Thursday, October 28, 2004

Apocalypse Now

In the Sunday NY Times, Ron Suskind states that evangelical Christians, “the core of the energetic ‘base’ … believes that their leader is a messenger from God.” Lincoln Chafee, Republican senator from Rhode Island, has said: The issue of Bush “announcing that ‘I carry the word of God’ is the key to the election.”

Bush himself has been quoted as having recently told a group of Amish in Pennsylvania:
“I trust God speaks through me.”

It is gratifying to read that this message does not resonate well even with Christians.

“God is not a Republican, neither is he a Democrat, and their candidates are wonderful Christians, but neither of their parties has a direct line to God.... It is known that the Bible is very accommodating and respects divergence of opinion and our ability to choose. People who use their Bible to reach their own ends do a great disservice to Christianity." Zimbabwean Bishop Patrick Mutume

Keeping to the religious theme, a bumpersticker noted on Sojourners website: Bush/Cheney 04: Because you don’t change horsemen mid-apocalypse

It is also rumored there that the price of real estate in New Zealand is due to rise dramatically should Bush win the election.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I'm Voting for Andy Griffith

After the first debate was described as 'Andy Griffith versus Barney Fife,' I suppose this was inevitable: Dubya, The Movie. Still, it's amusing. Brought to our attention by the Progressive Populist.

DailyKos informs us of a BBC report showing private detectives hired by the Florida GOP conducting under-cover surveillance of early voters as part of a campaign to challenge African-American voters, create long lines at polling stations, and discourage turn-out. Why are the Republicans trying to limit the number of voters on Nov. 2? Because they love freedom.

Also from DailyKos, a story that really should be getting more attention from the press: The Bush administration denied the military permission to strike at Abu Musab Zarqawi before the invasion of Iraq because to do so would have eliminated one of their reasons to invade Iraq.

Monday, October 25, 2004

New Yorker endorses Kerry

For the first time in its history, the New Yorker endorses a cadidate for president. No surprise that it's Kerry. No surprise, either, that it's a fine piece of writing. Definitely worth reading.

Headlines from around the web...

An article from the San Francisco Chronicle looks at part of the effort to develop a religious progressive movement in opposition to the religious right.

A contributor to The Gadflyer looks at the AMA's claim that high malpractice insurance premiums are driving doctors into retirement and hurting patient care.

An economist writes for Slate that Bush's tax cuts are unfair... To the rich:
"the rich already pay too much—it seems patently unfair to ask anyone to pay over 30 times as much as his neighbors (unless he receives 30 times as much in government services, which strikes me as implausible). If you share my sense of fairness, you'll join me in condemning the president's tax policy."

Another economist has a website the automatically downloads state poll results and uses margins of error to predict probabilities of Kerry and Bush results. Currently 64% chance of a Kerry victory.

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Silver Lining?

I certainly don't want to discourage anyone from the vigorous pro-Kerry campaigning and get-out-the-vote that seems to be sweeping like wildfire...but I've long wondered if there would be a silver lining to a Bush victory. Now one of my favorite public intellectuals, William Greider, is saying in public something I've been thinking about myself: that whoever is in the White House the next four years is going to face a serious economic meltdown. That, combined with the Iraq quagmire, is likely to seriously undermine the next administration. The Bush Administration may not believe in reality-based decision-making, but reality (economic, imperial, and otherwise) has a way of asserting itself over the long run despite any level of denial.

That said, I am still predicting (and hoping for) a Kerry victory on Nov 2nd. Even if it dooms his presidency, Kerry will be far better able to handle the multiple crises when they explode in his face.

Bush is president but Kerry's a lawyer?

The St. Petersburg Times has profiles of the presidential candidates on its website, and in the basic biographical data, lists Bush's occupation as "president," and Kerry's as "attorney." So let me get this straight: John Kerry has been a United States Senator for twenty years but his core identity is a lawyer? Give me a break.

Friday Browsing Roundup has a link up to a good anti-Bush ad. The makers of the ad are also asking for contributions to help buy air time.

TPM continues its Karl Rove Dirty Tricks Watch, today noting efforts in Ohio to misinform voters of the location of their polling places.

More on the religious front: New Donkey covers the news that the Vatican has said No, John Kerry is not a heretic. Good for them--they're getting much better at this sort of thing. It took them what, 400 years to decide that Galileo wasn't a heretic?

Some good things on recently:

Middle East expert Juan Cole tries his hand at both psychoanalysis and dissecting US youth culture in this unintentionally amusing post on the rapper Eminem.

The hawkish New Republic endorses Kerry (registration required--check out BugMeNot site for public registrations). Without, alas, admitting the folly of their ways.

Finally, a piece from on misconceptions of the racial and socioeconomic makeup of the US military. Useful to read before making arguments about how the armed forces prey on the American underclass. According to the author, David L. Englin, a recent Pentagon survey shows US military inductees are not significantly poorer or less educated than the US population as a whole. Interesting, though I wonder what the result would be if you looked at the services seperately? My guess is that Army inductees are significantly poorer, more likely to be black or hispanic, and less educated than the population as a whole. Also, Englin's contention that combat units are less poor, more white and more educated can also be read as a selection bias: Combat posts are the best way to earn advancement in the military; those serving for a lack of civilian employment opportunities are probably disproportionately channeled toward support units with less chance for upward mobility.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Recent News Roundup

Some items from today's web browsing:

We learn via about the Bush campaign's response to Pat Robertson's claim that Bush was as certain as "a contented Christian with four aces" that there would be no American casualties in Iraq.

From Amy Sullivan at Washington Monthly's Political Animal: It's a truism in American political circles that Bush is deeply faithful. But, judged by his actions rather than his words, Ayelish McGarvey of the American Prospect says, "Bush is no devout evangelical. In fact, he may not be a Christian at all." Says McGarvey: "Ironically for a man who once famously named Jesus as his favorite political philosopher during a campaign debate, it is remarkably difficult to pinpoint a single instance wherein Christian teaching has won out over partisan politics in the Bush White House." Most politics these days--Dem and Rep--is driven by a corrosive ends-justify-the-means attitude, but the Republicans have taken this to new extremes (see below).

Also, if you've not seen it already, it's worth reading Ron Suskind's NY Times Magazine article on the Bush administration's disdain for the 'reality-based community.'

(get your predictions in now!)

With the election less than two weeks away, obsessive poll-watchers are hungry for more information. More! MORE! With that in mind, provides a good set of electoral college update pages. Looks pretty good for Kerry right now, I think.

For more cheery polls, see Donkey Rising.

Looking at the low numbers for Bush, his approval ratings mired in the mid-40s, the growing number of conservatives (even blood relatives) leaving his ranks, and the large increases in Democratic voter registrations and almost manic get-out-the-vote campaigns, my prediction is that Bush barely breaks 47% in the popular vote on Nov. 2, and that Kerry wins both Florida and Ohio to trounce the incumbent in the electoral college. On a contrary note, though, see this Economist article how the well-run Republican party dominates the Democratic "adhocracy." (Way off base if you ask me. Though the Dems are relatively disorganized, we'll see how well-run the Reps are as they tear each other to pieces after Bush loses. Or even, perhaps, if he wins.)

Many times during this political season, I have read the news of both campaigns and thought, 'hell, I could do a better job than that.' If you have too, tells us that the Christian Science Monitor is offering a downloadable simulation game where you can play campaign manager. (Alas, we Mac users are left out of the fun again--someone will have to tell me how the game goes.) Politicalwire also mentions a couple of other politics games, in case you're interested.

How might the Republicans do better than my prediction? By cheating, that's how. Efforts are currently underway via various legal and illegal methods to keep Dems from voting. In his Guardian column, DailyKos author Markos Moulitsas offers a handy summary of some of these nefarious dealings, and a collection of websites tracking the latest developments: "There are several clearing houses of voter suppression and fraud online, like the Voter Registration Fraud Clearinghouse and Vote Watch 2004."

Some fraudsters are already receiving their just desserts. Politicalwire delivers this item from the Rocky Mountain News: A Colorado Republican "stealing campaign signs late one night got nabbed when he ran across a low-hanging driveway chain, fell face first onto a pilfered sign and the concrete and knocked himself unconscious."Randall Wagner, 50, was trying to steal a sign for congressional candidate Dave Thomas and "had signs for other Democratic candidates in his Toyota pickup."

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Bush Must Repent?

George W. Bush likes to present himself as the faithful Christian candidate, but members of his own denomination, the United Methodists, are calling on him to repent for his deception and disgregard of human life in the Iraq war (see Although I am not a big fan of efforts to throw anybody out of the Church, it is refreshing to see someone willing to assail the morally corrupt behavior of the current administration from an avowedly Christian point of view. I suspect that this effort will not attract too much support in the end, even though many of us sympathize with it, because most of us don't want to set a precedent of disciplining church members for not following church law to the letter in their political lives. Still, it is worth noting that Bush has been dismissive of faith-based points of view that criticize his administration's policies and decisions, even when those criticisms come from his own denomination. For example, when the United Methodist Council of Bishops called for alternatives to the rush to war in Iraq, it seems like Bush refused to even meet with them.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Conspiracy theory update, OR, The Mystery of Bush's Brain

Just what was the mysterious bulge on Bush's back during the first debate? Speculation began in the blogosphere, then erupted into mainstream press. Now, says that a 'technical expert' says it looks to him like a sort of transmitter. What's more, video has surfaced from a much earlier Bush speech in which a CNN broadcast seems to have picked up the voice of someone saying Bush's words moments before Bush himself spoke them. Mmmm....

But why would the President need a transmitter--and why didn't it help him do better during the debate? Well, it could be because he is suffering from PRE-SENILE DEMENTIA. As evidence, look at this comparison of his debate performances in the Texas governor's race and the first presidential debate.

Some sort of mental breakdown might also explain why Bush insisted that Dick Cheney be with him when he met with the 9/11 commission, and why Bush's handlers take such extreme steps to isolate him from reporters, protestors, or anyone wearing a John Kerry button. And of course news of the President's condition cannot be allowed to leak out before the election, so his annual physical exam had to be cancelled.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Fake Kerry quotes at FOX and NY Times

A flurry of reports about supposed Kerry statements that it turns out were either just made up or heard second or third hand and never checked.

First, Josh Marshall catches a story on FOX News that contains quotes from Kerry like "
Didn't my nails and cuticles look great?" Did Kerry really say things like that? Nope--the quotes were made up as a joke by the FOX reporter covering the Kerry campaign, and 'accidentally' posted on the FOX News website before being retracted. What will happen to the reporter--will he be fired or maybe reassigned to some other beat? FOX isn't saying.

Second, scroll down to the Updates on today's Daily Howler, where Maureen Dowd and her colleagues at the NY Times are taken to task for repeatedly using a quote from Kerry--"Who among us does not like NASCAR"--that Kerry never said. The original post from the Howler is overly long and frenzied, but contains more details about how Dowd got the quote. Though the NYT has probably known for some time that the quote is false, they have never apologized or issued a retraction.

Friday, October 01, 2004

What does 'Lumpenlogocracy' mean?

logocrats = people who gain their authority from use of words and other symbols (i.e. professional groups such as scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, college professors)

lumpen = prefix in social theory denoting the part of the group that is lowest and least powerful; most common usage is "lumpenproletariat": "The lowest, most degraded stratum of the proletariat. Used originally in Marxist theory to describe those members of the proletariat, especially criminals, vagrants, and the unemployed, who lacked class consciousness." (according to the dictionary)

lumpen-logocrats = unemployed or insecurely employed people with higher degrees, stereotypically people with Ph.D's who drive cabs or wait tables for a living...or perhaps Ph.D's who cannot find tenure-track jobs and have to cobble together a living from teaching classes here and there (usage from sociologist Charles Derber and his colleagues)

lumpenlogocracy = perhaps an oxymoron, since "-cracy" usually refers to who rules in a society (e.g., democracy, plutocracy, autocracy), and thus anyone who is "lumpen" can't really be "-cracy"...on the other hand, it is a kind of daring statement that the lowest professionals are trying to assert their authority

[Note: this post was created on 10-18-2005 as a linkable container for information removed from the web log's sidebar when the blog roll was added.]

Best description of the debate (so far)

From Tom Shales's critique in the Washington Post:

One longtime political observer -- among the friends canvassed by this critic -- was more irreverent about the debate and how the two debaters came off: "It was Andy Griffith meets Barney Fife," he said, with Kerry in the Griffith role -- solid, sanguine, sensible -- and Bush as the nervous Fife.

It's also amusing to note from this article that good old Dan Rather refuses to describe the 'debate' as a debate--instead, he refers to it always as a 'joint appearance.' Good for you, Mr. Rather. Um, too bad about those documents, huh?

Kudos (Koodohs? Kudoughs? Whatever) to Peter Jennings and ABC, too. I watched their debate coverage last night and was mightily pleased that they did not interview any of the spinmeisters fogging up the lenses and microphones of other organizations in 'spin alley.'

Post Debate

In the papers this morning, most accounts of the debate give Kerry the win. A friend of mine with a staunchly Republican family, however, tells me that last night she phoned her parents and siblings to get their impressions, and all of them thought Bush had 'stuck to his guns' and won hands down. So maybe Bush's consistency played well with his base. The LA Times says (registration required), on the other hand, that some undecided voters in Allentown, PA, were won over by Kerry during the debate, and that
Those in the crowd laughed several times when Bush smirked or stammered, and several undecided voters said afterward that they found Kerry more articulate and decisive.

To me, Bush seemed irritable and uncomfortable. And he really said only two things for every question: 'Criticizing my policies sends the wrong message to the troops,' and 'Being President is hard.'

Did anyone else notice that Bush did not answer Lehrer's question whether Bush really believed that electing Kerry would make a terrorist attack on the US more likely? Bush said, to paraphrase, 'I don't believe that will happen, because Kerry won't be elected.'