Make It Stop!
My biggest beef with the Democratic National Convention? That god-awful rendition of "Proud Mary" with the Kerry-ized lyrics. This election is a battle over 5, maybe 10, percentage points of the population - I reckon this is enough to turn 1 or 2 of them away.
And what's with the moribund version of "Celebration"? You telling me that Kool & The Gang wasn't available to do it live? And did the singer just say, "K to the E to the double R Y!"?
I am probably the only guy in the country who will say this right now, but I relate alot more to John Kerry as a presidential candidate than John Edwards because I just don't like John Edwards, I don't. Well, let me restate that. I don't like his politics. Seeing him last night just reminded me of that.
I mean, he doesn't seem like a bad guy, personally. He seems like he loves his wife and she adores him (she was crying when she was introducing him last night). He overcame significant personal tragedy (his 16 year old son dying in a car accident). His daughter went to Princeton, and she's kinda cute. Good for him. Most importantly, he makes Team Kerry much more competitive in alot of the swing states.
However, although he claims to represent "the middle" and be a "New Democrat", his politics are pure old-line Democratic liberalsim, and it scares the crap out of me.
- His "One America" campaign is unabashed class-baiting - nothing more. It stinks of hokey popularism and old-line liberal Democratic policy. He is basically telling America that all your problems are caused by those rich guys over there who have more than you. Last night he was talking about people being "barely able to pay the bills" instead of saving? How is this anyone else's fault but their own. Here's an idea. If money is tight, buy less shit. Drive an older car. Drive less. Clip a coupon. It's not my fault you can't pay your bills, and I will be damned if I'm the guy whose gonna pay for them. If he is not careful, it will alienate the one constituency that can really drive the outcome of a Kerry - Edwards, namely Wall St. Bond traders. Clinton knew this, which is why this is never a message you would hear him touting.
- Trade Protectionism. This NEVER works out for the best in the long run, ever. I think this is a more important point than ever, with the recent growth in China and India. The last thing America should do now is tighten its boarders to trade, we need move forward in the world economy as thought leaders, not economic isolationists. Edwards' policy ideas for tax surcharges on Companies that "outsource" work overseas is overly simplistic and will blow up in our faces if it comes to fruition. The fact of the matter is, most of the companies that have turned to overseas productions simply are not competitive if they retained their operations in the US. Personally, I would rather have some jobs and some profit centers here, as opposed to driving them all overseas. But that is just me. Again, Clinton knew this. What do you think NAFTA was all about? Althought NAFTA is a "hot-button" issue in the swing states, it is a better policy for our country as a whole than the alternative, andit's better for our neighbors as well.
- "Good Ole Boy Charm". A lot of people like this about Edwards, but it's a put on and it just comes off as smarmy to me. He acts as if he's just a simple boy from a little town who used to sweep up in a mill. Bullshit. He was a cut-throat trial attorney and a hard charging Senator.
- He looks more than a little bit like "Chucky" from the Child's Play Movies. I just can't get behind that.
Anyway, I say, bring on the main event tonight. I hope Kerry makes the speech of his life and doesn't come off stiff and wonky. I think he really needs a good push-off tonight to make the past three days of love-fest mean something in the long run.
Ch-Ch-Check It Out
One of my favorite blogs right now is Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish. Sullivan is a fair, thoughtful conservative, a man who has no time for the mudslinging and negativity that comes from Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter, et.al. In contrast, he frames his thoughts so well that, as one of his readers puts it, "Even when I disagree with one of your positions, your reasons and comments made sense ... I'm a Democrat, but a more conservative one for having read you." The reason I look to Sullivan for better understanding of the conservative viewpoint is that he practices exactly what, in theory, he is supposed to be preaching. He has become increasingly distressed by the intrusiveness of the federal government, the bloating of fiscal deficits brought on by profligate spending and transitory tax cuts, and the overall failure of any administration official to exhibit any semblance of accountability or responsibility for bad behavior.
Oh yeah, Sullivan is also gay and HIV-positive. As the marriage debate unfolds, the above-mentioned anti-conservative tendencies of the GOP and the Bush administration worsen, and attempts to write discrimination in to the Constitution continue, his blog has been a fascinating chronicle of someone slowly coming to the realization that they have been sold a false bill of goods. He has had little but positive things to say about the Democratic National Convention thus far and, while an endorsement of Kerry would probably be a longshot, my bet is that he sits this election out.
Actual Conversations From My Morning
Back story: I love Dunkin' Donuts - I have an unhealthy obssession with their coffee and a day isn't complete without navigating the methadone addicts that populate the location near my office. JAS Mart is a Japanese grocery located next to Dunkin' Donuts that Work Colleague likes to get food, tea, and crazy Japanese candy from. Before today, I had no idea the store was called JAS Mart. [Summer Intern] is quite possibly the most clueless individual on the planet. I could start a blog based on their many inadequacies and have mountains of material to work with. After eight weeks in my group, [Summer Intern] is treading very thin ice and is now at the point that we can not give them projects, because every single thing we've given them to do has been screwed up. With almost no effort or overt meanness, I have, at this point, made [Summer Intern] cry twice. Still, I'm a firm believer in allowing people to redeem themselves. Anyway, on with the insanity:
Work Colleague: Hey Frank! [Summer Intern] is going to Dunkin' Donuts, you want a coffee?
Frank: Yeah, small with milk. Here's $2, thanks [Summer Intern]!
5 minutes pass, during which time, unbeknownst to me, Work Colleague asks [Summer Intern] to buy rice for her at JAS Mart.
[Summer Intern]: Frank, excuse me. You wanted coffee, right?
10 minutes later, [Summer Intern] returns, Dunkin' Donuts bag in hand.
[Summer Intern]: Frank, excuse me. They don't open until 9:00, so I couldn't get you a coffee, did you want me to go back after 9:00?
Frank: Huh? I don't understand, Dunkin' Donuts is open 24 hours.
[Summer Intern]: No, JAS Mart doesn't open until 9:00. I thought that's where you wanted coffee from.
Frank: What? What's JAS Mart? Why would I want coffee from there?
[Summer Intern]: I thought that's where you said you wanted the coffee from. I can go back...
Frank: No. No, please don't.
Which Political Party Are You?
Thanks to Paula for this one. I am, somehow, most closely affiliated with the Green Party, here are my complete results:
1) Green Party 64%Doesn't quite make sense (the 2nd place Libertarian Party does), given my views on fiscal policy and the role of government. I think much of the incongruity derives from the generalities and simplicity of the questions. For example, I chose "Increase" for federal law enforcement agencies. I don't think we should necessarily increase the number of agencies, just the funding, especially given the current environment. According to the survey, that probably makes me a spend-thrift, big-government leftie. In my mind, it makes me hawkish on domestic security. Go figure.
2) Libertarian Party 57%
3) Democratic Party 50%
4) Republican Party 43%
5) Natural Law Party 43%
6) Reform Party 43%
7) Constitution Party 36%
This would have probably been better timed when AofG was getting started, but in case you haven't figured it out by now, here's the lowdown on your friend Frank:
- Social lifestyle issues: Way left. Doing bong hits with your newly legalized prostitute before popping in to a gay civil union/marriage would raise neither of my eyebrows. Clearly, I'm a huge fan of the current administration's attempts to build a theocracy.
- Social hot button issues: Moderate/Left. Pro-choice, relatively pro-death penalty (non-Texas version), neutral-affirmative action, pro-stem cells, anti-guns.
- Economy: Balanced budgets, moderate taxes (read Clinton's speech for a good idea of how I feel about the Bush tax cuts), free trade
- Role of government: Moderate/Right. Strong believer in a limited role for the federal government and the dissemination of power to the states. Also a strong believer in striking a balance when the platform for governing on the state, local or personal level is unrealistic.
- War on Terror: War of Ideas. Intelligently policing the homeland and playing carrot and stick with "allies" like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan? Good. Pre-emptively bombing the hell out of un-threats? Bad.
One Day, Two Comebacks
Admit it - you miss the mofo. And for those who don't, at least he can read off of a teleprompter. Nyeh nyeh nyeh nyeh nyeh nyeh...
Here's the speech. Big Willie Style, indeed.
Other impressions: C-SPAN is finally pulling its weight. I'm obviously not going to watch Fox News for impartial coverage of the Convention, that's really not what they do (although I did catch the tail end of what seemed like an amazingly cordial Sean Hannity interview with Howard Dean). MSNBC? You would think maybe a bit more middle-of-the-road treatment of what is a largely ceremonial event. Unfortunately Joe Scarborough and Howard Fineman were invited. Fineman has yet to meet a parade that he wouldn't want to piss on and he came through with buckets tonight. Even Matthews (a former Dem speechwriter and staffer) was joining in, just too much. So, it's the only network who can truly say "We Report, You Decide" for me from here on out.
We'll See How Long This Lasts
The three weeks of radio silence on my end are over. After considering, and then deciding against, Operation Shutdown for our fair blog, I'm back, reinvigorated, and ready to post.
The seven of you may be asking yourselves, "Where did he go?" Short answer: I just didn't have much to say. Long answer: I didn't have much to say, my need to be a little more productive at work required a bigger chunk of the day that would have otherwise been spent on the blog, family was in town last week, I was travelling for the rest of the week, and I've been spending more time at the gym in what seems to be a successful effort to get huge (You should see me, really - the Feats of Strength will be a cakewalk this year).
The whole process of writing for a blog is a funny one - Billmon from Whiskey Bar summed it up really well when he recently wrote his first post after an extended break:
This blogging thing is very strange - weirdly addictive once you start doing it, but easy to avoid when you're not doing it, if that makes any sense.Ditto. But, with the DNC firing up tonight, the RNC only a few weeks away and the election itself less than four months from being cancelled, I gotta get back in the fray.
All I know is that for the better part of the past two weeks, whenever I even thought about firing up Movable Type and banging out some random thoughts, an unpleasant sensation would come over me and a very strong, very clear voice in my head would say something like: "Why don't you go do something else, instead?" And I would have an overwhelming urge to do just that
Where my TV will be tuned the next couple nights: watching out for Sweet Dick Willie tonight and The New Hotness, Barack Obama, tomorrow. More to come...
You May Have Noticed a Drop off In My Posting Frequency
Then again, maybe you didnt. Either way, a new puppy, three M&A deals closed, and a two week vacation to Ireland can kill a fledgling Blogger. I am gonna fight through the wall to keep the AofG hummin'.
Drink up while it's cold, ladies.
"We sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men. Hell, we could have been tarring the roof of one of our own houses. We were the lords of all creation. As for Andy - he spent that break hunkered in the shade, a strange little smile on his face, watching us drink his beer."
You know one of these guys thought he was Andy Dufrene, if just for a second.
Tuesday: Kerry picks a popular Vice President candidate and dominates news coverage for the first time since he won the nomination
Wednesday: Close Bush associate and massive GOP donor Ken Lay is indicted.
Early Thursday morning: Lay surrenders and is led away in handcuffs.
Late Thursday morning: TERROR!!!
No accompanying information, no change to the alert level, only the all-too-obvious indication that Al Qaeda is plotting attacks against the US. Super, thanks.
Desperation Is A Stinky Cologne
The GOP talking points on John Edwards that we've heard in the past 24 hours have become absolutely hysterical to listen to and make me even more giddy than I was when the VP announcement was made yesterday morning. If this is the best they can do, they're really in bigger trouble than I would have thought. I imagine the current approach will be about as effective as the $80 million or so they've spent on negative ads that paint Kerry as a waffler/extreme liberal/terrorist/pedophile that resulted in ... no movement whatsoever in the polls. Here's a summary:
Lack Of Experience
A day after Edwards was picked by Democratic White House hopeful John Kerry as his running mate, Bush raised the experience issue when asked how Edwards stacked up against his own vice president, Dick Cheney.This, from a man who had zero experience in national politics before 2000. To be sure, though, Bush does know what it's like to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
"Dick Cheney can be president," Bush said briskly.
Edwards Impact on North Carolina and the South
Q Mr. President, does this John Edwards selection force you to spend more time in the South, and change your strategy in the southern states now?Too true, he is a simple candidate. Who can't answer a simple question. Fact of the matter, North Carolina goes from being a Bush lay-up to something close to a battleground state.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to carry the South because the people understand that they share -- we share values that they understand. They know me well. And I am -- I believe that I did well in the South last time, I'll do well in the South this time, because the Senator from Massachusetts doesn't share their values, and that's the difference in the campaign.
Q Will you have to spend more time, strategy-wise?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, talk to -- talk to the schedulers. I'm not the scheduler, I'm just a simple candidate.
Edwards As Scum-bag Trial Lawyer (this whole site is great)
- For 20 Years, Senator Edwards Was Trial Lawyer, Specializing In Personal Injury CasesYeah, what an asshole:
- Edwards Embraces His Record As Plaintiff’s Lawyer
- Edwards Proud Of His Career
The defining case in Edwards' legal career wrapped up that same year. In 1993, a five-year-old girl named Valerie Lakey had been playing in a Wake County, N.C., wading pool when she became caught in an uncovered drain so forcefully that the suction pulled out most of her intestines. She survived but for the rest of her life will need to be hooked up to feeding tubes for 12 hours each night. Edwards filed suit on the Lakeys' behalf against Sta-Rite Industries, the Wisconsin corporation that manufactured the drain. Attorneys describe his handling of the case as a virtuoso example of a trial layer bringing a negligent corporation to heel. Sta-Rite offered the Lakeys $100,000 to settle the case. Edwards passed. Before trial, he discovered that 12 other children had suffered similar injuries from Sta-Rite drains. The company raised its offer to $1.25 million. Two weeks into the trial, they upped the figure to $8.5 million. Edwards declined the offer and asked for their insurance policy limit of $22.5 million. The day before the trial resumed from Christmas break, Sta-Rite countered with $17.5 million. Again, Edwards said no. On January 10, 1997, lawyers from across the state packed the courtroom to hear Edwards' closing argument, "the most impressive legal performance I have ever seen," recalls Dayton. Three days later, the jury found Sta-Rite guilty and liable for $25 million in economic damages (by state law, punitive damages could have tripled that amount). The company immediately settled for $25 million, the largest verdict in state history. For their part, Edwards and Kirby earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America's national award for public service.And we all know that the oil and oil services industries are positively crawling with lily-white solid citizens.
Edwards As Second Choice - Funny, mum's the word for Cheney on this one.
Edwards As A Kerry Flip-Flop:
Washington, D.C.: Was this just another flip-flop on Kerry's part? Didn't Edwards and Kerry attack each other all through the primaries? How can he get away with this?Do I even need to bring up 1980 and every conservative's wet dream to point out the utter hypocrisy in Stanzel's argument? I think not.
Scott Stanzel: Many reporters are already pointing out how this is John Kerry's ultimate flip flop. John Kerry said he'd chose someone who could step in as President, but he picked the one guy he said was too inexperienced to do the job.
Dewey Defeats Truman!
In case you forgot or never knew, the New York Post doesn't exactly set the highest standards for journalism.
Even while running the most cautious campaign in history, John Kerry still manages a screw-up now and again and, for some reason, this one infuriates me. For the first time, Kerry has provided truly relevant fodder for the flip-flop charges that have been manufactured by Rove and the BC04 spin machine. Before, his supposed episodes of waffling were simply pragmatic shifts in position executed over long periods of time, necessitated by an ever-changing landscape. On an issue like NAFTA, I think it's perfectly reasonable to want to reassess a decision you made 10 years ago - God knows, I have plenty that I would like to get a do-over on. And after all, Bush is no one to talk about flip-flopping (steel tariffs/no steel tariffs; no 9/11 commission/OK, we'll have a 9/11 commission, but me and the Dickmeister will be about as uncooperative as we can; no Department of Homeland Security/OK, we'll have a Department of Homeland Security, and by the way, it was our idea; there are a few dozen more, but you get the idea).
However, at no time should a pro-choice politician ever utter the words, "I believe life does begin at conception." I mean, you just don't do it. The whole matter of "at conception" vs. "at birth" itself is completely extraneous to the abortion issue - it comes down to whether or not you feel a government, largely comprised of middle-aged white guys, has the right to interfere in what is a private, moral matter that concerns half the population of this country. But, unfortunately, by uttering the buzz word of "conception", you signal to the anti-choice side of the debate that you're on their side. And this whole defense of "I don't like abortion, blah de blah blah blah", doesn't cut it. Even the staunchest choice advocate doesn't "like" the idea of abortion, nobody does. But they like the idea of their government telling them what they can and can't do with their bodies even less.
Huh boy...this is one of those moments where I wish I wasn't such a craven, greedy capitalist and could get myself comfortable with the notion of entering the political arena and the relative poverty and low-rent whoring that it entails, just so I could maybe influence guys like Kerry to either tell a better story or else keep their damn mouths shut on such trap issues. In the mean time, we'll no doubt get to watch the right-wing media run with this one until Bush screws something else up.