Saturday, July 31, 2004

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Another gem from George Bush:
Listen, my opponent has got good intentions, but intentions don't always translate to results. After 19 years in the U.S. Senate, my opponent has thousands of votes, but few signature achievements.
Results? You want results? Marvin has a quick run down of Bush's tremendous record of achievement.

Political Spam

There's a piece of political spam going around. Actually, there's a lot of political spam going around. I usually just ignore it and move on. However I've decided that failure to counter the pure idiocy that masquerades as an effort to inform only plays into the hands of the people who publish this pablum.

Some people ignore such e-mails. Many don't. Some fact check the claims that purport to be fact. Many don't. The result is that outrageous claims enter the popular consciousness with nary a whisper of debate.

I'm sure this sort of thing happens on both sides of the aisle. I've decided, however, that this election is too important to cede even one iota of truth.

I realize that my effort is but a cocktail umbrella against a torrential deluge. But I am compelled to do something, anything, to try and defend against such underhanded tactics.

-----Original Message-----

From: Mike Buck
Sent: Saturday, July 31, 2004 12:16 AM
Subject: RE: Very Interesting Tax Facts CORRECTIONS


With all due respect, the original e-mail below makes a number of questionable and inaccurate claims. The e-mail also misleads by citing facts out of context.

I am responding to address the inaccurate claims made in the original e-mail. I hope you will examine the source material cited below (or seek your own sources). I have made every effort to provide complete information and source citations for all claims. And, unlike the author of the original e-mail below, I am proud to sign my name and e-mail.

Mike Buck

John Kerry's House

The e-mail claims "Kerry owns 4 mansions" while George Bush owns only his ranch in Texas.

There is no doubt that both George W. Bush and John Kerry are wealthy men. Despite his wealth, however, it is not accurate to say that John Kerry owns 4 mansions. John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, signed a prenuptial agreement and have kept their premarital assets separate. Of the five homes (not 4 as the e-mail implies) owned by either Kerry or his wife only the Boston townhouse is owned jointly. The other four homes belonged to Teresa before her 1995 marriage to John Kerry, and some of them are even still listed under the name of her late husband, the late Republican Senator John Heinz.

The e-mail also attempts to predjudice the reader with the claim that the Idaho vacation home was "brought over from Europe in pieces." This is true. What is left unstated, however, is that the home was brought over from England by the late John Heinz. As a Heinz family asset, John Kerry has no claim to the home.

Snopes Urban Legends
Urban Legends and Folklore

Presidential Candidates Tax Burdens

The e-mail cites incorrect figures for the amount of federal taxes actually paid by George W. Bush and John Kerry. More importantly, the e-mail fails to provide income figures from which the tax amounts are derived.

For the 2003 tax year George W. Bush's paid $227,490 in federal taxes on $822,126 of total income (of which $727,083 was taxable).

For the 2003 tax year John Kerry paid $90,575 in federal taxes on $395,338 of total income (of which $346,664 was taxable income).

John Kerry paid less in taxes because he had less income. The e-mail asks, does that sound right?

The e-mail doesn't tell you that John Kerry's tax burden tripled from 2002 to 2003 (from $29,946 to $90,575), despite the tax cut. Does that sound right? What if you knew that from 2002 to 2003 Kerry's taxable income increased by $145,805 due to capital gains resulting from the sale of some property?

The point is that the author of the original e-mail wants you to draw a conclusion about John Kerry without providing you with all the relevant facts. Why would he do that?

Tax History Project
Citizens for Tax Justice - Bush & Cheney Tax Returns
U.S. Newswire - Kerry Releases 2003 Income Tax Returns
Washington Post - President Benefits From His Tax Cut

John Kerry's Tax Relief Plan

Do you make more than $200,000?

The e-mail makes the claim that John Kerry wants to raise your taxes. This claim may be true. But only if you make more than $200,000.

If your income is less than $200,000 per year or if you are a small business owner then John Kerry wants to CUT your taxes.

Only if you are among the 2% of American taxpayers whose income exceeds $200,000 would the Kerry plan raise your taxes, reverting to the tax rate in effect in 2000.

John Kerry - A Plan To Strengthen The Middle Class
John Kerry - A Plan to Restore Fiscal Responsibility
John Kerry - A Stronger Economy

Bush Tax Increase

The e-mail alludes to a John Kerry speech "in which he claimed Americans are actually paying more taxes under Bush, despite the tax cuts." Though the author does not quote from or cite the date on which the speech was delivered. Based upon the assumption that the e-mail was original authored around 144 days before the election (see last line of the e-mail) the author is likely referring to remarks John Kerry delivered on March 10, 2004. The full text of the speech is available online.

The e-mail goes on to claim that "He gave no explanation and provided no data for this claim."

If you read the speech you will learn that John Kerry did, in fact, provide an explanation for his claim:

"With George Bush’s tax cuts, the top one percent of taxpayers have received almost forty percent of the breaks. Meanwhile middle class working people have seen their share of the tax burden go up, not down.

"If you add up the true costs of this President’s economic policies, you get a Bush Tax of higher property taxes, higher fees, higher health care costs – at the same time middle class incomes are going down. In thirty-two states, state and local property taxes have gone up. This Bush Tax can take thirty-five hundred dollars or more from the pockets of America’s middle class. And they can’t afford that price."

It may be the case that you personally did not experience a $3,500 increase in local taxes, state taxes, health care costs and other fees. It may be the case that your wages have increased in the last three years. But it is not the case, as the e-mail asserts, that Kerry provided no explanation or data to justify his claim.

John Kerry - Tax Fairness for Americans (March 10, 2004)

Tax Freedom Day

The e-mail refers to an unnamed "independent tax watchdog group." The organization the e-mail is most likely referring to is the Tax Foundation which is well known for calculating and annually publicizing a Tax Freedom Day. The Tax Freedom Dates in the e-mail are consistent with the dates published by the Tax Foundation in recent years.

What the e-mail does not explain, however, is that there is considerable controversy regarding the methods the Tax Foundation uses in its calculations.

"Over the years, pundits and policymakers often have misinterpreted the Tax Foundation's reports as reflecting the level of the tax burdens that the broad swath of middle-income families must shoulder; the Tax Foundation's presentations invite this misinterpretation. In fact, however, middle-income taxpayers pay significantly less in taxes as a share of their income than the Tax Foundation's report implies. The Tax Foundation’s annual Tax Freedom Day report consistently shows significantly higher tax burdens than those that authoritative, nonpartisan sources find middle-income taxpayers actually bear." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

Among other things, the Tax Foundation relies on the term "average" to help imply an unwarranted conclusion. Even Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned that the type of approach the Tax Foundation uses — dividing total tax receipts by total income, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product or a similar measure, to determine an overall average tax rate — is not valid.

"Suppose four families with incomes of $50,000 each pay $2,500 in income tax — five percent of their income — while one wealthy family with $400,000 in income pays $80,000 in income tax, or 20 percent of its income. If one averages these figures, one finds that 15 percent of the total income of these five families goes to pay federal income taxes. (Dividing the families' total tax payments of $90,000 by their total income of $600,000 shows that 15 percent of their total income is paid in income taxes.)"

"Under the Tax Foundation methodology, this 15 percent figure would be used to say or imply that the average family in this group pays 15 percent of its income in income taxes and must work until 15 percent of the year has passed to pay its income tax bill. Yet the 15 percent figure is highly misleading as an indicator of the typical tax burden of families in this group. The four moderate-income families in the group pay five percent of their income in income tax, or one-third of the average 15 percent rate. Using averages in this fashion when talking about tax burdens, as the Tax Foundation does, produces skewed results; it essentially ascribes to average taxpayers the tax rates that only people at considerably higher income levels pay." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

Tax Foundation - Tax Freedom Day


The original e-mail claims that John Kerry "wants to raise your taxes [although he] obviously has figured out a way to avoid paying his own." With more complete and accurate facts than provided in the original e-mail below you might ask yourself: Why has the author provided incomplete and inaccurate information without links to sources?

Please pass this on.

As of Saturday, July 31 the election is only 93 days away.

Mike Buck

-----Original Message-----
From: xxxxx
Sent: Friday, July 30, 2004 9:49 AM
Subject: FW: Very Interesting Tax Facts

I know some of you lean to the worries...just thought this was interesting.

> Tax Facts
> Every year an independent tax watchdog group analyzes
> the average tax burden on Americans, and then
> calculates the "Tax Freedom Day". This is the day
> after which the money you earn goes to you, not the
> government.
> This year, tax freedom day was April 11th. That's the
> earliest it has been since 1991 It's latest day ever
> was May 2nd, which occurred in 2000.
> Notice anything special about those dates?
> Today John Kerry gave a speech in which he claimed
> Americans are actually paying more taxes under Bush,
> despite the tax cuts. He gave no explanation and
> provided no data for this claim.
> Another interesting fact: Both George Bush and John
> Kerry are wealthy men.
> Bush owns only one home, his ranch in Texas.
> Kerry owns 4 mansions, all worth several million
> dollars. (His ski resort home in Idaho is an old barn
> brought over from Europe in pieces. Not your average
> A-frame).
> Bush paid $250,000 in taxes this year; Kerry paid
> $90,000. Does that sound right?
> The man who wants to raise your taxes obviously has
> figured out a way to avoid paying his own.
> Pass this on. Only 144 days until the election.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Presidential Pasquinade

Quick. No cheating. Who said it:
We will do more to better secure our ports and borders, to train first responders, to dramatically improve our intelligence gathering capabilities. Reform is not easy, and it never is; achieving reform takes -- requires taking on the special interests, requires challenging the status quo.

You see, it's not enough to advocate reform -- you have to be able to get it done. (Applause.) When it comes to reforming schools provide an excellent education for all our children, results matter. When it comes to health care reforms to give families more access and more choices, results matter. When it comes to improving our economy and creating new jobs, results matter. (Applause.) When it comes to better securing our homeland and fighting the forces of terror, results matter. (Applause.) And when it comes to choosing a President, results matter. (Applause.)
Is he purposefully giving people a reason to vote against him? Or is irony his new election strategy?

Like Marvin I am concerned solely with performance. This utterance is completely mystifying to me.

Big Tent Republicans

We're often treated to assertions that Democrats are unwilling to allow speakers at their conventions who don't tow the party line on supposed "litmus test" issues. Abortion, of course, is one such issue.

The myth makers have succeeded in convincing the mainstream media (not to mention the blatently conservative bloviators) that at the 1992 Democratic Convention Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey was barred from speaking because of his anti-abortion views. The truth is that Casey was denied a speaking slot because he wouldn't endorse the ticket. In fact, 1992 saw at least a half dozen other pro-life Democrats take the podium.

This year, 2004, was no different. Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin addressed delegates on the convention's second night. Langevin's 88% pro-life voting record was endorsed in 2002 (over his Republican opponent) by the We Vote Pro-Life PAC.

Republicans are justifiably proud when their Big Tent enables them to provide podium time to those holding a minority view at odds with the national party's message. Pro-choice choice Republicans (Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Pataki, Michael Bloomberg) will so dominate the rostrum that some may be forgiven for wondering whether there are any anti-abortion Republicans left.

Ironically, the most strongly anti-abortion speaker currently scheduled to address the GOP Convention is Democrat Zell Miller. Even more ironic, especially for those myth makers who like to push the Bob Casey lie, is that Miller keynoted the 1992 Democratic Convention at which Casey was supposedly barred for his anti-abortion views.

Despite the facts I predict there will be Republicans who continue to prod Democrats to feature more prominently anti-abortion speakers.

I think it may happen about the time when the RNC invites United States Senate candidate Tom Coburn to address a prime time audience on his pro-life plan for executing doctors who perform abortions and dispense birth control pills.

Do think that will happen this year?

Big John Speaks

Good: Springsteen's No Surrender...Abe Lincoln quote...short sentences...contrast to Edwards speech in assailing administration...praise for a wife who is "nurturing, courageous, wise and smart"...embracing complexity...investment in alternative fuel technologies...willingness to play -- and win -- the "Capture the Flag" game...appropriating Cheney's "help is on the way" line...invocation of faith...focus on national security

Bad: Harlem hair pollution...US special forces engaging in terrorist activities...perspiration...West Wing maternity ward (heard the line at the Denver rally)...litany of names from people in swing states

Thursday, July 29, 2004

King of All Media

All week my brother, Daniel Buck, has been in attendance at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Through some sort of miscommunication I was totally unaware that he was engaged in virtual, or, shall we say, correspondent blogging. He's been sending brief snippets to the Greeley Tribune and they have, in turn, been posting his observations. Though the convention is now over you can, if you're interested, check out his posts from Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (here and here). If he has time to send in a post on Friday it should appear here.

When I next talk with my brother I shall have to gently chastise him for failing to inform me that he is the King of All Media. For, in addition to his blogging stint of which I was not aware, I have seen him on the national CBS broadcast during the John Edwards speech. During one of the applause pauses the CBS eye caught him in his funny hat.

You can see a picture of Daniel in his funny hat -- and bear further witness to his media domination -- by checking out a story in the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Also, he has been a daily guest on Northern Colorado's right-wing radio station, KFKA. The DJ's have been quite cordial to Daniel, but it's clear where their sympathies lie. Following one of Daniel's convention updates they trotted out their "fair and balanced" mantra. Since Daniel espoused the only Democratic point of view I had heard on the station I presume his five minute interview was countering the brief Rush Limbaugh update aired earlier. My brother, the Rush Limbaugh of the Left? Well, he's only 19 so he's got time.

Tomorrow he continues his media ascendancy as he conquers the WB network. He's supposed to be on at 6:08 a.m.

Can Larry King be far behind?

Update: Here's an earlier story mentioning Daniel that I had missed from before the convention. And another one from Durango. And here's another feature from the Greeley Tribune. And he gets in a plug for insanity over at the People's Weekly World. Man, this kid gets around!

The Prayer of John Adams

Reaction to John Edwards' speech last night has been quite positive. I thought it was a good speech that had some great moments. According to multiple sources Edwards went through nearly 30 drafts of the speech which he himself wrote. [What! Some politicians still write their own speeches? I'm aghast.]

Poking around I found an earlier draft of the vice presidential nominee's speech. Apparently, a couple of lines were deemed too negative for this convention. Nevertheless, though Edwards didn't deliver it, I find highlights of the speech still surprisingly applicable. and well worth remembering.
...I have been given an opportunity to serve beside a man who has the courage, and the vision, and the goodness, to be a great president...I have been in the company of leaders...I saw how character and decency can dignify a great office and unite a great nation.

...[My running mate] earned the respect and confidence of the men and women of America's armed forces.

...I see in our nominee the qualities of mind and spirit our nation needs, and our history demands. Big changes are coming to Washington. To serve with this man, in this cause, is a chance I would not miss. This country has given me so much opportunity.

...We can restore the ideals of honesty and honor that must be a part of our national life, if our children are to thrive. When I look at the administration now in Washington, I am dismayed by opportunities squandered. Saddened by what might have been, but never was.

...[My running mate] will repair what has been damaged. He is a man without pretense and without cynicism. A man of principle, a man of honor. On the first hour of the first day he will restore decency and integrity to the Oval Office. He will show us that national leaders can be true to their word and that they can get things done by reaching across the partisan aisle, and working with political opponents in good faith and common purpose.

...In this election, they will speak endlessly of risk. We will speak of progress. They will make accusations. We will make proposals. They will feed fear. We will appeal to hope. They will offer more lectures, and legalisms, and carefully worded denials. We offer another way, a better way, and a stiff dose of truth.

...[They] have extended our military commitments while depleting our military power. Rarely has so much been demanded of our armed forces, and so little given to them in return. [We] are going to change that, too. I have seen our military at its finest, with the best equipment, the best training, and the best leadership. I'm proud of them. [My running mate] has had the responsibility for their well-being. And I can promise them now, help is on the way. Soon, our men and women in uniform will once again have a commander in chief they can respect, one who understands their mission and restores their morale.

...If the goal is to unite our country, to make a fresh start in Washington, to change the tone of our politics, can anyone say with conviction that the man for the job is [George W. Bush]?

...Ladies and gentlemen, we are so privileged to be citizens of this great republic...where John Adams once prayed "that none but honest and wise men may ever rule under this roof."

...This is a great country, ladies and gentlemen, and it deserves great leadership. Let us go forth from this hall in confidence and courage, committed to restoring decency and honor to our republic. Let us go forth, knowing that our cause is just.

...Thank you.

Hope Is On The Way

Back in March I noted this distressing news.

Thankfully it looks as if John Edwards' mantra from tonight is already having an effect. Hope is On The Way.

Wow! The guy's not even Vice President yet and he's already putting people back to work. Ahh, it's probably just liberal nepotism.

Well I don't care. I'm just looking forward to many more years of dulcet Edwards' voices.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Dull Dan

Oh, and by the way: Dan Rather thought Tuesday was dull.

Dan is like a NASCAR fan whose definition of a good race is that there was a fiery crash. He laments the fact that the event is "scripted down to the nanosecond." Well I've got news for Dan. The value and importance of conventions does not result from their scripting or spontenaity. The utility of conventions does not come from their ability to generate ratings and make money for Dan and his parent company.

The importance of conventions -- and why they should be broadcast on networks -- derives from the possibility that they may inspire patriotism and encourage contemplation about our nation and it's direction. The two conventions serve as an opportunity for the parties and their candidates to speak directly to the citizenry, devoid, hopefully, of the negativity, shrillness, and abbreviation of campaign ads. When covered by a professional press that limits its observations to adding factual context rather than slanted rejoinders the conventions offer an opportunity for voters to become engaged and perhaps slightly educated.

Yes, perhaps a test pattern would draw more ratings than some of what the parties might choose to air. But I'd prefer to give the citizens the opportunity to choose whether to tune in than to have you and your corporate lackeys make the decision for us. General Electric, Disney, Viacom and "News" Corp. can afford to miss out on the profits of four days worth of Fear Factor.

So, Dan, if you don't mind, I'd prefer that you limit your opinions to fucking-up election night electoral counts and let the viewers decide what's dull and what's not.


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Free Press

Free to make shit up, that is.

That bastion of the liberal press, CBS, has a headline claiming Barack Obama "Slams Bush." But when you click through the headline you get less than you were hoping for.
In the keynote address of the Democratic National Convention, Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama, a newcomer to the national political stage, accused President Bush of failing to level with the American people before ordering the invasion of Iraq.

"When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going," said Obama, who is heavily favored to become just the third black elected to the Senate since Reconstruction.
What? That's it? I was hoping to read about how Obama spent his entire speech tearing Bush limb from limb. I was expecting to hear about how Obama ripped the head off a George Bush voodoo doll while screaming "Dubya is the devil."

Oh yeah, Obama didn't say those things. And he didn't Slam Bush or accuse him of failing to level with the American people either.

Instead Obama spoke inspiringly of the promise of America. He spoke passionately of the positive, honest manner in which John Kerry would lead the country.

And from a positive and patriotic speech CBS keys in on a single sentence line and declares the entire speech Bush bashing.

To which I ask this: How is merely pointing out the strong and positive leadership qualities of the Democratic candidate a slam against Bush? There's only one way such an interpretation is plausible. Only if you are already conflicted about the motives and truthfulness of George Bush can the admirable characteristics of John Kerry be threatening to you or construed as a "slam" against Bush.

An interpretation of Obama's speech (or any speech I've seen so far) as "Bush bashing" says much about the insecurities of the person or group making that claim. The convention speakers I've seen have been exceedingly positive and upbeat. They've spoken almost exclusively about John Kerry's strength of character, wisdom, devotion to service, seriousness, honesty, patriotism, and positive vision for a stronger, better America. If these things are Bush bashing, what does that say of your opinion of your standard bearer?

I guess with a free press you get what you pay for.

Update: 1:10 a.m. Apparently Marvin and I have the same idea. Though he beat me to the punch by a few hours I didn't read his spot on comments until just now.

A Star Is Born

Just got a call from my brother on the convention floor. "The excitement," he said, "is palpable. Barack Obama is the next, next Vice President of the United States. Edwards-Obama, baby."

Watching from home I have to agree: Barack Obama just lit it up. The man is going places. I envy my brother being in the Fleet Center and seeing firsthand the emergence of a national figure.

As David Brooks said on PBS (paraphrase):
Speeches like Obama's are why we come to conventions. It's a shame the networks choose not to cover what may be the best speech of the convention. I thought that John Edwards might over shadow John Kerry. I never thought that Obama might overshadow Edwards.
Brooks may be right. I saw Edwards in person at a rally last Friday. He's good.

Obama may be better.

34 Year Old Dreamer

I just learned that Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 34 when, on August 28, 1963, he delivered his I Have A Dream speech. I thought he was older. Heck, I'm 34 right now and I can't imagine giving even a bad speech to a crowd of 250,000 people. King delivered what certainly ranks in the top 2 or three speeches ever given by any American. Oh, and most of the speech was improvised. Amazing.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Let the Spin Begin

Damn those nasty, negative Democrats. Can't they go six hours without falling into an abyss of negativity? Gosh, I wish they would quit with the politics of personal destruction. Their constant criticism and carping just annoys me.

Thankfully, I didn't need to actually watch any part of the convention to conclude that the Democrats have already failed in their goal of an upbeat convention. Three of my four local news stations made that assessment for me.

And, lucky for me, my local media was considerate of my time. They devoted only 90 seconds to the Democratic Hate Fest. Their prudent use of my time allowed them to spend another 90 seconds dissecting the impertinent words of Cheney wanna-be Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Thankfully, The Denver Post (with this AP wire story) also freed me from having to think deeply by using convenient words and phrases like Democrats "...accused President Bush of botching the economy and the war on terror...Opening night criticism of Bush...criticized Bush for his handling of Iraq, the economy and more..."

Even my beloved Governor Bill Owens got in on the act. Demonstrating a precognition I didn't realize he possessed Governor Owens spoke -- Monday morning, amazingly enough -- about the negativity that suffused tonight's diatribes.

I sure wish I had cable so I could find out tonight from the talking heads what those vile Democrats are going to say tomorrow. That way I won't have to watch tomorrow's coverage either. Oh, wait, the networks aren't broadcasting the convention on Tuesday. A mere hour's worth of coverage apparently cuts too deeply into reruns of The Bachelorette 4. Thank goodness.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Truly Apropos of Nothing

Marvin, in his role as media watch dog, has called attention to a new publisher at The Charlotte Observer.

Perhaps unbeknownst to him, Marvin also finds himself at the nexus of another media story begging for coverage. In what can only be described as an eerie coincidence in the wake of the aforementioned publisher shuffle, a company headquartered in Marvin's home of Salisbury, headed by the husband of the recently named editor of the paper of record in Marvin's boyhood home of Fayetteville, has decided to drop The Ivy Bush's favorite political cartoon:
A poll that resulted in a vote to drop "Doonesbury" was defended by the head of a Sunday-comics consortium.

..."It was not a political statement of any kind," Continental Features President Van Wilkerson told E&P. "I personally don't have an opinion about 'Doonesbury' one way or another."

...The 38 papers running the package from Salisbury, N.C.-based Continental are predominately located in the Southeast.
If Hillary Clinton can spin a vast right wing conspiracy theory out of nothing at all then surely Marvin can parley this trivial coincidence into a multi-book deal. Or at least a guest column in what will soon be Marvin's main source of printed news: The New York Times.

Monday, July 19, 2004

My Next Job?

One of the reasons that I largely abandoned the blogosphere this past week was because I was helping to build a database for a local congressional race. I've spent a portion of the past week working to develop a user-friendly application to allow campaign staff to capture and track information about their volunteers (and their prospective volunteers).

Apparently, I'm not alone. Tuesday's Washington Post has an article about the lengths to which the national parties are going to capture information about voters:
But in this year's election, there is a hidden high-tech twist. Rutkus and Harris are out to "map" the political demography of this neighborhood, trolling in the service of a quasi-science called "database targeting."

Houston's answers will bounce from Rutkus's clipboard to a computer in the state Democratic Party's offices here, and then 400 miles away to computers housed in the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in Washington.

Like rivulets flowing to rivers and rivers to the sea, this information will join an enormous data torrent streaming toward Washington from all around the country. Houston's "profile" is just one of 166 million -- or one for every registered voter -- that the DNC is constantly updating in a huge digital cache known as DataMart. The Republican National Committee tends a similar information trove, dubbed Voter Vault.
Going door to door is not really my thing. But give me a mountain of data that needs to be condensed and managed and you're singing my tune. My contract at my current client will be coming to an end soon. I wonder if the DNC needs a technology guru in the Colorado area to supervise the collection and analysis of voter data.


Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You'll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you'll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.

Kevin Costner as Crash Davis
Bull Durham
For a variety of reasons I've gotten a little behind in blogging this past week. But, despite the fact that it's over a week old, I do want to comment on Marvin's house cleaning.

Marvin, in excising Anonymous posts, is following Crash's "Think Classy - Be Classy" advice. And, it must be admitted, Marvin is classy; and his blog has a shower fresh scent (and probably far more anonymous traffic than my obscure little blog). I, on the other hand, choose to exhibit the hard-headed sloppiness of Ebby Calvin 'Nuke' LaLoosh. I do not plan to delete comments. I think a little fungus is...colorful.

Of course, since this blog has not yet "arrived" my tolerance for a little mildew probably just make me a slob. And a self-flattering proprietor of a stupid rag to boot.

Yikes! Better work on my fastball. I'll never make it to the show at this rate.

I'm Purple. Are You?

According to this quiz I'm part of Purple America. Though, by the looks of the graph, I appear to lean red. Heaven forbid!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Colorfully Inane

Did we really need a a Congressional investigation to tell us that the color-coded threat system is pointless?
Representative Christopher Cox, the California Republican who leads the House homeland security committee, said in releasing the report that the officials overseeing the threat system needed to "make it work better or get rid of it."

Mr. Cox and Representative Jim Turner of Texas, the ranking Democrat on the panel, said the public was at risk for "threat fatigue."

"I'm afraid if we don't make improvements in the system," Mr. Turner said, "the public's going to lose trust and confidence in that system and won't pay any attention to it anymore."

Their comments reflected a growing unease in recent months among leading members of Congress about the government's ability to warn law enforcement officials and the public of an attack.

Massive Not Quite Outright Failure of Leadership

Maybe I was a little hard on Georgie when I accused him of a massive failure of leadership. I mean just because he's proven woefully deficient in exercising any sort of foresight regarding the protection of the American electoral process doesn't mean that he can't plan ahead on the things that actually matter to him. Way back in February Bush recognized the difficulties he faced in getting elected this year. So, in an effort to energize his base, he made it known that he was forcefully in favor of tinkering with the United States Constitution by adding a poorly worded amendment that may or may not ban gay marriage. Now that's foresight. That's leadership!

Oh, wait. This just in.

Despite Bush's strong leadership on mangling the Constitution his top Senate lieutenants are
unable to agree among themselves on the best way to get a vote on a measure that President Bush made an election-year priority.

...The only vote likely to occur now is a procedural one scheduled for Wednesday aimed at forcing the Senate to act on an amendment. Republicans would have to get 60 votes to go on to a vote on the issue itself. That is considered a long shot.
Let me see if I've got this straight. Despite Bush's strong convictions on this critical topic and notwithstanding the unparalleled leadership skills he brought to bear on this problem he is unable to convince his own party of the wisdom of denying rights to Americans in two sentences rather than one? As a result he may not even get those wiley anti-American values Democrats on record on the wedge issue critical to American safety his presidential campaign.

Man, presidenting is haaaard.

Monday, July 12, 2004

"You win some, and some get stolen"

I'm finding the Conservative Kos site to be quite entertaining.

Tacitus, one of the site's founders, has quite a few posts up, including this one about the potential for a delayed national election. Unlike my local conservative radio talk show host, Tacitus is opposed to the idea. But what caught my eye was not Tac's willingness to condemn the idea of delayed elections. Rather it was his quaint notion that the parameters of elections are sacrosanct. Tacitus noted, in passing, the "the near-criminal extension of polling hours by judicial fiat in St Louis" in the 2000 presidential election. Methinks Tacitus didn't get the GOP memo. Playing fast and loose with voting rules is de rigueur in Republican circles these days.

Tom DeLay and his wrestle-mania marionette Denny Hastert have, on at least two recent occasions, availed themselves of the privileges of power as they've altered the rules to suit their purposes:
The effort to defy Bush and bridle the law's powers lost by 210-210, with a majority needed to prevail. The amendment appeared on its way to victory as the roll call's normal 15-minute time limit expired, but GOP leaders kept the vote open for 23 more minutes as they persuaded about 10 Republicans who initially supported the provision to change their votes.

"Shame, shame, shame," Democrats chanted as the minutes passed and votes were switched. The tactic was reminiscent of last year's House passage of the Medicare overhaul measure, when GOP leaders held the vote open for an extra three hours until they got the votes they needed.
I'm glad to see Tacitus take such a strong position on the question of whether national elections ought ever be delayed. I look forward to his strong denunciations of rule tampering from which ever side of the aisle they originate.

Update: It's worth noting that 23 minutes was more than enough time to demonstrate that two Colorado congressional representatives -- Tom Tancredo and Marilyn Musgrave -- lack spines and principles. They are, however, quite good are following orders. Also, don't look for this story in The Denver Post or The Rocky Mountain News because the vote reversals of two Colorado representatives doesn't seem to qualify as news. The Coloradoan at least has half of the story.

Massive Failure of Leadership

Kevin Drum, like apparently everyone else in the blogsphere, has a post today about the Newsweek story on the potential rescheduling of the November election. Most observers I've read have opined on whether cancelling, rescheduling or delaying the election is a good idea. Certainly we need to have that debate.

What I'm struck by, though, is why we're starting that debate today, 112 days before the election. Does absolutely every single person in the Bush administration lack even a scintilla of foresight?

I would argue that coming up with a plan -- a process -- for dealing with a disrupted election should have been very high on the list of to do's following the September 11 attacks. Afterall, the attacks disrupted primary voting in Manhattan. (As I recall, the election cancelled on 9/11 took place a few weeks later.) It ought not take a rocket scientist -- or even a Harvard MBA -- to plan ahead for the possibility that a future attack might disrupt more than just a regional primary.

And, lest we forget, the somnambulant administration was given another wake-up call in the form of the Madrid bombing on March 11 of this year. Still they slumbered.

Now, finally, in the highly charged atmosphere of a general election campaign, we get the first public hints of a potential need to consider the impact of a terrorist attack on our electoral process. I'm really flabbergasted that we've waited so long to consider these questions. And now that someone has decided to address the issue there's a belief that it's a good idea to examine the issue at the most politically inopportune time.

Also, it must be said, the blame for this delay can not be laid upon the administration alone. It seems to me that a legitimate process for cancellation or postponement of a general election must involve the elected representatives of the people. Hence, Congress ought to have some major role in the decision making process. And though potential rule changes affecting the dates of elections could be enacted without changes to the United States Constitution it is not necessarily the case that state constitutions would be untouched. Thus, the legislative impact may extend to the state level. So, clearly, our elected legislative representatives deserve rebuke as well.

But we don't typically hold a congressman or a senator accountable for the failure to coordinate policy and set direction for the many levels of government in the United States.

In times past we've looked to a strong Leader with a clear vision and an abiding interest in the preservation of American ideals.

Where is such a Leader?

Offspring? Indeed.

In the latest example of Republican me-tooism, a group of right-wing bloggers has launched Red State in response to Daily Kos. Reacting to the news that Ron Reagan will speak at the Democratic National Convention, tacitus offers this little insight:
In any case, we should not give too much credence to the offspring of great (or infamous) men.
I would not go so far as to call George Herbert Walker Bush a "great" man. But I think the point is valid.

Friday, July 09, 2004


Nectar of the GodsThe New York Times uncovers, perhaps, the most important reason to support John Kerry.

Being myself an ardent fan of the most important meal ever invented I have new found respect for the turgid senator.

As soon as he's elected, however, there will have to be an intense lobbying effort to promote a switch from Jif to Skippy.

Dr. Feelgood

Fuck yourself.

Vice President Dick Cheney
On the floor of the United States Senate
June 22, 2004

Well, I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it.

Vice President Dick Cheney
On FOX News
June 25, 2004
He's the one they call Dr. Feelgood
He's the one that makes ya feel alright
He's the one they call Dr. Feelgood
He's gonna be your Frankenstein

I've got one thing you'll understand
He's not what you'd call a glamorous man
Got one thing that's easily understood
He's the one they call Dr. Feelgood

He'll tell you he's the king
Of these barrio streets
Moving up to shangri-la
Came by his wealth as a matter of luck
Says he never broke no law
Two time loser running out of juice

Let him soothe your soul, just take his hand
Some people call him an evil man
Let him introduce himself real good
He's the only one they call "Feelgood"

Motley Crue (the 80's metal band, not the group also known as the Bush administration)
Dr. Feelgood, 1989

[Cheney's personal physicial, Dr. Gary] Malakoff has a history, going back to 1997, of abusing prescription narcotics. At the same time that he was attesting to Cheney’s physical fitness, he was privately struggling with problems that call into question his own fitness to practice medicine and to treat one of G.W.U. Medical Center’s most prominent patients.

The New Yorker
July 5, 2004

Update: Harold Meyerson's WaPo column on "Our Feel-Good Veep" was the original inspiration for this post.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Ghost of Vince Foster

Poor, poor Mr. Bush. Military stuff just ain't his bag. In February he was unable to prove that he actually fulfilled his military obligations. Despite the release of hundreds of pages of documents he was caught with several important documents notably missing.

Now it seems that the exculpatory payroll records were "inadvertantly" destroyed.
The disclosure that the payroll records had been destroyed came in a letter signed by C. Y. Talbott, chief of the Pentagon's Freedom of Information Office, who forwarded a CD-Rom of hundreds of records that Mr. Bush has previously released, along with images of punch-card records. Sixty pages of Mr. Bush's medical file and some other records were excluded on privacy grounds, Mr. Talbott wrote.

He said in the letter that he could not provide complete payroll records, explaining, "The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) has advised of the inadvertent destruction of microfilm containing certain National Guard payroll records."

He went on: "In 1996 and 1997, DFAS engaged with limited success in a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. During this process the microfilm payroll records of numerous service members were damaged, including from the first quarter of 1969 (Jan. 1 to March 31) and the third quarter of 1972 (July 1 to Sept. 30). President Bush's payroll records for these two quarters were among the records destroyed. Searches for backup paper copies of the missing records were unsuccessful."
Since the Pentagon can't find the records perhaps we need one of Laura Bush's assistants to go rummaging through old boxes in the third floor of the White House residence? Any chance she might find Bush's microfiche along with some dusty billing records from the Rose Law firm?

I'm also curious as to who had to commit "suicide" in order to ensure those records will never be found.

Go Ahead, Make My Day

In the span of 51 minutes this morning I was accused of being -- simultaneously? -- a reporter and a pundit! Is this a sign that my humble little blog has arrived? Alas, probably not since apparently I'm only "masquerading as a pundit."
nota bene: It seems to me that as an actual source of opinion and criticism I'm really masquerading as a reporter while operating as a pundit. (A minor pundit, to be sure, but that's a matter of degree, not type.)
Then again, maybe Apeiron has really arrived. I've heard tell of paid trolls haunting blog comments. Perhaps like Paul O'Neil, Richard Clarke, Eric Shinseki, David Kay, Richard Foster, Joe Wilson and others I represent some sort of threat to Bushian democracy power? Could the RNC's paid little obsequious flacks be on to me? Maybe I've inadvertently stumbled into that vast mythical right wing conspiracy we've heard tell of? Or perhaps John Ashcroft is surreptitiously checking up on me?

Hard to know what motivates our unnamed guest. But I do hope Anonymous will feel at home here since he shares with the title of this blog, Apeiron, a common etymological connection.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Flavor of the Month

Once again The Ivy Bush laps the competition. On June 26 PatriotBoy's Inner Frenchman and his mighty spork of truth pointed out the obvious: George Bush is desperate. The negative Big John obsession that suffuses the Bush-Cheney website is palpable.

Of course I already knew this because The Ivy Bush informed me on June 10 that discerning cola drinkers prefer New Kerry to Diet Dubya.

However, what Patriot Boy lacks in timeliness he makes up for in evidentiary documentation. The picture he provides might be anathema to Ivy Bush's non-believing commenters; but it would seem to visually confirm that the Bushies realize their time as flavor of the month may be coming to an end.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Political Career Stepping Stones

Considering a career in politics? Jason Miner may be a role model for you. Miner is the research director for the Democratic National Committee. Before he joined the DNC he had a stint working for his local Republican legislator. If you're young and politically involved you might look to Miner to get some ideas for your resume.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Americans Can't Get Smart

These nifty little Smart cars were all over Europe when I was there in 2000. They are tiny -- not much bigger than the picture to the left. OK, they're a little bigger but they're still smaller than any passenger vehicle you've ever seen on an American road.

The other Americans with whom I worked while in Germany used to joke with me that they wanted to buy two of these cars and bring them back to the United States -- in their luggage.

Well it looks like they may have to resort to smuggling if they want to drive a Smart car on an American road. At least for the next two years. Apparently Mercedes-Benz (the manufacturer of these tiny, extremely fuel efficient cars) does not have immediate plans to bring the cars to the United States. Their market research tells them that size conscious Americans just won't go for something this small. No matter how much jack they might save at the pump.

It is curious though that foreign auto makers don't think they can make money with these types of fuel-efficient vehicles. Just this past weekend I was reading that the waiting list for the hybrid Toyota Prius is two years in some parts of the country with premiums of $5000 over list. Surely American SUV owners are on the verge of clamoring for more intelligent transportation options?

With gas prices being what they are -- and likely to stay in an elevated state -- Americans can't get Smart soon enough.

First Ever Sneak Retreat

"Say what you want about the Coalition Provisional Authority but when they set an arbitrary deadline for a symbolic gesture...they mean it."

Say what you want about the state of American journalism. But for my money, Jon Stewart is the most consistently accurate purveyor of news since Walter Cronkite. Too bad sleepy-eyed Brian Williams will be replacing Tom Brokaw instead of Stewart.