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:: Friday, September 26, 2003 ::

Today's Marshall Plan

Thinking It Through points out a fun tidbit:
"I grew up hearing about the Marshall Plan and I've studied it. Isn't it shocking that Bush's last budget request for Iraq is as much or more than the entire Marshall Plan? In fact, folks, this war and reconstruction over the next year or so will cost probably twice to four times as much as what the Marshall Plan did."
But it's not nation-building, we can all agree. I believe Jon Stewart was the one who pointed out that, despite all the money being spent, no nation was actually being built.

I'd like to offer a challenge: Can anyone name one single good thing that Bush has proposed and not screwed up? As an example: More money to fight HIV in Africa was a good idea, but the fact that the "new" money turned out to be the "old money" sorta put the damper on that idea. Same story with Americorps, with EPA regs....

So, please, can someone point to a positive contribution George has made? I feel that, in all fairness, the guy must have done something right.
:: Morat 12:56 PM :: ::

Minor Emergency...

Well, my wife managed some very lovely second degree burns last night. Let this be a lesson to all of you: If you have metal-handled cookware, and you place it in the oven for a time, you need to remember that it was in the oven, and not grab the handle.

Her left hand is pretty heavily blistered. Thankfully, they're not too bad (only one is really swollen) and the doctor gave her something for the pain. Still, they burn ranges from light second-degree to heavy second-degree, and they're all over her fingers and palm.

My son was remarkably brave about the whole affair, and told me that he finally understands why he's not allowed in the kitchen when people are cooking.

It could have been much worse, so I'm pretty thankful we got off lightly.
:: Morat 11:15 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, September 25, 2003 ::

New Additions to the Blogroll

I added three new blogs: I'm pretty sure I told at least two more people I'd add a link (John? Did you ever set up that blog?) so if I missed you, do remind me!

Be sure to check out Fester's speculation on which new units will be activated and sent to Iraq. If nothing else, it highlights how little flexibility we have at the moment.
:: Morat 2:29 PM :: ::

Dear God...

Meet my evil twin. Who was nice enough to blogroll me. I've got about six sites I need to add to mine, and hopefully I'll remember to add him as well. I need more opposing viewpoints on the ole' blogroll, and, well, the whole "Dark Mirror" thing is cool...if creepy.

Just to answer the stamina thing: I get lots of down time at work, and since I loaded my own box, I know there's not weird company spyware lurking around. So I generally have a lot of 15 to 20 minute breaks during the day. It's either blog, or surf the web until whatever I'm waiting on happens.

:: Morat 2:20 PM :: ::

Thanks!

Someone contributed to Dean. Thank you! At the very least, I'll be spared utter humiliation.

And on the potential good news front: My wife got a call from a local school district (the one that owes her a favor after offering, then having to retract, a teaching position) telling her that there might be an opening for a junior high English teacher. A position that she is, in fact, qualified for.

Here's hoping....
:: Morat 12:47 PM :: ::

Just added a Dean Button

If you look to the left, right above my archives, you'll see my new Dean button. I cheerfully stole it from the folks at Dean for Texas, mostly because I don't have the time to make up a nice button myself.

Frankly, that is an issue I have with the Dean website. If they have buttons, images, or "pluggable" donation tools for blogs and third-party websites, they're not easy to find. Something for the Dean people to work on.

It links to my personal Dean donation page, which currently stands at a whopping "Zero". This will be, hopefully, the last blatant Dean plug of the day.
:: Morat 11:14 AM :: ::

Personal Political Endorsement

I've been leaning heavily towards Dean for the past few months, but I've finally decided to formally come down off the fence. It's possible that Clark might still win me over, but I think that Dean's campaign, even more than Dean himself, is worthy of support.

The grassroots machine that Dean has built has the potential to revitalize the Democratic party. It's a bandwagon we need to jump on early and use enthusiastically. Whether Dean wins or loses the primaries, whether the Democrats win or lose the election, what Dean has built is worth supporting.

I made my first contribution to Dean yesterday, and set up a Dean Team page for my blog today. (I'll be adding a button at some point).

As an added bonus, if you click on it you'll find out my middle name. I'd signed up under my real name, then updated my profile to reflect my blog, not my name. Unfortunately, there wasn't a way to delete my middle name....hopefully, the Dean webmasters will fix that sooner or later. In the meantime, my personal bat stands at zero. (I'll be adding to it myself, as soon as my wife manages her first paycheck. Bush's hasn't been kind to my household. At the moment, I've already donated as much as I can afford this month).

Go support actual democracy, where the people run the show. And if you don't like Dean, then I heartily encourage you to contribute to whichever candidate you do favor. Whomever wins the primary will need as much support as possible to beat back Bush's 200 million dollar warchest.
:: Morat 10:29 AM :: ::

Dean's Latest Bat Challenge

I've been keeping an eye on the Dean's latest challenge. In addition to trying to hit 450,000 members by the end of the month, the campaign has decided to try to raise 5 million in 10 days.

Now, that's a pretty big challenge, and I'll be the first to admit that making it will be difficult to impossible, even counting the hefty sums that Dean's House Parties (set for the 29th) will be bringing in.

I have been vastly amused, however, by comments that Dean is on track to raise "only" about 2.5 million at this rate. 2.5 million in ten days. In Q3. Every other candidate (save perhaps Clark) would probably sell their mothers to raise that much in 10 days.

Another, more accurate way to say it would be: "Dean is set to match the monthly total of any other candidate, in only ten days."

I do agree, however, that Dean runs the risk of getting negative press if the bat challenge fails. After all, with Clark in the race the media would be pretty quick to jump on the "Dean's support is fading" meme. I think Dean is banking on -- quite rightly, in my opinion -- that the Q3 numbers will offset any negative press from failing the bat challenge, as well as combat any disillusionment among his supporters.

Given that he's poised to raise 3 times what Kerry or Lieberman is bringing in, I don't see that as a bad bet. (Note: This assumes Dean's fundraising is on track, and that the bat isn't an attempt to meet expectations. Given the nature of fund raising reporting, I don't see that as likely, and the risk would be much higher).

From a campaign perspective, meeting the bat challenge would cement Dean's status as frontrunner. Clark, due to his late start, would be exempt...but Kerry or Lieberman would be hard pressed to explain how Dean, in only 10 days, matched their Q3 totals.
:: Morat 10:19 AM :: ::

Clark's Grassroots

The American Prospect has a good article up about Clark's grassroots. It's well worth a read. Most surprising, to me, was learning that DraftClark might not have been the purely grassroots effort it was sold to be (although, if true, it fooled the very people running it).
Fan Friction:
Hlinko had worked since April 10 to build a package that included 40,000 e-mail addresses, $1.875 million in pledges and $30,000 to $40,000 in cash that he was now ready to hand over to the campaign, depending on what Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules allowed. He'd started the relationship between the Clark movement and Meetup.com, now 27,000-members strong; his group had paid for the radio and TV ads the movement has run; and he'd hired Zogby International to conduct a Clark-friendly "blind bio" poll to encourage the former general to enter the race. (A blind-bio poll compares candidates by résumé rather than by name.) But like many members of the draft movement, Hlinko is a little quirky. Dedicated, well-spoken and skilled at what he does, the last presidential bid he worked on was the joke campaign of actor John Cusack for president. In his spare time, Hlinko runs Act for Love, an online dating service for liberals; the site's motto is "take action to get action."

But now, after all his hard work, he found the nascent Clark campaign overflowing with territorial members of DraftClark2004.com, led by veteran campaign operative Jason McIntosh, a protégé of Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, whose assistant he'd been for three years.

Substantial parts of the draft movement, in fact, were led not by regular citizens inspired by Clark but by public-relations professionals and political operatives with deep ties to the Democratic Party and the Clinton administration. During the past week, it has slowly dawned on some of the less politically experienced members of the Draft Clark movement that this might not be purely coincidental.

"My operative theory is that a bunch of political insiders decided to recruit a candidate and created a fake draft movement to pressure him," says Newberry. On its Web site, DraftClark2004.com describes itself as comprising "passionate Democrats with extensive political experience" who want Clark to run. "There's nothing wrong with that," says Jacoby. "They had a political background; that simply explains why they had an interest in politics."
It will be interesting to see how this shakes out over the next few months (the full article is pretty positive on Clark's team handling the transition smoothly). I think the real risk for Clark is that his campaign really requires the DraftClark people to grow (and act) like Dean's netroots.

Clark's campaign required something to offset his late start, and the DraftClark effort is the only aspect of his campaign that isn't "traditional". If it falls apart, Clark won't have the time for his traditional campaign to gain traction. (Link via Daily Kos)
:: Morat 9:39 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, September 24, 2003 ::

Building a Better Fool

Senate OKs redistrict plan as GOP feuds:
Perry on Monday offered a proposed compromise that aligned him with Craddick in the debate. Tuesday, the governor said he would call a fourth special session if the Republicans failed to reach an agreement.
Please do. Please? Pretty please? Because, let's face it Perry....you're not going to blame this one on the Democrats, and it would very neatly dump the political fallout from all four sessions in the GOP's lap.

So please, Perry. Call another one. Every day that ends without a map makes the Democrats look better and better.
:: Morat 11:44 AM :: ::

Senators Dispute Charge That Iraq War Is 'Fraud'

Senators Dispute Charge That Iraq War Is 'Fraud':
Senate Armed Services Committee (news - web sites) Chairman John Warner, a Virginia Republican, talked of a serviceman's 'young wife surrounded by small children' who 'hear that this whole thing has been a fraud. Is that safeguarding those put in harm's way? I say no.'
Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison complained that Kennedy was making 'a slur' on her home state of Texas 'to say this plot was made up' there.
In the House of Representatives, Majority leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican, called Kennedy's statements 'as disgusting as they are false,' and said Kennedy owed Bush and the country an apology.
Shorter GOP: "Sir! There are ladies and Texans present! We don't hold with speaking the truth in mixed company!"

Still, if that's the best defense the GOP has, color me happy. I've often wondered if the vast Right-Wing slime machine was created because the GOP found it increasingly difficult to defend the indefensible. Seems to be that theory gets more credible every day.
:: Morat 11:40 AM :: ::

Diebold goes Scientology on Black Box Voting

Daily Kos reports that BlackBox Voting.org has been pulled. Apparently, Diebold finally got around to putting the hammer down on Bev Harris. Who knew Scientology's legal playbook was that popular?

One can hope that Diebold's heavy-handedness does for Bev Harris and her cause what Fox did for Franken.

:: Morat 9:20 AM :: ::

Not ready for duty

I've been wondering....given the extended deployment of Reserve and Guard units (and the likely drop in Guard and Reserve recruitment) to Iraq, not to mention regular Army and Marine units...if whomever wins the Democratic Primary will make George Bush eat the "Two divisions would report: Not ready for duty, Sir!" line from his own primary acceptance speech?

I would certainly hope so. Karma can be a wonderful thing.
:: Morat 9:12 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, September 23, 2003 ::

Blissful Ignorance

Bush claims "Ignorance is bliss":
Bush said he insulates himself from the 'opinions' that seep into news coverage by getting his news from his own aides. He said he scans headlines, but rarely reads news stories.
'I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news,' the president said. 'And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world.'
This explains a great deal. I've been wondering how on earth Bush, who spent so much time as a candidate avoiding his father's mistakes, could have screwed the pooch so royally on the economy.
:: Morat 1:44 PM :: ::

Bush Challenges U.N. to Back Iraq Plan

Yahoo! News - Bush Challenges U.N. to Back Iraq Plan:
Unbending in spite of widespread opposition, President Bush (news - web sites) returned to the United Nations (news - web sites) on Tuesday to try to marshal support for a deliberate transition to democracy in Iraq (news - web sites). "Let us move forward," he told those leaders who would have the U.S. occupation ended right away.
...
In his speech, Bush invited the United Nations to play an expanded role in Iraq's reconstruction. The world body should assist in preparing a constitution for Iraq, help train civil servants and conduct free and fair elections, he said.
Will, it does appear that beggars can be choosers.

I'm glad the UN managed to listen "politely" (as the article stated) while Bush encouraged them to spend the money to clean up his mess, and send soldiers to die in the place of US troops, all while steadfastly refusing to modify the policies that created the mess in the first place.

If I was a UN diplomat, Bush would have been lucky if I'd merely broken out in hysterical laughter.

All told, it was like listening to a friend ask if he can borrow your car, because he's supposed to go drinking with his friends and he busted his up on the way home from the bar last night....

:: Morat 12:10 PM :: ::

:: Monday, September 22, 2003 ::

Interesting Times for the Good Doctor

Calpundit brings up a Dean quote from LA Weekly:
'It's going to be incredibly hard. I mean, we've already got 39,000 people working for us all around the country . . . I really do believe — and I think about this — I want to get this nomination, and if I don't . . . these kids are not transferrable. I can't just go out and say, 'Okay, so I didn't win the nomination, so go ahead and vote for the Democrats.' They're not going to suddenly just go away. That's not gonna happen.'
There's something rather interesting going on there.

First off, the quote dates back to March, and was used in an LA Weekly piece a few weeks back.

When it came out, the quote was bandied about in the usual places and the meaning of Dean's words discussed. Thankfully, it turns out that a caller on Larry King had asked Dean, point blank, whether he'd run as a third party candidate. Dean answered, in no uncertain terms, that he would not run as an independent, that he would endorse the Democratic nominee, and that the important thing was removing George Bush from power.

Since the King interview was in June (a few months after the LA Weekly quote), it seemed safe to assume that the doctor was basically stating that his supporters weren't his property, and they'd do what they wanted, regardless of what he said. And, as far as that goes, I think he's right. I'd imagine that while most of his supporters endorse the "Anyone But Bush" concept, at least some are likely to go elsewhere...or at the very least, lose a great deal of their energy and enthusiasm as a result.

Last Friday, however, I noticed the LA Weekly quote popping up in comments on several blogs, often with close to identical wording.

It's possible that someone in the media picked up the LA Weekly quote, and a lot of new people saw it (which leads to the question of why Dean's comments on Larry King weren't included in the piece).

Still, the timing coming on the heels of the Clark announcement and with Bush's dropping poll numbers....I can think of a number of people who would benefit from Dean getting tarred with the "divider not uniter" label. And, as I noted above, it's impossible to control what your supporters do.

I think it's pretty likely that someone, somewhere, is getting a bit worried about Dean and is taking thopportunityty to try to sow a little discord in the party.
:: Morat 3:44 PM :: ::

An addendum to the Clark Rant

Just to clear something up: Yes, should he win the nomination, I'd certainly vote for him. Heck, I might even vote for him during the primaries.

But I'm not making that decision until I've seen him campaign. Since I've got four or five months until my primary, I've got lots of time to make a decision.

His current polls (nationally, at least. In early primary states he's not doing so hot yet) are good, but I'd like to see a few months of that. Nationwide polls, at this point, aren't worth much besides general trends. And I'd say that even if my candidate was polling at 70%.
:: Morat 3:27 PM :: ::

Clark Buzz

Just as an FYI, in case I haven't made myself terribly clear on the Clark issue.

I'm getting really, really annoyed by the "Clark is the best candidate, we should all support him, criticism is just jealousy" thing.

I'm not saying he's not the best candidate. I don't know who the best candidate is. But I do know enough not to start labeling anyone as even a "good" or "bad" candidate less then a week after they start running.

Clark is a big fat unknown. His fundraising ability is unknown. His appeal is unknown. His policies are unknown. (Don't tell me to go to a DraftClark website. I want to hear it straight from the horse's mouth. Until then, it's just guesswork and extrapolation). His ability to connect to voters is unknown. His performance in debates is unknown.

Do you see a pattern? Unknown, unknown, unknown. With the rest of the field, at least, you've got not just political history, but months of campaigning to give you some idea of their issues, their charisma, their ability to raise money, and --most importantly-- their ability to connect to voters.

Clark is a big, giant unknown and until he's had a month or more of campaigning, he's going to stay one. So please, pretty please, stop telling me how he's the savior of the Democratic party. You don't know that, you're only guessing.

Maybe you'll be right. But at the moment, you're working off of a resume and wishful thinking. Why not take a few weeks and let reality in a bit, okay? *


*Yes, I realize that to some people this is "Clark bashing". Most people will realize that I didn't say anything bad about Clark at all, or claim he wouldn't be a good candidate. To the few people, however, who can't differentiate between "I don't know, and neither do you" and "Clark sucks", please don't bother. I don't care if you're an unhappy Clark fan, or a joyous Edwards or Dean fan. The whole point is no one knows whether he sucks or not, so do keep that in mind, okay?
:: Morat 1:21 PM :: ::

How Republicans Think

Kos is right. This story (originally found via Atrios) needs to be publicized. If nothing else, it quite clearly shows that ideology, not security, is driving the GOP response to terrorism.
Tauzin's Classic Dodge:
Speaking of contracting out, an administration move to privatize air traffic control at 69 airports has sparked opposition from labor groups, which contend it would compromise safety.
The administration had proposed 71 airports, but House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), who supports the effort, got someone to strike the two Alaska airports on the list.
Young, on an Alaska cable TV show a week ago, acknowledged the move generated some heat.
'Of course the criticism of myself,' he said, 'is that I exempted the state of Alaska.' But there were ample reasons for that, he said, ticking off a number of them.
'Lastly,' Young said, 'my hotel room is on the top floor of the Sheraton, and the airplanes take right off towards my hotel room. Every morning I look out and there's one coming right at me. It's an interesting experience and I want to make sure everything is done right in that field.'

:: Morat 9:52 AM :: ::

Begging and Choosing

Through the Looking Glass hits the nail squarely on the head regarding the text of Bush's upcoming UN speech, in which Bush plans to make no acknowledgement of US failures and repeat his demand that the UN act or face irrelevance.
George W. Bush is not the author of his own life story -- I think we can all agree on that much. But we may have to disagree on who is. Time and again, when he had gotten himself into trouble of all sorts, a way out was made to appear, from his last-minute acceptance in the Texas air national guard, leapfrogging more qualified candidates, to the serial bailouts of his failing oil ventures, to the credit he was allowed to collect for other peoples' work managing the Texas Rangers baseball team. And after all this time being rescued from failure after failure by a will not his own, he seems to have mistaken the friends of Dad for the hand of g-d...
I'm from the "never attribute to malice what can be blamed on stupidity" school, so I tend towards George's mistakes coming from his sheltered life.

When you never have to suffer for your mistakes, when "consequences" are things that happen to other people, your perspective gets a bit skewed.

Unfortunately, while Bush may be working from an utter disconnect with reality, most of his advisers are quite familiar with the realities of international politics. So while Bush may be working form blissful ignorance, I'm pretty sure that he's being encouraged by people who simply don't want UN support.

Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, for instance, show no signs have having abandoned the PNAC dream. Karl Rove undoubtedly sees the UN (and France especially) as a particularly useful scapegoat for the upcoming elections. And those who buy into Norquist's brand of conservatism see that Iraq is an excellent drain on US resources...and a way to hasten the death of the Great Society programs.

Iraq is an albatross hung around Bush's neck, and no one in the Administration is prepared to take the politically painful (perhaps suicidal) steps necessary to fix it. Instead, they will each use the chaos and death to suit their own particular ends, because the death of simple soldiers is much more preferable than having only a single term to set your agenda.
:: Morat 9:40 AM :: ::

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