Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Kerry's October surprise?

This story is not dying. Who would've thunk that a story about lost weapons would be getting this much mileage. And now the Kerry campaign is jumping right on it to continue their theme that Bush has disastrously handled post-war Iraq. It's been kind of hard to figure out the history of the story, but Josh at TPM has been the most coherent on the issue. In a nutshell, the IAEA had been responsible for monitoring these weapons (basically raw material for explosives), but were cut off from it when the American invasion started. After the invasion, the US military ignored the site and left it wide open for looters. The real story here is how the White House is spinning how much they knew. They're trying to spin it that they just found out about it along with everyone else, but the reality seems to be they knew about the site for 18 months, and asked the Iraqis to not tell the IAEA. Their limp excuse seems to be that they did not want the story getting out since they thought it would alert the 'enemy' to all these weapons. I guess we're suppose to assume, using White House logic, that non-enemies are the ones who stole it, and if the story went public, the real enemy would somehow get a hold of this stolen material. Got that?

This story has been getting some real play in the "liberal media", and it only hurts Bush. This is the closet Kerry will get to his own "October surprise", so he might as well milk it. He probably couldn't ask for a better "October surprise", than say, finding old photos of Bush snorting coke. Liberals are nervous as hell that Bush as his own surprise, with most predicting an Osama capture a few days before the election.

There's a week left, anything is possible.

-MB

Putin'fying for Bush

I think this says it all about what kind of person Bush is if an autocrat like Putin openly supports his candidacy. Vladimir Putin, the guy currently obliterating any signs of democracy emerging from Russia, has publicly endorsed Bush.

Although no Western European leader has publicly endorsed John Kerry, I'm going to go out on a limb and say the vast majority want him to win. Bush openly dismisses the leaders of France and Germany for speaking out, as is their right, against the war in Iraq, all the while, allowing his party to vilify these countries in the eyes of the American people, and yet is silent when Putin eliminates the last remaining shreds of open government in Russia. Why, sounds like a case of the Bush doctrine!


-MB

Friday, October 22, 2004

the long and the short

for those of us in the 'reality-based world,' american foreign policy can't be a combination of 'fortress america' plus an expeditionary ass-kicking force we send out to take down neighborhood thugs. it's got to involve some long-term adjustments in the way we relate to the world.

obsidian wings discusses a WaPost piece on the current administration's viewpoint vis a vis opinions of america in the muslim world:

"Bush and his aides most often deflect questions about recent global polls that have found sharply rising anti-U.S. sentiment in Arab and Muslim countries and in Europe, but one of them addressed it in a recent interview. Speaking for the president by White House arrangement, but declining to be identified, a high-ranking national security official said of the hostility detected in surveys: "I don't think it matters. It's about keeping the country safe, and I don't think that matters."

In what possible world can the fact that large and growing numbers of people in the Middle East hate us not matter? Those people provide terrorists with their recruits. They harbor terrorists, where a population more sympathetic to our aims might turn them in. I would have thought it obvious that in a world in which it is becoming easier and easier to acquire the knowledge necessary to create weapons, and in which it takes only a small number of determined people to cause us serious damage, the ability of terrorists to find disaffected people who hate us, and to work within a more or less sympathetic population, matters enormously. This is, of course, not to say that it's the only thing that matters, or that if we're just nice to all those disaffected people they will leave us alone, or anything. But minimizing both the pool of potential terrorist recruits and the pool of people sympathetic enough to give them cover is clearly one of the things that matters, and I don't think it's at the bottom of the list.

- LH

bush supporters understanding of their candidate

i mean, it speaks for itself:

– 75% believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.
– 74% believe Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in agreements on trade.
– 72% believe Iraq had WMD or a program to develop them.
– 72% believe Bush supports the treaty banning landmines.
– 69% believe Bush supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
– 61% believe if Bush knew there were no WMD he would not have gone to war.
– 60% believe most experts believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.
– 58% believe the Duelfer report concluded that Iraq had either WMD or a major program to develop them.
– 57% believe that the majority of people in the world would prefer to see Bush reelected.
– 56% believe most experts think Iraq had WMD.
– 55% believe the 9/11 report concluded Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.
– 51% believe Bush supports the Kyoto treaty.
– 20% believe Iraq was directly involved in 9/11.


is it that they don't care enough to know ? don't know enough to care ?

thanks to winning argument and dailykos

- LH

left behind on renewables

the developed nations of europe and asia have already passed us by, and threaten to leave us in the dust. oil and natural gas are price-volatile, politically unsustainable and environmentally troubling. if we wait for the GOP to catch onto this, it'll be too late:

Some of the shifting is the result of the volatility of oil and gas prices, says Steve Zwolinski, chief executive officer of GE Energy's wind energy division. "What's changed is energy security and fossil fuel volatility," says Mr. Zwolinski. However, he adds, "This is not just a knee-jerk reaction to a short-term price change, but it's people looking at energy reserves and environmental balance and the need for emerging economies to supply their growing cities."

- LH

fun with endangered species

bush's latest ad campaign - getting a little silly aren't we ? even if we indulge the reagan ad comparison, the bear was a pretty established symbol for the USSR. connecting wolves to terrorists seems like a reach. but hey, maybe it'll sell in swingin minnesota . . . oop, wait, they LIKE timberwolves up there.

then again, bush knows a bit about targeting wolves for extinction:

"The federal government has proposed removing federal protections for wolves throughout the entire eastern United States and thus effectively ending the species recovery before it is complete."

- LH

Thursday, October 21, 2004

the world series of metaphors

is anyone else freaked out that its massachusetts vs. texas in the world series ?

what are the chances of that happening ?

now i don't want to go overboard indulging the metaphor (clearly it wouldnt hold up to the first time someone points out that the sox beating the yankees is more like dean beating kerry in the primaries), but i do reserve the right to refer to roger clemens as 'zell' until it's over.

- LH

UPDATE: Our readers now know exactly how reliable the Thunderdome is on the subject of baseball. Thank goodness the NBA season is coming up . . .

return to slough

“I’ve created an atmosphere where I’m a friend first, boss second. Probably entertainer third.”

brilliant television is so rare.

- LH

the new opec: headquarters in moscow

the energy hole we're digging just keeps getting deeper. dig up, dig up !

in the washington post this week, artem agoulnik serves notice that america's dysfunctional and unsustainable relationship to energy goes beyond oil:

In Russia's hands, natural gas has become a geopolitical weapon. . . Russia has even begun to organize the world's natural gas exporters under its aegis. Analysts are predicting that the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, founded in 2001, may serve as a precursor to a natural gas OPEC with Russia at the helm. In the wake of the forum's June meeting in Cairo, the deputy chief executive of Gazprom, Alexander Ryazanov, made clear that the natural gas policies of member states should be "coordinated" so as to sell gas at the "highest price possible."

US foreign policy is already hobbled by our dependence on archaic, oppressive monarchies in the middle east; now we can look forward to building the same lasting, destructive, and disastrous bond with friend and aspiring autocrat vladmir putin.

i just call him vladmir.

- LH


Why is the media ignoring this?

Newsweak, which is better known for informative pieces on Nicole Kidman's love life, finally came through with this important piece on the escalating price of oil and its impact on middle east politics. The article looks at the rising price of oil and the flood of money flowing into the hands of the most despotic leaders in the region. The following passage leaves you kind of breathless, in that it quotes James Woolsey, former CIA chief, and one of the biggest cheerleaders for the Iraq invasion:

"The petrodollars we provide such nations contribute materially to the terrorist threats we face," said former CIA chief James Woolsey and other prominent neoconservatives in an open letter last month. The United States faces a "perfect storm" strategically and economically, they said, if it doesn't reduce its dependency on foreign oil. And there's every indication they're right. But these same pundits, passionate advocates of the Iraq invasion, now mildly insist on the need to use more hybrid cars and other technologies to reduce consumption.

Unbelievable. These neocons are now finally understanding the energy situation: as a key national security issue. Conveniently, they refuse to see the impact of the invasion of Iraq on oil prices. The article argues that the invasion has further ensconced the dictators in the region (punching another hole in Bush's theory that the Iraq war would spread democracy in the Middle East, in fact, it's done the opposite, as the article argues.). Money derived from higher oil prices, through direct and indirect ways, will funnel down to the terrorists. I wonder if neocons like Wellesley can get Bush as excited for promoting hybrid cars as they got him for invading Iraq. Maybe we'll see Bush driving a Toyota Prius up to his next campaign event, arguing it's one more front on the war on terror.

-MB


Wow. I'm speechless. The Bosox did it. Unbelievable. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Butterfly ballot idiot

Here's a nice column from Pat Buchanan chiming in on the Kerry "Mary Cheney" flap. I wonder if Lynne and Dick Cheney will be as equally outraged that such a prominent conservative like Buchanan compares their daughter to an alcoholic, or better yet, Catholic priests who have molested children. Lovely. And in some twisted, homophobic way, the column is written as if Buchanan is coming to Mary Cheney's defense. With friends like this, who needs...

-MB

Oops, I wasn't sarcastic enough.

Certain contributing writers of Liberal Thunderdome were concerned that our readers might miscontrue my recent blog about Britney Spears . So let me go on record here, no, I don't like Britney Spears in any capacity. And in no way does anyone else associated with Liberal Thunderdome like Britney Spears.

Although, under further consideration, I do have to admit she's quite a talented dancer, and she has a knack for writing creative and inspiring lyrics. And she never forgets the fans. Damn, I take it all back, I LOVE Britney Spears!

-MB

1918

Yowsers! The Sox win three in a row. They're the first baseball team in Major League history to tie it up after being down three games. Man, I really don't like baseball, but I have to admit, this is exciting. So it's basically a one game series. This reminds me of the Riverview Rams, down 2 touchdowns to Cardinal Mooney, and battling back and winning behind the skills of a star receiver and a gifted cornerback. Can the Bosox repeat the magic of that dream game?

-MB

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The dream is still alive

Dang, the Sox aren't done. Battling back, the Bosox win game 2, while down late in the game.

Two more. It's possible, right?

-MB

Hate state hypocrisy

It's absolutely shocking! This election season 12 states are deciding, via referendums, whether to amend their state's constitution to ban gay marriage. Here's an interesting statistic, only 1 of those states actually has a HETEROSEXUAL divorce rate below the national average of 3.5 divorces per 1000 marriages. Only North Dakota has managed to keep their divorce rate below that average (There weren't any statistics for Louisiana.).

Isn't that inspiring, a bunch of backward states are in the process of amending their constitution to prevent gays from being equal under the law, even though these twits can't manage to stay married themselves. Here's a thought, instead of passing gay-bashing amendments, that you say will protect the sanctity of marriage, why don't you hypocrite buffoons convince heterosexuals in your own backyards to sanctify their own marriages, instead of divorcing at a rate higher than the rest of the country.

-MB

What about her fans?

Damn. Say it ain't so.

We never "chill" from being her fans.

-MB

Monday, October 18, 2004

Gored

Liberal Thunderdome could not have said it better. Thanks Al Gore:

"The essential cruelty of Bush's game is that he takes an astonishingly selfish and greedy collection of economic and political proposals and then cloaks them with a phony moral authority, thus misleading many Americans ... who have a deep and genuine desire to do good in the world," Gore said.

"And in the process, he convinces them to lend unquestioning support for proposals that actually hurt their families and their communities," he said.

"Truly, President Bush has stolen the symbolism and body language of religion and used it to disguise the most radical effort in American history to take what rightfully belongs to the American people and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged," he said.

Al Gore has been absolute agro on the stump since he decided not to run again. And most of it has been pure gold.

-MB

no easy answers on taxes

president bush is happily flirting around with every possible replacement for our current tax system that any right-wing think tank can dream up. the latest fantasy - a national sales tax.

daniel altman takes a good look at it in the NYT, and paints a picture of political near-impossibility. i think W will move this little national dialogue from 'sales' to 'flat' awful fast.

- LH

a one issue voter ?

a lot of talk out there about 'one issue voters' choosing up sides in the coming days. one issue ? i'm sorry, but that's simply unconscionable. if the war on terror is the only issue that this country takes seriously anymore, then we've quite seriously already lost.

another bush presidency, more accurately, an electoral endorsement of the bush presidency, could have incredible and long-lasting implications on the way we live our lives in this country, even if al quaeda, islamic fundamentalism, and terror itself disappeared tomorrow.

there's a whole lot riding on this election; that doesn't make the issues surrounding foreign policy any less important, it makes a reasoned, thoughtful decision a great deal more so.

- LH

Uncle Sam wants YOU

I'm actually a bit surprised that Kerry is using the draft as a campaign issue, but I like it. Based on a conversation I had with another lefty, she didn't like it, and thought it was a petty way to get votes. I agree, it's petty, but that's how America works. Americans aren't interested in the nuanced, complex approach to policy issues, they WANT to be manipulated into voting one way or another. Kerry recognizes this defining characteristic of the American voter.

I think this worries the Bushies, that's why he's saying, in a bizarre twist of the situation, that he's the best candidate to avoid a draft. Of course there's NO logic to his position, but it's his way of addressing the issue. To me, this is a no brainer for Bush. He could completely deflate this issue by nullifying any chance we might need a draft by encouraging his younger supporters to enlist. There are literally tens of thousands of College Republicans in the nation's universities and most have publicly come out to support Bush's Iraq war. I wonder, if Bush were to hold a press conference, asking his core young supporters in the College Republicans, to take up this "calling of our generation...", how many would actually enlist? So far, we're not seeing it, but what if Bush specifically asked for them to enlist, would they? Let me take a wild guess what most might say, in the words of our courageous Vice-Prez Cheney, referring to his multiple draft deferments for the Vietnam War, "
I had other priorities ... than military service."

Be all you can be indeed!

-MB

A spark remains...

Good news Bosox fans, the Sox are still alive. Down 3 games, they battle back. I really don't like baseball, but I have to admit, I would like to see the Sox win it all. Boston is one of my favorite cities and the people there deserve it, after so many years of heartbreak. Go Sox!!

-MB

Warped

This article in Nytimes Magazine by Ron Suskind has been getting a lot of mileage in the blog world, but it's soooo good, that LT will link to it too.

There's a lot of insightful, and disturbing, information in the article, but what stands out for me is the focus on Bush's Christian faith. The article quotes several "real" Americans who are convinced that Bush is on a mission from God, and their faith in Bush is a direct correlation with their faith in God.

These people have reinforced my belief that there is, for a large majority of religious Americans, a complete disconnect with modern spirituality and one's ability to truly understand a complex world. It's a shame to see what has happened, since if you look historically at some of the great social movements, Christianity was a motivating force, eg, the labor movement, and even more so, the Civil Rights movement. Now that the Religious right has hijacked the public face of Christianity, it seems the most pressing issues are volatile social ones, or worse, in the eyes of the Christian Coalition, the oppressive nature of our tax system.

One of the few positives that might come out of a Bush victory in November is that it will expose the Religious Right for the vacuous, amoral, hypocritical movement that it is. My hope is that another 4 years of Bush, and the empowerment of the Religious right, will inevitably obliterate the relationship between Christianity and the Right. Many would argue that a Bush victory will only empower, and solidify their power. I disagree. America is too secular, and at some point, the American public will buckle under the overbearing yoke of a pseudo-religious political movement. That's why gay marriage and abortion have become such hot issues, it's really the last gasp of the Religious right to have any long term influence on these issues. The march toward secularism is inevitable, for better or for worse, and many in the right wing Christian movement understand this. That's why it's getting so nasty.

-MB

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The gay flap

It really is odd to see how much mileage this issue - Kerry mentioning Dick Cheney's gay daughter in his answer to his question about gay marriage - is getting in the press. A lot of folks think it was a mistake by Kerry to bring her into this debate, but I'm going to give Kerry more credit than that. This issue just might disappear, but it also might stay alive, just under the radar until the election. Kerry is just too calculating a figure to just let something random and emotional like that just blurt out. I think he knew what kind of reaction there would be, and initially, I would guess he knew there would be a negative reaction to him bringing it up. But if does continue to get play, I think it helps him in the long run, mainly because it requires all of Bush's right wing pseudo religious supporters to talk about an issue they're very uncomfortable talking about. Most are in complete denial that their Vice-President has a gay daughter. It's just too incomprehensible for them to think their ultra rightwing nutbag leaders would somehow be so flawed (in their eyes) as to raise a gay daughter. So, they can't really come out and defend the president and attack Kerry without exposing their own vitriolic history on the subject.

And that brings me to the depraved situation the Cheney's have embraced. It's quite pathetic to see Lynne Cheney get upset that John Kerry mentions her daughter, in a question about homosexuality, and not get equally upset when some of her husband's core supporters use language that equates Lynne's daughter's behavior with pedophilia, beastiality, alcoholism, or a host of other quite nasty comparisons. Where's Lynne's outrage for these comments? Well, it's quite easy to understand, since it would put her into a position where she would end up attacking a huge chunk of the people that keep her husband and that doofus Bush in power. Let's take a quote from one of Bush's most ardent supporters:

When lawlessness is abroad in the land, the same thing will happen here that happened in Nazi Germany. Many of those people involved in Adolph Hitler were Satanists. Many of them were homosexuals. The two things seem to go together. Pat Robertson, Christian Coalition, 700 Club 1/21/93
That's an old quote, and there are more recent ones in a similar vein, but I thought that would be a useful one to demonstrate the venomous rhetoric spewing forth from some of Cheney/Bush's most loyal supporters.

Can you just imagine the scenes that play out, over and over again, as Lynne and her husband attend innumerable fundraisers and pep rallies, where over caviar and expensive wine, these people, oblivious to Mary Cheney's sexual orientation, tell Lynne and her husband to keep up the fight against these "gay activists who want to molest our children..." I wonder if Lynne even winces when something like this is said, or does she just force a grin and thank the person for supporting her husband. It seems that the Cheney's are close to their children. Mary even works on her father's campaign, but you have to wonder what stomach churning family values they have, that they would continue to pander to this most hateful element of American society, simply in a desperate bid to stay in power. Well, I think I just answered that question myself. Family values indeed.

-MB


Friday, October 15, 2004

hollywood is run by fascist maniac bad people

how else can you explain this casting ?

if you're going to remake the classics, show them some respect. dignity. integrity. sean william scott isn't fit to be the stunt double for whatever b-list actor they get to play cooter. johnny knoxville ? filling tom wopat's shoes ? laughable.

this should be a damon-affleck project, but i'd settle for jim caviezel and val kilmer. pacino as hogg, backed up perhaps by a harrison ford as roscoe coltrain and, i dont know, ed norton as enos ?

i'm not even going to address casting a blonde as daisy duke. pure laziness. as if catherine zeta-jones wouldn't KILL for that role.

pathetic.

- LH

colorado's amendment 37

ballot initiatives are no friend to good government. they're a non (or is it bi) partisan way to oversimplify complex issues and put them in front of underinformed voters. by nature, they're vulnerable to scare tactics, disinformation, and race-to-the-bottom public campaigns. but that doesn't mean that every initiative that makes the ballot is lousy, and colorado, with its ongoing conflict over public lands and the environment, has seen some mighty interesting ones.

amendment 37 establishes a renewable energy portfolio standard - meaning that 10% of colorado's energy must come from renewable sources (mainly wind, in this case) by 2015. seems fairly harmless and reasonable right ? 10% in 10 years ? who could argue with that ?

why, the enormously profitable utility, of course. they've even formed a nauseatingly named 'citizen' group to pimp their message on the company dime. a former employee of xcel energy notes:

Citizens for Sensible Energy Choices stated publicly that it is willing to spend up to $10 million to defeat the Amendment. Much of that money will go to advertising. It's still not clear whether ratepayer money finances this opposition; Xcel has refused publicly to account for its monetary and in-kind contributions to the issue committee. It also refused to account for its allegations that the Amendment will cost ratepayers an additional $580 million to $1.5 billion over the next 20 years, based on price forecasts for natural gas.

of course, those numbers are pure, unadulterated garbage. colorado's former consumer counsel took a look and concluded that "the rate impact will likely be negligible - it is most likely to lower rates by a penny a month for the average Colorado residential customer over the next 20 years. After my report was published, Congress reinstated tax credits for wind-energy producers, making those savings slightly larger. "

$10 million for a dirty and possibly illegal campaign to fight renewable energy ? let's hope coloradans can see through the profit-mongering charade and make the choice that benefits the residents of the state, rather than xcel's shareholders. and if you're a shareholder, its time to sell.

- LH




not that any republicans care

but let's be crystal clear about the bill that W claimed to have supported to raise the minimum wage in this country.

it doesn't exist, never existed, and probably never will exist.

great post by kevin drum; this president's relationship to the truth has never been more dysfunctional.

- LH

sullivan on cheney

andrew sullivan has been brilliant in his ongoing discussion of the manufactured tempest over john kerry's mention of lynne cheney in debate #3. suffice it to say, the hubbub is such transparent misdirection, such an obvious attempt at distraction from the president's third and final debate meltdown, that it merits no further mention beyond the shame that the media should feel for even wasting a single news-cycle on it. lets see how far the bush teams faux-indignance smokescreen of homophobia gets them in the next few days. i'm sure they're just thrilled that noone's talking about bush's 'i'm just not that concerned about him' quote.

- LH

are you nervous yet part 2

it goes beyond issues of ideology, tactics, strategy, whatever. this is a question of basic competence. if you are one of those who accept the tenuous premise that WMD's were the driving force behind the invasion, then you should feel nothing but outrage and fury at this administrations inability to deal with the disappearance of nuclear program-related equipment and materials.

Several diplomats close to the IAEA said the disappearance of the nuclear items was not the result of haphazard looting. They said the removal of the dual-use equipment -- which before the war was tagged and closely monitored by the IAEA to ensure it was not being used in a weapons program -- was planned and executed by people who knew what they were doing.

"We're talking about dozens of sites being dismantled," a diplomat said on condition of anonymity. "Large numbers of buildings taken down, warehouses were emptied and removed. This would require heavy machinery, demolition equipment. This is not something that you'd do overnight."

outrage and fury. conservatives, take a look in the mirror here. is this president REALLY serious about protecting you or this country ? and if you believe he's serious, is he capable ?

- LH

Thursday, October 14, 2004

boot boots

max boot makes a valiant attempt to find some kind of conservative storyline to undermine the reality that is becoming startlingly clear to the electorate: john kerry will indeed fight terror more effectively than george w. bush. Ignoring the policy decisions and consequences of bush’s addled thinking, boot grasps at craven emotionalism for his last-ditch defense:

Bush gets it; he was transformed by 9/11. His policy implementation has been shaky, to say the least, but at least he has shown a sense of urgency in combating terrorism and weapons proliferation that was missing in the 1990s. Kerry claims a similar sense of purpose, but he told the Times that the attacks on America "didn't change me much at all." That's a lot scarier than having a president who's clueless about "the Internets."

john kerry wasn’t affected by 9/11 ? 9/11 didn’t change everything for him ? what is he, some kind of emotionless liberal automaton ?

of course not. John kerry states he wasn’t changed much at all because, where W. was utterly ignorant and in denial about al quaeda and the terror threat during the first 9 months of his presidency, john kerry has been aware and focused on it for years. Kerry didn’t discover al quaeda on 9/11, when the rest of us did – he’s been thinking and working on how to deal with these kinds of issues since W was running a baseball team. Sure, kerry could have performed some emotional histrionics in this interview; tossed out some macho language and let the reporter see his eyes redden. But I think this country has suffered enough empty emotionalism for one millenium, don’t you ?

- LH

an ideological rorshach ?

what does this article really signify ?

that the germans are recalcitrant cowards who aren't serious about stopping terrorism or the future of afghanistan ?

or that bush has so damaged our international relations that our allies have functionally given up on working with him, and maybe us, for the near term ?

i actually don't know which answer is closer to the truth. i'm not entirely comfortable with either of them. there's a 'bush' answer and a 'kerry' answer, obviously, but a 'right' answer ?

- LH

debate #3

andrew sullivan's analysis this morning hits the nail right on the head. bush had some outstanding personal/emotional moments, and performed respectably overall. his answers on the softball questions (faith, women in his life) were genuine and sincere: outstanding, really. but the real story to me is kerry. he maintained all his strengths from previous debates, and even managed to measure up to bush on the personal issues. don't get me wrong - bush's answers in that regard were stronger, but kerry suprised me by being as solid as he was. bush got off two quality lines on the question about women in his family to lead off, then went sincere. kerry somehow managed to get in a nicely self-deprecating joke about teresa - and laugh at himself on the double take. that was a nice move in a tough situation where the comedic window of opportunity seemed to have already closed.

on substance ? why bother. it was another marathon of incomplete and inaccurate generalizations. kerry tried hard to explain his health care plan, but something like health care is awful hard to boil down into 90 seconds. on the whole, kerry sounded more thoughtful and more substantial on nearly every issue. he was oddly enough less comfortable than bush on gay marriage and abortion (perhaps because bush is speaking more sincerely while kerry is navigating carefully on those issues).

i'm more disappointed in bob schieffer, who managed to burn valuable clock on questions about the flu vaccine and religious faith, instead of maybe something marginally more relevant to this election, perhaps energy policy or global warming.

the post-debate analysis has been surprisingly focused on debunking the 'facts' touted. kerry very nearly hurt himself with his surprising claim about bush not meeting with the CBC. but that small dishonesty is going to disappear (along with the dishonesty of bush's '98 tax increase votes' mantra) in the enormous wake of kerry's resurrection of the bush quote on bin laden. i think kerry may just have found the hard evidentiary piece that closes this deal for the electorate.

- LH

Friedman Green Tomatoes

Thomas Friedman writes what has to be his most forceful, confrontational column during the entire 4 years Bush has been in office. There's some really great stuff in here:

The Bush team's responses to Mr. Kerry's musings are revealing because they go to the very heart of how much this administration has become addicted to 9/11. The president has exploited the terrorism issue for political ends - trying to make it into another wedge issue like abortion, guns or gay rights - to rally the Republican base and push his own political agenda. But it is precisely this exploitation of 9/11 that has gotten him and the country off-track, because it has not only created a wedge between Republicans and Democrats, it's also created a wedge between America and the rest of the world, between America and its own historical identity, and between the president and common sense.

It doesn't stop there:

By exploiting the emotions around 9/11, Mr. Bush took a far-right agenda on taxes, the environment and social issues - for which he had no electoral mandate - and drove it into a 9/12 world. In doing so, Mr. Bush made himself the most divisive and polarizing president in modern history.
Finally:

I want a president who can one day restore Sept. 11th to its rightful place on the calendar: as the day after Sept. 10th and before Sept. 12th. I do not want it to become a day that defines us. Because ultimately Sept. 11th is about them - the bad guys - not about us. We're about the Fourth of July.
This is a great column, but I also resent the hell out of it. This was a column that should have been written two months before the 2002 mid-term elections. By then it was obvious that Bush and his minions were going to use 911 for political purposes. It didn't take 3 years to blow the goodwill and unity created by 911, it took about 6 months. If Friedman had written this column, oh, let's say after the first of the commercials that came out using Osama Bin Laden in smear ads against Georgia Senator Max Cleland in his failed senate race , it might have awakened a few more people to what Bush was doing. Great column, but if Bush wins, it's too little, too late.

-MB


Can anyone think of a more important, more electrifiying, more inspiring football player than the 1988-1990 circa Tampa Bay Buccaneer Lars Tate? I can't. Posted by Hello

Debate-terator

The third and final Presidential debate has come and gone and the winner is ... Kerry. (transcript here.)

Kerry didn't dominate as much as I would have liked, but he didn't make any major gaffes and Bush absolutely blew any opportunity he had to paint Kerry into a liberal, and damaging, corner. Of course the liberals dominated the post-debate spin and racked up a bunch of victories on the online polls. Of course, these polls are scientifically garbage, but if they can add to the spin, then it's worth it. For some of the more reliable polling, it looks like Kerry dominated except in the ABC poll, where he won by one point (but more Republicans were polled, so the numbers are skewed somewhat). So any way you want to look at it, Kerry won. Now it's a waiting game to see what the conventional wisdom will be. An early theme coming out is that Bush assumed a different persona for each debate, similar circumstances to how Gore was portrayed over the three 2000 election debates.

My take is that I thought Kerry won on substance. Bush answered some of the "heart string" questions effectively, but he did nothing to undermine Kerry's growing gravitas.

Kerry is in a great position for these last 3 weeks, let's just hope there aren't any October surprises, eg, maybe a Bush endorsement from Corey Feldman. That's something Kerry could never recover from.

-MB

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

ah, democracy !

indeed, i'm sure this is what the founders envisioned . . .

"It was a perfect storm for pork, in that they added all these provisions that were really important to lawmakers in an election year,''

another humiliating day in america.

- LH

are you nervous yet ?

is this administration serious about ANYTHING ? nuclear equipment, disappearing into thin air. if this weren't so utterly terrifying, it would be hilarious:

"The worry would be that if [the missing equipment] fell into the wrong hands, it could be used in a nuclear weapons program," says IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming, in Vienna.

"It's not nuclear material, [but] it doesn't make us feel comfortable that it is potentially on the black market," says Ms. Fleming. "We don't know where it is. All we can do when we watch these things from the sky, is see that if the building is gone, the equipment inside is gone."
The speed and number of sites that have been dismantled leads the IAEA to believe that it is "systematic," says Fleming. "It's hard to read into it, because we've seen a flourishing trade in scrap metal in Iraq."


And there have been signs that thieves may be interested in more than scrap. "Some of the looting is very strategically timed," says CEIP's Wolfsthal. "They're stealing only specialized items - that would suggest it wasn't just the work of looters, but that there was some strategic purpose."

well, at least the oil ministry has been well protected from day one.

- LH

unmaking history - an LT guest post !

a special feature in the thunderdome today - our first ever 'guest post' !

'johnny the boy', enviro attorney, middling NBA fantasy league GM, and well-connected in the international cello community, for what we hope will be the first of many fine posts:

During the second presidential debate, Bush floated the notion that contrary to the rumors, he’s actually a darn "good steward" of our country’s environment. By way of evidence, he pointed to long-term data which show that air quality has generally improved since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970. As enviro-political rhetoric goes, that’s pretty good stuff – it offers voters a happier alternative to the doom-and-gloom paradigm that environmentalists have been known to peddle and it smacks of historical determinism. Environmental indicators are trending upward, Bush could be heard to say, and will continue to do so regardless of what Senator Inhofe, Gale Norton, and I do about it. So relax already.

Unfortunately, he’s wrong. The Bush Administration’s environmental policies have actually stopped the march of history in its tracks. Seth Borenstein of Knight-Ridder looked at 14 different statistical markers of environmental quality, and found that 9 showed a decline, two showed improvement, and three were mixed. "On Bush’s watch,"
writes Borenstein, "America’s environment deteriorated in many critical areas – including the quality of air in cities and the quality of water that people drink – and gained in very few."

The poster child for all this u-turning may be the Bush Administration’s attempt roll back New Source Review regulations, which require power plants and other industrial facilities to install modern pollution controls when they make "any physical change" that causes them to emit additional air pollution. EPA investigators found that old coal-fired power plants had repeatedly violated NSR throughout the 80s and 90s, and sued the plants’ owners in federal court. The companies have claimed they were merely engaged in "routine maintenance" – which is exempt from NSR – even when they spent hundreds of millions of dollars and built dedicated railroads in order to carry out all that "maintenance."

In the name of regulatory flexibility and all else that is holy, Bush appointees at EPA endeavored to give "routine maintenance" a definition the Chamber of Commerce would be proud of. Career staffers involved in the enforcement cases suggested that a power plant maintenance project should be exempt from NSR as "routine" if it costs 0.75% or less of the replacement value of the plant. The Bushies presumably thanked them for their invaluable input and finalized an exemption level of 20% – a level that, in the words of the former Bush-appointed head of enforcement,
"doesn’t pass the laugh test." Even though the rule has been temporarily invalidated by the US Court of Appeals, EPA’s Inspector General found that it has "seriously hampered" the enforcement effort.

EPA politicos have given the IG report the swift boat treatment and claimed that other air quality initiatives such as the Clear Skies Act (which the president touted in last week’s debate) would cover any regulatory shortfalls that may have been created when the knees were cut out from NSR. But as the NYT wrote, the long-promised initiatives have yet to materialize and "[a]ll we’ve seen is
something that works flying out the window."

- JtB


Quit your jibber-jabber!

Finally. Why, exactly, did this take so long to happen? Still, this just won't seem right unless Dirk Benedict has at least some role, even a minor one.

-MB

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

bush's supreme legacy

what seems more likely to you, fair residents of bartertown ? that a reelected george w. bush, recognizing the political schism in this country and fearing the narrowly divided senate, will choose a supreme court nominee who is relatively moderate, respected, and rationally confirmable by the centrist members of both parties ?

or are you one of those nutjobs who insists on making judgements about bush's future behavior based on his actual decisions of the past four years ?

- LH

Monday, October 11, 2004

conservatives rationalizing - funny to watch until its not

martin peretz, editor in chief of formerly left and now quite centrist although very much pro-Democrat 'the new republic' tips his hand hilariously and early in his latest apologist adventure trying to find a way to feel good about W. in a piece that is no less absurd throughout, he writes:

even on the environment, where a great gulf supposedly separates the candidates, Kerry's promises are exuberant but vague, and George W. Bush, as governor of Texas, promoted one of the largest and most productive programs of wind farms in the country. This actually diminishes our dependency on Middle Eastern oil, something Kerry's rhetoric about energy independence does not.

simply breathtaking. kerry's detailed plans are dismissed as vague, while peretz ignores FOUR ENTIRE YEARS of presidency to reach back to a texas wind farm project. (tree huggers will of course also note that peretz is clearly out of his comfort zone - no wind farm in the world is producing fuel for cars; its providing electricity. not a drop of middle east oil was saved by those farms, regardless of whatever other value they might have.

its becoming clearer people. what it takes to vote W in this election is beginning to materialize. it takes an exceedingly unhealthy relationship with reality, and an enthusiastic willingness to tell yourself whatever it is you want to hear. for a raging ideologue, bush is ever more a blank slate, upon which conservatives and their ilk project hilariously idealized images reflecting the colors of their own conscience. on november 3rd, they'll have to take responsibility for the image bush chooses to project upon the world.

- LH

UPDATE: in case there was any question. . .

The Washington Post has a great, insightful article about temporary workers in America. This is one of those issues that is absolutely huge, but rarely gets the attention it deserves. There's a profound shift occurring in the American middle class, and to understand why it's happening, you need to look no further than the rise of the temp worker. Temping can be helpful for people looking for short-term work, with relatively decent wages, but it's a disaster when corporations use it as the modus operandi for how they employ people. Most temp workers don't get health insurance; receive lower wages than full-time employees, while doing the exact same work; and most importantly, the uncertainty of keeping a job long-term.

This is an issue that should really resonate with some blue collar, and especially, some professional middle class voters, but it's almost impossible to explain over the din of issues like gay rights and abortion. If Americans really understood what was happening with issues like this, the GOP would be toast, since they have no answers, or more realistically, they simply don't care.

-MB


Washout down under

John Howard, one of the key leaders of the US "coalition" in Iraq, won reelection in a cakewalk.

In hindsight, I'm surprised it was as close as it was, at least as it appeared through most of the election cycle. The economy is just HUMMING. Iraq is almost a non issue now, since they have around 300 soldiers there, in noncombat roles.

If you just consider the situation in Australia, specifically, economic conditions, it would've been shocking had he lost. The economy was in the toilet a few years before he came on, which I'm sure a lot of voters remembered. And Howard can run on this issue all day. Economic issues are even more important in Oz than they are in the states. I don't like Howard (he seems to be a pathalogical liar), although he's more tolerable than Bush. Conservatives in Oz are like Republican lite. I really wanted him to lose just because it would have been one more member of the "coalition" going down in flames. Oh well.

-MB

easterbrook gets it right

while plenty of reporters are cynically trying to convince the electorate that kerry and bush are equally deceptive and lacking in credibility in regards to energy planning, gregg easterbrook shatters that myth with a definitive piece on kerry's serious, responsible, and maybe even a little groundbreaking plan:

In short, eliminating U.S. dependence on Gulf-state oil is not a granola-crunching fantasy. All that's needed is a one-third MPG improvement, an extremely doable goal. Moreover, this goal is achievable within roughly a decade: Five years' notice to automakers to allow them to adjust plans and production (this avoids harm to Detroit), five years of sales of higher-MPG vehicles, and then the United States can kiss the Persian Gulf goodbye. When Kerry promises "a secure America independent of Middle East oil," he is not blowing smoke. He is setting a realistic goal that can be achieved in the near term.

there's a lot more where that comes from, and it represents an effort not only with enormous environmental impacts, but geopolitical and economic consequences that are incredibly, incredibly attractive:

The United States would no longer need to offer its soldiers' blood in defense of Gulf oil fields, nor coddle corrupt Gulf dictatorships. In addition to improving U.S. national security, an end to purchases of Persian Gulf oil could improve economic security. If rising Chinese demand for oil causes a long-term rise in prices, to perhaps $75 per barrel, the U.S. economy may be severely damaged--unless fuel efficiency reduces our need for oil.

- LH

leave a message for lord humungus at the beep

call me a luddite, but i do not want a cell phone. friends and family put the constant full-court pressure on this issue, but something about the notion of being constantly reachable has always seemed less than ideal to me. sunday's NYT put a fraction of that bigger discomfort into perspective:

There is no question that instant access to a phone can save lives. People report fires and robberies, heart attacks and car crashes; parents keep tabs on children; grown children stay in touch with elderly parents. Knowing that you can always call for help in an emergency makes people feel safer.

But they also tether people more closely and constantly to others, and in recent months a growing number of experts have identified and begun to study a distinct downside in that: cellphone use may be making us less autonomous and less capable of solving problems on our own, even when the answers are right in front of us.

According to Christine Rosen, a senior editor at the journal New Atlantis and the author of "Our Cellphones, Ourselves," a recent article exploring the social effects of the mobile phone, the ease of obtaining instant advice encourages cellphone users to respond to any uncertainty, crucial or trivial, by dialing instead of deciding. The green sweater or the blue, pizza or Chinese, the bridge or the tunnel - why take responsibility for making up your own mind when you can convene a meeting in a minute?

"Cellphones foster a curious dependency," Ms. Rosen said. "The cellphone erodes something that is being obliterated in American society: self-reliance."

i couldn't agree more. there's something to be said for the adventure of figuring out what to order your spouse for dinner, where exactly you're supposed to meet someone, and getting a little lost. i dont doubt that cell phones are the future, and in my future, but at least for awhile, i'll choose unreachability and the chance to do it myself.

- LH

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The most delusional column ever written

David Brooks has written THE most delusional column in the history of the world. I know, I know, that's a pretty bold statement, since there are a lot of delusional commentators out there, but his most recent NYTimes column far surpasses any rantings we've seen. It makes Ann Coulter's columns seem noble and enlightening by comparison.

With the exception of the Prez and Vice-Prez, everyone interpreted the final weapons report as saying Saddam did NOT have any WMDs, and most importantly, he was a DIMINISHING threat. Brooks, on some mushroom, coke, heroin, cheap glue, pcb-laden crack induced high begs to differ.

I know the Times editorial board gives its writers a lot of leeway but I wonder if they burst out laughing when he handed this one in.

-MB

ps- Brooks goes out of his way to mock France, Russia and China for engaging Saddam in these backdoor UN "oil for food" deals, but he fails to mention the role of US companies in these sweetheart deals, recently in the news. Brooks is a delusional ass.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Sludge Majority Leader

Tom Delay is going for a record! Two, count em', two rebukes by the House Ethics committee in ONE week. Wow, if he can stay focused, keep his eye on the ball, maybe, just maybe he can go for the trifecta. He'll have to act fast if he's going to get his third one in a week, since it's Friday and the week is closing fast.

Delay is toxic sludge. All you need to know about the Republican Party today is by understanding Tom Delay. A party that can elect this weasel majority leader is ideologically depraved. If we're lucky, this troll will be indicted in Texas before the election.

Leave it to Delay to get in a lick against the Democrats. Here's what he has to say about the Democrats call for his resignation:

DeLay, a 10-term House veteran, said he remains focused on fighting terrorism and preventing another 9/11. "By the Democrats' actions today, it is clear they are focused on something else entirely: a smear campaign," he said.
There's a punchline, Delay focusing on terrorism. The toxic avenger also had to get in one lick implying that Dems are leaving us vulnerable to another 911 by attacking him.

Delay has one focus in life and that's the complete and utter deification of the dollar.

-MB

Thursday, October 07, 2004

understanding sudan

now that the 'foreign policy' presidential debate is past, and the campaign has taken on a tone of desperation, don't expect to hear either candidate talking about new future responsibilities of the USA overseas - not in any responsible or meaningful way. iraq past/present/future will dominate the stage, for better or worse. i know it won't be part of the rhetoric, but i wonder if either candidate is serious about a meaningful role in darfur:

Meanwhile, Sudan wouldn't be so successful, critics say, except that the US and world haven't been paying close enough attention to discern its wily tactics. The amount of diplomatic energy from the US - while substantial - hasn't been sufficient, they say. "The diplomatic community is only working part time on this, while Sudan's government is working overtime," says John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group in Washington.

- LH

friedman explodes !

this break to write a book may be the best thing thats ever happened to the guy. i cant help but wonder if the time off allowed him to shed both his unrealistic optimism and need to defend that optimism, because he's come back hitting hard and speaking truth.

The Bush team . . . has treated the Arab-Israeli issue with benign neglect, failed to find any way to communicate with the Arab world and adopted an energy policy that is supporting the worst Arab oil regimes and the worst trends. Phil Verleger, one of the nation's top energy consultants and a longtime advocate of a gas tax, puts it succinctly: "U.S. energy policy today is in support of terrorism - not the war on terrorism."

our current energy policy: enormous environmental consequences, dramatic economic consequences (funneling money overseas instead of investing it in domestic energy generation) and absolutely carcinogenic consequences for our relationship to the world. our addiction to oil is bleeding the economy while heating the globe to 'simmer' from an ecological standpoint and 'rolling boil' internationally. think about the opportunity george bush had to alter this relationship on 9/12; think about the choices he's made instead. it's unconscionable.

- LH

World Exclusive LT Interview !!!!

This is Liberal Thunderdome's first world exclusive interview. Originally, we were hoping to get Ted Kennedy for this interview, but we had scheduling conflicts. Sorry Ted, our bad. So we had the next best thing, an interview with our own Lord Humungus.


MasterBlaster
Question 1: LH, in public, Dick Cheney is stereotyped as a lovable, huggable teddy bear. Based on your own personal knowledge of the VP, who's the real Dick Cheney? Is this an honest portrayal?

Lord Humungus: Huggability is notoriously difficult to measure. I always felt that Louie Anderson was a particularly huggable fellow, sort of the anti-Corey Haim, who's simply unhuggable on any rational level. Cheney certainly has that Anderson-esque quality of dry humor and partial obesity, and yet I just don’t feel comfortable with him. maybe its the fact that he's pathologically dishonest and startlingly disinterested in the use of government to help people who don't belong to his country club.

Question2: LT is accused of having a liberal bias. Under what circumstances would you vote for Bush?

Lord Humungus: I think if he was running against an eggplant, I would have to consider his candidacy. At least ask the tough questions, you know, what would the eggplant do about north korea, was the eggplant in Cambodia in 1968, that kind of thing. Try to level the playing field.

Question 3: How would you feel about the Southeastern United States, with the exception of Florida, seceding from the nation? Bad idea or tonic for the nation's ills?

Lord Humungus: I think secession is a very underrated strategy for getting the US back on track. dumping the south would certainly cost America in terms of the quality of our college football, but otherwise its a dramatic gain. given the fact that the south is a giant federal tax vampire, not to mention the home of nearly all the lowest ranking states in terms of education, health care, etc... I just don’t see any negatives to it. maybe we could get the university of Miami to play its non-conference games internationally.

Question 4: Elton John recently attacked Madonna for lip-synching during her concerts. Any way this might impact the Presidential election?

Lord Humungus: I found John's attacks deeply troubling. here's a guy who regularly wore giant eyeglasses on stage, which appeared to serve no medically-necessitated optometric purpose, nor did they provide significant corneal UV protection. so if he's talking about honesty and integrity on stage, well, glass houses and all that.

Question 5: If and when the networks do a telemovie on Bush's life, what former child star would best portray him?

Lord Humungus: Does Pauly Shore count as a child star ? because I think playing bush is a dramatic stretch he could really make. i feel like their careers are following similar arcs anyway. maybe Adam rich is the obvious choice though. I’m going with Kirk Cameron. he always had that vacuous charm and intellectual shallowness; now he has the religious fundamentalism to match. obvious question is 'can he deliver on the smirk ?' I say yes.

Question 6: Were the Reagan years all that bad if they gave us the A-Team, Charles in Charge AND My Two Dads?

Lord Humungus: I think its absurd to assume that Reagan’s policies were in any way responsible for the sitcom renaissance of the period. its like holding him responsible for the eruption of mount st. helens. or Iran-contra. the man simply wasn’t intellectually capable of such profound influence. the reality is that all three of those shows represent a unity of cosmic circumstance that brought together a pair of incendiary talents at the dawn of their respective careers. Aames and Baio, Reiser and Evigan, and of course Benedict and 'T'. all three pairings the result of some kind of celebrity pareto-optimality wherein the arcs of their early ascent to stardom crossed paths and produced brilliance. sure, its tempting to suggest that supply-side economics may have produced a fertile environment for this kind of entertainment epiphany, but Arthur Laffer I’m not.

Question 7: Any chance that Tom Delay will switch parties before the election?

Lord Humungus: I think its entirely possible. when the moderate wing of the GOP insisted on removing the 'Liberal Round-Up and Branding Provisions' from USA PATRIOT, he seemed pretty pissed. i think that if he can bludgeon enough reactionaries into giving money, Fascist Party USA would become awful tempting.

Question 8: How long do you think Bush would really last if stranded in the road warrior wasteland?

Lord Humungus: Another tough question. lets put it this way - given his military record, its safe to say that unless he can find something to trade to the marauding mutant bikers for protection (the twins ?), the guy is going to end up with a boomerang in his skull. sure, his close relationship to oil is an advantage, but as they say in the Thunderdome, 'death is listening, and he'll take the first man who screams . . .'

MasterBlaster: Thanks LH.

Lord Humungus: No, thank you.


The top is slowing

Well, as the post-VP debate spin slowly loses steam, i have to say, the debate was a draw. The reviews are all over the map. Some said Edwards knocked the living crap out Cheney. Others said Cheney did his grandpa gravitas routine and won. LH said Edwards won big. When it's all said and done, it looks like a draw, and at this point, you can consider that a Kerry win. Cheney needed to come out and just obliterate Edwards to stop the bleeding and he failed.

Also consider not as many people watched this debate. Interest in it, and the post-debate spin, will wane quickly as the next big event starts tomorrow. A week from now, barely anyone is going to say a word about the VP debate and if it had any impact at all on the race. Also, the final report from the weapons inspectors is consuming a lot of the media oxygen, and that's likely to get play all the way through the next Prez debate. Good work Edwards, holding your own, for that, you get this week's "warrior of the wasteland" award.

-MB

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

and the new yorker, on, you guessed it, oil

lengthy and fairly worthwhile piece in the new yorker this week talking about energy independence and the oil question. author john cassidy goes to great lengths to touch on many facets of the issue without thoroughly investigating more than a few of them (coal gasification fairly easily achieved in nazi germany ? if i recall, i think daniel yergin might disagree).

cassidy concludes:

Given the public’s ignorance about energy issues, and the entrenched interests that dominate the industry, many analysts are skeptical about the prospects for change. Jaffe believes that it will take a repeat of what happened in the seventies to force meaningful reforms. Joseph Romm said, “If people cared about oil imports they would buy different cars. In response to 9/11, people started putting flags on their S.U.V.s and buying Hummers. That tells you something.”

Before any progress can be made, the political debate will have to move beyond the myth of energy independence. “Sooner or later, we are going to have a lot of hybrid cars, electric cars, and, perhaps, at some time in the future, we are going to have a hydrogen economy,” Robert Mabro told me. “But, until we get there, to talk about energy independence is foolish. The two candidates, with due respect, are lying to the people, or they don’t know what they are talking about.”

let's review: public ignorance and utter apathy about energy issues, even in the face of an event like 9/11. and yet mabro thinks the candidates are either lying or dont know what they're talking about. i think the likely answer is both; unfortunately, they're telling the american public exactly what they want to hear.

- LH


update on factcheck.com

josh marshall updates the soros/factcheck.com story - the plot thickens. . .

- LH

samuelson on oil

he gets it mostly right, although in some kind of misguided effort to be 'objective' robert samuelson somehow equates bush's policy of 'total denial' with kerry's plan to start solving at least some portion of the problem. true, neither guy can really expect to achieve energy independence in the next 4 years - but one guy puts us on a path to get there eventually, while the other guy ensure that the only movement is backwards. and fast.

- LH

quality blogging

the bloggers are going nuts over this debate, and its almost too much to sort out.

but my favorite so far in terms of pure comedy is this one on cnn.com

thanks for the subtle shout-out jessi.

- LH

do the lies EVER stop ?

tiny point, nearly irrelevant . . . and thus, why bother to lie about it ?

and yet cheney does. and that couldn't be more emblematic of this administration.

the truth has no value to these people.

- LH

smooth move

when challenged on halliburton last night, vice-president cheney dismissed all allegations with a wave of the hand and suggested a website - factcheck.com - where the 'truth' might be found. unfortunately, the site cheney intended to mention was factcheck.org.

so what did thousands of americans find when they took cheney's advice ? if they responded immediately, apparently a spam site. but if they waited a few hours, they ended up here.

because last night, just hours after cheney said it, the man bought the site and linked it to his own.

now that's brilliant.

- LH

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

decisive victory for edwards

at about minute 25 tonight mrs. humungus turned to me and said 'this is a bloodbath'.

i couldn't agree more.

an absolute bloodbath. the carnage certainly slowed towards the end of affairs, but that first 30 minutes. . . edwards was simply fantastic.

i don't have a transcript and haven't read any commentary, but a couple notes:

- edwards first response was unbelievable. it was 'rope a dope'. he chose NOT to challenge cheney on the saddam/9-11 connection, knowing cheney couldnt resist floating that balloon again. cheney took the bait, edwards seized the opportunity and set his theme for the evening rolling. it was the kind of risk lawyers take in movies, and tonight it paid off. literally breathtaking.

- cheney showed that he's a man of class. for all that i find his politics and policies shameful, he handled himself with dignity, particularly when he used his 30-sec response merely to thank edwards for his comments about his family. that's classy.

- gwen ifill did a fine job, but a couple of the questions towards the end simply didn't belong.

- huge energy shift in the debate atmosphere, again favoring edwards. this isnt a presidential debate where most viewers will tough it out watching the entire 90 minutes. for remote-happy viewers, both candidates energy seemed to flatten after 30 minutes, and again after 60. i wonder if neilsen numbers would show a decline in viewership on that pattern. if so, it only favors edwards who dominated the first 30 minutes without question.

- edwards closing statement was dazzling. cheneys was inert.

i saw debate #1 between kerry and bush as essentially a draw. the media and apparently the public disagreed. maybe i'll wake up to hear people calling this a cheney slam-dunk, but at this moment, minutes later, its inconceivable.

- LH

Monday, October 04, 2004

Darth Cheney

Well, after a few days of some serious spinning from both sides, it looks like the conventional wisdom is that Kerry overwhelmingly won the first debate. Now the media is trying to create some new drama by hyping the VP debate. With Kerry's win, the VP debate is now seen as critical: Cheney has to stop the bleeding.

It'll be interesting to see how Edwards does. Personally, I think he's going to the Ickey Shuffle all over Cheney. The spin is that it's an even match, but I don't buy that. The reason they say Edwards might be vulnerable is his now infamous appearance on Meet the Press, when he was running for Prez, and he, at least by the media's account, just blew it. Well, this is a debate, not an interview. This is Edwards turf. He will put Cheney on trial and hopefully keep the guy on the defensive. Of course Cheney will put his "Mr. Gravitas" costume on, but Edwards needs to keep coming back and challenging Cheney on everything he says. Cheney's instincts on just about EVERYTHING have been wrong and Edwards needs to remind not only the public of this, but Cheney. Edwards needs to be the anti-Cheney in this debate. He can't let Cheney have one of his "serious times require serious people..." moments. Edwards should mock Cheney for being wrong all the time, highlighting that the only absolute certainty in the universe are Cheney's poor instincts.

It's embarrassing to consider all the conditions Bush and Co. demanded out of the debates and now it looks like it's backfired. Apparently, the only way Bush agreed to 3 debates was if Kerry agreed that Cheney and Edwards would debate one on one, not in a townhall format. These guys are absolute cowards. They want us to trust them with our national security, when they can't even manage to present themselves to the public unless carefully orchestrated.

-MB