But He Looks Great!

Hi. The Gropinator here, guest posting with the frisky folks at Points West.

The weeks' roller coaster ride came when spending and bond measures eked through the Senate by one vote on the way to the March ballot, with most Republicans in opposition.

The morning headlines have a surprisingly neutral tone (surprising that is for a press that happily fed the debate questions to a trained actor beforehand).

The more important back story shows up today. The drama to pull the deal back from the dead is reported to have involved dozens of major players including Maria Shriver, political veterans Leon Panetta (D - Clinton Chief of Staff) and George Shultz (R - Reagan Secretary of State), and Assembly moderates. Behind the scenes pressure strongly encouraged Arnie cut loose the ideologues and work with the legislature to achieve a compromise. (Man, talk about attention-getting behavior, we shudder to imagine what the RW partisans were like in elementary school).

The conservatives who dominate the GOP caucus in the Legislature were caught off guard as a Republican governor they had considered an ally bypassed them to broker a deal with Democrats. - LA Times

To quote the Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters, the governor "blinked."

But, to quote a SacBee headline, "A rougher road for budget likely."

Cross-posted at Points West and the Gropinator.net


Why does it have to be like this?

I'm so sick of watching all the Democrats going after Howard. Do they want to take their country back? Because they're not leading in the polls. They're not raising the money. And they're not resonating with the liberal-moderates who make up the core constituency of the Party.

Republicans tend to be the same way. One of them gets caught with his pants down and they don't waste any time sending them out to pasture.

The problem is, for the last 3 years, no one has stood up and said "Boo" to Bush, and all of a sudden a guy has the audacity to call him on his shit and everyone's piling on him. Howard Dean is the man to take this country back and that's why he's got my vote.



Welcome Gropinator to Points West! There is no better Ah-nold blogger on the planet, and we are lucky to have him -- woohoo!




Welcome to my old-school BB world, front-page baby -- I have loved these since the Miss-early 90-ees:

A Flaming Desire

Children's book illustrator Mike Reed has devoted a website to Internet insults. Think of Sesame Street populated by Oscar the Grouch and 83 of his relatives.

There they sit, each at a computer keyboard, each angrily typing, each determined to condemn, correct or chastise the other.

There's Troglodyte, fiercely disdainful of new-age values. There's L'Enfant Provocateur, who sends incendiary messages because he's young and dumb. There's ALLCAPS, who makes up for limited intelligence by capitalizing his insults. There's Profundus Maximus, who uses cryptic terms to bluff his way through an argument. There's Agent, who posts messages to boost his employer's business.

This is Mike Reed's world of "flamers" — Internet chat-room or bulletin-board users whose boorish or mean-spirited behavior makes the Net an ugly place to play.

Over the years, Reed, a Minneapolis children's book illustrator, has posted caricatures of 84 mythical flamers and flamer-haters. To enter his Flame Warriors site (http://www.winternet.com/{tilde}mikelr/flame01.html) is sort of like entering a hellish Sesame Street populated by Oscar the Grouch and 83 of his relatives.

Anyone who has experienced the occasionally rude environment of many chat rooms, or has become ensnared in a contentious exchange of e-mails, can find their bad selves — or their combatants — in Reed's subculture.

You know the guy who continually assails anyone who tries to calm down unpleasant exchanges between members of a forum? That's Rebel Without a Clue. The guy who won't quit a weak line of argument no matter how many times other members demolish him? That's Palooka. (Reed notes that it falls to another character, the hyper-vigilant Nanny, to step in when Palooka is being beaten too badly.) The woman who exploded at another member's innocent comment in favor of spirituality? That's Atheist. (Her opposite number is another character in Reed's world, Deacon, who steps in at the first mention critical of religion.)

Nancy Tamosaitis, a New York author who wrote an early book about the way people talk online ("net.talk," Ziff-Davis, 1994), found herself laughing after a reporter asked her to check out Reed's site.

"I've encountered every type of flamer Mike characterizes online," Tamosaitis e-mailed. "From the Netiquette Nazi (if you stray from the posted forum guidelines, she will yell at you) to the Impostor (the 21-year-old coed who turns out to be a retired autoworker)."

Reed, 52, married with one child in high school and another in college, was drawn to flaming during the days of Usenet, a pre-Internet collection of discussion forums. He was a prankster, posting fictitious messages intended to outrage members of groups devoted to discussing raw vegetables or the use of crystals in healing. "I thought it was like creating fiction in real time."

He eventually outgrew that behavior but remained fascinated by the personalities he had mocked. In the late-1990s, he was participating in a software test as a technician when an online fight broke out among some of the testers. "I thought, 'Hmmm, I need to do something to deflate this conflagration.' So I started to post drawings and descriptions of some of the people."

His first caricature was a woman "who I was persuaded wasn't listening to anything I was saying; every time she got a message from me there'd be this buzz saw of key taps." And so Furious Typer was born, followed by Big Dog and Me Too (who aligns himself with Big Dog because he is too insecure to argue on his own), The Cyber Sisters (a group of women who gang up on anyone who insults one of them) and Toxic Granny.

"When they saw themselves pictured that way, it took some heat off," Reed said. "Then I thought of more types. Every morning I'd knock off a couple. I'd just leave them up on the Net. He drew with a digital pen and a painting program that inserted solid colors.

Gradually the number of visitors to his website swelled, reaching points as distant as Finland and Bulgaria, with requests to translate his profiles into Turkish and Hebrew. (In typical Internet-entrepreneur fashion, he offers T-shirts and coffee mugs embossed with your favorite flamer.)

It's still easy to find voids in Reed's gallery, depending on your politics. Susan Catherine Herring, a professor of information science at Indiana University, finds that his caricatures skew toward the male perspective, placing women in "Nanny"-like, civilizing roles and avoiding the crudest, typically male online behavior that targets women. "Where is the 'Harasser?' The 'Misogynist?' " she e-mailed in response to a reporter's query.

David Woolley, a Minneapolis Internet consultant who specializes in group communication, said that while Reed's perspective is valid...

...he noted that an increasing number of discussion groups are employing stronger moderators to banish anyone who engages in personal attacks. None of which lessens the essential truth behind Flame Warriors: Some people turn into monsters when they can hide behind the anonymity of a screen name.

"Discussion-board communications on the Internet showcase the true humanity — or lack therein — of people," author Tamosaitis said. "People act on pure emotion when they read and react to Internet postings … freed from having to look a fellow poster in the eyes, people's honest emotions are unleashed."

Reed has a more specific diagnosis.

"Basically, flaming happens because people are not good writers," he said. "Whenever they think they're expressing irony or wry humor, their writing is not good enough to carry that sense, and people take it the wrong way. When you're writing rapidly, you're not editing ….I can't tell you how many times somebody imagines they're wittily ironic and they come off as sarcastic."

Fans e-mail Reed to suggest new caricatures. Some take his world more literally: "I'd like to think of myself as a crossbreed of Weenie and Philosopher, but I fear I'm pretty much a Goader," wrote a user from the Netherlands. Cigarette-paper and playing-card manufacturers have sought licensing deals. And, not surprisingly, there is the occasional flame: "What a bunch of half-wit blither you tried to post …." And, "You're a joke ….Why don't you turn your site over to me so I can once again show the world what real flaming is all about."

Reed describes his characters as people who are "liberated into being angry," who regard their cyberspace foe as "all your evil doppelgangers projected." Part of him still enjoys the combat. "I can't say it's all bad. I'm not looking forward to the day when we have complete videoconference exchanges so you can see the person. That will certainly change the feeling."

SCOTT NOTE: Familiar? You betcha!


Beyond Red & Blue

On "Larry King Live" last night, a caller asked NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw for his thoughts on what he felt was the most important issue facing the United States. He gets it:
I really think that we've got a couple of issues facing us that worry me some. The "Economists" recently did the magazine did a long survey of America which they called us one nation, two cultures. We're divided up by red and blue states on those electoral maps now. Different values in different parts of the country, and people are exploiting those differences, I think, for their own selfish ends.

So I worry about our ability to be greater than the sum of the parts rather than the less than the sum of the parts. And if you break it down, we have distinct issues on race, for example. But as much as anything, I think what the country longs for is an authentic voice to lead them in a common direction. We're always going to have ideological or cultural differences, but they've become so sharp now and so polarized and so many people are willing to try to exploit that polarization for their own ends. That I don't think it's in the common welfare or common interest of this country.

In the summer of 2001 (before 9/11) the rumor-mill had Brokaw vacationing in South Dakota while contemplating handing the anchor chair to Katie Couric and then making a run for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. Obviously nothing ever came of it. But Brokaw's comment about needing an "authentic voice" really hit home, as it says plenty about the current U.S. government.

We're a nation of red and blue, to the extreme.

Robert David Sullivan attempts to go beyond the blue and the red, to make sense of America's regional politics. (Democrats take special note of his recommendations for a 2004 victory!) I recommend giving it a look.


The Round-Up

OK folks. Let us take a break from the holi-daze and put some recent news into some sort of perspective, shall we...

When the president travels, the White House uses a rotating system for a pool that includes newspaper, wire-service, and television reporters. Hours before Mr. Bush's departure for Baghdad on Thanksgiving, CNN's two-person crew was dismissed from the White House Pool, having been told that "no further news would be made."

Then a Fox News team accompanied Bush on the Baghdad Faux Turkey Fest.

Hmm...sounds like a right-wing conspiracy to me.

Raymond Allen Gray, Jr wants you to know that he has legally changed his name. You are now to refer to him as Bubba Bubba Bubba.

So there!

George Pavlovsky of Moncton, New Brunswick, was fired in April for walking into his office drunk, toting a loaded, sawed-off shotgun, looking for his boss. He is now suing to get his job back once his prison term is finished.

Ahh...only in the 21st Century.

News Item: No Child Left Behind programs being cut by $78 million.

Resulting in 24,000 children left behind.

News Item: David Hasselhoff will release his version of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" after the first of the year.

News Item: In effort to launch a "life of Christ" video campaign, a German vicar inadvertantly supplied his parish with dozens of hardcore porn films. He blamed the mistake on a Munich video company; but the vicar has decided to press ahead with the life of Christ campaign, saying it's been "extremely successful."

Yes...VERY successful, Vicar.

News Item: Whitney Houston calls cops to report that husband Bobby Brown beat her.
News Item: Rocker Courtney Love calls drug charges "retarded."

Would someone tell these two ladies to please just go away.

Hustler publisher Larry Flynt recieved 3,211 more votes than has-been actor Gary Coleman in the California recall.

Well, let's call it now. California is no longer in play. Flynt is obviously a shoo-in for the state's 55 electoral votes.

News Item: Boston food banks find demand increasing in suburban areas.
News Item: Houston food banks report 45% increase in demand.
News Item: Stretch limousine sales are up.

Ssshhh. Be very quite. Can't you hear those economics trickling?!

News Item: South African officials have banned advertising for the country's post office that gave children an address to write to Santa, stating that the post office was "profiting from the natural credulity of children."

Ho, ho, ho.


News Item: Children in Mosgiel, New Zealand will not be able to sit on Santa's lap this year due to liability concerns.

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Mosgiel, I see.

News Item: Agents to auction seized bull semen.

For those hard-to-shop-for friends and relatives.

It's time for your annual holiday reminders:

All of Santa's reindeer, including Rudolph, are females.

It's Donder, not Donner.

Thank you.


TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Dionne Warwick, 111; Bob Barker, 142

Today is National Ding-A-Ling Day.

Monday is the 212th birthday of the Bill of Rights.

Martha Stewart will prepare hot white chocolate with peppermint sticks this weekend, while taking a breather from attorney meetings and court appearances.

Monday is the first day of National Tell Someone They're Doing a Good Job Week.

And Brian, Hoffman, Paul, Trammell, and I will be waiting to hear from you.

It seems fellow blogger, and Points West contributer, Hoffman was able to 'eavesdrop' on a Karl Rove strategy session. Take a look and chuckle.

And finally, your BUSHISM OF THE WEEK
The President on his education policies: "We wants results in every single class room so that one single child is left behind."

It's a good thing the new George W. Bush action figure doesn't talk.

I'm heading to Points North. Everyone have a great weekend.


Takin' A Leak With Santa Claus

Points West reader Joe sends us great tidings from Points East:
"In the midst of national unrest in the country and international riffs about the US denial of reconstruction contracts to countries who opposed the war, The New York Post comes through with a 'riveting' story of which department store you're least likely to get beat up in during the holiday season..."

by Billy Heller, Adam Bonislawski, Joana Walters, Daniel Levine and Michael Rovner

If you've ever looked at Macy's this time of year and wondered, "Is it safe in there?" - you're not alone.

At some Manhattan department stores, gift-hunting becomes a contact sport, plagued by overeager perfume-pushers and unintelligible store clerks. To scout out the best and worst of Manhattan's department stores, we dispatched a team of reporters on a prime shopping day - the Sunday after Thanksgiving - on a gift-buying expedition.

Their mission: Buy a women's cashmere sweater and a pair of men's slippers. Get them gift-wrapped. Then return them.

We divided the stores into three categories: high-end, moderate and discount.

Our goal was to rate the complete shopping experience - the depth of the selection, the length of the lines, the helpfulness of the staff, the cleanliness of the bathrooms and more.

And, New York shoppers will be happy to learn, everyone lived - and most members of our team accomplished their goals with few setbacks. The biggest differences among the stores, aside from the prices, were the waits at the registers and extras like gift-wrapping.

We also discovered high-end stores with low-end bathrooms -- (NOTE: what' a Murdoch employee working for a trash rag to do?) -- and discount stores with great staff. And it never hurts to ask for help - you might get an unexpected bargain. For the results of our department store face-off, read on.

Ratings 0-4 stars are based on overall quality of shopping experience.


The staff here must have started out in the Boy Scouts. They're courteous, kind and helpful, but not pushy. They'd probably walk an old lady across the street if they needed to (good thing that's where Bergdorf's men's store is). One clerk said the sweater we were buying would be on sale in a week and offered to "pre-sell" it at the lower price and mail it at sale time. The experience was unexpectedly relaxing.

Selection and prices: Fair variety of sweater styles and colors, from $200 to $800. About a dozen different slippers, $80 to $130.

How long to find, buy, gift-wrap: 25 minutes, 40 seconds Gift-wrapping: Free, by salesperson on the spot Returns: Full refund with receipt and original tags attached, at the department of purchase. 10 minutes

Bathrooms: Very clean. No problems of any sort.

SAKS FIFTH AVENUE: Three-and-a-half stars

Sweater purchase was as smooth as, well, cashmere. Saleswoman didn't try too hard to sell and made herself available for any questions. The store slipped on the slipper sale, where the staff barely even acknowledged incoming customers, although they made themselves available after a $180 slipper purchase.

Selection and prices: Sweaters, $120 to $1,850. Broad choice, from house brands to couture. Slippers, $59 (sale price) to $180. Five options.

How long to find, buy, gift-wrap: 21 minutes Gift-wrapping: Saks box with ribbon, free. Custom wrapping, on seventh floor, $5 Returns: Refund within 60 days with tags and receipts. Tag and no receipt, store credit within 60 days. Return at any register. 10 minutes

Bathrooms Very clean, very busy. A little stinky but cleaning staff always on hand.

BARNEYS: Two-and-a-half stars

Barneys is a classy operation, with a concierge near the front door to answer queries, validate parking (what is this, Beverly Hills?) and even take reservations for the store restaurant. But what upscale emporium worth the moniker doesn't even carry something warm, comfy and wanted as men's slippers? Barneys hasn't sold them since before Father's Day. The staff is knowledgable (just not about slippers) and you can find many specialty items here.

Selection and prices: A variety of Barneys-label cashmere sweaters raging from $250 for a shell to $650. Designers sweaters for as high as $1,150. Styles include traditional, slim-cut, fine-gauge and chunky knit.

How long to find, buy, gift-wrap: Instant service (no line or wait) Gift-wrapping: Free. They'll put the sweater in a chic black box with a ribbon at the register where you buy it, but no holiday gift-wrapping. (Housewares offers a silver box.) Takes a few seconds. Returns: Cash back with a receipt. Store credit without a receipt. Thirty-day limit. Sale items marked down three times cannot be returned. 45 seconds, in department of purchase

Bathrooms: Trash bins overflowing with balled-up paper towels. Could use an attendant to keep an eye on things.

LORD & TAYLOR: Three-and-a-half stars

Surprisingly efficient for a large department store. Not at all a bad experience. Sweaters well-displayed, easy to look through. Staff willing to break the rules to make shopping easier, if it's not too crowded. But our rating is based on the hope that the shocking 39-minute wait for gift-wrapping was an anomaly.

Selection and prices: Sweaters and cardigans reduced from $130 to $79.99. Good color and style selection, nicely displayed - hung on racks or folded - for easy access. Ground floor: slippers, sale prices from $19.99 to $24.99 (made in China), plus Accord slippers for $52.99. Men's shoe department: 10th floor: LB Evans brown, fleecy suede (made in Brazil), marked down to $49.99 from $70.

How long to find, buy, gift-wrap: 60 minutes Gift-wrapping: Here, size doesn't matter; it's $5 each item, regardless. But after beginning to wrap, the clerk inexplicably disappeared for 39 minutes Returns: Back to same department as purchase (but sympathetic clerks in other departments can help out). 10 minutes, 13 seconds

Bathrooms: At end of eighth floor, near elevators. No line. Functional. Typical office-style restroom. A bit "whiffy." A sort-of lounge next to bathroom, with hard chairs and dust bunnies on floor.

BLOOMINGDALE'S: Two-and-a-half stars

Beware the Bloomingdale's perfume purveyors. They're hovering about as you enter the store. Crammed displays, crammed aisles, a bit stuffy - but hey, it's Bloomie's, and you'll come away with something decent.

Selection and prices: Sweaters on sale on third floor, marked down to $99 from $149, short-sleeved $69 from $89. Awful pastel colors. Only XS or XL in black. Designers on fourth floor - yellow, pink or orange Ralph "Made in China" Lauren cashmeres for $465; cashmere hoodie for $698. Limited choice of slippers with upscale light or dark brown fleecy things. $60 to $75.

How long to find, buy, gift-wrap: 32 minutes Gift-wrapping: In the basement. $7 to $13, depending on box size. But they offer free flat red gift boxes with a Bloomindale's-embossed lid, tissue paper and ribbon for home packing, by the main elevator on each floor. Returns: Must be done in department of purchase. 5 1/2 minutes

Bathrooms: On second floor. Clean toilets. Three of six sinks out of order.

MACY'S: Two stars

You'll feel secure here - security guards greet you at the door! The sales staff is generally helpful, but it's quite crowded and shopping here just took too long. Especially at the wrapping line, where the clerks were, let's say, not as sharp as the scissors used to cut the ribbons. Macy's big advantage is its close proximity to many subway and train lines.

Selection and prices: Sweaters in a number of designs, designers, colors and styles. $60 to $180. Slippers, a dozen styles. $10 to $40.

How long to find, buy and gift-wrap: 56 minutes Gift-wrapping: It'll cost you - in time and money. $5.50 to $9.50, small box to extra large. "Oversized," $15 and up. Choice of 15 wrapping paper designs. It took 33 minutes, 10 seconds Returns: Full refund with receipt and tags attached. At any register. Sweater, 15 minutes, 45 seconds

Bathrooms: Crowded, but still clean.

CENTURY 21: Three stars

If it's frills you're looking for, don't go here. But shoppers go to Century for only one reason - prices. Just about everything is marked down in this purely utilitarian New York institution. But some of the merchandise does have that pawed-over look and you've got to check out your purchases carefully, before you buy - a possible-bargain Iris Sinclair black cashmere turtleneck at half the initial $228 price has a huge hole at close inspection. Too, you can find staffers wth a sense of humor, always a plus during holiday shopping time. They also seem to be ejoying themselves. A bonus - when it rains, they'll give you a plastic cover for your umbrella.

Selection and prices: A variety of sweater styles, colors and designers, $70 to $150. But most look already pawed-over - streched, folornly hung, knobby or bobbly. Slippers, 10 styles, $12 to $18.

How long to find and buy (no gift-wrapping): 7 1/2 minutes. Returns: Full refund with receipts and tags, within 30 days. Must go to separate customer service counter. 3 minutes, 20 seconds

Bathrooms Not quite Friday night college bar level, but close. Crowded, dirty. Not a lot of flushing going on.

DAFFY'S: Two-and-a-half stars

When you're greeted by yellow caution tape at the entrance, you've got to wonder. Go to Daffy's with low expectations and you won't be disappointed. As much atmosphere as the Department of Motor Vehicles, which is Daffy's upstairs neighbor. Basics at rock-bottom prices.

Selection and prices: Sweaters, a variety, from shells to turtlenecks. $19.99 to $89. Slippers, several types, including corduroy and wool. $6.99 to $10.99.

How long to find, buy (no gift-wrapping): 9 minutes Returns: With receipt, items can be returned until Jan. 4. All sales final after Jan. 4. Separate return register - 14-minute wait (people buying can also use this register).

Bathrooms: Nightmare toilet, horrible stench. Toilet paper strewn all over the floor. As bad as a baseball stadium bathroom. (NOTE: it's a bathroom that only John Waters could love!)


There's a reason it's called a basement. Unimpressive merchandise quality matched only by unimpressive selection. Overworked staff, but helpful when approached.

Selection and prices: Slim. Sweaters, mostly a half-dozen styles in various colors and sizes, piled in two large bins. Prices: $79.97 to $129.99. Slippers, eight styles (counting a different color as a different style), prices $16.90 to $24.90.

How long to find, buy (no gift-wrapping) 12 minutes Returns: Refund with tags and receipt by Jan. 25. Store credit without receipt (in saleable condition). Must go to customer service. 20 minutes

Bathrooms: Cleaner than a gas station, dirtier than a movie theater.
Yes folks -- it's "news" that only a Sedaris would truly call "gripping" -- but don't you feel like you've had the Big Apple Holiday Shopping Experience? I know I do. More later -- I've got a "date" in The John at Daffy's with "Santa!"

UPDATE: Wayne points out that if you are going to read but one Holiday Classic this year, read David Sedaris' Holidays on Ice. Also, you can hear realaudio of Sedaris reading Santaland Diaries here -- it's a must-listen!




Via PW contributor Hoffmania click click click!!!

unelectable and

vast right wing conspiracy

Get to clickin' hombres, lasses and buck-buckaroos!


The Landslide Brought Bush Down

Taegan Goddard makes the case for why Bush couldn't create an avalanche on a crumbling snowy cliff with a tuba and a marching band:
Don't Expect a Landslide

As Howard Dean emerges as the front-runner in the Democratic race for president, many Republicans think he's the easiest candidate for President Bush to defeat. The New York Times says "Republicans have been longing for a Bush-Dean matchup," saying Dean's positions "would open the door to a Republican landslide in November." And the Washington Times once again compares Dean to George McGovern who lost 49 states in 1972.

Here's why I expect the presidential race to be close, regardless of the Democratic nominee:

Bush has significantly less support from Democrats than Ronald Reagan did. Even Bill Clinton, hated by so many Republicans, had more friends among members of the opposition party. Without greater support among Democrats, Bush can not win in a landslide.

It's very hard to pull off a landslide when you're not likely to win three of the five largest states. In 2000, Bush wasn't even competitive in California, New York or Illinois. He lost all three states by more than 12 percent. That's 109 electoral votes in just those states.

Finally, nearly every national poll shows the country is more polarized than it has been in decades. As in 2000, we're still very much a 50-50 nation. (See the forthcoming book, The Two Americas by pollster Stan Greenberg.) Indeed, it's been nearly 16 years since any presidential candidate even won a majority of the vote. A blowout of 1972 or 1984 proportions would require an extraordinary set of circumstances that are not present today.
Atrios actually has the temerity to point out that it's not just Dean, folks it's....
Bush v. Straw

The Republicans have already invented their opposition candidate, which bears little or no relation to the actual candidates. I'm sick and tired of pundits and netizens adopting the RNC view of any of the candidates as if it were either gospel or proof that there's just no way to combat their spin.

They're going to do it to every candidate. Dean is crazy, simultaneously too right and too left, angry, and he lies. Clark is a bit nuts, everyone in the military hates him, and he's probably a war criminal. In addition, he's running for president only because of ruthless ambition. Kerry is a spoiled pampered elitist whose military service means nothing because he opposed the war. Oh, and look at that hair, I bet that cost a lot of ketchup money. Edwards is a trial laywer which means he's evil!

Cut the crap folks. I truly believe 5 of the candidates (I won't say which) will, if they run a good campaign, have no problem beating Bush. That "if" is no small thing, of course, but there you go. [...]

The Age of Wonk is over. ... That isn't to say I don't want my candidates having good policy proposals, but as Al "fuzzy math" Gore learned, when the other candidate says that up is down, the media will report it for balance. All those numbers are hard! This campaign will be won by getting people excited, having them trust the candidate, outlining general (though not necessarily entirely meaningless) policy themes, and most importantly not letting the Beltway Heathers get the best of you.

...and another thing. Stop ceding the goddamn debate. Who here thinks Howard Dean can beat Bush? Why Ted, you ignorant slut, Fred Flintstone could take Bush with Barney Rubble as his campaign manager.
Atrios is also sick and tired of all the Gore-bashing!





Officer Trio Comes Out

Significant development --- no "Rear Admiral" jokes, please:
Gay Ex-Officers Say 'Don't Ask' Doesn't Work (really?)

Three retired military officers, two generals and an admiral who have been among the most senior uniformed officers to criticize the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for homosexuals in the military, disclosed on Tuesday that they are gay.

The three, Brig. Gen. Keith H. Kerr and Brig. Gen. Virgil A. Richard, both of the Army, and Rear Adm. Alan M. Steinman of the Coast Guard, said the policy had been ineffective and undermined the military's core values: truth, honor, dignity, respect and integrity. ... They are the highest-ranking military officers to acknowledge that they are gay. Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer was discharged from the Washington State National Guard in 1992 for being a lesbian. She was later reinstated. [...]

The officers were reluctant to discuss their personal relationships, in part, they said, for fear of the consequences to themselves and loved ones. "I was denied the opportunity to share my life with a loved one, to have a family, to do all the things that heterosexual Americans take for granted," Admiral Steinman said. "That's the sacrifice I made to serve my country."
Mister Bush -- tear down this wall!


Welcome and Thank You!

Yesterday Points West enjoyed our best traffic by far since we began tracking three weeks ago, well over 500 visits in the last 24 hours. We also passed the 2,000 mark yesterday at 9 p.m. -- total visits currently stands at 2,357 -- and we seem to be well on pace to break 2,500 today! So, welcome! If you like what you see and read, please give us a bookmark, save us a fave, tell a friend or consider perhaps a link or post from your blog or website! Again, a huge thank you from the Points West team!

UPDATE: We just broke 2,500 -- and counting! UPDATE II: Quite a run! We've had approximately 1,000 visits in the last 48 hours. That isn't just a record for us -- it blows the top off our averages. Thanks ya'll!


Leaks, Lieberman, and Lies?

An interesting theory has been posited to me by a well-placed source close to the Democratic National Committee -- they, at least, seem convinced of its truth. I'm not a journalist, and can't confirm it, but I'll repeat it: The "leak" that let the cat out of the bag on the Gore/Dean announcement -- which has already been widely reported as someone close to Gore, not Dean -- is a Lieberman sympathizer from Gore's inner circle. This person informed the Lieberman campaign of the impending endorsement, and it was decided that waiting for the phone call from Gore was not in Lieberman's best interest.

So, this theory goes, the leak was planted and the spin of a "Lieberman slighted" shifted into full-gear. The theory claims that Lieberman (or his campaign) did not hear it on the news -- rather, they were informed in advance, avoided the phone call, planned the leak, and planned the response -- all long before the 8 a.m. announcement in Harlem on Tuesday. If true, "Holy Joe!" indeed...I must say, Lieberman's "shock" seemed awfully well scripted. So, hey journalist friends! Smells like smoke: but is there fire?

UPDATE: In the comments, Joe -- could it be "Jedi Master" Joe? -- writes: "Absolutely no fire there. I've posted this elsewhere, but let me repeat it. In my humble opinion, as Dean supporters we need to take the endorsements in stride with graciousness and style, but keep looking ahead. Getting caught up in the spin cycle or the "lies" or any of the crap that more or less is deflected by our momentum would be wasting valuable energy that can be spent elsewhere."

Now, I don't know who Joe is, nor do I know how he would know -- but he makes a point well worth posting. We don't typically run blind gossip items here at Points West -- I can count 3 or 4 at most in the past 6 months, 2 of which panned out -- but I was convinced enough of the possibility of this that it seemed worth posting -- and I'm still quite curious...



Are they going to vote for Howard Dean? They ought to.

This article is going to make Karl Rove get his Xanax prescription refilled.

GOP conservatives assail Bush. Spending is out of control, they say.

WASHINGTON — President Bush is a "fraud" and a "disaster." He’s betraying the Reagan Revolution. He has turned the Republican Party into the "the new welfare state party."

Those are Republicans talking. And that rage from Republicans who favor small government and fiscal restraint, in Washington and the heartland, could mean trouble for Bush’s re-election.


"Conservatives feel betrayed," said Brian Reidl, a federal budget expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

"As far as this fiscal conservative is concerned, I’m doing everything I can to expose Bush for the fraud that he is," said Jim Urling, a Cincinnati lawyer and chairman of a local group that fights government spending and taxes.


Rep. Mark Souder, a conservative Indiana Republican who voted for the Medicare bill, said that small-government Republicans have been stirred up by conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity

But when the election comes, the libertarian faction’s anger will be almost irrelevant, he said.

"Are they going to vote for Howard Dean?" Souder asked.
From his lips to God's ears.

The last vestiges of the Rockefeller Republicans thought they were electing the the "compassionate conservative" Bush. What they got was a horror show of new radical, intrusive governement powers and programs. Look at Ashcroft and the Homeland Security Department to the Patriot Act, public funding of religious groups with Bush's Faith Based Initiative, to the greatest offense, the massive Medi-pork bill - the largest expansion of the welfare state since Johnson. As clear it is to the left that Bush is not compassionate, it is becoming just as clear to the fiscal right that he's not particularly conservative.

These people are furious and rightly feel betrayed. Yeah they got a tax cut - maybe even one that did not get swallowed whole by new state and local tax and fee increases - but they're intellectually honest enough to acknowledge that they're going to have to pay for it sooner or later. So will their kids. They seem genuinely disturbed by this.

Then there is Iraq. While it seems likely this set enjoyed the flexing of our vast military muscle, with the justification, aims, and timetable of the entire mission in question, the only aspect of it that everyone agrees about is that it's expensive. It's obscenely expensive and of little financial help to anyone but the shareholders of Haliburton and a handful of ther lucky recipients of "emergency" no-bid contracts.

Dean is perfectly poised to address the concerns of these disgruntled Republicans. In fact there is ample anecdotal evidence of Republicans backing Dean for these very reasons. His message of balanced budgets and fiscal restraint must be a great relief to hear after George "I've-Never-Met-A-Spending-Increase-I-Didn't-Like" Bush. In fact I've always thought Dean reminded me more of a traditional New England Republican than any of the labels the press has given him. They may not get everything they want with Dean, but if they examine his record closely - especially his fiscal record - they will find a lot to be excited about.

They certainly can't do much worse than the runaway spending spree endorsed by the current White House.

So, to answer Rep. Souder, yes, I believe given the current dissatisfaction with the way Bush has botched the budget and economy, I can definitely see these folks revolting in November and voting for Howard Dean.


"Attack me. Don't attack Al Gore."

Early AP report of tonight's debate in New Hampshire, with my notes throughout:
Eight Democratic presidential contenders on Tuesday strongly disputed that Howard Dean was the party's best chance for beating President Bush, or that former Vice President Al Gore's endorsement of the front-runner would seal the nomination.

"This race is not over," declared Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts as the candidates gathered in this first-in-the-nation primary state for the year's eighth and final debate. The first votes will be cast in Iowa's Jan. 19 caucuses and New Hampshire's Jan. 27 primary.
Well no, it's not over for everyone John -- just for you.
One after another, the field ganged up on Dean, who holds a double-digit lead in New Hampshire polls, and Gore in an effort to take the luster off the newly minted endorsement. They appealed to the independent streak of voters here, and suggested the endorsement smacked of old-style party machine politics.

Joe Lieberman, Gore's spurned 2000 running mate, asserted that "my chances have actually increased today." The Connecticut senator said people had stopped him in the airport to express outrage over Gore's backing of Dean.
When you pay your kids huge salaries to work on their Daddy's campaign, you can get them to say just about anything!
For his part, Dean told the others: "Attack me. Don't attack Al Gore. I don't think he deserves to be attacked by anybody up here."
Now, this was brilliant. It's the soundbite of the night, and it says in three short sentences -- that will play over and over on the news tonight -- a host of things. 1). Al Gore endorsed me. 2). Al Gore didn't endorse you. 3). I'm the frontrunner. 4). You are not. 5). Be man enough to attack the frontrunner, ya bunch of chickens. 6). To do otherwise is petty. 7). You are doing otherwise, and you are a petty bunch of chickens. 8). Al Gore is a hero. ... and finally... 9). Any one of you would have cut off your left (fill in body part here) to be endorsed by Al Gore. Best of all, Dean conveyed this while appearing -- and being -- good, fair, humble and brave -- and underscoring that perhaps the "attackers" were none of the above.
Clearly Gore's endorsement overshadowed the debate. In 2000, Gore won the popular vote by half a million votes but conceded to Republican Bush after a tumultuous 36-day recount in Florida and a 5-4 Supreme Court vote against him. The endorsement of Bill Clinton's No. 2 was a coveted prize for the Democratic hopefuls.

The response to Gore's stunning decision was precipitated when one of the debate's moderators, ABC's Ted Koppel, opened the debate by inviting the field of nine candidates to "raise your hand if you believe that Gov. Dean can beat George Bush."

Only one, Dean, raised his hand.

In endorsing Dean earlier in the day at campaign stops in New York and Iowa, Gore urged Democrats to unite behind the front-runner and said, "We don't have the luxury of fighting among ourselves."

That touched off an avalanche of criticism from Dean's rivals. [...]

Said Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina: "We're not going to have a coronation."
I had no idea Edwards was so perceptive, and educational -- I was under the impression that once Gore endorsed Dean that he would become King!
Democratic strategists said Gore's endorsement had an immediate impact, if only by giving Dean's rivals something to complain about other than Dean's policies and campaign miscues.

"It was not the pile-on that Dean expected. Dean came with his best teflon suit, but he didn't need it," said Donna Brazile, a former Gore adviser who is not tied to any of the candidates. [...]
So in the final analysis, and despite our lack of screen time, the whole debate was dominated by Dean. Though they had their various critiques of Gore and the endorsement -- what else could they do? -- having one figure dominate to such a degree is not good for any of them and simply great for us. They were all pretty stunned and off-kilter as the reality continues to sink in, and the attacks on Dean directly were surprisingly reserved and relatively mild considering.

I'm glad Dean kicked back, didn't say much, didn't argue, didn't horn in, and didn't hog time or cameras. Why bother? The night was his going in -- why eff-it up? The voters know who will decide this election: them. In fact, Dean has been the one saying that all along, and that's why he's where he is today. No amount of complaining to the contrary will convince them that Dean is trying circumvent Democracy when he's the one who's done his best to bring it directly to the people from the very start -- ironically, that's why he received the Gore endorsement as opposed to anyone else.


Knock Knock. ("Who'z Deah?")
Reality...And It's Coming In Big Time

Yes, when the "I'll be bock hasta la vista baby terminate terminate terminate" bravado dies down, the reality is that the guy is just as incompetent and dishonest as any professional politician he claims not to be.
Governor Drops Plan for Groping Inquiry

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is dropping a plan to hire a private investigator to examine allegations that he groped at least 16 women over the last three decades, a spokesman said Monday.

The governor is busy with the state's budget crisis and doubts that such an inquiry would appease critics, said Rob Stutzman, communications director for Schwarzenegger. Because of that, he has decided not to look into the charges himself — as he promised to do in the final days of the recall campaign — Stutzman said.

"The governor, in talking with counsel and advisors, concluded that there was very little point to the investigation," Stutzman said in an interview. "The issue has become quite too political. He has apologized and continues to be sincerely sorry for anyone he has offended, but also thinks the time has come to move on."
Shortfall in Car Tax to Hit Home

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's promise to protect local governments from losing money as a result of the reduction of the state's car tax is set to fail its first test Wednesday.

Administration officials have notified cities and counties that the state will be $254 million short on the December car-tax payment to local governments, which originally was scheduled to be $381 million and is due midweek.

Moreover, local officials learned Monday that the pain will get worse next month, when payments to the locals go from a third of what they expected to nothing at all. From January through March, state officials plan to divert all remaining car-tax money away from local governments to pay $600 million in refunds owed to drivers who paid the higher car tax this fall.
TRAMMELL NOTE: The new "conservative" actually means "vastly irresponsible" -- ah, the sweet smell of hypocrisy....welcome to Kal-ee-foyn-ya! For more, see Billmon's "magic asterisk" post.


Former Senator Paul Simon Dies

As a former, long-time resident of Illinois, it broke my heart to read the news. Former Senator Paul Simon (D-IL) died Tuesday, one day after undergoing heart-surgery.

Democrats and Republicans alike will tell you that Simon was well respcted and principled; honest; a true class act. Indeed, he would be a very rare breed in either party in this day and age.

Sen. Simon was a fixture in Illinois politics dating back to the mid-1950's, when he was elected to the state legislature. A stint as Lt. Governor followed. But it was Simon's out-of-left-field win for a U.S. Senate seat in 1984 for which he is most remembered. President Reagan carried Illinois handily that year, yet the downstate Democrat was able to edge out three-term Republican incumbent Charles Percy 50%-48%. Simon represented Illinois with distinction in the Senate.

After a brief run for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, Simon won re-election in 1990 with 65% of the vote, winning many Republicans over in the process. A consevative friend of mine at the time voted for Simon's re-election. "He's the most honest man I know in politics. And for me that goes a long way," he told me after casting his ballot.

Simon retired at the end of his second term in 1997 while at the top of his game. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) now in his second term, holds Simon's former seat.

Illinois and America have lost a true patriot today.


'Nuff Said

I'm getting sick of hearing the haters intentionally distorting Dean's draft record by implying that he did something unethical in the process of getting a medical deferment.

Of course, Judy Woodruff can be counted on to parrot the ridiculous theory-du-jour on Dean's draft record. Good thing, too, since Dean completely obliterates her reasoning and leaves the normally mouthy Woodruff sputtering like a bad radiator.

From today's Inside Politics:
WOODRUFF: Let me quickly quote a comment from the man who was the director of selective service in 1970, Curtis Tar (ph). He said, quote, "It's one of the real inequities left in the system because young men from wealthier family," which you were, "could afford to pay for tests that might uncover some deferrable medical condition." And other people couldn't.

DEAN: Yes, of course, that has no application to my situation whatsoever. I had an injury four years earlier which is how I knew I had a bad back in the first place. I had a bad back and couldn't run track, that's how the pain developed.

And I had went to the doctor like most people would, whether they're wealthy or whether they're middle class or even poor folks can see a doctor if they need to, if they have a serious problem unless they have no insurance, which I intend to fix if I become president of the United States.

WOODRUFF: Do you feel any guilt at all today, Governor, about not having served when so many others went?

DEAN: No. I took my physical. I told the truth, they chose not to take me. That's what happened.

WOODRUFF: So the fact that there were other young men who didn't have the ability to get good medical care and get medical tests doesn't -- there's not an inequity there that bothers you... DEAN: Judy, I was a high school junior, senior, I had a back pain, I went to the doctor, the doctor told me had I had a congenital problem in my back. Four years later I went to the draft physical, they told me I couldn't serve. I don't know what else I can tell you.

WOODRUFF: But we know today there were people who went to Vietnam who had back pain.

DEAN: So your argument is that I could have lied to the draft board and gotten in.

WOODRUFF: No, I'm -- no. That's not what I'm -- I'm just asking if you have any twinge of any feeling about it.

DEAN: I have a lot of twinge about the terrible policy that sent our young people to Vietnam for an exercise that turned out not to be justified, as we're doing right now in Iraq. Yes, I have twinges about that.

I went to the draft (UNINTELLIGIBLE). If they drafted me, I would have served. But they chose not to do that for their own reasons.

WOODRUFF: Let me turn to a very different issue
Let us all turn to a different issue, shall we?


Dean & Gore: Perspectives

Woohoo! Gore's on the team! But what does this mean in real terms?

Dean: Already pulling away from the pack in a major national poll "pre-Gore" things look good for Dean. 8 points ahead nationally. 20-30 points ahead in New Hampshire -- please note, McCain was never that far ahead of Bush in 2000, and he still won. Leading in Iowa, especially among likely caucus goers, and with many first-time caucus goers probably not being counted.

Gore's endorsement comes at a great time. Though Dean supporters have been invaluable in terms of financial support -- and please give, or give more if you can! -- Gore can bring his formidable fundraising skills to the campaign in the last few weeks of the 4th quarter, giving us one more final boost going into Iowa and New Hampshire. I won't speculate as to what the numbers will look like, but even if Gore helped raise some big money, I betcha we will still have one of the lowest per contribution averages because our campaign is so diversified and our number of donors so huge -- that's a good thing!

Further, with so many Dems undecided both nationally and in statewide polls, Gore's support could tip the balance unquestionably toward Dean. In most polls, Gore's numbers were even or just under Hillary's. If, conservatively, Gore's support means 10 points for Dean, that means we are pulling away fast and well outside almost any margin of error. Let's see if that plays through, but my instincts say that it will.

Gore: This can only be good for Gore. He and Dean have made a mutually beneficial partnership. All motives aside and come what may, Gore has secured a role as a player and a leader with a future in the Democratic Party.

Clark: Though CW is that Clark is hurt least by this, I'm not so sure. Certainly, it's going to hurt him in the endorsement competition as the dominoes continue to fall for Dean -- Loretta Sanchez endorsed today. Reports have been that Clark will in the neighborhood of $12 mil this quarter, with one big question mark: are these commits of dollars, or have the checks cleared? A Gore endorsement will likely dry up a good chunk of Clark's money base, and at a key moment. Commits that have not been delivered could evaporate. And all this, as Clark enters the final phase of his first full quarter of fundraising. That simply can't be good news. The Clinton folks now have tough decisions to make. Caution: we still have a race on our hands, and I predict that Dean and Clark will be the last two standing unless Edwards pulls an upset of staggering proportions which seems the remotest of possibilities. Clark will need to be very careful, balancing his desire for a role in a Dem administration against his desire to win a nomination that is moving further from reach by the moment. What will he do? The first signals will come tonight.

Gephardt: Though Gep is not hurt directly by this, it's hard to see how it helps. Dean has sucked all the media oxygen out of the room, leaving Gep gulping for air in Iowa. Gep's last big media story regarded his nasty rift with AFSCME and SEIU, and he's unlikely to have a positive story before the end of December as folks focus on the holidays. He's wounded in Iowa, wounded in Missouri, and his fundraising is anemic. Though he's been consistently formidable and held on valiantly, and I expect more of the same, the momentum is against him and the tide is pulling him out to sea.

Lieberman and Kerry: They don't even get their own line item. This is fatal for Lieberman lacking some miracle. Kerry, already wounded and in the ambulance, ain't gonna make it to the hospital. The only question I have is, how much damage could these two do out of spite and anger before they lay down their swords? Tonight will tell us much on this score. I certainly hope that Gore's words of caution regarding attacks on Dean will be effective. The question isn't if they will pull out -- the question is: when?

Edwards: The most interesting thing about Edwards right now is that his only real rival is Clark. Will he go after Clark? Will he bow out and endorse Clark? I doubt he'll do the latter, so I'd be looking for some of the former.

Mosley-Braun, Sharpton and Kucinich: Look for Mosley-Braun to endorse Dean before Iowa or New Hampshire in exchange for a cabinet post. Sharpton wants every delegate he can get to use as bargaining chips -- he ain't going anywhere. Kucinich? Who knows. At some point, he'll need to face reality, but in the meantime, he adds the value of making Dean looking increasingly electable and not at all like the whacko lefty that the GOP wants to portray. I see Dennis staying in through at least February, unless a deal can be made -- but the question is, what deal would Dean want to make with Dennis Kucinich?

Now mind you, Dean must still have follow-through: our fundraising must continue, we can't take anything for granted, and we have to watch our backs. The ground and field operations must move forward, and momentum with our base must be maintained and expanded. So take a deep breath folks -- and let's finish this!

More comments can be found on my crosspost at Daily Kos.


History Repeating?

Beltway schizophrenia runs rampant this week in the nation's two most respected newspapers. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, generally a dependable lefty, warned Democratic primary voters of the "McGovern-style" landslide Howard Dean would face against President Bush next November.
I agree with Mr. Dean on many issues, and I admire his willingness to oppose our Iraq invasion from the beginning. But shiny-eyed teenagers who distribute leaflets for him in places like Yamhill County are going to get very cold stares and end up heartbroken.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol makes the case in the Washington Post for a Dean victory eleven months from now. The Republicans hate to hear it, but Kristol makes a very potent political point:
The Democratic presidential candidate has, alas, won the national popular presidential vote three times in a row -- twice, admittedly, under the guidance of the skilled Bill Clinton, but most recently with the hapless Al Gore at the helm. And demographic trends (particularly the growth in Hispanic voters) tend to favor the Democrats going into 2004.
Patrick Buchanan makes his own comparisons, raking Mr. Bush over the coals for piss poor foreign and domestic policy, while prediciting a 2004 victory based on illusionary campaign tactics.
Mark my words: These chickens are coming home to roost for Bush, and they will raise a racket unlike any we have seen in years, as they did for LBJ, and for Nixon. Unfortunately for Howard Dean, as for Sens. Goldwater and McGovern, the chickens will probably not start home until well after November 2004.
I'd hope that the American people are smarter than that. The Democrats will need to slam home Bush's "miserable failure" policies, before the chickens come home to roost.

So which is it? A 1972-style Democratic defeat, or a 1992-style Democratic victory over a Republican incumbent? Or, is it a 1984 or 1988-style contest, with a dangerously illusionary up-swing in the economy giving the incumbent a cushion all the way to Election Day?

The answer: None of the above. Howard Dean ain't George McGovern. (For my money he's not even Michael Dukakis.) But, more importantly, George W. Bush ain't Richard Nixon (or Ronald Reagan, for that matter).

This is a different time in a different world. The endless analogies to the 1964, 1972, and 1984 presidential contests are moot. This race is going to be between Howard Dean (assuming he wins the Democratic nomination - but with Al Gore's endorsement, the nomination is Dean's to lose) and George W. Bush. Not Johnson and Goldwater; not Nixon and McGovern; not Reagan and Mondale. Howard Dean and George W. Bush. Period. Josh Marshall paraphrased a great quote from historian Edmund Morgan yesterday: "History never repeats itself. It only seems like it does to those who don't know the details."

The ending to the story of the 2004 presidential contest is unknown, but two things are for certain: The Republicans best not get giddy if Dean emerges as their opponent; and the Democrats should be strongly prepared for a hard fought battle against a well-entrenched incumbent.

Cross-posted over on the DailyKos.



Saf and Sully

Would somebody please inform William Safire and Andrew Sullivan that the next presidential election is in 2004? It seems these two gentlemen have already called the '04 race for ol' Shrub (although the current Zogby poll doesn't indicate any sort of cake walk for the Prez) and that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is a shoo-in for 2008. (They fall all over themselves praising the former first lady.)

As much as I'd love to see a Hillary presidency (and she'd be a damn good one), we have a few men - and one woman - who would like the chance to take on George Dubya in 11 months. They're a decent bunch who are more than up to the job.

Not one American has cast a ballot in the coming contests. Why don't we wait and see who wins the next contest before jumping so far ahead?



Details here and here.

SCOTT NOTE: Developing....much more later, but for now.......woohoo!!!!


Neon Lights

Billmon is back from sabbatical.

Go on in, have a drink.


Pseudonymous: Final Note

As I noted recently, in preparation for my move to Los Angeles in January, I'll be using a pseudonym. You may have noticed that I've recently changed my byline from Scott Moore to Scott Trammell -- and in the next few days I'll be going by simply Trammell. For the curious, Trammell is my Ma's family name. Reason: not sure where I'll be working yet, and I wanted to add a small "firewall" between my blogging and my company, clients and co-workers. It's one thing if they "know" -- but it's another thing all together if they think it "reflects" on them somehow and the dots could easily be connected. Wouldn't be hard to figure out that it was me if someone tried, but especially with clients and customers this will give me a degree of anonymity so that I may continue writing what I actually want to without sanitizing. So say goodbye to the blogger formerly know as Scott Moore -- when I make the final change, I plan to delete this post. Thanks!



Kerry Withdrawal Contest

Mickey Kaus of Kausfiles on Slate has some almost-advice and a reader challenge to help the poor, beleaguered, exhausted, imploding and increasingly ducking fesperate John Kerry:
Democratic Senator John Kerry, once proclaimed the frontrunner in the press, faces not just defeat but utter humiliation in the New Hampshire primary. Is he really going to soldier on to finish in the single digits and get clobbered by both Howard Dean and Wesley Clark, if not one or more other candidates? Shouldn't he save his pride (and possible national political future, if only as a VP candidate) by withdrawing from the race before this harsh popular verdict is rendered? ... But what can Kerry say that isn't even more humiliating than seeing it through? "I realize my wife Teresa needs me more than my country needs me"? That won't cut it. "I've decided to take time out to learn the Web so I can compete in future campaigns" and "I'm entering rehab at an undisclosed location to recover from my vicious Ibogaine habit. I make no excuses" are too trendy. ... Let's harness the power of the Web and help Kerry adviser/speechwriter Robert Shrum with the dirty job that lies ahead for him. A copy of John Glenn: A Memoir to the reader who submits the best cover excuse that will let Sen. Kerry drop out of the presidential race before the voting actually starts while preserving his viability within the system. ... Void where prohibited.... My entry:
"Because Howard Dean chose not to abide by the campaign finance law's limits, it's now clear to me that in order to compete I would have to spend unconscionable amounts of my own money and jeopardize my family's and my children's future. This I will not do. I put my family before any personal ambition. I will dedicate the remainder of my Senate term to promoting a new, better campaign finance system to insure that no serious candidate is ever faced with this choice again."
OK, so Kerry's wife Teresa is fabulously wealthy and the family would be in fine economic shape whatever happens (especially since Teresa can't waste her own assets on his campaign). Come up with a better excuse, then. ... One more: How about the need to recover from a mysterious "motorcycle accident"? It worked for Dylan!
So get those e-mails rumbling, please copy your ideas in the comments here -- and tell Mickey that you heard it at Points West!

My suggestion:
"My fellow Americans, it is with a heavy heart that I must remove my name from the Democratic Party's nomination process as a candidate for President of these United States. As a Vietnam veteran, I comprehend all too well that in any combat situation, one must pick their battles if they wish to fight another day. My friends, I intend to fight another day, but that day is not today, nor will it be tomorrow, nor the day following tomorrow, nor the day after that. Pressing concerns at home have overshadowed my campaign in recent weeks, and if I cannot give my all -- and I cannot -- then I will no longer continue to seek the nomination of the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, the issues I face are of a personal nature. Though I most certainly hope to elaborate at some point in the future, I cannot at this time. With deep appreciation, and with deep regret, I thank you."
Heck, they guy hasn't really said anything in months -- why should he start now if he's getting out? Besides, he'll be forgotten in moments and no one will be asking many further questions anyway. John Kerry is dead. He was a brave man -- just ask him! Long live John Kerry!


Already, Dean is Making Better Use Of Your Money

With Bush, your $2000-a-plate dinner gets you a burger, fries and maybe beer. And if you have a camera, Bush will probably hold up a platter for you with a fake hamburger and all the trimmings.

With Dean, a hundred bucks gets you into the "Dean Rocks The House of Blues" party in LA on December 15th. The entertainment includes The Folksmen (Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer), Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Bangles.

(Or if you want to attend a private house party beforehand with Rob Reiner, Leonard Nimoy, Martin Sheen, Bradley Whitford, Jane Kaczmarek, Steve Tyler and too many more, it's $2000. Still a lot more fun than a hot dog with Dick Cheney.)

Get yer tickets here.

A similar event is happening in San Francisco on the 14th with Bonnie Raitt, Phoebe Snow, David Crosby and more. Click here for that info.

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