Saturday, August 14, 2004

Odd Ends

Have you ever noticed that you can't go to President Bush's campaign website on Mozilla Firefox without the whole browser crashing. Bloggers have previously talked about which candidate is open-source due to what servers they use, etc. Much has been made about the fact that Bush uses Microsoft servers and, surprise surprise, Bill Gates' company was one of the GOP's biggest donors in 2000 (I don't know about 2004, but I would suspect they would if they could). Not only that, but it was the Bush/Ashcroft Justice Department that decided to drop/settle the Fed's case against the software giant. All I can say is, I am annoyed at for crashing my browser.

A couple comments on the Opening Ceremonies last night. In general good, but some items were completely odd without explanation (I wonder what the audience in the stadium thought), like the "Cube Man." I guess it was artsy but to me it was a combination of a SoHo performance artist with that scary scene from Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory (you know, the one were they ride the trippy ferry boat).

Also, the worst ad of the Olympics (worst not only visually and audio wise, but the fact that we will be subjected to it over and over again) goes to Mazda, whose annoying "Zoom-zoom" campaign has been made worse with the addition of the even more annoying "zoom-zoom" cell phone rings in the commerical to alert Models/Mazda drivers to all drive to the Bonneville Salt Flats so that Mazda Corp. can show off their entire line of cars.

Why do car companies think this is a good idea? If I want a small sedan, why do I care that they make a 1/2 ton truck? Why do I need to see them all driving on the Salt Flats doing circles or making trails of smoke in a flying-V? What a waste of gas. Who is impressed by this? "Wow, look Mazda makes cars and trucks!" I can get bragging about your brand's general resale value, its durability, etc, but not your whole line-up. Chevy has this ad idea too, but they have an imaginary semi hauling the car company's line while each car and truck one by one speeds on to the carrier. At least the stunt driving is mildly entertaining. But I would still never buy a Chevy.

After spending the day shopping at the outlet mall in Park City, today we did some badly needed cleaning and will be going up to Deer Valley to watch HMS Pinafore as performed by the Utah Symphony and Opera (who merged to save money, and it somehow worked). I am trying to watch as many Olympic events at the same time as possible and get the most out of my temporary platinum digital cable. Tune in later for my first day of law school on Monday (gulp)! Wish me luck.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Different Strokes

Old-time Washingtonians keep remarking that the Dick Cheney they knew, as a deputy chief of staff to President Ford, as congressman, as secretary of defense, is the not the Dick Cheney they see sitting in the West Wing today. The old Cheney was a reasonable, yet conservative man. The new Dick Cheney cannot be reasoned with and is still a conservative man. Why is that? Did Cheney snap? What caused it?

I talked to a former journalist (he was once the WH correspondent for WSJ during Reagan) friend of my parents, who had met and interviewed the old Cheney too and told me his theory: Lots of people, he said, undergo a personality change post-stroke. Some become less cautious and more eager to live whatever life they have left. Others, of course, have trouble talking or walking because of their strokes. Many like Cheney change, from being kind gentle souls (regular old staffers and bureaucrats) to becoming angry, disgruntled characters of their former selves. It is a Dr. Hyde and Mr. Jeckyll result, and exactly what he and I think happened.

In the early 90s Cheney was hesitant on expanding the first Gulf War. The Cheney of the late 1990s and early 2000s couldn't wait to go to war with Iraq and overthrow Saddam, evidence or reality be damned. The old Cheney never would have been caught calling the Time's Adam Clymer a "Big Time [a@@hole]" But that is exactly what the new Cheney did campaigning in 2000 in Naperville, IL (earning him the nickname "Big Time" ever since). The pre-stroke[s] Cheney was sensitive, the post-stroke[s] Cheney is making fun of Kerry for being sensitive while his boss is nearly simultaneously using the same word in the same context (meaning diplomatic/judicious).

So in a way, I feel sorry for the Cheney family. Their dad/husband has changed overnight into what Jon Stewart called "the personification of a grumble." Then again, they don't seem to have tried to help him; if anything, they have embraced and encouraged the radicalized Cheney (especially his wife Lynn, who somehow was in the situation room on 9/11, thinking she could give orders). On second thought, I feel sorry for the American people who were baited and switched, they were sold the old Cheney, who was supposed to temper hot-blooded George W. Bush, but they got new Cheney, who has pushed Bush's buttons to go to war.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Our Pet Peeve (and then some more of my own peeves)

We got him at PetCo today, his accessories cost more than he did. (For those who are curious, he is a male Beta Fish. Other interesting tidbits on the adventure can be found here.

Here's another look:

OK now on to intelligence scandals. The first involves Valerie Plame and the Journos that are hiding the name of the scumbag in the White House who revealed Former Ambassador Wilson's wife was a covert CIA agent (something the scum would sit in jail for). TIME's Michael Cooper is making himself the martyr to the journalistic shrine. This way, we can all write about him and magazine, newspaper, and TV people can get up on a pedestal and remind us mortals of how wonderful and ethical journalists are. If a politician did this, we would all scoff and ignore it, but since journalists do this worshiping, we all have to listen to this crap. I am sorry but if you are covering up in a crime by not revealing a source, then you should go to jail too. Another problem is the over-reliance on unnamed sources, who can slander and lie without real repercussions. The Plame Affair is the apex of the phenomenon (and hopefully the end of it).

The second is Chuck "Hey I am the senior Senator from New York" Schumer and his fuss over the leaking the news of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan's capture (who as a double agent in Pakistan) and blaming it on the White House. But reading the tea leaves of another unnamed source it seems that this is a person at State maybe CIA/FBI, but definitely not the White House.

The third is another Senator, Republican Richard Shelby, who like Schumer is going to coast to reelection and is hoarding his multimillion dollar warchest despite public groans from other senators and their party's campaign committees. The Senator from Alabama was the source of intelligence leaks that were fussed over last summer (and he was the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time).

Well, ok I lied, we got 4 things. Retiring Florida Republican Congressman (and ex-clandestine service CIA agent) Porter Goss has finally been named by President Bush to replace disgraced and departed DCI George "It's a slam dunk" Tenet. Finally, Democrats are growing what Bush calls cajones (he speaks 5 words of Spanish remember? Of course, that alone means Hispanics should vote for him right? Viva Bush indeed.) and will be grilling the crap out of Goss, just in time for the election. The committee vote (with John Edwards having a seat) will be soon so that the full Senate (and more importantly John Kerry) will have a vote on Porter by September.

Not such a great move Bush. Lets just all remind everyone what a crappy job the CIA did on Iraq and WMDs and lets recall that Goss and his House Committee (he was chair of the House Intelligence Committee) rubber stamped the intel to the house and possibly other senators in the rush to war with Iraq. Goss was also supposed to be asking the tough questions to intelligence officials in making us safe before 9/11, but I guess being one of the guys might have compromised things just a bit.

You see Porter, Congress has a role in government, they are supposed to look out for the people and be watchdogs over government agencies to make sure they keep us safe and don't rip us off. I think you failed on both accounts sir. We were charged hundreds of billions, not to mention the loss of over 900 of our young men and women, or our standing in the world for a war that actually made us more vulnerable to attack from terrorists. Somehow I don't think he deserves a promotion to DCI.

Playing Dumb

Tonight I watched Nightline, where they discussed Vietnam and the presidential race. Turns out that there are more obvious connections between the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth than I previously thought, despite Bush camp protestations that they have no control over them (and cynically call on Kerry to tell off Democratic 527s).

The head of the group also headed the 2000 anti-McCain group that smeared his good name in South Carolina, saying that he went nuts in the so-called Hanoi Hilton after years of torture and was therefore unfit to be President. Not only that but this woman’s husband is good friends with Karl Rove, having run for LG of Texas in 1994, the same year Bush successfully ran for governor himself.

If that weren’t bad enough, we learn that not only did almost all of the veterans who claimed to have served with Kerry never actually did so (they were near him but not on his boats), but also one guy who said Kerry can’t be trusted during the $500,000 ad buy was singing his praises in that infamous 1996 Senate race. Why are they all now coming out of the woodwork against Kerry?

[To be fair, the left has its attack hound group with tight links to Kerry. Jim Jordan, the spokesman for the 527 called the Media Fund, was Kerry’s presidential campaign manager until he was unceremoniously fired in the fall due to Kerry’s then-faltering campaign. I don’t think the Media Fund has called Bush a coward for not serving in Vietnam though, they left that up to PAC, which Kerry has no real ties to as far as I can tell.]

I can see how many Vietnam Vets might feel betrayed by Kerry for speaking out against the war the way he did. And I can see why they might not like him for that or not want to vote for him, that’s fine. What isn’t acceptable is calling into question the Naval records and testimony of the men who served with Lieutenant (junior grade) John Kerry. How can you doubt the fact that he got injured three times and got three purple hearts? Or the fact that he saved a man’s life, and then possibly saved more by going after a would-be rocket launcher.

Senator Kerry annoys me too when all he talks about is Vietnam. I understand what his staff are trying to do and that it was a defining moment in the life of the junior senator from Massachusetts. Having said all that, I still find it disgusting that men who never served in war (DeLay, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bush, Rice) would not only send men and women off to an optional war, but would also use men who had served as weapon to defeat political opponents.

Have they no shame? Have they no sense of decency left at all? Are they so intoxicated with power that all bets are off? Sure looks like it.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Doesn't sound good for 43

I had been reading on blogs that the Kerry-Edwards turnout to all these events in the past weeks had been huge, but I know from experience that supporters in a room tend to overestimate crowds. So when the Times did three articles on the race today, one on Kerry, one on Edwards, and one on Bush, I was pleased to see that image had been confirmed.

"In Harrisburg, Pa., on July 30, more than 15,000 people mobbed the Capitol plaza. In Grand Rapids, Mich., home of the Republican former president Gerald R. Ford, Mr. Kerry drew close to 10,000 people near where President Bush had attracted just 4,500 a few days before."

Bush's article is about Karl Rove playing out his theory that 1,000,000 Christian conservatives stayed home in 2000, which made Bush lose the popular vote and made it so close overall. The shamelessness with which they are pandering to conservatives is pervasive in the article. They are hoping for The Passion of the Christ-like mobilization with their "moral action teams." Too bad that it is illegal for churches to endorse or do GOTV for you (they would lose their tax-exempt status). The most they can do is speechify and register voters. Equally unfortunate for Rove, most of those million people live in neon red states, ones where he will win easily.

That said, even red ol' Kansas seems riper for the pickin' than it did four years ago. First off, they have a Democratic Governor (Kathleen Sebelius) . Edwards' train blew past the state once, had to reshedule/relocate after that but "Come over they did. Hand-drawn signs in the park and a message on the local cable channel sent about 1,000 people to the former barbed wire factory on the banks of the Kaw River, filling it to capacity and leaving more than 2,000 people stuck outside."

"For all those politicians and pollsters who say, wait a minute, why are you taking one valuable day to come back to Kansas to campaign, Kansas is a red state,'' Edwards said. "To John Kerry and I, there is no red state, there is no blue state, there is only one United States of America.''

Afterwards, the Republican bar owner (where they staged the event) said, "I voted for Bush in the last election but let's just say I am undecided for now.''

Two observations; one, the Kerry-Edwards advance team is good. They are getting big crowds in conservative areas, including some small town in Missouri the President's motorcade was supposed to stop in but didn't (very shrewd and quick planning to turn on a dime and show up there). Second, if Bush is still worrying about and shoring up his base, and Kerry is busy chipping into Bush's, then obviously Kerry is sitting on better numbers.

The Democrats aren't worried about their base, after all, they would vote in droves for a ham sandwich over Dubya. Middle America is growing increasingly weary of Bush too. Even in the evangelical article, some Baptist preachers where wondering why the poor had to send their children off to war while the rich got sent their massive tax cuts.
So the Bush campaign sent Mr. [Ralph] Reed [former spokesman for the Christain Coalition, now head of the GA GOP] to recruit pastors at the annual meeting of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention. According to campaign memorandums, it has asked "people of faith team leaders" to help identify thousands of "friendly congregations" around the country. It asked religious outreach volunteers to petition their pastors to hold voter registration drives, and to speak on behalf of the campaign to Bible studies and church groups.

The campaign has asked volunteers to send in copies of congregational directories for comparison with voter registration rolls - a move some conservative religious leaders have denounced as a violation of the privacy of the church and its members.

The Republican Party has sent has organized a special Catholic outreach tour, including a speech by the party chairman, Ed Gillespie, in St. Charles, a St. Louis suburb.

All this sounds like they are working their butts off for sure, but they sound pretty fearful they might lose. As well they should be, since their man is below 50% and big crowds are showing up for Kerry in every neck of the woods.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

41's Son is a Preacher Man

Slate's Chris Suellentrop points out that George W. Bush's recent campaign rallies have the feel of a revival-tent traveling preacher more than of an incumbent president.
"'All of you are soldiers in the army of compassion,' the clergyman-in-chief tells the crowd. 'And one of the reasons I'm seeking the office for four more years is to call upon our citizens to love your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.' After his usual endorsement of the Golden Rule, Bush speaks of souls, which also isn't unusual for him: 'We can change America one soul at a time by encouraging people to spread something government cannot spread, which is love.'"
The whole session gets creepier and creepier after that. Maybe over-religiosity makes me nervous, especially when it comes from our commander-in-chief. Maybe I am just not his audience, which is a of a conservative Christian bent. Nevertheless, the turn out numbers of Kerry-Edwards events and the types of people coming to them versus a Bush/Cheney audience are very different.

The Democratic ticket seems to be gaining strength in moderate to conservative areas, with lots of people turning out just to see the train pass by, whereas, Bush/Cheney events are so tighly controlled they make the Soviet May Day parades look disorganized.

All of this give me hope ("Hope is on the Way"), especially the news that Marylander Alan Keyes is going to challenge IL State Senator Barack Obama for IL's US Senate seat. Republicans, just because Keyes is also black doesn't make him a good candidate. First of all Keyes is a nutto, although entertaining to listen to in debates like the Reverend Al (both ran/are running to up their speaking fees). Secondly, he is a carpet bagger who himself slammed Hillary Clinton in 2000 for shopping for a Senate seat saying, "I won't imitate that." Well guess what Alan? You just did.

Another Alan, well Alexander, is in the political news too. Rodney Alexander (LA-nee D) just switched parties immediately following the filing dateline so that Democrats could not run someone against him. I was wondering why no GOPers were thinking about challenging him. After all, his win last time was a surprise and he had flirted with becoming a Republican earlier this year. Rumor has it that he sold his soul to the GOP for a plum committee seat. Wouldn't it be ironic if the Democrats won back the House and he didn't get his seat after all that? Would he come crawling back to the Donkeys?

Speaking of irony, Slate's Daniel Gross thinks that Bush will ultimately lose reelection because of his tax cuts...which also went to rich liberals who gave generously to Kerry et al. Study up Atlantis.