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Step off, old man!
Saturday, 31 January 2004
Out of Touch
I saw President Bush this morning talking about the new price tag for the Medicare prescription bill. The Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cost around $400 billion and now the White House estimates the price tag at $540 billion. Of course, you know it's going to cost way more than that in the end.

When asked about the increased price tag, Bush said, "Congress is going to have to work with us. They are going to have to make some tough choices to keep spending in line."

That's like being married and having two checkbooks in the house. The husband spends like crazy, buying a widescreen TV, a new sportscar, and a membership at a private golf club. When the wife goes to buy groceries, she gets a tongue lashing from the husband about using coupons and not spending over $20. That's how sick the President is.

I read a story in Friday's Boston Globe about President Bush's visit to a Fidelity Investment office in NH. Of course, there is no way Karl Rove will let him in front of a crowd that could ever potentially ask him a real question, let alone a difficult one. The story said there was one unscripted moment from a Fidelity employee, who was supposed to commend the President on his tax cut. As I read this, I got excited. Here it was. Bush facing a real person whose comments weren't scripted ahead of time.

She asked him who he liked in the Super Bowl.

And then, she made her pre-scripted remarks about the tax cut. Can you imagine the comedy if Bush had to ever actually answer to real voters the way the Democratic candidates are now?

One other thing: there is growing evidence that the Diebold electronic voting machines are seriously flawed. The latest evidence is a group of high school students who hacked into some of the machines and changed all the votes. Why the hell don't these machines have paper receipts?

In Georgia's election for governor, the Democratic candidate led comfortably in all the polls, before the election and in exit polling. His Republican opponent ended up winning.

Diebold machines were used in this election. If you love democracy, be afraid.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:44 AM EST
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Friday, 30 January 2004
October Surprise, Baby!
Remember how the hostage crisis sunk Carter and how the incoming Reagan Administration traded arms to the Iranians in exchange for the hostages, who just happened to be released while Reagan was taking office? Reagan let Carter greet the hostages while he was being sworn in, which was all carried via a nice split-screen on American television.

Get ready for this year's October surprise -- the capture of Osama Bin Laden. There's no question that if we had devoted the manpower and resources that we have to Iraq, we would have caught Bin Laden by now. Now, the Administration is planning a spring offensive in Afghanistan, aimed at capturing Bin Laden and Mullah Omar.

This article, quoting a military spokesman, is pretty stunning. It's doubtful he would say he was sure unless they have a very good idea where he is now.

"The U.S. military is "sure" it will catch Osama bin Laden this year, perhaps within months, a spokesman declared Thursday, but Pakistan said it would not allow American troops to cross the border in search of the al-Qaida leader."

The article goes on to say the US will cross into Pakistan, whether we have permission or not. Good. We should. But why didn't we do it two years ago, instead of diverting into Iraq?

Another thing: the media loves to play "Gotcha!" with all the Democratic candidates. Twice in the last month, Pres. Bush has said Hussein wasn't allowing inspections and that's why we had to go in. There were inspections going on. They were stopped because we were getting ready to go to war. Why doesn't anyone call him on this?

By the way, remember how everyone used to make fun of UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix because he couldn't find any WMD's. Pretty funny, now, huh?

Posted by brettdavey at 8:44 AM EST
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Thursday, 29 January 2004
Coalition of the willing.. uhh, sort of...
How about that kick-ass coalition we've put together in Iraq? The Japanese are so into it that they've hired Iraqi tribal leaders to protect their troops! This is not a joke. Here it is from a news article:

"The Japanese government is reportedly paying approximately 10 billion yen to Iraqi tribal leaders to provide bodyguards for the Self-Defense Forces in Iraq.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office said: "It is rather cheap if we can buy security for our soldiers with that amount of money. In Iraq, oil money is distributed to those tribes. It is more important for the Japanese government to make one-time payments to the leaders than to pay them a salary. That will help their local economy and benefit Japan's foreign policy toward new Iraq."

The first contingent of Ground Self Defense Forces is already in Samawah in southern Iraq. The main force is scheduled to be sent either at the end of January or in early February.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's main concern has been how to protect the lives of the SDF soldiers. One of the measures that the government initially took was to have Dutch forces guard the SDF.

Last year, Abdul Amir Rikaabi, the powerful leader of an Iraqi tribe, visited Japan and Koizumi made a confidential agreement with him in which Japan would pay a huge amount of money in exchange for protection, according to a source in the Prime Minister's Office."

What the hell is this... "My Bodyguard"?

Posted by brettdavey at 4:04 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 29 January 2004 4:06 PM EST
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None of your business
It's sad what passes as news these days. Dean's scream in Iowa took time away from the cable networks covering really important stories like Michael Jackson dancing on top of a car or Scott Petersen's trial being moved.

Why isn't this the lead story on every news show? Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia goes hunting with Dick Chaney on a plane owned by an oil services company and Scalia says he can be impartial judging Cheney's secret energy task force!

I was told in journalism school to avoid exclamation points but that deserves one. Here's what Newsday wrote in an editorial:

"Federal law says a judge should disqualify himself in any proceeding where his impartiality could reasonably be questioned. Scalia has resisted...There is no higher authority to review Scalia's decision. But a private,
out-of-state getaway is different from a chat at a cocktail party. And Cheney is not an incidental party to the lawsuit: It was he who convened the task force, believed to have been top-heavy with industry players, and he who kept the meetings secret. And who paid for the private jet that whisked Scalia to Louisiana?
The Times said it was the owner of an oil services company. Scalia has been hopelessly compromised."

Posted by brettdavey at 10:40 AM EST
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Wednesday, 28 January 2004
Mild hangover
I don't drink but there is something about watching 3 or 4 hours of election coverage that gives you a hangover. The talking heads on the cable channels may be the most dreadful group of people I've ever seen. Of course, I wish Clark has finished a stronger 3rd and that Kerry hadn't won by such a convincing margin, but what can you do?

As a Clark supporter, I see Kerry as being the one who mucked things up. All the credit to him for putting all his focus on Iowa, a move that all the experts panned as doomed. Still, he took away Clark's natural base of support with veterans' groups and those who place national security on the top of their agenda.

When I see him, I feel like Jerry Seinfeld when he used to curse: "Neuman!"

I see the junior senator from Massachusetts and I curse: "Kerry!"

Posted by brettdavey at 12:42 PM EST
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Tuesday, 27 January 2004
Boy, did that suck!
I watched a little of the new Dennis Miller show on CNBC last night. It was really bad, I mean, Chevy Chase's talk show bad. He did this Dirty Harry, "Let's get the bad guys..." opening that was really awful.

Remember when Dennis used to be a comedian? I'm not bothered by the fact that he's got his head up Pres. Bush's ass (see earlier post). I'm just bothered by the fact that he's not even trying to be funny. I laugh on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart when they slam both Democrats and Republicans, but I don't want to see him dissect gun control or terrorism.

Miller had Ahhh-nold as his first guest. And in a shocking coincidence, Miller's show is produced by Arnold's campaign manager. Just to show he is looking to be fair and balanced, Dennis had on the following guests: Ahhh-nold, Rudy Guiliani, and John McCain.

Speaking of fair and balanced, Miller ended his show by complaining how Fox still owes him $6,000. He didn't do it in a funny way; he just whined about how they owed him the money. I felt uncomfortable for Miller as I watched the show. It sucked that bad.

Posted by brettdavey at 4:15 PM EST
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What I meant to say was...
The White House is spinning faster than Bill O'Reilly on the WMD issue. Today, the President's press secretary said the White House isn't sure now if WMD's will be found. Old GW himself said the same thing later in the day. He did say, however, that Saddam was a "gathering storm." I guess that's the new bar that has been set for invading a country.

Speaking of O'Reilly, almost a year ago he said that if no WMD's were found, he would come on the air and denounce the Bush Administration and never trust them again.

Bill, we're waiting.

I also read something interesting about O'Reilly's supposed middle class upbringing. He brags that his father never made more than $35,000 a year. A comparitive analysis of that salary, which is what his father made in 1978, translates to more than $90,000 annually today.

So much for your street cred, Bill.

Posted by brettdavey at 2:47 PM EST
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The Waiting Game
When you are emotionally invested in a presidential candidate, primary days are torture. I'm sure the Dean people felt like they were hit below the belt in Iowa, especially after the silly reaction to Dean's post-caucus scream. If you're into a candidate, you relentlessly scour the internet for any new dribble of information that reflects positively on your guy.

The process itself is part of the problem. As a Clark supporter, I tried to imagine how the last General elected, Dwight D. Eisenhower, would have fared under today's system. Imagine Ike sitting through town hall meeting after town hall meeting laying out his plans for the country and then taking questions from the audience.

"Mr. Eisenhower, I pay too much for car insurance. What are you going to do about it?"

"General, what's your favorite album?"

"Ike, boxers or briefs?"

And then the 24-hour cable channels are off to the races, dissecting every answer and comparing it to previous responses. "Last month, Ike said the `White Album' was his favorite. Now he says `Pet Sounds' by the Beach Boys. Clearly, the General has a problem with the truth!"

I don't think the candidates are worse than they used to be. I think the process they are subjected to, and the media atmosphere surrounding that process, is worse.

Posted by brettdavey at 10:20 AM EST
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Monday, 26 January 2004
Home on the ranch
Testimony from former Bush administration employees confirms that this White House does nothing -- absolutely nothing -- except for political reasons.

I've always been suspicious of the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, especially when I see network TV bozos doing their stand-ups in front of that little shack with a tractor. It looks like a leftover set from "Green Acres". So I did a google search on Bush's Crawford ranch and this is some of the information I came up with. It confirms my suspicion that the ranch is basically an expensive prop used to paint Bush -- who attended private school in Andover, Mass., before heading to Yale, then Harvard -- as a real Texas cowboy. Of course, the nitwits in the media fall for it.

Here's some info I found:

"The Crawford ranch does not precede Bush's life on the national stage; it is a product of it. When Bush was just governor of Texas, he didn't have the ranch -- it was bought two years ago, with his presidential campaign at full steam. Before then, he lived in the governor's mansion and spent vacations at a home he owned at a members-only lakeside retreat in East Texas called the Rainbow Club, which caters to the Dallas elite. His other holiday destinations were the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, which did so much to identify his father as an aloof preppy, and the Gasparilla Inn, a luxurious Florida hideaway owned by an heir to the DuPonts where the Bush family went after the Florida recount. As one Texas newspaper noted back when Bush purchased his ranch, 'Mr. Bush has no roots in the area.' But after seven trips there as president, Bush has most of the national press convinced that he was practically born and bred in Crawford. It's a great feat."

Have we ever had a President with fewer convictions and substance?

Posted by brettdavey at 4:03 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 26 January 2004 4:04 PM EST
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Clark supporters for Dean
If you're into politics, you're addicted to polls. There's a new one out today that shows Dean closing to within 3 points of Kerry. Imagine the mess if Dean somehow overtakes Kerry as the primaries move down south. It would leave things wide open. That's why I'm rooting for Dean over Kerry.

Of course, I'm a Clark supporter, but there's no way he's going to win. I'm hoping for a third place finish. Given the proximity of Kerry and Dean to NH, it's a given that they should place 1 and 2. At least that's how Clark's people can spin it.

I just read an intersting article about how off-base pollsters have been in the past in NH. Their predictions from the day before the primary have been off by as many as 18 points (in the GW Bush-McCain race).

How off will they be this time?

Posted by brettdavey at 10:10 AM EST
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