Friday, July 30, 2004

Kerry's speech last night was impressive. I didn't think he had it in him, the man actually broke a sweat. After the mind numbingly dull speeches for the past four days that seemed to repeat the same themes ad infinitum, I was worried that Kerry wasn't going to get the crowd going. But in a way, I think it's not unlike being an opening act where the headliner doesn't let you share channels in the house PA or use the lighting gear for more than a couple of simple fader moves. The opening speakers went on for far too long, and some of the people were fired up just on account that the moment everyone had been waiting for finally arrived. And Kerry took it from there. There are three parts of the speech that touched on something I hadn't heard from him before. I was especially impressed with the following:

"Now I know that there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities, and I do, because some issues just aren't all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so."

That is an answer to the "flip-flop" charge. I look forward to seeing him elaborate on this theme in the days ahead. I was also wondering when he would get a chance to counter the GOP lies about how Kerry's going to "raise your taxes." Here is the response:

"And let me tell you what we won't do. We won't raise taxes on the middle class. You've heard a lot of false charges about this in recent months. So let me say straight out what I will do as president: I will cut middle-class taxes. I will reduce the tax burden on small business. And I will roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals who make over $200,000 a year, so we can invest in health care, education and job creation."

Finally, this passage comes somewhat unexpected, but it hits to the truth of my experience growing up in a small town in rural Wisconsin, where people certainly were more religious, but they viewed religion as a part of their life, not their lives solely devoted to their relgion. I had a pastor once warn my Sunday school class about so-called "Jesus freaks," who are not true to the word of God but treat their religion too much like other forms of idolatry. When I moved to the suburbs of Chicago, I witnessed this phenomena firsthand. I remember one classmate once asked me if I was a Christian or not. I hedged for a minute, because he asked it in a tone of voice that sounded to me the same as someone who would ask me if I considered myself as a "jock," or a "burnout." He seized on the rather small "um," and said, "well you either are or you aren't."  As a sixteen year old I would have been well served by this passage from Kerry's speech:

"And let me say it plainly: In that cause, and in this campaign, we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them. I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago and I want to say this to you tonight: I don't wear my religion on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side."

 

Monday, July 26, 2004

I've been housesitting at my mother in law's house in Santa Clara this past week. Her house is a garden of eden in the middle of bland suburbia. The front porch and lawn is a series of terraces and gardens and walkways built using bricks from an ugly wall in the backyard that was recently torn down. There is a japanese architectural influence throughout. Draped proudly from the main front porch, right in front of the front door is a U.N. flag, where most people would drape the stars and stripes. My wife and I will be taking this cue and will be flying our own U.N. flag in front of our house when we get home. In a few months, after their in-law addition is built, we will be moving down here on a semi-permanent basis to live cheaply and take care of some personal financial woes that have been festering for too long.

Amidst this garden, I've been spending mornings after watering the plants reading the various current politically charged books she keeps throughout the house. Among them, I've dabbled with Rogue State: America At War With The World, by T.D. Allman, Why Do People Hate America?, by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, and currently, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush. The best by far is the latter, as it is concise, well written, and considering the source, a former Nixon aide whose whistleblowing in Watergate was well known, it comes from a position of intimate knowledge of how things work in the White House. I highly recommend this one. Of the former two, the first is a tad heated in the rhetoric department and the second is academically obtuse. I am all about mainstream reading these days, as far as promoting reading to anyone who may reside on the fence for the 2004 election.

Today the Dem Convention begins and I am hopeful that their quest for positivity doesn't come at the cost of missing opportunities for telling all Americans how much damage the Bush administration has done to our country's reputation throughout the world. I doubt Kerry's going to call in question the whole notion of preemptive war, and I think it is a mistake if he doesn't. This notion, in my mind, is the root cause for all the troubles we will face in the coming years. As I had been saying from the moment we began responding to the 9/11 attacks, Bush is playing right into Al Qaeda's hands. They wanted an escalation to promote their existence to others in the Arab world who have been against Western hegemony in world affairs. The way that Bush has handled our foreign policy is making matters worse than they already were before the attacks. He would have been better off doing nothing.

Let me reiterate what Kerry needs to focus on: Statesmanship vs. Brinksmanship. There is a way we can coordinate the world response to terrorism on an international level, where all parties are in agreement (or near agreement) on how to proceed. It's not that the Bush administration tried to do it and failed, they wanted to go it alone in the first place. "If you're not with us, you're against us." If that's not a loaded way to frame the debate before the debate ever got going, I don't know what is. They went to Iraq on a predetermined timetable, taking the weather into account. Should Kerry get elected, the world will come back to the table and ask him, "how can we help you fix this mess." And he will succeed where Bush failed miserably.

To me, the Bush administration, run by neocons, decided to take the balls out approach the moment the Supreme Court decided the 2000 election in favor of Bush, knowing that it was unlikely they would exist past their first four year term. It was opportunism by an extremist group of dangerous ideologues to seize the moment to insert their agenda for all it was worth, knowing their time in power wouldn't last long. Then 9/11 happened and their agenda was given the cover it needed, and they began to realize that they were afforded an actual opportunity to stretch it to eight years.

There is no question that our #1 priority in this country is to get Kerry elected. While I may not agree with him on many of his stances (voting for the war to begin with, for starters), at this point it's all about damage control. A very personal analogy for me relates to my own credit card debt. The things I'd juggled in life for a number of years did not add up, and now I am to a point where I need to suffer through just working and not juggling the gamble of a musical career any longer, live with my mother in law until the slate is wiped clean, and then we can talk about saving and investing for the future, and moving forward with more lofty goals. The situation in this country now politically (not to mention economically) is a lot like that. We need to get Kerry in there first, and then reverse the damage of the past four years before moving forward with trying to shift the country further to the left.

Friday, July 23, 2004

It's that time again. Changes from last week:

AZ, MO, NH and WI move to Kerry's side, and FL to Bush. TN is a "tie." If TN stays with Bush, the electoral count would be:

Kerry 285, Bush 253. If Kerry got TN also, then he'd beat Bush 296 to 242.

I've been told by some folks not to take the Zogby polls seriously. Fair enough. But it makes me feel better to keep tabs on whatever statewide polls we can.

I'm looking forward to the convention to see what Kerry's going to do. I think Bush is planning on hammering the terrorist theme once the election draws near. It's going to be brutal, like the red scare. They are going to try and scare the American people into re-electing Bush. What Kerry needs to do is create the image of a statesman, someone who can also boldly act, but in a way that puts back some deference to the international process. Statesmanship v. Brinksmanship.

If we get four more years of Bush, I think we're going be further isolated in the world. The European community has its fingers crossed for Kerry. Because if Bush wins, we're going to face some serious crises in the international relations department. And history will note that the fall of American respect in the international community and its dominance in the world (both politically and economically, with the latter being tied to the former) can simply be summed up with two words: Pre-emptive war. And the lense of time will probably not note the differences in the American experiment with those of previous empires that fell due to the arrogance of power and over-reach. There will likely be no footnote if we continue along this path.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Here are the state by state poll numbers for this week according to realclearpolitics. Again, absent from the polls on this website are: Alaska, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming, Delaware, DC and Hawaii, but I think it's pretty clear that the first four will go to Bush and the last three to Kerry. For instance, Nebraska last voted Democratic in 1916, Wyoming last voted Dem in '64 and Hawaii only voted GOP in '68 and '84.

Since last week (I'm just going by the most recent poll according to the site), New Hampshire and Arkansas have moved over to the Bush side and Pennsylvania has moved to the Kerry side.
If the election were held on these results, here's the outcome:

Bush 261
Kerry 277

 
Here are the raw numbers....
 
For Bush:
 
New Hampshire +1 (4 electoral votes)
Arkansas +2 (6)
Missouri +2 (11)
Nevada +2.5 (5)
North Carolina +3 (15)
Ohio +4 (20)
Wisconsin +4 (10)
Colorado +5 (9)
Virginia +5 (13)
Louisiana +6 (9)
West Virginia +6 (5)
South Carolina +7 (8)
Tennessee +10 (11)
Georgia +11 (15)
Arizona +12 (10)
Kentucky +13 (8)
Alabama +14 (9)
Indiana +16 (11)
South Dakota +16 (3)
Texas +18 (34)
Kansas +20 (6)
Montana +20 (3)
Idaho +30 (4)
Mississippi +31(6)
Oklahoma +32 (7)
Utah +45 (5)
Nebraska +? (5)
Alaska +? (3)
North Dakota +? (3)
Wyoming +? (3)
 
For Kerry:
 
Maine +1 (4 electoral votes)
Florida +3 (27)
Michigan +3 (17)
Iowa +4 (7)
Minnesota +4.6 (10)
Pennsylvania +5 (21)
Washington +6.4 (11)
Oregon +6.6 (7)
New Mexico +7 (5)
California +8 (55)
New Jersey +10 (15)
Maryland +14 (10)
Vermont +15 (3)
Illinois +16 (21)
Connecticut +18 (7)
Rhode Island +24 (4)
New York +28 (31)
Massachusetts +29 (12)
Hawaii +? (4)
Delaware +? (3)
DC +? (3)
 
I'm not sure why all the newscasts get so caught up in the national average. That's irrelevant to the real story. So I will keep doing this each week until the election as a service to you, the reader.
 

Friday, July 09, 2004

The GOP spin machine, I, I, mean Fox News is at it again. I've been spending too much time in my channel flipping routine settling on Fox and I keep getting inflamed. The latest spin is that Edwards is inexperienced, of course. And when the obvious rebuttal, that GWB was even less experienced, they come back with, "but in THESE TIMES, don't you think we should have someone with more experience?" To which I say, if we hadn't had a bozo in the White House with less experience come in in 2000, maybe 9/11 wouldn't have happened, and we wouldn't be in THESE TIMES. I think Gore would have given Dick Clarke a more sympathetic ear. Nobody says that, of course. It would be political dynamite, but it's true in my opinion.

That picture of Cheney looking grave sitting in the new Homeland Security room with Ridge circulating around the press now is a very deliberate attempt by the GOP to stress that we have another impending "attack" and that Cheney's experienced to handle the threat. It doesn't say so in the caption, but I find it rather odd that suddenly there is more "information" about an impending attack to "disrupt the election," yet the terror level is not being raised. Crying wolf, no? And trying to make people imagine in their heads what Edwards would look like in that same snapshot.

Let me take this thought process to the furthest extreme, as it's been something I've been thinking about for a while, though I've dared not say it: Would you put it past the current administration to let someone slip in to disrupt the Democratic convention? After all, if there was an attack that wasted the opposition, the GOP could just blame it on Massachusetts.

I suppose I'm taking that one too far, but I wonder how many other people out there have that type of thinking in the deep recesses of their minds?

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Here are the latest statewide poll numbers, according to realclearpolitics.com:

States for Bush (and by how many points):

Missouri 0.8
Virginia 2
Nevada 2.5
Ohio 4
Wisconsin 4
Colorado 5
Pennsylvania 5
Louisiana 6
West Virginia 6
North Carolina 7
South Carolina 10
Tennessee 10
Arizona 12
Georgia 12
Kentucky 13
Indiana 16
South Dakota 16
Texas 18
Kansas 20
Montana 20
Alabama 21
Oklahoma 26
Idaho 30
Mississippi 31
Utah 45

And for Kerry:

Arkansas 2.1
Iowa 2.1
Maine 2.5
New Hampshire 3.3
Minnesota 4.6
Florida 5
Washington 6.4
Oregon 6.6
New Mexico 6.9
New Jersey 10
Michigan 11
Illinois 13
California 14
Maryland 14
Vermont 15
Connecticut 18
New York 18
Rhode Island 24
Massachusetts 29

Missing states are: Alaska, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming (likely Bush states) Delaware, DC and Hawaii (probably for Kerry).

If the polls were accurate, the election would go to Bush, 272 to 266. However, I think WI and PA are gonna go to Kerry and AR to Bush. In that scenario it would be 291 for Kerry and 247 for Bush. Lets throw OH and VA for good measure on account of Edwards. Then it would be 324 for Kerry, 214 for Bush. There's always hope, right?
I'm going to go back to the more positive frame of mind that I had on my 7/6 post. The Bush strategy of painting Edwards as inexperienced is going to backfire "big time." One only needs to turn the spotlight on the one who's shining it. Experience? GWB had none. How did he defend it? The typical "my inexperience in WASHINGTON is not a bad thing." I look forward to the Edwards/Cheney debates. Hopefully we don't have to hang up rubber chickens like they're doing in Pac Bell (oops, I mean SBC) Park!

Looks like our boys are at it again with the scare tactics so aptly pointed out by Moore in Farenheit 9/11. And, Matt Drudge, you're still a douchebag. Ooh, they're touching each other. I do hope Kerry backs off on the "hair" thing and "losing the bald vote" commentary. I'm surprised Drudge hasn't magnified that one. Then again, most journalists (or would be) don't like the potential scrutiny pointed the other way. What's under that hat, Matt?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I cannot understate how much I hate the conservative movement in this country at the present time. On most major news media outlets, people aren't asking the followup questions after conservatives make the blanket claim that Kerry/Edwards are "liberals" that are going to "raise your taxes." This infuriates me. Say "don't you mean, raise taxes on the rich?" It's really that simple, but they don't do it. Why? It's driving me fucking nuts!

The atmosphere in this country right now is really, really poisonous. I fear it's only going to get worse, especially if Bush gets re-elected. If he wins in another controversial election, you can bet there will be rioting in the streets. Am I out of touch to think this way? I don't think so. I feel like I am one of many self-described pragmatists or moderates who are waking up to the fact that the assault on the average working person by this country's current people in power is very, very significant. To paraphrase Bill Bennett, we are "slouching towards an oligarchy."

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

On this July 4th weekend, I did what every patriotic American should have done: I went to see Farenheit 9/11 and wore my "FUCK B*SH" T-Shirt. Yes, Moore is at times over the top and bludgeons you over the head with a very blunt instrument, but by doing this in an atmosphere that is very reactionary, he is doing a great service to this country. We live in very partisan times at the moment and the right has been winning the battle in the messaging department up until the past year or so. The tide is turning, the pendulum is about to cross the mid-point leftward. By choosing Edwards, Kerry just might cross over to disgruntled Republicans like my brother, a small businessman from the laissez faire, libertarian wing of the party who has been concerned that the Bush Administration caters to the Religious wing of the party that he can't stand. I think that Bush and company will ultimately remembered as the straw that broke the old GOP coalition's back years from now. We can't see this yet, but we are about to see evidence of it come November. I am very hopeful and optimistic right now. Had Kerry picked Gephardt, I would have declared the race over, since Gephardt represents the old Democratic party, the one that brought you Dukakis and Mondale. As I mentioned last March, my father voted for Edwards in Wisconsin, same as me for California, the only time probably that my father and I will vote for the same candidate. He voted for Edwards to "cause Kerry mischief" since the WI primaries are open, but I've gotta think that there are some doubts in the back of his mind about dubya as well, though we have not discussed this. My father voted for John Anderson in 1980 and Perot in '92, though. For whatever reason, he's morally opposed to voting Democratic even though he fared better personally during the Clinton years than any of the other presidencies while I was alive. Heck, he was voted "Boss of the year" in 1978 during the Carter Presidency, but then by the time of the Reagan recession, he lost control of his business and we had to move to the Chicago area, away from the small town our family had roots in since the 1880s. I've been trying to get him to make the connection but he won't budge. Now that Edwards is on the ticket I am going to try again.