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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Wednesday, 21 January 2004

Topic: World View

Recommended Reading

This will not make you happy. It is a bit long, but good.

See Another Embittered Rant from a Former Soldier
State of the Union, MLK and 30mm DU
Stan Goff, Counterpunch, January 20, 2003

The core:
I invite readers to click onto this link www.journalism.co.uk/ where...

Enjoy this video, like good pornography. That's what it is... a snuff film. Now we can all have a titillating glimpse of the rarified world of systematic slaughter that some of us carry around in our heads, waiting to crawl out into our dreams.

Don't bother with outrage, because I'm told you will be ignored. No one cares. The news media won't cover it. Congress won't demand an investigation. People will make excuses for it. It is a total violation of the Law of Warfare and the Geneva Conventions, but America doesn't recognize international law any more, so fuck it, right?

Hell, Rusty Calley is healthy and happy selling cars in Georgia, I hear. He and his crew killed almost 400 unarmed civilians in My Lai.

This is our age. You can get away with anything, even filming murder. Last month, a video was released showing a Marine being cheered on by his comrades as he killed a wounded Iraqi. No outrage then either. No investigations. No nothin'.

So you might as well sit back and enjoy it.
I doubt you will.

And there?s this:
'Suffer the French schoolchildren: The hatred Bush hath wrought'
Ted Rall, Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Ted and three other political cartoonists visit a few schoolchildren in Carquefou, France.

It ends thus:
Children get their politics from their parents and teachers, who form their impressions from the media. The European media has covered a different war than the one you've seen on CNN and Fox News. A 14-year-old Iraqi boy, shot by U.S. troops in Baghdad, was interviewed for five minutes on the evening news. "They did it on purpose," he said. "They were laughing." The bloody corpses of Iraqi civilians are standard TV fare here. The Bush Administration is routinely portrayed as greedy, stupid and mean.

Americans can find the truth about our nasty, unwinnable oil war, but they have to dig a little deeper. "The United States is using excessive power," Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar, a moderate, pro-American member of the Iraqi Governing Council, told The New York Times Magazine on January 11. "They round up people in a very humiliating way, by putting bags over their faces in front of their families. In our society, this is like rape. The Americans are using collective punishment by jailing relatives. What is the difference from Saddam? They are demolishing houses [of insurgents' family members] now. They say they want to teach a lesson to the people. But when Timothy McVeigh was convicted in the bombing in Oklahoma City, was his family's home destroyed?"

It's striking that al-Yawar knows McVeigh's name. How many Americans can identify any Iraqi other than Saddam Hussein? Most foreigners know more about us than we know about them. Hell, they know more about what we're doing in Iraq than we do ourselves.

Of course, many of us don't give a damn whether French schoolchildren or anyone else think Bush's United States is a land of butchers and thugs. Whether or not we care, however, it matters.
The counterargument is clear. No it doesn?t. We need to be safe and secure no matter what others think.

Or try this:
Anti-Americanism: It isn't just a Middle Eastern thing
Sherri Muzher, Ramallah Online, Wednesday, January 21, 2004

A bit into it you find this:
Take my British friend Charlie. Like so many around the world, he still seethes about events most Americans probably think of as old news - if they think about them at all.

"I cringe when I see America cry to denounce terrorism when just 10 years ago the Americans were welcoming (the Irish Republican Army's) Jerry Adams and Martin McGuiness into their country like homecoming heroes," Charlie wrote me. "I have mourned the death of three male colleagues who died at the hands of the IRA during the early 80s. Why the hell should I want to support the U.S. on terrorism .... Why didn't the U.S. support the UK on her fight to beat terrorism?"
Yeah, well, there are a lot of Irish folks here, particularly in the Boston area.

This item is full of such details. But who cares?
On the one year-anniversary of 9/11, banners at so many public events read "We will not forget." Americans must keep in mind that others, while sympathetic to us, are not forgetting their own horrors, either.
Well, what's wrong with them?

Posted by Alan at 13:52 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
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Topic: Bush

On the right, some dissatisfaction with Bush.
Very odd.
"His insouciance is alarming."
Really?


Of all the writers who defend Bush the most curious is Andrew Sullivan, who has been behind Bush all the way ? even if Sullivan is a gay Catholic fellow. He?s hardly ever wavered, and now he seems to have hit a wall. It was that speech.

See Back Words
Andrew Sullivan, The National Review, Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The whole piece on last night?s State of the Union address is interesting, and ends with this:
What especially amazed me was the lack of any recognition that job growth is lagging economic growth. There was no statement of concern for those still struggling in the economy, no rhetoric of empathy. That surprised me. It leaves a huge opening to the Democrats, who will argue that the president is out of touch. Indeed, John Kerry immediately made that criticism in New Hampshire. Doesn't 43 remember 41? It's extraordinary he didn't make even a token statement of empathy with those whom the recovery has yet to carry along.

On the deficit, Bush proposed no real change. A continuation of the tax cuts, the creation of personal savings accounts within Social Security (with no attempt to explain how this will be paid for), and a vague pledge to restrain the increase in domestic discretionary spending to 4 percent over the next year. If you're a fiscal conservative, that's hardly reassuring. It suggests a president who believes the country faces no fiscal problems at all right now--or at least none that can't be solved by more tax cuts and more spending increases. His insouciance is alarming.

But, more profound, the president revealed his deep suspicion of human freedom. Yes, he says he supports it. But in every instance--even charitable and religious institutions--he believes that government needs to get involved. He wants to maintain the Patriot Act intact; he wants to extend the war on drugs to steroids; he wants to prevent gay couples from having the ability to form their own families and be treated equally under the law. He suggests not a single government program to be cut.

On social issues, he shifted to the hard right: abstinence programs rather than contraception; an assault on gay couples and families; and millions of dollars in order to subject children to mandatory drug testing in schools. This is not Reaganism. It isn't Gingrichism. It's Big Government Moral Conservatism: fiscally liberal and socially conservative. It will please the hard right and the base. And it will alienate libertarians and moderates.

It struck me as a speech that comes out of a political cocoon, from a president who doesn't grasp that he is in fact politically vulnerable, and who intends to run not on what he plans for the future but on what he has done in the past. That's a high-risk strategy. We won't know how high a risk until the Democrats produce a nominee.
Well, I?m not sure that extending the war on drugs to steroids sits very well with Bush?s new best buddy, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bad move. And the quarterback of the Patriots, on his way to the Super Bowl, was in the audience. What was Bush thinking?

And here?s Sullivan on his website:
I was also struck by how hard right the president was on social policy. $23 million for drug-testing children in schools? A tirade against steroids? (I'm sure Tom Brady was thrilled by that camera shot.) More public money for religious groups? Abstinence only for prevention of STDs? Whatever else this president is, he is no believer in individuals' running their own lives without government regulation, control or aid. If you're a fiscal conservative or a social liberal, this was a speech that succeeded in making you take a second look at the Democrats. I sure am.
Yipes!

It?s tough being a gay Republican Bush supporter.

And Bush did say this: ?Our Nation must defend the sanctity of marriage. The outcome of this debate is important - and so is the way we conduct it. The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual has dignity and value in God's sight.?

Sullivan?
If gay people have dignity and value in God's sight, why are we unmentionable? Why are we talked about as if we are some kind of untouchable? Why in three years has this president not even been able to say the word 'gay' or 'homosexual'? The reason: because Bush will not confront bigotry outright. He wants to benefit from it while finding a formula to distance himself from it. That's not a moral stand. It's moral avoidance. Still, the good and important news is that the president hasn't endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment. The Family Research Council is mad as hell.
I'd say this Sullivan fellow is conflicted.

Posted by Alan at 11:38 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
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Topic: Bush

Bush last night. What he said. Reaction. And stuff found elsewhere?

So I watched the State of The Union Speech last night. It was the expected defense of the war on terror, saying the United States would "never seek a permission slip" to defend itself. Yep, preemptive, preventative war is our duty now. Anywhere, at anytime. Heck, after all the terrorists "declared war on the United States - and war is what they got.? And of course, the threat of another September 11-style attack has not gone away.

And by the way, we did the wimpy UN?s work, because, after all, we "enforced the demands of the United Nations, ended the rule of Saddam Hussein - and the people of Iraq are free." Man, those UN guys are useless fools - although they may be of help in the coming months if we have to set up actual elections in Iraq to form a government there ? so we can haul ass out of that sorry sand trap before the Republican Convention in Hew York City in September. (Those uppity Iraq folks don?t seem to like our inspired idea of the new government being established by local committees made up of people WE choose to be on those committees. Ingratitude!)

And if you think things are going badly in Iraq? Wrong. We?re just mopping up a bit - "Having broken the Ba?athist regime, we face a remnant of violent Saddam supporters. Men who ran away from our troops in battle are now dispersed and attack from the shadows. These killers, joined by foreign terrorists, are a serious continuing danger. Yet we are making progress against them. The once all-powerful ruler of Iraq was found in a hole, and now sits in a prison cell."

Yes he does. Fine.

And we had to have this war because of those nasty weapons of mass destruction. Bush has the real facts: "Already, the Kay report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations."

No real weapons, nor real programs - just ?activities? - but close enough. I guess. Why not?

Here?s a curious item that explains why not.

Threat Of Terrorism
Charley Reese, January 19, 2004

Excerpts:
You know, I'm sure, that the Bush administration has greatly exaggerated the threat of terrorism. Those who employ the tactic of terrorism do so because they are weak. They have no army. They have no great popular following.

Osama bin Laden was a crank living in the mountains of Afghanistan with only a small following in the Islamic world ? until George W. Bush elevated him to world celebrity status.

It's true that bin Laden knocked down the World Trade Center towers and struck the Pentagon ? or at least we're pretty sure he was behind those attacks. He was able to do that because his 19 people were lucky and because our immigration screening, our intelligence, the FBI and the airport security system were all sloppy.

To the extent that these attacks roused the federal government from its previous apathy and sloppiness, he did us a favor, though at the terrible cost of about 3,000 lives. But that attack was not justification for a "war on terrorism." A war on bin Laden, yes; a war on terrorism in general, no.

In the first place, there aren't that many terrorists in the world. You can check with the State Department's annual report on terrorism if you doubt me. In the second place, most of the world's terrorists are local guys with local beefs against local folks. All the time the Irish terrorists were bombing and shooting the British, Great Britain never felt the necessity of declaring a worldwide war on terrorism. It went after the Irish terrorists.

When bombs were going off in Paris some years ago, the French didn't say everyone must fight terrorism. They went after the guys who were planting the bombs.
Yeah, but everyone knows the French are wimps. And maybe the Brits are too. Too damned timid to do the real job ? go after terrorists everywhere, on any issue? Maybe so.

Then this:
Our problem is with bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization. We should have concentrated on that instead of declaring a global jihad against terrorists everywhere in the world.

The problem with doing this is that it commits us to an unending war. It is a war in which there is no way to define victory. When you go to war against a country, when you occupy it and its government surrenders or collapses, you know you won the war. But terrorists don't have a country. They don't have a government. They don't have an infrastructure.

Terrorists, in fact, operate like criminal gangs. You kill some of their "soldiers," and they recruit more. You kill a gang leader, and another guy takes his place. Israelis, who are far more ruthless than we are, have been killing terrorists for more than 50 years. Have they solved their terrorism problem? No.
But wait! Isn?t Ariel Sharon a ?man of peace? (Bush) and Israel safe now, or will be safe when the finish the big wall to keep the evildoers out?

And as it seems Bush ?commits us to an unending war? then at least we have something to do. And folks will gladly join us.

Why?

"Because of American leadership and resolve, the world is changing for the better. And one reason is clear: For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible - and no one can now doubt the word of America."

Of course. Well, we did find the ?activities.? Just like we said. Sort of.


And then there is this from an editorial in The Baltimore Sun
Mr. Bush boasted that he had made the world a safer place, cautioned that danger still lay in wait, and called on Americans to stay the course.

Maybe, instead, the president should level with the American people.

If it's not clear what, exactly, this war was about, how can anyone know when its goals have been achieved? Clearly, there is good reason for the United States to remain engaged in Iraq, now that the country is so much in danger of disintegration. But with what means? And toward what end?

Iraq is in a mess right now, with ethnic groups warily vying for power, thousands of people demonstrating against American policy, and attacks on U.S. soldiers continuing all the while. Washington has asked the United Nations for help in fixing Iraq, though no one listening to Mr. Bush last night would have guessed that.

The Army is stretched to the breaking point, but Mr. Bush talked about fighting terror by spreading democracy from Iraq throughout the Middle East. How many troops will that take? How much conflict lies ahead? And isn't it strange to wage war against terror by attacking a country that had no links to America's terrorist foes?

"The word of America." Mr. Bush put the credibility of his nation on the line; the price of deceit, if deceit there is, will be enormous.
People can be so negative.

Folks like us. They always will.

Posted by Alan at 10:25 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
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Tuesday, 20 January 2004

Topic: Bush

What will the man say?

Despite the jobless recovery, despite that most Americans don?t feel safer from terrorism than they did two years ago, despite that forty-four million Americans still don?t have health insurance, despite that the U.S. still doesn?t have a viable energy plan, despite the fact we still haven?t gotten the independent report on 9-11, despite that the investigators still haven?t told us who outed Valerie Plame, despite that 500 Americans (and literally uncounted numbers of Iraqis) have been killed in the continuing war in Iraq ? well, in thirty minutes I will watch the Bush State of Union Address.

My Aussie friend Emma, who has lived in France for many years, forwarded an item from The Independent (UK)

See George W Bush and the real state of the Union, January 20, 2004

It contains this:
232: Number of American combat deaths in Iraq between May 2003 and January 2004

501: Number of American servicemen to die in Iraq from the beginning of the war - so far

0: Number of American combat deaths in Germany after the Nazi surrender to the Allies in May 1945

0: Number of coffins of dead soldiers returning home from Iraq that the Bush administration has allowed to be photographed

0: Number of funerals or memorials that President Bush has attended for soldiers killed in Iraq

100: Number of fund-raisers attended by Bush or Vice-President Dick Cheney in 2003

13: Number of meetings between Bush and Tony Blair since he became President

10 million: Estimated number of people worldwide who took to the streets in opposition to the invasion of Iraq, setting an all-time record for simultaneous protest

2: Number of nations that Bush has attacked and taken over since coming into the White House

9.2: Average number of American soldiers wounded in Iraq each day since the invasion in March last year

1.6: Average number of American soldiers killed in Iraq per day since hostilities began

16,000: Approximate number of Iraqis killed since the start of war

10,000: Approximate number of Iraqi cililians killed since the beginning of the conflict

$100 billion: Estimated cost of the war in Iraq to American citizens by the end of 2003

$13 billion: Amount other countries have committed towards rebuilding Iraq (much of it in loans) as of 24 October

36%: Increase in the number of desertions from the US army since 1999

92%: Percentage of Iraq's urban areas that had access to drinkable water a year ago

60%: Percentage of Iraq's urban areas that have access to drinkable water today

32%: Percentage of the bombs dropped on Iraq this year that were not precision-guided

1983: The year in which Donald Rumsfeld gave Saddam Hussein a pair of golden spurs

45%: Percentage of Americans who believed in early March 2003 that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 11 September attacks on the US

$127 billion: Amount of US budget surplus in the year that Bush became President in 2001

$374 billion: Amount of US budget deficit in the fiscal year for 2003

1st: This year's deficit is on course to be the biggest in United States history

$1.58 billion: Average amount by which the US national debt increases each day

$23,920: Amount of each US citizen's share of the national debt as of 19 January 2004

1st: The record for the most bankruptcies filed in a single year (1.57 million) was set in 2002

10: Number of solo press conferences that Bush has held since beginning his term. His father had managed 61 at this point in his administration, and Bill Clinton 33

1st: Rank of the US worldwide in terms of greenhouse gas emissions per capita

$113 million: Total sum raised by the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign, setting a record in American electoral history

$130 million: Amount raised for Bush's re-election campaign so far

$200m: Amount that the Bush-Cheney campaign is expected to raise in 2004

$40m: Amount that Howard Dean, the top fund-raiser among the nine Democratic presidential hopefuls, amassed in 2003

28: Number of days holiday that Bush took last August, the second longest holiday of any president in US history (Recordholder: Richard Nixon)

13: Number of vacation days the average American worker receives each year

3: Number of children convicted of capital offences executed in the US in 2002. America is only country openly to acknowledge executing children

1st: As Governor of Texas, George Bush executed more prisoners (152) than any governor in modern US history

2.4 million: Number of Americans who have lost their jobs during the three years of the Bush administration

221,000: Number of jobs per month created since Bush's tax cuts took effect. He promised the measure would add 306,000

1,000: Number of new jobs created in the entire country in December. Analysts had expected a gain of 130,000

1st: This administration is on its way to becoming the first since 1929 (Herbert Hoover) to preside over an overall loss of jobs during its complete term in office

9 million: Number of US workers unemployed in September 2003

80%: Percentage of the Iraqi workforce now unemployed

55%: Percentage of the Iraqi workforce unemployed before the war

43.6 million: Number of Americans without health insurance in 2002

130: Number of countries (out of total of 191 recognised by the United Nations) with an American military presence

40%: Percentage of the world's military spending for which the US is responsible

$10.9 million: Average wealth of the members of Bush's original 16-person cabinet

88%: Percentage of American citizens who will save less than $100 on their 2006 federal taxes as a result of 2003 cut in capital gains and dividends taxes

$42,000: Average savings members of Bush's cabinet are expected to enjoy this year as a result in the cuts in capital gains and dividends taxes

$42,228: Median household income in the US in 2001

$116,000: Amount Vice-President Cheney is expected to save each year in taxes

44%: Percentage of Americans who believe the President's economic growth plan will mostly benefit the wealthy

700: Number of people from around the world the US has incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

1st: George W Bush became the first American president to ignore the Geneva Conventions by refusing to allow inspectors access to US-held prisoners of war

+6%: Percentage change since 2001 in the number of US families in poverty

1951: Last year in which a quarterly rise in US military spending was greater than the one the previous spring

54%: Percentage of US citizens who believe Bush was legitimately elected to his post

1st: First president to execute a federal prisoner in the past 40 years. Executions are typically ordered by separate states and not at federal level

9: Number of members of Bush's defence policy board who also sit on the corporate board of, or advise, at least one defence contractor

35: Number of countries to which US has suspended military assistance after they failed to sign agreements giving Americans immunity from prosecution before the International Criminal Court

$300 million: Amount cut from the federal programme that provides subsidies to poor families so they can heat their homes

$1 billion: Amount of new US military aid promised Israel in April 2003 to offset the "burdens" of the US war on Iraq

58 million: Number of acres of public lands Bush has opened to road building, logging and drilling

200: Number of public-health and environmental laws Bush has attempted to downgrade or weaken

29,000: Number of American troops - which is close to the total of a whole army division - to have either been killed, wounded, injured or become so ill as to require evacuation from Iraq, according to the Pentagon

90%: Percentage of American citizens who said they approved of the way George Bush was handling his job as president when asked on 26 September, 2001

53%: Percentage of American citizens who approved of the way Bush was handling his job as president when asked on 16 January, 2004
Well, that?s cheery. And the spelling so British!

Molly Ivins from Austin, Texas has another take.

See It's about money
Follow the greenbacks to learn where seemingly haphazard Bush policy comes from
Molly Ivins - Creators Syndicate, Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Her take?
My fellow Americans, the state of the union's finances is enough to make an Enron accountant gag. When George W. Bush took office, he was handed a going concern. Projected annual surpluses from 2002 to 2011 were $5.6 trillion. In its most recent projection, the Congressional Budget Office says it expects $1.4 trillion in total deficits from 2004 to 2013. Bush's new future spending proposals -- including everything from the goofy manned-flight-to-Mars to the promotion of marriage -- already total an additional $2 trillion.

? It is unclear to me why anyone would believe anything the president says about our fiscal situation. Keep in mind, this is a man who took three Texas oil companies into bankruptcy.
And then she gets on her high horse about jobs, of all things.
I anticipate a painful skewing of the statistics on jobs, but there's not much even the finest spinners can do with the basic problem. Under Bill Clinton, the economy gained an average of 236,000 jobs every month. Under George W. Bush, the economy has lost an average of 66,000 jobs a month. Nor is the news getting better. Last month, the economy, supposedly in full recovery, added 1,000 jobs. The economy needs to generate 150,000 jobs a month just to absorb new workers.

Not only are the 2 million jobs we have already lost not coming back, but the trend will continue. The lead story in Monday's Wall Street Journal is about IBM's plan to shift 3,000 high-paying jobs overseas, known as "off-shoring." We are not just hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs. As the Journal reports, "This ?off-shoring' process has raised fears that even high-skill jobs that were supposed to represent the U.S.'s future are being lost to countries that have already taken over low-skill factory work." In the other words, your nice, middle-class butt is on the line here.

There are, of course, some jobs that cannot be exported -- farms cannot be moved to another country, nor can restaurants. So the president proposes a giant new bracero program to import foreign workers legally to fill those jobs. As Jamie Galbraith wrote in Salon, the online magazine: "There is no reason to believe the Bush administration's hand-wringing over its pathetic record on employment. The president's backers want a stagnant job market -- it keeps the help from getting uppity."

In another sign of how deeply Bush cares about workers, the plan to end overtime pay for millions of workers is back. You may recall this little charmer from last year, the Bush proposal to "update" the Fair Labor Standards Act. Both the House and the Senate nixed the idea by passing an amendment proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, but in the magic way of the Republican-run Congress, the amendment was later dropped from a spending bill after heavy pressure from the White House.

Now, in another move typical of the administration, they plan to bypass Congress altogether and issue the new regulations as an "administrative rules change," to go into effect in March. The administration claims the new regulations will extend overtime pay to an additional 1.3 million low-income workers. That would certainly be a good thing, except for the fact that it would exempt another 8 million workers from getting overtime by reclassifying them as management or professionals. Another great deal for the corporations -- they get to cut overtime for a lot of higher-paid workers and only have to add a few lower-paid workers. Do you really have any doubts about whom this administration is being run for?
So what will Bush say about all this?

I can hardly wait, and I recommend you click on the link and read the whole Ivins piece.

Oops. Time to turn on the television and see what Bush actually has to say.

Posted by Alan at 17:46 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 20 January 2004 19:30 PST home


Topic: Election Notes

Quick Summary ? Who is Saying What About Iowa

I spent some time today surfing the net reading reactions to the results of the Democratic Party Caucuses in Iowa last night.

The mainstream press?

Des Moines Register - Chuck Raasch
In a frigid night of caucuses, Democratic activists revived the once-moribund campaign of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, exposed serious vulnerabilities in the still-formidable crusade of ex-Vermont Governor Howard Dean, and served notice that North Carolina Senator John Edwards is a newcomer worth deeper consideration in the eight states with primaries and caucuses over the next two weeks.

And Iowans ended the long presidential dreams of Congressman Dick Gephardt of Missouri.
What's next? A more protracted fight for the Democratic nomination in 2004 than was expected a month ago, when pundits were boiling Iowa down to a Dean vs Gephardt match, and retired Army General Wesley Clark was just beginning to catch on.
Christian Science Monitor - Commentary
Perhaps Mr Edwards's late surge in the polls was simply because of his commitment to refraining from negative ads about his opponents or verbally elbowing them in debates.

Many voters see leadership in keeping the high tone in a campaign, especially after months of intra-party potshots and pea-shooting. By running a straightforward campaign, Edwards realized that voters must get over what he called "an enormous barrier of cynicism" about campaigns and elections.

A fine line exists between fairly pointing out one's differences with an opponent's policies and attacking them or implying a lack of integrity.

Too many campaign ads feature out of context quotes, unflattering photos, or doomsday-like voiceover and music. Voters know when an ad has destructive power or when it lacks respect, and candidates should, too
Washington Post - Editorial
Mr Dean's hopes for an Iowa Perfect Storm - his camp's slogan for the final weekend of campaigning - turned into a Messy Blizzard.

In the end, Mr Kerry staged an astounding political comeback to win the caucuses, and Mr Edwards pulled off a feat nearly as impressive, emerging from single digits a few weeks back to a strong second-place finish.

That Mr Dean didn't win was in the end less surprising than that he ran so far behind the top two; the stakes for him in New Hampshire, where his once-dominant lead in the polls has been steadily eroding, now become even higher.
New York Times - Opinion
A great many people were caught off guard by the Iowa caucus results, including, of course, supporters of Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt.

But high up on the list of bad guessers were all the political theorists who believed that the Democrats who are angry at George Bush wanted the presidential candidate who best channelled their outrage. Yesterday, at least, being angry at Mr Bush meant wanting to find a candidate who could beat him.

John Kerry, who came in first last night, and John Edwards, who scored a surprising second, appeared to be the men voters thought looked most electable. That throws cold water, at least temporarily, on the long-held theory that primary voters favor candidates who are too far to the left or right to win in the fall.

In this era of attack-dog politics, it's nice to have a moment of pragmatism.
Boston Globe - Thomas Oliphant
The swiftness of Dean's demise in Iowa can been seen in the fact that roughly 40% of the caucus attendees said they made up their minds whom to support within the last seven days. Among this surprisingly large group, Kerry and Edwards each got a third while the one-time front-runners Dean and Gephardt got 15 and 10% respectively.

This was an issue-oriented electorate, but instead of the war, it was the economy, education, jobs and health care - kitchen table issues vital to ordinary working families - that mattered most, and Dean's war fixation and process slogans about taking back the country did not resonate among them.
Time - Karen Tumulty
If there was one message blowing out of Iowa on Tuesday night, it is that Democrats want to beat George Bush, and that they want it badly.

The results, roughly the reverse of what the polls were showing a month ago, would have seemed impossible even last week. The two things that were supposed to matter more than anything else in the state - organization and endorsements - counted for little.

It was hard to pick which was the more unlikely outcome: that John Kerry, whose campaign, only three weeks ago, seemed to have crashed and burned, would win the caucuses, or that John Edwards, whose effort looked like it could never get off the ground, would come in such a close second.

As for Howard Dean: when Democratic voters took a second look at him, they put aside their passion for their doubts.

The blogs? All over the place.

The general consensus? The man who runs the country, who makes almost ever decision in the White House, Karl Rove (Cheney makes the rest and the two of them tell Bush what to say), is probably worried because this was supposed to be a George Bush versus Howard Dean race, where Dean would be buried in a Bush landslide because it was so easy to make Dean out to be an unstable, manic fool. That?s harder with Kerry, who can debate pretty well and knows his stuff. And Edwards is a genuinely nice man, so GWB would have to lose his trademark smirk. And Clark might make things uncomfortable for Bush ? the military business.

The oddest comment? Someone somewhere pointed out Kerry and John McCain are best friends, and Kerry could ask McCain to be his running mate. Bush would be outgunned so to speak, by two angry real military men and wouldn?t dare put on that flight suit again. Kerry-Clark or Clark-Kerry would do, but McCain would pull in disaffected Republicans. No. I don?t think so.

A few pundits point out Kerry will be ripped apart by the press now, just as the liberal press (assuming there is one) ripped apart Gore last time. They just don?t like him. He?s far smarter than most folks in the press and isn?t bothering to pretend he?s not. They?ll get him. It?s take-down time.

And everyone agrees Dean?s speech after the results last night was the kiss of death. As James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal put it ?
? Indeed, when he should have delivered a graceful concession speech, he went on a tirade instead and succeeded only in scaring the hell out of everyone. "At his post-caucus rally Monday night, Dr. Dean looked more like Howard Beale, the angry anchor in 'Network,' than 'Marcus Welby, M.D.,' " the New York Times observes dryly.

You really have to see it - or hear it - to believe it. The Drudge Report has a 13-second MP3 clip of Dean listing the various states where he plans to campaign, followed by a scream that Drudge transcribes as follows: "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!" FoxNews.com and the Times have video. And the Western Front blog links to an audio clip of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, who sounds just like Dean.
A friend said to me this was clearly a manic break. The man is toast.

And Dick Gephardt is gone now. Well, his attack ads on Dean, and Dean?s counter attacks on all who attacked him, didn?t do anyone any good.

And the labor movement is not just dead, it?s decomposing, as several have said. The endorsements didn?t matter, from labor or from anyone else.

So a rather stiff but good, wise man came in first. He may not play in the southern states, but he?s a pretty good choice against Bush. In second place was a truly nice man, Edwards, with solid ideas and a good heart. He used his moment in the spotlight to talk about our "moral obligation" to help the poorest Americans. Good Lord, what is this - 1968? Well, that was a good year.

Oh, and my conservative friend told me Saturday night no one would vote for Edwards because before he entered politics Edwards was a trial lawyer. He won money for people badly injured by defective products. And my friend said anyone who is so against American businesses would be rejected by anyone with any sense.

On to New Hampshire.

Posted by Alan at 17:21 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
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