Saturday, January 31, 2004

Finally! Someone Makes Sense Out of Judy Dean

Katha Pollitt's piece on Judy Steinberg Dean is must reading. It's as much an analysis of the Queen Bees of the mass media, who richly deserve it ... your Diane Sawyers, your Maureen Dowds, your Jodi Wilgorens

Sometimes We Feel Like a Motherless Mutha

Ruy Teixeira, who wrote (with John B. Judis) that hopeful book, The Emerging Democratic Majority (soon to be made into a big-budget fantasy epic starring Leonardo diCaprio as John Edwards) ... in a posting on his website, Teixeira essentially writes off the South this year for any Democratic contender, thus agreeing with John Kerry about "why bother?"

NOTE: Teixeira, along with the rest of the DLC, with which he's been affiliated, is pushing Kerry as the unDean. But he's bothered by Kerry's "warmed over populism," mainly because Kerry stole it from Dean.

Teixeira writes (and be forewarned: he quirkily insists on referring to himself in the third person, as "he"): "While he is not of the dogmatic 'forget the south' school, he does believe that a basically nonsouthern strategy is the right one for the Democrats this year, if it is pursued in a sensible way."

Well, there is always that knotty problem of being sensible.

Teixeira cites a lengthy essay he's written on this subject for The American Prospect, which goes into some detail on the proper Teixeira-approved national strategy for a Democratic win this year: "The Democratic nominee will run a strategy anchored in non-southern states. And he should, for one simple reason: It is the only way to win. The reality is that just as you will not see much of George W. Bush in Providence, R.I., a Democratic message and strategy that can successfully oust the president will be one most palatable to the party's base and to swing voters on the coasts, in the industrial Midwest and in border states, and throughout the burgeoning Southwest. The South will have little to do with it."

"Here's why. Putting the Gore-Nader vote together as an indicator of underlying Democratic strength, and comparing it with the Bush-Buchanan vote, the eight closest states the Democrats won in 2000 and will have to defend in 2004 are Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin. Using the same comparison, here are the eight closest states the Democrats lost in 2000, some of which they will obviously have to win in 2004: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Tennessee. By these rankings, only two out of 16 states critical to Democratic chances are in the South. Compare that with six in the Midwest and four in the Southwest and you have a sense of the mathematical logic that is driving the Democrats to focus their 2004 presidential strategy outside the South."

'Course, this is probably absolutely correct. It's hard to argue with Teixeira's facts. But still ... for a local, minority Democratic party, in a state where the state Democratic party machinery is distant, unresponsive, and from every appearance lolling about in a total blissed-out haze over having an incumbent Democratic gov with a 60 percent approval rating ... well, there's just nothing like feeling doubly abandoned in the mountains of North Carolina by the state and national Democrats.

Which just makes us mean and snappish, especially when those state & national party flunkies place those fund-raising calls to this household. And we should send you money ... why?

Headline of the Week

"President Bush names 8 moon advisers" (Raleigh News & Observer, Friday, January 30, 2004)

The Prez getting tough on crack?

Still looking for those WMDs?

Friday, January 30, 2004

The Ball's In Your Court, Virginia

From "Under the Dome" in the Raleigh News & Observer:

Nathan Tabor, part of a scrum for the Republican nomination in the Fifth Congressional District [running against Virginia Foxx], said that he has endorsements from Roger Wiles, past president of North Carolina Right to Life, and Scott Johnson, past president of Lutherans for Life. "These endorsements are important and demonstrate a pro-life seal of approval," Tabor said.

Maybe Virginia Foxx could wrangle an endorsement from the Pope.

Wrapped in the Flag. No, the Other One

Barry Saunders, African-American reporter for the Raleigh News & Observer, writes about his encounter in Greenville, S.C., outside the venue for the Democratic presidential candidate debate last night, with a couple of characters literally wrapping themselves in the Confederate Flag and protesting all the Democrats as unAmerican. They were there to raise the rabble, to paraphrase Saunders. But, here, his direct quote is better: "There are some sad things known to man, but ain't too much sadder than a couple of rabble-rousers who can't rouse any rabble."

Nobody was paying Lum Petitt and Harold Porter any attention (and I promise I'm not making up those names): "Except for the cops and me, the pair garnered no attention, not from the national media or from the hundreds of supporters and protesters outside the Peace Center in downtown Greenville. Neither they nor about a dozen of their Confederate flag-waving compatriots -- who'd gathered at a less conspicuous spot and thus hadn't raised the cops' ire -- aroused curiosity, anger or any other emotion."

When Saunders went over to talk to them, "[Petit] tossed the N-word around with disconcerting glee and a theretofore absent twinkle in his eye, secure in the knowledge that I wouldn't slug a 64-year-old man or that a dozen of his younger pals stood 50 yards away."

But redneck behavior was not the only curiousity on display last night in Greenville. Saunders also reports on the not-friendly cat-calling between Kerry and Edwards supporters:

"They shouted not-so-good-natured but middle-school-inspired putdowns at each other's candidates across the street, and the cops were ready to pounce if the barbs had evolved into a physical confrontation.

"They didn't. Instead the confrontation culminated with the Edwards faction serenading the departing, yellow-shirted 'Firefighters for Kerry' with 'Na na, hey hey, Goodbye' or 'Don't burn them beans,' a reference to Kerry's Boston roots.

"Kerry's troops fired their own blast as they left: 'You're No. 2, you're No. 2,' a reference to Edwards' second-place Iowa primary finish. As they left, a burly Kerry supporter who looked as though he could wipe up Main Street singlehandedly with the Edwards supporters, crossed the street and told them, 'We're all in this together, no matter who wins' the nomination. 'It's time for a regime change in Washington.' "

This View Worth $495

People traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville were recently asked to fill out a voluntary survey and actually attach a dollar value to what they were seeing. The average value was in a reasonably modest range, from $468 to $519. (In other words, there's no gushing here about "million-dollar views."

But so what? The same people also said they would stop visiting the parkway if development continued to infringe on those views and/or if pollution continued to obscure them. Thus establishing for the first time a kind of economics of land-use planning and a value baseline for environmental protection.

From the Charlotte Observer story: "The drive from the Virginia border to Asheville includes the famous Linn Cove Viaduct and spectacular overlooks such as Craggy Gardens, Bow Valley and Tanbark Ridge.

"Multiplied by the number of visitors to that stretch of parkway each year, the survey places the total value of parkway visits at more than $5 billion annually, authors said."

"According to the study, visitors in North Carolina spent an average of about $170 per day during their parkway visit for a direct annual economic impact of $2.3 billion."

Not that any of the powers busily overselling the development and protecting the pollution will be particularly moved to do better by those figures.


For those of you following the Doc & Merle Watson Scenic Byway controversy, you may recall that at the DOT's public hearing at the Broyhill Inn & Conference Center back in August, DOT Board Member Frank Johnson from Statesville stood up and announced that he intended to vote for the scenic byway when it came before the board. For his brazenness, State Senator Virginia Foxx denounced him for unfairly prejudging the issue.

Well, Frank Johnson has just been fired off the Board of Transportation by Gov. Mike Easley for improperly using his position to raise money for the Gov's reelection campaign. Johnson is said to have emailed members of the Rotary Club in Statesville, saying he needed to raise $50,000 by today to take to Raleigh and implying that the future of Iredell County roads depended on the generosity of Statesville Rotary Club members. (The Charlotte Observer broke this story.) In his email Johnson reminded Rotary Club members that a Union County bypass project moved up on the state's priority list after residents in the county raised $100,000 for the gov. (He later retracted that statement as an empty boast.)

Bob Hall, research director of Democracy North Carolina, which tracks the influence of money in state politics, said this is just another example of widespread corruption of money in politics.

We feel certain that Deborah Greene is taking copious notes.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

DLC Contacts in NC

The link in the previous posting apparently doesn't work to get you directly to the Democratic Leadership Council members in North Carolina. Here are better links. You'll have to register in on the websites to get a web-mail form:

State Sen.Eric Miller Reeves (email)

Attorney General Roy Cooper

Gov. Mike Easley

Sen. John Edwards

U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge

U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre

U.S. Rep. Brad Miller

State Treasurer Richard H. Moore

Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue

U.S. Rep. David Price

DLC Members in NC

Just so's you know, the following North Carolina Democratic office-holders are listed on the Democratic Leadership Council site as having partaken of the Al From & Co. Kool Aid. Maybe these guys (and Beverly Perdue) need to hear from actual Democrats that the scorched-earth policy being practiced by the DLC is highly unproductive. Going to the link highlighted above will get you directly to these people's websites or email addresses.

Roy A. Cooper III, Attorney General, NC
Michael Easley, Governor, NC
John Edwards, U.S. Senator, NC
Bob Etheridge, U.S. Representative, NC
Mike McIntyre, U.S. Representative, NC
Brad Miller, U.S. Representative, NC
Richard H. Moore, State Treasurer, NC
Beverly Perdue, Lieutenant Governor, NC
David Price, U.S. Representative, NC
Eric Miller Reeves, State Senator, NC

Whole Lotta Shaking Over at Dean HDQ

The big news last light and this morning is Dean's decision to bring Washington establishmentarian and Mr. Fixit Roy Neel in to run his campaign ... or pick up the pieces. Apparently, Joe Trippi quit on Wednesday rather than take a secondary role to Neel, who ran Al Gore's effort in 2000 (uh-oh). According to the New York Times, "Mr. Neel was hired to bring order and professionalism to the decentralized -- often woefully disorganized -- troops that Mr. Trippi led more by inspiration than instruction."

(Jodi Wilgoren alert! The New York Times reporter who worked on the story being quoted here has a history of alleged bias against the Dean campaign. We'll be looking for other versions of this shakeup, to see the difference in the spin.)

The lack of Trippi organization, or the limits of Trippi inspiration, could be seen in the woeful showing in Iowa. All those volunteers ... all that cash ... producing that sad outcome.

And then there's the money problem. A money problem!? And we thought they had so much. But with over 500 staff to pay, outrageous spending on TV and other media in Iowa, the Times is reporting that "campaign officials said they were only confident of having enough money to compete through next week." (Salon is headlining the story as "Dean Goes Bust!") That means frittering away, oh, about $45 million in record time! And that would seem to make a prima facie case for Trippi's mismanagement. What seems even worse is that Mr. Trippi is a partner in the media firm that got paid for all that (ineffective) TV advertizing. In other words, he had something of a blind spot as far as Dean's media presence goes ... and was personally profiting from it.

Everyone is reporting that the Dean staff has been asked to forego checks for the next two weeks ... adding now a morale problem on top of everything else.

For his part, Trippi is described "as furious with Dr. Dean," but he was also quoted as saying, "The most important thing is to change this country's politics. I think Howard Dean is the one person who can do that."

Meanwhile, over in the snarky precincts of the Democratic Leadership Council, Al From & Co. are doing what they can to insure that the believers in Howard Dean will NEVER vote for another Democrat this year. The DLC site headlines Kerry's win in New Hampshire as "Another Vote for Hope Over Anger" and bashes Dean throughout the article as a threat to the big-business-ass-kissing that the DLC is best known for. The outrage over this treatment of Dean is spreading, too, from the DeanforAmerica blog to the Edwards & Clark sites as well. All these new people involved in the political process this year, inspired by candidates willing to stand up to Bush, are now being told to shut up and go away. Cool move, DLC!

ASU Chancellor Search Update

The six finalists have all been to campus, the search committee has made its final recommendations to UNC President Molly Broad, and we understand that Broad will announce her decision via closed circuit hookup on February 13th ... that's Friday the 13th, if you're keeping count of how many ways this new chancellor may already be cursed.

Smart money is betting that the three names sent to Broad are Stan Albrecht (from Utah State), Paula Short (from the Tennessee system), and Kenneth Peacock (from ASU). Though Peacock seems noticeably not in the same league with the others, he has personal ties to many on the search committee, has a gregarious personality that puts people at ease, and is being pumped up by local business interests. We understand that Molly Broad is being lobbied hard to pick Peacock. Some are betting she won't, but we refuse to cover those bets.

If she doesn't pick Peacock, it'll likely end up being Albrecht, since Paula Short is also a finalist for the provost position at Kansas State and may be offered that. Albrecht was recruited (or nominated) for this job, and we assume he sent in his papers because he was willing to take it.

Stay tuned for Friday the 13th!

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The Unreported Republican Anti-Bush Vote in N.H.

Daily Kos reported at 3:31 this a.m. that over 2,500 Republican primary voters in New Hampshire actually wrote in the names of Democratic candidates on their ballots, rather than vote for George W. Bush. Kerry was the leader on the Republican ballot with 835, with Dean a fairly close second with 633. The rest of the Democratic field were also written in with several hundred more votes. Amazing!

Does this sort of revolt among Republicans in the only New England state that George Bush carried in 2000 give Karl Rove pause?

Media Bias Against Dean

I was trying to post an item about this yesterday when my service crashed, and now it's possibly REAL old news, but here goes anyway.

Howie Kurtz ran an item on his site yesterday about the exit polling being done in New Hampshire for a consortium that includes CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and AP. Here's Kurtz:

"Are the media biased against Howard Dean? Those who think so are getting some new ammunition today. The New Hampshire exit poll that the major networks are using today asks mostly straightforward questions: Are you male or female; white, black or Hispanic; liberal, moderate or conservative? Who did you vote for? When did you decide? Did you pick your candidate because you think he can defeat George Bush or because he agrees with you on the major issues? But on one of the two questionnaires being used, there's this zinger: 'Regardless of how you voted today, do you think Howard Dean has the temperament to serve effectively as president?' "

Zinger indeed. CNN, for just one example, actually used results from this particular question last night on its coverage, with Wolf Blitzer freely interpreting the numbers to mean that Dean has stirred deep concerns that he's too crazy, or words to that effect.

But, then, there's this problem with Howie Kurtz himself, it seems. Kurtz, who hosts Reliable Sources on CNN and writes regularly for the Washington Post, is accused of having more than just a mere conflict of interest. According to his nemesis Eric Alterman, who got his information from MediaWhoresOnline, "MWO has learned from highly informed Washington sources that Howard 'Mistah' Kurtz faces numerous dangerous charges of conflict-of-interest and influence peddling in his media column at the Washington Post ... The charges stem from documented instances of Kurtz's involvement in what appears to be insider trading of information aimed at enriching his wife, GOP right-wing media consultant Sheri Annis ... 'No one has used the word "fired" yet,' one source close to the investigation told MWO, 'but Kurtz better be watching his back.' "

Edwards Says No to Vice Prez Idea

And here we were all thinking that Edwards might pull in second behind Kerry in New Hampshire! Or rather, here we were all breathing in the fumes of media hype, as it turned out. Edwards trails Clark ... not such a good story.

And Edwards this morning is batting down any suggestion that he might be Kerry's running mate.

You've got to respect if not admire the voters of New Hampshire. They not only lied to the pollsters prior to the voting; they convincingly lied on the way out of the polling places! The early polling of people who had voted indicated that Dean was trailing Kerry by single digits, that it was going to be as close as 3 percent. The Dean blog was abuzz with it last night.

I think we should all adopt the deliberate policy of confounding and misleading the pollsters and hence the media ... just for pure meanness.

The Dems--Searching for Alpha-Male

Richard Goldstein has a very thoughtful essay in the Village Voice on the "butching up" of the Democratic Party. Here are some of the best paragraphs:


...Dubya couldn't remember the names of foreign leaders, but that didn't ground him. No one ever lost macho points for being stupid. Male hysteria is another story. Most women recoil from it, and most men show contempt, which is why late-night comics (all of them guys) rushed to piss on Dean [for "the scream"]. In a more relaxed time, his performance might have been regarded as passionate and roguish. But in this anxious age, it tapped into one of the worst nightmares for many men: losing your grip in a clinch. For a wannabe dude-in-chief, that's not just a sign of instability; it's a violation of gender expectations....

See how easy it is to mock a male candidate who makes a less-than-persuasive case for his machismo? It brings out the sadist in us, but of course this schadenfreude is a cover for fear. Of what? At the risk of being p.c., I'd say it's terror of a world without white male power. If you ask me, the butchest boychick in this pack is Al Sharpton, who can dance like a butterfly, sting like a bee, and do a mean James Brown. But he has to walk a fine, if funky, line between entertainment and self-assertion. Too much of the latter and it's Birth of a Nation all over again. That says something about who gets to be the man and who must play the clown....

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Al Franken, Hand-to-Hand

Al Franken, no Dean supporter, nevertheless tackled a Dean heckler at a rally today in New Hampshire, decking the guy and breaking his own glasses in the process.

The heckler was apparently among a group of Lyndon LaRouche supporters bent on disrupting Dean's speech. (Lyndon LaRouche supporters? Isn't he, like, in jail somewhere?) And Franken said if there's one thing he can't stand, it's seeing someone denied the right to speak.

Readers of Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them will recall that Franken facetiously challenged Rich Lowry to a bout of fisticuffs, to prove Lowry's insult (that all Democrats were little more than femmes) was simply wrong. Your point has been made, Al!

Monday, January 26, 2004

Judge Rules Part of 'Patriot Act' Unconstitutional

Los Angeles U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins has ruled that part (at least) of the infamous Patriot Act is unconstitutional.

Can't you just hear John Ashcroft now ... "California judge!" ... "woman judge!"

ASU Chancellor Search Update

The last candidate -- one of six -- happens also to be the Lone Woman being considered for the top ASU post -- Paula Myrick Short, whose biography and resume (under "Chancellor Search" on the ASU site) is beyond impressive.

But she also happens to be simultaneously one of three top finalists for Provost of Kansas State University and is due there on campus for her on-site interview February 4th. She seems to have a "thing" for Kansas: she was one of four top finalists to become president of the Kansas Board of Regents in September 2002. Does this line from her biography help explain that? "Dr. Short is married to Dr. Rick Jay Short who is a psychologist and faculty member in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia." How close is Columbia, Mo., to Manhattan, Ks.? Closer than Boone, N.C., that's for sure! Not that that has anything to do with it! Not that that has anything to do with anything.

She was named to the Tennessee Board of Regents post she now occupies in 2001. My! Things move at a regular clip, when you're on the fast track!

Bush and the Leveling of Appalachia

The assault of the Bush administration on the ecology of Appalachia has been relentless, particularly those parts bearing seams of coal. Big Coal delivered him West Virginia in the 2000 election, and now Bush is delivering for them.

The most recent outrage involves the below-the-radar rewriting of regulations by the Office of Surface Mining (a.k.a., the federal agency that's supposed to ride herd on strip mining or mountaintop removal). The New York Times this a.m. cites a proposed rule change by OSM to allow strip miners to dump strip mine waste (former mountaintops) into adjacent streams, something that heretofore was supposed to be illegal but which strip miners were doing anyway, thanks to lax or non-existent enforcement.

The Bush-adoring coal industry also loves mountaintop removal. Why? "The process produces more coal, requires fewer employees and is less costly than other forms of mining." Big profits, Bubba, big freaking profits. And who cares about those god-forsaken hillbilly hills, anyway?

The blatant, we'll-rape-the-environment-right-in-front-of-your-face determination of this administration to pay off their corporate sponsors is just breath-taking. And after the bare mention in the print media that this is even happening -- it won't make it onto the broadcast media AT ALL -- the press will quickly go back to "interesting" topics, like "screaming Dean" ... i.e., the irrelevant stuff that keeps us all cocooned and quiescent in The Matrix.

New Hampshire Dawn

A big snow storm is predicted for New Hampshire tomorrow, and the secretary of state is predicting a record turn-out for the Democratic primary.

There's tons of negative stuff about the new front-runner John Kerry circulating out there, and I'm loath to link to any of it here. But he's the Company Man and an easy target. Unelectable, of course, especially in the South. Molly Ivins, in her wrap-up column about the Iowa caucuses, says Kerry "could take the excitement out of a soccer riot." But the Matrixy Media has obviously anointed him.

John Edwards has continued to rise and might beat Clark for third place (last week he could conceivably have beat Howard Dean for second place, but the numbers this morning don't confirm that kind of surge). Clark's lag is downright surprising.

'Course, the headline news of this morning is that Dean has pulled back to within three points of Kerry's lead, according to a new Zogby poll. Tomorrow will tell if that's a mirage.

In the meantime, check out these 30-second TV spots a Dean supporter did on his own. They're far and away better than most of the expensive, consultant-generated TV ads that the Dean campaign has been able to manufacture.

And on the subject of optimistic participation in the process of Democracy, WataugaWatch brings you an exclusive. The January 12th issue of Newsweek did a very negative cover story, "Doubts About Dean," which featured, prominently, critical comments about the Dean campaign from three bloggers on the DeanforAmerica site. In fact, the piece opened by quoting them:

"The murmurs of doubt are faint, barely audible above the background hum of the Internet cosmos, but they are worth listening to at the moment, for the doubters don't seem to be 'trolls' -- provocateurs in digital disguise -- and they express concerns about their favorite son, Dr. Howard Dean, in the bosom of his own blogosphere. 'Dammit, tell him to get his mouth under control!' says 'WVMicko' on a forum conducted by Dean's official Web site. 'He's been all over the map on a lot of things, and the way he shoots off his mouth is a big reason why.' A poster to the site named 'Lancaster' frets that his wife is put off by Dean's confrontational personality. 'Her initial reaction to Dean? "That guy scares me." Now, I'm not a full-fledged Deanie, but I'm strongly leaning that way ... but she's still not convinced that Dean is the right guy for the job.' A writer named 'irmaly' also views Dean's personality as a vulnerability. 'I am a strong Dean supporter,' irmaly declares, 'but I think the campaign is missing this most important point -- the need to focus strongly on getting up over the perception of "mean, angry Dean." Dean is portrayed as a man who, rather than share a beer in a local hangout, will fight you for yours. I realize this isn't true, but Bush and Company knows perception is everything, and they have already had some success at seriously hurting Dean on this perception. I don't know how you get up over this, but you have to, or we will lose.' "

"WVMicko," "Lancaster," and "irmaly" got together and wrote a letter to the editor about Newsweek's use of their insider criticism of the good doctor. Newsweek wouldn't publish their letter. But WataugaWatch will, right here:


We are the three Dean for America bloggers who were quoted in the lead of your recent article on Howard Dean ("The Dean Dilemma" by Howard Fineman).

There's no denying that we were taken back by the use of our constructive criticsm of Dr. Dean in Mr. Fineman's article to imply that Dr. Dean's supporters have doubts about his campaign. There are many iewpoints, but the most prevalent is that the encouragement of rambunctious rassroots debate -- to which the campaign pays close attention -- is one of Dr. Dean's greatest strengths. It's a source of grassroots power that no other candidate can match, and in the words of Lincoln, the truest expression of government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." Dr. Dean has built this movement by doing the one simple thing which President Bush failed to do: asking ordinary Americans for their help in solving the problems of our nation. For so many who are disaffected by modern politics, Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike, this optimistic cooperation of Dr. Dean's campaign is the cure for the political cynicism so common today.

Yet it's ironic that this article, in which doubts concerning Dr. Dean's campaign was such a powerful theme, acted primarily to strengthen it. The true story of Mr Fineman's article is not what he wrote, but the response he generated among his readers. The debate concerning Mr. Fineman's article and our joint response to it has for days been the most intensely watched topic at the Dean for America Forum, over three thousand people -- campaign staffers, grassroots supporters and the undecided alike -- who are watching and participating in a small piece of Internet democracy in action.

Mr. Fineman aired many issues in his article, and as Dr. Dean's supporters we are of course tempted to rebut them. But instead, we'll let the medium be the message, and let the response generated at Dean for America by Mr. Fineman's article speak for itself. All interested Americans are invited to come to www.deanforamerica and take a look. It's your campaign!

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Dennis Miller Says He'll Give Bush "A Pass"

Imagine that! Another conservative commentator on CNBC admits openly that he'll be tilting against everyone BUT President Bush. And Dennis Miller is being given this platform ... why?

Michael Moore, Big Screw-Up

Michael Moore -- God love 'im! I've applauded his movies, Roger and Me and Bowling for Columbine. I liked his two TV shows, even while the Washington Post's TV critic Tom Shales hated them and seemed to have a vendetta against Moore personally. I have Michael Moore's website book-marked on my computer.

But golly, this guy is a screw-up! His Oscar acceptance speech for Bowling for Columbine was wince-inducing and wildly inappropriate. There's a time and a place, Mike, and it's not as though we'll think you've gone all soft on the president if you don't embarrass yourself at the podium of Make Believe and Make Nice. You did not make nice! And I dare say you didn't actually end up helping the effort.

And then there was the endorsement of Ralph Nader in 2000, which you can't seem to stop NOT apologizing for. If you'd gone on one more sentence about why you endorsed Nader and why you weren't sorry about it in Stupid White Men, we'd have thrown the book against the wall. You did it. You screwed up.

Now comes the most egregious screw-up of all, and I'm not talking about your endorsement of Wesley Clark. You can obviously endorse whomever you want, and DO (though I have to tell ya: if my endorsed candidate turned around on national television, not once but twice, as Clark has now done, and disavowed your attack on George Bush as a "deserter," when the general himself, Peter Jennings, and now Tim Russert all know good and well exactly what you were talking about when you used the hyperbolic word "deserter" -- then I think I might be reevaluating my endorsement).

Which is, as a matter of fact, what Michael Moore is so obviously and painfully doing ... regretting that he ever endorsed Clark. Or else the email he has sent out to Dean supporters is just one more example of his penchant for shambling into Screwupville. Michael Moore's email message was dated January 20th and titled "Dean Supporters, Don't Give Up." It opened this way:

This morning I picked up the newspaper and read this quote from a young woman who had worked as a volunteer for Howard Dean in Iowa:

"All the phone-calling we did, we'd have people who'd say, 'I'm a Dean supporter, I'm a Dean supporter,' " said Kelly Chambers, Dr. Dean's captain in Precinct No. 83. "But when it came to caucus night, we only had 11 people show up for Dean. It just seems like all my hard work's been for nothing."

I was crushed when I read this. Her despair, her sense of "what's the use?" was something I'm sure many Dean supporters are feeling today. I can see, just from surfing the web, the debilitating affect the landslide loss in Iowa had on so many people who had placed so much hope in the man who created a grassroots revolution and was unrelenting in his attacks on Bush and on the war. If having the most volunteers, the most money (all small contributions from average citizens), and the boldest message can't win an election, say Dean's followers, then we might as well just give up.

As one who does not support Dean, I would like to say this to you: DON'T GIVE UP. You have done an incredible thing. You inspired an entire nation to stand up to George W. Bush. Your impact on this election will be felt for years to come. Every bit of energy you put into Dr. Dean's candidacy was -- and is -- worth it. He took on Bush when others wouldn't. He put corporate America on notice that he is coming after them. And he called the Democrats out for what they truly are: a bunch of spineless, wishy-washy appeasers who have sold out the working people of America. Everyone in every campaign owes you and your candidate a huge debt of thanks.

Though I am backing Clark...


Whoa whoa whoa! "Though I am backing Clark ... Howard Dean really has my heart"? "Though I am backing Clark ... I already have reason to regret that decision"? "Though I am backing Clark ... the real soul of American courage is in the Dean campaign"? "I am crushed that the man MY man is running against is losing"? WHAT the hell do we make of this? I frankly HOPE it's a veiled show of regret and not what it otherwise HAS to be ... a ridiculous, pathetic, fawning pitch for those "discouraged Deaniacs" to dry their tears and come on over to the Clark bus.

Because THAT would be insulting. Because THAT would be condescending in a way that Michael Moore, of all people, would NOT want to be caught being. Because THAT is so offensively patronizing -- "Hang onto the life-raft, little Kelly Chambers of Precinct No. 83! Hang on til morning comes, and dry those tears, 'cause I'll just be reeling you in here to my guy's side, 'cause such heartbreaking suffering for truth and justice should not go unrewarded by my superior sympathy!"

Sheesh! Even more embarrassing than the Oscar acceptance speech.

ASU Chancellor Search Update

Daniel S. Papp, the fifth candidate for the ASU Chancellorship being brought to Boone for a ritual grilling, was THE finalist in 2002 to become chancellor of Florida's Division of Colleges & Universities (an account can be found here on the Florida Department of Education site). It's very clear that Florida wanted him. In fact, he actually took the job and then reneged, citing "unforeseen roles and responsibilities of the position" (story here) Gosh! The Florida job seems like a considerably bigger job than the one he's now up for. We hope there aren't any unforeseen responsibilities locally.

Papp is quite well known for his published works in international relations, particularly his editing of former Secretary of State Dean Rusk's As I Saw It.

Why each candidate for this job is subjected to segregated meetings is a bit curious. Each meets with higher administrators and then meets with the peons doing the actual teaching, and the peons doing the actual teaching don't know what the higher administrators have asked and how each candidate's responses might actually impinge on the future lives of peons ... if you get my drift. But maybe this is the standard way these things are done. Not that it's the most salutary way.

Pressure on Scalia to Recuse His Blessed Self

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia went a-duck huntin' with Vice President Dick Cheney.

Vice President Dick Cheney's case of government secrecy over the energy bill is soon to be presented before Justice Antonin Scalia, sitting in solemn judgment.

Scalia should recuse himself from hearing the case. People are beginning to say that. Even an editorial in the New York Times.

Psychoanalyzing the Democratic National Committee

Walter Shapiro, on the Kos site:

"The DNC isn't afraid that Dean will lose 47 states; they're afraid that he won't return their calls."

There's MUCH about Shapiro's off-hand but penetrating comment here that rings absolutely true. Watching the Democratic establishment do their best (covert) work to sink Howard Dean as a dangerous (gulp!) OUTSIDER has had me stirred up enough to begin unsubscribing myself from Terry McAuliffe's email fundraising machine. Instead of seeing Dean's phenomenal ability to bring new Democrat activists into the public square as a plus for a faltering party ("faltering"? try "prostrate," when 16 Democratic Senators join the Repukes in cutting off debate to give President Bush his grotesque budget request last week, along with his curtailment of overtime pay) ... instead of celebrating what Dean has done to bring hope and optimism back to a wide swath of disenfranchised and disaffected non-voters, they put the DNC national spokesman James Carville on CNN writing Dean off at every opportunity.

They want Clark, and I liked Clark back when he was flirting with running and not actually doing it. But it took him too long to decide, and he doesn't come across on TV the way he'll have to come across to win.

Not that I'm a Deaniac. I'm just incensed that this taciturn doctor from Vermont, a fiscal conservative with a sterling record and a good heart, has been caricatured unmercifully and that at least some of the people in the DNC have gleefully participated in that process.

But who knows what Tuesday will bring. Frankly, a second-place finish for Dean in New Hampshire ought to be celebrated as an amazing come-back, considering the across-the-board writing-off of his candidacy that has completely dominated the media for a week. Not a single Sunday Morning Gasbag this a.m. thought he could or would recover. Gawd! I'd like to see them eat those words (not that they ever would show the slightest hint of a conscience nor humility). And there are indicators out there that the voting public might yet stick it to the media whores for trying to take a good, honest man down. This ain't over.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Send This Malefactor to Jail--Please!

The Florida DA with his hands on Rush Limbaugh's medical records (not to mention his tender nether parts) was apparently approached about giving ole Rush "a slap on the wrist" and letting him otherwise go free to preach the conservative gospel of getting tough on crime. At least, that's the story that the New York Daily News published today.

Limbaugh's lawyer, Roy Black, immediately insisted he wasn't seeking special treatment for his client. The Daily News reports that the prosecutor countered with this offer: that Limbaugh plead guilty to "doctor shopping" and serve three years' probation.

Sounds like a sweet deal to us! After which, if Limbaugh goes for it, we intend to start protesting how soft on crime Florida prosecutors have become!

Media Whore of the Week--Peter Jennings!

From our favorite daily blogger, Josh Marshall:


I think there's no question that Wes Clark didn't do a great job fielding that question about Michael Moore's calling the president a 'deserter' in the debate a couple nights ago. But I was somewhat mystified by Peter Jennings rather prejudging the question by saying there was no factual support for the charge.

Jennings said, "Mr. Moore said in front of you that President Bush, he was saying he'd like to see a debate between you, the General, and President Bush, who he called a deserter. Now, that's a reckless charge not supported by the facts."

Now, desertion has a specific meaning. It refers to people in the military who take off with the intent never to come back or who abandon their post at some moment of danger or critical importance.

Given that, it seems pretty clear that a charge of desertion doesn't apply. But Jennings seemed to imply that the president's military record was beyond question.

Right after 'desertion' in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (article #85) comes the lesser charge of 'Absence without Leave.' And Jennings must know that during the 2000 election there was quite a lot of reporting in papers like The Boston Globe among others that the president was repeatedly AWOL during the time he served in the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970s.

Nor was calling the president out on this seen as beyond the pale. Just before the 2000 election, referring to a six month period in which Bush failed to show up for required drills because he was off working on a campaign in Alabama, Senator Daniel Inouye said, "At the least, I would have been court-martialed. At the least, I would have been placed in prison." Former Senator Bob Kerrey charged Bush (Boston Globe, Nov. 1, 2000 "KERREY BLASTS BUSH ON SERVICE, SAYS CANDIDATE 'AWOL' IN '70S.") with repeatedly going AWOL.

Now, as I say, 'deserter' seems to be the wrong charge. And it's certainly provocative. But it's also pretty clear what Moore was referring to. And being AWOL is a pretty serious offense too. I've already said that much in the debate struck me as laughably tilted toward criticism not so much of the particular candidates as criticism of simply being Democrats. But this question signaled a certain hypersensitivity about criticizing the president at all.


If you feel at all inclined to send Mr. Jennings an email about this matter, here's the site with the form. Apparently, the big network media are increasingly hearing from ordinary citizens about the wretched skewing of their coverage this year. They're just not accustomed to being questioned by anyone other than the right wing.

ASU Chancellor Search Update

News from the front: There is grumbling among the faculty at ASU that an expensive "headhunter" was hired to produce the finalists who've been coming to campus. "Appalachian State is a far better place than some of these candidates suggest." There are complaints that the Faculty Senate should demand an accounting of how much money was spent to produce these (dismal) results.

Judged in the "weak to embarrassing" category ... Kyle Carter, the first candidate to appear on campus ... Michael L. Hanes, the most recent to visit ... and Ken Peacock, the acting provost at ASU.

Hanes, particularly, has been judged "awful" by some insiders. He had not done his homework when he arrived on campus. He's currently president of Georgia Southwestern, which is "practically a community college," an institution with 2,000 students and a declining enrollment. Why, the question is being asked, did an expensive headhunter and the search committee decide that Hanes was up to ASU's standards?

Ken Peacock, already on campus for over 20 years, former dean of the college of business and acting provost, is considered a perfectly nice man, and he was an adequate dean of the College of Business, but he does not have an impressive resume, particularly for published scholarship. According to members of the College of Business, Peacock does not represent current standards of that college, let alone standards now operative to be Chancellor of the whole university.

Stan Albrecht, currently provost at Utah State University, is actually considered "the inside candidate," since he was nominated by a member of UNC President Molly Broad's own staff. Molly Broad will make the final appointment, from a list of three finalists submitted to her from the search committee.

Albrecht raises the small hairs on some napes because of his Mormon background (we're sure that someone at ASU will be ordering copies of his writings on "Mormon Religiosity"), and he has been named in a gender discrimination case brought against Utah State. In fairness to Albrecht, however, he gets very high marks at Utah State (in the same article referenced above) for his devotion to diversity (and see this source).

Albrecht's writing (this, for example) shows that he's actually deeply pious about the Mormon faith.

Still to come ... Daniel Papp, the international relations expert with impressive-sounding publications (and fluent in Russian?) ... and (finally!) the lone female finalist.

Cherie Blair for President!

The Drudge Report is headlining a new book about British Prime Minister Tony Blair that says Blair has been embarrassed at times by his wife Cherie's dislike of George W. Bush.

Apparently, Cherie confronted Bush about capital punishment at a private dinner in England, making her husband Tony squirm. At the same dinner, Laura Bush returned the favor by embarrassing George when she admitted that she did not share his anti-abortion views.

Cherie Blair was hostile to the "cozying up" between Blair and Bush in the lead-up to the Iraqi war. (Cherie Blair is a human rights attorney and is known for her strong views.)

She has also made a point of not hiding her opinion that Bush "stole" the election from Gore. When flying to Washington for their first official visit after Bush was installed in the White House, Cherie Blair reportedly asked why she and Tony had to be so nice to "these people."

The book, due out in the U.S. in early February, also reinforces the notion that Dick Cheney is the puppet-master. The book "reveals the coolness shown by Vice- President Cheney in his early meetings with Mr Blair and how Mr Cheney showed his hostility later on to Mr Blair's efforts to persuade Mr Bush to work through the UN before war against Iraq. He made 'occasional, acid' interventions during the crucial Camp David summit and 'during the following days and months he would be the constant disrupting force in the Anglo-American relationship.' [The author] adds: 'If Donald Rumsfeld discomfited Blair with his public disdain for multilateralism, Cheney sought to undermine the Prime Minister privately.' "

Edwards Raking in the Cash

The John Edwards for President campaign is reporting that their candidate took in over $500,000 between Monday, when Edwards took second place in Iowa, and Friday, mostly from the Internet.

The campaign would not say how much cash Edwards has on hand, but rumors had been flying that Edwards was cash-strapped yet spending heavily in New Hampshire.

Matt Drudge on Friday accused the Edwards campaign of exceeding the spending cap in New Hampshire for candidates taking federal matching funds. Roger Salazar, Edwards' spokesman, said Drudge had calculated incorrectly the amount subject to the spending cap.

Friday, January 23, 2004

It's the Media, Stupid!

Jeff Koopersmith, struggling with why the straight-talking Howard Dean lost in Iowa, while the mealy-mouthed, war-approving Kerry and Edwards won:

"Thus far, not a single television news anchor has dared call President Bush or members of his cabinet liars -- although it's quite clear they are.

"Bottom line: it's the media, stupid. They control the public mind -- and that's how you get leading candidates like Kerry and Edwards -- Campbell's-soup types who don't rile anyone, look good, and won't rock the boat -- at least too much...."

It's the Press That Needs a Strait Jacket

"The Campaign Desk," under the heading "Distortion," outs the Los Angeles Times for running a piece on Howard Dean that practically puts him in the loony bin.

"But it's a real stretch -- and completely unfair -- to say that Dean's outburst on Monday night proves he is too insane to be president, which is the underlying theme in today's Los Angeles Times piece covering the much-talked about speech."

I watched that "outburst" (which it was NOT) live, on the night it happened, minutes after the Vermont Gov found out he had come in third in Iowa, a state he was supposed to win easily. The press, starting with the ineffable Matt Drudge, have decided to label it "Dean Goes Nuts." The wits of late-night TV fell right into line, including our beloved John Stewart. But a fair-minded viewing of it -- and how many times have YOU seen it now? -- reveals it to be very much in scale and appropriate for the time and setting. The man had just lost. He was disappointed and faced with hundreds of mostly young supporters who had worked their tails off for him and were not just disappointed but CRUSHED, dealing with the sort of defeat that can end up driving young people far away from continued political activism. So Howard Dean was pumping them up. And he did it well. As somebody remarked, anyone who can recall all those states in rapid-fire order is plenty sharp and has his full faculties.

But the anti-Dean media, of which there is a superfluity, have used it to hang a "You Are Entering Bedlam" sign on him. Chris Matthews, a so-called "journalist" about whom I might be induced to drop my usual pacifist approach to life, has delighted in playing the clip over and over, as though the repetition might marinate into something actual and substantive.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush gets a pass, and the country gets the government that the corporate media sell-outs design for us. This isn't an election as much as it's Celebrity Survival. Or Lord of the Flies, with the media chanting "Kill the piggy! Kill the piggy!"

Media Whores Blather On

Depend on "The Campaign Desk" at the Columbia Journalism Review to take a look at who actually did most of the talking at Thursday night's Democratic candidate debate in New Hampshire. These guys actually counted the words! And found that ABC news anchor Peter Jennings spoke more words than Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucininch, and Wesley Clark; Jennings spoke nearly as many words as Howard Dean. "In total, 30 percent of the words spoken came from one of the four moderators/questioners."

Haven't we known all along that this campaign is really all about the media, those well groomed show dogs with the $2-million homes?

And get this: Senator John Edwards (who is known variously by the nicknames "John Boy" and "The Breck Girl") spoke by far the most words of anyone, simply ignoring the bell that was supposed to cut each candidate off. As everyone knows, you can't out-talk a good courtroom lawyer.

Democrat Sell-Outs in the Senate

We have the following Democratic Senators to thank for the passage of the grotesque Omnibus Spending Bill yesterday. After stopping the bill dead in its tracks on Tuesday, they weakly and meekly turned around and voted to cut off debate yesterday ... gaining ... exactly WHAT? Nothing, but the spectacle of their own inability to stand up to this president.

If any two of these people listed below had voted no, the bill would have been stopped. But because these fine public servants were "unwilling to engage in a showdown that could cause a government shutdown" (NYT coverage) they caved.

(Many of these senators are allied with the in-bed-with-big-business Democratic Leadership Council. And this is where the DLC is leading us ... deficit spending all around, the limiting of over-time pay, allowing media conglomerates to move increasingly toward monopolies, and other swell ideas meant to consolidate corporate power over ordinary citizens.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT THIS? We suggest going to the Senate homepage, finding the email link to some (or all) of these turkeys, and letting them know how you appreciate their now manifold and multiple sell-outs of the public interest:

Bingaman of New Mexico
Breaux of Louisiana (soon to be retired, thank gawd!)
Carper of Delaware
Dayton of Minnesota
Feinstein of California
Harkin of Iowa (for pete's sake!)
Hollings of South Carolina
Inouye of Hawaii
Landrieu of Louisiana
Leahy of Vermont (go figure!)
Mikulski of Maryland
Miller of Georgia (no surprise, this one)
Murray of Washington
Nelson of Nebraska
Reid of Nevada
Schumer of New York

Bush Has Stopped Pretending He Cares About the Environment

Timothy Noah, neatly summing up The State of the Union speech this week, vis-a-vis the environment, in Slate magazine:

"In a famous memo to Republican politicians about how to talk about the environment, pollster Frank Luntz warned against using the phrases 'risk assessment' and 'cost-benefit analysis,' and urged them to instead use the words, 'safer,' 'cleaner,' and 'healthier.' But in President Bush's State of the Union address, the words 'cleaner' and 'healthier' were never uttered, and the word 'safer' was spoken only in the context of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Here are some other words and phrases that did not appear in the speech: 'environment,' 'pollution,' 'natural resources,' 'global warming,' 'clean air,' 'clean water,' and 'Clear Skies,' which is what Bush calls his main [bogus] initiative on air pollution. The word 'conservation' appeared once in a plea to pass the energy bill, which takes various steps to encourage more oil drilling. This in a speech where Bush found time to call for an end to steroid abuse in professional sports, an issue completely outside the realm of government at the federal, state, or local level. Apparently Karl Rove has decided that the environment isn't even worth paying lip service to anymore...."

ASU Chancellor Search

The last two candidates for ASU Chancellor, in the order of their appearance on campus:

Michael L. Hanes appears to be a native of Indiana ... at least all three of his degrees are from Indiana University. He's trained in educational theory, and his career -- a long one -- has been in colleges of education in Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, and Georgia. Currently, he's president of Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus. He's done both private and governmental consulting on educational practices and theories and he's done substantial publishing.

Daniel S. Papp is currently, in a sense, Michael Hanes' boss (see above), in that he is a senior vice chancellor of the University System of Georgia. He stands out from the other candidates in that his academic speciality is international relations, and he appears to have a good deal of experience in Russia. A graduate of Dartmouth College and of the University of Miami in Florida, he's spent most of his professional life in Georgia at a variety of institutions. He has by far the most impressive list of publications, mostly in the field of international affairs, and he's done consulting on strategic studies for the U.S. government.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

The John Edwards Buzz

We've made no secret of our disappointment with John Edwards for giving up his Senate seat after only one term and setting out on a quixotic quest for the presidency. Dumb, dumb, dumb! And actually a betrayal of the people of North Carolina. We've felt that strongly.

And we haven't been inclined to take it all back just because Edwards came in second in Iowa and is "flavor of the week" among some elements of the national press, a.k.a. the media whores, whose opinions we don't trust nor value.

But Josh Marshall is another matter. Josh's "Talking Points Memo" is a daily stop for us, must-reading, so I'm going to quote him at length on the subject of Edwards, campaigning in New Hampshire. It's food for thought, gives one pause, since it's coming from someone that I DO trust:


As noted in the earlier post, we went tonight (this was written Wednesday evening) to see a John Edwards town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A few days ago I saw James Carville say that Edwards was the best stump speaker he'd ever seen, even better than Clinton, or something to that effect. So I wanted to see what all the commotion was about.

I had a mix of reactions and opinions. Or, really, I had an arc of opinions over time.

For most of the time Edwards was doing his presentation, putting on his show, I hadn't the slightest question what Carville was talking about. While I was watching, in the moment, that is, I also didn't have much question that Edwards would be the eventual nominee. He's that good.

His comfort level with a crowd, his ability to roll with and into their moods and reactions, and his ability to craft his talk into a resonant story (a narrative, as we used to say) is simply light years beyond what Kerry or Clark can manage. (Dean is sort of in a whole different category -- he tries for something different.) He's down-to-earth, gesticulating all over the place, with folksy aphorisms and punch lines all put in the right spots, but in an unforced, uncontrived matter.

He’s funny and folksy, in a campaign sort of way.

With most politicians in these sorts of settings I watch and see the disjuncture between what they are doing and what they should be doing, what they're supposed to be doing. It's something like their discomfort quotient, or perhaps the way you can see into their grasping for what the right way is to connect with the crowd or a given voter. With Edwards there's none of that. He's a natural. His ease seems total -- and you can easily see the echoes of years of working juries in the court room.

When you hear his talk about 'the two Americas' (with one living in perpetual insecurity and another 'having whatever they need whenever they need it') you think: Yes, he explains it all exactly right, in a way that would cut right into the president's deepest political vulnerabilities.

When I watch these guys one of the things I also watch for, either semi-consciously or quite deliberately, is, how will the Republicans go after this guy -- either on substance or on tone and demeanor and life story? With some of the contenders it is painfully obvious. But watching Edwards I had a pretty clear sense that he'd scare the president's political advisors -- a lot. They talk up the trial thing. They make that clear. But I've never thought that would get them much traction.

And yet, an hour or so later, after his presentation and after and Q & A, I had a bit of a hard time remembering quite what I was so dazzled by. It put me in the mind of one of those old cliches about light Asian food: filling at the time, but a few hours later you're hungry again.

These are just quick impressions from observing one event. I wanted to write a post which conveyed -- in as unmediated a fashion as possible -- my immediate impressions of watching Edwards work a room for the first time. The above isn't intended as a blanket judgment about a whole campaign and a whole candidate. But in this one case I did have the experience of being truly wowed and then, later, feeling that the whole thing was somehow a bit thin.

Bush Cutting Holes in the Safety Net

An editorial in the January 20th New York Times warned that the Bush administration will target domestic "safety net" programs in its new proposed budget, due to be delivered to Congress next month. One of those programs is Sect. 8 housing subsidy vouchers administered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In Watauga County more than 400 households receive Sect. 8 housing subsidies, according to Ned Fowler, director of the Northwest Regional Housing Authority, the local arm of HUD. More than 60 percent of those 400 households are single parents (overwhelmingly women) with young dependent children; slightly over 35 percent of those 400 households include elderly or disabled adults on fixed income. All 400 households qualify for the housing subsidy by meeting the federal definition of "extremely poor." In Watauga County, recipients of these housing vouchers make no more than 30 percent of the median county income. Many are trying to live on less than $7,000 per annum.

These are the people that Prez Bush has fingered to make up some of the difference in his deficit spending on a war in Iraq and huge tax cuts for the very wealthy.

Welcome to compassionate conservatism!

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Sign Up to Boycott CBS

If you're a mind to -- and we're CERTAINLY of that mind! -- you can log on to a new site, "Turn the Screws on CBS," and register your displeasure with The Eye's refusal to air MoveOn.Org's winning "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad.

There Went Vernon Robinson's 10 Commandments!

Just a day after Winston-Salem Councilman Vernon Robinson installed his 1-ton granite Ten Commandments on city hall property without permission, it was gone ... tied to a backhoe & hauled off to a warehouse. (Read about it in the Los Angeles Times, unless you're registered with the Charlotte Observer and want to search for similar coverage there.)

Robinson, who was elected to the City Council in 1997 and is running for the Republican nomination for the 5th Congressional District (against Virginia Foxx et al.), said he didn't get permission because he didn't know the procedure.

He may now be billed for the cost of removing the monument. We're sure he'll think it was worth it ... getting this hot-button campaign issue to prove how much holier he is than any of the people he's running against.

Deborah Greene Won't Let Go of the Scenic Byway

At last night's County Commission meeting, the Commissioners heard from their semi-official agent provocateur Deborah Greene in the "public comment" section of the meeting. Ms. Greene is single-handedly carrying forward the Commissioners' program to overturn the state DOT's designation of the Doc & Merle Watson Highway as "scenic."

Ms. Greene, famous for rallying citizens against zoning, against Sue Sweeting and Pat Wilkie, and against the "scenic" designation, announced her intentions last night to file with the state of North Carolina for an administrative law review of the DOT decision, and she asked the commissioners to help her gather her evidence.

Ms. Greene, who can spot a conspiracy a mile away, plans to spin a tale-and-a-half about the Committee of 100, the DOT, and assorted outsiders who have "impeded" her rights by banning billboards from the new road.

But don't sell this particular propagandist short, despite how non-linear and unfocused her public utterances tend to be: administrative law appeals tend to bend over backward on behalf of citizens' complaints, and if the DOT did not follow proper procedure on this scenic designation, rest assured that Deborah Greene will find it out and expose it exhaustively. (And pity the poor administrative law judge who has to listen to her argument and follow the scenic byways of her logic.)

Doug Berger Stirs It Up

Many will remember Doug Berger from the 2000 campaigns, when he ran for Secretary of Labor and was the only Democrat to lose a Council of State election that year. (Cherie Berry beat him, and now it's her signature you see inside every elevator in the state.)

Now Berger's running in the Democratic primary against Judge Linda McGee for the N.C. Court of Appeals ... a somewhat strange move, considering McGee's popularity and apparent effectiveness as a judge.

Berger has now made it into the Raleigh News & Observer, accused ALREADY of negative campaigning. Judge McGee sicced an ethics panel of judges on him, complaining that he had crossed the line in attacking her.

You can read his defense of himself by clicking on the link above. It doesn't really matter. What matters is Berger's apparent self-destructive streak, which might end up wounding a good judge in the general election.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

The Shameless Vernon Robinson

Vernon Robinson, a Winston-Salem city councilman and a candidate running against Virginia Foxx in the Republican primary to replace Richard Burr in the 10th district congressional seat, used the Martin Luther King holiday yesterday (while the Winston-Salem city hall was closed) to install a four-foot-tall granite monument to the Ten Commandments on city hall property.

Robinson said he was inspired by Roy Moore, Alabama's ousted Chief Justice. Some inspiration! Which Robinson is counting on to win him the hard-right in his upcoming primary battle.

"He doesn't have the right to put it there," City Attorney Ron Seeber said. The appropriate process for anyone to put a permanent marker on city property is to petition the council for approval, he said.

Vernon Robinson has probably hurt himself mortally by this move, since the 5th district of North Carolina is not in fact Alabama, which means he's unwittingly helped Virginia Foxx. Unless she decides to move an even bigger monument onto, say, the grounds of the Watauga County courthouse. Unlikely, since county employees would be mightily peeved at losing a parking space. Perhaps Foxx can be content with trumpeting herself as "a woman of faith" on her website: "...the driving force is her strong faith and desire to serve God."

Yeah, right. Watever.

The State of the Union

The Independent published today the most devastating list of vital statistics as a primer on the Bush administration. The whole list is much too long to reproduce here, so we hope you'll click on the link and see the whole, long, sorry detailing of the swath of misery this Prez has left behind him. Here's a sampling:

2.4 million: Number of Americans who have lost their jobs during the three years of the Bush administration

221,000: Number of jobs per month created since Bush's tax cuts took effect. He promised the measure would add 306,000

1,000: Number of new jobs created in the entire country in December. Analysts had expected a gain of 130,000

1st: This administration is on its way to becoming the first since 1929 (Herbert Hoover) to preside over an overall loss of jobs during its complete term in office

9 million: Number of US workers unemployed in September 2003

80%: Percentage of the Iraqi workforce now unemployed

55%: Percentage of the Iraqi workforce unemployed before the war

43.6 million: Number of Americans without health insurance in 2002

Ballenger Endorses Lyons

Retiring Congressman Cass Ballenger has endorsed former cable executive Sandy Lyons to replace him in the 10th Congressional District.

That primary is getting crowded. The field includes textile executive George Moretz (written about previously in this space), whose TV commercials have been up for weeks; Catawba County Sheriff David Huffman; and State Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-Gaston, a Cherryville businessman.

There was some expectation that Ballenger would endorse David Huffman, an old friend. But, no.

Lyons, a West Point graduate and former Army captain, was an executive with Corning Cable Systems. He comes out of the box stressing economic issues, jobs, education, and care for the elderly ... with nary a mention of strangling abortionists nor denying gays their civil rights. What! A dangerous moderate! Who sounds like a Democrat, just like so many of these other guys running in the Carolina piedmont, where so many jobs have been lost to the economic policies espoused by the leaders of their party. He certainly doesn't sound like his chief endorser Cass Ballenger.

And obviously this isn't the last word on Lyons, about whom there is much more to know.

ASU Chancellor Search Update

The "internal candidate" ... Ken Peacock, former dean of the College of Business at ASU and right now acting provost (replacing Harvey Durham, who is acting Chancellor).

Dr. Peacock is a North Carolina native, a graduate of Mars Hill College and Louisiana State University ... an accountant by training.

Handicappers would have to give him a slight edge in this race, just for home-court advantage, even before the last two finalists are announced.

More to come...

Monday, January 19, 2004

Foxx Hunt

It should come as no particular news-flash that Virginia Foxx was recently quoted as saying that she saw no particular reason that a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member should have an ex officio seat on the university's board of trustees. There is absolutely no reason under the sun why the merest vestige of democracy in higher education would be of interest to the former president of Mayland College!

Media Watch Dogs

The Columbia Journalism Review has launched a "Campaign Desk" that will provide a daily assessment of press manipulations, cheap shots, fabrications, fact-checking, etc.

This is a really valuable research tool for getting to the bottom of how Matt Drudge, for example, distorted Wesley Clark's testimony to Congress, and what constitutes a smear of Dean on ABC News.

Traction Against Bush on Corporate Coddling

Jonathan Alther thinks the Democratic message this year that George Bush is CEO of Corporate America first and president of the United States second might have legs:

"A central question of the 2004 campaign is whether enough voters agree ... that Bush is a fiscally reckless president devoted not to them but to wealthy special interests. If the issue is framed that way and the frame sticks, a responsible populist message could work, though it would be the first time in modern political history that it did so....

"This time the corporatist GOP runs Washington and the M.B.A. president seems to make every decision -- from the environment to prescription drugs to immigration -- according to the specifications of industry. The Teddy Roosevelt idea, accepted by both parties for a century, was that government should provide a check on big-business interests. Now, says John Edwards, the White House is 'married' to those interests. The 'creed of greed,' says John Kerry, lets the lobbyists actually write the bills. Dick Gephardt says Bush is such a sellout he 'makes me nostalgic for Ronald Reagan.' Forget mad cow. Democrats have found a new kind of red meat that their audiences devour.

"The reason this goes down so well is that -- like some of the old conservative red-meat charges against liberalism -- it's largely true. Bush's allegiance to entrenched interests (which are, not coincidentally, his biggest political contributors) is the only thread connecting everything in his domestic policy. The failure to stand up for the wider public interest against assaults on the environment is what Gore meant last week when he accused Bush of being a 'moral coward.' "

Kerry Puts Edwards in Diapers

John Edwards has been doing so well in the polling leading up to the Iowa caucuses that John Kerry evidently felt moved to insult him, saying he suspected Edwards was still in diapers while Kerry was off being a war hero in Vietnam. (Story in Raleigh News-Observer)

Kerry almost immediately called Edwards to apologize.

Bush Maneuvering to Discredit 9/11 Commission?

The morning news brings this from the Washington Post: "President Bush and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) have decided to oppose granting more time to an independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, virtually guaranteeing that the panel will have to complete its work by the end of May...."

Also virtually guaranteeing that the commission will not have finished its work, including interviewing some 200 witnesses and examining over 2 million pages of documents ... largely because the Bush White House has fought the commission on access to many documents.

There have already been startling hints from commission co-chair, former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean (R), that the commission's report was going to finger the current president as sharing in the fault for failing to see 9/11 coming.

And very clearly, today's Post story indicates that Bush continues to be unhelpful to the commission. It looks very much like a set-up, to declare the commission's report -- whatever it turns out to reveal -- as flawed and hence unreliable.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

What Are These Two Doing in that Duck Blind Together?

Here's a heart-warming item about some palsy-walsies, from this morning's Los Angeles Times:

"Vice President Dick Cheney and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spent part of last week duck hunting at a private camp in southern Louisiana, three weeks after the Supreme Court had agreed to take up the vice president's appeal in lawsuits over his handling of the administration's energy task force. While Scalia and Cheney are avid hunters and longtime friends, several legal ethics specialists questioned the timing of their trip, and said it raised doubts about Scalia's ability to judge the case impartially.

"Scalia said Friday: 'I do not think my impartiality could reasonably be questioned.'

"Federal law says: 'Any justice or judge shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might be questioned.' "

More Grumbling on the Right

Conservative Republicans are apparently growing increasingly restive about the current "Bush Bash" on spending ... the war, huge subsidies to drug companies, a proposed trip to Mars. Here's a Reuters story about the back-talk.

ABC Stands for 'All Bad Content'

So there was Mark Halperin, political director of ABC News, on CNN's Reliable Sources this morning, tsk-tsking with Howie Kurtz about how noticeable the disproportionate attacks on Howard Dean have become in the mainstream press, and how really unfortunate all this lack of balance was toward Dean ... while failing to mention that it was in fact ABC News that ran a piece on Howard Dean last week that the Columbia Journalism Review has labeled "little more than a smear."

I believe the technical term for Mark Halperin is hypocrite. Make that "big fat hypocrite."

Saturday, January 17, 2004

ASU Unveiling Top Applicants for Chancellor

After doing its chancellor search under the veil of secrecy, ASU is finally dribbling out information on the finalists.

The first one, Dr. Kyle Carter, was on campus yesterday. He's an "educational psychologist" with degrees from Mercer University and the University of Georgia. He's taught at Valdosta State in Georgia, at the University of Northern Colorado, and at Central Missouri State University. The scuttlebutt on campus: "not impressive enough."

The second visitant on Tuesday, Jan. 20th, will be Stan Albrecht, currently Executive Vice President and Provost at Utah State University. He's a sociologist with degrees from Brigham Young University (he's a Mormon?) and from Washington State. He has also done some graduate work at the University of Kentucky (so presumably he's at least seen Appalachia from as close as the Bluegrass), and his credentials in "rural sociology" might make him interested in local regional studies. He's been a dean and academic vice president at Brigham Young (so he's definitely a Mormon, because they don't hire anyone else) and spent several years at the University of Florida.

More, as this story develops...

Maureen Dowd in a Huff

Matt Drudge is reporting this morning that New York Times op-ed "queen" Maureen Dowd is in a snit because she was left waiting for a phone call from Howard Dean that never came. This, after she wrote one of the nastiest pieces we've seen about Dean's wife.

Drudge says that Dowd is planning to write about the snub in her Sunday column tomorrow.

You see, it's all about them, the media elite. We suspect that the real reason Dowd is pouting is because she was seriously flamed by Deaniacs after her piece on Mrs. Dean appeared. She's looking now for revenge.

So much for high-minded journalism.

Friday, January 16, 2004

John O'Dowd Floats an Idea

John O'Dowd's column today in the Watauga Democrat comes out for zoning and against billboards, but that's not the most interesting nugget:

"I would be willing to pay a few more pennies in property tax if the money could be used to start a land trust to develop affordable housing for young professionals and families who might also like to live and work in the county."

A land trust financed at public expense and administered by county government ... it's basically the ONLY idea that makes any sense at all. Will it even be considered here? Absolutely not.

There will be NO affordable housing beyond the "mobile" kind unless government is willing to step in and remove the issue of high land prices ... by buying up tracts which the county must then be willing to sell back to first-home-dreamers at affordable prices & low interest rates.

This has worked in other places. Other places with people in power who actually BELIEVE in government. But we have county commissioners who outright HATE government of any kind. As Virginia Foxx is now famous for saying, "The worst thing we can do is to get government involved in solving problems."

No, our county officials will instead encourage whining about too strict building regulations and will themselves engage in whining about Boone's water & sewer ... "You've got it. We want it. Give it to us!" That's their solution to no affordable housing ... envy and hatred of Boone.

Peggy Noonan Sees Press Bias

Peggy Noonan, the former speech writer for Ronald Reagan and a very biased observer of Democrats, has noticed the corporate media slant against Howard Dean. But then, how could she miss it!?

"The press has kicked in and is playing a part in the drama. The journalistic establishment has become an anti-Dean mover. Tuesday's New York Times piece on the absent Mrs. Dean, for instance -- that was a piece with a sting. They decided to front-page it six days before the caucuses. The morning network news shows and the cable news shows are full of Mr. Dean's gaffes, Mr. Gephardt's rise and Mr. Edwards's potential...."

But as a right-wing ideologue, Noonan can't see past her own haughtiness. Her explanation for why the press is out to get Dean? They're trying to save the liberals from themselves! "I wonder if mainstream media aren't trying to save the Democratic Party from Mr. Dean. They know he's not a likely winner down the road. Boomer reporters who've been through the Clinton experience have sharp eyes. I suspect they're put off by Mr. Dean's Clintonian aspects, such as his tendency to dissemble. They're pushing Gephardt and Edwards and even Kerry. They may push Wesley Clark. But they're not pushing Dean."

There's plenty in that paragraph to make steam come out of your ears -- the purring, killer-feline self-satisfaction in evoking "Clintonian aspects" -- but the Grande Illusion of all is Noonan's absolute certainty that the "mainstream media" are all crypto-Democrats and dedicated to advancing the Democratic cause ... and not the craven pack of corporate toadies they are, scared to death to criticize an administration already known for locking dissenters up and shunning offending journalists, who can duck conveniently behind the smoke screen of Bush's "likeability" as opposed to Dean's prickliness. The press has sold out, but Noonan has her own cherished conspiracy theory.

Incidentally, you can catch Noonan some Sunday mornings on NBC on Chris Matthews' new opinion show. You'll recognize her. Blonder than thou, she always closes her eyes when beginning to speak, as though communing with the Divine Afflatus, which is evidently channeling through her to the Lesser Mortals among whom she is forced to suffer.

Harris Won't Run for Senate in Florida

Katherine Harris, a.k.a. "Cruella de Vil," who was considering running for the Senate in Florida, much to the chagrin of the Bush White House which has anointed former U.S. Housing Secretary Mel Martinez for that job .... has decided to run instead for reelection to the U.S. House.

The Bush White House is breathing a huge sigh of relief, since it was guaranteed that if Harris ran, the whole stolen election in Florida in 2000 would have been rehashed (Harris presided over that theft as Florida Secretary of State).
Regular readers of this site may recall our account of a fund-raising call we got from the Republican Congressional Committee (see archives 1/14/04, "We Get a Call from Tom Delay").

News in the Washington Times this a.m. suggests that actual Republicans are also slamming shut their checkbooks over Bush's immigration plan, specifically some of those well-heeled types in Atlanta who were supposed to come to that $2,000-a-plate dinner last night right after the Prez got booed by blacks.

"President Bush's immigration initiative has angered conservative Republicans so much that some are refusing to donate to his re-election campaign, according to a Bush fund-raiser in Georgia.
Phil Kent, a member of the host committee for a Bush fund-raiser in Atlanta yesterday, said he was told by several would-be donors that they would not attend the $2,000-per-person event because of the president's announcement last week on immigration reform.
" 'I was soliciting checks right after the announcement, and I lost two checks from people who had wanted to come, but wouldn't,' Mr. Kent said. 'They specifically said this is just rewarding lawbreakers."

'Course, whether this small revolt, along with the Weyrich bunch's discontent, will actually mean anything for the fall election ... that's a huge long shot, since our experience with partisan Republicans is that they ALWAYS end up saluting and doing what they're told.

Conservatives in a Foul Mood

Yesterday several conservative orgs staged a press conference, led by Paul Weyrich. They're not quite hopping mad yet at the president, but they're beginning to bounce a little on the balls of their feet.

Weyrich said, "The Republican Congress is spending at twice the rate as under Bill Clinton, and President Bush has yet to issue a single veto. I complained about profligate spending during the Clinton years but never thought I'd have to do so with a Republican in the White House and Republicans controlling the Congress."

Weyrich and his confreres were as icy as a black frost. They used the "drunken sailor" analogy, already bandied about by Sen. John McCain to characterize the Republican Medicare Bill and their (as yet unpassed) Energy Bill. But it's the proposed Omnibus Spending Bill being pushed by Republican House & Senate leaders that had Weyrich & Company so het up.

And they warned darkly about what could happen this fall: "If the president doesn't take a stand on this, there's a real chance the Republicans' voter base will not be enthusiastic about turning out in November, no matter who the Democrats nominate."

Weyrich went even further: " all probability the party's conservative-activist core voters aren't going to work to help win the election for Bush and the Republicans, and they may well not even vote."

Something to watch: "Mr. Bush and the Republican lawmakers are expected to face another barrage of criticism next week, this time from some 4,000 activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, where Vice President Dick Cheney and Republican congressional leaders are slated to speak.
" 'A lot of Senate Republicans will be speaking at CPAC, and the grass-roots conservatives attending won't be shy about their displeasure,' said Richard Lessner, executive director of the American Conservative Union...."

The CPAC convention will probably be carried live on C-SPAN and might be worth browsing.

Paul Krugman Nails It Again

You can't beat New York Times columnist Paul Krugman for consistent insight:

"The real division in the race for the Democratic nomination is between those who are willing to question not just the policies but also the honesty and the motives of the people running our country, and those who aren't."

"What makes Mr. Dean seem radical aren't his policy positions but his willingness -- shared, we now know, by General Clark -- to take a hard line against the Bush administration. This horrifies some veterans of the Clinton years, who have nostalgic memories of elections that were won by emphasizing the positive. Indeed, George Bush's handlers have already made it clear that they intend to make his 'optimism' -- as opposed to the negativism of his angry opponents -- a campaign theme. (Money-saving suggestion: let's cut directly to the scene where Mr. Bush dresses up as an astronaut, and skip the rest of his expensive, pointless -- but optimistic! -- Moon-base program.) ..."

"...any Democrat has to expect not just severely slanted coverage from the fair and balanced Republican media, but asymmetric treatment even from the mainstream media. For example, some have said that the intense scrutiny of Mr. Dean's Vermont record is what every governor who runs for president faces. No, it isn't. I've looked at press coverage of questions surrounding Mr. Bush's tenure in Austin, like the investment of state university funds with Republican donors; he got a free pass during the 2000 campaign...."

A testimony to Krugman's persuasive powers ... he became the object of a Republican smear campaign claiming he was mentally unbalanced.

But, golly gee, he sure writes like he has all his marbles (and maybe half of Bush's too).

MoveOn Knocked Out of Super Bowl

The upstart political organization learns that there's no right to free speech on network TV -- even for those who can pay for it.

On Thursday, CBS rejected the winner of MoveOn's "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad contest. The online advocacy group was trying to buy airtime to run the commercial, which criticizes the Bush administration's irresponsible run-up of federal debt, during the Super Bowl, a Feb. 1 event expected to draw around 90 million viewers. (Salon has the story, but so do a lot of other news organizations)

CBS distinguished itself a month or so ago by caving in to right-wing pressure and pulling a two-part movie about Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

If you didn't believe before that corporate media is a whore, do you believe it now?

The Fearless Repetition in the Bush Admin.

An alert reader spotted this AP story about the Bush administration deciding that big business is somehow under-represented in its influence on public policy, so the Bushies have decided to DO SOMETHING about it! Like set up "a new presidential council to give U.S. companies a greater voice in government decisions."

Since it's obviously not enough that big business is writing the Medicare laws and the Energy bill and pulling strings all over this administration, right?

Foxx Hunt

If you've never had the pleasure of having state senator Virginia Foxx blow past you on the highway ... you just haven't had a vision of what power and arrogance look like.

Thirty minutes ago I was evidently in her way, going the speed limit in a 45-mph zone, and she came aggressively up on my bumper, apparently because I was in the left lane and she OWNS the left lane, and then blew around me on the right doing at least 10 miles over the limit ... that personalized State Senate # 41 license plate heralding her importance (and incidentally guaranteeing that no city, county, state, or national cop would ever dream of pulling her over).

Has there ever been a mere mortal who begged for comeuppance more than she, or invited the cold eye of cosmic irony?

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Andrew Sullivan's No Spin Zone

Conservative ideologue Andrew Sullivan, whose daily blog is a kind of guilty pleasure, is, like, blowing a gasket over Prez Bush's sudden inspiration that he's going to Mars ("and beyond!") and that it'll only cost, like, a dollar ninty-eight to do it! Here's Sullivan's most recent post:

"Here's the truth: If you take defense and entitlement spending out of the picture altogether (and they have, of course, gone through the roof), Bush and the Republican Congress have upped domestic spending by a whopping 21 percent in three years. That compares with an actual decrease in such spending of 0.7 percent in the first three years of Bill Clinton. Spending on education is up 61 percent; on energy 22 percent; on health and human services 22 percent; on the Labor Department a massive 56 percent. There really is no spinning of this. Bill Clinton was a fiscal conservative. George W. Bush is a fiscal liberal of a kind we haven't seen since LBJ. Maybe the Democrats would be worse. But nationally, the GOP is outspending Democrats wherever they get the chance."

Estimates of Protesters of Bush Visit in Atlanta Move Up

Now the Associated Press is estimating 700 protesters of the Bush visit to the Martin Luther King tomb in Atlanta today ... and on network news tonight it looked more substantial than that.

The amazing news is that George W. actually heard dissent for the first time in his presidency ... considering that his Secret Service, with Karl Rove calling the shots, decided it might not be all that politic to have pics on the evening news of police hauling off black people in the paddy wagon in full view of the TV cameras.

So the protests were actually allowed to go on in ear-shot of the president, which is not at all in keeping with the practice of this White House and its armed forces. Shrub has virgin ears, don't you know! And he must not under any circumstances hear any dissent!

Can't wait for the March for Choice and Women's Lives in Washington, D.C., on April 25th!

Media Whores

This can't come as a surprise for any news junkie, but the Center for Media and Public Affairs has just released a study showing that the media has been substantially harder on Howard Dean than on any of his competitors. Well, duh.

The Associated Press story said that "Researchers examined 187 stories broadcast on the ABC, CBS or NBC evening newscasts in 2003, looking at elements including quoted remarks about candidates and how they were depicted in profiles.

"The study found that 49 percent of the coverage of former Vermont Gov. Dean was positive, compared to 78 percent of the rest of the Democratic field, collectively."

The piling-on is offensive. And very, very noticeable. No matter who you support ultimately for the Democratic nomination.

Whoa! The 'Stick' Takes a Whack

Al Gore today said that George Bush is "a moral coward." (Story in New York Newsday)

Gore, in a speech before a full house at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan, said it sometimes appeared that "the Bush-Cheney administration is wholly owned by the coal, oil, utility and mining industries."

Nice going there, Bubba! Good to have you out there slugging.

Protesters Push Through Barricades in Atlanta

This just in, from an alert reader, copied from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on-line site:

Hundreds of people pushed past barricades set up by the Secret Service to protest President Bush's visit to the tomb of Martin Luther King Jr. on Thursday, which would have been the slain civil rights leader's 75th birthday.

Beating drums and chanting "In 2004, Bush no more," about 300 people had marched in circles near the tomb, saying the president's stop there was merely a "photo op."

"When I heard Bush was coming here I couldn't believe it. I was outraged and disgusted, and I just think it's a photo op. It's so transparent," said Kathy Nicholas, a flight attendant from Atlanta who said she had planned to visit the tomb before she learned of the president's visit....

Read the full story here.

Summary of the O'Neill Revelations

Joe Conason's summation of what the Paul O'Neill revelations tell us ... none of which is surprising if you've been paying attention:

The White House believes that massive deficits don't matter.

The White House serves the narrow interests of the wealthiest few.

The White House diligently heeds oil men and coal operators.

The White House willfully ignores scientists and environmentalists.

The President and his advisers care about politics rather than policy.

The President and his advisers prefer scripted consensus to candid debate.

The President and his advisers jump at the command of corporate donors.

The President won't read any document longer than three pages.

The President can't discuss substantive policy issues.

The Vice President is in charge.

The President of Cabal

Sidney Blumenthal, writing in The Guardian, on what Paul O'Neill's revelations might mean for the Bush administration:

"...O'Neill's persuasiveness and the long-term damage he does ... comes from his years in the Nixon and Ford administrations and his first-hand critique of a government radically unlike any before, especially Republican ones. O'Neill's threat is to a president unusually dependent in an election campaign on fear and credibility to sustain a sense of power and inevitability. He sounds an alarm against an unfit president who lacks 'credibility with his most senior officials,' behind whom looms a dark 'puppeteer,' as O'Neill calls the vice-president, and a closed cabal...."

How Will Atlanta Greet Bush?

At noon today Bush was speaking at Union Bethel A.M.E. Church in New Orleans, with plans still apparently "on" to fly to Atlanta this afternoon and piously lay a wreath on Martin Luther King's tomb, prior to raking in several bushel baskets of cash at a fundraiser at a downtown Atlanta hotel this evening. Here's the AP story about the threatened demonstration against his appearance in Atlanta.

How MeanDean is Rattling the Party Elite

David Walsh, writing perceptively on "The 'Stop Dean' campaign and the divisions in the American political establishment," correctly skewers the Democratic Party's power elite for basically just lying down while the Bushies took over the world (literally). His criticisms apply equally, far as we're concerned, to much of the state Democratic Party power structure. Here's a key quote:

"...On one level, the controversy surrounding Dean's candidacy boils down to whether the Democratic Party will entirely cease to compete with the Republicans. Lieberman in particular speaks for that faction of Democrats opposed to any attempt to remove Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the criminal gang in power...."

How often have we heard it expressed in debates among party activists, "Well, we can't come out for [or against] such-and-such, because people will get mad. The Republicans will attack us."

As though the Party Of The Filthy Rich won't attack anyway, whether we stand for something or not. Howard Dean, at least, is teaching Democrats how to stand up again and fight back.