Saturday, January 03, 2004

Dean Loses 2004 Election: [please ignore this] Poll  

speakingcorpse writes:

After an entire episode of CNN's Inside Politics hosted by the brain-damaged-pseudo-terrorist Candy Crowley, nearly all of which was devoted to discussing the question of Dean's electability, the following poll numbers were mentioned parenthetically.
"Welcome back. I'm Candy Crowley, sitting in for Judy [Woodruff, aka a skeleton covered in wax, radiated, and frozen into a permanent toxic sculpture with a mouth that simulates word-emission].

The race for the White House has been under way for months, and the first caucuses and primary will be held this month. But beyond the activists and the true believers, are Americans really watching what's going on?

According to our new CNN-"TIME" Magazine poll, fewer than half of Americans say they're playing close attention to the race. Against this backdrop [Blicero asks: How exactly is "this" a "backdrop"?], President Bush is holding a five-point lead in a head- to-head match-up against Democratic frontrunner Howard Dean. He has a six-point edge and one-on-one with Joe Lieberman. Mr. Bush leads Dick Gephardt by nine points, Wesley Clark and John Edwards by 10, and John Kerry by 11 points."
They gave the lie to the entire discussion, including Joseph I. Lieberman's on-air claim that he was the only "electable Democrat." There was no commentary on or context for these numbers, which are actually unbelievable. As was pointed out on Dean's blog yesterday, Clinton was 20 points behind G.H.W. Bush at this time during the 1992 election cycle. I guess fat-slut-deadender Crowley couldn't acknowledge these numbers more directly, or she would have had to figure out something meaningful to say during her half-hour television emission.

Anyway, there are two key points. One is that Dean is doing better than all the Dems against Bush, although several are in a near dead-heat with him. Two is that more than half of Americans aren't paying close attention at all to the race. For a Democrat to win, he has to somehow interest a small number of these normally uninterested people. They are not now "undecided," agonizing over whether to move to the right or to the left. This demographic has been invented by Frank Luntz for his TV focus groups; it has no real independent existence. How hard is it, really, to decide, once you give the matter some attention? Either you're a fascist or you're not. The real "undecideds" are those who haven't yet given the matter any attention at all. They simply don't give a shit.

Every election, a small number of these people eventually begins to pay attention--exactly who pays attention probably varies from election to election; and what finally draws them in probably varies as well. A Dem won't draw some of them into the process by "moving to the center"--that will in fact ensure that these people will remain, understandably, uninterested. Nor will a Dem attract their attention, necessarily, by moving to the left. He will attract their attention by being attractive and interesting--by saying something new, and saying it well, by stirring up trouble, by striking a memorable pose. Only Dean is doing this thus far. He can win.

Radical French Leftists Attempt to Assassinate American V.P. 

Fascinating little article in The Nation:
Will the French Indict Cheney?
by Doug Ireland

One of France's best-known investigating magistrates, Judge Renaud van Ruymbeke--who came to fame by unearthing major French campaign finance scandals in the 1990s that led to a raft of indictments--has been conducting a probe of the Nigeria deal since October. And, three days before Christmas, the Paris daily Le Figaro front-paged the news that Judge van Ruymbeke had notified the Justice Ministry that Cheney might be among those eventually indicted as a result of his investigation.

The notion that the judge's targeting of Cheney might be in part retaliatory for the Bush Administration's exclusion of France from Iraq reconstruction contracts is unlikely: Van Ruymbeke is notoriously independent, and his previous investigations have been aimed at politicians and parties of both right and left. He's also no stranger to the unsavory world of oil-and-gas politics, having previously investigated bribe-giving by the French petrogiant Elf--indeed, it was in the course of his Elf investigation that van Ruymbeke stumbled upon the Nigerian deal.
Full story.

FBI Asks for Reporters to Talk 

From Time.com:
The CIA Agent Flap: FBI Asks for Reporters to Talk


FBI investigators looking into the criminal leak of a CIA agent’s identity have asked Bush Administration officials including senior political adviser Karl Rove to release reporters from any confidentiality agreements regarding conversations about the agent. If signed, the single-page requests made over the last week would give investigators new ammunition for questioning reporters who have so far, according to those familiar with the case, not disclosed the names of administration officials who divulged that Valerie Plame, wife of former ambassador Joe Wilson, worked for the CIA.
Full story.

Friday, January 02, 2004

"It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad" 

This from the AP:
NORFOLK, Va. (Jan. 2) - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Friday he believes God has told him President Bush will be re-elected in a "blowout" in November.

"I think George Bush is going to win in a walk," Robertson said on his "700 Club" program on the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded. "I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way."

Robertson told viewers he spent several days in prayer at the end of 2003.

"The Lord has just blessed him," Robertson said of Bush. "I mean, he could make terrible mistakes and comes out of it. It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad, God picks him up because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him."

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, a frequent Robertson critic and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said he had a prediction of his own: "Pat Robertson in 2004 will continue to use his multimillion broadcasting empire to promote George Bush and other Republican candidates."

In a reference to Bush's political adviser, Lynn said, "Maybe Pat got a message from Karl Rove and thought it was from God."

Bush Education Dept. Funds Nat'l Program in Philology, 'the Ancient Study of the Authenticity of Texts'; First Lady Contracted to Consult 

Critics Say Education Dept. Is Favoring Political Right

The People for the American Way report "exposes a stealth campaign by the administration to reward groups that support its private-school voucher agenda at the expense of strengthening public schools," said Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), ranking Democrat on the Senate education committee.

"Balderdash," said Education Undersecretary Hickok. If there were any favoritism, he said, it was "favoritism in the sense that we support those organizations that support No Child Left Behind," a law President Bush signed in January 2002 that aims to raise educational standards through high-stakes testing and better-qualified teachers.

"Welcome to the vast right-wing conspiracy," laughed [Arizona schools superintendent Lisa Graham] Keegan, chief executive of the ELC, who was a candidate for secretary of education after Bush was elected.
[Editor's note: Ha. ha. HA.]
Keegan said it is only natural that the Bush administration should want to correct a liberal bias in American education by giving grants to groups that share its philosophy. While she rejects the "right-wing" tag, she says "it is necessary to be ideological in education these days if you want to promote academic standards, school choice, and new routes to certifying teachers that work against the grain of current ideas in education."
Full story.

He ain't going away just yet... 

After Halting Start, Clark Seems to Be Finding Legs

Steady practice seems to have honed General Clark's performance on the trail, which in the early days suffered from his tendency to digress into multiple subjects.

At an early December town-hall-style meeting in Nashua, N.H., General Clark's response to one question ran nearly 10 minutes. This week, his stump speech was more focused and his answers to questions more to the point. Lately, he has also avoided the emotional outbursts that cropped up early in his campaign when asked about subjects like Iraq or why some former generals seemed to dislike him.

The Clark campaign points to what it calls tangible reasons for its growing confidence. It raised about $11 million in the fourth quarter, more than any campaign other than Dr. Dean's.

In polls in early primary states like New Hampshire, General Clark is closing in on Senator John Kerry, who is running second but is slipping. In South Carolina and Arizona, General Clark is also moving up, and in some states the numbers indicate he is neck-and-neck with Dr. Dean. It is in those Southern states where his campaign is confident that General Clark's military experience will attract independent voters who supported Bill Clinton in the 1990's but who might have defected to George W. Bush in 2000.
Full story.

This SHOULD be 'conventional wisdom' by now... 

Who's Nader Now?

Now the Democratic Party has its own internal spoilers: candidates lagging far behind in the race for the nomination who seem more interested in tearing down Howard Dean than in defeating George Bush.


It's true that if Mr. Dean gets the nomination, the Republicans will attack him as a wild-eyed liberal who is weak on national security. But they would do the same to any Democrat — even Joseph Lieberman. Facts, or the lack thereof, will prove no obstacle: remember the successful attacks on the patriotism of Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam, or the Saddam-Daschle ads.


The irony is that by seeking to undermine the election prospects of a man who may well be their party's nominee, Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Kerry have reminded us of why their once-promising campaigns imploded. Most Democrats feel, with justification, that we're facing a national crisis — that the right, ruthlessly exploiting 9/11, is making a grab for total political dominance. The party's rank and file want a candidate who is running, as the Dean slogan puts it, to take our country back. This is no time for a candidate who is running just because he thinks he deserves to be president.
Full story.

Wither "whether"? 

Dawkins writes:

Are we slipping backwards here in the Plame-smear investigation?

The Times' David Johnston writes today:
With the interviews, documents and grand jury tools, law enforcement officials said on Wednesday that they are increasingly optimistic that Mr. Fitzgerald stands a strong chance of getting to the bottom of whether anyone in the administration improperly identified a C.I.A. officer to a newspaper columnist.
Wait a minute.

"…getting to the bottom of whether anyone in the administration improperly identified a C.I.A. officer to a newspaper columnist."

Didn't we establish this "whether" thing a long time ago, such as when Robert Novak himself wrote in the very column at issue that he in fact was given the identity of Valerie Plame by "two senior administration officials"? That in other words, someone in the administration did indeed improperly identify a C.I.A. officer to a newspaper columnist?


Novak, July 14, 2003:
Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him.
Why, today, is the question still whether anyone in the administration identified Plame? Is the issue about "improperly"? Is there some doubt about whether Patrick Fitzgerald (or David Johnston, or any reader of newspapers) knows that it's quite "improper" indeed - felonious, in fact - for an administration official to reveal the name of a C.I.A. operative?

Isn't the question now about who [Blicero adds: or what] in the administration positively did the identifying? Isn't it now Fitzgerald's task to determine the identity of these people?
But despite the resurgent mood surrounding the case, investigators are said to doubt, at least for the moment, that anyone is likely to be prosecuted for disclosure of the identity of the officer even though the unauthorized disclosure of an undercover operative is a federal crime. That is because a prosecutor must show that a defendant knew that it was unlawful to disclose the name.
It's as reasonable as ever to assume that the administration officials -- smart folks, those -- who leaked Plame's identity knew it was a bad thing to do.

[Blicero adds: I don't know--hasn't "ignorance of the law" always stood as a universal exculpatory factor? And plus, what is knowing, you know? Blicero would also note that he finds the phrase "resurgent mood" (despite what it seems the phrase should mean: hopeful of a conviction) chilling, just chilling.]

From what I've heard of his tenacity and rectitude, I'm confident that Fitzgerald - "the bulldog" - ought to be able to make this one stick.

Ought to…

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Hopeful Blumenthal reminiscence 

i am a ram passes along this Sid Blumenthal reflection on Dean's staying power.
Since 1968, when Eugene McCarthy shocked President Johnson in the New Hampshire primary, the establishment candidate has been vulnerable to an insurgent. The case for strategic voting has without exception never worked. In 1992, Bill Clinton, under attack for evading the draft during the Vietnam war, was excoriated by his rival, Senator Bob Kerrey: "I'm not questioning (Clinton's) patriotism, but I guarantee Bush will in November," Kerrey warned. "The Republicans will exploit every weakness" and Clinton "will get opened like a soft peanut."
Different metaphors this time around (wax, not peanuts) but hopefully the same outcome.

Full story.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Political Poetry 

"There is nothing political about American literature," Laura Bush has said.
If that is so, then I'm afraid "Roses are red, violets are blue, oh my lump in the bed, how I've missed you" must be excluded from the canon.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Nation's First Faith-Based Prison Opens 

Discerning AmCop readers may have already intuited from my Palm Beach Post link that I am currently in Palm Beach County, Florida. I haven't been down here since last year--but clearly the beloved gov'na has been up to some good works. AmCop reader (and phony puppet-master) Guiseppe Abote alerted me to this story:
LAWTEY, Fla. — Gov. Jeb Bush dedicated what he called the nation's first faith-based prison Wednesday, telling its nearly 800 inmates that religion can help keep them from landing in jail again.

Later, Bush told the inmates: "I can't think of a better place to reflect on the awesome love of our lord Jesus than to be here at Lawtey Correctional. God bless you."

Open Letter from Speakingcorpse to a Corpse 

Dear Mr. Brooks,

I am very glad you are so sanguine about the state of religious affairs in our nation. Although I am not as optimistic as you are about this matter, just reading your wonderfully self-assured and self-satisfied words has given me encouragement: I now know that with the necessary effort, it is possible for someone to present to others, even in these frightening times, a facade of calm, smug, confident, and patronizing expertise on the dark currents of nihilistic hatred and despair that are about to destroy the planet. Thanks a lot.

I wanted to ask you to reconsider a few of the points made in your column. I wanted to ask you, after all of the thought you have put into your piece, to return to these difficult issues and think some more.

1) Do you really believe that, just because doctrines are constantly being revised in this country, the religious impulse lacks an authoritarian element? Do you think the idea that we should throw up our hands and just "Support President Bush, Trust Jesus" is not authoritarian? Do you really think that if a religiously-colored habit of docility and unquestioning submission to the wishes of the "powers that be" had not been deeply ingrained in the American national character, that 65 percent of the people in this country would say that they believe Saddam Hussein blew up the WTC? (Yes, these people say this without really believing it, out of a perhaps apparently endearing and apparently optimistic desire to give our "leaders" the benefit of the doubt. "President Bush is just doing his job," these people say. But when they say this, they are, at an unconscious level, happily consigning themselves to the will of a supreme theologico-political entity that, they have decided, has the right to kill them whenever it pleases. It is the worst and most nihilistic kind of despair.)

2) Do you really think that the culture wars in this country are over? Do you know that the best-selling novel series in the history of the country is Tim LaHaye's LEFT BEHIND fictionalization of the Rapture and the Apocalypse? Do you know that a majority of Americans believes that events now occurring in the Middle East mark the beginning of the "end times" foretold in the Book of Revelation? Do you know that the majority of Americans thinks that America no longer has a race problem, even as the existence of a permanent black urban underclass becomes more and more entrenched?

3) Do you really think that just because religious doctrines are malleable, there is real toleration in this country of all religious positions? More specifically, do you think atheism is tolerated? Do you think that when the President talks about God in nearly every public utterance, it reassures those citizens who don't believe in God of their place in the society? Do you think there is room in America for someone of my OWN religious persuasion? Let me run it by you: the fact that people like you, David Brooks, are hired by the newspaper of record to educate the rest of us about the history of religion in America seems to me to be one more piece of evidence suggesting that the divine being long ago abandoned the world, and America especially, and found better things to worry about; if America is going to survive, it will be despite the wishes of a God who has cursed us with "intellectuals" like you, who are so overjoyed with themsleves that they would, if they couldn't come up with anything else to say, demand that we find edification in the products of their digestive processes.

Ashcroft Recused by Christ 

Ashcroft Recuses Himself From Probe of C.I.A. Leak

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorney General John Ashcroft will recuse himself from an investigation into who leaked the name of a CIA operative, Justice Department sources said Tuesday.

The investigation will be headed by the U.S. attorney in Chicago, Patrick Fitzgerald, who will report to Ashcroft's new deputy, James Comey, the officials said.

It was not immediately clear why Ashcroft made the decision.
So let's see...the White House had, what, a 24-hour "grace period" or something, after the investigation was formally launched, before they had to hand over their logs to Justice.

Now the Attorney General takes, what, a months-long "grace period" before recusing himself from the investigation? Why am I not sanguine about this development?

Decoding Sharon's Speech  

speakingcorpse writes:

In case anyone is curious about how utterly mindless and craven are our "leaders" and their obeisance to the fat-fuck war-criminal gangster shit-sculpture Ariel Sharon, then he or she should read this article by longtime Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery. Here Avnery separates the actual meaning of Sharon's latest utterance from the shit in which it is encased. Of course, our "leaders" know well enough what it means. But as long as the potentially apocalpytic catastrophe Sharon is in the process of bringing about occurs after the next election, our "leaders" are content to postpone consideration of the matter.
He read out the written text of his speech, word for word, without raising his eyes from the page.

It was vital for him to stick to the exact wording, since it was an encoded text. It is impossible to decipher it without breaking the code. And it is impossible to break the code without knowing Ariel Sharon very well indeed.

So it is no surprise that the flood of interpretations in Israel and abroad was ridiculous. The commentators just did not understand what they had heard. That's why they wrote things like "He did not say anything new", "He has no plan", "He is marking time", "He is old and tired". And the usual Washington reaction: "A positive step, but"

Nonsense. In his speech, Sharon outlined a whole, detailed--and extremely dangerous--plan. Those who did not understand--Israelis, Palestinians and foreign diplomats--will be unable to react effectively.
Full story.

Rictus-Faced 'Lump' Lies Compulsively, Abuses Housepets, etc. 

The first lady also said that the "Roses are red, violets are blue" poem she read at a National Book Festival gala in October was not actually written by her husband even though it has been attributed to him. She did not say who wrote the poem.

"But a lot of people really believed that he did," she said. "Some woman from across the table said, `You just don't know how great it is to have a husband who would write a poem for you.' "
It "has been attributed" to him? Wonder why "people" might have "really believed that he did"? Let's go back and "read" this excerpt:
Remarks by Mrs. Bush
National Book Festival Gala
October 3, 2003

We delight in great works of literature and especially in the works of budding new artists. President Bush is a great leader and husband - but I bet you didn't know, he is also quite the poet. Upon returning home last night from my long trip, I found a lovely poem waiting for me. Normally, I wouldn't share something so personal, but since we're celebrating great writers, I can't resist.

Dear Laura,

Roses are red, violets are blue, oh my lump in the bed, how I've missed you.

Roses are redder, bluer am I, seeing you kissed by that charming French guy.

The dogs and the cat they miss you too, Barney's still mad you dropped him, he ate your shoe.

The distance my dear has been such a barrier, next time you want an adventure, just land on a carrier.

I'm happy to be the inspiration behind this poem.
She was "happy."

"Maybe God thought you had seen enough killing." 

This is an unspeakably sad article. None of the stuff that gets said every day about the war in Iraq can say quite what this story says.
Sergeant Feldbusch said his attitude was evolving. "I'm fine with it now," he said. "I'm going to learn Braille. I'm going to get a cane. I'll survive. There's more to life than seeing. "

Even in his dreams, he no longer sees. And he has stopped trying to picture faces.

"When I was first in the hospital, I tried to think of what the doctors and nurses all looked like," he said. "But then I stopped. I'm blind. I figured why am I doing this? I'm never going to see them."

He went on: "It's not that I don't allow myself to get upset. I don't think about it. I had a job. I got hurt. Now I'm blind. My day is my day now."

Let's Talk About God 

speakingcorpse writes:

Dean is a step ahead of us. Blicero and I were just talking about how he should start talking more about Christ, and we weren't aware that he was already doing it:
Presidential contender Howard B. Dean, who has said little about religion while campaigning except to emphasize the separation of church and state, described himself in an interview with the Globe as a committed believer in Jesus Christ and said he expects to increasingly include references to Jesus and God in his speeches as he stumps in the South.
It's really a smart thing to do. The GOP has a monopoly on Christ, but they maintain it by connecting their policies vaguely with God and people's perpetual willingness to submit to the "way things are" in this world. But, as has been pointed out a million times, Christ was a radical anarchist threat to all established authority who finally got himself crucified. Any specific talk about Christ's ministry will lead one very quickly down the path of socialism. And theologically, Christ's whole polemic against the Mosaic Law and its guardians finally justifies a THIS-worldly stance. It was Paul's ideas about grace and justification by faith alone that quickly became a justification for submission to temporal authority (works and actions are futile; only faith can save us, and not in this world, the world of work and action, but the next). But Christ himself could be understood, and was understood by people like Luther and Bonhoeffer, as saying that the religion of the Law--the Jewish Pharisaic code of ritual piety--was inadequate because EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DO ought to be in accordance with the Law. Going to the temple, praying, observing the food restrictions--these rituals are outdated and old-fashioned NOT because the old Mosaic Law has been superseded, but because they suggest, in their specificity, that the Law can be appropriately observed with the execution of a few, specially set-aside ritual actions. No, says Christ, it's not enough to be kosher. You have to live every moment of your life in accord with the law. The law cannot in any way be separated from the realm of every-day human conduct.
[At] an appearance at an African-American church in Columbia, S.C.,...before nearly 100 parishioners, Dean said in a rhythmic tone notably different from his usual stampede through policy points, ''In this house of the Lord, we know that the power rests in God's hands and in Jesus's hands for helping us. But the power also is on this, God's earth -- Remember Jesus said, `Render unto God those things that are God's but unto Caesar those things that are Caesar's.' ''
The contradiction with GOP Christ-licking ought to be clear enough: it's totally wrong to "Support President Bush and Trust Jesus" if you haven't first very carefully determined that Jesus himself, in accord with the Ten Commandments, would have supported President Bush. And he obviously wouldn't have supported the President in his systematic desecration of the Word, his murderous foreign and domestic policy, his brutalization of the poor, his rape of the environment, etc., etc. We need to find a way to get Dean to re-read carefully the Sermon on the Mount, and also Bonhoeffer's book The Cost of Discipleship.

Blicero would like to add that perhaps David Brooks was thinking of that very Sermon when he wrote in his New York Times opinion column:
In the political sphere, there is conflict and rigid partisanship. In the religious sphere, there is mobility, ecumenical understanding and blurry boundaries.

If George Bush and Howard Dean met each other on a political platform, they would fight and feud. If they met in a Bible study group and talked about their eternal souls, they'd probably embrace.
That's nice, isn't it? But Mr. Brooks isn't quite so nice in his first paragraph when he writes:
Howard Dean was baptized Catholic, and raised as an Episcopalian. He left the church after it opposed a bike trail he was championing, and now he is a Congregationalist, though his kids consider themselves Jewish.
David Brooks, I am sure that if called out on this point you would insist that that sentence intends no irony at all. But let me just say this: there is more substance and more spirit in Dean's act of leaving his church over a bike path than there is, cumulatively, in all the "words" that have ever dribbled out from the hole in your face on the subject of "religion." These kinds of comments, Mr. Brooks, confirm to me that you are a rotting corpse, and that your inner spirit is far more revolting to look upon than your physical exterior--and that's sayin' somethin'!

Blicero would also like to add that while Gov. Dean will be talking about the power and hope inherent in the figure of Jesus (and we wish him the best in doing so), presidential candidate Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut will be
chastis[ing] other Democrats for forgetting ''that faith was central to our founding and remains central to our national purpose.''
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, with his emphasis on "chastisement," will no doubt prove that he is the most Christian of the presidential candidates. Meanwhile, he's been doing this:
Lieberman: Dean Will 'Melt' Under GOP Attacks
I might compose a follow-up article, headlined Blicero: The Lower Half of Lieberman's Face/Head Has Already 'Melted,' Despite Absence of GOP Attacks.

But perhaps Joe (who considers his greatest qualification for president the notion that he can protect Americans "at least as well as President Bush") will be heartened by this article from the Palm Beach Post:
Christian Zionists heralded in Israel

HERZLIYA, Israel -- As they say in the preaching business, Pat Robertson had them in the palm of his hand.

No matter that his audience wasn't predominantly Christian, let alone American. They drank up every word. And when the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network culminated his give-no-ground speech to the elite of Israel's political and military establishment with the ringing declaration, "Be strong! Be strong!" many of his listeners jumped to their feet to give him a boisterous round of applause.

High-profile events in recent months underscore the blossoming ties. In October, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon addressed 3,000 visiting evangelical Christians from 80 countries, including some 450 Americans.

"We love you!" Sharon told the gathering, and in a march through the streets of Jerusalem they returned the affection, waving signs such as "Oklahoma Loves Israel" and shouting, "Hallelujah to the God of Israel!"

The same month, several thousand evangelical Christians flocked to Washington to participate in a "Christian Solidarity for Israel" rally sponsored by the Christian Coalition.

Days later, about 16,000 U.S. churches, many of them in the South, participated in a one-day "Stand for Israel" prayer campaign co-chaired by Ralph Reed, who formerly headed the Christian Coalition and is now an Atlanta-based political consultant and Southern regional chairman of President Bush's reelection campaign.

Robertson also delighted many here when, in remarks to local reporters, he called for the "elimination" of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and warned that any attempt by Bush to force Israel to cede East Jerusalem to the Palestinians as a capital for their future state would cost the president "an enormous amount of support among the evangelical votes in the U.S."
Full story.

What fantastic news!! Anyway, Gov. Dean's take on religion doesn't sound nearly as exciting as that. All he says is
''Christ was someone who sought out people who were disenfranchised, people who were left behind...He fought against self-righteousness of people who had everything . . . He was a person who set an extraordinary example that has lasted 2000 years, which is pretty inspiring when you think about it.''
Think? Huh?

"He seems to be crawling through the underbelly of crony capitalism."  

The Relatively Charmed Life Of Neil Bush
Despite Silverado and Voodoo, Fortune Still Smiles on the President's Brother

Ignite! is designed, Bush said, to make learning fun for "hunter-warrior" kids who don't like reading. It's a computer curriculum that uses music, graphics and animation to teach middle school kids.

...However, Ignite! has been attacked by other educators for dumbing down history. Among its controversial aspects is a lesson that depicts the Seminole Wars in a cartoon football game -- "the Jacksons vs. the Seminoles" -- the animated Indians smashing helmets with animated white settlers. The Constitutional Convention is taught in a rap song:

It was 55 delegates from 12 states
Took one hot Philadelphia summer to create
A perfect document for their imperfect times
Franklin, Madison, Washington -- a lot of the cats
Who used to be in the Continental Congress way back.

Ignite! is working well, Bush wrote in an e-mail: "Teachers and students have given anecdotal feedback that confirms the powerful impact our program is having on student achievement, student focus and attitudes, and teacher success in reaching all of their students."

But at Whitney reviews were less laudatory. "The kids felt pretty strongly that what this was about was lowering the bar," says Humes.

Humes wasn't impressed, either. "There was a lot of rhyming and games," he says. "It reminded me of what my son uses -- but he's in kindergarten."

When Bush spoke at Whitney, several students began arguing with him.

"He was very surprised," Humes recalls. "You had to see the look on his face when one young woman got up and said she liked calculus. He said it was useless. This is the branch of mathematics that makes space travel possible, and he said it was useless."
Full story.


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