. central time, and "Crossfire" will follow at 3:30 p.m.

I've been following these media clowns along with Atrios, Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler, and of course, The Horse. I think I will mosey on over and take a look at em up close and personal. Don't blame me if Bob Novak falls in the pond.

It's been pretty amusing to watch the "press" blabber about the cold Iowa weather. They would like to point out for you how adventurous they are, coming to Iowa in the dead of winter and braving the prairie winds, wild beasts and whatnot. Yes, Iowa can be devastatingly cold in the winter. But, perhaps thanks to the global warming this administration doesn't want to know about, the last week or so has been downright mild: 40s and sunny during the day.

Here's the recipe for "press" behavior in Iowa. First, cover the caucuses half to death. Then, when you run out of insults, insinuations, or you just can't think of one more way to spin something decent and democratic into something vaguely malevolent...Or you run out of yokels, jokers, and ignoramuses to interview, and you can't think of anything more condescending to write about the homespun, cornpone, unsophisticated outback that is Iowa...Then, start talking about how brave you are in the face of ice cold tundra conditions to have uncovered all this fascinating information about how stupid, yet quaint Iowans must be.

On the bright side: 1) It's going to be pretty entertaining watching Bob Novak heave his old self up out of that pond, 2) Iowan democrats are extremely excited about the upcoming caucuses. It's the most fun I've ever had since, well four years ago. 3) I believe it's always darkest before the dawn. If Frodo and the gang can do it, so can we.


On January 11, I went to see John Edwards over at the Adventureland Inn Restaurant in Altoona (near Des Moines). The crowd was much bigger than anyone expected, standing room only, lots of enthusiasm. People came from miles around to hear him. I've always had a soft spot for Edwards because he really knows how to talk about the issues. He comes across as very smart and at the same time, able to communicate in an understandable way. And yes, he's very handsome.

Edwards really does seem to care about all of us. He's run a positive campaign, and one that makes a person who is feeling kinda hopeless feel like there's something to be hopeful about. A lot of Iowans have lost jobs or have for the last few years had to work in conditions where they are constantly in fear of losing their jobs. This is a first for a lot of middle class people here, who have managed to continue their long stable career, modest 3 br home lifestyles for longer than the rest of the country. Edwards definitely makes you feel like we can get security (financial and otherwise) back in this country. He's not quite as specific as Dean on some of the issues, but he does have some specific policy ideas, and he gives the impression he might have an easier time getting republicans to compromise than Dean would. At least in the back of my mind, and I'm guessing this is the case with other Dems, I am still struggling to understand why Clinton had such little cooperation, considering his conservative policies and his general likeability. So I want someone who is also going to be able to work with a difficult congress. I'm worried that if Dean wins, he won't be able to do anything unless he carries the congress along with him, and I don't see that happening right away.

Many Iowans also vote across the aisle; politics are still pretty local here. Edwards is appealing to republicans and democrats alike, and I think he is going to be the surprise 2nd here. His campaign strategy in Iowa, at least, has been smart. He's working on the rural areas a lot, which is where many of the more conservative voters are. When you caucus for a candidate, it's not the special interests who run the show in the rural areas. It's the people who are most enthusiastic about their candidate. If one couple shows up all pumped up for Edwards, and everyone else is somewhat undecided, they can be convinced to join the Edwards group. Then all the delegates from that caucus go to Edwards.

I have spoken with about 10-15 strangers at these events just to get a sense of what people are thinking. First, more people are going to turn out for the caucuses than usual; excitement is up. Second, I don't think the winner is yet decided, even though Dean is having a strong showing in the polls. I think anything could happen here on the 19th. Third, I think the democratic candidate is going to win by a much bigger margin than last time here in the general election. I think you can take Iowa off your list of swing states, but then again, my thoughts are coming before Bush's campaign really takes off.


Last week, I went to see Howard Dean over at the Best Western here in my little town outside Des Moines. It's pretty neat to be able to drive 2 miles, get a place to park very easily, and wander in and sit 6 feet away from the possible future president of the United States.

I hadn't really listened to Dean talk before, just read articles about him and debate transcripts. Debates have not until recently been very good for me to get a sense of what the candidates are about. So, this was new. And Dean has a way of talking that is very appealing. He gets into more detail than other candidates. He tells you he's not going to b.s. you, and then he really doesn't seem to do it. He doesn't try to dumb down his doctor talk either. I know that some of the spin has been about him being an arrogant doctor, etc. He doesn't try to hide being a doctor, and I think that is a good call. When I heard him talk, it was right after the mad cow story broke, which has direct effects on the Iowa economy. And he talked about it like someone who knew what he was talking about.

He also hit on an issue that is very important in Iowa - education. Whether true or not, the people in the state pride themselves on having among the best public school systems in the country. Here, more than anywhere else in the U.S. I've ever seen, people are involved in their local schools; the school and church are the centers of social life in many towns across Iowa. Underfunded NCLB is definitely having an immediate negative effect on our schools, at least in the perceptions of Iowans. So Dean talked about this for a while, which is something Iowans like to talk about.

Another issue, while I'm thinking of it, is that outsiders don't understand that Iowans do watch T.V. and do have an assessment of the rest of the country. So comparing Iowan schools (good, in our thinking) to Texas schools (terrible, in our thinking) is a good strategy for reaching Iowans. A stupid ad that shows two ignoramuses saying Howard Dean ought to take his latte drinking Hollywood loving sorry ass back to Vermont is not going to play well in Iowa. We KNOW that Vermont is a farm state, even if we don't like volvo driving latte drinking elitists. edit: Also, Iowans would never say something like that. Iowans are extremely non-confrontational.

Anyway, Dean made a solid impression on the people who came to hear him, who really don't want to be fooled. I personally would vote for him in a general election, but I'm not extremely passionate about him. He made a very good impression on my husband, who was a Kerry man until he saw Dean.


Sunday, January 11, 2004

Whoring. It's not cool when everyone does it.


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