Saturday, February 07, 2004

Catching Osama: the FUD factor

On his weblog (he says that he dislikes the word "blog", which I have no particular problem with) Follow Me Here, Eliot Gelwan says:

I have been predicting for some time that Bush is going to announce the capture of Osama bin Laden just in time to try to clinch the election for himself.

and links to an article in which Senator Grassely from Iowa (not much of a high profile character, the name's not familiar to me) says outright it will happen that way.

This is something that some members of my e-mail discussion group have been speculating about for a while now, and certainly one cannot reject it out of hand, because it's just the kind of thing that Rove would do if he could. (Similarly, as Kevin Drum has pointed out a number of times, the administration is practically grovelling before the UN -- an institution they clearly have nothing but disdain for -- in order to get the UN to take responsibility for Iraq by the June 30th handover date, that date and the UN's take-over both being, quite obviously, geared towards domestic political considerations.)

That being said, it's far from clear-cut that the rumors that are going around aren't simply Bush propaganda-by-proxy, intended to incite in the American electorate FUD* about changing horses in mid-stream. (And, of course, one can counter that we're not simply mid-stream, we're neck deep in the Big Muddy and the Little Fool in the White House wants us to stay the course that will eventually lead to our drowning.)

*Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, the triumvirate which was so instrumental in maintaining IBM's near-monopoly over corporate computing in the mainframe era.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/07/2004 11:11:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Saturday predictions (aka guesses) [updated]

Since I predicted Iowa, New Hampshire and min-Super Tuesday, I may as well take a stab at today's contests (after all, I've seen at least one poll, so it should be a piece of cake).

Kerry wins both Washington state and Michigan and no one else gets any delegates out of it.

Update (7:30): Since both are caucuses and not primaries, to predict that no one but Kerry would get any delegates was exceedingly stupid on my part, and a strong reminder that I shouldn't post that kind of stuff just before going to bed.

The point I was trying to make was that no one but Kerry would get over 15% of the the vote, but even that seems to be turning out to be wrong with Dean's strong showing in Washington (see update below).

Orders of finish:

WA: Kerry / Edwards / Dean / Clark

Update (7:30): As of 7:08, in Washington CNN has Kerry 48% / Dean 31% / Kucinich 9% / Edwards 6% / Clark 3% / Sharpton 0%, a very strong showing for Dean and a distinct presence for Kucinich.

1:30am: With 92% in, things haven't changed much: Kerry 49% / Dean 30% / Kucinich 8% / Edwards 7% / Clark 3% / Sharpton 0%

4:25am: Just checked in with CNN again and in Washington, they've got these delegates awarded: Kerry 47 / Dean 29, and that's it.

MI: Kerry / Edwards / Clark / Dean

Update (7:45): Michigan results start coming in at 8pm.

1:30am: With 100% in, CNN reports: Kerry 57% / Dean 17 / Edwards 13 / Sharpton 7 / Clark 7 / Kucinich 3, a much better showing for Dean than I guessed, and I didn't have Sharpton there at all.

4:25am: CNN shows this delegate breakdown: Kerry 94 / Dean 24 / Edwards 6 / Sharpton 7.

No one drops out (not until after Wisconsin...)

Update (7:45): Still to be determined.

4:25am: Total delegate count right now, according to CNN (2,161 needed to win the nomination):

Kerry -- 409
Dean -- 174
Edwards -- 116
Clark -- 82
Sharpton -- 12
Kucinich -- 2

Although Dean supporters must be heartened by two second place finishes tonight, their guy is still really far behind in delegates and needs a big pick-up by outright winning a state. He's not going to get the nomination by running second in every race, especially if Kerry continues to get close to 50% of the vote.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/07/2004 02:48:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Friday, February 06, 2004

NYC Icon?

Has anyone else noticed that in the almost 2 1/2 years since the demise of the World Trade Center, the triangular Flatiron Building (23rd Street at Madison Square, where Fifth Avenue and Broadway come together) has had a much higher public profile? I see it all the time now, in TV commercials and print advertisements, when I don't recall ever seeing it much before. (I live a half-block away from it, and I've been here for 20+ years, so I'm pretty sensitized to its image)

My feeling is that there were two architectural icons which were a shorthand way of indicating the Big Apple: the twin towers and the Empire State Building. With the destruction of the towers, people needed something else besides the Empire State to stand for NY, and the choices were pretty limited. The Chrysler Building might have done it, since it's pretty distinctive, but it's quite close to the ESB and has somewhat the same aspect. The Woolworth Building might have qualified as well, but it's rather fussy.

The Flatiron Building, however, has a unique and simple look (triangular), it's in an area of the city that's low-lying and not full of tall buildings, so it contrasts with the Empire State (which is distinctive only above the skyline), and you can drive cars past it or put models in front of it (on the traffic island across the street) and get a great background.

The hitch is, I'm not sure how many non-New Yorkers recognize it yet, but it does seem to be working its way towards iconic status.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/06/2004 02:13:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Thursday, February 05, 2004

"Sound science" only sounds good

Chris Mooney has the goods on the GOP's attempt to hijack Federal science policy

Rep. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, had what I thought was the wisest statement about the GOP's "sound science" push. This is the same party, Markey noted, that in 1995 did away with Congress's Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). Comprised of non-partisan scientific experts, OTA used to be responsible for ensuring that federal policy was informed by so-called "sound science." The new "sound science" movement, by contrast, seems to consist entirely members of Congress--"almost never scientific experts," noted Markey--who arrogantly seek to legislate the definition of what science is and what it isn't.

Read Mooney's report for the lowdown, but can there be any doubt that this bogus "science movement" serves two masters? First, it will eventually give coporate American say-so over science policy, and, second, it a necessary first step to forcing creationism to be accepted as Federally-sanctioned "science".

A two-fer! Two Republican constituent groups, business and the religious right, served simultaneously! Is this what they mean when they talk about eliminating waste with more efficient governmental services?

[via Tapped]

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/05/2004 10:59:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Tickets, please

What about an Edwards/Clark ticket? ...

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/05/2004 04:06:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Jim Shea: Famous Pundits School

In the Hartford Courant, columnist Jim Shea plugs the Famous Pundits School, where Ann Coulter ("Before enrolling at the Famous Pundits School, I had no outlet for the hate and venom that consumed me. Now I am able to spew to a national audience"), Cokie Roberts and Chris Matthews are graduates and George Will ("The Power of Prissy"), Tim Russert, Robert Novak ("Outing Without Conscience") and James Carville are on the faculty.

Stuck in a dead-end job?

Searching for a career in which you can work less, make more, and maximize your limited potential?

Perhaps it is time you considered the glamorous world of political punditry.

If you like the sound of your own voice.

If you are one of those people who doesn't let knowing absolutely nothing about a subject interfere with having a strong opinion.

And if you are looking for a field that is large enough to accommodate your exaggerated sense of self-importance.

Then you owe it to yourself to pick up the phone and call 1-800-Gas-bags

You can learn such skills as:

Passing off other people's opinions as your own.

Accepting the official spin as gospel.

Identifying colleagues as informed sources.

Becoming friends with the people you cover.

And, realizing the danger of expressing an original thought.

It's a great school to be sure, even if I wasn't able to manage a passing grade and had to drop out after the first semester, forcing me to take a correspondance course from Bill O'Reilly's alma mater, the somewhat lesser-known School of Histrionic Upstaging Techniques and Unfair Practices [SHUTUP] (I found the application on the back of a matchbook as I was burning an old copy of the FCC Fairness Doctrine I had lying around.)

Update: I neglected to mention that the link to this article came from Romenesko's Media News.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/05/2004 03:44:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Coming up next

On Daily Kos, Jerome Armstrong (of My DD) counts the current delegates and looks forward to the next couple of weeks.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/04/2004 03:19:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


AWOL/deserter Google News check [updated 2/9]

NOTE: I've graphed the data: go here. I'll continue my daily notes there.

I've been searching Google News and counting the results returned as a way of checking to see if the Bush AWOL story is catching on -- my simplistic thesis being that if it was, we'd start to see more and more mention of it in articles cataloged by Google News.

Here are the results so far:

Monday 2/9:
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 465 (+6)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 648 (+71!)
"deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 93 (+5)
"service record" and "Bush" -- 164 (+13)

Sunday 2/8: [See note below]
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 459 (+1)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 577 (+162!!) [corrected 2/9]
"deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 88 (+1)
"service record" and "Bush" -- 151 (+5)

Saturday 2/7: [See note below]
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 458 (+20)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 415 (+106!!)
"deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 87 (+20)
"service record" and "Bush" -- 146 (+10)

Friday 2/6: [See note below]
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 438 (+10)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 309 (+37)
"deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 67 (no change)
"service record" and "Bush" -- 136 (+42)

Thursday 2/5: [See note below]
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 428 (+14)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 272 (+45!)
"deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 67 (+13)
"service record" and "Bush" -- 94 (no change)

Wednesday 2/4: [More ups today!]
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 414 (+51!)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 227 (+64!)
"deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 54 (+34)
"service record" and "Bush" -- 94 (+9)

Tuesday 2/3: [Some big jumps today!]
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 363 (+8)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 163 (+95!!)
"deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 20 (+6)
"service record" and "Bush" -- 85 (+64!)

Monday 2/2:
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 355 (+2)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 68 (+9)
"deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 14 (+3)
"service record" and "Bush" -- 21 (+3)

Sunday 2/1:
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 353 (+5)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 59 (+2)
"deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 11 (+0)
"service record" and "Bush" -- 18 (-1)

Saturday 1/31:
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 348 (+13)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 57 (+3)
"deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 11 (+4)
"service record" and "Bush" -- 19 (new search term)

Friday 1/30:
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 335 (+6)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 54 (+5)
"deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 7 (+1)

Thursday 1/29:
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 329 (+33)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 49 (+3)
"deserter" and "AWOL" and "Bush" -- 6 (new search term)

Wednesday 1/28:
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 296 (+16)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 46 (+1)

Tuesday 1/27:
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 280 (-20)
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 45 (-3)

Monday 1/26:
"deserter" and "Bush" -- 300
"AWOL" and "Bush" -- 84 48 [Mistranscription corrected 1/31 -- Ed]


2/9: Today's unique "AWOL"/"deserter" stories: 1120 (+72).

2/8: It looks very much like the "deserter" angle (which focused on Michael Moore's "reckless" charge) is dead: only 1 add today. On the other hand, this is once again the best day for the "AWOL" angle of the story, with 162 adds, enough for the number of "AWOL" stories cataloged to finally pass the number of "deserter" stories cataloged. I think that a year from now, few people will remember the "deserter" incident or charge at all.

There were 162 unique adds which is, once again, the best since I started tracking this.

Many of today's adds may have been connected to Tim Russert's interview with Bush on Meet the Press this morning, in which he brought up the question of Bush's miltary record using "AWOL" (by quoting Terry McAuliffe's statement about looking forward to a debate between Bush and Kerry with his "chest of medals").

Many faults can be found with Russert in general, and it can't be said that his interveiw was as tough as it should have been, but we should give him credit for posing that question, even if he didn't follow-up on it as well as he should have. Nevertheless, this should keep the AWOL story bouncing along for quite a few days now.

At some point, as they used to say, any publicity is better than no publicity, as long as they spell your name right, and having this public discussion held under the "AWOL" banner gets us quite a way towards permanently searing into the public a nagative impression of Bush's military record, no matter what the actual content of the stories cataloged is.

[Number of "AWOL" adds corrected 2/9]

2/7: Once again, adds to the "deserter" category were sluggish, while adds to "AWOL" were high (very high today), so "AWOL" continues to catch up to "deserter" -- by tomorrow it should pass it. The total unique story count (that is, stories that either use "deserter" or "AWOL" or both) was 786, which means the total number of adds was the exact same as the "AWOL" number of add, so no stories were added that did not refer to the "AWOL" aspect, more indication that the deserter story is dying or being relegated to an historical reference explaining how the current controversy began. All indications are that the focus is now strictly on whether Bush was AWOL or not.

(Looking more closely at the "service record" category tells the same story: of 146 stories, 114 use "AWOL" and only 6 reference "deserter" without also referring to "AWOL". Somehow, I don't know how, 24 stories manage to talk about Bush service record without using either "deserter" or "AWOL" -- perhaps they use "absent without leave" instead.)

It should also be noted that 106 unique adds is the highest since I began tracking it:

Thur 1/29 - 372
Fri 1/30 - 382 (+10)
Sat 1/31 - 394 (+12)
Sun 2/1 - 401 (+7)
Mon 2/2 - 408 (+8)
Tues 2/3 - 506 (+97!)
Wed 2/4 - 587 (+81!)
Thur 2/5 - 633 (+46)
Fri 2/6 - 680 (+47)
Sat 2/7 - 786 (+106!!)

2/6: Yesterday's trend continues. The number of "deserter" adds was again smaller than the number of "AWOL" adds, and the number of "AWOL" stories continues to catch up with the number of "deserter" stories, which are both good indications that, in so far as the coverage continues, it's focusing more and more on Bush and less and less on Moore. But, also like yesterday, the forward momentum seems somewhat stalled, as there were only 47 unique adds of stories that include "AWOL" or "deserter" or both (compared to 46 yesterday). Understandably, the candidates' attention is on the impending caucuses and primaries, but I'm hopeful that someone is keeping an eye on the trajectory of the coverage, so that it's not allowed to lose steam entirely.

The relatively large number of adds for "service record" may indicate that the "objective" media has settled on a non-partisan description for this story, using it instead of some variation of "AWOL". That may allow them to keep the story going, but at the expense of some partisan advantage for the Democrats, since we know that defining the terms (eg. "pro-choice" vs. "abortion advocate", "pro-life" vs. "anti-abortion", "death tax" vs. "estate tax") is a significant part of winning the battle. It's better for us for this story to be thought of as the "Bush AWOL" story than the "Bush service record dispute", but it's also better for it to be kept alive, under whatever appellation, than to be dropped entirely, as it was in 2000.

2/5: Some slowdown in the momentum today. If you count the number of stories that mention either "AWOL" or "deserter" or both terms (which I've been able to do since last Thursday, when I added "AWOL" and "deserter" as a search), you find that the total number of articles cataloged is:

Thur 1/29 - 372
Fri 1/30 - 382 (+10)
Sat 1/31 - 394 (+12)
Sun 2/1 - 401 (+7)
Mon 2/2 - 408 (+8)
Tues 2/3 - 506 (+97!)
Wed 2/4 - 587 (+81!)
Thur 2/5 - 633 (+46)

I assume that the deceleration will continue unless there's another major news hook to hang the story on, such as a new revelation of fact or documentation or a renewed attack by a major Democratic figure (or the proxy for one) -- without a fresh angle there's only so long that the story can survive on re-summations of the known facts. However, it's very encouraging to note that almost all of the new articles cataloged today (45 out of 46) concentrate on the "AWOL" aspect instead of the "deserter" part of the story (which focuses on Michael Moore's errant charge rather than on Bush's malfeasance), a very strong indication that the campaign to put the emphasis where it should be -- on Bush's record -- is getting results.

2/4: Both Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum go into some of the reasons that the AWOL story seems to have traction this time around. And, credit where it's due, when I first posted the opinion that the story wouldn't be picked up by the media, MyFriendRoger argued strongly (in private correspondance) that I was wrong, that the story would stick around if it was picked up by a major Democratic figure, which is exactly what happened.

Also, thanks to Susan of Suburban Guerilla for linking to this post.

2/3: I reconfigured to put the latest numbers at the top for convenience. The jumps today are undoubtedly due to the summary article in today's Washington Post. It should be said, in all fairness, that I started tracking this to provided evidence that the story didn't have "legs", which is the opinion I expressed when it first broke again. It may well be (we'll see if the numbers continue to rise), that I was incorrect in that assessment, which is just fine by me.

1/31: Well, to my surprise (pleasant surprise), these numbers aren't falling, they're rising somewhat, which may mean that I'm completely wrong about this issue not having "legs". Kerry has started using proxies (veterans like Max Cleland) to keep the issue of Bush's service record (the polite formulation) alive without attacking Bush directly, which I think is a good strategy. I'll keep tracking it, and we'll see if it gains any momentum.

Still, the "deserter" story (which is basically an attack on Moore and Clark and by association the Democratic candidates in general) continues to receive much more attention than the AWOL/service record story, which is the real meat of it and the one that's potentially damaging to Bush.

Original interpretation (1/29): Articles are still being written about the use of the word "deserter" to describe Bush, but, as before, the number of articles which discuss his status as AWOL remains much lower, only 15% of the larger number. Further, there is very little overlap between the two categories, as only 6 articles used both terms. This indicates almost complete polarization of the issue, which does not bode well for the Bush=AWOL meme being picked up by the mainstream media.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/04/2004 12:31:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Two Legal Fictions

Two good posts by "Publius" on Legal Fiction. The first looks into Kerry's supposed electability in relation to the realities of the Electoral College, and the other is a look back from the future at Dean's role in Kerry's defeat of Bush.

(Legal Fiction, incidentally, is subtitled "An unconventional look at law, politics, and culture from a southern, non-Federalist Society law clerk." It looks like a blog that might be worth keeping an eye on, so I'm adding it to the "some links" section on the right.)

Publius' argument in regard to the Electoral College is that 40 states are safe for either the Democrats or the Republicans, so the election actually comes down to 10 swing states, and those are conservative, blue-collar states in which Kerry might do OK, but Edwards would do better. In this view, Kerry's "electability" is a misapprehension fostered by the illusion that the election is a national one determined by the popular vote. If that was the case, then a candidate like Kerry might indeed be the best choice to defeat Bush, but since the battleground states which will actually decide the election have a different selection criteria, by which Kerry falls short of Edwards, going with the apparently more "electable" candidate is a mistake.

He also thinks that Clark's narrow victories over Edwards in New Hampshire and Oklahome have dealt a deathblow to Edwards' campaign. Unlike his other point, I don't agree with that analysis. In fact, I think just the opposite is the case, that Edwards now has a serious chance to challenge Kerry, and Clark's extremely narrow and delegate-poor "victory" in Oklahoma keeps him in the race, but only by his fingernails. He's going to need something much more substantial, and some serious delegate pickups, to keep going for any length of time. Without that, he's toast, and he'll have to bow out.

(Publius links to Will Saletan on Slate, who makes similar points, but, again, I think his analysis is pretty off the wall. Who, for instance, before last night's contests had committed to the opinion that Edwards had to knock off Clark in Oklahoma in order to be considered a serious candidate? Certainly no one that I heard about. The CW was that Edwards had to win SC and Clark had to win OK, and they both did that -- Clark just barely and technically. Any other necessities for Edwards seem to me to be ex post facto punditing.)

Update (4:50): Edited for clarity and typos.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/04/2004 11:44:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Tuesday Summary

My summation is not much different from anyone else's (except perhaps Atrios', but then I didn't understand his, really - Kerry is a loser? Perhaps he's being sarcastic):

  • Kerry is the big winner: he wins 5 states and adds delegates in all 7 states for a total of at least 129 additional delegates. He now leads the pack with 244 delegates, more than double his nearest competition (Dean, with 121). He's shown widespread appeal in different regions, he's won decisively in two states with 50% of the vote, and, from all the breakdowns I've heard, he apparently appeals to every kind of Democrat and my Aunt Clara.

  • Nevertheless, I continue to have my doubts about his vaunted "electability," for the simple reason that if the Democrats who voted for him today have convinced themselves that Kerry is "electable" and that's why they've voted for him (because they -- and we -- want so desperately to defeat Bush) it's a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. They think he's electable, so they all vote for him, so everyone thinks he's electable. Unfortunately, it's yet to be established that the public at large, as opposed to primary-voting Democrats, concur in this assessment. In short, it could well be something of a mass delusion.

  • In any event, the media consensus is that the Big Mo is with Kerry. I'd be happier about that if his speech tonight wasn't a complete snooze, and if he somehow managed to excite me in any way, but it just doesn't seem possible.

  • Edwards benefits the next from Tuesday's vote, picking up a comfortable win in South Carolina, and delegates in two other states (Missouri and Oklahoma) to grow his delegate count to 102, not very far behind Dean's 121. His showing in Oklahoma was another virtual tie with Clark, as much as co-first place as it is a second place finish. In effect, that gives him 1 1/2 states won. Edwards picked up some Little Mo.

  • Clark, of course, can and will claim Oklahoma as "win", and, despite the slimness of his victory, it does put a state in his column and enables him to stay in the race. it doesn't exactly give him any momentum, but he's still alive. However, because his winning margin was slim, his delegate pick-up wasn't great, only 48 for a total of 79. Before tonight he and Edwards were very close in delegates, but Edwards has moved substantially ahead of him.

  • I continue to have problems seeing the path that's going to lead to a Clark nomination, but I really am intrigued by the rumors I've heard (probably someone's wishful thinking) about a possible Edwards/Clark ticket, with Clark retiring in favor of Edwards in return for the VP spot. Now that Dean/Clark is no longer a possibility, that interests me, since I've always seen Clark as more valuable as VP than at the top of the ticket. (Think of how good a politician Clark will be after 8 years of training as the VP!)

  • What is there to say about Dean? I thought he'd get a measly 10 delegates tonight, and he got 7, both from the southwest. He's not showing any strengths anywhere, and if he doesn't win something on Saturday, or at the very least pick up a substantial number of delegates, we should all start sending our voodoo his way to get him out of the race for the good of the party (see the post below). It may take a while for the juju to accumulate, so let's start sooner rather than later.

  • Lieberman's out, thankfully, and at last. (See, that voodoo does work.!) Sharpton picked up a delegate in SC for reasons I don't understand, and Kucinich remains the guy that CNN puts on at 1 in the morning just to show how fair it is.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/04/2004 03:13:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Mini-Super Tuesday Guessathon (orig. posted 2/2, updated 2/3 thru 5)

[A word of warning: this post grew like Topsy, and as a result is fairly incoherent, at least in terms of when stuff was added. In the future, I think I'll stick to new posts instead of annotating old ones. -- Ed]

OK, tomorrow is a mini-Super Tuesday, with 7 states having primaries or caucuses (cauci?). It's time to show just how hep I am, by making some predictions the same way that Big Media does, by glancing at the polls and making it up as I go!

I'll make four categories of guesses:

  1. Who will win each of the seven contests, which are Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Carolina?

  2. In how many states will each of the candidates (Clark, Dean, Edwards, Kerry, Lieberman) get delegates? What states?

  3. When all Tuesday's contests are decided, what will be the order of the candidates in CNN's delegate count, which includes committed superdelegates? (Totals as of now: Dean 113 / Kerry 94 / Edwards 36 / Clark 30 / Lieberman 25 / Sharpton 4 / Kucinich 2. [See below for CNN's updated count])

  4. For extra credit, I'll give the final delegate count for all the candidates.

Here are my guesses:

  1. Winners
    AZ - Kerry / 2/3: CNN calls at 9
    DE - Kerry / CNN calls at 8
    MO - Kerry / CNN calls at 8
    NM - Kerry / CNN called at ?
    ND - Kerry / CNN calls around 9:30
    OK - Clark / Clark by 1275 over Edwards, Kerry 3 pts back, CNN won't call
    SC - Edwards / CNN calls at 7:00:01.362

  2. Delegates awarded in
    Clark - 4 states (AZ, NM, ND, OK) / 2/3: correct
    Dean - 2 states (DE, NM) / NM correct; none in DE; but 3 in AZ
    Edwards - 4 states (MO, ND, OK, SC) / no delegates in ND, rest correct
    Kerry - all 7 states / correct
    Lieberman - 1 state (DE) / Looks like Joe lays an egg, see below

  3. Total delegate count order
    Kerry / Dean / Edwards / Clark / Lieberman / Sharpton / Kucinich

    As best as I can figure, given the missing delegates (see the post below), this will indeed be the order of the delegate count.

  4. Total delegate count
    Kerry: 258 (+164) / Dean: 123 (+10) / Edwards: 91 (+55) / Clark: 84 (+54) / Lieberman: 29 (+4) / Sharpton: 4 / Kucinich: 2

Update (2/3): CNN changed their delegate count before the SC results started to come in:

Kerry 115 / Dean 114 / Edwards 41 / Clark 31 / Lieberman 25 / Sharpton 4 / Kucinich 2.

This makes my final prediction for delegate counts after tonight's contests to:

Kerry 115 + 164 = 279 / 115 plus at least 129 = 244 / 2/5: +145=260
Dean 114 + 10 = 124 / 114 plus at least 7 = 121 / stet
Edwards 41 + 55 = 96 / 41 plus at least 61 = 102 / +66=107
Clark 31 + 54 = 85 / 31 plus at least 48 = 79 / +49=81
Leiberman 25 + 4 = 29 / 25 and no additional = 25 / stet
Sharpton 4 / 4 plus 1 additional = 5 / +2=6
Kucinich 22 plus no additional = 2 / stet

2/3: unaccounted for: 23 (18 in MO, 5 in ND) / 2/5: all delegates accounted for

Final accounting (2/5) (Predicted-Actual):
Kerry 279/260 -- Dean 124/121 -- Edwards 96/107 -- Clark 85/81 -- Lieberman 29/25 -- Sharpton 4/6 -- Kucinich 2/2

That this is not bad, as blind guesses go, is testament to the accuracy of the Zogby polling, because it was the basis for most of my calculations.


Update (2/3, somtime early in the evening): Everything's looking real good, except that some sort of mathematical error dropped into my back-of-the-envelope (literally) scribbling, because these delegate adds don't even add up to the number of delegates at stake tonight. Oh, well, we'll see what happens in the end (which is pretty much where I pulled these figures from, that and the Zogby polling).

More: I didn't intend to do any real-time blogging, but, oh well again. As of 9pm and 64% in of the Delaware vote, it looks like Lieberman won't get *any* delegates, and AP is reported that he'll (yeah!) drop out. About time, since he's now in a virtual tie for "failure".

9:47 I'm beginning to think that I completely misunderstood the process by which delegates are awarded in these primaries and caucuses. (CNN has a tremendously unclear explanation here.) My assumption was that once you eliminated candidates who received less than 15%, the state's delegates were then awarded in proportion to the votes each candidate received, but that really doesn't seem to be the case -- or else why would CNN, for instance, show Kerry in Delaware, with 99% of the precincts counted, as having won only 9 delegates, when I thought that 15 delegates were at stake? Clearly, in Dan Akyroyd's ringing phrase, I'm an ignorant slut who shouldn't be throwing around his ignorance in public this way, by making predictions based on faulty assumptions and faulty math.

It's at times like these that I'm glad no one actually reads this blog.

But now that I'm on the defensive, let me turn it around and go on the attack: Is there nowhere one can go to watch election returns? MSNBC has the terrible Chris Matthews and the incredibly loathsome Scarborough asshole, CNBC has the loathsome Dennis Miller, Faux News is collective loathsomeness incarnate, and on CNN I have to put up with Larry King's nonsense (talk about ignorance!) Bob Dole and Bob Woodward -- not to mention Wolfie and company, who at least dribble out some hard news occasionally. There's no where to go!

10:08 OK, with 100% of the vote counted in Delaware, CNN now has Kerry with 50% of the vote, no other candidate over 15%, and Kerry has been credited with 14 of the 15 available delegates. I'm not quite sure what happened to that other delegate, but maybe I didn't misunderstand this thing as badly as I thought. Maybe. [Note to self: yes you did -- Sharpton got the other delegate, presumably because he carried one precinct, or something. Note to readers: if you've come this far, I'd just stop now.]

11:40 Atrios can't figure out how Sharpton got that delegate either.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/04/2004 02:51:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Missing delegates?

Despite sticking around to 2:30am, I still can't get final delegate counts, nor can I find any reason why they are not being reported. I was under the impression that Missouri was the "big prize" of the night, with 74 delegates, and yet every report that I can find lists only 56 delegates assigned (36 to Kerry and 20 to Edwards), even though 100% of the vote has supposedly been counted. What happened to the other 18 delegates?

Similarly, in New Mexico, with 26 delegates listed to be at stake, only 21 have been awarded (10 to Kerry, 7 to Clark, and 4 to Dean). Where are the missing 5?

You'd think at least one news source would explain the disparity, but, then, the media doesn't seem to interested in delegate counts -- at least not yet.

Update (2/5): Still no explanation, but CNN now accounts for all 26 of New Mexico's delegates, with 14 for Kerry, 8 for Clark and 4 for Dean. By my count, that would put the totals at Kerry 248 / Dean 121 / Edwards 102 / Clark 80 etc. However, an AP report shows a different count: Kerry 260 / Dean 121 / Edwards 107 / Clark 81, which accounts for the "missing" 18 delegates from Missouri. Why it took so long? Who knows? (The AP report also said that Sharpton got 1 delegate each in South Carolina and Delaware.)

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/04/2004 02:40:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Folding in Dean

As I sit around waiting for CNN to post the final delegate counts in Missouri and New Mexico (100% and 80% of the votes in as of 1:45am, but the delegate assignments still aren't complete), let me say a bit about Howard Dean.

I think it's tremendously important to the Democratic party that at some point Howard Dean bow out of the race, and that he not take his fight all the way to the convention.

If Dean were to stick it out to the bitter end, perhaps on the theory that a couple of big wins and some delegate pick-ups in other states keeps Kerry (or whoever) from running away with the nomination and keeps Dean in the game enough to be a power at a brokered convention, then my feeling is that an awful lot of Dean's supporters would stick with him. I think the cultishness of Dean's following has been somewhat overstated (I've flirted with that meme myself), but there's no doubting that many of his people are folks who have been woken up by the Dean message into a kind of political interest and activism they've never experienced before, and, as such, they have a tendency to be true believers in the cause.

True believers, we know, have a tendency not to give up, they hold on to the bitter end because their commitment is not so much a matter of rational policy analysis or personal preference based on character, personality or looks as it is an emotional and, well, kind of spiritual quest -- and one doesn't give up The Quest in mid-journey, one follows it through to the last moment possible.

I'm not saying that all of Dean's supporters are like this, or that even a majority of them are, but it's got to be conceded that a sizable portion of them relate to Dean's candidacy in this way. And that's why getting Dean to drop out at some point in the process is imperative for the party, because if those people get dragged along into a fight at the very end, and Dean loses (which he most probably will, given the odds which will be stacked against him), they will be shocked, strikcen, demoralized and completely uninterested in politics any more, and especially not in supporting the Democratic nominee. The blow to them will be so severe, that they will just drop out of the entire thing, which is pretty much where most of them started in the first place.

And if that happens in any kind of mass number, the net result is that people who could possibly have been convinced to vote for the Democratic nominee, if they had enough time to get over the pain and emotional distress of Dean's defeat, will not vote at all. (Fortunately, they won't vote for anyone else, either, unless perhaps Nader is running and they feel the need to strike back at someone by voting for him.) It need hardly be said that in the drive to remove Bush from office, given the predilection of the opposition for dirty tricks and stealing elections in whatever way is necessary, every single vote is going to be needed, and there's no way that giving up any block of voters is going to help us. We need those Dean votes, badly, to insure that we win bot just the popular vote, but the Presidency as well.

So it's very important, I think, at some time -- not necessarily now or after Saturday, but once it becomes clear that Dean seems to intend to stay in the race without a chance of winning it -- for Terry McAuliffe or some heavyweights in the party to take Dean aside and convince him, by whatever means necessary, that he must withdraw in sufficient time to allow his more ardent followers the opportunity of being courted by another candidate.

On Gadflyer, Thomas Schaller makes a similar point, concentrating on what Kerry, specifically, must do to insure the Dean's movement be folded into the party's general election campaign.

Now what the hell's the story with those delegate counts?

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/04/2004 01:49:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Does anyone know what number I should call at the White House to get a rate card for advertising in the federal government's budget?

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/03/2004 02:06:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Monday, February 02, 2004

FCC'd up

So, let me get this straight, our newspapers, radio & TV stations, cable companies, magazines and book publishers have been gobbled up by giant cartels, so that 6 or 7 people control 90% of what you see, hear and read, and all Michael Powell's FCC is interested in is investigating how Janet Jackson's tit was revealed on TV for a few seconds, and fining sexually-explicit shock radio.

Now, tell me again, it's the Democrats who want government to be the Big Nanny, right?

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/02/2004 11:42:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


A Monday Night Screed

As I just commented to a friend in an e-mail, it's really utterly amazing to me the extent to which the officials of the Bush administration simply outright lie about things.

True all administrations lie, or bend the truth, or shade the facts, to save face or prevent uncomfortable repercussions (or, occasionally, because a lie is required for reasons of diplomacy), but this bunch seems to lie brazenly about almost everything, without regard for the facts or for the reality that a two-year old with an Internet connection can instantly call up the documentary proof that they are lying.

Apparently with a captive Congress, a tamed press (that seems not to understand that it's their damn job to check the things that officials say against their previous utterances, their stated policies and their actions) and a cowed Democratic establishment (although this may be changing, thanks to Howard Dean's campaign), the administration sees no real danger in lying. Without anyone of consequence to call them on their untruths, Bush & Co. enjoy the functional equivalent of Orwell's memory holes and his Ministry of Truth (see the previous post), and so, unfettered, they constantly re-write history in their favor without being challenged on it by anyone except some bloggers and a few muckrackers that few people pay attention to. Unless mainstream journalists and the Democrats wake up and change their ways, they will continue to get away with their deceptions.

The Democrats need to stop thinking of themselves as part of a bi-partisan establishment in Washington, because those halcyon days are gone for good. The era of comity, collegiality and compromise has passed us by, to be replaced by one of truculence, dogmatism and lockstep partisanship. Call it the Era of DeLayism, the ideology of the New Politicians of the Right.

For their part, journalists have better realize that the era of "objective" journalism is gone as well, because these New Politicians have discovered the jujitsu of undermining "objectivity" by using its forms and standards against it. They subvert factuality and pervert the "middle ground" into something that is increasing unrecognizable as anything most Americans, who are basically mildly liberal and deeply humanitarian, would agree with.

Wake up, you guys, the wool is being pulled over your eyes and you don't seem to care!

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/02/2004 10:50:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


From Orwell's "1984"

George Orwell: 1984 (1949); from Part 1, Chapter 4:

With the deep, unconscious sigh which not even the nearness of the telescreen could prevent him from uttering when his day's work started, Winston pulled the speakwrite towards him, blew the dust from its mouthpiece, and put on his spectacles. Then he unrolled and clipped together four small cylinders of paper which had already flopped out of the pneumatic tube on the right-hand side of his desk.

In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston's arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.

Winston examined the four slips of paper which he had unrolled. Each contained a message of only one or two lines, in the abbreviated jargon -- not actually Newspeak, but consisting largely of Newspeak words -- which was used in the Ministry for internal purposes. They ran:

times 17.3.84 bb speech malreported africa rectify

times 19.12.83 forecasts 3 yp 4th quarter 83 misprints verify current issue

times 14.2.84 miniplenty malquoted chocolate rectify

times 3.12.83 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs unpersons rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling

With a faint feeling of satisfaction Winston laid the fourth message aside. It was an intricate and responsible job and had better be dealt with last. The other three were routine matters, though the second one would probably mean some tedious wading through lists of figures.

Winston dialled 'back numbers' on the telescreen and called for the appropriate issues of The Times, which slid out of the pneumatic tube after only a few minutes' delay. The messages he had received referred to articles or news items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary to alter, or, as the official phrase had it, to rectify. For example, it appeared from The Times of the seventeenth of March that Big Brother, in his speech of the previous day, had predicted that the South Indian front would remain quiet but that a Eurasian offensive would shortly be launched in North Africa. As it happened, the Eurasian Higher Command had launched its offensive in South India and left North Africa alone. It was therefore necessary to rewrite a paragraph of Big Brother's speech, in such a way as to make him predict the thing that had actually happened. Or again, The Times of the nineteenth of December had published the official forecasts of the output of various classes of consumption goods in the fourth quarter of 1983, which was also the sixth quarter of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. Today's issue contained a statement of the actual output, from which it appeared that the forecasts were in every instance grossly wrong. Winston's job was to rectify the original figures by making them agree with the later ones. As for the third message, it referred to a very simple error which could be set right in a couple of minutes. As short a time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise (a 'categorical pledge' were the official words) that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty at the end of the present week. All that was needed was to substitute for the original promise a warning that it would probably be necessary to reduce the ration at some time in April.

As soon as Winston had dealt with each of the messages, he clipped his speakwritten corrections to the appropriate copy of The Times and pushed them into the pneumatic tube. Then, with a movement which was as nearly as possible unconscious, he crumpled up the original message and any notes that he himself had made, and dropped them into the memory hole to be devoured by the flames.

What happened in the unseen labyrinth to which the pneumatic tubes led, he did not know in detail, but he did know in general terms. As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of The Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs -- to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place. The largest section of the Records Department, far larger than the one on which Winston worked, consisted simply of persons whose duty it was to track down and collect all copies of books, newspapers, and other documents which had been superseded and were due for destruction. A number of The Times which might, because of changes in political alignment, or mistaken prophecies uttered by Big Brother, have been rewritten a dozen times still stood on the files bearing its original date, and no other copy existed to contradict it. Books, also, were recalled and rewritten again and again, and were invariably reissued without any admission that any alteration had been made. Even the written instructions which Winston received, and which he invariably got rid of as soon as he had dealt with them, never stated or implied that an act of forgery was to be committed: always the reference was to slips, errors, misprints, or misquotations which it was necessary to put right in the interests of accuracy.

But actually, he thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connexion with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connexion that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of the time you were expected to make them up out of your head. For example, the Ministry of Plenty's forecast had estimated the output of boots for the quarter at one-hundred-and-forty-five million pairs. The actual output was given as sixty-two millions. Winston, however, in rewriting the forecast, marked the figure down to fifty-seven millions, so as to allow for the usual claim that the quota had been overfulfilled. In any case, sixty-two millions was no nearer the truth than fifty-seven millions, or than one-hundred-and-forty-five millions. Very likely no boots had been produced at all. Likelier still, nobody knew how many had been produced, much less cared. All one knew was that every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps half the population of Oceania went barefoot. And so it was with every class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/02/2004 09:55:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Us, Like Bush?

Again from The Decembrist, Mark Schmitt answers David Bernstein's complaint that liberals should love Bush because Federal spending on health and education has increased during his time in office:

[L]iberalism is not about throwing money at problems. It's about trying to solve public problems by public means. As a liberal, do I celebrate the news that the Medicare bill will cost more than $500 billion, rather than $400 billion -- a 25% cost overrun in just two months? Of course not. In fact the news gives me a pain in the pit of my stomach. It doesn't mean we're doing 25% better at solving the health care problems of seniors. It just means we're doing whatever it is the bill does even less efficiently. The bill doesn't do the job, at any cost, and so every dollar spent on it is a dollar that's taken away from what could be a more effective program, or from long-term fiscal stability. The same is true in education, where No Child Left Behind is a mess, and makes so many more promises and demands than can possibly be met with the funding available, and thus invites deceit.

The shorter version of Paul O'Neill's complaint in The Price of Loyalty, after all, is "I thought this would be the Nixon or Ford administration, but it wasn't." What liberals dislike about Bush is the very same thing that O'Neill disliked: reckless incompetence, Karl Rove running policy, nihilism on a grand scale.

Here's the difference between Nixon and Bush: When Nixon left, his successor could proclaim that "our long national nightmare is over." With Bush, we'll be feeling the consequences for generations.[Emphasis added -- Ed]

Some folks have said that pushing the incompetence issue would be too much like taking the losing Dukakis techocratic approach, but I'm of the mind that it can be a winner for the Democrats, because it has so many facets, and it attacks Bush's policies without attacking the man, who is still (inexplicably) rather popular.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/02/2004 05:08:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Decembrist: A case for Kerry

In The Decembrist, Mark Schmitt quotes from a 1996 article in The Atlantic a case for Kerry's Senatorial record:

Kerry was both a war hero and a war protester, a founder of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He sees his Senate career as continuous with his anti-war activism. Then as now, he says, he sought to hold power publicly accountable. Making government obey the laws and its officials tell the truth, Kerry says, is a precondition to restoring the public trust on which any progressive use of government depends. Kerry's investigations can thus be seen as means to a liberal end: to put government on the side of the governed.

This is the defense of Kerry's Senate career that is beginning to appear in the press: He spent it not on ordinary legislative matters, but on the kind of investigations that "put government on the side of the governed." The Senate is really an entrepreneurial institution, and there a lot of ways to make a mark, including investigations.

[Emphasis added by Schmitt. -- Ed]

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/02/2004 04:33:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Yglesias reveals sci-fi plot!

I was down with a bad cold yesterday (and I'm still not quite up to par yet), so I'm just catching up with stuff now. (Yeah, I missed the Super Bowl -- which I didn't intend to watch anyway -- and the exposure of Janet Jackson's breast to millions of shocked television viewers who apparently had never seen a woman's naked breast before -- go figure!)

On the blame-the-CIA front, Matthew Yglesias gets it right:

Suddenly over the past 48 hours every single figure on the right seems to have come to a unanimous decision that the CIA and the CIA alone is wholly to blame for the intelligence mishaps. But then why did Dick Cheney need to create an entire parallel intelligence apparatus under Doug Feith dedicated exclusively to explaining why the CIA was underestimating Iraq's WMD capacity?

It really is amazing how the entire right-wing commentariat manages to independently come to precisely the same conclusion at the almost exactly same time, regardless of whether it has any real connection with reality or the available evidence. There's actually something really eerie about it. I think it's probably time that Hollywood start up again making those zombie/robot/aliens-control-our-minds sci-fi movies that were so popular in the Fifties, back when everyone was worried about the Great Communist Menace that would cause us all to forgo our hard-won American individuality and march in lockstop to the thoughts of the Great Hive OverMind, or whatever. Given what's going on around us (you know what I mean: the Comintern-esque coordination of the VRWC into the Great Wurlitzer, aided and abetted by the SCLM) the time seems to be about right for those kinds of movie again.

Update: 3:25pm I was bored, so I punched it up a little.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/02/2004 08:56:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Steinberg as an indicator

Katha Pollitt examines the brouhaha over Howard Dean's wife and why she wasn't playing a bigger role in his campaign. (Or, more accurately, why she wasn't being used by the campaign as a public adornment for Dean.) What she finds is rather disturbing for what it says about the current state of American culture.

I don't think Dr. Judy is weird at all. She's leading a normal, modern, middle-class-professional life. She has been married forever. She has two children. She likes camping and bike riding and picnics. She volunteers. She has work she loves, as a community physician--not, you'll note, as a cold-hearted status-obsessed selfish careerist user, as professional women are always accused of being. (Let's also note that she is not someone who was ever, even once, during her husband's twelve-year stint as governor of Vermont, accused of using her marriage to advance a friend or enrich herself or obtain special perks and privileges.) And here's another secret: Not too many women in long marriages want to spend their lives gazing rapturously at their husband for the benefit of the camera every time he opens his mouth. Vermonters liked Judy Dean--they had no problem with her low-key, independent style. But, then, if you listen to the press, you know Vermonters--they're weird, too.

I have no idea why Judith Steinberg hasn't slogged through the snow for her husband. Maybe she's nervous in public. Maybe she's busy. ("It's not something I can say, 'Oh, you take over for a month,'" she explained to Diane Sawyer. Imagine that, Tina, Diane, Maureen--a job where if you don't show up, it matters!) Maybe, like lots of Democrats, she's waiting to see if the Dean campaign has legs. It's possible she and her husband didn't understand they had left the real world for Mediaville, where it's always 1955, and thought it was no big deal if she kept working in Shelburne instead of being marched around Iowa in a power suit with a big bottle of Valium in her purse. Here's something I do know, though: Every day, this woman, about whom nobody who knows her has a mean word to say, gets up and does one of the most valuable things a human being can do on this earth: She takes care of sick people. Ordinary local people, not media princesses and princes. Is that the problem? If Judy Steinberg were a cosmetic surgeon or a diet doctor or held Botox parties after office hours, if her patients were famous, or the friends of the famous, if she could dish on the phone about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Martha Stewart, would the media cat pack think Judy Steinberg was cool?

Granted, rightly or wrongly, the media are going to take a look at the wives of the candidates, so you can argue that the Deans should have been prepared, especially given the media's dislike of Howard. This, after all, is the same media that managed to make a major scandal out of the Scream, a moment of campaign exuberance of zero importance (especially when compared with--for example!--Bush's inability to speak two consecutive unscripted sentences that are not gibberish, his refusal to read newspapers and the fact that much of the world thinks he's a dangerous moron). But actually, it's only when a wife has her own identity that her choices are scrutinized. If Dr. Judith Steinberg was simply Judy Dean, if she spent her life doing nothing so important it couldn't be dropped to follow her husband as he followed his star, no one would question her priorities. No one thought less of Barbara Bush because she dropped out of college to get married, like those Wellesley girls in Mona Lisa Smile. No one reprimands Laura Bush for abandoning her career as a librarian and spending her life as her husband's den mother. No one asks Hadassah Lieberman or Elizabeth Edwards or Gertie Clark how come they have so much free time on their hands that they can saddle up with their husbands' campaign for months, or why, if they care so much about politics, they aren't running for office themselves.

Don't you wish, just once, the questioners and pontificators would turn it around? After all, if a woman were running for President, would they expect her doctor husband to abandon his ailing patients and his high-school-age son to soften her image? Au contraire, they would regard such a man as a pussy-whipped wimp, a loser, very possibly even...weird. [...]

What if the media tried on for size the notion that having an independent wife says something good about a candidate? For example, maybe, if his wife is not at his beck and call, he won't assume the sun rises because he wants to get up; maybe, if his wife has her own goals in life, her own path to tread, he won't think women were put on earth to further his ambitions; maybe, if he and his wife are true partners--which is not the same as her pouring herself into his career and his being genuinely grateful, the best-case scenario of the traditional political marriage--he may even see women as equals. Why isn't it the candidates who use their wives to further their careers with plastic smiles and cheery waves who have to squirm on Primetime?

[Link via Atrios]

It's hard to argue with this, and harder still not to believe that the existence of a strong, successful, married-yet-independent woman like Dr. Steinberg is still, after all these years of consciousness-raising by the women's movement, threatening to many men, and some women too.

The broad cultural resistence to this conception of women and men bearing equal roles in society may indicate that it brushes up against some hard-wired behavioral patterns, which doesn't mean they can't be broken down, it just makes it that much more difficult. If it's true, it also means that anytime the pressure for the acceptance of that status lets up, even for a while, things will tend to drift backwards, as behavior follows the path of least resistance.

Put another way, despite their adoption by people in many of our more prominent sub-cultures, we have not yet reached the tipping point of acceptance for some of the most basic ideas of feminism, and getting there may take a lot more time than was expected.

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/01/2004 01:23:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


WMDRPA, the origin

Because the White House press corps doesn't seem interested in doing it, Susan Q. Stranahan of Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk looked into where the phrase "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities" came from before it found its way into the State of the Union address:

A little research [...] reveals that the term "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities" wasn't coined by the White House speechwriters. It was first used in an interim report last October by David Kay, lead weapons inspector for the Iraq Survey Group. Kay recently resigned, with the observation that U.S. intelligence about Iraq's capacity for mass destruction of any sort was suspect and that he frankly doubted that those weapons had existed.

When Kay testified Wednesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee about his findings in Iraq and his decision to leave his post, he was asked by Sen. Ben Nelson (D., NE), "I have to ask you, what does that mean? What are weapons of mass destruction-related program activities?"

Kay responded: "That includes, for example ... a program to develop a substitute for a major precursor for [the chemical weapon] VX using indigenous production capability and indigenous chemicals so they would not have to import it. It includes a study, for example, on a simulant [sic] for anthrax ... They [the Iraqis] had looked at lethality of various agents and classified them. That's WMD-related work."

At the same hearing, Sen. Mark Dayton (D., MN) asked Kay "how many countries ... would you say in the world today would qualify under the category of developing weapons of mass destruction and related program activities, or having such activities?"

Probably about 50, replied Kay.

Let's get this straight: About 50 countries are doing what Iraq was doing? And in an election year in which Iraq is a hot topic, no one in the Washington press corps wants any more of an explanation than that?

Ed Fitzgerald | 2/01/2004 12:44:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Ed Fitzgerald

Clowns to the left of me,
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Here I am...
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...and never a bride, either!!

what I've been reading
Martin van Creveld - The Transformation of War

Jay Feldman - When the Mississippi Ran Backwards

Martin van Creveld - The Rise and Decline of the State

Alfred W. Crosby - America's Forgotten Pandemic (1989)
bush & company are...
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Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
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search websearch unfutz

Bullshit, trolling, unthinking knee-jerk dogmatism and the drivel of idiots will be ruthlessly deleted and the posters banned.

Entertaining, interesting, intelligent, informed and informative comments will always be welcome, even when I disagree with them.

I am the sole judge of which of these qualities pertains.

All e-mail received is subject to being published on unfutz without identifying names or addresses.

I correct typos and other simple errors of grammar, syntax, style and presentation in my posts after the fact without necessarily posting notification of the change.

Substantive textual changes, especially reversals or major corrections, will be noted in an "Update" or a footnote.

Also, illustrations may be added to entries after their initial publication.
the story so far
unfutz: toiling in almost complete obscurity for almost 1500 days
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the proud unfutz guarantee
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.

If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.

(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)

Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.

original content
© 2003-2008
Ed Fitzgerald


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