Friday, September 24, 2004

Problem Solved 

I think I've solved the problem with Internet Explorer for Mac crashing, hopefully once and for all. Please let me know if that is correct.

Last Chance to Help: Seize It 

Some people have been asking me where, as we come down to the wire, they should contribute their money. (Incidentally, I know for a fact that some of us have not yet contributed anything during the entire course of the campaign. Don't worry: you can atone for that right now.) The following is a little roundup of where you can (and should) be giving your money and/or your time.


1. The DNC (which supports the Kerry campaign) is begging for money. They have a big fundraising deadline of September 30, which I believe is really the last big deadline before showtime. So if you haven't given to Kerry yet, do it now.

2. MoveOn PAC is running a massive Get Out the Vote effort with hundreds of volunteers on the ground in key states, as well as important TV ads. They can definitely use your help.

3. Super-blogger Daily Kos has chosen a list of a dozen crucial house races in various states, including Jan Schneider, the woman running against the evil Katherine Harris in Florida. You can make a contribution to be spread equally among all 12, or select individual candidates of your choosing.

4. You could also contribute to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, of which uber-blogger Atrios says, "The role of the DCCC (and its Republican counterpart) is to be the bonus cards in this election. Your opponent knows you have them, but they don't know when and where you're going to play them. The DCCC can suddenly throw money into a race that the Republicans thought was safe, and they have to have some money in the pot to react if the Republicans try to throw a nuke onto another race.."

5. Kos is also promoting the Coalition for a Fair Michigan, which is actively working to defeat a very, very nasty anti-gay amendment to the state constitution which will be on the ballot this fall. This amendment--unlike versions in other states that are more or less symbolic--would actually deprive same-sex and unmarried partners of existing rights. Help fight it.


1. The Kerry camp is asking for volunteers who can make phone calls, and volunteers who can go on a road trip to a swing state.

2. Act with ACT (America Coming Together). Visit their site. They've got Saturday bus trips to nearby battleground states, they've got letter-writing happy hours, they've got cellular phone banking from your nearby park. Whether you've got a free hour or a whole weekend, they've got something we can do. This page provides a neat function where you can search for activities going on within a given radius from your zip code.

3. Swing the State is organizing day and weekend trips to battleground states. If you've got a car, you can drive, and if you don't, someone else will drive you.

4. Voting is kind of important. If you're not sure whether you're registered to vote, or know someone who might not be registered, MoveOn can help you out here.

Your Vote Matters will help you register to vote; contact your Sec. of State to verify that you are in fact on the rolls; get an absentee ballot; or volunteer to help out at polling sites.

5. When you're done giving money and time, get sloshed and meet people with Drinking Liberally, which hosts get-togethers every Thursday evening in cities around the country.

Hope that helps. We all need to do something NOW, whether it's a few bucks or a few hours. Probably in the next few days I'll be off to Allentown, a battleground district in a battleground state. More on that later.

"Choose Honor" 

Check out Texans for Truth's new ad. I think it might embarrass our president. If you think it's good, chip in a few bucks to help them put it on TV.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Defying the Pessimists 

Juan Cole asks: If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?
...What if entire platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and pulverizing the Vietnam Memorial? What if the National Council of Churches had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers to converge on the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing it to get at a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?

It's vivid. (And perhaps prophetic...)

Low-Temperature Motherfuckers 

Star Spangled Ice Cream: "The Sweet Taste of Freedom." Order now!

(Thanks to Stand Up and Holla!)

There Goes My Ba-by.... 

Whew. Thank God our government has finally decided to go balls-out and really do what it takes to prevent another 9-11.
Passenger Cat Stevens Gets Plane Diverted

WASHINGTON - A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine when it was discovered that passenger Yusuf Islam - formerly known as singer Cat Stevens - was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country.
Being a terrorist, Mr. Islam must go back "over there" where we can fight him, as opposed to here in the streets of Manhattan and Fort Worth.

(Naturally feel free to leave your best Cat Stevens-as-terrorist joke--preferably involving specific song lyrics--in the Comment window.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Kerry is not dead 

This was the text of a sign that Blicero and Dawkins and I carried during the August 29 March. I am posting now merely to affirm that I believe the statement to be true. Mr. Abote has insisted in recent comment threads on Kerry's virtues and bright prospects, and after yesterday's speech, I am inclined to agree.

First of all, it was very heartening to see Kerry come out with a full Iraq critique. Not just because I agree with it, but because it confirmed what we had all taken for granted--that he has a full awareness of reality, that he is a smart man, that he can speak well when he is saying what he means. We took this for granted, but it was impossible, for me anyway, not to doubt it after observing the summer campaign. After so many months of watching Kerry stifle himself, I was beginning to wonder what was behind the image that Shrum produced by strait-jacketing his candidate. It was exhilarating to see the true Kerry just walk out and reveal himself, as if he always could have done that, as if it was always just a question of timing and will-power.

And maybe the timing was carefully controlled. Maybe, that is, a late attack was always planned. The media have leapt on this story with real excitement. It has reshaped the campaign. And it's probably better that Kerry and Bush debate this now, as opposed to two months ago. It will seize the voters' attention, especially because the news from Iraq has been so bad recently. The "Bush-denying-reality" theme is very potent because it calls attention to something obvious about every single one of Bush's utterances, something that people know instinctively--that the whole campaign is a show, perhaps entertaining to some of us, but a show nonetheless. Kerry has got to force the media to measure speeches against the headlines. He has to insist that "optimistic" speeches cannot be assessed using aesthetic criteria alone.

The response of the public to the Iraq debate is very hard to predict. But the old conventional wisdom about the public always wanting to "support the troops and be optimistic" may not apply here. The level of Bush's mendacity, the absurdity of his claims, and the horror of what the public is being asked to accept are all unprecedented, and perhaps these things simply won't be accepted by a public that never supported unilateral invasion. If the old CW is still true, then Bush will win regardless of what Kerry does. But Kerry's attacks will have behind them the special force of the obvious truth.

Bottom line: Bush and Rove have always distinguished themselves by pushing the old CW for Republican strategy to ferocious extremes--to the point where the strategy is blindingly obvious. The media love this, because it makes their two-bit "analysis" all the more easy, and all the more important. Bush and Rove allow the media, in the guise of interpreters, to explain to the public why Bush and Rove have to win. Media capitulation will probably happen again when Bush accuses Kerry of causing the deaths of American soldiers. But the obviousness of the Bush/Rove tactics--the fact that the only suprise is their extremity and ferocity--could cut two ways. If it gives the media the pleasure of explaining to the public what is going on, it could also invite the public, with the assistance of a forthright Kerry, to say "stop lying" and to vote the liars out.

UPDATE--Juan Cole envisions an altogether different, and nightmarish, but nonetheless entirely plausible, state of affairs: "I have a sinking feeling that the American public may like Bush's cynical misuse of Wilsonian idealism precisely because it covers the embarrassment of their having gone to war, killed perhaps 25,000 people, and made a perfect mess of the Persian Gulf region, all out of a kind of paranoia fed by dirty tricks and bad intelligence. And, maybe they have to vote for Bush to cover the embarrassment of having elected him in the first place."

Eliminating Bush's Map 

There's a spate of new state polls from Zogby, showing that Bush's seeming lead in the Electoral College has been erased and the battlegrounds are once again battlegrounds. The map pretty much confirms what we've known all along--barring some unforeseen error of God/nature (like Kerry losing Maryland) the race will come down to Florida and Ohio.

Speaking of Maryland, there's a new SUSA poll out showing Bush and Kerry tied at 48% in Maryland, which causes in me disgust, horror, and incontinence, despite the fact that it's surely an outlying bit of nonsense. Gore won MD by 16 points in 2000.

Let me just say this: if Kerry does not win Maryland by at least 10 points, I will

a) go to my parents' (and my childhood) home, attach a tractor to the back deck's supports, and drag the entire house into the deep creek ravine at the back of the property;

b) set fire to the neighborhood;

c) drive through Potomac and River Falls in a special truck equipped to spray highly-pressurized liquid shit in all directions; and

d) drive my car headlong into the Chesapeake Bay.

Kerry on Letterman 

Why, why, why did he forget to read the numbers as he made his way down the Top 10 list? It's a Top 10 list--that's the point, you count down from ten to one. Hasn't he ever seen a goddamn episode of Letterman before? Ughhh.

Monday, September 20, 2004

AmCop Exclusive at Center of Widening Journalism Scandal 

Congrats to Dawkins, whose investigations into the (probably?) apocryphal John Kerry quote "Who among us does not love NASCAR?" have now been recognized by Atrios.

Consider it one tiny (or not so tiny?) decibel from the Right-Wing Noise Machine snagged in a web of truth.

And will AmCop take the Times at its word? No. We will dig deeper...

Zogby: Race a Dead Heat 

Zogby America Poll. Sept. 17-19, 2004. N=1,066 likely voters nationwide. MoE ± 3.1.

47 Bush/Cheney
44 Kerry/Edwards
7 Unsure

Note: Zogby was the only pollster to call the 2000 election accurately.

Update: Today's Electoral Map shows a 1-point race in Florida and Kerry regaining a 6-point lead in New Hampshire.

Bill Schneider Rips Out Dentures; Crying for Death, Begins Gnashing at Own Face with Hand-Held Teeth 

From CNN Sunday:

LIN: So what do you make of what Dennis Hastert said today? I mean, do you think he really meant to say that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda want John Kerry as the president of the United States?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I can guarantee you, they don't like George Bush. Do they think there's a difference?

I think Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda network, who I am certain follow American politics, look at the messages coming out on their tapes. They seem to follow politics very closely.

They would very much like to defeat President Bush. But the question is, can they pull off the same trick that they pulled off in Spain?

What Dennis Hastert said is, "They'd better not try that. It won't work here." And my guess is, he's right about that.

In Spain they staged an attack a few days before the election, and in the end the government got defeated because it mishandled the response to the attack.

My guess is, there would be two ways of reading this.

If there's an attack shortly before the election, the Democrats would argue it proves that America is more vulnerable as a result of the war in Iraq. And therefore, Bush should be defeated. We are not safer.

The Republicans will say, "There's fear out there. There's anger. Trust us. We'll be strong. We'll show resolve."

My feeling is, when Americans are fearful and angry, they're very likely to stick with President Bush. And if -- if al Qaeda were to try that, God forbid, I think it would not work.

LIN: The election just weeks away. Bill Schneider, always good to see you.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

W is for Loser 

The new DNC ad "Guard" is here. The theme is "How can Bush solve our problems (namely Iraq and the economy) when he won't even admit they're there?" It's a solid 15-second spot that will serve to remind voters of the ongoing mess in Iraq and the fact of the lost jobs. But I don't know how well the "Bush is out of touch with reality" line will play. Did anyone (even his supporters) ever think he was in touch with reality? He purports to be offering a "vision," and that's just what it is--an empty hallucination of death and power and glory--and "visionaries" ought not to be too troubled by the penury of fact. On the other hand, maybe it will work--but I think the message should have gone a step further and rammed the point home that This man isn't just out of touch, he's dangerously out of touch. He has put us all in danger, and unless you elect someone knew, we're all going to be in serious danger.

Regarding the "Phase 2" of the Iraq message, I think Giuseppe Abote nailed it over drinks on Friday. The message (as speakingcorpse suggests) cannot intimate any aspect of what the only possible plan is and must be: total withdrawal as soon as possible. (That'll just have to be done after the election, and if it ruins Kerry's favorability for a year or two, so be it.) Abote suggests that the message should be:

Bush is losing. I want to win. Dump the loser and come win with me.

It's strong message because a) it connects to what voters all over the country are learning daily in the newspapers: Iraq is lost; and b) it says rightly that Bush has presided over and is responsible for this loss; and c) it says, if you want to win, gotta go with the new guy. Fuck the plan for now. There is no plan (other than leaving Iraq). But that won't matter. The message is dump the loser and join the guy who wants to try to win.

I was also talking to someone else who has a good message line: Kerry is for September 12th Americans. That is: Bush, stuck on the 9/11 corpse-heap, has not led our nation to "rise" and "be the best it can be" in the manner which is naturally our divinely ordained destiny after 9/11. The opposition talks about a "pre-9/11 mindset"...so Kerry says, I'm going to be the September 12th President. Moving forward. Changing course. Stronger and safer. Come on up for the Rising, etc.

Problem is it's probably too late for this--Kerry would have had to go after Bush on his 9/11 "leadership" much earlier (as this page has advised for a long time).

On a bad note: whichever national poll turns out to have been correct, we have an undeniable problem with the Electoral College. It's not going well. Bush is leading beyond the margin of error in Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin, Missouri, Ohio, and now New Hampshire.

It's going to take a massive, massive GOTV effort in these states. I suggest everyone (if you haven't already) sign up to volunteer with ACT or with Swing the State. They're running Saturday bus trips to PA and NH, phone banking in the evenings, and more.

Kerry about to lock himself in his own coffin 

I was at first excited about this Post article reporting that Kerry has decided that he must go after Bush full-bore on Iraq for the rest of the campaign. But then I read it more carefully.

A two phase plan is in effect. Phase one: Kerry will continue doing what he has been doing over the past few days--suggesting that Bush is deceiving us about the true nature of our difficulties in Iraq. Good. An excellent way of calling attention to the horrible reality there and of getting a handle on the key issue of the campaign: Bush's inability to speak words that refer to reality and to treat the war as anything more serious than a loud, dark ride at Epcot Center.

Phase two: Kerry will soon draw sharp differences between Bush's "plan" and his own ideas about how to get the troops out in four years. Sounds good--Kerry is finally going to give his own "plan," give specifics, give us a choice, etc. But this is not good.

Talk about leaving Iraq will not work. Bush will use this to slaughter Kerry. The idea of "cutting and running," or of "surrendering," or of "accepting failure"--all of these are simply unacceptable to most Americans, and Bush will insist that this is what Kerry is proposing. Leaving Iraq without "success," before the "job" is done, has simply not been acknowledged as a possibility by enough people in this country yet to advance it as a proposal. And a plan for withdrawal over four years is going to be called a plan for leaving before the job is done--convincingly.

Of course I agree with the need for a plan to get us the fuck out of there, somehow, some way. Of course the course seems already set for Iraq--greased rails straight to hell. Of course there is no "job" to do, no possibility of "success," nothing to "accomplish"--beyond avoiding unnecessary death. But Kerry just can't say this--or even appear to be suggesting it remotely. He's got to say that Bush doesn't know what the fuck he's doing; that things there are terrible, out of control; that Bush is in dangerous denial; that Bush ignored the advice of the military and hung our troops out to dry; and THAT HE, JOHN KERRY, WILL BE A BETTER, MORE EFFECTIVE, TRIUMPHANT, REALISTIC, STEELY-EYED, TRUTH-TELLING, AMERICAN COMMANDER IN CHIEF THAN THIS SHIRKING, CRINGING LIAR.

That's it--end of story. It doesn't matter that a GREAT commander would get us the fuck out. Americans don't want a great commander. We want someone who will give us some assurance that he is not an alcoholic shit-eater, and who will, at the same time, sacrifice a few thousand more people on the altar of our sick delusions.

Kerry has got to give us what we want.


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