July 29, 2004

The Speeches

Okay, so I failed to keep my promise to myself. I did watch at least part of the Democratic Convention. I saw the speeches by both Edwards and Kerry.

Man. There has got to be some buyer’s remorse in the Democratic Party right now. I can still hardly believe they actually picked Kerry. (And I still can’t believe the GOP picked Bush instead of McCain.)

Not only is John Edwards recognizably a human being, he’s also inspiring. He reminds me why I became a Democrat in the first place. He’s upbeat, optimistic, and wants to help people out. Michael Moore he is not. Watching John Edwards after reading some of Moore’s vile screeds is like visiting a political spa. It’s especially nice, considering my views of the peaceniks, to hear Boy Wonder say “We are at war” and “We will destroy you” and hearing the audience erupt with applause. I guess tough-talking Southerners are only “cowboys” if they’re Republicans. Ah, but I knew that all along. It was the liberals and the left who taught me militant anti-fascism. Not the conservatives. It’s been politically fun and convenient to wallow in pacifism lately if you’re a Bush-hater. I’m glad Edwards can make them knock if off for one minute.

John Kerry hurts me. I yelled at him on the TV tonight. (I mean I yelled at my TV, not that my yelling was broadcast on the…oh, you know what I mean.) It annoyed my wife tremendously, but I yell at Bush, Kerry, and hack pundits on the TV so I don’t have to do it here and annoy all of you. (Sorry, Shelly. You hear it so everyone else doesn’t have to.)

John Kerry is a Politician. I’d give him a 50-50 grade on the content of his speech. Only trouble is he’s such a self-contradictory phony parsing his speech isn't worth any effort. He says he won’t let any nation veto our foreign policy. Excellent. Glad to hear it, John! So what, exactly, was the point of your 18-month whine-fest because Bush more or less stuck to your promise?

Ah, why bother even wading into it that far? It’s only worth arguing with somebody if I have at least a flickering notion they take their own words seriously. Maybe Kerry is serious about not letting Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin veto our foreign policy. I certainly hope so. But how am I supposed to know? I was the intended audience for that line, and of course I know he could be trying to sucker me. Then again, maybe his 18-month whine-fest was a way to sucker the left and maybe it worked.

I do not know. But I do know that I do not like him. It’s a good thing for Kerry he’s running against George W. Bush. Because I can think of plenty of other Republicans who could easily mop the floor with his head.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2004 08:42 PM

Look who's trying to get linked by the Instahack!

Posted by: Mork at July 29, 2004 08:50 PM

I don't think it will be close. I hope that Kerry wins 100 electorial votes more or less.
Almost every state that was close in 2000 will go for Bush, unless he screws up pretty badly in the next 100 (98?) days.

Posted by: Starhawk at July 29, 2004 09:08 PM

Kerry can't hold a candle to Bush on personality and personal likeability ( talking about personality here, not policy ).

That said, either the Democrat Party and Kerry have suddenly transformed themselves on defense and foreign policy ( see Kerry's voting record and recent rhetoric by Screaming Howard Dean, Sharpton, Moore, ad nauseum, and contrast with Kerry's rhetoric tonight ) and rediscovered Scoop Jackson /Trumanesque ideas, or we have just witnessed one of the slickest drag shows in modern political history.

What we DO know is that over 90% of the delegates to the drag show , er, I mean convention, are against the Iraq War, yet their alleged torch-carrier talked like a Reagan hawk tonight.

On domestic policy, Kerry was short on specifics and long on rhetoric. Health care a "right' ?! Maybe we can agree that no one should be denied health care, but it is not a "right". Kerry does not understand the nature of rights if he really believes that.

We can have everything and the rich will pay for it ? Just raise taxes on the rich and the looming entitlement crisis will vanish ? No need for reform of Social Security ( private accounts ), to save the system ?

A suddent transformation , or a drag show ? Either Kerry is a liar, the delegates are liars, or, there is a HUGE schism in the Democrat Party that is being covered up.

We report. You decide.

Posted by: freeguy at July 29, 2004 09:20 PM

Mork, Glenn is a friend of mine. We write for the same online magazine. I can get linked by him simply by asking. I don't tailor my posts to suit his views. Gimme a break.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2004 09:23 PM

Freeguy: there is a HUGE schism in the Democrat Party that is being covered up.

I do believe that's the answer.

I don't envy Kerry. Few people genuinely like him in part because he has to straddle a gaping chasm.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2004 09:26 PM

Just a joke, Michael. Sorry if that's not apparent.

Posted by: Mork at July 29, 2004 09:29 PM

It's an open question of whether of how effective hatred can be in papering over great schisms. It works spectacularly well for fascist movements, but if it's one thing the Democratic Party ain't, it's fascist. Be interesting to see how well it works.

Also interesting that it didn't work for Dean past the first primary.

Then again, I'm still interested by the continual beating on the Vietnam drum, while military service didn't seem to do either Dole or Clark a world of good.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at July 29, 2004 09:32 PM

Okay, Mork.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2004 09:32 PM

"I do not know. But I do know that I do not like him. It’s a good thing for Kerry he’s running against George W. Bush. Because I can think of plenty of other Republicans who could easily mop the floor with his head" --- MJT

I like GWB. He alone.So it's easier for me than for you.Kerry is and always has been a self-serving careerist.You are 100% correct to say that you 'just don't know'.That un-avoidable quality about J*K is what makes him the special man he is.
Just to rub salt in the wounds,Edwards is merely more polished.He has the scuples of an alley cat as well.He is a smarmy LAWYER for crying out loud.Of course he SOUNDS good.But as we have learned in the past few years,image is NOT everything.And the loons at the convention would have cheered anything Edwards said,up to and including support for witch burning.He is the pleasant face of Democratic Party madness and EVERYONE knows it.He can do no wrong.That does not mean that they AGREE with the particular words he says( or even that HE agrees with them).He just has to say SOMETHING,preferably PLEASANT.
I have said it before and sooner or later you will have to face the unpleasant reality.Your old party is MORALLY BANKRUPT and cannot now even recognise its true condition.J*K is them.Well actually MM is them but he is too revolting to display too openly.Lieberman is the ONLY one left of the true Democrats and he is not a big favourite of the party faithful.
Sad. Really.

Posted by: dougf at July 29, 2004 09:37 PM


I am not a Democrat, so correct me if I am wrong over over-simplifying things, but it seems to me that the schism in the Democrat Party, especially on foreign policy, but domestic policy also, is basically between the more experienced, street-wise, somewhat Wall Street-friendly ,Washington establishment Dems, many of whom really do understand the danger we face abroad and the need for entitlement reform, etc ( people like Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, etc )...AND...the activists, many of them young, but some of them old 60s ex-hippies, the anti-globalization / anti-free trade crowd, big labor and environmentalists ?

If so, how can this schism be healed ?

I vote Republican, but I REALLY do believe Clinton was not a bad president for a Democrat on domestic policy. For a while I really believed the Dems had become the Party of Clinton and the New Democrat, pro-business philosophy.

Republicans have their own schism too, between libertarians like myself, and the Religious Right. But on the war issue, there is no schism among Republicans right now, not a major one anyway.

Posted by: freeguy at July 29, 2004 09:40 PM

I didn't think he was that bad, but I thought his performance during the primaries set the bar exceedingly low, and therefore expectations weren't much.

But he was rarely this energetic during the spring. And the speech, while perhaps not that strong on substance, was high on emotion - at least for Kerry - and he threw plenty of red meat at the delegates on the floor. They were overcome with joy when he went after Ashcroft.

Personally, the only line I truly enjoyed was when he nailed the Saudi Royal Family.

And even though I supported Edwards during the primary, and still wished he was on top of the ticket, I think that yesterday Edwards didn't live up to his expectations, and today Kerry exceeded his.

But Edwards has natural talent and a charm that Kerry will never, ever have.

Hell, even Bush has a charm that Kerry will never have.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at July 29, 2004 09:41 PM

I don't see how the Dems are any less split than the GOP, which has at least two big schisms: between the traditional conservatives who are foreign policy realists and the neo-con hawks, and between the Christian right and the libertarians.

It's inevitable in a two party system that lots of people who disagree with each other about a hole lot of things end up under the same umbrella.

'Twas always thus.

The key question is which side each party is on top. With the Dems, I think the convention has made it clear that it's the hawkish/moderate wing of the party. With the GOP, it's an alliance between the neo-cons and the fundy right.

Choose your poison.

Posted by: Mork at July 29, 2004 09:54 PM

Ah - I see that freeguy made the same point as I was typing mine!

Posted by: Mork at July 29, 2004 09:55 PM


This is the kind of interesting bit, I get the impression, based on the Dean/Kerry performance in the primaries v. Liberman, that the moderate/hawkish folks aren't in the ascendant.

But that's just my take.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at July 29, 2004 09:56 PM

Somehow I missed the bit about the Saudi Royal Family. My wife told me about it after I posted this. I wish I'd heard it now. Somebody needs to put those bastards on notice, and Bush seems incapable of doing so. Good for Kerry, then.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2004 10:14 PM

Wait. I just looked up what Kerry said about the Saudis.

Full quote: "I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation – not the Saudi royal family."

Eh. No big deal. I want someone to tell them to go to Hell. It is time.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2004 10:17 PM

I think my characterization is fair, BRD - it's certainly the territory that they have tried to stake out at the convention. And both Kerry and Edwards have decidedly moderate voting records in the Senate.

As for Lieberman, well, I'm not sure what to make of him, these days. His results in the primaries are not really a serious test of where the Dems are on anything because he was never really a viable candidate.

And given his performances in recent times, like his sleazy display during the Abu Ghraib hearings and his propensity to bob up on Fox nodding along like a grinning idiot as Sean Hannity recites the latest GOP talking points, I'm not sure that he's even trying to be a leader of the Dem party. I think he sees his niche elsewhere.

Michael - on The Corner, someone or other said that MSNBC reported that the line about energy independence vs. dependence on the Saudi royal family rated through the roof with the focus groups they were running on the speech. Which suggests that we'll be hearing a lot more along those lines.

Posted by: Mork at July 29, 2004 10:29 PM


The thing about putting the bastards on notice, is that, very roughly, a percent drop in the world oil supply produces a one percent drop in American GDP.

Saudi has over half the world's oil supply. They and we both know they have an economic gun to our head.

You can't start leaning on the Saudis unless you're willing to use force to occupy their oil fields. And if you thought Iraq was a diplomatic stink, wait until you actually invade Saudi, but stop at the oil fields. (which you'd pretty much have to do, because Lord help you if you roll into Mecca or Medina).

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at July 29, 2004 10:29 PM

He needed one over the fence.

He was forced to bunt...and it went foul.

The only happy democrat tonight is Hillary Clinton.

I'm glad I'll be computer incommunicado until Sunday. I have a sneaking suspicion that Mrs. Tmj will outlaw the AM band for the duration, too.

Y'all have a great weekend.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 29, 2004 10:32 PM

Oh, boo hoo.
We lost your fictional vote, whatever to do?

Yeah, I'd rather hang out with a failed businessman with a habit of drunk driving and mangling english than an accomplished Senator.

Just like I'd rather read your blog than someone good like say...Kaus!

Ha Ha. Your blog is as tired as your goatee. How wicked '90s of you.

Posted by: Aloo Vera at July 29, 2004 10:45 PM

Aloo Vera, you are banned for trolling. I don't give out warnings anymore. I don't have time to be your babysitter.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2004 11:09 PM

Odd. I liked Kerry's better, and found it much more sincere. And I'd preferred Edwards up to this point--I still may, but not these past two nights.

You really ought to watch Obama, it will warm your liberal heart.

Posted by: Katherine at July 29, 2004 11:09 PM

Mork: Which suggests that we'll be hearing a lot more along those lines.


Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2004 11:09 PM


I saw a short clip of Obama. I liked what I saw a lot. Wish I'd seen the whole thing.

What is it with the young black Democrats? First Harold Ford, and now Obama. They're the best the party has, I think.

It was probably a mistake for me to pay so little attention to this, but the infomercial aspect of these things just grates on my nerves.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2004 11:12 PM

What is it with the young black Democrats?

Maybe because they have more first hand experience of what aspects of the traditional liberal mantras work and which don't, plus they don't have such an investment in things that have been previously tried and failed, which can hamper the older generation of black politicians (for all that we owe them). So politics is not so much an act of faith for them as it is a reflection of their practical experience.

Posted by: Mork at July 29, 2004 11:21 PM


I also thinkn a really significant part of it is that their not tied up in a lot of the old baby boomer stuff that just gets harder and harder to sell.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at July 29, 2004 11:30 PM

Mork: the older generation of black politicians

Actually, I was comparing them to the entire party, not just the old black politicians. I feel kinda stupid for pointing out that they're black. I don't think it's probably relevant. I just like those guys a lot compared to most of the rest of the party.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2004 11:30 PM

Yeah, what BRD said. They missed the 60s. Probably doesn't hurt.

I'm a fan of the 60s in many ways. Anyone who doubts that decade needed to happen ought to watch Dustin Hoffman in "Lenny." Still, the 60s were over before I was born. That was one-third of a century ago.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2004 11:32 PM


The Bill Clinton and Barack Obama speeches were by far the highlights of the convention.

And Obama is everything everyone says he is. He's walking charisma. His speech was awesome. I don't know if the text does it justice.

However, there was one part of it though that gave me pause. It was a cheap political trick, and a dishonest attack against the Bush administration, engaging in some fear mongering to score some anti-Ashcroft political points. And it was straight out of the Bush/Cheney "Kerry can't be trusted on anti-terrorism" playbook.

He said: "If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties."

There are no "Arab American families" being rounded up without access to attorneys or due process.

There are two cases where Muslim Americans - both only individuals, not entire families - were taken into custody and held as unlawful combatants, thus denied access to attorneys and notice of a hearing and/or hearing.

Padilla was a Puerto Rican convert accused in the dirty bomb plot. Hamdi was an American-born Saudi who didn't consider himself American because he didn't know he was born here, captured on a foreign battlefield. And of course Guantanamo captives are not "Arab American families." And in all three of those situations, the Supreme Court has ruled that due proces and access to an attorney are forthcoming.

And there were some illegal immigrants of Arab descent who were taken into custody for deportation after an executive order, but they were not Arab Americans.

So I thought he was playing to the ultra-far-lefty fantasy notions that we're living in an Ashkkroftian police state, in that one instance.

Other than that, he rocked, and he will be the Democratic nominee for President one day.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at July 29, 2004 11:32 PM

Actually, I was comparing them to the entire party, not just the old black politicians.

Yeah - I got that. I thought that it went without saying that a black politician is inherently more likely to have first hand experience of what difference government can make in creating opportunities than any white Democrat. Whereas the older black leaders have the experience, but not the freedom of intellect.

Posted by: Mork at July 29, 2004 11:46 PM

<iI also thinkn a really significant part of it is that their not tied up in a lot of the old baby boomer stuff that just gets harder and harder to sell.

BRD - I think it's not necessarily so much that it's harder to sell, than that if you're a young black man, and you learn from what you see around you, you know that a lot of it either doesn't work or is positively counter-productive.

Posted by: Mork at July 29, 2004 11:49 PM

This election won't be close. Kerry looked like a president tonight. Kerry will win, and I, as a liberal hawk who hates Michael Moore as much as Rush, think it's a good thing. Think about it: No Nader siphoning votes from the bonehead contingent this time. Bush had the rightwing boneheads in '00, but Gore didn't didn't have the lefty boneheads. Boneheads will win it for Kerry this year. Seriously, though, the lasting power of the president rests with judicial appointments. On that issue, I can't support Bush's religious litmus test (whether he says it exists or not). I supported, and support, the war in Iraq, but Bush must go.

Posted by: chopperdave at July 30, 2004 12:24 AM

Not so fast chopperdave. Kerry may indeed win, but if he does, it will because people are ANTI-Bush, not because they are PRO-Kerry. You and I probably agree on a lot of things, but what we saw in Boston was a political drag show, not the real Democrat Party. There are deep - and I do mean deep - divisions in the Democrat Party about Iraq, terrorism, and domestic issues. Most of the activists in the party are way way Left. I agree that most of the Nader crowd will probably go with Kerry this time around. But this is not 2000.
This is 2004. And 2004 is after 9/11/01. That fateful day changed everything.

Much could happen between now and November, which could help or hurt Bush. But I predict that when the undecided voters go to the polls, they WILL remember 9/11/01. And as the election approaches, one question will be foremost in their minds : Who will best protect us ? And I seriously doubt that most of those people will vote for Kerry.

Posted by: freeguy at July 30, 2004 01:13 AM

After reading more and more this week about the Middle East I decided that there is NO WAY I would trust the controls of the Middle East and foreign policy to Kerry's team. That being said I agree with just about everything you said in your summary.

Kerry is a flatulent elitist waspy country club uninspiring candidate no matter how much you dress him up.

Theresa Heinz is a snobby, arrogant and phony woman who is highly involved in far left charities that have ties to all the wrong organizations and philosophies in the post 9/11 world.

John Edwards is a great speaker, upbeat and inspiring but I have no idea what he would do if he was in the pilot's seat and he's would only be flying wingman anyway, unlike Cheney.

So you're left with an imperfect, flawed, and very weak speaker in George Bush, but who yet comes off as a plain spoken regular guy, something only Edwards can do slightly with some more polish.

When you add it up, Clinton is the Chess Master champion of speakers and politics, and a John Madden 04 Dream Matchup would be he and Reagan.

2nd string is McCain and Edwards.
Bush, Kerry and Gore are all in the 3rd string bench.

Posted by: Mike at July 30, 2004 01:32 AM

But here is why I am voting for Bush.

All the commentators on the Middle East some of whom have met with Bush's team in private say that no matter what may be said for political reasons at different times, THEY GET IT.

And when these people and others consistently tell me that than I have to push up my chips and place my bets with them. END OF STORY FOR ME.


PS And the stem cell research does really bather me but its not as serious an issue.

Posted by: Mike at July 30, 2004 01:36 AM

Bull heads, three red snapper, one pink snapper and your Pacific coastal trench housemonster fish.

Oh! At Sky David's juke joint of joy reports, forty under the console giggle stick ling cod, twenty-three purple perches, four sledge-hammerhead sharks,
and what a surprise, eighty-four crabs, and no red snapper.

Hey, that'll do for the triumphant return of the fish report with a beat.

Posted by: Uncle David at July 30, 2004 03:06 AM


Mr Totten thinks Edwards is "recognizably a human being" (good start I suppose) and is also "inspiring."

He’s "upbeat, optimistic" (that doesn't help pay the bills though) and wants "to help people out." (Whoopee, even Bush occasionally professes an interest in that sort of thing.)

Loves the war talk too, especially the "we will destroy you" line. Big turn on.

But, does it matter a hoot? Well I suppose it does if the charmer helps to persuade Totten to vote Democrat. I guess its just a question of who can bang the war drum the loudest.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 03:17 AM

Do you want to know what Kerry really believes? Then go to his web site and read his manifesto. There are 27 major categories of issues on which he delivers a set of objectives and proposed actions. These categories range, alphabetically, from "Agriculture" to "Women's Issues" and include one called "The First 100 Days".

Look at them in detail, read each one, and then take a holistic view of the entire program and tell me if you see the same thing I do: Kerry is a Statist with a Socialistic, Pacifistic compass.

Good speech, bad speech, good campaign, bad campaign, good guy, bad guy, it doesn't much matter. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for a person who believes that this is what America and our Government should be doing.

Posted by: steve at July 30, 2004 03:46 AM

This speech was terrible. Kerry is offering socialism at home and appeasement overseas.

And what did Kerry have to say about the war, which is the single most important issue of our time? Who is our enemy and how are we going to win? Crickets.

Kerry seems to think we can win this war with the Peace Corps instead of the Marine Corps.

Posted by: HA at July 30, 2004 04:05 AM
Michael J. Totten: "Not only is John Edwards recognizably a human being, he’s also inspiring. He reminds me why I became a Democrat in the first place. He’s upbeat, optimistic, and wants to help people out."

He'll go to extraordinary lengths to inspire an audience. For instance, he once pretended to channel the spirit of a brain- damaged girl in order to win over a jury in a personal injury suit:

"In closing to jury, [Edwards] said: 'She speaks to you through me. And I have to tell you right now -- I didn't plan to talk about this -- right now I feel her. I feel her presence. She's inside me, and she's talking to you.'"

Speaking as a former criminal defense attorney, this is the most deeply creepy thing I've ever heard a lawyer say in court. He must be nearly sociopathic in his lack of shame.

To be fair, Bush was just as (or even more) creepy when he mocked a women he was going to have executed (which is one reason I couldn't bring myself to vote for him in 2000).

Posted by: MDP at July 30, 2004 04:35 AM

I could never vote for Kerry anyway. I don't trust a guy who volunteers for the army.

You can't defeat terrorism anyway.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 05:22 AM

earlier quote:

"I don't envy Kerry. Few people genuinely like him in part because he has to straddle a gaping chasm."

When I read that, my very first thought was that Kerry is just not suited for the tasking of closing gaps between people. Give me someone who can close the gap, and I think that would be enough to get my vote. Moot point this time around though....maybe in 2008.


"The thing about putting the bastards on notice, is that, very roughly, a percent drop in the world oil supply produces a one percent drop in American GDP."

While I don't claim particular expertise in the political arena, I am an engineer. As an engineer, I find it very difficult to accept the notion that there is no acceptable substitution for fossil fuels. Yea, I know it likely requires an infrastructure change but the above quote suggest that the Saudi's have us by the privates on this one. Seems to me like this is a good time to look for other solutions (bio-diesel for example).

Posted by: joekm at July 30, 2004 05:53 AM

Seems to me like this is a good time to look for other solutions (bio-diesel for example

Oh yes, and what about that dread phrase "fuel efficiency", may be? Controlled consumption? Self discipline?

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 05:58 AM

I thought Obama was great, and also reluctantly admired Bill Clinton's incredible ease at the podium--politically, at least, Clinton is brilliant in a way that few politicians are.

I thought Kerry's speech was so-so. I was glad to see he addressed Iraq, at least obliquely, but he was extremely vague when specifics were called for. I don't want to know he's a tough guy--I want to know specifically if he will stay the course in Iraq and stand up to Iran, Syria, and North Korea.

The major problem is the cognitive dissonance between the convention's slick pacakging (moderate patriotic tough Dems) and the reality of the delegates and party faithful. 10% of the delegates were from the NEA, 90% opposed the war in Iraq, at least 80% hate Bush's guts and are a little worried at all this moderate rhetoric. The Dems showed far more discipline that was usually the case, which is good, but their message was tired, and their solutions and rhetoric was last fresh in the mid-1970's. The Dems have become a party of orthodoxy. Perhaps that's why Obama was so refreshing--breaking the mold, new life, new ideas, and rhetoric tailored to the needs of the current age ratehr than the nostalgia of the 60's--they even had Peter Paul and Mary sing Blowing in the Wind, for goodness' sake! I'll be happy when the boomers finally retire and let some other people run the show and set the Zeitgeist for a change.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at July 30, 2004 05:59 AM

"I could never vote for Kerry anyway. I don't trust a guy who volunteers for the army.
You can't defeat terrorism anyway."-- Who Cares which particular LOON.

AT LAST. The true inner voice of the(current) Democratic Party speaks.They are not the SOLUTION;they are the PROBLEM.

Posted by: dougf at July 30, 2004 06:03 AM


I have never voted Democrat in my life, nor am I likely to since I don't live in the USA, nor am I a US citizen.

I just think volunteering for the army is a daft career choice for most people, and if you want do the patriotic thing, there are other better avenues to pursue.

As for terrorism. Its impossible to beat terrorism because it's a method. You cannot uninvent a method. All you can do is limit it to some sort of minimal level. That's just the application of basic logic, nothing to do with my particular political stripe.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 06:22 AM

from Benjamin:

"Oh yes, and what about that dread phrase "fuel efficiency", may be? Controlled consumption? Self discipline? "

Yup, how about even more vile phrases like "car-pooling", "public transportation", and "bicycle commuting"? It does seem like a lot more people own H2's and full size pickups than actually have a need for them.

Ironically, I was struck by a pickup truck recently while commuting by bicycle. My bike is trashed and I'm going to have to sue in order to get reimbursed.

Posted by: joekm at July 30, 2004 06:42 AM

He says he won’t let any nation veto our foreign policy. Excellent. Glad to hear it, John!

--last time we stuck by that principle, Rwandans were slaughtered.

Posted by: rparks at July 30, 2004 06:45 AM


The USA won't give up it's addiction to the internal combustion engine and oil until they really have their backs to the wall, and I'm not talking about the Saudis.

Sure, you need cars for some journeys, but you don't need huge SUVs, and other fuel guzzling monstrosities, and many people don't need cars at all for some trips.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 06:47 AM


Sorry to hear about your bike, BTW, I use one too! Mine gets vandalised occasionally.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 06:49 AM

Re what the Dems think: When the Gov. of Louisiana made her speech committing delegates to Kerry, she listed things that were great about her state. Most of these got applause from the assembled delegates. When she said LA was the home of two national sports champions, there was wild applause. Her next statement was that LA sent something like 8,500 soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq, and the silence was deafening.

Face it, the Dems. don't care about the war because they don't think we are in a war. IMHO, they are delusional. I don't see how any American can vote for a party that just doesn't understand that we are fighting for our way of life in a war that we cannot afford to lose.

Posted by: Ben at July 30, 2004 06:53 AM

All of the talk about fuel efficiency and alternative energy is fine. The problem is that it isn't realistic. Sure, there are still some efficiencies that could be achieved.

Widespread use of public transportation is workable only with highly concentrated population areas. In other words, in rural areas (where 50% of the population lives), this is not a workable solution.

Alternative energy is also a dream. Solar only works in areas that get a lot of sunshine (i.e., the Southwest) and has proven not to be workable even there. Hydro works only where there are rivers, and the environmentalists do everything they can to stop dam construction. Wind works only in relatively flat areas or coastal areas, and the environmentalists have a fit about migratory birds. Nuclear is feasible just about anywhere, but you know what people think about that. . . .

Posted by: Ben at July 30, 2004 07:00 AM

I don't see how any American can vote for a party that just doesn't understand that we are fighting for our way of life in a war that we cannot afford to lose.

I wouldn't get all dramatic about it.
The fact is, whomever is President foreign policy continues much as before. Bush changed a few things after 9/11, but a Democrat president will not change it all back, it will be basically business as usual, certainly as the WoT is concerned anyway.

James Rubin has confirmed this, and on that point at least, I am prepared to believe him.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 07:07 AM


You might want to check on what your fellow engineer Stephen Den Beste has to say about alternate fuels & power sources. ( http://denbeste.nu )The only thing other than fossil fuels that will scale well for electrical generation is nuclear fission. You can well imagine how the NIMBYs & BANANAs would react to that... For vehicles, Hydrogen requires lots of power to produce. It's an inefficent way of storing chemical energy, not an energy source. NO Hydrogen wells, after all. The others simply don't scale to the levels needed to maintain our civilization.

Posted by: Cybrludite at July 30, 2004 07:10 AM

Too bad about Aloo Vera. Few things are funnier to me than someone failing miserably at biting sarcasm.

Posted by: Ron at July 30, 2004 07:14 AM

Back on topic, I heard bits of Kerry's speach on the radio on the way home from work this morning. Big applause lines & highlights. He sounded like he was auditioning for a bit part on a George Romero flick. (Savini won't have much trouble doing makeup for him, either...) As much fire & warmth as a vat of liquid nitrogen.

Posted by: Cybrludite at July 30, 2004 07:18 AM

Widespread use of public transportation is workable only with highly concentrated population areas. In other words, in rural areas (where 50% of the population lives), this is not a workable solution.

Even using your figures, improved public transportation using fuel efficient and low polluting vehicles would make huge strides increasing efficiency.

In fact over 75% of the US population live in urbanised areas - certainly areas that could easily be catered for using public transport.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 07:21 AM

The argument over whether alternative energy sources are feasable now is pretty academic. In the future, we will simply NEED to find alternatives whether we like it or not - probably a mixture of various types.

Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, so I am sure alternatives will be found, even if they are at an early stage now.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 07:26 AM

Benjamin --

I doubt your figures. Assuming that 50% of the population could use public transportation for most of its travel is probably overly generous.

Posted by: Ben at July 30, 2004 07:54 AM


I am both aware of the remarkable energy-density of fossil fuels and of the fact that hydrogen generation is more an energy storage medium as opposed to an energy creation medium. I am also aware the many fuels touted as non-polluting (like ethanol) actually are, it's just a different set of pollutants. Additionally, I also realize that, even though bio-diesel is nearly "carbon-neutral", coverting large areas of desert for it's production will not be without environmental impact.

I can go on here, but this is off-topic and I am only interested in demonstrating that I realize that alternate energy systems are by no means a "free lunch".

Posted by: joekm at July 30, 2004 07:55 AM

He says he won’t let any nation veto our foreign policy. Excellent. Glad to hear it, John! So what, exactly, was the point of your 18-month whine-fest because Bush more or less stuck to your promise?

C'mon, MJT. It's only because of silly right-wing accusations that Kerry has say something completely obvious like the fact that another nation won't have a veto over our foreign policy.

The point of his "18-month whine-fest," as you call it, is that he supported giving Bush authorization to take military action in Iraq, but didn't think Bush would fuck it up so bad.

As General John Keane told the House Armed Services Committee last week, the military spent enormous brain-power analyzing how to remove Saddam, but gave very little thought to what to do next:

Keane, who served briefly as acting Army chief of staff after the invasion, agreed. Spreading his hands wide, he told the committee, “This represents the space for the intellectual capital that we expended to take the regime down.”

And then drawing two fingers nearly together to reveal just a small gap, Keane added, “This represents the space for the intellectual capital to deal with it after. I mean, that was the reality of it.”

Is that Bush' fault? Partly, yes -- he should have made sure the occupation plans were in place.

Also, welcome back. You were missed.

Posted by: Oberon at July 30, 2004 08:07 AM


Sorry, I thought you were claiming the 50% of the US population lives in rural areas. I don't think that is true.

An easy majority live in cities. Hence, with improved public transport, there is huge potential for huge efficiencies if more people take it up.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 08:11 AM

Did I watch the wrong show again? Damnit. It figures PBS would show some other John Kerry speech than what the rest of you saw.

The one I saw was a slick presentation (very nice imitation of a State of The Union Address as one pundit pointed out), with a speech that was dead center. He said nothing about terrorism being 'only' a law enforcement problem (which makes me cringe when people made that statement), 40,000 new troops promised, big denfense spending promised, and the Saudis warned in no uncertain terms. Was it hawkish? Of course. Most Dems I know are against the Iraq War, not the War on Terror(especially in the way in which we went about running the war, but thats beside the point).

I think the best part of the speech though, was his gauntlet thrown down to Bush. A positive election year would do this country good. He made it clear that the country must be re-united, Bush hasn't made a damn comment about it, I'm not sure if its because he doesn't care about half of the country, or if hes so inflated with hubris that he's unable to see that the country is divided. Maybe Kerry was just spouting retoric, but it sounded really good. (Which is all campaign speeches can ever do).

Kerry isn't a saint, he isn't my first choice for President... but to ignore the fact that his speech was one hell of a barn burner, is just silly. He did far better than anyone expected, and whoever wrote that speech deserves a big bonus.

Of course, now the real question is, "How serious was Kerry?" There are three possible situations:

1. Kerry is a lying bastard and is trying to pull the wool over the countrys eyes. He doesn't plan on increasing troops and denfense, and instead plans to withdraw from our current situation.

Likelyhood - Low

Reason - If we drop our guard now, Osama will hit us and hit us hard. Another major attack would send the economy into the toilet and recovery would be difficult. After the roller coaster ride we've had politically and socially since 9/11, the country could easily become isolationists once again. Thats what Osama wants.

Ergo, Kerry cannot go soft on Terror, because an attack during his watch would see him either impeached or totally decimated at the next election. It would be Political Suicide.

2. Kerry softshoed through the primaries, so that the rest of the canidates would shred each other and he'd be the only one to maintain broad based appeal. Now that he has the nomination, he's no longer able to afford a 'last man standing' approach, and is trying to pull broad based appeal across the aisle. So we will finally start hearing what he really plans.

Likelyhood - Maybe

Reason - He has to stay tough on terror (as outlined above). However, adding 40,000 new troops to cycle out the National Guard and Reserves would be a huge win for the Anti-War folks. We maintain our military presence and bring the troops home, everyone is happy.

If Kerry has planned to be Centrist, it was wise to wait until now to do it. Earlier and the Extreme Left would have gravitated to Dennis, Dennis still wouldn't have won, but Kerry would likely have lost. However, now that he has the nomination, he can tell the extreme left to shove off. What are they gonna do? Vote for Bush? Hell, no. Vote for Nader? That means Bush would win, so hell no. Everyone in the ABB gang will vote Kerry this fall, he doesn't have to pander to them. Same goes for the Core Democrats (most of whom are closer to center, so are happy) and to the slightly Right of Center (the Hawkish Liberals).

Now all he has to do is gain the slightly more right of center and left of Bush. If he continues to perform like last night, I think he could do it.

3. Kerry won't abandon the WoT but won't go as far as his speech claimed. He'll, in practice, be tougher than the peace activists would like, but nowhere near as tough as Bush. Sort of a CYA both ways.

Likelyhood - Maybe

Reason - On one hand, that sounds like a very Democrat way of dealing with defense. Sort of a lukewarm and flat response. On the other hand, another terror attack would likely fall right into his lap and that would be worse than McDonalds Coffee.

In the end it will, I think, depend entirely on how John Kerry actually sees the threat from Bin Laden. I don't think he'll pull out of Iraq until there is some stability (though he may try to hand it over to the UN, or perhaps the Muslim countries that are offering to replace the US millitary now). Iraq is a ringer, pulling out now would scream irresponsibility. However, the focus on Bin Laden will either be rekindled (if Kerry sees him as a true threat) or will peter out (if Kerry believes he is not a threat). My personal opinion is that Kerry sees Bin Laden as a threat, because only pure idealists like Kucinich are unable to understand the impact of 9/11.

I think only time will tell if Kerry was serious or not. From the perspective of the Republicans, I'd be more concerned now than before the convention.

My view of the electorate:

1. Kerry has a firm hold on pretty much everything just Left of center.

2. He very likely has the ABB crowd that is a little further left, there's a very good chance that he has all of the Distant Left/Michael Moore crowd.

3. The extereme Left are probably going to him as well (being the nutjobs).

4. That speech, if followed up with concrete plans, hard numbers and more speeches of that quality and sound, will probably win him a decent portion of the Center and slightly Right of Center.

In an election that shows the polls as close as they are and Bush's approval rating as low as it is, to deny the importance of last night to this race is sticking your head in the sand.

Not saying you should believe, or agree with what he said... but I think it sets the stage for a very tough campaign for Bush.

The real trick will be to see if Kerry stays positive and if Bush runs negative. A lot of people are sick of negative ads and that could sway a number of voters as well. Maybe an election lost because of negative ads would send a nice message to the politicans.

I predict it will be an interesting 3 months, but I might be wrong.


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 30, 2004 09:05 AM

Tosk, most bloggers don't write nearly as much as you do. Why don't you just have your own blog?

Posted by: Oberon at July 30, 2004 09:14 AM

Alternative Energy, Just a dream?

Not necesarily.

Right now, ethanol is not feasible, because corn ethanol is the cheapest form, and still costs more energy to make, than it creates.

The main reason that corn ethanol is low yield, is that corn is not the most cost effective crop for ethanol production. Not to mention the fact that quite a bit of field work is required to maintain the crop from plant to harvest.

There are two crops that are much better for ethanol production. The first is trees. A field planted with trees will produce (i think, this is from memory) 10% more ethanol per sq ft than corn. Unfortunately, you must let the crop grow for 4 years. Obviously this is not feasible.

The second crop beats corn by 15% and trees by 5% (per sq ft), it grows in 3-4 months and requires almost no maintainence, or special planting. In fact, it grows nearly as well unattended as it does with attention.

On top of that, this particular crop also produces seeds rich in oil, which when pressed provide more oil per pound than soy beans.

The product, Hemp. Not marijuana, the psychedelic cousin of Hemp, but good old, industrial hemp.

There are currently a number of government sponsed test farms in Canada.


1. Hemp crops grow well anywhere weeds grow well. There are no requirements for fertilizer or rich soil. Farmland in areas hit hard by recession could conbvert to this crop easily. Ergo, farmers once again have a profitable crop.

2. 1 acre produces 1000 gallons of ethanol, clean burning, ozone free, sulpher free and a completely renewable resource. On its own 1000 gallons of ethanol wouldn't produce enough energy. However, However, with the advent of this recent development ethanol becomes a usable, realistic power source.

Will it work, we don't know... but its a potential power source that should be explored.


PS - This is one of my pet subjects that I did a report on several years back :)

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 30, 2004 09:31 AM


I used to be a pundit for the Open Source Tech World, but I found my life to be too chaotic to support a daily update. I have a live journal (Tosk) and it gets updated occasionaly.

Besides, who wants to hang out on a Blog run by a insane squirrel?


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 30, 2004 09:33 AM

Benjamin: "I just think volunteering for the army is a daft career choice for most people, and if you want do the patriotic thing, there are other better avenues to pursue."

Charming. About all that comes to mind is Lt. Greenwald's drunken rant in "The Caine Mutiny":

"Course, we all figured in those days, only fools go into armed service. Bad pay, no millionaire future, can't call your mind or body your own. Not for sensitive intellectuals....So when all hell broke loose, and the Germans started running out of soap, and they figure, Well it's time to come over and melt down old Mrs. Greenwald, who's gonna stop 'em? Not her boy Barney. Can't stop a Nazi with a lawbook."

Posted by: JPS at July 30, 2004 09:59 AM

Ack, my head hurts. How is volunteering for the army a daft choice, instead of a patriotic one? Are all patriots supposed to wait to be drafted? I mean, granted the new Army commercials are not something that makes me want to go volunteer... have you seen those?

It runs something like:

"Your unit is watching enemy movements from cover" (Shot of dudes with guns in a truck, then a shot of dudes hinding under camo with a telescope).

"You have enough food for three days"

"Your on Day 7"


Well, I'll jump right on that, just what I want to do, risk my life for a country that can't be bothered to make sure I'm supplied. It also made my head hurt... good thing I have nice painkillers.


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 30, 2004 10:22 AM


Ah, you talking Nazis!? You just Godwined then :-)

But seriously, there is an irony (and I thought about it whilst watching the speech), and it is thus: Kerry is sold as some sort of war hero, but it was in war that he himself realised was a mistake, a war the US lost, and many Americans would agree with that assessment.

So, in extremis, like in WW2, one could make a case for serving in the army, but Vietnam, however, is hardly the best example I can think of.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 10:35 AM

Of course, I am not saying old Kerry did not show bravery in some aspects, in an individual way, but wars sometimes are not all about bravery and valour, and in some wars neither side can claim a monopoly on virtue.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 10:45 AM

While, we're on this subject, let me quote from "England Your England" (which is permanently linked on the right side bar of my blog) by George Orwell.

It is clear that the special position of the English intellectuals during the past ten years, as purely negative creatures, mere anti-Blimps, was a by-product of ruling-class stupidity. Society could not use them, and they had not got it in them to see that devotion to one's country implies ‘for better, for worse’. Both Blimps and highbrows took for granted, as though it were a law of nature, the divorce between patriotism and intelligence. If you were a patriot you read Blackwood's Magazine and publicly thanked God that you were ‘not brainy’. If you were an intellectual you sniggered at the Union Jack and regarded physical courage as barbarous. It is obvious that this preposterous convention cannot continue. The Bloomsbury highbrow, with his mechanical snigger, is as out-of-date as the cavalry colonel. A modern nation cannot afford either of them. Patriotism and intelligence will have to come together again. It is the fact that we are fighting a war, and a very peculiar kind of war, that may make this possible.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 30, 2004 11:48 AM


Why all the obsession about Osama, who is very likely food for worms for the past 2 1/2 years?

The issue of islamic fascism killing people in the US is far bigger than one man.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at July 30, 2004 12:07 PM

Yet another appropriation of Orwell.

Someone should start a website for those.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 12:28 PM


Then let me rephrase:

"Osama, or whoever is currently leading Al-Quada"

I really don't think he's dead, that would be far too useful to Bush in relection. It would look very bad indeed if he pulls out a corpse thats 30 months rotted.

Nontheless, we can replace Osama with "Islamic Fascists" and my earlier post would still be appropriate, I think.

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 30, 2004 01:10 PM

His big moment in the spotlight, and he looked uncomfortable, nervous, sweaty, and rushed. Wasn't terrible, not bad, kind of OK. But he needed to galvanize the nation, or at least the liberals, and he did kinda good instead. Those who were going to vote for him still will, and they are hopeful that others see him as they do. But they don't and won't.

Bush's biggest secret weapon is Kerry. People see him and turn away.

Bush 52%, Kerry 46%, Nader 2%.

Posted by: thedragonflies at July 30, 2004 02:09 PM


You might be right, but its too early to say that.

I can't help feeling that the whole contest is pretty phoney, anyway. It has a fake feel about it.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 30, 2004 02:15 PM


I should have said "Dead and his followers have the body" or "dead and buried under tons of rock" or "dead and atomized by a bomb".

A live Osama would be making speeches on videotape just to prove he was still around.

And I don't think it's the leadership of Al Qaeda which is the problem. Or even Al Qaeda. I think the global fascist islamist movement as a whole is our enemy in this war, along with the state supporters and weapons suppliers such as Iran, North Korea and (formerly) Iraq. And part of dealing with this movement means "draining the swamp" or creating the economic and political conditions where islamic fascism will shrivel up and die.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at July 30, 2004 02:32 PM

You make some fair points, Benjamin, and I laughed when you called Godwin on me. Possibly I read your initial comment on not trusting anyone who went into the military as more of a slur than you meant it.

But you also make one point that I must address: "in some wars neither side can claim a monopoly on virtue."

I would say that's true not only of some wars, but of all wars that have ever been fought. Sometimes the disparity is awfully, awfully lopsided though. Look at it this way: Using the argument style and polemical methods of Michael Moore, I could construct a forceful argument that the U.S. had no moral right to enter WWII [there I go again, but it's one I know had to be fought], or imagine making one during the war that we should cease and desist.

I could string together a list of America's aggressions against other countries, make an impassioned (and entirely accurate) denunciation of our own awful racial injustices, and throw in descriptions of our (occasional, but by no means unheard-of) atrocities against German POWs. After the war, if I had the chance, I'd cite Chester Nimitz' testimony that the German U-boat methods were no different than our own standard submarine practices in the Pacific. And if I were of a Michael Moore mindset, it would all add up to this: What moral right do we have to even condemn, much less go to war to fight, our enemies?

It'd be very convincing, too, if the listener were morally blind and had no perspective. Personally, I prefer the response of Joe Louis, the boxer, when asked why a black man would enlist to fight for America:

"Man, whatever's wrong with my country ain't nothing Hitler can fix."

Posted by: JPS at July 30, 2004 02:56 PM

"It was the liberals and the left who taught me militant anti-fascism. "

And now they teach fascist anti-militantism.

Posted by: Bleeding heart conservative at July 30, 2004 03:05 PM

BHC: "And now they teach fascist anti-militantism."

Only while Bush is in office, and only on the subjects Bush leads on. Ask the nearest liberal about the UN and Sudan and you'll see a big shift. I've seen it already, and I've only been back for a week. The liberal hawks will be back. At least those who haven't bought what they've been cynically trying to sell.

The isolationist right will return, too. I have little doubt. Just watch what happens if Kerry ever tries to smash the Islamofascist janjaweed squads.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 30, 2004 03:15 PM

"Man, whatever's wrong with my country ain't nothing Hitler can fix."

That's perfect. Haven't seen that quote before. Thanks.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 30, 2004 03:16 PM

Bush is going to win big. The Democrats are making a number of serious mistakes. First, they are misjudging the dynamic of the election. Bush is not a weak failed president presiding over disastrous developments. This is not comparable to 1980. In 1980 things were so objectively bad that ANYONE could have beaten Carter. Had Anderson not gotten 9 percent, Reagan would have easily exceeded sixty percent of the vote. This is simply not the case now. The reason fifty percent or so think things are bad in Iraq is twofold. First, Democrats have so politicized it that virtually all loyal Democrats oppose it as a matter of course. A siazable number of them buy into the Michael Moore view, unfortunately. The other reason is that Bush has not been effective in countering the relentless attacks from his domestic opponents. Yet he still is tied in the polls with solid numbers on fighting terrorism and improving numbers on the economy. He should spend his time re-stating the case for the WOT and the Iraq capmapign that he originally made. Then he can point out the disgusting hypocrisy of Kerry and Edwards.

The other reason Kerry will lose is because they have actually gone insane. They no longer seem to recognize what a spurious personal attack is and how much swing voters hate that sort of thing. Kerry believes he delivered a high minded speech on the issues. Yet he accused the President of fighting a war because he wanted to and accused the attorney general of not following the constitution. I heard nothing of his own vision for keeping American safe or prosperous. They believe America at large dislikes Bush and wants him gone. I believe The great middle likes Bush and would like him to stay if he can justify it. It is Bush who needs to close the sale not Kerry. And he is a strong and talented campaigner when he gets down to it. Kerry is good as well but he has never had to appeal to a voting population like the national American electorate and I don't think he can do it. I predict a comfortable Bush win of 4-6 points and a very comfortable electoral win.

Posted by: Doug at July 30, 2004 08:12 PM

"Man, whatever's wrong with my country ain't nothing Hitler can fix."

It's a good one.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 31, 2004 02:03 AM

Possibly I read your initial comment on not trusting anyone who went into the military as more of a slur than you meant it.

It was deliberately provocative, admittedly.
But people have choices, and the Army is not always a good option. Actually some people have limited choices, and the Army therefore may seem a good option. Not sure it really is though.

Posted by: Benjamin at July 31, 2004 02:07 AM

That's perfect. Haven't seen that quote before. Thanks.

--not a quote that many of the more right wing at the time appreciated, if ya know your history though.

Posted by: rparks at July 31, 2004 02:30 AM

Face it, the Dems. don't care about the war because they don't think we are in a war.

--you're talking about the party that wants to send even more troops to Iraq? oh yes, now there is an 'antiwar' Party if I ever saw one...

Posted by: rparks at July 31, 2004 02:33 AM

I wonder if this has anything to do with the Repubs throwing thousands of poor working people off of medicaid in the south. this is great news:


The most recent Zogby poll shows deeper trouble for President George W. Bush beyond just the horserace. Mr. Bush has fallen in key areas while Senator John Kerry has shored up numerous constituencies in his base. The Bush team’s attempted outreach to base Democratic and swing constituency has shown to be a failure thus far, limiting his potential growth in the electorate.

The most important group in this election now is the undecideds and Mr. Bush’s standing among them is weak. He is generally well liked among the undecideds, having a strong favorability (56%), but his job performance is another story. Only 32% approve of Bush’s job in office and only 31% believe the country is headed in the right direction. The undecideds are not yet sold on Mr. Kerry, with only 49% having a favorable opinion of him. But Mr. Kerry can still sell his message to them: over a quarter (28%) are either not familiar enough or are not sure of their opinion yet. These undecided voters are generally dissatisfied with the President, but are still not acquainted enough with the Senator from Massachusetts to support him.

Posted by: rparks at July 31, 2004 02:43 AM


Zogby doesn't even pretend to have a reliable statistical methodology. His poll is conducted on the Internet, and is a self-selected sample. Zogby doesn't weight by party affiliation or any demographic characteristics other than state of residence.

His latest poll shows Kerry ahead by 5 points in the south. LOL! Zogby is the Literary Digest of 2004...LD magazine famously predicted in 1936 that Alf Landon would win by a landslide based on its poll of its readership.

There are much better polling services than Zogby, such as SurveyUSA, which alone predicted a Schwarzenegger win in CA.

Posted by: marzipan at July 31, 2004 03:46 AM

RE: Edwards is inspiring. I bet you would be putty in his hands if you were on a jury.

Posted by: joanna at July 31, 2004 05:44 AM

actually i'd grant that his methodology is subject to criticism, but the impression that Bush is suffering in the south is not that off. keep in mind the high numbers of deaths (remember when totten wrote his 'this is not vietnam article he said that the US had 'only' suffered 400 deaths, now the number approaches 1,000 with every passing day, compared to 1965 a pretty damned good start i'd say), the even higher, much higher number of serious injuries, amputations, blindness, mental injuries, etc. suffered disproportionately by southern soldiers, etc. then on top of that the ridiculous cuts in medicaid in the south makign people have to beg for basic medical services...it's all starting to add up...

Posted by: rparks at July 31, 2004 05:58 AM

I respectfully disagree with your statements. I think that Bush will carry the South solidly (10%+ margin), regardly of the national outcome. If Kerry/Edwards actually think they can carry some southern states, then let's see them put campaign resources there. It isn't happening now, and it won't happen. This race will come down to a battle over a few states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, NJ, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and WV. This is barring any further Bunny Suit eruptions or negatives for Bush.

I think the finally popular vote margin of victory will be a decisive one (at least 5%), though not a landslide victory. Obviously I hope it is a Bush victory, but I can imagine several scenarios in which Kerry could win.

Posted by: marzipan at July 31, 2004 09:38 AM

"baloons, more balloons..... ok more balloons.... Release all the balloons... Release the Goddamn balloons!!!...Where are the balloons??? What the fuck are you guys doing??? More balloons...

CNN, hilarious.

Posted by: mnm at July 31, 2004 09:41 AM

You said "Not only is John Edwards recognizably a human being, he’s also inspiring. He reminds me why I became a Democrat in the first place. He’s upbeat, optimistic, and wants to help people out."

Yeah, he really does want to help people out, especially if there is a few million in it for him. This New York Times article, written while Edwards was still in the presidential race tells you all you need to know about Edwards. He is the Trial Lawyer's candidate bar none. A few quotes from the article:

"Referring to an hour-by-hour record of a fetal heartbeat monitor, Mr. Edwards told the jury: "She said at 3, `I'm fine.' She said at 4, `I'm having a little trouble, but I'm doing O.K.' Five, she said, `I'm having problems.' At 5:30, she said, `I need out.'...The jury came back with a $6.5 million verdict in the cerebral palsy case, and Mr. Edwards established his reputation as the state's most feared plaintiff's lawyer."

"On the other side, insurance companies, business groups that support what they call tort reform and conservative commentators have accused Mr. Edwards of relying on questionable science in his trial work. Indeed, there is a growing medical debate over whether the changes have done more harm than good. Studies have found that the electronic fetal monitors now widely used during delivery often incorrectly signal distress, prompting many needless Caesarean deliveries, which carry the risks of major surgery.

The rise in such deliveries, to about 26 percent today from 6 percent in 1970, has failed to decrease the rate of cerebral palsy, scientists say. Studies indicate that in most cases, the disorder is caused by fetal brain injury long before labor begins."

"He took only those cases that were catastrophic, that would really capture a jury's imagination," Mr. Wells, a defense lawyer, said. "He paints himself as a person who was serving the interests of the downtrodden, the widows and the little children. Actually, he was after the cases with the highest verdict potential. John would probably admit that on cross-examination."

"The cerebral palsy cases fit that pattern. Mr. Edwards did accept the occasional case in which a baby died during delivery; The North Carolina Lawyers Weekly reported such cases as yielding settlements in the neighborhood of $500,000. But cases involving children who faced a lifetime of expensive care and emotional trauma could yield much more."

"But in the 1980's, scientists began to challenge the premise that medical care during delivery had much to do with cerebral palsy. Studies concluded that 10 percent or fewer of cases could be traced to an oxygen shortage at birth. The vast majority of children who developed cerebral palsy were damaged long before labor, the studies found.

Then a series of randomized trials challenged the notion that faster delivery could prevent cerebral palsy. Reviewing data from nine countries, two researchers reported last year that the rate of the disorder had remained stable despite a fivefold increase in Caesarean deliveries.

Dr. Karin B. Nelson, a child neurologist with the National Institutes of Health, says the notion that paying greater heed to electronic monitoring will prevent brain injuries remains just that, a notion. "Evidence of high medical quality contradicts the assumption that the use of electronic fetal monitoring during labor can prevent brain damage," Dr. Nelson said."

Just what the nation needs a heartbeat away from the presidency, yet another trial lawyer who go super rich exploiting junk science.

Posted by: Pat at August 1, 2004 01:25 PM


To methat sounds like he was doing a good job of being a lawyer. Lawyers use evidence (sometimes questionable) to help their client win their case. (Or did I mis something in what Lawyers did?)

As for the junk science comment. I doubt that Edwards postulated the science, or conned scientists into supporting the theory just to win cases. It seems more likely to me, that he saw this as a usable theory... thats where the defense would want to have expert witnesses that would testify to the "junk science" aspect of the plantiff's case. The jury then must decide who made the better case, not who had a harder scientific base for their case.

Hell, our current political landscape relies on junk science for a number of issues. Everything from the effects of Marijuana to the environmental issues (both the Left and the Right).

If thats the best mud that can be tossed at Edwards, then I hope he becomes President... it would be nice to get through 4 years without a scandal.

Posted by: Ratatosk at August 3, 2004 11:15 AM

Iwould think you'd appreciate politicians close to Chirac. He's a bonafide tax cutting, pro-owner, anti-labor union politician. pro globalization, pro privatization, even sent troops to afghanistan. only issue he would disagree with you would be Iraq, and even there you two are quite close in terms of the goal of privatizing Iraq to kingdom come, no?

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The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn