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:: Friday, January 02, 2004 ::

Why the New York Post is for Idiots

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why no one with more than two functioning brain cells takes the New York Post seriously. They're ranting about Vice City (Hey Joe! These are your intellectual brethren here. Sure you want this demographic?)
You can kill a cop, steal his gun, and then use it to shoot someone else. Or you can pick up a prostitute and have sex with her in the back of your stolen car, then beat her to death - or shoot her, bludgeon her, whatever you want.

In fact, 'whatever you want' is what the game is all about. Thanks to its artful and complex programming and its incredibly realistic graphics, the game creates the impression of being inside a totally unscripted, live-action drama in which you can manufacture your mayhem as you go along.

People, this is insane. This is 10,000 times worse than the worst thing anybody thinks Michael Jackson ever did to a little boy.
That's right folks! According to the intellectual and moral geniuses over at the Post, playing a game that contains imaginary violence is worse than actual child molestation.

Yeah. They actually said it. Go figure.
:: Morat 11:15 PM :: ::

Robertson: God says it's Bush in a 'blowout' in November

Keep pushing that, Pat:
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Friday he believes God has told him President Bush will be re-elected in a 'blowout' in November.
The more you say it, the more your supporters will stay home on the 4th, content that God will see Bush in office.

So please, keep predicting blowouts. And when one fails to materialize, or God-forbid Bush loses, I'm sure you can nod sagely and point out that all the gays and feminists caused God to forsake this land, and removed his Chosen Son from office...
:: Morat 3:20 PM :: ::

Clark Sets His Sights on Dean

I'm beginning to wonder if Howard Dean keeps Lady Luck in his back pocket. Two interesting pieces of news. First, we see the outlines of Clark's new campaign:
'It's now clear that I'm one of only two candidates in a position to win the nomination,' Clark, a retired Army general, said in a statement Thursday. 'And I'm the only candidate positioned to actually win the election because I am the candidate best able to stand up to George W. Bush and win the debate about who will best be able to make our country secure over the next four years.'
It's going to be built around electability. Raise your hand if you're surprised. Anyone? Didn't think so.

It's a predictable play for Clark, and I'm surprised he's waited so long. If Dean's got any real weaknesses, it's the perception by some that he's not electable. Likeable, by all polls (excellent favorables/unfavorables) but doomed against Bush.

How many people actually believe this way is unknown, but it's certainly part of conventional wisdom. Lieberman, Kerry and Gephardt have all trotted it out at one point or another. Personally, I think it's a loser of a position. First off, it requires you to claim certain knowledge of the future. Furthermore, you're asking people to vote strategically, choosing (to their minds) a lesser candidate based on your certain knowledge of the future.

Most people aren't willing to trust your gut instinct about future political matchups over their immediate candidate preference. "Electability" has been a common theme, and I don't think it ever worked. Didn't work against Clinton and Reagan, to name two.

And now it's Clark's turn to push the meme, and he's certainly best positioned to make the case. And so what comes out the day he starts the "I'm electable and Dean's not" campaign? This lovely poll! It's a CNN/Time poll (reported on Blog for America) conducted between December 30th and January first, with a sample size of 1004. It's a simple "Bush versus" matchup against the Democratic field. Howard loses to Bush by a mere five points. Clark, on the other hand, is losing by 10 points with the rest of the "Serious field" in between. The MOE is 3.1 pts.

As I said, it appears luck sleeps in Dean's pocket.
:: Morat 3:15 PM :: ::

:: Thursday, January 01, 2004 ::

Kerry's Campaign Goes Off the Deep End

I agree with Kos. This is fricking weird:
Kerry aides disputed Dean's figures and said Kerry's personal loan of $6 million will give him enough cash to catch Dean.

``Our $2.5 million is real,'' Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said, though offering no proof Dean's estimates were fudged.
What the hell? What a stupid thing to say. Dean, as Kerry and his entire staff know, has to file with the FEC. Just like everyone else.

Why would Dean lie about his fundraising? He'd be found out on January 31st, right before mini-Tuesday. It's not like a "he-said, she-said" sort of situation. Dean has to document it all.

This is desperation speaking. Massive desperation. When you're at the point when you not only make baseless accusations, but stupid and easily seen through accusations, you're done for.

What was Kerry's staff thinking?

Update: A commentor at Kos noted that it's possible that Cutter wasn't referring to Dean's funds, but perhaps accusations that "self-loans" don't count as real fundraising.

I certainly hope this is just bad reporting, or a misunderstanding. If that was the context, then it's just a continuation of "pathetic" and not a descent into "complete madness". Still, I'm pretty sure Kerry's not counting his self-loans in the 2.5 million. If he is, they've dropped below "pathetic" for entirely different reasons.
:: Morat 10:20 PM :: ::

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to you all. Regular posting will, theoretically, resume in the next few hours.

First for my New Year's Resolution -- the political one. I don't think you care too much about my exercise habits and my desire to cut my sugar intake. I've got one overriding political goal in 2004: I want Bush defeated. Not just defeated. Destroyed. Trounced. Losing by a landslide.

I want his defeat to be so thorough, so definitive, that his name will be synonymous with abject failure. I want him to lose so badly that his politics of lies, divisiveness, and peremptory war are so discredited that no one will take them up for generations.

Strangely, I'm sure Bush and I have very similar goals in mind: We both want him to go down in the history books. I want him to be famous. I want his Presidency to be studied and dissected by students for decades to come. I've just got a slightly different spin on it than he does.

So, in that vein, I resolve to work for whomever wins the Democratic nominee with all my energy, with the same energy and enthusiasm as I would for Dean -- or as close as I can manage.

So a resounding "Good Luck" to the Democratic field, both in the primaries and in the general. Made you win swiftly, cleanly, and fairly.
:: Morat 6:17 PM :: ::

:: Wednesday, December 31, 2003 ::

Stupid Blogger

I haven't been able to get to my blog all day. Glad to see blogger has, finally, fixed the problem.

Which just brings up the real question: If I couldn't access my blog, nor a number of popular blogspot blogs (like Atrios), why on earth was Blogger's status page claiming no problems?

Hell, I still can't get to Atrios.
:: Morat 1:15 PM :: ::

:: Tuesday, December 30, 2003 ::

A note on Christmas

And now for Christmas...better late than never. We had the last of the Christmas celebrations last night, as my brother finally made it back in town. It was quite lovely. My entire family gets together Christmas day, but my immediate family (brother and parents) tends to gather separately, for a more private celebration.

During my childhood, that was Christmas morning. By the afternoon, we'd all arrived at my Grandmother's or my Aunt's for the big family celebration. Of course, once I got married, the situation changed again. I attend Christmas Eve service with my in-laws (my mother and father tagged along this year, and will probably continue to do so. My wife's church is quite similar to theirs), spend the night at my in-laws, and have Christmas with them early Christmas day. Then we pack up and head to my Aunt's.

Christmas with my parents and brother tends to be either the 23rd or the 26th, and generally involves a nice dinner and a fun evening. This year, however, my mother and my wife decided to enact a new tradition involving that dinner. They're doing a "Christmas around the World" sort of thing, choosing a new country each year.

Of course, this year's was a copout. It was "Germany" which meant that we had what we normally have. :) Next year is probably Italian or French, which will really give my wife a chance to show off (although her Apple Strudel was quite tasty).

As for Christmas itself, my wife was quite excited by the earrings I managed to get her. Quite slyly too. I'm still impressed with myself. Sadly, they rate second to her professional KitchenAid mixer. I'm not really a fan of cooking, but those who enjoy it are probably either drooling with envy or fondling their own 6 quart mixer as we speak....apparently it's that good.

As for myself, tonight I stop at Best Buy on the way home. I need a few things to hook up my new DVD player (mine is dying) and my new TiVo. I'm not going to mess with splitting my cable signal so I can TiVo a channel I'm not watching. Too much of a hassle, and I'll never use it. And I'll probably cut the VCR out entirely.

Nonetheless, cool toys. :) And, if all goes well on the financial front, I can -- mostly -- stop worrying about money come April. And get a new computer out of the deal. The summer will still be a bit difficult, but I've got a better understanding of what it'll require...so hopefully I'll have sufficient cash on hand this year.
:: Morat 1:42 PM :: ::

Ashcroft Recuses Himself From Leak Investigation

Very interesting:
Attorney General John D. Ashcroft has recused himself from the investigation of the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity as the Justice Department named a special prosecutor to oversee the widening probe, Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey said today.
Color me shocked. Ashcroft recused himself. I wonder what sort of pressure that took.
:: Morat 1:09 PM :: ::

Howard Dean needs to grow up.

I'm wondering if Saletan's problem with Dean is perhaps personal. Thankfully, Dean doesn't seem inclined to take Saletan's advice -- or particularly care what Saletan thinks.

In his latest screed, Saletan urges Dean to silently accept the attacks of his opponents, because that is a apparently some form of time-honored political wisdom. You know, the sort that helped Al Gore tremendously. Standing by silently certainly helped with the whole "Gore is a big fat liar" meme, eh?

Here's a big fat hint for all the pundits: So far, you've proclaimed the death of Dean about eight million times. You've labeled him as "too angry, "too pessimistic", "too McGovern", "too Gingrich", "too liberal", "too conservative", "too blunt", and "too inexperienced". You've given him all sorts of helpful advice...advice his opponents took to heart, and Dean ignored.

Now, I'm not an expert like Saletan, but I think that -- given current polls on Dean -- perhaps Saletan should take advice from Dean, not give it. After all, those who have taken Saletan's conventional wisdom to heart seem to be mired in obscurity.
:: Morat 12:43 PM :: ::

A few more thoughts on votes, voters, and endorsements

Reading some of the comments around the blogs on Dean's latest statement, I'm struck by how many people feel that the eventual Democratic nominee is somehow entitled to the supporters of other candidates.

Here's a big news flash: They're not. Dean's not entitled to Kerry's supporters anymore than Kerry is entitled to Dean's. Just because I'm a registered Democrat does not mean the party gets to cast my vote.

I'm a registered Democrat because I've noticed that, more often than not, my particular issues and beliefs fit fairly well with the Democratic party.

But in the end, I don't vote by party. I vote by issues. Whichever candidate comes closest to what I want, gets my vote. Take the current field. By my normal criteria (the list of issues and such that are almost always the same, year in and year out) a good half the field or more meets my basic needs far better than Bush does.

However, this isn't a normal year. This year, in addition to my normal criteria, I have one called "Cannot be George Bush". And it's a pretty important one. So the Democrats don't need to worry. As long as they don't run George Bush, they've got my vote. Even if they run Lieberman, whom I rather despise.

But I'm not every voter. I know voters (quite a few) who have very specific criteria....and out of the Democratic field, only Howard Dean meets them. If he doesn't win the nomination, they won't vote for a Democrat. Period. It's not Howard Dean personally. It's his voting record and his issues.

My father, for instance. He's really tempted by Dean's fiscal record. He's stated, more than once, that Dean is the only Democrat he believes might do a better job than a Republican on the economy. And the economy is about the only issue he cares about. He's a possible Dean vote, but Dean's endorsement of another candidate would mean diddly squat to him. (Given his feelings about Bush's record lately, he'd probably just stay home on Election day).

Another of my friends is a die-hard Libertarian. He's planning on voting for Dean. He doesn't like all of Dean's stances, but to him Dean is better than Bush on the "important stuff". But I can promise you, if it's not Dean, he won't be voting Democratic. Because he doesn't believe anyone else in the Democratic field is better, on the issues he considers important, than Dean.

This isn't a "personality" thing. It's not even an "outsider" thing, although that's there to some extent. (A lot of McCain people, I understand). It is an issue thing.

Dean's endorsement will be enough for most of the Democrats who support him. But for the independents, and the occasional GOP crossover, it's not going to be enough. Whatever issue Dean lured them off the fence with, he's got an obvious credibility that the rest of the field doesn't. Maybe because of his budget record. Maybe because of his opposition to the war, back when that was "political suicide". Maybe because he's got a record as a pragmatist. Maybe just because he's willing to buck conventional wisdom and take risks....

If Dean doesn't win, they're not going to flock to Kerry or Clark or Edwards...no matter what Dean says. Perhaps Clark or Kerry or Edwards can lure them back off the fence. But that's not Dean's job, and it's not Dean's fault if they fail.
:: Morat 9:20 AM :: ::

:: Monday, December 29, 2003 ::

Clark Colored Glasses

I've learned to take Marshall's Dean reporting with a grain of salt. His CW contacts and support of Clark do bias him a bit. (As I am, of course, biased). This one, however, is pretty stupid:
I don't doubt that it would be hard to reconcile some Dean supporters to another Democratic nominee. But that's not the point. By saying it, he's leveraging it, and encouraging it.

The price of admission to the Democratic primary race is a pledge of committed support to whomever wins the nomination, period. (The sense of entitlement to other Democrats' support comes after you win the nomination, not before.) If Dean can't sign on that dotted-line, he has no business asking for the party's nomination.
First off, Josh either didn't bother to read Dean's statement, or didn't bother to engage that famous brain of is on it.

What Dean said is true. Endorsements, no matter how glowing, won't sway all your supporters. And I would say this is especially true when it comes to endorsing candidates your supporters might feel, for instance, had run a below-the-belt campaign or when it comes to supporters who are, for various reasons, new to the party or to being active in politics.

While McCain might have ultimately endorsed Bush, I'm guessing that quite a few McCain supporters decided they really couldn't see past the "black baby" slur and the rest of Bush's sleaze politics and stayed home.

Basically, Josh is hammering Dean for making a truthful statement. Something I thought was only a sin for the GOP.

Update: I just thought I'd add something. By Josh's own standard ("committed support to whomever wins the nomination"), the rest of the field has already disqualified themselves. After all, not a single one raised their hands when asked if they believed Dean could beat Bush.

Sure, they might endorse him later, but by refusing to state that Dean could beat Bush, they're leveraging their supporters, encouraging them not to vote for Dean should he win.

After all, what use is their endorsement if they're on record claiming Howard Dean can't win?
:: Morat 3:11 PM :: ::

More on Dean and the Deanies

Jaquandor comments on my post about Dean's supporters:
American liberalism is in need of serious rebuilding, and things like this article suggest to me that rebuilding is not what the Deaniacs are really interested in. This kind of thing makes me think of all the Ross Perot supporters who basically vanished from the scene when Perot himself disappeared.
I think, in this case, that he's missing the forest for the trees.

It's not that the Deanies aren't committed to rebuilding the party. Dean wants to rebuild the party. That much is obvious from both his record and the way he's campaigned. And I know that most of the Deanies want to rebuild the party as well. A lot of us felt betrayed after the 2002 elections...we felt like we were an opposition party that didn't oppose, that didn't have a coherent ideology, and had lost touch with the values it supposedly promoted.

The problem here isn't that Dean -- or the Deanies -- don't want to rebuild and revitalize the party. God knows we do. The problem here, the issue Dean speaks of, is that some of his supporters think he's the only one who can rebuild the party.

Perhaps they're wrong, perhaps they're right. But I can certainly understand how an independent, or a libertarian, or even a Republican can look at Dean and say "This is a man, this is a platform, this is a goal I can vote for" and truly believe that Dean can change the party....and then look at Kerry, or Lieberman, or even Clark and say "But I don't think that guy can".

We want the party changed. Rebuilt. Revitalized. Reborn. But every hierarchy, and political parties are no different, are resistant to change.

I'm not sure you can blame some of Dean's supporters for doubting that other candidates will effect those changes, whether through lack of interest or lack of ability.
:: Morat 2:25 PM :: ::

Dean Bat Switch

Blog for America has, like last quarter, just switched it's latest bat from it's 1.5 million total to the Q4 total. (You can donate to Dean here. Skeptical Notion thanks you. And, you know, when we're a massive Democratic fundraiser, and have oodles of power, we'll think of you. Occasionally.)

Dean's currently -- according to the bat -- got 14 million. They're aiming to beat the 14.8 million total from last quarter, which seems pretty likely. Dean should be able to easily bring in a million in by midnight on the 31st, especially with the House Parties tomorrow night.

Final guess? Say 15.5 million, unless Dean is holding back some funds for a January surprise.

The only one in that league is Clark, who Carville estimated would bring in around 12 million. Not having read the original article, I can't tell you if that's 12 million in Q4, 12 million for the year, or 12 million with the match....I suspect it's for Q4 alone, which is good news for Clark. Fester notes that Clark is expected to get less than 4 million in matching funds, which is a double problem.

First off, Dean had a 9 million dollar "Cash on Hand" advantage over Clark at the end of Q3. Second off, it looks like Dean's going to be within a million of Clark's Q4 + match total, which means Clark simply can't match Dean's spending.

And need I remind anyone that this horse race will be decided in the next three months? This will all be said and done by the end of March.

Also, the low number of the match indicates Clark's getting the bulk of his money from big donors....which means his sources will hit the personal cap quicker, forcing Clark to keep looking for new donors.

All in all, Q4 looks like another win for Dean. His Q4 take will match Clark's Q4 and Clark's match, and his COH advantage will make it far more difficult for Clark to fight Dean nationally. It looks like Clark is going to have to continue to pursue a state-by-state strategy, while Dean has the resources to compete everywhere.
:: Morat 1:00 PM :: ::

2004 NH Democratic Tracking

Yummy poll goodness. ARG has started a NH tracking poll. As it's a tracking poll, it's methodology is different from previous ARG polls...and it'll be updated daily. Current numbers:

Dean: 37%
Kerry: 19%
Undecided: 18%
Clark: 12%
Lieberman: 6%

Everyone else is below 5%, and the MOE is 4%. I got the link from Kos, and as he noted: It's not comparable to previous ARG polls. Different methodology and sample.
:: Morat 12:10 PM :: ::

Sad News..

About a year and a half ago -- perhaps a bit longer -- my wife acquired a half-grown puppy named Angel. Getting a dog was something of a house-warming gift. She wanted one, but felt she had to wait until she owned (or rented) an actual home. When we got married, my dog came with me. At roughly the same time, a friend of ours had to get rid of her dog as well.

So we ended up with three animals, which (especially given how large a dog Angel was) was one too many for the house we had. Luckily, my father-in-law was looking for a dog, and Angel was exactly what he wanted. Since he lives a few miles from us, it wasn't a particularly difficult decision to make, even for our kid. After all, he got to see Angel all the time.

Over the course of the next year my father-in-law got very attached to Angel, which was something of a big deal for him, as he's leery of getting emotionally attached to animals. Angel was the first dog he'd had since he was a kid. The first dog that was his.

And he finds out today that Angel has an inoperable tumor and has to be put down.

Which sucks more than I can express. My father-in-law is a good man, and he loved that dog more than I can say. It's not fair, or right, that he should have to put her down after less than a year.

Worse yet? The man loves dogs, and I'd be very surprised if he ever got another one. And that's probably the worst tragedy of all.
:: Morat 11:30 AM :: ::

Dean predicts backers may stay home if he doesn't win the nomination

This was rather nice of Dean:
Howard Dean said Sunday that the hundreds of thousands of people drawn to politics by his campaign may stay home if he doesn't win the Democratic presidential nomination, dooming the Democratic Party in the fall campaign against President Bush.

'If I don't win the nomination, where do you think those million and a half people, half a million on the Internet, where do you think they're going to go?' he said during a meeting with reporters. 'I don't know where they're going to go. They're certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician.'
After the attacks he's gotten from Kerry and Gephardt (and "non-affiliated" 527s run some of their ex-staffers and donors), most politicians wouldn't bother to warn their opponents.

Let's face up to reality here: What Dean said is absolutely, 100% true. Dean doesn't own any of the Deanies. Their votes aren't commodities to be traded, and even the most glowing endorsement isn't going to get them all.

Say Dean flames out and Kerry wins. Dean endorses Kerry -- something he's made very plain he'll do. What happens? I'd say the vast majority of the 'traditionally Democratic' Deanies will transfer their vote easily enough. ABB is strong among the base. Some of them will even donate time and money to Kerry's campaign -- although not as many as would have before the latest slimefest.

But the Republicans for Dean? Independents for Dean? Libertarians for Dean? The usual assortment of swing and independent voters that like the "outsider" types? Not a chance. The best Kerry could hope for is that they stay home, and don't vote for anyone.

Politics is more than issues. Politics is also personal. And while some vote for Dean because of issues, some vote for Dean because of Dean. Whether it's the promise of a new type of candidate, the lure of the outsider, or just a yearning for a socially liberal, fiscally conservative grownup, they like Dean personally.

He might endorse Kerry, or Gephardt, or Lieberman....but Dean doesn't have the power to make them appeal to his supporters.

Given the history of the last few months, let me predict the course of this latest "gaffe". Dean says something. Kerry, Lieberman, Gephardt, and a good number of pundits get outraged, and predict that Dean will lose support, will drop in the polls, or perhaps commit ritualistic suicide. At the very least, they all agree how this proves Dean is a poor politician who can't be elected.

Within a few weeks, new polls will show Dean's support up, and the pundits will start talking about how amazing Dean's teflon is, and how it just goes to show that when he finally loses his teflon, he'll be insanely vulnerable and thus it's proof of how unelectable he is and what a poor politician he is.

I don't think it occurs to Kerry, Lieberman, or the pundits at large that the American public is rather fond of honesty, even if it's blunt. They find it refreshing to hear a politician say what he thinks, rather than what polls claim the public wants to hear.

What surprises me is that the pundits and politicians, whose jobs revolve around public mood and politics, can so consistently misread Dean. You'd think that, eventually, they'd learn....
:: Morat 10:23 AM :: ::

Dean had own secret energy group

So, let me get this straight: Dean's Energy Task force was bipartisan, held at least one open meeting, and listed all groups involved -- including those in the closed meetings -- in it's final report. Which, I might add, included members of both parties, and representatives of both the energy industry and environmental groups.

Cheney's task force was held entirely behind closed doors, involving only GOP figures and industry agents...few of whose identities are known.

Oh, and Bush/Cheney and the GOP received millions in donations from energy interests, while Dean has received "small contributions". We shouldn't leave out the 20,000 from "donors tied to Vermont's electrical utilities" donated to a PAC formed when Dean was preparing his run....

So, to sum up: Millions versus a few thousand. Entirely closed meetings, partially closed meetings. Unknown participants versus complete list of participants. Partisan versus bipartisan. Only energy interests versus a broad mix of interests -- including environmentalists.

Yeah, they're exactly the same. Like it's not bad enough having politicians insult my intelligence, now the frickin' press has to do the same.
:: Morat 10:14 AM :: ::

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