Wednesday, March 31, 2004
The lead article in today's WP (print edition - step off bitches!), President to Let Rice Testify About 9/11 has got me running for the blog. As I read it, here's what I'm thinking:
1. The title. He's going to let her? How about, he had no choice and never did? The press did a pretty good job, I think, at applying the pressure. It was only a matter of time. If I had any patience for conservative talk radio, I'd love to hear the sputtering over this.
2. In the second paragraph, the article notes that Bush will meet in private with the commission, "saying he will appear only with Vice President Cheney at his side." Someone needs his hand held...
3. It is amazing that they made this about Constitutional principal and separation of powers after they have shredded the Constitution for the past 3 years and continue to violate SOP, beginning with the Supreme Court handing Bush the Presidency in 2000 and now with the whole duck hunting mess between Cheney and Scalia. And can we talk about duck hunting for a second? Are you kidding me? Just go play golf, assholes. Is "duck hunting" a code for "non-seperative power gay sex"?
4. These assurances from the commission about not setting a precedent... What's the point? In the future. if Condi Rice might need to testify on some matter, are they REALLY gonna bust out this paper and say, "But you said..." Grow up.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Incidentally, I just tried to go to John Kerry's website but got (johnkery.com) this site instead because of a typo. I love numerology!!!
Monday, March 29, 2004
Word is Condi (who is not attractive) is out of here if there is a second term... I am not sure what to make of that yet, more needs to become evident. Also, in terms of W and his girls, note that Karen Hughes is coming back to work on the campaign... scary.
There is a lot of politically charged debate of late about how the economy is doing, whether it is "strong" and "growing" or whether it shows "continuing weakness." My own take on matters is that the economy is growing just fine, but that's not helping anybody I care about. The trouble is, I don't know how to go about proving this, because the terms of the debate are shaped by the way the economy is being measured, and I don't agree with those terms. If progressives are going to be able to recapture the debate on the economy, we need a way of looking at and talking about the economy that can measure progress in, well, a progressive way.
The problem, for me, is that we measure the growth in the size of everyone's income added together, without looking at who is getting richer and who isn't. (I also have problems with what is counted as "income," but that's a rant for another day). The ideological basis for this kind of measurement is found in the Kaldor-Hicks theorem. I love that name - it brings to mind the image of a bunch of hayseeds in cowboy hats, hanging out in a saloon in Kaldor, Texas with straw between their teeth.
What K-H basically says is that, when examining a change in policy, you will find some winners and some losers. As long as the winners win more than the losers lose, then from a utilitarian perspective, the change is positive, since the losers could theoretically be compensated out of the winners' gains, and then everyone would be ahead. Note that the compensation doesn't have to happen, it is enough, for the theorists, that it could happen.
In the real world, this compensation never seems to happen. And the winners always seem to be people who are already rich, and I don't care much about what happens to rich people. So for me, growth isn't necessarily good. It isn't necessarily bad, either, but it's not good unless the benefits actually extend to those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.
What progressives need is a way of interpreting economic data that only looks at the effect on the bottom 60% of income earners. Gains or losses to the wealthy would be seen as neutral. That way, only if gains to the wealthy have multiplier effects that help working people will they be counted as a positive. A tool like this would demonstrate that the rapid growth of the late 1990's did in fact benefit working people, and minorities disproportionately. The result, for progressives, was that the standard of living for the poor and middle class generally rose. In the current economic expansion, gains are concentrated in the hands of a small cross-section of the public, and probably wouldn't show up in our "bottom 60" instrument at all - most reports I have seen indicate poverty has risen, while working-class pay has stagnated.
I bring this up because I am disappointed to note that what I have seen so far of the Kerry team's economic plans seem somewhat off-target. They would stimulate growth, definitely. But would they help anyone I care about?
Note to Bob: I haven't seen the Apprentice. I do think Condi Rice is quite an attractive woman, when she isn't scowling. I suspect this may be part of why the P - the P - the former Governor of Texas seems to like her more than he likes his actual wife. I don't mean to imply anything sexual here, but they work out together, watch football together, and she has Bush's ear more frequently than any two other advisors. I don't think much of the advice he's getting. People point the finger all over the place - Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz - but those people only matter because Condi listens to them. She doesn't just have W's ear, she has his whole head. Now that brings to mind an image I'd rather not dwell on.
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Friday, March 26, 2004
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
It's funny, in retrospect, that Bush ran for president as a uniter. To unite a country, you have to acknowledge and reconcile differences. Bush doesn't work toward unity; he assumes it. He doesn't reconcile differences; he denies them. It's his tax cut or nothing. It's his homeland security bill or nothing. It's his terrorism policy or nothing. If you're playing politics, this is smart strategy. But if you're trying to help the country, it's foolish. The odds are that 50 percent of the other party's ideas are right. By ruling them out, you start your presidency 50 percent wrong.
Some of the resulting mistakes may be inconsequential. Some may cost 3,000 lives. Some may cost 2 million jobs. "If the Democratic policies had been pursued over the last two or three years … we would not have had the kind of job growth we've had," Cheney bragged three weeks ago. That's the way this administration thinks: We do things differently. But being different doesn't guarantee you a better result—just a different one.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
I knew a (stunningly beautiful) Palestinian girl in high school, which was during the first intafada. I remember arguing with her, trying to convince her that Ghandian nonviolent resistance was more appropriate than armed struggle. She didn't believe that such tactics could work, saying, "They would just kill us." Well, yeah, I said, and that worked remarkably well for Ghandi, because the world came to see the Indians as victims and the British occupiers as horrible murderers. People who kill 12 year olds taking the bus to the store don't evoke the same international sympathy. She did not seem to get it at all. Both sides say of the other, "the only thing they understand . . ." Sadly, it looks like they may both be right.
Now Yassin's going to be hailed as a martyr. They're going to name schools and community centers after him. Kids are going to grow up thinking he was Malcolm X or something. He wasn't. He was a closed-minded religious fanatic who, like all fanatics, seemed incapable of applying reality testing to items of faith, or of understanding his opponents as fully human. I'm sorry it happened this way. I'm still glad he's dead.
Monday, March 22, 2004
The only thing better than X in the sweet 16 is Cincinnati getting crushed by Illinois after talking trash.
Go X! Go Not Duke!
From what I hear from my cousin, Bo, one of his best friend's from high school's father is buddy, buddy with Mel from this "strange" Catholic sect. He says that the father is a raving anti-semite. Guilt by association? Maybe, but I can't imagine that this guy has had a full career in film with that kind of baggage. Who knows.
Remember Craig, Stalin had an effective five year plan, so I don't want to hear about it.
Must be hard to be Condi Rice... with Powell we just think, "shit, my man is taking one for the team." She actually seems to believe the shit that she spouts. Apple of Rummy's eye. So you all see where secret agent VP was on Rush today?. So many contradictions to this shit it's absurd... see Josh Marshall's pieces in talkingpointsmemo.com for references. If this guy Clarke was not in the loop, as pushed by the admin, then there was something critically wrong going down before 9/11. BTW, I saw Clarke on McNeil Leher today and he sounded like he had all the right answers after a day of pounding from the heavyweights.
Time to go to bed so that I can wake up and listen to bad news and Imus in the Morning (endorsing Kerry).
Speaking of people offing themselves, I am conflicted about the assassination of Sheik Yassin in Gaza yesterday. The rule of law is important to me, and I feel that that principle is more important than justice in any particular case. Without the rule of law, democracy is a farce. Extrajudicial executions are always illegal. Yassin was sentenced to life in prison before and foolishly released in a prisoner swap - he should have been returned to his cell and kept in isolation. The sight of a helicopter gunship firing rockets at a quadraplegic in a wheelchair is deeply offensive, not to say a tad bit cowardly.
On the other hand, I'm glad the bastard is dead. City buses, discos and restaurants are never appropriate targets for military actions, and I don't know what planet you have to be from to believe that randomly murdering civilians will lead to the establishment of a state, or to anything positive at all. I just wish he'd accidentally rolled out into traffic and been hit by a bus . . . It seems like everyone has gone insane in the middle east conflict - much more insane than is typical. The concept behind a "two state solution" is, yes, two states. This means that each side has to give up all claims to the land in the other state. Under a two state solution, there can be no "right" of return. There can be no settlements. The right of return and the settlements each represent a claim by one side to some of the other side's land. For the past few years, both sides have been negotiating in bad faith. Yassin was part of this problem. He said that attacks would cease with an Israeli withdrawal from all lands occupied in 1967, but he fundamentally would not give up the Palestinian claim to 1948 Israel. Many in the Israeli camp have a similar problem, saying they want peace but continuing to steal land. Violence is the symptom, not the cause. There can be no "peace process" until both brothers agree to keep their hands on their own side of the backseat. Call me an imperialist, but sometimes I think we need a President willing to pull the car over to the side of the road.
Thinking about the "Passion" controversy - When I lived in Cincinnati a lot of concerned citizens including my dear departed mother got worked up and protested against a photography exhibit by gay artist Robert Mapplethorpe at the Cultural Arts Center which portrayed gay sex. As a result, it was the CAC's biggest show ever and got them the attention they needed to build an award-winning new gallery. The outcry against "The Passion of the Christ" (which I've heard is actually good art, whatever you think of its theology) is just as misguided. The movie expresses Mel Gibson's beliefs, and the beliefs of a good many other conservative Catholics, fairly accurately. Many of us do not agree with his beliefs. However, it is clearly his right to make whatever damn kind of art he wants to. And judging from its commercial success, a lot of people wanted to go watch it. Those who tried to stop its distribution were just plain wrong. I know many people found it offensive and anti-Semitic. The people I know who have actually seen it disagree. Whatever. The real point is, in a democracy, my right to free speech trumps your desire not to be offended every single time. If I want to make a movie about how wonderful Stalin was, and you are offended because Stalin had you grandmother shot, the f*** you, make your own movie. You gotta have thick skin to live in a free society.
The problem with "popular" culture is that there's not enough of it, it doesn't express a range of views, it tries not to offend or challenge. That's why TV ratings and music sales are down. The most wached shows in America have 20, maybe 25 million viewers. People, there are 300,000,000 Americans. Nobody's watching Friends. Nobody's watching Survivor. One in twelve people, tops. And people talk about this garbage like it's our shared cultural heritage or something. I'm sick of people whinging about the content of the mass media. Most televisions produced today can receive more than one channel. The miracle of modern technology! In addition, virtually all of them come with a special device that can block the signal for as long as you want if you are unhappy with the content of programming.
It's called an "off switch." Most movie theaters which are showing "The Bloody Maiming of the Christ" also offer several other movies from which to choose from for people who don't f*****g like it. In addition, I have several other helpful suggestions for people unhappy with their media choices:
Learn to play chess.
Jog, play raquetball or volleyball or something, ya fatass.
Live theater - it won't kill you.
Learn a musical instrument, write your own songs.
Digital video cameras - not just for home pornographers anymore!
Put fins, hydraulics and those tiny little wheels on you 1989 Civic, cruise up and down the street leering at chicks.
Etc. Anyway, if you don't like it, don't watch it. Nobody else does. Okay, end of sermon.
Facism forces wages down? This should have been obvious a long time ago.
Hey Bob, did Tucker ever get around to eating his shoes?
That is all.
Friday, March 19, 2004
Ex-Advisor Says Bush Eyed Bombing of Iraq on 9/11
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former White House anti-terrorism advisor says the Bush administration considered bombing Iraq in retaliation after Sept. 11, 2001 even though it was clear al Qaeda had carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Richard Clarke, who headed a cybersecurity board that gleaned intelligence from the Internet, told CBS "60 Minutes" in an interview to be aired on Sunday he was surprised administration officials turned immediately toward Iraq instead of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
"They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12," Clarke says.
Clarke said he was briefing President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld among other top officials in the aftermath of the devastating attacks.
"Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq. ... We all said, 'but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan," recounts Clarke, "and Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq."'
Clarke, an advisor to four presidents, left his position in February 2003 after the White House transferred functions of the cybersecurity board to Homeland Security.
"I think they wanted to believe that there was a connection" between Iraq and al Qaeda, Clarke tells "60 Minutes."
"But the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there, saying, 'We've looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked and there's just no connection,"' says Clarke.
Like Agent Mulder says, "I want to believe".
Am I the only one worried about the ongoing fighting in Pakistan? Half the population had a favorable opinion of Osama bin Laden in a recent poll (if someone can find the link, send it to me). Now they are surprised by the level of resistance in the tribal areas. I worry that the fighting could be destabilizing - the last thing we want to see is the fall of Musharraf, and a Taliban style regime with nukes. I hope there is a plan on the table somewhere to seize or destroy Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, "ally" or not.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Bob pointed out these comments about my home state to me on TPM. The long and short of it is, the Bush campaign has already given up winning the state in 2004, although they will still raise money here.
Illinois politics have long been polarized. The city has been run by a Democratic machine since Anton Cermak was elected Mayor in 1931. Cermak died two years later, taking a bullet for FDR in an attempted assassination attempt on the President. Ed Kelly took over as mayor and the city has been run by Bridgeport Irish almost ever since. Chicago had 2.89 million resdents in the 2000 census, almost exactly one percent of the national population of 283 million. We are 37% black, 31% non-Latino white, 26% Latino, and a lotta "other" (Mostly Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Indo-Pak, Palestinian). The census undercounts a lot of illegals from Mexico and Poland. We are the most heavily Democratic voters in the country - Gore won 80% of the vote and all 50 wards in 2000.
We are surrounded by 5 million suburbanites, who are majority Republican, but Democrats are gaining ground. Suburban Cook County is also quite Democratic at this point, but DuPage County, due west of us (where I was born, by the way) is just as Republican as we are Democratic. Wheaton, where I lived until I was four years old, is home to a conservative Bible college and represented in Congress by Henry Hyde of Hyde Amendment fame. Their machine was run for decades by a guy called "Pate" Phillip, but he is in a lot of legal trouble at the moment. The South Suburbs are increasingly African American and are dominated by the Jackson family, especially Jesse Jackson Jr., a US Representative from a South Side/South Suburban district. The North Shore of Lake Michigan is rich people who are socially liberal, trending Democratic and hate Bush. The Northwest and Southwest suburbs are probably still gonna go for Bush. The new "Edge Cities" of Aurora and Naperville are Bush Country. Between the city and suburbs, the Chicago region has 8 million residents and 13 of our 19 congressional districts.
Downstate we have 4 1/2 million people. Farm country is pretty Republican, dying factory towns like Decatur where my father lives are hotbeds of union activism and go Dem even though they are socially conservative. The Illinois suburbs of St. Louis are reliably Democratic. Our half of the Quad Cities, Rock Island and Moline, vote Democratic as well. Downstaters don't trust the city, but the don't trust the suburbs either. We have a lot in common - we both want our steel mills back, and haven't quite figured out what to do without them. My grandfather worked 30 years at Northwestern Steel and Wire in Sterling, Illinois, which is now shuttered. Sterling used to be represented in the US House by Donald Rumsfeld. My grandmother, a lifelong Republican activist, did in fact know him. Sterling is 25% Mexican and votes solidly Democratic these days.
There is much disagreement on the war. All three parts of the state have lost good people. We don't like being lied to, and mostly didn't think it was right to shoot first, but we are proud of our soldiers. My uncle is career military, my cousin just signed up with the Marines. I am fiercely proud of them.
Illinois is trending Democratic for several reasons. It's less white than it used to be. Suburbs that used to be Republican voting have increasingly been experienceing "urban" problems and voters in the inner suburbs tend to see them selves more and more associated with Chicago than with outer sprawl-burbia. The city has been slowly coming back from the dead over the last decade, and is widely regarded as liveable and well-run: Daley has redeemed his daddy's name in the eyes of many. But the biggest factor by far has been a series of scandals which has seen many Republican politicians including former Gov. George Ryan indicted for corruption and kickbacks. Outside the state, Ryan is widely known as an opponent of the death penalty. He commuted every pending death sentence right before he left office. Locals know he was just trying to make friends in prison before he's inevitably sent there. Republicans had held the Governor's mansion for 32 years, but were swept out of almost every statewide office (all now held by city Democrats) and lost the state House and Senate, too.
In addition, all the industrial job losses just plain suck. Unions are big here, not just among union workers but among working class guys who want to be union. Gephardt could be elected King here.
State Senator Barack Obama, who just won the primary on Tuesday, received more votes than all 8 Republican candidates, and he had 6 competitors himself. He won whites, blacks, city, suburbs, and did decent downstate. Not bad for a Harvard guy who's half Kenyan. He's gonna be Senator. We're sending quite a present to Washington - you're gonna like this guy.
That TPM stuff about being dependant on black voters is largely bullshit. This country leans to the right because of racism. If there were no black people here, we would all have government health insurance and look like Europe in terms of economic security. People oppose "big government" here becuase they don't want white people taxed to benefit blacks. Modern American suburbia was built specifically to get around Brown v Board of Ed by establishing entirely separate school districts for white kids. They are build they way they are, with big lots, no mixed use buildings, "subdivisions," strip malls, etc. because they are zoned to prevent poor people from moving in. Minimum lot sizes and single-family zoning exist to price working-class blacks (and whites, but that's a side effect) out of the market. Having established segregated "communities," now they want to push all services down to the local level, again to prevent the transfer of resources between races.
Racism explains almost everything that's gone wrong in American society, including modern Republicanism. The real question isn't what things would be like without black voters, but what things would be like without racists. If the widespread support given to Barack Obama in Tuesday's primary is any indication, we may be about to find out.
"Eazy-E" writes to say that she is enjoying the blog so far but that she wishes that Tony would stop posting under Bob's name, because it is confusing. Funny, because that's what I told him several times, but I suppose he doesn't value my opinion like he used to. Tony since has obtained his own login info, so confusion no more.
E, Craig's fiancee, also wants to know more about the supposed "all stars" of North Arlington (part of Arlington, VA nestled between the River Potomac and Rt. 50 - basically those parts assesible by Metro). Bob is 30, loves cheap beer and is recently married. Tony is 31, loves all beer and desperately wants this blog to be widely read. That should be everything you need to know.
Coworker Steve writes in regarding my post from Wednesday about Rumsfeld. He says:
"I beg to differ with that statement that Rummy said it was an immediate threat. Rumsfield's statement as replayed on the screen was: "No state poses a greater or more immediate threat than..." Now this may be me looking for a bright spot here, but what I see in that is not that he is saying they are an immediate threat, but that it is more immediate than other nations. That was my view of it.
That's fair, but I think the ultimate things to take away from that clip are (1) that it is funny to see a man squirm and (2) his claim that a few rouge journalists had invented this phrase was incorrect, at least in meaning, if not exact wording. Bush and Condi's mushroom cloud scenarios and all that....
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Alright, no one bring Bush up in Pakistan or Morocco... and I wouldn't recommend going to Germany, France or Spain in the near future... there's a possibility that a small majority of the UK is alright to visit...
Happy Guinness Day.
1. I used to live at a lefty co-op on 14th St. in Columbus, 2 blocks from Ohio State University. After every game, win or lose, the kids down on 11th would riot. The cause for this is the simple medical fact that beer is contra-indicated with crystal meth. I suggest that Maryland drug dealers be responsible citizens and include warning labels with their products. The entire University community should not be blamed for the results of these ill-advised pharmaceutical experiments.
2. Tony, I deny being from Cincinnati. I did live in the area from 1987-1990. Cincinnati was long periods of boredom punctuated by short bursts of intense violence, sort of like warfare.
3. GO NOT DUKE!
contradicting his past statements, and we have the video clip. You can
check it out at: http://www.moveon.org/censure/caughtonvideo/
This from DailyKOS:
Last week, the Filthy Lying Weasels lied about Kerry "Gutting" the CIA budget in 1995. Today on Lou Dobbs, Communication Weasel Dan Bartlett Lied that Kerry voted SIX times against the Department of Homeland Security. Well of course it's a pack of Lies that Goebbels would be proud of.
The Irony of course was that Bush opposed and resisted Lieberman's efforts to establish the Dept of Homeland Security for months. Not that substituting Cnn Host "John King" would dare ask Weasel Bartlett.
In 2002, there were 19 Senate votes on the Department of Homeland Security (officially known as House Resolution 5005 - Homeland Security Act of 2002).
4 Votes were on Killing a Filibuster to a Phil Gramm Amdt.
3 Votes were on Killing a Filibuster to a Lieberman Amdt., and
1 vote to shelve his Amdt.
2 additional - separate- Lieberman amendments.
2 separate Thompson amendments.
3 amendments, one each, by Byrd, Feingold, and Hollings.
2 procedural votes.
1 Filibuster vote on the Final Bill itself, and
1 Vote on the Final Bill.
For a total of 19.
Kerry voted 15 Yeas, 3 Nays, and he didn't vote on one Lieberman Amendment.
The Nays were (1) against Shelving Feingold's Amdt To Block Senate Pay raises; (2) against Shelving one of Lieberman's Amdt on provided a substitute bill; and (3) to outright defeat a Byrd Amdt on reorganization.
So were does Barlett get 6 votes against Homeland Security (Remember, the Bill "Bush" Opposed for Months), probably from Kerry's votes to support Lieberman's efforts to amend or substitute the House Bill for Lieberman's own Bill (Remember, it was Lieberman who proposed the Senate Bill in the first place. The Bill "Bush" opposed for months).
Hey guys, wouldn't it be neat if we had a "Liberal Media" to point out when the Bushies are baldface lying? I woke up today to Wolfowitz on the radio, still claiming "evidence" of Saddam/Al Quaeda collusion based on alleged "meetings" in Sudan in 1995. Even he doesn't claim to know what was going on at those meetings. Reality never intrudes on this guy's delusions. This is the same level of "evidence" offered by the JFK assassination freaks I used to hang with and UFO cultists the world over. As Agent Mulder would say, I Want To Believe.
I attended a meeting once with Alderman Ed Burke. He endorsed Gery Chico in the primary for Senate. I know someone on Chico's campaign staff. We have been seen at the same table in the same restaurant on more than one occasion. I was observed at a public fundraiser shaking Chico's hand!Based on these tidbits, Wolfowitz would no doubt conclude that I am in collusion with the Chico campaign, probably an "operative." Actually I didn't even vote for the guy.
Somebody should inform Wolfowitz that there were High Level Meetings between Saddam Hussein and Donald Rumsfeld in the 1980s, and that known Rumsfeld associates funneled money to Osama bin Laden to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan during the same period. Coincidence? or Conspiracy!
(Rumsfeld also met with my grandmother quite a few times in the 1970s. Tony's mom knows Jerry Bremer. Maybe we're all in it together! The Office of Special Plans is gathering evidence against Kevin Bacon as we speak . . .)
We sit in astonishment at a nation that has decided that terror is not fought by infringing on the basic rules of international law, but instead by engaging the enemy through expressing their values in the true democratic spirit of elections, and the reflection of a nation's ultimate will. All the while, damning the horror, lamenting their dead, and demanding retribution. Terror for us in novelty, for them it's an all too often fact of life.
We sit while our leadership only asks that we do not reject their moral judgment. That we sacrifice only our indignity for the demands they make at the expense and detriment of other people's children.
T ( I'll get my own login later B)
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Feedback is welcomed.
Monday, March 15, 2004
Craig and I are Cincy boys (one in denial and one in rehab), we love a good riot. Better it be about basketball than white cops shooting black youth.
From what I understand, the Spanish socialist (PSOE) pulled this out as a surprise, but is it really such a surprise when polls showed upwards of 90% of the population didn't want to go to Iraq? I mean come on. Aznar is an ass. Always has been. He was the party leader while I was there. The only reason he managed to stay around this long is because the former leader of PSOE (Gonzales) retired the year Aznar was voted in. The Right Wing there is composed of various groups that are hybrids of Franco loyalists. Look, all the PSOE is saying is that they will not continue to be party of a US led occupation. That they would in fact let the troops stay if the UN takes over. Can you imagine us following another country into a unnecessary war and sticking around with a 90% popular disapproval rating? No fuckng way. It really shouldn't make the terrorist feel like they have won, but then perception is reality. Kind of like us believing that we have won in Iraq and all will work itself out when the Mosul McD's opens.
Here's the full text, since it is short.
You can't be a Washington outsider if you're already president.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Bill Maher
March 13, 2004 | Hearing President Bush these days constantly complain about "the politicians" and John Kerry being part of a "Washington mind-set," and saying things like "I got news for the Washington crowd" is like hearing Courtney Love bitch about junkies.
"Washington insider" is by definition a function of one's proximity to the president. That's you, Mr. Bush. You're ground zero. Ever wonder, sir, why everyone stands and they play music when you enter a room? When you're given check-writing privileges by the Federal Reserve, you just might be a Washington insider.
Lemme try to explain it to you in a different way: You're not "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" -- you're the Washington part. We need a Mr. Smith to mess with you. You're not on a mission you reluctantly accepted, like the old farts in "Space Cowboys." You campaigned for this job, and now you're doing it again.
And having been the Grand Poobah for three years, it's a little late to be selling yourself as some fish-out-of-water cowboy visiting the big city on assignment. You're not McCloud, you're the grandson of a senator and the son of a president and CIA director. For 15 of the last 22 years you've had a key to the White House. The last thing that happened in Washington without the Bushes getting a piece of it was Marion Barry's crack habit. "The Exorcist" happened in Georgetown, but Satan had to run it by Jim Baker first.
So knock off the regular-guy act -- and by the way, that also goes for John Forbes Kerry, the other white meat. Two Skull and Bones preppies, these guys are, from Nantucket and Kennebunkport, who use the word "summer" as a verb and probably had monogrammed beer bongs in college.
Please, John Kerry: Stop rolling up your sleeves at campaign rallies like you're about to man a register at Costco. You're a Boston Brahmin who married not one but two eccentric heiresses -- you're not Joe Sixpack, you're Claus von Bulow. I think your current wife is great, but hello, she inherited the Heinz fortune! She's the ketchup lady! -- which explains why sometimes he's gotta smack her on the bottom to get her to come.
Look, fellas, we've got almost eight months till the election. That's a long time to hold in your gut. To pretend you're something you're not. Let's just be real and admit that finally, and unfortunately, true class warfare has come to America.
Yale class of '66 vs. Yale class of '68.
The Terps may have the name "college" in the name of their town, but let's be serious - College Park is just a missed 3-pointer away from being part of P.G. County. What other things might cause the faithful to take to the streets with burning mattresses? Plug tobacco shortages? The end of the NASCAR "season"? Anti-mullet rhetoric? Why can't the University keep control of its students? UMd may have a history of success under Gary Williams, but the only tradition in the making is one of embarrasing postgame behavior.
The St Patty's Parade was today but politically, it was a bust. Dan Hynes is a neighborhood kid, and was the only candidate to show. In addition, most of the participants seemed to be wearing Hynes campaign stickers, ("Fight Cystic Fibrosis and Vote Dan Hynes for U.S. Senate") so the whole thing gave you some idea what it would be like if Ireland was run by Kim Il Sung. Barack Obama is the most popular candidate right now, but Hynes will win the primary if turnout is low (90% of the people at the parade vote Democratic at least once on primary day). Both are South Siders, as is Gery Chico, who's running about fourth in the polls. The Republicans will run a social conservative from DuPage county, who really cares which one? Kerry will take this state by 20 points and the Democrats will probably pick up a Senate seat as well. While that's good from my point of view, local politics is still crooked as hell. We have a great system of picking judges - they are elected, but the local papers, TV news, even public radio do not cover them, so no one knows who they are. As a result, most people just vote for women and people with Irish names. So if you want to be a judge, just move to Illinois and change your name to Shannon O'Sheahan, you'll be in like O'Flynn.
IM portion of my post: Tony, I sort of envy you. I don't have any Republican friends, other than on Indian alcoholic I occasionally see who is studying econ at the University of Chicago. Where would I meet them? The only party loyalty in question here is Cubs v. White Sox. So I really have very little idea of what those people are thinking at all. The only Republicans I know are blood relatives, and they seem reluctant to discuss politics at all anymore. I think they are embarassed by the Bush Administration's corruption, irresponsibility, and incompetance, although they remain of course pro-military (some of them are military, after all). For that matter, I think of myself as pro-military at this point as well. It's the civilians at the Pentagon I want to see fired, especially the Office of Special Plans.
One last parade note: the crowds don't cheer for the NYPD boys anymore. After 9/11, they were like celebrities. I'll never forget this guy Muphy, the dorkiest cop you ever met, with a babe on each arm at the Irish Oak, St. Patty's 2002. What a difference two years make.
Hey, is there an e-mail address to which readers can respond to this blog? People have actually asked me about this.
Sunday, March 14, 2004
On Espana: Contacted my boyz in Madrid and Ibiza. They are in that all too familiar terror daze. Emi said that they are hoping that it is ETA because it's the horror that they know. To think that they are being attacked from outside is too hard to admit. I am holding off on suggesting that they are. Thanks a lot W.
Chip and I were discussing it tonight and I've decided that I no longer give a fuck what my republican friends think anymore. If they continue to give a blank check to this guy, I will not be cordial. The situation is too grave to be a nice fucking guy. Sorry Drew, I am going to be that fuck for the next 8 months.
I got invited to go to Ibiza. I have to get caught up on my Techno, but as far as I am concerned, I am going. We aren't getting any younger, I am not on the fast track to being the married guy (like you all), and every "warrior" needs one last defining war... and I don't think it involves the Lucky Bar. Maybe it does, but I am not going to find out.
"Police are on my drawers, I have to pause, fourty ounce in my lap and it's freezing my balls... Old English 800, 'cause that's my brand, take it in a bottle, 40 quart, or can, fuck the police and the 5-0 too."
I am out. Big ups to those who are in the know. BTW, Go Bearcats!
Friday, March 12, 2004
Soon it will be time to turn this mutha out.
sign this, 2 legit 2 quit
Tony, the bombings stink of al Queada. Coordinated attacks, soft targets, depraved contempt for human life. Either the bastards are responsible, or their tactics are spreading, which is too depressing to think about at the moment.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
C, we will have a couple and plan a better way to get this done over some of IHOP's best selections soon. Hope your fiance is up for it. Bobby, it would be great if you and Jen could join us one of the nights they are here. Maybe some tapas, a laptop and lot of drink?!
On hockey: I would guess that 40% of the spectators go there for the fights, which is an expression of what is wrong with our culture. For all the play that wrestling gets, hockey is the real deal. It sickens me, I don't get it, don't like it, and would much rather have a football season that lasted that long.
On ETA and the suspected connections with today's horrific scene in Madrid: It wasn't ETA. There is no way. This was the same al Queda folks that we know so well here in DC. Look for Aznar and his government to make a big deal of homeland security in the next couple of days going towards the elections. Spain, for what it is worth was one of the steadfast supporters of the Bush admin to get into the Iraq fight. Extremely unpopular war to go into for the citizens of Spain. This is their 9/11 and our sympathy should be with them today. Free societies pay a price. I love that country, but they are not far enough along in their democracy to deal with something of this magnitude. Please watch how they react to it. Is it just us, or are we all in for now? BTW, this is why I don't take the metro any more.
"[T]he nomination had appeared in doubt after Kerry's campaign had raised questions of why the Bush administration was picking someone to guide government efforts to halt the hemorrhage of American manufacturing jobs who had laid off 75 of his own workers in 2002 after announcing he was constructing a $3 million plant in China."
In my opinion, the most underreported major news story of the past year has been Halliburton. The way I read it, "This could materially and adversely affect our liquidity" is bureaucratese for "If we're forced to stop ripping off the public, we'll go bankrupt." I've spent enough time in Illinois to recognize kickbacks, cronyism and siphoning from the public tank when I see it. Hell, even Kass knows it, and he's a Bush supporter.
Instead of our negative vision, what is still right? Other than Ashcroft being in so much pain. I am sending that quote from Will to Jon Stewart... damn it.
Well, whatever. We had the disclaimer of random thoughts on this Blog thing, so I am not going to try to qualify my thought process.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
"We hung out in the Ger, the felt tent they live in, and talked for awhile with his family and friends.
As a note to share with any Republicans you know, as soon as they found out that I was an American, they felt my arms to see how strong I was (all Americans are super strong, they said) and told me that American people are good but "Bush stupid bad". They all then began to spit on the floor after saying his name. So even yak herders in the middle of Mongolia think Bush is a moron."
Yak herders. Come on, America, wake up!
Recent polls show Kerry leading Bush on almost all issues, except for the War on Terror. National security is Bush's strong issue? Apparently people haven't heard about the bureaucratic catastrophe that is the Department of Homeland Security (aren't you guys a little, um, nervous living that close to the Pentagon? I'd still be jumping out of my seat every time a door slams). Or the precarious state of our armed forces - “We have stressed our reserves and National Guard to the point of it will break and some of it is breaking,” said noted Bush-hating left-wing kook Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., of the Foreign Relations and Select Intelligence Committee. It's hard to believe this is Bush's strong suit. I'd almost rather trust him on the economy.
I did say almost.
On another note, it's primary day here next Tuesday, and I still haven't quite made up my mind. Illinois has a key open Senate seat. Pete Fitzgerald was not corrupt enough to keep the support of the Illinois Republican Party and even appointed an independant federal prosecutor (no relation). This was a cardinal sin because the Illinois Republican Party one giant graft, patronage, and kickback machine. So now we have a Senate seat we might even pick up (Petey only won because he was running against Carol Mosely Braun, whom even I would have trouble voting for). The cast of characters this time include Blair Hull, a multi-mega-millionaire who first made his fortune counting cards in Vegas. I do some work for one of his ex-girlfriends. I should come clean and tell you that he has paid for a lot of the work I've done for the Mental Health Association of Greater Chicago. Nice guy in person. He used to be the frontrunner but now he's in trouble because his ex-wife slapped him with a restraining order during his second divorce. Later he bought her a cushy state job by giving the Governor about $250,000 (Illinois has no campaign finance restrictions, making bribery basically legal). Sorry to say, I don't think he can win the general election. Maria Pappas was terrible in the debates but has the kind of neighborhood accent that resonates with working-class Dems and swing voters. Also, I hear she twirls a mean baton which could come in useful for certain key political events. Barack Obama was my State Senator on the South Side and a stand-up guy. But he's closely linked with Howard Dean and as an African American representing Hyde Park and the University of Chicago's pointy-headed intellectuals, he's a cultural alien to the rank and file. And his name is, well, unfortunate in the post 9/11 world. Speaking of the old neighorhood, a Hyde Park friend of mine is now the communications director for Gery Chico and she has personally asked for our support. Chico would be the first Mexican American Senator ever, I believe. But he used to be Chicago School Board President, and the schools still suck. In the debates, he seemed to advocate moving jobs to Mexico to reduce Mexican immigration - um, wrong on both counts, Gery. I met both Obama and Chico at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. I heard it on good authority that Obama is a "hottie." The Machine is running Dan Hynes and, well, Daley pays the bills around here. An operative actually struck up a conversation with me in the elevator today, telling me he thought Hynes "seems like a decent family-type guy, y'know?" I love this town. Hynes is State Comptroller and solid Party loyalist like his father before him. He's about 35 years old, which means we could hold this seat for a long, long time. They're corrupt, but in addition to kindly supplying me with rent money, they did give us Paul Simon (the Senator, not the singer) and Adlai Stevenson. Nancy Skinner is that rare, rare commodity - a left-wing talk radio host. Seriously, check out the web site. This is what Britney Spears will look like at 40. Joyce Washington is a health care executive who doesn't have a prayer. Anyway, I think she's from the suburbs . . .
Like everyone else, I know next to nothing about these people from the media because they are more interested in covering the frozen hellscape of New Hampshire than our own people. Because the Democrats are all city except maybe Washington you run into them, three degrees of separation or whatever. I have no idea how people in the sticks are going to decide. The Repubs are just as bizarre, because most veteran policians in Illinois are in prison or under indictment, leaving us with amateur hour. Currently the GOP race is mostly between a guy best known as the ex-husband of Boston Public and Star Trek star Jeri Ryan, and a guy who sells ice cream. You couldn't make this shit up.
I guess I'll make up my mind like everyone else, by going to the parade and judging the baton twirling.
Friday, March 05, 2004
1. Craig, you're the man. You are the first person to get me excited about Kerry... didn't think that could be done.
2. Do you guys ever wonder what Tenent has on Bush? How does he keep his job? There's got to be something there...
3. Wes Clark, National Security Advisor. I would say defense, but apparently there aren't many fans of him at the DOD.
4. Have you all looked at the job creation numbers for Feb? 21,000. That's not even close to the what they anticipated (110,000, which is less than we need just to keep up with folks entering the market). Also revised down were Jan and Dec (total job creation: 8,000). Are you fucking kidding me? He's got a lot of balls with those new ads saying how we need to stay the course.
I'm not going to verify that this is true though, because you have to register on the Friendster site in order to use it, and I don't want to be one of those people.
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
On the topic of gay marriage, why don't we all just get civil unions? I'm getting married this July 17, and my fiancee recently asked if we should get a civil union instead. We don't have those here in Illinois, but why not? The Cons are arguing that gay marriage threatens the "sanctity" of marriage, but "sanctity" is a religious thing, and the issue here is civil marriage. After all, gay couples can already get a church marriage, depending on the church. I know a gay couple who had a religious ceremony more than a year ago. So why don't we make marriage a church thing, and have the state give civil unions to everyone? Some guy named Thomas Jefferson once suggested a "wall of separation" between church and state . . .
Bob Barr, who wrote the Defense of Marriage Act, is opposed to the marriage discrimination amendment on states' rights grounds.
This is scary but true, the real Bush Agenda. Hey Bob, y'all should link to Truth Out, it can be pretty cool.
On a non-political note, I saw Audrey Niffenegger read tonight at the Newberry Library, which was great. Everybody should buy her book.
Monday, March 01, 2004
Craig's post from Sunday is really the best thing on this blog so far, so don't miss it, but since I am so preoccupied by the marriage debate these days and its sidecar of conservative hate and hypocrisy (CH&H for short?) I must mention it some more.
A Brief History of Marriage in America This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow
from salon.com's War Room '04 http://salon.com/politics/war_room/index.html/index.html we have:
From miscegenation to gay marriage
The New York Times columnist Bob Herbert looks at the similarities between arguments once made against interracial marriages and those being made today against same-sex marriage. It's time to get a grip, he says.
"One of the particularly absurd arguments against allowing gays to marry is that such a lapse would send us skidding down that dreadful slope to legalization of incest, polygamy, bestiality and so forth."
"That line of thinking reminded me of a passage in Randall Kennedy's book, 'Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption.' In a 19th-century miscegenation case, a black man in Tennessee was charged with criminal fornication. The man's defense was that the woman, who was white, was his wife. They had been married lawfully in another state. 'That argument,' wrote Mr. Kennedy, 'was rejected by the Tennessee Supreme Court, which maintained that its acceptance would necessarily lead to condoning `the father living with his daughter ... in lawful wedlock,'" and "the Turk being allowed to 'establish his harem at the doors of the capitol.'"
"We have a tendency to prohibit things simply because we don't like them. Because they don't appeal to us. They don't feel quite right. Or we've never done it that way before. And when things don't feel quite right, when they make us uncomfortable, we often leap, with no basis in fact, to the conclusion that they are unnatural, immoral, degenerate, against the will of God. And then the persecution begins."
LEAPING? With no basis in fact? I don't believe it. And then it says, "And then the persecution begins"? Actually, if it isn't that severe, that obscene, that explicit, it just allows people to return home to their boring ass lives and their boring ass 401k statements (if they have a job, that is) believing that their families are now safe from the deviants that surround them. I don't have a lot of gay friends, but I do have one very good one and I hate to see him hurt. I won't stand by while assholes like Bush and Robertson and Fallwell obliviously throw stones.
This might be of interest to all the craps players out there. It can be shown that two 6-sided dice with sides labeled [1,2,2,3,3,4] and [1,3,4,5,6,8] (called Sicherman dice) will present the exact same probabilitistic makeup as standard 6-sided dice. You can check all of it, but by way of further explanation, notice that standard dice have roll totals of 2 through 12, as do the Sicherman dice. Furthermore, for standard dice, there are 4 ways to get a roll total of, for example, 5: [1,4], [2,3], [3,2], and [4,1] For Sicherman dice, there are also 4 ways to get a roll total of 5: [1,4], [2,3], [2,3], and [4,1]
I suppose, though, that mentioning craps wasn't exactly correct since playing with Sicherman dice you lose the side bets of "boxcars" and the like.
Hey kids - guess what? The main residences for the President of the United States and for the Vice President of the United States are both located in balmy Washington, D.C. (expected high of 65 degrees today, the first day of March) Did you know that? Does W know that? This certainly isn't topical and quite possibly isn't even interesting, but it has always bothered me how quickly Bush packs it up to go back to Texas every chance he gets. I'm sure there's a framed piece of linen hanging somewhere on that famous Crawford compound (site of the infamous August 2001 month long vacation), cross-stitched with something sappy like, "Home is where you hang your saddle". How about, home is where the fucking powerseat of the goddamn free world is?
Plus, you'd like to think that with only a few months left here, he'd get in a few last meals at our fancy pants, non-BBQ, non-peanut-shells-on-the-floor restaurants.