Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Colorado Constitution

Colorado Luis takes note of an initiative to amend the Colorado constitution that he (and presumably wyvern) can support. Noting the deleterious effects of constitutional amendments (and the ease with which they can be passed) Colorado Luis thinks that requiring a two-thirds vote of the people to amend the constitution would improve the present situation.

I tend to think he's right. Broad support should be required for updating constitutions -- whether state or federal.

I wonder how this effort jibes with wyvern's previous notion that some conservatives were attempting to make it easier to amend constitutions.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Ode to The Sloganator

I wasn't the only one who noted the passing of the Bush/Cheney propaganda generator. And I wasn't the only one who had a whale of a good time coming up fun Bush/Cheney slogans. From Wonkette comes a link to this paean to The Sloganator. Enjoy.

PowerPoint Pledge

If you've ever seen a PowerPoint presentation you know of the insidious reduction of concepts to easily digestible bullet points. I wonder if this was presented during last week's Supreme Court's hearing on The Pledge of Allegiance.

Monday, March 29, 2004


On the advice of a friend I took a few minutes tonight to find and watch Clinton's speech at last week's Democratic Unity Dinner. (For the time being the video is still available on C-Span. Clinton's bit starts about 1 hour and 10 minutes in and he speaks for 30+ minutes.) Whatever your thoughts are on the man there can be little doubt that he knows how to give a speech. He knows how to hit the right notes and he knows just the right way to deliver the lines. Neither George Bush or John Kerry know how to deliver a speech with Clinton's rhetorical skill. Both men would be lost trying to give the speech Clinton gave. John Edwards is the only other politician I could think of who might have been able to give the speech Clinton gave.

John Kerry's speeches have become less ponderous, but he has a way to go. His only saving grace is that he's going up against a guy who can't form a complete sentence. For those craving oration, this fall will be a disappointment. The debates will be between a man who can't form sentences and a man who can't end them.

The Ripple of the Nipple

The fallout from Janet's breast finally hits Denver. According to Saturday's Rocky Mountain News, Denver radio may suck but at least now it won't suck in real time. Because of heightened obscenity concerns most Denver radio stations will now be broadcast with a tape delay. This change, however, really only aplies to the few remaining non Clear Channel stations in the state.

Clear Channel, the Wal-Mart of radio, has other plans for destroying local radio. The corporate owner of seemingly every radio station in the state already, in many cases, pipes in their time-delayed content from production facilities in Los Angeles or New York. Many "local" radio stations in the state and around the country employ only a few technicians to make sure that equipment keeps humming along. Centralization of this sort makes it easier to enforce "acceptable" play lists for the masses. So artists like the Dixie Chicks can be more easily black-balled.

And now this:
"Clear Channel went back through its song database and made changes to everything from Steve Miller's Jet Airliner to Nine Inch Nails' sexually explicit Closer."
Personally, I could care less about whether drive time disc jockeys are on a five second delay. But could they please lay off the music? Sigh. They cannot. For one simple reason which Pink Floyd expresses this way:
Money, get back.
I'm all right Jack keep your hands off of my stack.
Money, it's a hit.
Don't give me that do goody good bullshit.
Clear Channel, and other corporate radio stations, are driven to do "goody good" because of their overriding concern about the bottom line. Rather than risking fines that may never come -- music is often given a pass where words spoken by DJ's are more closely scrutinized -- companies like Clear Channel are making the "safe" decision and pandering to the lowest common demoninator of taste and acceptability. This concern, I think, will hasten the demise of local radio. As with broadcast TV versus cable, most people will increasingly be willing to pay for a product (i.e. satellite radio) that offers something other than warmed over, pre-recorded, homogenized, sanitized, craptacular content.

The concern about money is coupled with the concern that regulators will impose strict fines for any offense. However, with the upcoming presidential election looming, I find it hard to believe that either Republicans or Democrats will levy fines for playing the unedited versions of these songs. Afterall, some might come in handy as songs for political ads this fall. This tune, with a small locale change, could be used by John Kerry to poke fun about Bush's avowed disdain for Washington D.C. (especially when Richard Clarke is testifying):
Touchin’ down in Crawford town
Feel the heat comin’ down
I’ve got to keep on keepin’ on
You know the big wheel keeps on spinnin’ around
And I’m goin’ with some hesitation
You know that I can surely see
That I don’t want to get caught up in any of that
Funky shit goin’ down in the city

Steve Miller Band
Jet Airliner

Face it. Obscene Rock songs that should be sanitized abound with political potential. The GOP could mine Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side to simultaneously remind voters of Clinton's Oval Office dalliances while tarrin Kerry as being from the eyebrow plucking gay state of Massachusetts. Plus, the valium lyric would help to improve voter turnout among the Rush Limbaugh OxyContin crowd.

And the RNC could use this lyric to great effect highlighting John Kerry's flip-flopping on the issues:
Well who are you?
Who are you?
Who who, who who?
Oh, who are you?
Who are you?
Who who, who who?
Come on tell me who are you
Who are you?
Who who, who who?
Oh who the fuck are you?
Who are you?
Who who, who who?

The Who
Who Are You?

An ad featuring this snippet has the added benefit of reminding voters that heathen Democrats like John Kerry use such foul language all the time. As in Kerry's remarks to Rolling Stone: "Did I expect George Bush to fuck it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did." Though, in tit for tat fairness, it must be pointed out that even compassionate conservatives know how to use words that the FCC won't allow on the radio.

It appears that Janet's nipple has destroyed any chance for George or John to pursue a post political career as a DJ.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Erie, Colorado: First Amendment Battleground

It's time once again for local elections in Erie. Elections here always seem to have something for the political junkie. Four years ago the mayoral race ended in a virtual tie. A series of candidate initiated recounts were finally settled by the Secretary of State. Two years ago the close election was immediately followed by an unsuccessful recall petition. What's in store this year?

My hometown newspaper might have the answer. In a story that has First Amendment implications , the Erie Review reports the following about the neighborhood in which I live:
The declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions of the Arapahoe Ridge Homeowners’ Association as posted on its Web site forbids the display of political signs on property within the neighborhood.
The HOA reiterated this stance today with a message to all homeowners indicating that citations will be issued for homes displaying political signs.

This means I may have some difficulty displaying these.

For once I don't blame Bush. Greedy developers and short-sighted home buyers are responsible for this one.

HOAs were originally designed to enforce race-restrictive covenants. But with the rise in land prices starting in the 1960's housing developers created "common interest developments" (CIDs -- now also called Planned Unit Developments or PUDs) to increase profitability. CIDs and PUDs essentially allow developers to skirt local zoning laws. Early restrictions focused mainly on maximizing density. More houses on less land equals more money.

Over time, rules on housing density morphed into all encompassing "Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions" which, in many cases, supplant civil property law. From enforcing the color of your neighbor to enforcing the color of your house; that's the short history of The Rise of the HOA. These days, unfortunately, HOA's are not content to simply mandate the hue of your beige house. Some homeowners, seeking covenant controlled communities to protect their housing investment have gotten more (much more) than they bargained for. If you're so inclined you can regale yourself with these HOA horror stories.

But the important question is Will I be able to display my faux Bush posters? this fall. Difficult to know. In Ladue v. Gilleo the United States Supreme Court ruled that "governments" are not authorized to impose signage restrictions on homeowners. But HOA's are not technically governments. And courts have typically sided with HOA's in most matters concerning covenant violations. However, there is some hope coming from, of all places, the Great State of Texas. In a rare defeat for an HOA a Texas district court in the early 1990's ruled that covenant prohibitions against political signs is an infringement on First Amendment protections (DuBose v. Meyerland). The case was never appealed to the USSC.

Wouldn't it be ironic if I had to move to Texas in order to achieve my goal of sending Bush back to Crawford?

Half Measures

It's hard to find pearls within the dung of David Frum's latest. In his post Frum joins the "9/11 Commission is a dirty Democratic Trick" cabal. His main contention seems to be that Democrats simply haven't done anything to protect against terrorism. But what they did do was ineffective and lacked a "grand strategy." Frum fails to see, however, that the Bush "strategy" (if it can even be called that) is neither grand nor successful. And having a debate about its failure is not a political ploy, it is a matter of the gravest importance.

Frum's assessment contains at least one truth. He's right to criticize the Clinton administration's "whack-a-mole" approach of responding to the half dozen or so substantial terrorist attacks against American targets during the nineties. It's clear, in retrospect, that a more concerted, forceful, and synchronized effort was needed to eradicate the Al Qaeda threat. And yet, Frum and like-minded conservatives aren't exactly clear on what they would have done differently if they controlled the levers of presidential power in the 90's. Also not clear is how they would have dealt with a complacent public while working against an isolationsist, skeptical, and deeply partisan oppostion Congress.

But Frum's not interested in these pesky obstacles to his attacks. He's more interested in manufacturing some supposed distinction between the grit and resolve of Democrats and Republicans. How else to explain Frum's prideful assertion that "the Bush administration did react and react decisively and forcefully after 9/11" (emphasis added). There is an implied and downright laughable notion here that someone other than Bush would have somehow been less decisive and forceful in retaliating against the Taliban after 9/11. This, of course, is hard to imagine.

Even harder to imagine is how Frum so badly misconstrues the "outrage" of former Clinton administration officials. He believes their reaction results from Bush's decisive and forceful response to 9/11 coupled with their recognition that they "did so little when the responsibility to do something belonged to them." Frum can't honestly believe this.

Few people are outraged that Bush retaliated against the Taliban. The outrage results from credible assertions that Bush and his administration had trouble deciding whether to attack a country (Afghanistan) that had some culpability or a country (Iraq) that was blameless in the events of 9/11 . The outrage comes from the lack of significant engagement by principal Bush administration officials on the topic of terrorism in general or Al Qaeda in particular prior to 9/11 despite repeated warnings.

The explanation we've heard over the past few days is that the Bush administration was busy thinking in "bigger and bolder terms" while developing a "grand strategy." Perhaps. But why are Bush defenders limited to this false choice:
The huge dividing line in the debate over terror remains just this: Is the United States engaged in a man-hunt - for bin Laden, for Zawahiri, for the surviving alumni of the al Qaeda training camps? - or is it engaged in a war with the ideas that animated those people and with the new generations of killers who will take up the terrorist mission even if the US were to succeed in extirpating every single terrorist now known to be alive and active? Clarke has aligned himself with one side of that debate - and it's the wrong side
In posing the question Frum demonstrates that he doesn't understand the problem or the solution. Why must we be limited to one or the other? To succeed American policy must do both. Simultaneously. The United States must root out individuals responsible for heinous crimes AND demonstrate that American Ideals offers superior opportunities to those who would do us harm. To succeed in these dual goals America must have the cooperation, assistance, and support of the world community. To seek such support (through diplomacy, the UN, and other means) is not a sign a weakness. It is a sign of intelligence to recognize the manner in which the problem can most effectively be addressed. The Bush administration has demonstrated record of failure on this front. And they appear not to comprehend that their tactics are not only not working, they are further endangering America.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Interesting Musing

The Kerry team is starting to take shape. Bill Richardson as veep. Richard Holbrooke as Secretary of State. And NRO has John McCain as Secretary of Defense.

Hey, if I can't vote McCain for president I'll take him as SecDef.

Amazingly, Lowry fails to mention another obvious reason for Kerry to tap McCain for the Pentagon. Vacating his seat gives Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano an opportunity boost Democratic fortunes in the narrow Senate balance.

Apropos of Nothing

I thought this was ironically humorous.

In the "March to War" edition of the State of the Union Address (January 2003) Bush said:
It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see, and destroy them as directed....

The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax -- enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin -- enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hadn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.

Of course we know how successful the Bush administration has been in locating this litany of dangerous substances despite Rummy's assurances that "we know where they are." The reason for their failure is now clear: They chose the wrong investigators. The White House should have called in the crack team at Rolling Stone. Along with the folks from the Banned Chemicals Division of Salon magazine the rag tag team of hippy reporters have found missing, banned, lethal chemicals in...Newport, Tennessee.
There, east of town, past the Pigeon River and the True Gospel Free Will Baptist Church and the county dump, you would have stopped near a gated drive that led up a steep slope known as Rock Hill. Beyond that gate, in a small wooden shed, you would have found what you were after. No intricate alarm system to disable, not even a padlock on the shed's door -- just a thin pine branch jammed in the hasp. And behind that door, canisters filled with PFIB, a deadly, lung-attacking gas restricted under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.


But chemical weapons made for the Pentagon itself often have wound up in the wrong place -- or disappeared completely. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently investigating some 200 sites in 35 states where the military and its contractors cannot account for missing chemical-warfare agents. Among the weapons already uncovered is a long-lost stash of deadly mustard gas buried less than five miles from the White House.
Here's a thought experiment for you. When France finds out about America's inability to account for banned chemicals how much time do you think they will give UN inspectors before they mass troops along the Mexican and Canadian borders? And six months after the invasion, if they are still unable to locate the banned stockpiles, do you think French leaders will change their story and claim that they were really just trying to liberate the American people?

Say It Ain't So

This news is quite distressing.

Monday, March 22, 2004

I'm Not Just a Member of the BHC...

Marvin has a superbly written piece about the ease with which criticism of Bush is so easily brushed aside by his true believing supporters. It includes this bit which I just love:
What we have is an administration that doesn't want to be bothered by the facts. An administration that bombs the wrong country, ignores real threats because of a Captain Ahab-like obsession with guppy-sized despots, and establishes legislative priorities based on a moistened finger lifted to the flatulent wind blowing from its base. If it were anybody else, you'd be marching on Washington, but since it's THIS administration, that just makes the critics a bunch of BUSH HATERS.
What a wonderfully descriptive word-painting.

Like Marvin, I'm appalled and amazed that Bush criticism (when the press bothers to report it) is so easily dismissed by otherwise intelligent and patriotic people. I think the public's incredible capacity for self-delusion about Bush is aided by the decline in the quantity and quality of objective news sources and the concomitant rise in the availability of subjective information sources (including this humble blog).

However, Marvin and I part ways when it comes to membership in the Bush Hating Club. Marvin, I don't think, considers himself a Bush Hater. He has, on occasion, even mustered the strength to find some (small) common ground with team Bush.

I, on the otherhand, classify myself as an unadulterated Bush-Hater. I loathe the man. I believe his administration to be a danger to the continued well-being of my family and my country.

Bush, of course, is ably assisted by a supporting cast of characters in the Executive and Legislative branches. But I simply don't have the time or energy to follow every boneheaded move by these minor characters. Besides, I don't get to vote for Attorney General or National Security Advisor or Texas House District 22 races or Senate races in Kentucky or Oklahoma or any number of other races in other states. It's simply not worthwhile to diffuse my hatred across such a large population of potentially worthy recipients. Better, I think, to focus my loathing on the Bush administration in general and Bush himself in particular.

Despite having revealed my obvious bias (as if it wasn't abundantly clear already) I suspect I'll be spared from the well financed and centrally orchestrated Bush attack barrage. Goody for me. But to anyone who might be tempted to sic Marc Racicot or Ed Gillespie on me to ensure I get the requisite punishment for failing to worship Dear Leader I'll say this. My admitted deep and abiding hatred of Bush does not necessarily affect the veracity of my objectively verifiable accusations against him. The sneer and disgust in my voice when I call Bush a liar may make you less interested in hearing what I have to say. But it doesn't change the fact that Bush has made statements at odds with objective truth, on numerous occasions, on both trivial and important topics.

The same holds for the John DiIulios, Paul O'Neills, and Richard Clarkes of the world too. Though I doubt they share my disgust for Bush, their feelings toward him are, in some important ways, immaterial to their assessments of Bush's actions, capabilities, and decisions. Bush surrogates can disparage all they like. But even if these people are Bush Haters it doesn't change the facts.

Update: Tomorrow's Washington Post has this concurrence:
But by Friday, a Republican official said the campaign was bracing for a tidal wave of negative publicity from Clarke's book. The campaign's defense strategy was that although Clarke could not be roundly refuted on the facts, enough doubt about the issue could be raised by portraying him as reckless and partisan. [emphasis added]
Also, I wonder if this is an example of just another Bush Hater trying to join the club:
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said he believes the White House has to respond directly to Clarke's allegations rather than question his credibility. "This is a serious book written by a serious professional who's made serious charges, and the White House must respond to these charges," he said.

Subtlety. Honesty. Nuance.

The Bushies assert that they are tough on terrorism. Too tough perhaps. Because, contrary to popular opinion, they were not busy doing nothing prior to September 11; they were mired in a secret grand plan to eradicate al Qaeda. Conveniently, the planning sessions were so secret that there's no way for Bush critics to disprove definitively their existence. It would seem also that the planning was so secret that even the government's top counterterrorism expert, Richard Clarke, wasn't invited.

To counter Richard Clarke's damning fusillades the Bush administration has concocted a story which Kevin Drum rightly points out "even a five year old would have trouble believing."

Kevin is precisely correct when he asserts that the latest Bush misinformation campaign is pathetic. He goes on to suggest the patently obvious approach which the Bush sycophants just can't seem to grasp:
But the Bush apologists can't be happy with simply suggesting that maybe Clarke misinterpreted what he heard, and in any case 9/11 was a wakeup call for all of us, wasn't it? That would be too subtle, too honest, too nuanced for them. Instead, they have to open up the throttle all the way and insist against all evidence that in reality they were working on the mother of all counterterrorism plans before 9/11 but their chief counterterrorism guy wasn't in the loop.
At this point I must pause and ask when Kevin took leave of his senses. Subtlety? Honesty? Nuance? Are these traits we have ever experienced from the present administration? Seriously?

The present occupant of the White House prides himself on his utter lack of nuance.

You want subtlety? Ol' George "Dead of Alive" Bush is not your man.

Honesty? Honesty? I realize that the last couple of months may represent a bracing wake up call for some Americans who were snookered by this joker, but honesty has simply never been a calling card of George W. Bush.

It's jarring to me that the typically sharp as a tack Kevin Drum could blunder so obviously by suggesting that the Bushies might avail themselves of these qualities. But not nearly so jarring as the recognition that such seemingly useful traits as subtlety, nuance, and honesty are scorned by our president and his supporters.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

John Ashcroft's Amerika

From two different people today I heard the same thing: George Bush alone is not responsible for the direction of American governance. This is, of course, true and I'll have more to say on it later.

For the time being though I wanted to share an article on one of Bush's minions. From The Boston Phoenix comes this article about John Ashcroft's goals for American democracy. The contention is that The Patriot Act is less dangerous than other less publicized assaults on fundamental rights and liberties.

The link comes via TalkLeft which provides a good introduction to the much longer Boston Phoenix article.

Education Evacuation

As a follow-on to yesterday's post, today's paper points to yet another reason why we may have to evacuate the Rocky Mountains. According to Denver Post columnist Diane Carmen:
Because of TABOR's revenue limitations, higher ed has shrunk from 20 percent of the state budget to 11 percent since 1990. On a per-student basis, state support has dropped by 43 percent since 1995. And under TABOR, tuition cannot be increased to compensate.

At this rate, economists figure state support of higher education will be phased out entirely by 2009.
So much for my plan to invest in a Colorado 529 Savings Plan.

For those of you not from Colorado, the acronym TABOR may be a mystery to you. Here's the skinny. The Tax Payer Bill of Rights ensures that the state does not keep any revenue in excess of some magical amount. Score one for the harried taxpayer who gets a refund check each year.

Recent history, however, seems to indicate that the magical amount is something less than the actual cost of providing the services that the elected representatives of the state seemed to think their constituents wanted. The state, not having the federal government's ability to spend into deficit has thus been cutting programs and services left and right. Subtract two for the harried taxpayer who, despite a fatter wallet, now must deal with subpar services in infrastructure, education, and security.

Enter Amendment 23 into the revenue shortfall mix. In 2000 this voter initiated referendum was passed to require specific (annually increasing) increases in PK-12 public education. The goal was to help Colorado's laggard schools since through much of the 1990's education spending in Colorado did not keep pace with inflation.

(These two diametrically opposed referendums demonstrate one of the reasons why I'm more in favor of traditional representative democracy than the direct democracy of citizen initiatives.)

The bottom line is that the voters of Colorado and their snake-oil state representatives have created a mess. Can they clean it up and preserve the obvious benefits that publicly subsidized higher education provides to the state? Color me skeptical. Afterall, these are the same elected representatives who seem more interested in debating bills to create special rights aimed at protecting the sensitive feelings of conservative students than in solving real problems.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Itchy Feet

Hendersonville. Brevard. Charlottesville. According to these are the top three places where I should be living. I'm not sure what it is about this time of year that gives me itchy feet. But for the last few years the waning days of winter have made me seriously contemplate where I'd rather be living.

Two years ago I thought that I really wanted to be living in the Pacific Northwest. I'd been through the region a number of times and it seemed like the kind of place where I could live. One of my brothers lives in Seattle, and family is a huge factor in deciding where to live. However, economic considerations along with a hard-nosed look at what I'd like to be doing in my spare time have caused me to question whether the Northwest is where I'd rather be.

Last year really helped tip the balance toward a likely move back to the east coast. We were lucky enough to take six vacations last year. Only later did I realize that three of our "escapes" were to the east coast. The fact that we so thoroughly enjoyed our east coast vacations to Vermont, upstate New York, and Williamsburg was quite revealing to me.

The central Atlantic coast offers proximity to more of the things in which I have interest. The idea of being within a days drive of our nation's capital, the beach, the mountains, and historic sites too numerous to mention excites me. The idea of being able to afford to enjoy these things excites me even more. The lower cost of living of select places along the eastern seaboard compared to Colorado is a huge factor in my mental calculus. How significant is the cost of living difference? For housing, I think the difference is considerable. I'm curious to learn whether there is a noticeable difference in medical and other insurance costs.

Of course, the bogey that always comes in to play when contemplating a move is jobs. (Sorry Dubya, I know jobs is a sensitive topic for you...) The aforementioned places, along with the balance of my "top spots" -- places like Mount Airy, Lynchburg, Roanoke, Asheville, Morganton, Fredericksburg, Hickory, and Salisbury -- don't typically come to mind when you think computer systems process and management consultant. Despite the increasingly varied economies of some of these places I have been unsuccessful (so far) in identifying anyone who might be interested in someone with my resume.

Then again, with all the outsourcing of jobs in my industry, maybe now is the time to abandon my resume and contemplate a career change to coincide with a domicile change. Either that, or if I'm going to go where the jobs are, maybe I should be investigating coastal cities in India.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Process Wonkery

When it comes to the decisions our leaders make I often stress the importance of "process." This is not surprising given that my entire professional career has been, essentially, a series of process improvement projects. I tend to focus, perhaps too much, on the idea that a well-executed process, conceived according to clear objectives will tend to engender good decisions and therefore good outcomes.

Whereas my natural tendency is to focus on process -- the "how do we get there" part of the equation -- the "outcome-focused person" would tend to focus on the "where there is" part of the equation. Clearly, a large part (maybe even the vast majority) of leadership must be focused on the "where" part of the equation. But my contention -- and a major reason why I fault Bush as a leader -- is that a leader must pay at least some attention to the "how" part of the equation.

In that vein, I think Bruce Reed's article on "wonks" versus "hacks" is a variation on my process mantra. Bruce Reed is a former advisor in the Clinton White House and therefore brings some inside experience to the discussion. As Reed describes it, wonks and hacks are like the yin and the yang of Washington.
In every administration, wonks and hacks fight it out. The measure of a great president is his ability to make sense of them both. A president must know the real problems on Americans' minds. For that he needs hacks. But ultimately, he needs policies that will actually solve those problems. For that he needs wonks.
Reed uses the wonk-hack lens to assess the Bush White House. Not surprisingly (he is the current president of the DLC afterall) Bush doesn't fare well in the analysis. What's interesting to me, however, is the extent to which Reed's wonk-hack dichotomy addresses what I've called Bush's utter disregard for process.

Reed reminds us of John DiIulio, a Bush administration insider, who said
There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything--and I mean everything--being run by the political arm.
He then runs through some examples (Medicare, steel tariffs) which highlight the hegemony of hackery in Bush's White House.

The Clinton White House, of course, was not without it's own hacks. The difference, Reed argues, is that all the Clinton hacks were counterbalanced by the Wonk-In-Chief.

Bush, on the otherhand, provides no such counter weight to the hacks that dominate his inner circle. It is therefore not surprising that Bush's poll-driven leadership lacks any discernible process.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


I doubt I'm going out on a limb and I'm sure other observers have already noted this, but I wanted to get my thoughts on the record. If John Kerry is elected president my bet is on Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as Secretary of State.

Attention Activists and "Cartographiles"

Check out the maps at Fundrace. And if you really want to have some fun, find out what your neighbors are up to with the Neighbor Search.

No Failures Here...Move Along...Nothing to See Here...Move Along

Republicans, it seems, are eager to look at the past only in so far as it does not involve them. Terrorism failures? The U.S.S. Cole. The WTC -- 1993, of course. Osama? Why did Clinton lob cruise missles from 800 miles away instead of sending in the Special Forces? How could Clinton have allowed such egregious failures?

Fortunately, such failures don't occur when a Republican is sailing the ship of state. Or, at least, when they do occur, there's no reason to evaluate those failures. In effect, Josh Marshall points out, the reasoning becomes that "we've created such a mess that we don't have the time or the luxury to start second-guessing how badly we screwed things up!" Check out the rest of his post. He paints an interesting word picture to drive the point home.

Equivocal Al Quada Endorsement

Based on the byline (Opheera McDoom) I initially questioned the authenticity of this story. Reuters is reporting that Al Qaeda has sent a statement to an Arabic newspaper.
The statement said it supported U.S. President George W. Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."

In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:

"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilisation."

"Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."
The story seems to have been picked up by ABCNews so I think it's legit. If so, my initial thoughts are that this is good news for neither Bush or Kerry.

Be Careful What You Say -- Someone Might Be Listening

Let's recap.

The President of the United States of America is concerned about unsubstantiated accusations: "I think it's -- if you're going to make an accusation in the course of a presidential campaign, you ought to back it up with facts."

Karen Hughes reminds us "Ultimately, I think elections come down to trust."

What then, are we to make of this?

Click for full PDF report

The graph is an extract from a report on The Bush Administration's Public Statements on Iraq. Rep. Henry Waxman has taken the time to analyze whether we can trust the President of the United States. The conclusion, complete with graphs, is clear. At best, the Bush administration is peopled with serial misleaders. At worst, the administration is led by liars.

Given the concerns that Bush and Hughes have expressed on accountability and honesty, can we conclude that those are two votes Bush won't be getting come November?

Thanks to Kevin Drum for the link.

National Security

Over at The American Prospect, Matthew Yglesias furthers the argument that Bush is an inadequate war president. On the topic of national security Yglesias writes:
The central debate here is not one Democrats should be running away from. The contention that the continued reality of the terrorist threat somehow vindicates the Bush approach is absurd -- if anything, it does the reverse -- and liberals need to start saying so.
As I've noted before, Democrats need to push the national security argument. Hard. They must press the argument not only because it can be an electoral winner but because it is the right thing to do. America's security depends on a leader who knows when to take action and what action must be taken.

Wake Up Call?

Marvin at The Ivy Bush links to this piece of journalistic hackery by Terence Hunt. Like Marvin, I was struck by this bit:
Now, analysts say, the events in Spain might embolden terrorists to try the same tactics in the United States to create fear and chaos.

"That's an amazing impact of a terrorist event, to change the party in power," said Jerrold Post, a former CIA profiler who directs the political psychology program at George Washington University.

"The implications of this are fairly staggering," agreed political psychologist Stanley Renshon of City University of New York. "This is the first time that a terrorist act has influenced a democratic election. This is a gigantic, loud wakeup call. There's no one they'd like to have out of office more than George W. Bush."
What stone have these people been sleeping under? I'm sure the IRA, Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Hizbulluh, and the PLO will be startled to hear that terrorism has finally "influenced" an election. They'll wonder what they've been doing all these years.

Granted, a terrorist attack occurring with such ferocity in such close proximity to an election does tend to focus the mind. And it's tempting to ascribe, as Jerrold Post does, the outcome of the election on the terrorist event itself. But there are alternative theories as Mark Kleiman thoughtfully points out. Personally, if I were going to identify a root cause for the changing of Spain's ruling party, I'd look to the Popular Party's attempts to deceive the Spanish electorate.

But what is particularly galling about the experts quoted in Hunt's story is the assertion that "This is a gigantic, loud wakeup call." To whom? I don't find it all that surprising that one's enemies might try to meddle in the internal affairs of a country.

And beyond the question of "who" the wakeup call is for, exactly what is the receiver of the wake-up call supposed to do now that he has been awakened? Does Bush, fearing he will be voted out of power, suspend our elections and declare martial law? Does Kerry, recognizing the supposed power of terrorist activity to change the party in power call in his own terrorist attack? Does the electorate, trying to outguess what the terrorists supposedly want, "do the opposite" to keep the terrorists from winning?

The notion that this was a wake-up call is a sign that someone has been asleep too long.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

"And That's The Way It Is"

According to "the most trusted figure" in American life, George Bush is either a liar or an idiot. Of course, Walter Cronkite didn't earn the trust of the American people by using such pejorative descriptions. Reporting on the concerns of GAO chief David M. Walker, Cronkite shines a light on what is probably my biggest beef with George W. Bush.

Bush's utter lack of a coherent fiscal policy coupled with his bizarre belief that the economic problems on the horizon can be surmounted by magically increasing revenues is simply maddening.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Karen Hughes Endorses Kerry

In a stunning turn-around a former Bush advisor and confidante has endorsed John Kerry:
"Ultimately, I think elections come down to trust -- who do you trust to best lead the country. In this case, I think it will come down to who do you trust to defend the country."

Karen Hughes
The Washington Post
March 14, 2004

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Today's Popular Topic: Debunking Bush Myth

It's so heartening that there are others who are as monumentally ticked off as I am about the "Great Leader" lie.

Kos has a great companion piece to the Atrios post I referenced earlier.

The comments thread in both posts are also well worth the time it takes to read. Here's one of many that caught my eye. It proposes yet another storyboard for a Bush Misleader advertisement.

Bush's Foreign Policy Weakness Endangers America

Bush is the furthest thing imaginable from being a "Great Leader." How he and his sycophants have convinced themselves of his leadership qualities just boggles my mind. My loathing of the man has grown in direct proportion to the ludicrous perception that he is somehow a principled, steady, and couragous leader.

I've been advocating since January 2003 (a full year before the Democratic primaries) that Democrats should run hard against Bush's "leadership" and foreign policy missteps. The past year has only hardened my position in favor of this approach. Atrios, in a brief post that packs a wallop, makes a better and more succinct case than anything I've written. I hope someone on Kerry's senior staff is reading Atrios and taking notes.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Bush Doo-Dads

Two days it seemed like such a good idea to allow legions of Bush supporters to use a nifty online tool to customize posters of praise for Steady Leader. Well, more than a few people must have created flattering placards like mine because creativity is no longer allowed. I'm bummed because I had a few more ideas. The free-form message creator has been supplanted with a generic list from which you can designate yourself as a member of a "coalition" group like "African-Americans" or "First Responders" for Bush/Cheney '04.

Interestingly, I didn't see the "Gays for Bush" option.

It's funny to me that supporters can classify themselves into a few pre-defined groups, but there's no way to create a placard that simply says "AMERICANS for Bush." I guess that whole "uniting not dividing" thing didn't work out.

Since I couldn't create any new posters I perused the rest of the site. The Bushies definitely have Kerry's web site beat for offering cool little doo-dads you can paste on your site. Bush also provides slick banners and other cool propagandistic eye candy. John Kerry doesn't (yet?) have such accoutrement.

One thing Kerry's site does offer though which Bush's does not is the ability to comment in official blog. I guess the Bushies really aren't interested in a dialog. Or, maybe as with the poster creator, they're just afraid what people might say.

Update: On further reflection I decided I didn't want any official Bush propaganda here, even if I was poking fun at it. I removed the Bush headline doo-dad from my side bar.

Et Tu Brutus?

Poor George. Even his allies now acknowledge what some of us have been saying all along. In tomorrow's Washington Post a few "former administration officials" point out (off the record, natch) that Bush has "populated the place with an absence of ideas guys." Ya think? The real problem, they note, is that "somebody over there has to take complete and utter responsibility for everything that is publicly released from that White House. And no one is doing that."

Lack of responsibility? Where have we heard that before?

Bush Explained

Speaking of special education, let's talk about George W. Bush. No, seriously. According to Business Week
To some learning-disability experts, the signs are clear: Bush might want to pay them a visit. These experts haven't tested the President, so they caution that they can't be certain of the diagnosis. Yet, ample signs indicate that something unusual is going on in the left side of his brain, where language and hearing are processed.
Now, like most people, I've taken potshots at Bush's intellectual aptitude. But, I've never been one of those who believes Bush is stupid. Silly, stealthy, divisive, embarrassing, inadequate, craven, dangerous? Certainly. But not stupid.

Of course, as the Business Week article points out, we can't know for sure whether Bush has a learning disability. But I think the article posits a plausible hypothesis. Certainly it is a theory that provides a reasonable, if alternative, explanation for numerous Bush traits and actions. For example, I've long thought that Bush's penchant for nicknames was really more a mnemonic device than anything else. The article mentions other good examples.

Unfortunately, despite the interesting potential explanation for Bush's style, there's not much more we can really glean from this theory. After the "Aha -- that explains it" moment we're still left with a man who is not up to the task of being president.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

That Didn't Last Long

"Just one week after launching a wave of positive commercials, President Bush went on the attack with a new ad yesterday." If you really want to see Georgie's blather, click here. And if you believe the tripe in that ad you'll find this ad just as compelling.

Just For Teachers

Matthew Yglesias has an intriguing post in which he responds to a George Will column about teaching and the rise in per-pupil spending over the last 40 years. The commenters have a lot to say on both sides of the issue. Commenter Jesse notes that "the amount spent on individualized services to special ed kids is huge" and is not factored into either Will's or Yglesias's analysis.

More Fun At Dear Leader's Expense

I'm only permitted to provide this link because John Ashcroft is still in the hospital. Turn your sound up and put your dancing shoes on.

Thanks to Mark Kleiman for the link.

Another Silly Test

Psst, pass it on. This Libertarian Purity Test is making it's way through the blogosphere. I've seen links to it on at least half a dozen different blogs including Matthew Yglesias and Talk Left.

For those of you keeping score at home, I got a 27. Apparently this means I am "a soft-core libertarian. With effort, [I] may harden and become pure."

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Ghosts of Campaigns Past

It's no secret that George W. Bush is trying to evoke the ghost of Reagan's 1984 campaign in his current crop of ads. Even the student communists journalists at The Daily Tarheel have figured this one out:
The ads feature Bush against a backdrop of "all-American" images, reminiscent of President Ronald Reagan's 1984 "Morning in America" ad campaign, which rallied voters around patriotism, positive thinking and, of course, the president.
I heard a rumor that the Bush campaign even wanted to go so far as to appropriate Reagan's 1984 tagline. Apparently it fell to Michael Powell to explain that the FCC's truth in advertising laws actually prevent Bush from even uttering the phrase "Leadership That's Working." The story, like Bush's leadership, is probably apocryphal however.

Unable to pilfer from Reagan, it must have been Cheney and Rummy suggesting this chestnut from Ford's 1976 "Leadership" ad: "Steady leadership has helped produce 4 million jobs in 17 months."

Well, at least the Bushies were able to recycle the first two words.

In contrast to Bush's difficulty finding old ads that can work for him, Kerry has a wealth of possibilities at his disposal. Kerry could run this 1992 Clinton ad virtually unchanged:
"George Bush has the worst economic record of any president in fifty years. George Bush is trying to frighten you about Bill Clinton John Kerry. But nothing could be more frightening than four more years."
Kerry could even get the Gipper himself to stump, one last time, for a Democrat. Here's Ronald Reagan in 1964: "Let's get a real leader not a power politician in the White House."

Incidentally, if all goes well, the folks over at the American Museum of the Moving Image won't have to do any heavy lifting after the 2004 campaign is over. They may just be able to cut and paste this highlight from 1992:
Trailing in the polls for the entire campaign, President Bush’s commercials were unusually defensive in tone for a sitting president. Although several ads used news footage from the Gulf War and the fall of the Berlin Wall to display his success as a Commander in Chief, most of Bush’s commercials were attack ads. Clinton was portrayed as a tax-and-spend governor with little foreign policy experience. Attempting to exploit concerns about Clinton’s morality after controversy during the primaries about his evasion of the draft and allegations of extramarital affairs, several ads portrayed Clinton as untrustworthy and hypocritical.
They'll have to do some tweaking of the whole draft dodging bit, of course...

Escape from the Campaign

Already tired of this year's election and the incessant negative campaigning? Well, as noted before, you're in for a long seven and a half months.

But if you're looking to escape this year's melee you can surf on over to The American Museum of the Moving Image. There you can take you're mind off George and John by watching Lyndon and Barry. Or Ron and Fritz. Or Ike and Adlai. That's right, they've got over 50 years worth of presidential political ads.

It's interesting to me how well some ads hold up. Reagan's 1984 "Morning in America" really was good. Clinton's 1992 ads, perhaps not surprisingly, still retain a certain "slick" quality.

It is also, I think, fascinating to contrast the evolution of advertising production techniques with the statis of the actual messages. Through all the flags, firemen, parades, construction workers, children and emotive music, the positive message is essentially unchanged from candidate to candidate. Likewise, each candidate tries in his own way to unleash a flood of FUD regarding his opponent.

Also noteworthy is the increasing quantity of ads in each election cycle. In 1956 the candidates had 5 ads. In 1996, there were at least 20.

Dozens of ads for both political persuasions. A pleasant political walk down memory lane. Enjoy.

Cool Stuff on Bush/Cheney Web Site

Finally, the Bush-Cheney team has done something useful. The Bushies have put together a nifty little tool that allows you to create your own campaign paraphenalia. The results, complete with the "Paid for by Bush-Cheney 04, Inc." imprimateur, are suitable for use on bulletin boards and yard signs. In the interest of helping the cause I'll proudly post these around town and in my front yard.

Stumbly Leadership in Times of ChangeIt's Not My Fault
Don't Change Horsemen Mid ApocalypsePassing Problems To Future Generations
I'm Not ResponsibleAbsent Without Leadership

Thanks to Political Wire for the link.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

You Heard It Here First

I noted last week there was no guarantee Governor Owens would seek Ben Campbell's Senate seat. Today it is official: Owens is out.

Carolina Purple?

With Jesse Helms out of office in North Carolina and Marilyn Musgrave a Colorado rising star, I must begin to more seriously contemplate a move from the Rocky Mountain West back to my Old North State home. If Bob Novack is to be believed -- a dicey proposition, to be sure -- then the possibility of a blue Carolina can only be further inducement to an eventual move.

What say you, residents of The Turpentine State? Is Bob blowing hot air as he is wont to do? Or is he on to something?

DNC Reads Apeiron?

Three weeks ago I harped on Bush's incredible lack of accountability regarding his Annual Economic Report. On Saturday the folks over at Kicking Ass, the DNC's website, picked up the accountability theme. Their post mirrored mine with similar quotes and a reference to Bush's signature on page 4 of the Economic Report. They included a picture, which was nice. Ostensibly the DNC attributed the timing of their post on Labor Secretary Elaine Chao's congressional testimony last week. But here at Apeiron we know the real reason is that my original post was so lengthy it took nearly two weeks to read. I'll try to keep them shorter in the future.

In all seriousness, as I've noted before, I'm always happy on those few occasions when I have an original thought that preceeds others in the opinion universe.

Prepare Yourself

There's lots of good news right now. Unfortunately, it won't last.

We've got exacty 34 weeks -- 238 days -- until the election. It's gonna be a tough 7 1/2 months. I think Josh Marshall pretty much pegs it when he writes that recent Republican attacks are akin to the actions of a cornered, wounded animal. Bush's gentle ripostes of recent days will become increasingly sharp, shrill and extreme in the coming months. As the Republican attack machine ratchets up the rancor we can expect the Democrats to do the same. It is already clear to Dubya and his cronies that this is not his father's Democratic opponent. For that, at least, we can all be thankful. But Bush's present weakness only means that his attacks will get more fierce more quickly. It's going to be an ugly summer and fall.

UPDATE: Calpundit has a more complete round-up of first week campaign shenanigans.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Funny Even If Not Quite True

Do you realize the Bush administration has now produced more gay marriages than jobs?

Steady Leadership at the Rodeo

"The visit to the livestock show is part of the President's official capacity.

Upon his arrival, he will greet the 2003 Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association champions. The PRCA is the most highly recognized rodeo organization in the country. More than 23 million fans attend PRCA rodeos each year, making rodeo the seventh highest attended sporting event in the country. And when he's there he will review the cattle, take a tour of the event, and will go to one of the venders (sic)."

Presidential Spokesman Trent Duffy
March 8, 2004

steady leadership with a cowI don't know about you but I'm curious as to what part of a President's official duties involves talking to cows. The Houston Chronical fawningly relates that "wearing a jacket bearing the Livestock show logo, the president admired the animals and shook hands with their exhibitors during a visit of just over 30 minutes."

Cheap Shot

The story today is Bush accuses Kerry of trying to weaken the nation's intelligence.

This is, however, demonstrably untrue. Kerry is trying to unseat Bush, an effort which, if successful, can only have a positive effect on the nation's intelligence.

Bring It On

I don't have cable and I don't watch TV. But I have followed the whole Bush re-election advertisements brouhaha in various blogs. Bush now says, "How this administration handled that day, as well as the war on terror, is worthy of discussion." I chuckled when I heard it because I immediately had in my head the outlines for an advertisement. I thought this blog would be the perfect platform for taking it to the masses (since, honestly, it will never get made). I should have spent more time writing ad copy and gathering pictures rather than surfing other blogs. As it is, Swopa has already done all the work. Thanks to Atrios for the link and of course to Swopa for doing such a bang-up job with the storyboard.

Obviously, Swopa's ad is just the first in a series. The next advertisement will feature a map of the United States that shows the flight path of Air Force One throughout that day. How's this tagline grab you: "From Sarasota to Barksdale to Offutt. George W. Bush. Absent Without Leadership."

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Running Mate Chit Chat

Calpundit has a thoughtful post about whether or not there is any mutual desire between the two principals for a Kerry-Edwards ticket. He surmises that Edwards is not likely to be on the ticket and makes a number of good points along the way. However, I've been thinking about one point that Kevin didn't mention. Kerry won't choose Edwards because the younger John would outshine Kerry.

The last thing Kerry wants or needs is to be standing next to his veep nominee only to have the attention focused on the sunnier, younger and more handsome Edwards. I don't mean to imply that aesthetics will or should drive the selection, but Kerry must recognize that Edwards bests him in oratorical skill and general demeanor. The primary results notwithstanding, Edwards tends to wear better than Kerry over time. Kerry can't afford to have people looking wistfully down ticket.

Looking at recent history I'm hard pressed to identify any campaigns where the bottom of the ticket was significantly more dynamic than the top of the ticket. Cheney, Lieberman, Gore, Quayle, Bentsen, Bush, Mondale, Dole. None of these candidates was giving their party's standard bearer heavy competition in the pizzazz department. Kemp and Ferraro offer the most compelling countervailing evidence. But for one reason or another neither precedent is entirely congruent with the situation Kerry would face were he to install Edwards at his side.

Kemp certainly offered much more dynamism and energy than did Dole. But Kemp, at the end of his carrer, really wasn't on the kind of upward trajectory in the Republican party in the way that Edwards is within the Democratic party.

Since very few people could have been less vibrant than Mondale, he was pretty much bound to goose the pizzazz meter whomever he selected. If Reagan's popularity hadn't already sealed Mondale's fate, his choice of a articulate, moderately dynamic woman certainly didn't help keep the public's attention riveted on the top of the ticket. But Ferraro, unlike Edwards, was thrust into the national limelight from relative obscurity. And the glare of national attention ultimately shone too intensely revealing her husband's tax fraud and her son's drug use. It's unlikely that Edwards, after having already run a national campaign for nearly two years, would similarly melt under the national spotlight.

In any case, whether or not you believe Kemp and Ferraro outshone their running mates, the fact is they both lost. The losses resulted from the lackluster performances at the tops of the tickets, to be sure. But to the extent that Kemp and Ferraro highlighted the inadequacies of their running mates whatever dynamism they might have had can't have helped their cause.

So I don't know whether Kerry will go for geographic balance, experiential balance, some kind of "statement" or none of the above. But I have a hard time seeing him choosing someone who quite easily could upstage him. It will be hard for Kerry to make the case that he's the best person for the job if there's any lingering question whether he's even the best person on the ticket.

n.b. In a somewhat ironic juxtaposition, there is a "Draft Kerry-Edwards" blog-ad currently running right next to the Calpundit post.

Update: Matthew Yglesias shares his skepticism about Edwards. In Matthew's comments someone even picks up the point that, if chosen, Edwards would outshine Kerry

Why Is There Any Question?

"I went in with a long list of things to talk about, and I thought to engage on … I was surprised that it turned out me talking, and the president just listening … As I recall, it was mostly a monologue."

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil
Describing George W. Bush during a CBS interview

"Most of the boat officers, they figured they knew what they needed to know. John was not like that. He was not above asking questions. He pumped me for information. We'd talk about contingencies. He just … asked questions."

Del Sandusky, swift boat crew mate of John Kerry
Washington Post interview

"John plays devil's advocate. On any given issue, Kerry will sit his staff in a circle and challenge them. Most staffers find it intimidating at first. Then they enjoy it."

David McKean, John Kerry's chief of staff
Washington Post interview

Please explain to me why there is any question as to which of these men is the superior leader and better equipped to be President of the United States.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

You Can Believe Anything You Like As Long As It's Pro-Bush

Apparently it's not enough that the Bush/Cheney has $110 million dollars to napalm Kerry's candidacy. Now the GOP won't permit 250 television stations to run anti-Bush ads. Hey, I say Bush doesn't need another term. At this rate he will have succeeded completely in transforming America into the Soviet Union in a mere four years. And they said it couldn't be done...

Friday, March 05, 2004

Keep Right Except to Pass

It appears the Colorado legislature approved the only bill I cared about during this session. HB04-1076 CONCERNING A PROHIBITION ON DRIVING MOTOR VEHICLES IN THE PASSING LANE has passed both houses and is headed to the governor's desk.

Is there anything more annoying than tooling down the highway at a decent clip only to be dangerously slowed down by an oblivious driver occupying the left hand lane? If I'm not mistaken, it's illegal in Colorado to demonstrate your frustration with horn honking and headlight flashing. In my experience those tactics tend not to work anyway. Surprisingly, however, I've found the German technique of turning on your left blinker to be quite effective. As I approach slow traffic in the left hand lane I click on my turn signal and the vehicular obstructions generally melt away.

My theory on this is that if you honk and flash the driver ahead of you knows you're frustrated and therefore ignores you. But, if you're in the left lane with your left blinker on he can't be too sure that you're not crazy. Not knowing what you might do he wants to get as far away from you as possible.

Anyway, while I'm happy that the legislature is adopting an eminently sensible traffic regulation I highly doubt that very many drivers will be cited. Perhaps though the law will make its way onto driving tests so slow and oblivious drivers everywhere will understand that the left lane is for passing only.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Steady Leadership?

Whether or not you want to call Bush a liar how much of this kind of steady leadership do you think we can handle?

Flip-Flopper Versus Flop

It’s clear that Bush intends to portray Kerry as a flip-flopping politician. Given Kerry’s long Senate voting record the attacks are likely to take their toll. And, frankly, Kerry is not helped by his nuanced positions on many issues. His answers to seemingly simple questions often have so many provisos and caveats that he seems like he’s flip-flopping while he's answering.

What's an accused Flip-Flopper to do?

Kerry can argue that he adjusts his positions to account for changing situations and new information. Bush, it will be noted, is almost congenitally incapable of assimilating new information and making mid-course corrections. As such he's not likely to be accused of flip-flopping. Bush-o-philes tout this as an important evidence of Bush's "strong leadership."

Ahh, the power of denial.

The problem with the "strong leadership" school of thought is that it ignores reality. The only thing strong about Bush is his rhetoric. There is a vast disparity between what Bush says and what he does. And on those occasions when Bush's actions do match his words his results don't match his promises.

Thus, while Bush can't be counted as a flip-flopper, he must be counted as something worse: A Flop.

Terrorist Rhetoric: We will catch Osama dead or alive.
Reality: Capturing America’s real enemies is hard work. Better to capture some headlines by toppling Saddam.

Afghanistan Rhetoric: We are making Afghanistan safer.
Reality: Outside of Kabul security is a major issue not being adequately addressed with America’s scaled-down presence there.

Iraq Rhetoric: "We will stay until the job is done."
Reality: We will pull out as soon as we can.

Iraq Rhetoric: Our efforts in Iraq have made America more secure.
Reality: Our efforts in Iraq have the very real potential of fomenting an Iraqi civil war and establishing a long-term breeding ground for anti-American terrorist activities.

Campaign 2000 Rhetoric: "I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say, 'This is the way it's got to be.'"
Reality: In every international action taken since January, 2001 Bush has shown himself unwilling or incapable of employing diplomacy to achieve results.

Campaign 2000 Rhetoric: My "view of the military is for our military to be properly prepared to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place."
Reality: By bolding commiting our military to unnecessary escapades Bush has stretched our military so thinly that they are not adequately prepared should actual threat arise.

Campaign 2000 Rhetoric: "If we are an arrogant nation, they will resent us; but if we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us."
Reality: They resent us.

Campaign 2000 Rhetoric: "I refuse to play the politics of putting people into groups and pitting one group against another."
Reality: Unless it helps me politically.

Campaign 2000 Rhetoric: I’m a uniter not a divider.
Reality: I only know how to unite my right-wing base.

June 2002 economic Rhetoric: "The tax cut will help create 800,000 jobs by the end of 2002."
Reality: From June to December 2002 185,000 jobs were lost.

More June 2002 economic Rhetoric: "We will return to a budget surplus by 2005...[the president] will enforce fiscal discipline."
Reality: Bush’s own 2005 Budget proposes a federal budget deficit of $521 billion

Finding Traitors Rhetoric: "I want to know the truth" about violators of federal espionage law working in my White House.
Reality: I will not take any action to find, punish or remove the wrong-doers.

Campaign 2000 Rhetoric: I believe in "personal responsibility" and "accountability"
Campaign 2004 Rhetoric: I'm not responsible for the last 3 years.

Obviously, the extent to which Bush's actions depart from his rhetoric varies. But, as this small sampling shows, Bush is a Flop when judged on his actions rather than his words. Kerry can dodge the flip-flop label merely by asking people to hold President George Bush to the standards of accountability that candidate George Bush spoke of in 2000. Even by the most charitable reading of his record it's clear that Bush is not even good enough to be a flip-flopper. He's just a Flop.

UPDATE: After writing the post above I discoved that Slate's Bill Saletan tackled the same topic earlier this evening. Saletan focuses on what I called Bush's congenital incapacity to assimilate new information and make mid-course corrections. While I firmly disagree with Saletan's assertion that Bush is not a liar, I do think he's right that the crux of the electoral argument needs to be that Bush is not up to the job of leading in a changing world.

Thanks to TPM for the Saletan link. I doubt I would have found it otherwise.

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias points out a couple of Bush's unambiguous flip-flops. The comments to his post add quite a few more.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Jockeying for the Nighthorse Seat Begins

Ben Nighthorse Campbell's announcement that he is going to retire is keeping some people at work late tonight. I just got off the phone with my friendly neighborhood pollster asking my opinions on potential candidates to succeed Campbell. Hard to tell by the questions asked whether the poll was for the benefit of the Republicans or the Democrats. But since the pollster specifically asked to speak with the adult male of the household I assume they were interested in the testosterone vote. Here are the names that were mentioned.

Democrats: Rutt Bridges, Mark Udall (CO-02)
Republicans: Bob Beauprez (CO-07), Marilyn Musgrave (CO-04), Scott McInnis (CO-03), Tom Tancredo (CO-06), Interior Secretary Gail Norton, Governor Bill Owens and...wait for it...John Elway (Broncos #7).

Rutt Bridges was the only name with which I was not already familiar so I got a little background from the Denver Post.

Incidentally, it is not a lock that Owens will run because of his "family issues." He and his wife are on the outs. Allegedly it's because of an affair and a possible love child. I don't necessarily think those are disqualifying characteristics. But the voters in the GOP primary probably will.

An Impending Flood?

Massachusetts. San Francisco. New Mexico. New York. Now Oregon.

George Bush must feel like Hans Brinker -- the little Dutch boy who tried to hold back a threatening flood by sticking his finger in a dike.

UPDATE: Add my old stomping grounds of Nyack, New York to the list.

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell Retires

The Democrats have a tough row to hoe this fall. The chances of retaking Capitol Hill are slim to none. News today that Senator Ben Campbell will not seek a third term might serve to give hope to Democrats watching from afar. If you are one such person I urge you to curb your enthusiasm. As wyvern knows much better than I, the exanimate Colorado Democratic party is not in any kind of position to capitalize on Campbell's retirement.

Representative Mark Udall is perhaps the best positioned in terms of name recognition and accessibility to a state-wide electorate. However, he's already indicated his intent to defend his seat in the second congressional district. Then again, that was before Campbell's announcement.

Tom Strickland, a former US Attorney, has lost two state-wide contests to Wayne Allard, Colorado's other senator. Will he make a third very expensive run? No news yet.

Wellington Webb, Denver's three-time mayor has been mentioned in the past as a possible Senate candidate. Webb, however, has never demonstrated himself outside the Denver metro area. He would seem to be a longshot candidate.

Then there's the perennially mentioned Gary Hart. All indications seem to be that while he remains interested in public service, he's no longer interested in elective office. And despite his enormous name recognition, the state is much different (read conservative) than when he last elected senator.

Governor Bill Owens is likely to be the early favorite as the GOP challenger. As a sitting governor who won re-election handily he's likely to be a formidable candidate.

The Democrats shouldn't back away from this fight. And certainly, they're in a better position competing against a non-incumbent. But it's going to be an uphill battle.

Reuters is reporting that one possible challenger for Campbell's seat might be Marilyn Musgrave. Personally, I hope she's the Republican nominee. That would clear the way for a more moderate replacement in her congressional district. And, she would make the state-wide race much closer given that her hard right views won't play well in Boulder and Denver.

Richardson vs. Clinton

So perhaps I was a bit hasty in assuming that Bill Richardson has a lock on the vice presidential nomination. Somone over at the Gray Lady thinks there is a better idea.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Making Alan Greenspan Proud

You've got to pay attention or you might miss out on lots of fun new technical doo-hickies. Lately, I've only needed to check out The Ivy Bush to find out about the latest fancy appendage for my blog.

Take, for example, the "Site Feed" hyperlink that has recently appeared over at The Ivy Bush. (It's in the upper right hand corner of the main page.) I'd seen similar links at other blogs but didn't really give them much thought. But when The Ivy Bush decided to syndicate, I took notice. Once again, Marvin proves himself to be ahead of the curve since The Ivy Bush Site Feed predates a slew of stories this weekend about RSS.

RSS, proclaim the people who know, is "The Next Big Thing." So I did a little investigating. Basically, RSS is a data format that allows a program called an "aggregator" to retrieve information from any source that "publishes" or "syndicates" its content. The idea is that instead of you having to surf over to a site to get the content, your "aggregator" can automatically refresh itself every time one of your favorite sites updates its content. The new information is at your fingertips with very little work on your part. The folks at The Campaign Desk have perhaps the most succinct explanation of RSS and how it works.

Armed with a better understanding of RSS, I investigated a variety of aggregators. For the time being I've settled on Pluck. It's simple to use, it works with my Internet Explorer browser, and it's free.

So far, so good. With RSS and my new aggregator I'm confident I'll now be able to waste time on the Internet much more efficiently.

And now you can join me in efficient time wasting. Apeiron, in a desperate attempt to keep up with the technology leading Ivy Bush, is now syndicated too. Just look for the "RSS Feed" link underneath the Archives section on the right side of the page.

Better Late Than Never?

This, I thought, was interesting. While dutifully reading my pocket Constitution of the United States I learned that the following states voted against the Nineteenth Amendment prior to its ratification: Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Mississippi. However, as if to demonstrate that no ill-considered political decision must ever be thought permanent, each state subsequently ratified the amendment. Delaware, at least had the good sense to jump on the bandwagon a mere three years after ratification. North Carolina finally mustered its moral courage on May 6, 1971. But Mississippi deserves special recognition for correcting their error after a scant 64 years on March 22, 1984.

Makes you wonder how long it will take some states to correct their next Constitutional blunder.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Bush Selects Kerry Running Mate

Two senators on the Democratic ticket? Wasn't going to happen even before smiling Johnny started taking gentle gibes at the Seven Foot Botox Man. But it's now clear where Kerry will turn for his mojo infusion when it comes time to pick a running mate. If you haven't already figured it out, start watching cable TV on Thursday.

Attention Senior Richardson. Senior Richardson, please keep your fall calendar open. Paging Senior Richardson...

I'm just glad I don't have cable.

Broken Broncos

There are a number of NFL teams that I've liked over the years. The Washington Redskins have never been one of them. Now I have an actual reason to dislike them. As of Wednesday the best running back in the AFC West won't even be in the AFC anymore. (OK, Clinton Portis probably isn't as good as Priest Holmes...but he is good and was fun to watch.)

With the Portis trade, the retirements of Eddie McCaffrey and Shannon Sharpe, the likely trade of the Bronco's starting left tackle, and the possible trades of an outstanding linebacker and a top-flight defensive end, will there be any reason to watch the Broncos this fall?