Saturday, February 07, 2004
A Letter to Salon from a Reader
Thomas Schaller's political analysis describing why he thinks Howard Dean sank so fast, so quickly, was informative and interesting. I especially liked his commentary analyzing how Dean failed to properly transition from the rhetoric of an insurgent to that of a front-runner ready to take on Bush. However, I found some of his other observations less compelling. Particularly misplaced is his belief that hiring an Al Gore has-been and Washington insider, a certain Mr. Neel, was a good thing to do.
Anyone who had a major role in Al Gore's disastrous 2000 campaign for president will be politically radioactive for the next 1,000,000 years. That was easily the worst-run presidential campaign of the last 100 years and is widely regarded as an embarrassment to political professionals everywhere.
The truth is that despite the human desire to place blame on a particular person or persons, when things go wrong, as in the case of Howard Dean, it was no one's fault. As anyone who has spoken to any of the Iowa or New Hampshire voters knows, Dean went down the drain because voters decided to be brutally practical and coldly rational. They voted for John Kerry, the war hero, who in this post-9/11 world stands the best chance of defeating Bush in the general election. Unfortunately for Howard Dean, he has no military experience. Nothing Dean did or didn't do can change that dynamic, and so he lost.
Think about it. John Kerry is a dull, long-time senator who hasn't accomplished anything in his 15 years in Washington that anyone remembers. And, as several press accounts attest, he wasn't exactly exciting the masses with his speeches. Contrast that with Dean, who was generating excitement and enthusiasm all over the place. But in the end, it didn't matter. Iowans voted their heads, not their hearts -- because George W. Bush is simply too dangerous to risk a Democratic challenger with great ideas, but who is potentially less electable in the post-9/11 world.
The forces that converged on Howard Dean and overpowered him have a lot less to do with superficial styles, smiles or shouts, and everything to do with the changed political terrain of the United States in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon back in 2001.
-- Tom Wright
posted by Green Voicemail 2/07/2004 11:55:00 AM
"Mommy, I Saw a Titty!!!"
A woman in Tennessee has filed a class action suit in which she seeks damages from Janet Jackson and a host of others because of...hell, I don't know, pain and suffering caused by seeing Janet's naked boob.
I'm not going to get too much into the details because these people -- or rather, those who paid them -- need no further publicity. They are usually either a) nuts, or b) people hoping that they can intimidate those they sue for settling out of court and making a quick buck.
As a judge -- a SANE judge, anyway -- I'd have to state that the plaintiffs have put the bar rather high for what they need to claim. They need to claim that they suffered worry, anxiety, embarassment, or a marked change in emotional status that severely intereferes with their enjoyment of life -- in short, that they've been traumatized by Janet Jackson's naked boob.
This would lead to some very interesting cross examination, to say the least:
"Madam, can you give us a history of your viewing of topless women? Have you never seen women topless before? In movies? In what other contexts?"
"Madam, Mr. Timberlake, one of the defendants, stated as he was singing to Ms. Jackson, 'I'll have you naked by the end of this song'. This was before the incident for which you claim damages. Why did these words not offend you? And if they DID offend you, why did you continue to watch the halftime show and not change the title?"
"Madam, can you tell me the personal pain and suffering you have experienced. How has it affected your daily life? Have you sought counseling from a trained professional?"
"Why are bare-breasted women in art not offensive to you? Is it the context? If you claim that it is the context, then why should we award you millions of dollars because of the defendant's bad taste?"
"How much television do you watch? What shows?" (I'll have a list prepared of tasteless moments of just about any show on TV.)
Indeed, this case has zero merit. What really made me raise an eyebrow, however, is where the case was filed. TENNESSEE, my current state of residence.
This reminds me of lawsuits against a company called "Adam and Eve". I don't know if it continues to exist; it existed one time in North Carolina. I interviewed there for a job as a German-English interpreter (don't ask). It basically sold porn tapes and marital aids. The factory looked like any other factory; the offices were as mundane as something from Dilbert.
My prospective employers warned me that the place would be raided at times by the FBI -- life was to go on normally there, even if men with jackets carrying sidearms and wearing jackets with an orange "FBI" stitched on the back showed up unannounced. The place would be sued every now and then.
If you've ever seen any pornography or looked at a mail order catalogue, those who mail order have to sign a disclaimer that they are not from Tennessee, Kentucky, Utah, Florida, or about eleven other states. The reason being that there is something called "venue shopping".
The problem is in this country that we don't HAVE a First Amendment anymore. We have about 100,000 modified First Amendments. 1973's case of Miller v. California applied the "community standards" metric to pornography cases. Basically, something is dirty if it's dirty in your hometown. And "dirty" in New York City is different from "dirty" in Salt Lake City.
When conservatives want to crack down on pornography that crosses state lines, they file suit on behalf of someone who lives in East Fumblenuts, Texas -- where EVERYTHING is dirty. This is "venue shopping", which means choosing a place to file a lawsuit where the local courts will tend to judge in favor of the plaintiff.
Tennessee is a favorite place for the feds to venue shop. There are a lot of churches down here and people are probably afraid to find for the defendant, lest their fellow parishoners deem them unclean. Which makes me wonder if someone put this woman up to a lawsuit. If this suit gets thrown out of court -- which it should -- don't be surprised if a similar suit pops up in Utah or Wyoming.
posted by Green Voicemail 2/07/2004 10:25:00 AM
Friday, February 06, 2004
Now I Get It
Why all the activity on Tradesports? This article from CNN Money. It also theorizes that one could make money by playing off the Iowa Electronic Futures market against the Tradesports Market. I'll keep my eye on things.
posted by Green Voicemail 2/06/2004 11:59:00 PM
Big Goings on at Tradesports
Really quick. Happened to read Steve Bates's comment in a thread on another blog that he liked me because I was the only Green he knew that wasn't afraid to do electoral college math. I hope that wasn't a comment in jest. However, in a past life...I was a math graduate student. That was twenty years ago, mind you, and even though I've left that behind, things mathematical interest me greatly.
So I checked my favorite "predictor" site for the elections -- the gamblers at Tradesports. Last time, our imaginary Democratic nominee, Kerry Edwards, was trailing Bush 355-183 in Electoral College votes.
Suddenly, the gap has closed. BIG TIME. The gap is now 321-217!! So what happened?
Kerry Edwards already has a few states on his side: the usual suspects of Hawaii, Washington, California, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine, and the non-state District of Columbia. So what happened?
a) Iowa. It took the biggest tumble of any state I've ever seen on the board. The last time I saw a stock drop that fast was with Howard Dean. Someone sold a LOT of Iowa stock, and sold it cheap (the stocks are based on the prediction that Bush can WIN the named states). Last time I checked, it dropped 27 points and is now a KE state.
b) Minnesota. Another crash, about 16 points this time, putting the state even more solidly in the hands of Kerry Edwards.
c) Oregon. Not as great a tilt, but I pegged it as a Weak Bush state. It is now a Weak Kerry Edwards state, like Iowa is now.
d) Wisconsin. Never pegged as a Kerry Edwards state, it is now. It is the weakest of the Weak KE states, but it is on the KE side of the border.
So what are the weak Bush states NOW?
1. Michigan. With KE at 0 and Bush at 100, Michigan is...FIFTY-ONE. It had been a Weak Bush state, and today, it's Bush's weakest state.
2. Pennsylvania. Didn't fall by much, but fell enough to 52. If Bush so much as coughs, Pennsylvania goes for Kerry Edwards.
3. West Virginia. Big 9 1/2 pt drop takes it from Strong Bush state to Weak Bush state.
4. New Mexico. Huge plunge, about 15 points, currently at 55. What was once a Bush Lock is now a Weak Bush state.
5. New Hampshire. Unchanged at 58.
What happens if ALL of those states go for Kerry Edwards? You get the following result:
Kerry Edwards = 269 Electoral Votes
Unelected Thief= 269 Electoral Votes
Looks like George W. Bush is in a whole world of shit. More as the betting shifts.
posted by Green Voicemail 2/06/2004 11:47:00 PM
An Opinion North of the Frozen Curtain
The new issue of the Canadian magazine MacLean's has come out with a telling article entitled: "Canada to George Bush: Hope You Lose, Eh". Only 15 percent of Canadians, if given the chance, would vote for George Bush. The article bends over backwards to be fair -- Canadians are good at that -- but you get the feeling that George Bush has few friends anywhere outside the United States, save for other world leaders who also ignore the wishes of their peoples.
posted by Green Voicemail 2/06/2004 04:05:00 PM
Chomsky on the Election
New article from the Dissident Voice which interviews Noam Chomsky. So should progressives vote Democratic or vote third-party. Chomsky provides his reasoning:
"Nevertheless, though differences are not very large, they do exist. The current incumbents may do severe, perhaps irreparable, damage if given another hold on power – a very slim hold, but one they will use to achieve very ugly and dangerous ends. In a very powerful state, small differences may translate into very substantial effects on the victims, at home and abroad. It is no favor to those who are suffering, and may face much worse ahead, to overlook these facts. Keeping the Bush circle out means holding one’s nose and voting for some Democrat, but that's not the end of the story. The basic culture and institutions of a democratic society have to be constructed, in part reconstructed, and defeat of an extremely dangerous clique in the presidential race is only one very small component of that."
Translation: Traditional Democrats see the election of Kerry Edwards and the defeat of George Bush as the END of the fight. Progressives should see it as only one step in a larger battle. And yes, you do have to hold your nose when voting.
posted by Green Voicemail 2/06/2004 01:53:00 PM
Good, Nice, POLITE Democrats
Right now, on many progressive blogs, there is the question of whether or not one should vote for John Kerry now that it seems that Howard Dean has been rejected by the Corporate Media....oops, sorry, I meant rejected by the *people* (I didn't get the memo from Mr. McAuliffe until last night).
The first issue is, as always, electability. It is not electability as framed by the Kerry supporters (i.e., "our candidate is electable, and your candidate is not"). Which candidates were really electable? Dean is. Kerry is. Clark is. Edwards and Gephardt probably are. Sharpton and Kucinich aren't. If I really believed in my heart of hearts that Kerry wasn't electable, that he couldn't beat Bush, then I'd be voting Green faster than it could take me to type this sentence.
I'll also tell you that if Kerry shoots himself in the foot and pulls a McGovern, with Bush ahead by 15 in the last week, then I won't be voting for Kerry then either. Like it or not, a losing candidate has the stink of death about him and if I get that whiff, I'll mock the standard Democratic third-party argument -- I won't WASTE MY VOTE on Kerry.
So the question is "now that Kerry IS electable, is he really better than Bush?" Is Kerry "Bush Lite"?
If you're a third-party progressive asking that question, do I have to come over to your house PERSONALLY and kick you in the nuts?
The only human beings on this planet that could every be "Bush Lite" are the fellow travellers of the right wing that were smart enough to know better to stop this puppet of the neo-conservatives and have contented themselves with lapdog status. Colin Powell might be the only person who could be called Bush Lite; you could pull up other examples but it's too early in the damned morning.
Bush stands for Empire. He stands for pre-emptive strikes on whatever "threatens America's interests", which means imperial strikes against whatever Cheney and his PNAC corporate toadies decide offers the greatest reward for oil or power. This is the man who is going to send you children to fight these wars under the flimsiest excuses, excuses so flimsy that even the Corporate Media doesn't really believe them anymore.
This is the man who plans to cut social services for the poor to lighten the load of his friends in the oil business and his friends in the military-industrial complex. This is the man who invites religious fanatics to positions on the judiciary and as the enforcers of our laws. This is the man who uses the Patriot Act to stomp out individual freedom under the aegis of protecting it from Evil Turban-Wearing Cartoon Characters. This is the man who is the worst president of the last one hundred years. George Bush is WORSE than Richard Nixon, and that isn't a statement I make lightly. I would literally cast a vote for Richard Nixon before casting one for George W. Bush.
The person that could argue that Bush and Kerry are within shouting distance of each other on some scale is doing some really, really, fine acid and I wish I had some.
Don't let this somehow translate into love for Kerry. Kerry is frankly, your typical New Democrat insider politician. This Yalie probably hasn't shopped for his own groceries in twenty years. He brags about his "liberal" record and loves to prop up that "93% liberal mantra" -- "I'm more liberal than Ted Kennedy".
He doesn't tell you about that other seven percent. Voted FOR the Patriot Act. Voted FOR Bush's expanded war powers, and then has the gall to claim that he was doing it to RESTRAIN Bush's powers. To that, I answer someone else, namely, "if I knew that Bush was a stone-ass liar and heartless man from day one, then how come Kerry couldn't figure that out two years later?" Voted in a slew of right-wing justices. His "93%" is a list of fairly ordinary votes; on the most important votes of the last 21st century he was consistently on the wrong side.
Charismatically challenged. "John Kerry could kill a soccer riot by showing up and speaking." Someone said that Kerry makes Gore looks like a Pentacostal preacher.
And even then, in spite of all of that, Kerry is such a better choice than George Bush that it makes my head hurt that it's even a matter of discussion.
So the question in front us is not, "should we support John Kerry?" That was answered the day Bush began killing American soldiers for an oil war. It was answered with the Patriot Act. It was answered with "you're either for us, or you're against us".
The MAJOR QUESTION, instead, is "HOW MUCH" should we support John Kerry? To what extent should John Kerry be given aid and comfort by progressives, aside from our vote in November?
My personal answer is "none at all". NOTHING. Do you really think I'm going to donate to John Kerry's campaign? Do you really think I'm going to knock on doors, phone people, put up bumper stickers for John Kerry? Do you think I'm going to be saying to my friends, "Boy, that John Kerry is really something special! He's a real leader! He's not like the typiclal insider politician! He's a real man of the people!!"
Do you think I'm going to write in glowing, uncritical terms regarding John Kerry before he gets elected, even after he gets elected?
In short: John Kerry, you've got my vote. But you've done nothing to show me that you deserve anything else of mine. And if you stumble in October, you won't even get that.
posted by Green Voicemail 2/06/2004 09:32:00 AM
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
FCC Investigation Pending
Warning: Republican Readers Advised to Keep Eyes Closed
FCC Chairman Michael Powell plans to get to the bottom of this. He has the video tape, and he'll be watching it over and over and over and over again until he's satisfied...that he knows what's going on.
posted by Green Voicemail 2/03/2004 08:27:00 AM
Sunday, February 01, 2004
From Tradesports , the betting site.
Right now, Bush is losing ground all across the board against "unnamed Democrat". Part of this is because the American public is starting to take a greater interest in the election, and the new guy always looks compelling.
The unnamed Democrat (we'll call him "Kerry Edwards", or KE), is behind 355-183 in the electoral vote according to the bettors. KE has the following states in his column:
Hawaii, Washington, California, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine, and the non-state District of Columbia.
Bush has everything else. So far.
On a scale of 0 to 100 with 0="definitely not voting for Bush" and 100="absolutely voting for Bush", the top five Democratic strongholds are:
Rhode Island: 5
The top Bush strongholds are Mississippi at 96 and Alabama, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming with 95.
The weakest five Bush states are:
New Hampshire: 58
Oregon and Pennsylvania: 60
If the five weakest roll over to the Blue, the Electoral Vote Count goes to 296-242 Bush. And all of those states are in downward trends. Keep watching.
posted by Green Voicemail 2/01/2004 08:05:00 PM
The John Kerry News Cycle
Today, John Kerry gave a speech in front of a crowd of supporters. No one listening to the speech actually remembered what he said, but everyone agreed that it was important, whatever it was.
Republicans replied that John Kerry is a Northern Liberal who wants to raise your taxes.
George Bush came to the same town where John Kerry gave his speech. Bush gave a speech too. No one remembers what he said, but all agreed that Saddam Hussein was a very bad man.
Democrats also remind you that they thought Saddam Hussein was a very bad man.
Dean drew a massive crowd somewhere else. Both Kerry and Bush supporters said no one was listening, and the media agreed. Furthermore, reporters wanted to know why Dean was so angry all the time.
posted by Green Voicemail 2/01/2004 07:48:00 PM
One Party State
From The American Prospect . This article discusses how America might be slipping into a one-party state similar to those nominal democracies of Mexico or Japan, where one party runs the country and the opposition party is marginalized.
The most interesting part of the article deals with how legislation is created and passed in the House and Senate, a brief historical overview, and how the Republicans have changed the rules to ensure that opposition has no voice. Which means that getting rid of George Bush in 2004 is more important than ever.
posted by Green Voicemail 2/01/2004 06:33:00 AM
A few comments of my own, which I hope won't bore anyone too much.
1) About the lack of success of the Greens in organizing anything. Frankly, the problems of organizing on a local level are greater than organizing on a national level. To organize on the national level, you really only need two things:
a) A candidate that seems plausible enough, and
b) A real dissatisfaction with the two party system as it stands.
Both of those collapse into "publicity". That's easy on a national level, much more difficult at a local level. The problem is ballot access. From municipality to municipality, there are no consistent rules for third party access, and one gets the sinking suspicions that Democrats and Republicans want to keep it that way. There's not much of a reason to be a political party if you can't get on the ballot, and local officials don't have much of a reason to help you take votes from their party.
Indeed, in most of the country, one party or the other runs uncontested. If the Democratic Party is dead in certain parts of the country, you can bet there's no Green Party there. As far as I'm concerned, ballot access is really the ONLY Green issue, unless you want to be an organization like the League of Conservation Voters that recommends voters and donates to their campaigns. And I'd rather not have the Green Party to be a one-issue party. Conservation is NOT the only Green Party issue.
2. The Green Party is only about 20 years old. The European Green Parties date back only to the 1970s, during the activism for environmental, anti-nuclear, anti-war and feminist issues that once upon a time were talked about in the Democratic Party. The GPUSA has only really been alive in the United States since 1984, and only through the "Committees of Correspondence", and has only been active at a state level since 1990 (Green Party of Alaska).
As for Greens really not having much of an understanding of environmental issues, Greens come to the party for different reasons, and not necessarily because of the environment. I came to the party under the "community economics" plank; I just got tired of the rich getting rich and the poor getting poorer, and I don't think the Democratic party is helping much there.
The fact that the public sees the Greens only as "the Environmental Party" is a problem. But yes, many Greens won't know very much about environmental issues as a rule. Just as most Democrats probably don't know much about Dean's poor environmental record in Vermont, or his hostility to due process, or Kerry's PAC contributions or his poor legislative record in the Senate. Green Party activism has to be a lot better than it is now. But I always tell myself that Rome wasn't built in a day.
3. Steve made an interesting comment that as long as there was a Green Party, it would be easy for progressive Democratic activists like himself to help push the party to the left a little bit more. Generally, the bigger parties tend to co-opt third party issues for themselves. Dean was almost a third-party candidate in his own party and really the only anti-war candidate besides the poorly-organized Kucinich. Now, it looks EVERYONE (save Lieberman) is the anti-war candidate and Dean's thunder has been stolen.
Hey, if the Democrats steal the Green Party's thunder -- picking and choosing among their positions, finding one that the Green Party attracts votes with, grabbing it and making it a Democratic issue, well...I won't be crying into my pillows at night. I doubt either of us will. :)
posted by Green Voicemail 2/01/2004 06:09:00 AM