The Round-Up

TGIF evera-body! As we head into this final weekend before presidential politics go hella-crazy, let's sit back and take a look at some other news from the last few weeks, shall we....

News Item: Pastor fights porn with midgets.

And to think…we had the solution staring us in the crotch…uhh…er…FACE all this time.

News Item: The FBI is warning police nation wide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.

Has the f*c*ing FBI gone completely out of it’s mind!!! Mr. President, it’s time for the Attorney General to go!

News Item: President Bush leaves upper-bracket tax cuts in place while proposing a 2005 budget that cuts back on health care for veterans, medical research, job training, and employment programs.

Karl Rove will throw up the “Mission Accomplished” sign any day now.

Tamron Hall, morning news anchor at WFLD-TV, the Fox affiliate in Chicago, recently told viewers that when she was a baby her mother would wipe her face with urine-soaked diapers to make the future TV news reader more beautiful.


News Item: Critical shortage of Arabic linguists hindering intelligence efforts in war against terror.
News Item: Military fires nine Arabic linguists because they are gay.
News Item: Missing keys at U.S. Nuke Labs.

Not to worry though. We’ll start anew with the Arabic lessons…and, oh yeah, and we’ll try and find those keys also, as soon as we are done screening the sexual orientation of all candidates.

News Item: A study by the British Office of National Statistics shows that women spent an hour and a half more a day than men on cooking, cleaning, washing up, and ironing; while men spent longer amounts of time slumped in front of the television.

And the good news for women: The study showed they will live five years longer than men.

News Headline: “Kucinich Shows Pie Chart on Radio Debate”

The Democratic also-ran is from Ohio, right? Mmm Hmm. “The mistake by the lake.” I’ll let you take it from there.

News Item: The Toronto District School Board banned snowball fighting on school grounds this week. “We don’t encourage people to throw things at each other,” Superintendent Maureen Kaukinen said.

Sounds to me like Maureen needs to get a grip.

Goes to the bank robber in Salt Lake City, Utah, who wrote his holdup note on the back of a personal check.

News Item: Hollywood is planning a remake of “The Graduate” starring Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore

Let me guess... Bruce Willis as MR. Robinson??

News Item: Hundreds of potential jurors for Martha Stewart’s coming fraud trial filed into a federal courthouse this week to fill out questionnaires for the formal beginning of jury selection.

And if it’s to be a jury of her peers, the jury pool had better wax their hardwood floors, refill their wood-bins, clean out their freezers, and replenished their spice cabinets before they even bother to fill out the questionnaire.

Monday is National Clean Off Your Desk Day.

Monday is also the first day of Cuckoo Dancing Week!

268 days, 10 hours, and 53 minutes from the time I type this until National Vodka Appreciation Day.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS: Barbed wire, 131; Dave Matthews, 37; Linda Lovelace, also 131.

Finally, your Bushism of the week: Ol’ Dubya, reflecting about growing up in Texas: "It was just inebriating what Midland was all about then."

Yeah…I bet it was!

Thankyouverymuch and happy National Virgin Sacrifice Day!


Sen. Harkin Endorses Dean

At the end of a week of relatively negative press, Howard Dean heads into the weekend with a key endorsement. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) will endorse Dean for the Democratic presidential nomination, party sources said Friday, giving a key boost to an embattled front-runner 10 days before the state’s kick-off caucuses.

Despite some comments to the contrary, Harkin's endorsement of Dr. Dean in the nomination race is worth its weight in gold. While Dean still leads in Iowa polling, caucus night vote-swapping could provide an upset on January 19th. (The Iowa caucuses are notorious for providing upsets.)

With Harkin's endorsement, Dean now has the backing of the state's most influential Democrat. Should polling get really tight in the days leading to the January 19th caucuses, the Senator's support could mean the difference between a narrow win and a narrow second place finish.

This is very good news for Dean.

Moreover, this is a kick in the back side to Richard Gephardt. His struggling campaign can't afford anything less than a first place finish a week from Monday. A second place finish may provide enough power for a hard limp to New Hampshire, but the former House minority leader is only polling at 5% there. He's got his work cut out for him.



Like A Sturgeon

Happy New Year Points Westerners -- long time no talkee!

Imagine my Surprise! Today, I received my first e-mail from that All-American-Material Girl, Madonna! As my hand quivered on my mouse, after all these years toiling to her music in the gay dance clubs of this great nation, I thought: What might Madonna want to say, to me? Has she written a song or invented a game in which my name, is?

Nope, she just sent me some bad fish wrapped in an old New York Post -- and, Dear Readers, I'm happy to share that fish with you! Knowing it's Madonna writing makes it really, really especially extra super-duper funny -- careful not to choke folks, Points West bears no responsibility if you're reading this while eating a bran muffin, notes from me in parens and italics:
Dear Friend,

(WOW, I'm Madonna's FRIEND!)

I've never done this before. (It's the only thing she hasn't done) But life is about taking risks, is it not? (It is! It is!)

I know that people seem to pay attention to everything I do. (I simply adore her humility) Big or Small. Ridiculous or Sublime. (When did Madonna ever do anything "sublime"?) So I am hoping they pay attention to this:

I am supporting General Wesley Clark for President. (Really? Take me to the polls! Madonna is supporting Wes Clark!)

Not only as a "celebrity," but as an American citizen and as a mother. ("Not only as a 'mother' and an 'American citizen' -- with a fake British accent -- but as a 'celebrity'....." Who wrote this shit? Madonna?) I want my children to grow up with the same opportunities that I had -- to know and understand what's going on in the world and to travel that world safely and with pride (and hopefully with lots of condoms and Costco-size jugs of morning-after pills).

I fear the future I wish for my children is at risk, so I'm taking action. Please join me. (Somehow, Madonna entreating me with a pitch to the future of America's kids seems, well, hollow) [...]

Thankfully, we have a candidate running for President who is committed to ensuring that our country lives up to its promise and its people. Wes Clark is a decorated soldier and a respected diplomatic leader who has already given 34 years to his country. He is smart and he is good. He has worked hard to get where he is and he is a national hero.

A perfect example of the American Dream. (AHA, now I get it: Madonna "RELATES" to Wes Clark -- Colonel Peron to her Eva Duarte, perhaps? Ewwwwwwwwwwww.)

I've never aligned myself (snicker) with a presidential candidate during the primary season. [...]

I've looked at all the Democratic candidates ("and there is only one I would consider boffing"). I respect them all for their dedication and patriotism. But I'm supporting Wes Clark because in him I see the qualifications, character and vision that we ("and I") so desperately need. [...]

You may not agree with everything I say or do, (and in this case I don't -- get back to the sexy stuff, please, FRIEND?) but whether you're rich or poor, young or old, black or white, gay (SEE that's ME, I'm Madonna's FRIEND!) or straight, I know you share my concern and recognize the need for change.

And don't be shy -- ("i'm not, why should you be?") share your support ("and your body, if possible") with everyone you meet (WHOA!).

If it helps, spread (snicker) this message on to everyone you know (snicker). My opinions have made news before. (I simply adore her modesty!) Let's make some news in 2004 -- (Oh Great, I see the "Happy Birthday Mister President" thoughts jiggling around in her Marilyn-wannabe head -- Ewwwwwwwwwwww!)

Oh, and by the way? Your last album sucked! But hey, Miss Ciccone, I still love ya, even though you're kinda dumb on the political score -- I just don't get the Wesley-Pickers. Advice? I wouldn't select the dress for that birthday party at the White House quite just yet...but thanks for Expressing Yourself, however embarrassingly!



The New Republic Makes Its Endorsement

On CNN, Peter Beinart of TNR just announced their endorsement for president...and Daily Kos is right. The "Democratic" New Republic is only missing the "an" at the end of their name.

Their pick: Joe Lieberman.

Cross-posted at Hoffmania



"Clark, Clark, Clark, Clark."

Wesley Clark has tied with John Kerry in the lastest American Research Group tracking poll in New Hampshire. Clark moved from 12% to 14%, while Kerry remained flat. Clark's two point increase came out of Howard Dean's hide, but the former Vermont governor still holds a strong 23-point lead.

Update: WMUR-TV is reporting that a poll conducted by the campaign of one of Clark's competitors shows Clark has passed Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry for second place.

Clark seems to have what Daddy Bush once called "the big-mo." If the momentum holds up, Clark finishes a suprising strong second behind Dean, embarassing Kerry his own backyard. I can hear it now...the microphone picking up Kerry's comments as he walks away from the podium after announcing the end of his campaign: "Clark, Clark, Clark, Clark."


Bradley Endorses Dean

Howard Dean received the endorsement of former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) this morning in New Hampshire. "The pundits say Howard Dean is an angry guy," Bradley said, "but I say that he's an idealist who's willing to be tough in pursuit of his vision. You can't use nuance with someone as radical as George Bush. You have to be blunt and relentless in telling the truth about what he has done."

Going after Bush's handling of the war against terrorism, Bradley took the President head on. "In 2000, the Supreme Court declared that George Bush had defeated Al Gore, but his Code Orange warnings continue to remind us Bush has not defeated al Qaeda. As a Democrat, I wanted him to lose against Gore, but as an American I desperately wanted him to win against al Qaeda," Bradley said. "Sadly, he still has not."

Both Richard Gephardt and John Kerry downplayed the endorsement.


Do Cry For Us Argentina

Another excellent column from Paul Krugman in today's New York Times. Once again Krugman tackles the Bush budget deficit, comparing the current situation to that of Argentina's in the 1990's:
"Argentina retained the confidence of international investors almost to the end of the 1990's. Analysts shrugged off its large budget and trade deficits; business-friendly, free-market policies would, they insisted, allow the country to grow out of all that. But when confidence collapsed, that optimism proved foolish. Argentina, once a showpiece for the new world order, quickly became a byword for economic catastrophe."
As Krugman points out, those who suggest that the fiscal mess created by President Bush will lead to a similar disaster are often dismissed as shrill, hysterical, and (of course) unpatriotic.
Enter Robert Rubin. No one has ever called the legendary Treasury chief "shrill" or "hysterical." In this morning's column Krugman points to a policy paper, presented over the weekend by Rubin and three co-authors, that highlights the coming economic catastrophe should the Bush deficits continue to spiral out of control. The Rubin paper stated:
"Substantial ongoing deficits may severely and adversely affect expectations and confidence, which in turn can generate a self-reinforcing negative cycle among the underlying fiscal deficit, financial markets, and the real economy. . . . The potential costs and fallout from such fiscal and financial disarray provide perhaps the strongest motivation for avoiding substantial, ongoing budget deficits."
As Krugman puts it, "In other words, do cry for us, Argentina: we may be heading down the same road."

In late December of 2000, when it was certain that Mr. Bush would become president with a 540,000 vote deficit in the popular count and the slimmest Electoral College margin in over 100 years, I suggested he retain Robert Rubin's successor at Treasury, Lawrence Summers. It would have been a signal to domestic and world markets that he understood the election numbers; that his policy proposals needed to be revised. Instead, the President has steered us on a course with financial ruin. Even with record deficits, ol' Dubya thinks tax cuts are the way to balanced budgets. As Mr. Krugman points out, even Reagan increased taxes when the deficit ballooned.

I don't think the United States would be better off with another four years of George ("I won't pass problems on to future presidents and future generations") Bush. His policies may cause a brief up-tick in the economy, but just as surely as things went sour for his father, any economic recovery will be short lived - and a second Bush term would see the chickens coming home to roost. The result will most certainly be disasterous for the United States of America.

Note to Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, or whoever the 2004 Democratic nominee turns out to be: Might I suggest a solid nominee for vice-president? His name is Bob Rubin.

Update: It was pointed out to me by Stirling Newberry over at Daily Kos that Bob Rubin has endorsed Wes Clark for President. Thanks, Stirling!



The Winning Tax Plan

THIS is the tax-plan the Democrats should be offering. Endorsed by Laura Tyson, Dean of the London Business School and a former top advisor to President Bill Clinton, it's a tax plan that would win over more than enough independents - not to mention fiscally responsible Republicans who think Bush has been a miserable failure on fiscal issues - to win back the White House for the Democrats

Mr. Clark outlined his ambitious plan today in Nashua, New Hampshire.
"It's time for Democrats to take back tax reform as our issue, and we're going to do it the right way. Rather than creating new loopholes for special interests, we're going to simplify the tax system and make it easier and fairer for all working Americans. It's a matter of seeing what's right for America - and having the courage to demand it. And I will.
...So if Karl Rove is watching today, I want him to hear me loud and clear: I am going to provide tax cuts to ease the burdens for 31 million American families -- and lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty -- by raising the taxes on 0.1 percent of families -- those who make more than $1,000,000 a year. And if that makes me an "old style" Democrat, then, I accept that label with pride and dare you to come after me for it. Because what I am talking about today is in the best tradition of Wilson and Roosevelt; of JFK, LBJ, and Bill Clinton - and it is in the best interest of the United States of America!"
It's a postive plan, forward-looking, progressive, and exactly what the Democratic candidate should offer up against Mr. Rove, the President, and their whiney minions this coming year.

I've said it before: Campaigning on a promise to roll back the Bush tax-cuts will easily be played up as a tax increase. And that my friends is a losing proposition.

Cross posted at Daily Kos.

Update: Mark Kleiman gives an excellent overview of Clark's plan and suggests the other Democratic candidates come up with something as progressive and forward looking.


Bill Bradley Expected to Endorse Dean

The AP and the Boston Globe are reporting that former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) is expected to endorse front-runner Howard Dean tomorrow in New Hampshire.

In a recent interview with sfpolitics.com, a California website devoted to politics, Bradley said of Dean:
"I think Howard Dean has the strongest free media presence (of the Democratic contenders) and he has managed to broaden that to a broader protest and critique of the Bush administration, and the last things he got to do, he has to be able to broaden that to a broader agenda, more than simply anti-war. And he has to have an aspirational component to what he is saying so that people will feel that they are empowered by him to be as good as they can possibly be.''
The news very well could be the final nail in the coffin of what's left of John Kerry's campaign. Asked about Kerry by sfpolitics.com, Bradley said only: "Well, let's go on.'' And Joe Lieberman is probably ready to spit nails.

More after the announcement tomorrow.


Monday Morning Wrap-Up

Sunday's debate and a few other tid-bits from the weekend...

Howard Dean survived the pot-shots hurled his way in Sunday's Democratic debate. In their pathetic efforts to derail Dean's momentum, Gephardt, Kerry, and Lieberman looked desperate. Their campaigns are in disarray.

The wrap-up from William Saletan, David Broder, Adam Nagourney, the Des Moines Register, and the Boston Globe.

Howard Dean held his own. John Edwards had his best performance of the campaign. And, once again, Carol Moseley-Braun was a class act.

Meanwhile, Wes Clark made it clear yesterday on "Meet the Press" that he has no intentions of running for Vice-President. "I'm running to be the president of the United States, not the vice president, and I will not accept that nomination," Clark told moderator Tim Russert.

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Dean still leading among Democrats nationally. However, that lead is shrinking with Wesley Clark coming in second.

David Brooks seems to think that the Republicans have a problem this election year: They lack a governing philosophy.

A William Safire piece in this morning's NY Times points to another potentially harmful "shoot-from-the-hip" comment from Howard Dean. When a reporter asked about his favorite New Testament book, Dean named Job. Problem is, Job is in the Old Testament.

Finally, for the second time, Howard Dean is on the cover of both Newsweek and Time.

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