Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Holiday wishes: There's been little chance to hit the blogosphere lately, for all of us it seems, but I wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and hope your holidays are less hectic and confusing than expected and more fun and filled with good memories than you could reasonably hope for. Sometimes it seems like we just want to survive the next 6 weeks intact and somehow solvent, but this year I'd like to make a commitment to thinking more of those less fortunate than of the societal urge to spend and consume.

I'm put in this frame of mind this season by bad news about a good friend, and at the risk of driving away any readers who still visit us for rants, complaints, and humor in questionable taste, I'd like to share it.

Katie Kuslak Rader, a great friend of mine from the University of Dayton, was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple years ago, and after a period of remission it recurred, having spread to other, more vital parts of her anatomy. The prognosis has not been good for quite some time, but I've recently heard that the word "terminal" is coming up with more frequency now.

I understand that cancer patients, as well as those with other terminal diseases, are told that a positive attitude is their greatest weapon in fighting their ailment, and if this is true then Katie has not been "outgunned" in this fight, just outfoxed I guess. She truly has been the bravest, most positive, radiant person you can imagine. On the occasions that I get an update on her condition I'm astounded that someone can have such a selfless attitude in that state. One or two dry paragraphs about her condition is followed by a page of stories about her two young girls and the joy they bring to her and her husband, Donnie. They visit family and friends, when she's able, and are planning a trip to Disneyworld (paid for by friends and family) and try to live each day to the fullest. Katie insists on a "no pity" policy from everyone who she comes into contact with, and is loathe to accept charity from anyone, even though they are under enormous strain from the medical expenses. We've probably all known someone who's been in this scenario. I've had three other good friends go through cancer and survive, and though the hardship and fear was considerable in each case, it never got this bad for them. This time I'm truly afraid things will not end well.

Everybody has their pet causes, issues, and charities, and I find it a little rude to push one's own on others, be it in conversation, through massive chain emails, or in posts on insignificant little weblogs, so bear in mind that I understand that you all are most certainly kind, generous, thoughtful, and charitable people who don't need to be alerted to every story or crisis as if it's new or somehow more important than another. However, if you're feeling particularly generous this year, or you have been looking for another way to give of yourself, or if the CEO of your current pet charity was recently found to be spending his/her six figure salary on booze and coke filled orgies and you've sworn off giving them another dime, I'll simply mention some options you might consider.

You can drop a check to: The Rader Fund First Merit Bank 1105 South Court St. Medina, Oh 44256

You might consider supporting The Fairy Godmother Foundation, an organization similar to the Make A Wish Foundation, but for adults, mostly women suffering from breast cancer.

A donation to the American Cancer Society or any other organization with a similar commitment would be a fine and generous thing as well.

Or just think a little more this year about someone in a difficult condition and maybe do something kind for them. If when you do it you manage to think for a moment about Katie, I'll be personally very thankful. Again, I know everyone has their limits and I know neither this story nor this request is unique. If you manage anything on Katie's behalf, know you did it for someone that you'd certainly love and admire as much as I do.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow, everyone. Hope I'll be around a little more in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

War is heck: By now we're already up to our hips in the fallout from ABC's decision to promote "Desperate Housewives" by way of T.O. and Monday Night Football. You know what? Fine. I don't particularly want to see Nicollete Sheridan during a football game, but it was mildly amusing, and at worst, highly suggestive.

What I'm more concerned about is 66 ABC affliiates refusing to show "Saving Private Ryan" b/c of the fear of the FCC cracking down because this war movie, *gasp* has swear words in it. The fundamentalist groups are swarming, screaming over this travesty. First of all, who is this going to offend? It's a three-hour movie about anyone letting their 5 year old kids watch this with the understanding that Barney will be appearing doing a silly dance? Are people going to get a half-hour in and then realize that Lawrence Welk is not in fact on this channel, and what's with all the potty-mouth?

I'd be much more understanding and supportive of this objection if the church-goers were complaining that this movie somehow promotes or glorifies war - which you know, can be kind of horrible. But no, it's that a realistic movie would dare show soldiers, who are getting shot at, letting loose with a few f-bombs. Our country is going down the drain with this holier-than-thou censorship. It's the band-aid on the sucking chest wound that is the real downfall of our society: poverty, disease, crime, "The View". It's only b/c it's easy that this issue gets so much attention. You don't find nearly the amount of energy put into churches and foundations solving local problems like homelessness or drug abuse. Nope, just keep hollering at them Hollywood types - that will save us all.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Whiplash: TNR, which ignored or dismissed Kerry through much of the early primaries, only to get into a comfortable fellating position after he rebounded to win the nomination, has quickly distanced itself from the candidate. Editor Marty Peretz says . . . aw, screw it. You gotta read the whole thing. It is filled with backbiting ("Kerry (assisted by genius advisers like Bob Shrum and John Sasso) underperformed"), insults ("The only person I've known who really [personally likes Kerry] is David Thorne, the brother of his first wife and his classmate at Yale."), and instances of "just as I thought" and "as I expected" language ("Still, in the end, the nomination fell to Kerry, who, as I expected all along, duly lost the election to George W. Bush").

As they push Kerry away with both hands, TNR's editors should remember that they whored for Kerry these past six months, often nearly reduced to the level of calling Bush an ugly baby who was a burden to his mother. (And this is the magazine that endorsed Joe Lieberman, for chrissake! Only an idiot ever thought that, between Kerry and Bush, Kerry was the nearest to Lieberman's positions. I wouldn't be surprised if Rabbi Joe himself, all alone with Yahweh in the voting booth, pulled the lever for Dubya.) If I hadn't canceled my TNR subscription when they did their 180 on Kerry, I would have canceled it upon seeing them complete the 360. This kind of memory hole politics, with the I-told-you-so attitude, illustrates everything that is wrong with your party. Grow the f*ck up.

Rant: Just finished Jim Miller's Flowers in the Dustbin, which claims to chronicle the "rise of Rock and Roll, 1947-1977." I think rock had risen by then, though. Miller suffers from the usual, terminal case of criticitis: Anything commercial is E-V-I-L. He even slags Springsteen (in an idiotic essay) for hyping himself, with the help of rock journalist turned manager Jon Landau. How crass, how commercial, sniffs Miller. Of course, Bruce followed up his hype with two bleedingly authentic, decidedly non-commercial albums.

Miller's other disease is baby-boomeritis, based in that generation's pathological need to claim that everything that was real or authentic or unsullied happened in their day; that, briefly, they came upon this boring world, delivering unto us Elvis, civil rights, the Beatles, and the revolutionary notion that peace is, often, better than war. (Whence the popularity of the whole Fabian/Annette Funicello/How Much Is That Doggie in the Window vibe? A mystery, apparently.) I mean, thank god they came along to take us out of the dark ages, pushing aside their racist/fascist/Amerikkka parents who probably each worked four jobs to buy their kids the navel-gazing time it requires to be this self-righteous. (Cf. a modern version at Razor's link to the "F*ck the South" guy.)

More bitches: Miller cribs a whole lot from liner notes, vainly hoping, I guess, that nobody reads them. His essay on Sun Records and Elvis borrows heavily from the liner notes to The Sun Sessions, just as his essay on Marvin Gaye's What's Going On doesn't reach too far beyond what can be gleaned from the liner of the anniversary CD issue. Meanwhile, Miller harshes the Crew Cuts for their gentle, novelty-style cover of the Chords' "Sh-Boom" seemingly for no other reason than to prove that he's down with the original (and black) artist. Says Miller, "the Crew-cuts [sic] had no sense of rhythm." That's obviously untrue, since what makes their version so white is its inflexibility with the beat, seemingly sung by a military marching band. Look, the Chords were a better, more talented group (though they weren't Jesus, okay?), but Miller is simply reaching for totems to prove his own authenticity -- something he blows completely by repeatedly referring to Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" as "Ain't It a Shame." His observations on the Beatles and Stones are banalities, squared: "[John] Lennon . . . was deeply ambivalent about fame." Did he get that from reading Lennon's lyrics to Bowie's "Fame"? Or "Their Satanic Majesties Request had been a pale imitation of Sgt. Pepper." Hmmm. Ever see Spinal Tap? Check out the video for "Listen to the Flower People" or the oldies radio spinning of "Cups and Cakes"; this isn't exactly groundbreaking criticism.

Selecting a moment to capture reggae, Miller picks Jimmy Cliff's appearance in The Harder They Come, while all but admitting that Cliff was a ringer, a professional R&B singer, and not nearly as influential as Marley would be just a few years later. The only reason to point this out is to point out the nexus of commercial and artistic interests. But if Marley really was more pure, and more influential to boot, what exactly is the point?

The only point at which Miller really impresses me is in his view of Jim Morrison: one "would be hard-pressed to describe Morrison as anything other than a monumental jerk." Again, not exactly a new insight, but at least he's not part of the breathy club of critics that rates Morrison just below Dylan as rock's literary "real thing."

I guess you can't ask for much more from a gummy socialist who has the nerve to laugh at "solemn academic treatises on how the heavy metal played by rock bands like Iron Maiden and Megadeath 'articulates the anxieties and didcontinuities of the postmodern world'" while teaching at the New School for Social Research (an institution that seems to have taken as its goal the employment of every washed-up Marxist and tame radical that happens to spout some, ahem, postmodern idea that praises their own ideals while excusing their enormous faults) and writing books about Foucault and calling himself an "intellectual historian," a meaningless and idiotic term that implies that most historians just keep track of the dates and place names that caused folks like Miller to fail their undergrad history courses.

I hate to pound on this shit so hard, since his essay on the Sex Pistols is not bad (for once, he blurs the line between authenticity and commercialism, though he appears to scare himself, and he retreats), and his unblinking overview of the payola scandal (particularly the way Dick Clark dodged several bullets that brought down Alan Freed) is one of the better short pieces I've read on the subject. But 99% of it is bullshit.

Seen Downtown Today: A guy with the usual piece of tattered cardboard, the kind that usually says "Will work for food." His said "Why lie? I need a beer."

A cop was in the midst of asking him to move it along when I drove by. Funny, they never roust the smelly, offensive, aggressive bastards who ply the pavement along Main Street -- because, I suppose, those panhandlers have the sense to lie.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Nuclear power to go: Reserachers at Lawrence Livermore and other national laboratories are working on a portable, lightweight, nuclear reactor that can help take safe, efficient power production to third world countries and other isolated areas with all sorts of benefits over building nuclear infrastructure on sight. It's called SSTAR, or a small, sealed, transportable, autonomous reactor.
The SSTAR design will accomplish DOE’s goals by allowing the U.S. to provide a tamper-resistant reactor to a nonnuclear state while still safeguarding the nation’s sensitive nuclear technology. SSTAR will also secure the nuclear fuel because, after its operation, the sealed reactor will be returned to a secure recycling facility for refueling or maintenance.
Designed to be deployable anywhere in the world, SSTAR may also meet a national need. In the U.S., the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) oversees more than 100 nuclear power plants that were built during the 1960s and 1970s. SSTAR would provide a secure and cost-effective system to replace older nuclear reactors as well as aging fossil-fuel plants, particularly in an isolated location.

This stuff is certainly beyond me technologically speaking, but I found it interesting in light of the ongoing debate over alternative energy needs. I don't know for certain (wish I did, though) what the future for fossil fuels is and when it will hit a wall, or what will replace it. Wind, solar, hydrogen, nuclear? Probably some combination of all of those and others. But I'm always amazed by our ability to design and build things that seem inconceivable to previous generations. It's why I'm confident that, though there will be bumps along the way, the eventual transition away from a petroleum dominated energy market will be viewed as relatively seamless some hundred years hence.

Via Casey Research's What We Now Know.

I mean, it's vitriolic and mostly illogical: But if you'll allow this Kerry supporter one last moment before he shuts up about the election, then this is pretty funny.
Talk about useless info: Just what you've always wanted, a searchable, sortable database of all salaries and payrolls for NFL teams and individual players for the years 2000-2003.

For instance you might like to know that Teyo Johnson, a TE for the Raiders in 2003, "only" made $225k in base salary that year. Ahhh, but did you know that his signing bonus counted for an additional $1,231,131 that year bringing his total compensation to $1,456,131? However, his cap value that year was only $430,188.

Then when you run a comparison to the other tight ends for that year, you see that while his total compensation was in the upper third, his cap value or "hit" was in the bottom third. And still the Raiders couldn't leverage this cap wizardry into a successful year, post- SuperBowl. This is need-to-know stuff people!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Red vs. Blue - Redux: One of my more liberal friends sent me this link which re-draws our country's map to account not for geographic size, but population size. Many of we whining Dems have complained that while the Reds seems to account for the vast, vast majority of the states (and counties), this is only in geographic scope (i.e. Rhode Island is twice as big as Wyoming, population-wise). So, the above link is supposed to make us feel better.

It actually makes me feel worse, b/c no matter which way you contort things, the Dems lost, and if you use the squished map, you see that the Blues had every chance of pulling this thing out.

Moving on: I saw an especially odd piece on "Today" this morning as I was getting dressed, which highlighted the quid-pro-quo the Religious Right are going to demand from Bushie (i.e. only pro-life judges, more money for religious charities, etc.). The Today show tried to spin it by re-playing W's press conference after the count was over when he speaks much more about social security and bridging the gap between the parties, as opposed to any "moral" agenda. The voiceover posits that it is far from assured that he will be bowing down to the Baptists, et al.

Ha! People, this is called lip service. W is going to do his damndest to reward his friends and supporters, and there's really no reason why he shouldn't. A leopard doesn't change his spots. Get over it and move on with your sad, pathetic lives.
Sh* fan: The despot is dead, long live the next despot! Now, aside from his death being part of the Zionist plot, what else do you think results from this event?

Number one will be to find the either couple million or several hundred million dollars that Arafat has squirreled away. His wife has apparently been getting by on a $100,000/mo, but there is no indication that she has the keys to the vault (or the numbers to the Swiss accounts) - although the French are investigating large-sum transfers that took place in 2002 and 2003. More likely though that money was just laundered through her accounts and ended up in the hands of Hamas et al.

The more interesting issue revolves around that age-old question: Is this good or bad for the Jews? Surely his death brings some rejoicing, but there's another age-old maxim that applies: The devil you know is better than the devil you don't. It would seem clear that the power vacuum will create a rather ugly struggle...seeing as how Arafat refused to ever nominate a number 2, and each attempt at a Prime Minister was an effort in futility. His rule was a cult of personality, and we all now how much those narcissists like to view their own mortality. I'm sure he imagined great wailing in the streets, and impassioned speeches from mullahs, rejoicing at his greatness. On the other hand, I can't imagine he wouldn't have forseen the battle for the power and money. The fact that he did nothing to prepare for this may turn out to be the greatest of his many disservices to his people.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Will torts be first?: BusinessWeek has an article in its Nov. 15 issue (reg. req.) that says it might be.
Now Corporate America is gearing up to win three big prizes: caps on medical malpractice damages, which business believes will lower health-care costs; a move to make class actions less expensive to defend; and a business-funded global settlement to compensate workers and others harmed by asbestos. "With the renewed focus of the Bush Administration, we could have a lot of success," says Sherman Joyce, president of American Tort Reform Assn.

Reformers are so optimistic that they hope to wrap up a measure on class actions before Inauguration Day. The legislation, long stalled in the Senate, would move many multi-state class actions to federal courts, making them easier for business to defend. Supporters had enough Democratic votes to break a filibuster earlier this year, but business -- and the GOP leadership -- dropped the ball. Now they think they can tack the measure on to an omnibus spending bill during November's lame-duck session of Congress.

It would be nice to see Bush move on a campaign promise and it would be sound policy. But best of all it might put John Edwards out of his fallback job.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

More Reality: Flyer, the economic view from IBD is generally sound (though don't discount the possibility that Bush could fight a second recession though spending -- hell, he's spending enough during the recovery). I'm more bullish for the short-medium term. Bush's re-election quells a number of regulatory fears; his economic policy (see Steltzer in Nov. 8th Weekly Standard) is on balance about as good as one could hope for from a president going into a tough re-election fight; and stocks were all up on the news of his victory last week. Unless the bottom drops out of real estate (or, god forbid, there's another terrorist attack of 9/11 magnitude or worse) we're in pretty good shape going (as the candidates would say) forward.

Beyond that, I think the GOP bench is deeper than anyone suspects for 2008. Jeb Bush is out. Even Giuliani will likely be passed over (or, more likely, he will take a pass). Condi Rice is a total long shot. Bill Frist is an unlikely choice; 2004 has reinforced the Senate curse. Look for Bill Owens or Mitt Romney as the odds on favorites, particularly Mitt. A Republican who can win in Massachusetts without being a Bill Weld clone is a guy with serious f*cking chops.

On the Dem side, as I noted, the Senate curse rides on. Look for this to dampen Hillary's chances. Obama, as you mention, is another story, a likely VP candidate for sure. As I've written in the past, I don't think the Dems can keep a minority off the ticket again. Blacks have become such an important part of the party base (cf. Man Without Qualities, here), and holding Hispanics and women has become so difficult, that the Dems need a stunt (no slight to Obama, who seems like a smart and gifted, though wrong on the issues, politician) to keep the masses on the reservation. That alone might pressure a "Draft Condi" movement, or a feeling that Ohio SecState Ken Blackwell handled his 15 minutes in '04 rather, er, well . . . better than Katherine Harris, and she got elected to Congress in '02. Who knows? We might see a sudden minority-on-the-ticket arms race.

Reality bites: Investor's Insight analyst John Mauldin has some thoughts on the economic and political future, and a big warning to Karl Rove and George W. Bush.
Bush did the right thing for the economy during the last recession. He lowered
taxes again and again. Luckily, the Fed had plenty of ammunition to fight the
recession, aggressively lowering interest rates and avoiding deflation. The
consumers helped by refinancing against their home values, resulting in the very
positive twin combination of lower mortgage payments and cash-out borrowing,
allowing them to spend more than they made. Even in the face of 9-11 and massive
debt and trade imbalances, the combination of such massive stimulus helped
engineer a very shallow recession. The problem is that we will not have these
recession fighting tools when we enter the next recession. Interest rates will
likely be no more than 3%. Even cutting rates to zero will not be much stimulus,
as the last 1% is mostly psychological. If a deal can't get done with interest
rates at 1%, it is unlikely to get done at 0%. As much as I would like, there
are no more tax cuts available which would provide any significant stimulus.
Mortgage rates would have to drop to 4.5% or lower to allow home owners to
re-finance and lower their costs. However, such low rates would indicate that we
would already be in a much worse recession than last time.

He's quite bearish on the short term economic future (next two or three years) and pushes for some serious reform during the next term. Social Security, tax reform (he's a proponent of a national sales tax), tort reform, and serious free trade zone increases. Amen.

He also, interestingly, thinks that Hillary might be the least of Republican's
problems in 2008.Bill King, the bond god over at Pimco, says we will have to
deal with Hillary in 2008. We should be so lucky. My bet is the Dems find
another Clinton clone without the blue dress and negative history. Someone who
can feel their pain and articulate their angst. Even though demographics and the
conservative tide are on our side, from time to time that tide goes out. While
we have a better and deeper bench for potential presidential candidates than the
Dems (Giuliani, McCain, Frist, Ridge, Condie Rice (!), among others), they only
need one person. Couple him (or her) with Barack Obama as VP, and their ticket
is formidable coming off a recession.

I don't know if I'm more disheartened by his warning of another Bill Clinton or by his list of the Republican bench warmers (please don't make me listen to Tom *$%!$#! Ridge campaign for two years!), but I would be more fearful of a non-New England Democratic governor (Bill Richardson, my own Mike Easley) with Obama (think he'll tell everyone in Boston he's Irish, but his granfather misplaced the apostrophe?) to play the left-wing heavyweight. The best strategy Republicans have is to take the next two years, cancel all Killington and Aspen ski trips, and play serious hardball. It's time to get to work.

Incidentally, I get Mauldin's newsletter every week, and while his writing style tends to annoy, his analysis is usually exceptional. He's been right on about the current recovery, it's timing as well as its depth and breadth, for a couple years and has been warning of a 2005/2006 recession for at least a few months.

Friday, November 05, 2004

"Get a grip": Bob Barr has a great piece out (I believe it's in the Washington Times, but this link is to his own site) about fear as a problem in America, specifically over the flu, but generally about fearmongering by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Some good lines:
The CDC formed its own special ethics panel to weigh the moral questions about
who gets vaccinated. (We need ethics in government, Lord knows, but a panel of
ethicists to decide who gets a flu shot? Come on, folks, get a grip.)


If every American followed the basic life lessons learned in kindergarten, the
CDC wouldn't have to go to red alert every time something like this happens.

I'm afraid (ha ha) he might be right.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Great Line: Viking Pundit identifies the five words that sank the Kerry candidacy. Go read it; you'll wish you thought of it.
Another Question: Can we count on Air America to, er, move on now?

(By the way, check out Air America's lead story, slugged "Kerry Concedes, The Nightmare Continues." I am very nearly sexually aroused by schadenfreude this rich.)

How Do You Really Feel? Robert Corr pulled this from CNN/Netscape (before they renamed the image "georgelaura135.jpg).

Of course the media leans to the right. A real lefty wouldn't have left off the "major league."

(Via Timmy.)

Another "Think" Piece: Another example of a journalist searching, desperately, for a way to crap on Bush's victory.
With President Bush winning the first popular-vote majority in 16 years over Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, but adding almost no new states to his column since 2000, the 2004 election has revealed a political landscape that remains deeply, and almost immovably, divided - but one in which Republicans now seem to hold a clear upper hand.
Read it one more time. Now how does it possibly make sense? Bush won a majority, the first since his dad's. Yet "the divide is deepening." The GOP added House seats and Senate seats while seeing an incumbent president re-elected, for the first time in history. And yet we are "almost immovably" divided. Bush took a decisive electoral college win, adding New Mexico and Iowa, and leaving Kerry with only four states outside of the coastal enclaves of liberalism. And yet, and yet.

Seems to me that what the author, Liz Marlantes, is really concerned about is a GOP victory of this magnitude. It makes you wonder whether a Kerry victory based on the exact same numbers wouldn't, according to Marlantes, show a country "coming together," "beginning to heal," "leaving behind the partisanship of 2000."

As for all the garbage about how divided our country is, remember this: getting less than about 47% of the popular vote is considered, historically, a serious ass kicking. Past presidents were not elected by universal public acclaim. Thomas Jefferson himself had a reputation for anonymous mudslinging. Hamilton and Burr took pistols to Weehawken over their political rivalry. This fretting about the divisions in America is as bad as the moaning about partisanship. Folks, partisanship is a good thing. It means sticking to your principles when an opportunity to compromise them comes up. Besides, partisanship is a sin only conservatives seem to carry. Republicans are staunch, stubborn, partisan. Democrats are "principled." Bipartisanship, naturally, refers to situations in which the conservatives compromise, not the liberals. Think of the 80s and 90s, when George Mitchell and Tip O'Neill (and later Jim Wright and Tom Daschle) ran the houses of Congress as their own little emirates of corruption, arm-twisting, and log-rolling. Then the GOP got control, and everyone in the press got religion. Suddenly, with Newt Gingrich in charge, the worst thing you could be was partisan, and the most unfortunate social mistake you could make was to wield power.

Bah. I'm sick of it. A liberal acquaintance said today, "I'm just worried about where our country is going." Oh, get off your high horse.

As Long As I'm Working the Shithead Beat: Can Alan Keyes go away too soon?
Alan Keyes blamed the media and fellow Republicans on Thursday for his lopsided loss to Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate race in Illinois.

Keyes also said he did not congratulate Obama after the race was called, a tradition among politicians, because doing so would have been a "false gesture" because he believes Obama's views on issues like abortion are wicked.

There's always someone else to blame, isn't there? Keyes needs top park his titanic ego and equally large store of self-righteousness and moral self-satisfaction for just a second. Talk about a Jesus complex. He's starting to make Eddie Vedder seem well adjusted and taking to the thorazine nicely, thanks.

Go home, Alan, and sit there with your diplomas, your ambassadorial credentials, and the deep, gnawing feeling that, despite your opinion of yourself and your high-flying rhetoric, you have done nothing in life but act like a pompous horse's ass.

Don't Let the Door Hit You: Arafat reportedly at Death's door in Paris. (No word on whether he just happened to be there, or if the gates of Hades open off the Champs Elysee. As good a place for hell as any.) It will be good f*cking riddance.
"It tears your heart up," said Mahmod Nimr, a 36-year-old unemployed Palestinian. "I can't see someone taking his place."
I can't either. This guy has caused as much misery as any man alive today, and all in the pursuit of . . . a Palestinian state? Nope. He could have had that in 1994, with a goddamn bow on top, with a kiss on the cheek from Ehud Barak and one on the ass from Clinton. He traded it for ten more years of blood in the streets and funds diverted into his Swiss accounts.

Just drop dead already. I'm not religious, but I'm put in mind of the Italian guy, Giuseppi, in Zoltan Korda's great propaganda piece Sahara, and his final speech on the evil of Hitler, before he is knifed by a Luftwaffe pilot: "It is for men like him that god, my god, created hell."

Dare I try to post again?: I'm keeping this short so in case Blogger decides to throw it into the cyber-gutter, I will only have wasted a few minutes of my life.

Here is a blow-by-blow of the Rather and CBS coverage of election night (from RatherBiased - which is sort of link-dead right now):

Beginning with reverse order, all times Eastern. Each timeline item has a
permalink on our news page

--7:23 pm "I know it's Copley Plaza but we were having a 3,000 calorie
attack every half hour as close as this race is."
Visit our News page for more current ones.

--7:36 pm "Ohio now turns into a sauna for both of the candidates. All they
can do is wait and sweat."

--7:43 pm, On polling: "This is more complicated than the wiring diagram for
some hydroelectric dam dynamo, trying to figure out the absentee ballots,
the people who voted in advance and taking in the exit poll data from

--7:54 pm, Bob Schieffer reported that Joe Lockart, campaign adviser to the
Kerry campaign says that he thinks Kerry has a chance to win every one of
the battleground states, despite the fact that hardly any polls had come in.

"Well, you know the old saying, Bob--Don't taunt the alligator until after
you've crossed the creek. Apparently joe lockhart doesn't subscribe to

8:24 pm, Cautioning that viewers shouldn't read too much into early
electoral vote counts: "In some ways, George Bush's lead is as thin as
November ice."

8:35 pm, Lesley Stahl calls the NRA the "NAR."

10:04 pm, On the importance of Democrats keeping Bob Graham's Senate seat:
"Democrats almost absolutely positively, teetotally need to hold that seat."

10:18 pm, CBS's John Roberts has some trouble with his math, see

11:10 pm, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs channels Dan Rather on MTV: "This race is
tight as a frog's ass"

11:26 pm, On desirability of Florida: "hotter than a Times Square Rolex."

12:52 am, Subtle dig at Fox News which had just projected Bush would win
Ohio: "In case you've been watching one of those other places that doesn't
have as good of information, here's what's happening."

1:02 am, NBC calls Ohio for Bush. "President Bush's reelection is at the
door, knock, knock, knock."

1:11 am, Still reluctant to call Ohio for Bush, CBS tries the alternate
route: reporter Bill Plante relays that Bush adviser Karl Rove told the
president he would win the state.

After break, Rather adds: "Yes we are aware that in some other quarters they
have projected it, but we would rather be last than wrong."

RATHER: "Is this just gamesmanship? Are the Bush people saying these things
to make themselves look better in case there's a recount?"

BILL PLANTE: That's true. They always act like they're winning even when
they're not

1:33 am, On closeness of race in some states: "This race is hot enough to
peel paint off a house."

2:14 am, Dan starts getting frustrated. "Our coverage continues with Ohio,
'Hey kimosabe, no one knows.'"

2:22 am, "Folks, these are the kinds of nights that give campaign managers a
case of the hives or something. One reason so many of them drink a lot,
because you have these situations in which, you know, you think you got it,
you're right there, you're right there, you're close enough to feel it, and
then somebody like one of these overpaid television anchor men come up and
say you know what, that state may not just be going your way."

3:21 am, Dan Rather plays psychiatrist to Lesley Stahl:

STAHL: Well, it's unique, and I don't know about you, Dan, but it makes me
despair, because it's up in the air. It's unsettled. I know we all talked
about this before we started getting returns. What we all prayed for was a
decision that was final, that we could go to the American people and say
this is it. Anything that's left uncertain like this is sure to create more
turmoil, it's just not healthy for our system. It's not a good thing that we
are sitting here telling the American people. We can't help it, but we want
to see healing, and this is not conducive to that, it doesn't seem to me.
RATHER: Let me say something to you personally. Don't despair. Despair is
not in the American character. The country will be all right whatever
happens here, however long it takes to square it away, and i understand
you're saying the heartache we're going to have to go through, but we're a
big continental country, so don't despair. Not in our character. We're
optimists by experience and by nature here in this country, so however it
turns out, we're going to be ok.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Idiocy of the day: Via Sullivan's email box
EMAIL OF THE DAY II: "I am a 25 year-old gay man, and I can't even describe how
saddened I am today by the re-election of President Bush and the numerous state
amendments banning gay marriage that were passed on election day. I'm not really
angry... just very sad and afraid. I don't know what country I live in anymore.
I thought this was the land of freedom. I thought I was free to pursue my own
happiness. But right now I feel like my country hates me. What is going on?"

Look, I'm sympathetic to the cause, and I was disappointed that many states enacted those laws yesterday. But are you for real? "I don't know what country I live in anymore?" Read American history, pal. Your country is more tolerant now than it ever has been of virtually any lifestyle choice you want to make, and more tolerant than and accomodating to your lifestyle than most places on this planet. And this one offers it along with a (usually) strong economy, (usually) safe borders, and regular opportunities to participate in the process of choosing the people who make those stupid laws. And best of all, you can jump ship anytime and move to one of the several states that either now or in the future allow you to marry whomever you like.

Do some people hate you? Yeah, probably. So what? Others don't, at least until you do something to deserve it.

Is Bush already reaching out?: Drudge reports Aschcroft to resign. I'll wait and see. But if it's true, it should ease some fears, right? Not likely.

Numbers, Numbers: I concur with Razor's point about the raw numbers that voted for Bush. It's a pretty transparent talking point for a GOP delighted to finally have a mandate. Still, I caught socialist crypto-polemicist Barbara Eirenreich on News Hour tonight, and her take was the equally laughable reverse. More people voted against Bush, she said, than had voted against any previous candidate.

It's worth noting, though, that Bush got the first majority since 1988 -- a long time, if you think about it. The gains in the House and Senate only add to the inescapable fact that this is a president with a mandate now. He had cobbled one together in the past few years, made of scraps of 9/11, the mid-term gains of 2002, the patriotic fervor of war. But this is a straight-up legitimate president now, with the guns in Congress to back him up. I suspect (and, more to the point, expect) some second-term action on the tax code and social security. This may turn out to be the first two-term predident whose lame duck term was the first one.

On another of Razor's points, the rudderless Democratic Party, where does this leave you, exactly? Bush made big inroads to the hispanic vote and the women's vote. That leaves you, um, let's see . . . the blacks, the trial lawyers, union members, and everybody getting a welfare check. How do you build a 21st century party on that? Others have speculated that the Dems are too fragmented, too much of a slapped-together mess of special interests, to have a coherent message anymore. I think it showed this year. Was Kerry the nuanced flip-flopper Bush railed against, or has the internal triangulation of the Democratic Party, its need to appease its disparate bases, becoming a bit of a lion's den? In essence, could Kerry have won the nomination without having to be squishy on a lot of stuff? I don't think so.

More: As if on cue, the prez sallies forth to declare the second term priorities: social security reform, scrapping the mind-bogglingly stupid tax code, and capping damages on med-mal suits. I like the cut of this guy's jib, goddammit. You sure he's the same one what's been running the place these last four years?

An Update: I'm all revved up for another "constitutional crisis" and Kerry has to go and be gracious about it all. Well, hats off to him. Nothing in his candidacy became him like the leaving of it.
Back at the desk: New laptop arrived today, a day earlier than expected, so the better part of the day has been spent taking out the old desktop, cleaning the office, and getting the new machine installed to the network. Feels good, and it's been a great distraction to election coverage, though CNN's been on in the background all day.

Razor, you're right about the population issue, but the backslapping seems louder over the "majority" issue, since a plurality has been the best anyone could do lately. Repubs are very eager to claim the mandate, as they're entitled to. Now what will W. do with it. That is indeed the question.

Despite general agreement on the mandate issue, by commentators I mean, there is still a lot of talk about "Bush must reach out to the opposition" etc. That's true, of course, as much as it's true of any president. But Bush has an opportunity to leverage his confirmed popularity, and I don't expect to see any weakening on critical issues.

Final Thoughts (well not really final b/c they're still being counted): Now that Blogger seems done with its day-long meltdown, I can actually post something - although I've forgotten most of what I wanted to say. So, some rapid-fire points:

** As Eno alluded to, watching the coverage was the most fun. CBS was falling over itself to call states for Bush as fast as it dared, while FOX was showing incredible restraint and being very slow to call states for either side. Sheppard Smith was actually pretty funny at times and kept good control over the various "desks" and "centers" that all the networks deemed necessary (nothing more silly than NBC's quilt-like map showing the voting method each district in each state used -- Ohio had the highest concentration of punch ballots -- I think NBC was four years too late on this idea).

** If I see one more self-congratulatory message from the GOP about how Bush garnered the highest popular vote count in history, I'll...I'll...well, there's nothing I can do, but I'll be steaming mad, I can assure you. This is like saying Lord of the Rings made more money than Star Wars. Well, duh. Movie admission cost eighteen cents in 1978. You spend more on a "small" coke today than a ticket and a Volkswagen back in the 70s. Say it with me now: "There are more people in the US today than ever before."

** Exit polls -- they're history as of this election, don't you think? I mean, everyone was breathless about them at 3:00 in the afternoon, and the networks made great hay about how nervous the Bush camp was. Really? This from the side that won in 2000? I'd think anything short of Texas blowing up would result in a massive yawn from the GOP before you had at least 50% of the precincts reporting in. In any event, they bore little resemblance to reality, as we can clearly see.

** Indiana - staunchly Republican, yet continues to elect a Dem senator. Having been born in Indiana, I can attest to the Hoosier level-headedness. Good for them.

** On a personal note, I am only mildly disappointed. I'm more upset over the lack of substance in the Democratic party. As someone said yesterday, in the 90s, people voted for Clinton, not for the Party. Once he was gone, we're left with a rudderless ship. The Party chose to ignore the Senate and House races, and just blindly expect that there was support for the Party Plank. There wasn't. It was just Clinton doing what he does best - bamboozle and charm your pants off (no need for a "literally" tag there - it's presumed). He was a very centrist guy (universal healthcare notwithstanding). With the Civil Rights movement now part of our way of life, there's nothing left for the Dems to shout about. Abortion, while interesting, smacks of being evil, b/c let's face it, you're killing a life (reasons abound for it, but still). Kerry wasn't anti-war at all, even though there are plenty anti-war people in the Democratic party.

If 9/11 never happened, chances are Bush never got to act Presidential, and he would have stumbled along, getting everyone's names wrong, and losing jobs in the process. But, the terrorism issue gave him his voice. To his credit, he seized the day, although many thought he seized the better part of the week along with it.

Well, the ball's in his court. Control of the Senate, House and now a "mandate". No excuses W. No excuses.
Best Of All Worlds: This finale was custom designed for me, I think. First, both parties will now debase themselves in legal wrangling -- always a pleasure to watch. Second, Bush will likely take Ohio -- thus the election (and New Mexico and Iowa to boot) -- unless the Dems can finagle a very relaxed standard for including provisional ballots. Third, Kerry has pretty convincingly lost the popular vote, so he's toast anyway. For a party that has spent the last four years carping about an "illegitimate president" and giggling at "let's not elect him in 2004 either" slogans, this is a nightmare. They'll have to go the "big lie" route and claim, straight faced, that losing the popular vote most certainly does not deny a president a mandate.

Ain't we got fun?

Following CNN's lead: Not prepared to call Ohio, and I'm getting tired. Lots of provisional ballots etc. to go. At least NBC has called it for Bush, but I don't want to get ahead of things. I've been arguing stem cells, abortion, and Iraq with the roommate for a couple hours, so I can't accurately predict anything. Except that bedtime is nigh.
Damn blogger: Very slow to post right now. Frustrated, I am.
I smell bacon: But they smell a conspiracy. Well, I can't always be trusted. I smell bacon quite often. But I think they're wetting the bed.
Back to the game: So Florida goes Bush, which is a huge win. But Wisconsin, Michigan, and New Hampshire are looking Blue.

It's still very dicy, so I'm staying up awhile.

The "marriage ammendments," to define it as a man/woman deal only, seem to be doing well in many states. That's too bad. That's an issue on which I disagree with Bush and I think, sadly, those ammendments are bringing some people out to polls. Helps my candidate, but I feel sick associating myself with many of those voters. Oh well, the bright side is those are state issues, best decided by the folks that live there.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

For Now: It doesn't look like Ohio or Florida will be called soon. I'm confident, but not overwhelmingly so, as I shut down and toddle off for another beer. Tomorrow will be a busy day for the lawyers.
Who Knew? Charles Schwab stopped coloring his hair.
Breaking News: Andrew Sullivan announces that he's switching his endorsement to Bush!

Naw, I'm kidding. But you believed it for a second, didn't you?

Eating My Words? Well, this might be a speed record. No sooner do I declare NH dead for the GOP . . . Bush has a slight numeric lead now. What do I know. As TMQ used to say, guaranteed wrong or your money back.
All Over? A number of sources are showing Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin "leaning" Bush. Michigan, surprisingly, leaning strongly Bush. Again, early numbers, but if they hold, Bush can start waiting for Kerry's call.

More: New Mexico, which went (barely) for Gore in 2000 is breaking early for Bush.

Not Drunkblogging: I have a hard time with this. I can suck Budweiser, and I can type, but I tend to do one to the exclusion of the other. How does Steve Green do this? One plus, my wife just walked in with a new optical, wireless mouse. Much better than the touchpad, since I can keep it to the side and use my Bud hand on it. Cool.
Another Worry: Bush could easily lose Missouri, which he squeaked out in 2000, despite the kind of late voting irregularities Ohio is about to see. That's 11 electoral votes Bush doesn't want to have to make up elsewhere.

All right, I'm taking a break for beer and a smoke. Razor, it's never too early to concede.

Heading out: Gotta go meet some folks, so I'll be offline for a couple hours. Eno, I hope you're able to keep it up for awhile. I'll be back to pick it up later.
WVa: Flyer, Buchanan's point was what I was referring to below, but the more I think about it, the more I doubt the predictive power of WVa. I think Bush has a good shot at Ohio, but the cities are all still controlled by Democrats. Bush has to win by a lot in the sticks to make up for what he'll lose in the cities. His margin in WVa, if it proves predictive of rural Ohio's outcome, doesn't make me confident.

More: Will Collier notes this oddity:

Michael Barone says Bush is getting slightly greater numbers in industrial cities in Indiana and Kentucky than he gained in 2000. Interesting to see if that is echoed in neighboring Ohio.
If that's true, I could be totally wrong about Ohio. As the early numbers shake out, it certainly looks as if Bush is solidifying his small lead.
Reported on MSNBC: Lines are so long in Ohio that a judge has ruled that people waiting in lines must be given paper ballots to cast their votes now. Smell that? That's the scent of litigation. Florida redux indeed.
Cokie: Didn't she always sound like that? I gave up on Rather for Brokaw and Russert. They're about as solid as it gets, and Russert is a smart bastard and a vet of Moynihan's team, so he has one foot in the neo-con world and one foot in the old-school liberal world.

I'm more convinced that ever that Brian Williams is the wrong guy to go to when Brokaw walks away tomorrow. He lacks (wait for it) gravitas. And the way he points with his chin and scrunches up his neck reminds me of Jennings. They must teach it in anchor school.

Continuing coverage reviews: Pat Buchanan never fails to annoy. He sounds like he's delivering a stump speech about exit polls. But he makes a good point about Bush holding WV. The people there are culturally similar to the western Pennsylvania and southern Ohio voters. That seems true, although it may have been a lot more so twenty years ago.
Ohio: Could we be looking at this year's Florida? It's early days yet, but these electors are worth fighting for.
Sominex: Just switched to ABC. Peter Jennings and George Will sound like they're discussing opera. The most calm voices I've heard tonight. But Cokie sounds like she's losing her voice already.

Fun, fun, fun: I couldn't take any more Larry King, who's practically lounging on the conference table at CNN HQ. NowI've switched to NBC which has a nice ominous background music every time they make a call.

I agree with Eno's point about early calls and would note that the Florida panhandle will probably be as critical as in 2000. It could come down to Miami v. Pensacola.

Local Hero: James Miller, game theorist and he of TCS fame, is running for state senate in my district, and he's getting stomped like a drag queen at a biker bar. He got my vote, but I don't think it helped much. He's getting about 9% of the vote right now. This is the fate of the Republican in Western Massachusetts. But hats off to Miller for giving it a whirl anyway.

I'm actually surprised that a game theorist would run with the GOP here. He'd do better out here as an independent or Libertarian -- and he never has struck me a a guy wedded to right-wing politics. I can only suppose that he ran the regression analyses and thought this his least worst option.

A Word About Turnout: My guess is that turnout will be as much of a factor in Florida as anywhere else. Since the numbers are breaking for Bush, I'm guessing that turnout will not be a big boost for Kerry. I had figured that an early indication that Kerry was running away with Florida would be the night's first tip-off that the Dems had the upper hand on GOTV. It may be the case that turnout for the Dems is biggest in safe states anyway: New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont.

New Hampshire is interesting. A former solid red state, it is following the Vermont pattern of becoming a moderate-to-liberal state as middle-class refugees from southern New England take advantage of lower taxes and lower housing costs to the north. (I've considered the move myself.) I think the GOP can start to write off New Hampshire.

I'm not sure that the GOP can count on Hawaii to fill the resulting void. If Hawaii goes GOP this year, it will simply be a fluke.

Caution: The networks are playing it very close to the vest tonight. In Virginia (too close to call, sayeth NBC) Bush is up 58-42, with 18 percent reporting. In 2000, this would have been a called state. Florida, too, is breaking solidly for Bush with about 20 percent of precincts reporting. I'm not saying that the numbers can't change, but I think it's unlikely. We're looking at a media that was berned once and is working very hard to avoid red faces tonight.
One Way to Look at It: Of course, as we all know, the national popular vote is meaningless. Still, most sources are showing Bush running ahead by about 57-42, roughly the same break that the market-based sources (Tradesports, etc.) were calling. If nothing else, this election will put this kind of forecasting though its paces nationally.
Ratherism of the Moment: Referring to Joe Lockhart's confidence regarding swing states: "Lockhart hasn't learned not to talk to the alligator until after you've crossed the creek."
Inside Baseball: Surprisingly, Blogger is running pretty well tonight -- not great, but decent, and better than the past few days . . . Hold on a f*cking second.

Rather, referring to how states will be "called": "Doesn't this all sound as complicated as the wiring diagram for some kind of hydro electric generator?" I'm either going to have to change the station, or spend the whole night documenting Rather's blather.

Back to the details. I'm drinking a good red-state beer tonight -- none of that metrosexual fruit-beer shit for me. I'll be blogging until the beer runs out, or until I get sick of this crap. I've only got the networks, so chances are I'll shoot the tube and go to bed in about 20 minutes, unless Dan Rather keeps cracking me up.

Bush Takes WVa: I thought at first that this might be a good sign for Bush, perhaps a belwether for Ohio. But so little of WVa is urban; Ohio has Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton. In the stix, there's quite a bit of demographic overlap.

Rather: "Ohio is a sauna now. Candidates can only wait and sweat." Jesus, is he the idiot savant poet of the networks, or what?

CBS: I'm watching now, and it looks a bit like a pledge drive with lots of money and silent phones. Danny Rather just said, "One thing nobody wants is a repeat of the vote counting of 2000." Shut up, Dan. I for one would love to see that again. November/December of 2000 was a bracing time period. Constitutional crisis? Naw. Democracy in action.
Exit poll fears: I haven't been following them closely, but the mood at The Corner isn't good. Ergo, Bush may be in trouble. Of course the thought of Kathryn Lopez pulling her hair out and wailing about Catholics in Wisconsin is a fair trade for losing the election. Too funny.
More Worrisome: Anyone else notice that Vodka has been down all day? I'm sure he's just resting up for when the returns start rolling in, but can someone maybe run over and ring the doorbell just to make sure all is well?
Sidenote: Saw the new movie Ray last night, with Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles. Overall, I'd give it a B+, a good story with lots of great music. Foxx makes a good effort at imitating Charles' unique facial expressions and head movement. The supremely talented musician who becomes a womanizing junkie and cleans up his life after hitting bottom is not a new story, but I expect much of it is true, so they did their best to tell it well. Ray was apparently traumatized as a young kid when he watched his brother die in a drowning accident and he takes drugs to repress the memory, and can't be free of heroin's grasp till he deals with it. Okay, I've seen this before.

Really, the best parts of the movie deal more with his struggle to find his musical voice, his own style instead of replicating other more established stars. His dealing with Atlantic Records and eventual move to ABC for more money and control of the music is also interesting, though I'd be interested to find out how much back story was left out.

Also, the movie makes it seem as if Ray's social conscience was nearly nonexistent until one sudden day in Georgia when he refused to play to a segregated audience. As a black, blind musician playing in Southern clubs, he must've been the vicitim of some pretty nasty discrimination and formed some thoughts on civil rights along the way. But in Ray he goes from Southern "boy," content to make a living playing the Jim Crow "chitlin' circuit" to standing up to the man in about 30 seconds. Some evolution might have been portrayed.

Some of the best secenes were of Ray and the Sonny Fulson band playing those Southern, black, clubs. Interestingly, I spotted two places within a few blocks of my old New Orleans apartment, the Half Moon and Saturn Bar. Whether Ray actually played those places or not I don't know; they may have just made good film and apropriately signaled that he was playing in New Orleans, but not many people would recognize these two places so I doubt the latter. Maybe they're just cool signs.

It's worth seeing, even if you wait to rent it.

Libertarians: There were a number of LP candidates on the ballot in my district, including one for Commissioner at Large (a cool title, I think). He's a guy named Jack Stratton, and he made the news big in Charlotte a couple years ago in a battle with the local social services department. He's a Christian Fnndamentalist and all around strange character, but he exposed the local DSS for the anti-civil liberties crowd that they are. I'm not sure he's entirely balanced, but I voted for him because I think he's right in his case and he's said his campaign is all about getting enough attention to get his kids back. He has no chance, but good luck anyway.
Done: Just back from the polling site, and all is calm. I expected to see picketers out front screaming and chanting and handing out pamphlets that call into question the oppostitions stand on the whole puppies/boiling oil issue. At least maybe some voter intimidation to worry about. Nope,everybody stood in line peacefully and made polite jokes about waiting in line. Slight drizzle.

I walked over to the designated elementary school with my roommate Seth and neighbor Ted. I voted Bush, as I declared I would. Seth voted Kerry, as a Bubsh hating sci-fi geek should. We cancel each other out, meaning Ted was the "battleground" vote in our party. I didn't ask who he was voting for. Didn't seem right, and politics takes a backseat to friendship at the end of the day.

Congrats, by the way to Eric Lindholm, whose site is getting a much deserved traffic boost these days. His workmanlike pace of posting is getting its reward.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I know why too, Andrew: Let's see, you're a president who lost the popular vote in your first campaign and went through a court case that gave a stain of illegitimacy and lack of mandate to your first term. The worst terrorist attack on American soil happens under your watch and the economy reacts by diving further under the bed than it already was. Then you take the country to war, despite the criticism of most media and punditry and the going is a lot rougher than anyone was willing to believe it would be. And your opponent still can't get half the country to say we could use a different guy?