Saturday, October 09, 2004

Electoral Watch shows the numbers I predicted...

Expect these states to get more solid in two more weeks. It all comes down, now, to the day before the election itself, and -R's have got some dirty tricks up thier sleeves.

The Barry Goldwater Visitor Center: Colorado Springs, CO 

So I'm in Colorado for a military wedding at the Air Force Academy, and today I managed to get lost on the base, prompting my first ever encounter with a traffic cop in military fatigues and an AK 47 strung around his shoulder. And extraordinarily polite. I got to go the roundabout way to the chapel, and basically, the academy looks like you'd imagine backwoods Montana to look like.

The main campus of the Academy, as far as I can tell, is notable for its flatness. I would have always associated military architecture with hierarchy, tall buildings that you climb or descend. But I think that betrays some of the actual goings ons and the appeals of the conservative mythology. Military architecture is flat and lateral- think of the Pentagon, for another example.

Here, there are vast expanses of concrete. There is no one to look "up" at- you are on your own, the wind on your back, and you feel filled with a sense of self sufficiency. It's a mistake to assume that the military feeds on authoritarianism, because that defies the structure that it was built to support, at least ideologically, at its inception. The military is a place for self sufficiency, the prime conservative value. So it should come as no surprise, then, that the tallest structure in the courtyard is the chapel, a tall, gorgeous building made of steel and glass. It's not a traditional building at all, inside or out, but its entire structure evokes upward movement, the only place that does. Towards God, I presume, as the crucifix stands at the top of the altar occupying the highest point of focus in the building.

It inspires self sufficiency, and it seems to evoke God as the only hierarchical force. In this light, one could understand the feeling that to call things an issue of class, of hierarchy, we're talking about a displacement of religious power with economic power. Semiotically, that's not an association that flatlanders respond to all that well, especially in a land that is without architectural reinforcements of this schematic. It's a landscape that is totally lateral, where only God and Mountaintops watch over us, a landscape that says: "you are all born equal, you are all on even footing." From there, the conservative ideology of rise or float on your own merits and work ethic seems like an easier jump than it does in the cut throat world of urban centers, where inequality is in your face whenever you skip over a homeless person en route to your ATM, horded over by skyscrapers.

Garden of the Gods 

I took some pictures of scenic Colrado today, and went to a kind of disappointing Dinosaur Resource Center (fun, but not worth $10.00). I can post them later but Reiko Yamaguchi forgot his USB cable. And has been awfully drunk. It takes three tries to wake him up in the morning, then he mumbles something about network connections and just sits there, staring at me. I didn't take him to the Dinosaur Museum.

Does every airport have giant mural sized advertisements for Defense Contractors? Because there were three of them at the Coral Springs airport. There's a whole bubbling joy about defense contracting there. One ad has people in a bubble with missiles flying around them, reminiscent of the atomic energy logo from the 50's. There are more USMC, USAF bumper stickers than I have ever seen in my life, but interestingly, not many Bush bumper stickers- though the signs are out in full force, including ads for the Coors campaign- I don't see any cars with them. Is it possibly connected to military code?

On the radio there was an ad where a guy listed off "wacky things", like the Gong Show, that was one of them, and then some voter initiative that is being voted on on November 2nd. The ad was paid for, literally, by a group called "Coloradans Against A Really Stupid Idea". The ad ends with, "If it's such a good idea, why did they try it in California first?" The initiative allows Colorado to split its electoral votes by percentage of votes earned by a candidate, as opposed to winner takes all politics as usual. Obviously, it hurts Republicans for a red state to be divided up like that, and so they're coming on with a campaign based on California Wackiness to convince people that they should block a step that brings them closer to full voting status (as opposed to the electoral system.) Maine does something similar, by dividing half of its four electoral votes and giving one to the winner of each congressional district. But Maine isn't "wacky" enough for Coloradans, I guess.

Lastly, this morning, at 8 AM or so, a bunch of guys from the basketball or football team were in the parking lot of the hotel in front my car, standing at attention and yelling hut and all that. I didn't know what the fuck was going on but it made me nervous so I went off in search of a mocha latte and bought a shirt at the Nepalese Fabric place. Maybe all this red state blue state shit is true.

Fear at the Airport: Landing Gear 

I caught about ten minutes of the debate at the Minneapolis Airport. Bush was a laughingstock, but then, that was Minneapolis. I am watching the rest of it now at my hotel room in Colorado.

Bush seems really weird. Like, I can't stand his swagger usually, but this time, he just seems really, really weird.

But I had some last minute ideas on the idea of fear and the electorate. For one, I was wondering about how my response to fear was inherently conservative. So I started imagining a Progressive response to fear, and I think I know what it is. It's the couple holding hands as the plane takes off. It's the family scattered across the plane who crack jokes before the landing and encourage the first time flier. The progressive response to fear is to embrace community, not control. It helps. A guy next to me says that a monkey flew into outer space, so this is really no big deal. It's true.

The facts help. I realized I am afraid of flying because I have no concept of lift, flight, propulsion or speed. I can't fathom how, at 300MPH, a plane simply doesn't disintegrate. That is the core of my fear: the plane disintegrating because of the speed, as if we were flying into the sun. But when I thought about it, I really couldn't think of any news reports about a plane disintegrating in thin air. It doesn't happen; and neither do welfare moms with big screen TVs, corporations who volunteer self effective self regulation, or functioning Republican Education initiatives.

The debate is wrapping up here. The talking heads are on, reciting the same lines they wrote prior to the debate. Bush is the strict dad now, the guy who doesn't need anyone else to help him out when the plane is hitting turbulence. It's understandable, to me, how people who are afraid- afraid of losing jobs, afraid of losing a war, afraid, in some cases, of literally losing their lives- could embrace the notion of Captain Swagger, reject the notion of help and embrace a direct authoritarian control. It is not mistake, then, that the most vital line of attack against Kerry has been the "Global Test"- it is an election about Strict Dad vs the Cool Cousins from Out of Town.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Fear at The Airport: A Strange Kind of Vindication 

My own anxiety makes me disdainful of the people who aren't exhibiting the same sort of anxiety. People who are seemingly enjoying themselves drive me crazy- don't they know they should be afraid? Which means, of course, that if the plane goes down I can feel kind of vindicated about not acting all carefree and happy before getting onboard. I find that I suddenly resent people who behave in spontaneous ways. I want predictability and stability! I want the airport security to control the kids who are running loose, God damn it! This isn't me, of course. This is me in a state of anxiety. But I'm reading the book "Don't Think of an Elephant" by George Lakoff, which is brilliant, and it is articulating the idea that the core cohesiveness of conservative ideology is that of the stern father figure.

Anxiety turns me into a conservative Dad. If this was my core ideology to begin with, I don't know what the hell I'd do with myself. Because all of this fear and all of this need for control seems to be interrupted by watching planes take off and land. With trepidation, of course, but this is a thing of tremendous mother fucking beauty, too. I mean, we're flying, it's a modern miracle how safe these things are, but I am stuck in the airport lobby with butterflies in my stomach anyway, worried and nervous. I feel like this is a pretty appropriate metaphor for America.

The Schools! The Schools! 

Change for America has the goods on where the information on the new terror threat came from:

The Department of Homeland Security official said the material was associated with a person in Iraq, and it could not be established that this person had any ties to terrorism. He did have a connection to civic groups doing planning for schools in Iraq, the official said.

So a "person in Iraq" (notice, not "an Iraqi citizen") who was in charge of building schools, had architectural plans for schools, and that brings up the threat level. Our boys are really on it, eh?

Fear At The Airport: Terror and Tea Leaves 

I'm at an airport in Manchester, NH, terrified of flying (I always have been) but making some notes on how fear alters my perception of the environment. It might be useful, I am thinking, to explore this personally as a microcosm of what fear can inject into a political process.

The most notable of these changes is also the most ridiculous: It is the search for symbolic signs and symbols that will indicate the outcome of my flight. This includes "more" rational inferences such as taking note of the dual terrorist attacks on Israel and at the Indonesian Embassy in Paris. My mind leads me to think of cluster attacks, you know- they killed the leader of the Northern Alliance on September 10th, 2001. (And yes, I know that, even if they do attack us here again, today, I am but one small plane in one small airport out of many small planes on many airports. But that is all part of the distortion).

But it gets worse. Consider that, stopping for gas halfway between my hometown and the airport, the song playing at the station is Bon Jovi, "Living on a Prayer,"- "Whoa, oh! We're half way there, Whoa-ho, we're living on a prayer." Or whatever. I take this to mean I am ok. I mean, how can it be a coincidence that this song plays while I am at a Gas Station half way to the airport?

Imagine that people lived this way, back when our little monkey brains were still in the process of the hard wiring we've got now. When every night was a trip to the airport for a wary air traveler, you start to see signs and meanings wherever you look. The wizards and wise men, for better or for ill, used to capitalize on these feelings by controlling the methodology of signs. Tea Leaves, Tarot Cards- all ways of inferring the outcome of the future in ways that, for people with high anxiety, come as welcome relief or dismal reassurances of fate. The same can be said to exist today- in the rise and fall of color bands on the terror alert warnings, on the release of new information by Tom Ridge or John Ashcroft. In the end, though, these are all just newfangled, post modern divining rods that we look to the way the fearful farmers of a thousand years ago sought out wise men- and that is why we, the liberal doubters, bring on charges of heresy.

I am a person who doesn't live a life of fear, I like to think. I am not concerned that the Jihadists are going to get me, but a lot of America is, and that hard wiring seems to come in handy for the symbolism of the Bush Academy's class on the Semiotics of Fear.

The reading of symbols comes across in our own distrust. Of course, I shouldn't admit this, but I am more comfortable because there are no noticeably Muslim travelers waiting for the plane with me. This is, obviously, useless and horrible, but the fear and the anxiety is what makes me look for these empty symbols of ethnicity, the same way a sun on my Tarot card draw may reassure me. Strength comes, at these points, by understanding that you have fear, and rationally walking through the reasons for it, as well as debunking the internal noise machine- "if the man next to you has a long beard, you should be concerned"- the nation, as a whole, seems to take this on, but it doesn't go through the debunking process, the self-analysis that gets us over that kind of garbage. Instead, we don't trust the guy next to us, we keep our eyes and ears open, because some sort of old Testament Jehovah might send us a sign. In this regard, Tom Ridge is an old time prophet, the man who tells us the signs and omens- "increased chatter", as it is.

Sitting here, terrified of the airport, I am personally comforted by the fact that I do not live in this state of anxiety constantly. But I acknowledge that it can run as a background process, affecting the way we see the world. I don't know what to do about this. I don't know how to put people at ease. There was a huge national trauma three years ago, one that changed the way "we" collectively look at world events. I do not know if there is a sociological equivalent to psychotherapy- sociotherapy? But I know we need it.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

This Just In From The No Shit Department, Part 4929 

You'll probably see this if you saw a newspaper:

Iraq had destroyed its illicit weapons stockpiles within months after the Persian Gulf war of 1991, and its ability to produce such weapons had significantly eroded by the time of the American invasion in 2003, the top American inspector for Iraq said in a report made public Wednesday. - NY Times

Now, the Republican spin on this is that the report says Saddam had the intention of developing nuclear weapons, and was working on ways to circumvent UN regulations to obtain those weapons. Therefore, according to the Gopenstein Monster, the war in Iraq was necessary for American Security. The problem is, this is a shortcut for logic: What they are saying is that the war took care of that problem, which is true. Killing a patient cures the common cold, too, but it's still not legal in Michigan.

The problem with this logic is, we actually could have closed the loopholes had we been allowed to run the kind of intelligence we were supposed to. The fact is, we sent 1000 soldiers to die in order to discover the same information that Hans Blix gave us, and could have given us more conclusively had he been allowed- by Bush- to stay there and finish his work. Instead, they were withdrawn prior to the "Shock and Awe" campaign.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


You know, I thought it was a tie, or even a slight Edwards loss- only because Cheney managed to defend the indefensible- but then this stuff happens:

CBS ran a scientific survey of 200 uncommitted voters nationwide, which found Edwards won the debate by a clear margin, 41-29. The CBS survey found Cheney suffered a dramatic gender gap among women voters.

ABC, which admitted it skewed to Republicans in its scientific sample, gave Cheney the win, (if you balanced it out, a tie) but Kerry-Edwards still gained a point from undecideds, where Cheney-Bush got zip.

My feeling is that Edwards is too conservative to really set liberals on fire, but conservative and "pleasant" enough to win over undecided voters with more moderate positions. John Edwards is basically Joe Lieberman with a drawl and better metaphors.

Meanwhile, from Emory University: 48% say they would vote for Kerry and 45% say they would vote for Bush. When Ralph Nader is added to the ballot, 47% of registered voters say they would vote for Kerry, 44% say they would vote for Bush, and 2% say they would vote for Nader.

Last Call (Seriously) 

In spite of last night's tie in the Veep debate, Kerry is enjoying some steady momentum... but just to make it clear, if you don't donate anything today, you aren't donating anything. October 15 is when the final decisions about advertising in swing states happens. October 27 is when the DNC's fundraising ends, and all the money gets dumped into "get out the vote". But the money has to be there first, for them to plan on how to spend it.

If you watched either of the debates, you might have noticed that there was at least two Swift Boat ads, and none from Moveon or the DNC. I think that was piss poor judgment, but I am sure it has more to do with money than with strategy. If you can't make a big chunk, give a small one- small donors add up.

Cheney Punk'd Himself 

Chepooka asks: Did Cheney say to go to to learn more about Halliburton or is that just my imagination?

No, I checked the transcript- he really did suggest that you go to George Soros' anti-Bush website to learn more about the truth behind his own connections to Halliburton.

Thanks for the heads up, Dick!

Dumbest Fucking Question, Ever: Pick One 

"IFILL: As the vice president mentioned, John Kerry comes from the state of Massachusetts, which has taken as big a step as any state in the union to legalize gay marriage. Yet both you and Senator Kerry say you oppose it. Are you trying to have it both ways?"

In other words, "A judge in Massachusettes who is not John Kerry said that Gay Marriage is constitutionally valid in that state. Is John Kerry a flip flopper?"

Here's some of my other favorite gems:

IFILL: It goes to the Senator. I see you. I just asked him about Israel, even though he didn't actually talk about it much.

CHENEY: I concede the point. (LAUGHTER)

And: "Without mentioning them by name at all, explain to us why you are different from your opponent, starting with you, Mr. Vice President." Matt Stoller has it right: "Talk about your differences, but don't use the Presidential candidates names. Instead, use pronouns."

Lastly, a question to Edwards concerning Edwards' experience in Government, which opened up a 90 second "rebuttal" by Dick Cheney. Cheney himself actually laughed at how unfair it was:

IFILL: Mr. Vice President, you have 90 seconds.

CHENEY: You want me to answer a question about his qualifications?

IFILL: That was the question.

CHENEY: I see.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Fact Check, Part One 

Well, about an hour and a half worth of fact checking lost because Netscape can't build a stable fucking browser after 13 years in the business. Oh well! I guess Cheney did totally awesome.

But let's just acknowledge that he met Edwards at a Prayer Breakfast in 2001, that Iraqi Security Forces have suffered 700 casualties to America's 1048, but that is a direct contradiction of his later assertion that Iraq is on the way to stability (I mean, come on: "They've had more troops killed than anyone else but us- they're clearly on the way to free elections!"). Or his assertion that just as many countries as we have now stood by our side for Gulf War One. True, but consider that back in Gulf War One, we had more troops than anyone, and number two was Saudi Arabia, with 118,000 troops, and the UK sent 43,000. This time around, No Saudi Arabia, bringing the coalition #2 slot to the UK- who this time sent only 9,000 troops.

Here's the Transcript. All of the above is only in the first twenty minutes. But it's a good strategy: lie often enough and the truth can't catch up.

Debate Wrap Up 

I'll be doing live play by play here, courtesy of my new laptop, Reiko Yamaguchi.

But you should go to the following sites and share your opinion on the debate by taking the online polls at the following sites:

Wall Street Journal

See ya!

Numbers Theory: Seismic Shifts Below the Surface 

This is either a theory or a rationalization, but looking at the Zogby polls I had an idea. It would appear that voters are organized always by geography, age, or gender demographics, but within these groups there is always the element of "time", which is something that plays into the "undecideds". Essentially, undecided voters are incomprehensible to us because they exist in an alternate space of time.

We're the "insiders"- the people who follow politics in and out, election or not. The folks like me who write and read blogs, think not only about the primaries, but are thinking about who will be in the primaries before the primaries even happen. Those guys- the nerds- are quick to fall in line, because the last voting decision they have to make is which member of their party to choose as the nominee.

But there is a voter for whom this entire process- the same process that takes four years for us- takes place in one month. The election season is, believe it or not, just starting for a major portion of the electorate, which is essentially three years behind. Coming off of the Conventions, Bush simply revisited his 9/11 high. Voters in the Month-Long Campaign will, theoretically, become disillusioned quickly with Bush just as we did. The debates, for these voters, take the place of three years worth of paying attention. That is why they're crucial.

Consider that only 16% to 20% of undecided voters feel that the President deserves to be re-elected. That's a 6 point lead for Kerry if he can take it, but they're still not breaking for him- because they haven't even started thinking about Kerry yet. They don't like the economy, they don't like Iraq, they are afraid of terrorist attacks and they think George W Bush seems like a pretty good guy. Kerry capitalized on the anti-Iraq vote at the debate, and he made some gains on personal likeability.

What happens next: presuming Edwards holds his own in the debate against Darth Vader tonight on the issue of Terrorism, we'll see an accelerated microcosm of the last three years taking place in the undecided electorate. Edwards might be able to do it, so long as Team Kerry anticipates the Cheney Mating Call ("9/11! Terrorism! 9/11! Terrorism!") and doesn't get crucified on inexperience. John Edwards does not give me a safe feeling that he's an asset to this campaign, and his invisibility for the past three months hasn't been all too reassuring. My feeling is that Cheney will not worry about his own likeability, but will instead focus on demolishing Kerry, Zell-style, in front of a less seasoned, less experienced defender of Kerry's positions, that being the Boy Wonder of North Carolina, Positive John Edwards. If Edwards "stays positive", or if he tries any of that forced "We will hunt tham down, an' kill'em awl" crap, he's done for, and so, for the moment, is Kerry's Mo'. Edwards scares the shit out of me next to Cheney, who lies in order to keep his heart rate steady.

The point of all this is: You and I think the election is over, that everyone knows what we know, and that the whole race is just a matter of people deciding based on the evidence that has been put forth so far. I think that is dead wrong. I actually think we need to pretend that we've not said a word for three years and can finally scream. Because it is the first time people will be listening with intensity; they'll be talking to co-workers, they'll be talking to you and they will eavesdrop on the conversations you have at the coffee shop and bar. We've studied for three years, and this is the final exam. It's not so much that we know: It's time to use what we know and tell the world.

A pointer: It's not about the smirk, it's not about lying to get us into Iraq. The people who care about that, as I have said, already don't like Bush. The new election season is all about the future: It's all about what happens in Iraq, how well the war is going to be executed- most people, if they are truly undecided, think Bush is going to lose it. It's about the economy- never miss a chance to say "Bush has lost us more jobs since any President since the great depression." Say it on the bus. Say it for no reason into your cell phone on a busy street. Talk about the deficit- the biggest deficit, ever. Have loud conversations with your friends in public about what Kerry really said when he said "Global test."

But most of all, do not burn out. This is it, this is the home stretch, we can't sit back now. It is still very much in our hands, and things are going better for Kerry than you might think. Mt St Helens is steaming now, but when the underground breaks through the surface, we are going to see some mountains move.

Monday, October 04, 2004

America Hits Its Credit Limit 

The government should hit the national debt's $7.4 trillion ceiling this month, and the Bush administration told Congress again Monday it should raise the limit. That would be a politically sticky move just weeks from the Nov. 2 elections.

Treasury Department spokesman Rob Nichols said the government is on track to reach the limit in early October. He could not provide a more specific date but said the forecast is made "on a day-to-day basis," and Congress would be notified.
- AP

Why not just change the way we evaluate our spending so that a "surplus" means "a surplus of negative dollars"?

A Day In The Life of A Republican 

Via Change For America, slightly edited for the sake of my own precious blog space:

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised. All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

It's noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression. Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe is home from work.

He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

Right Whingers 

(Note: "Whingers" is my new favorite british slang word for "whiney")

From the New York Post:

Was John Kerry trying to pull something at the debate last week?

That question was burning up the Internet yesterday after a slo-mo review of the footage showed the Massachusetts senator taking an object out of his right pocket before the first question. Was it a cheat sheet — as some conservative bloggers claimed — or was it something innocuous?

Either way, it would violate the debate rules agreed to by both campaigns: "No props, notes... or other tangible things may be brought into the debate."

Many blogs offered links to the "Pocket-gate" footage. One, INDC Journal, even posted frame-by-frame stills purporting to show Kerry pulling out a notecard and placing it onto the podium. But the mystery was solved when The Post reviewed a Fox News Channel feed from Thursday's debate: Kerry pulled out... a black pen.

Kerry campaign spokesman David Wade remained angry at the bloggers' guilt-by-insinuation.

"The right-wing attack machine will say anything to steal a debate do-over," he said. "We plead guilty to having a pen."

Vote Early 

The DNC has an idea: Vote Early, so that you know you voted. It's a good point- you can call your town hall to verify your vote got recieved and counted, as opposed to the electronic voting machine garbage we're expected to face. But also, it guarantees that you vote, because you don't know where you might be on election day or what sort of things might happen- from your car breaking down to just having "one of those days" where voting is the last thing you can find time to do.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Please Jesus, Please Please Sweet Jesus Let It Stay 

New Newsweek Poll: Kerry 49, Bush 46. The picture is worth the click.

I almost wept with joy. Ruy Teixeira also points out that the Bush score on any poll is a cap- as opposed to Kerry, whose number in any poll is a base point. A tie in the polls is, essentially, a Kerry victory at the polling booth.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Hey! I'm Right! 

After the debate, I posted that there was a 17 point difference helping Kerry based on my little scorecard. Lo and behold:

Respondents choices on who won the 1st Presidential debate:

Kerry beat Bush 43-28 percent uncommitted voters, with 29 percent chosing a tie. - Knowledge Networks for CBS News

That's 15 points for undecideds.

Kerry beat Bush 45-36 percent among debate viewers, with 17 for tie. Kerry won independents by 20-point margin - ABC News poll

Independents, 20 points.

Kerry beat Bush 53-37 percent of RV debate viewers with 8 percent for both, 1 percent neither, 1 percent no opinion - CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll

16 points for undecideds.

So, you see, my score card was within the standard 3 point margin of error. Kerry campaign: If you need me, I'm available.

The New Normal 

Here is a long, brilliant article about everything that is wrong with politics in America today. We won't fix them, not this time around, maybe not ever. But there is so much more that is fucked up about the way Americans see politics than we could ever imagine. There's the obvious, the parts about how Americans claim to hate negative ads but then remember only attacks.

But there's some very smart stuff on the way we perceive our candidates- on the way Americans perceive "character". We were no longer even surprised that the ability of these explicators to read character seemed to have atrophied beyond conceivable repair: consider the way in which the raw fragility of Teresa Heinz Kerry was instantly metamorphosed into "strong woman," or her husband's pained shyness into "aloofness," or the practiced courtroom affability of the plaintiff's attorney who was his running mate into "sunniness." Or, most persistently, the calculated swagger of the President himself into "resolve."

She also looks at the way words have morphed since 9/11: "Truth", "Faith", and also, it seems, "Belief":

As this suggests, the word "truth" itself had by then been redefined, the empirical method abandoned: "the truth" was now whatever we needed it to be, the confirmation of those propositions or policies in which we "believed in our hearts," or had "faith." "Belief" and "faith" had in turn become words used to drop a scrim, white out the possibility of decoding—let alone debating—what was being said. It was now possible to "believe" in one proposition or another on the basis of no evidence that it was so. The President had famously pioneered this tactic, from which derived his "resolve": he "believed" in the weapons of mass destruction, for example, as if the existence of weapons was a doctrinal point on the order of transubstantiation, and in the same spirit he also believed, he told reporters in July 2003, that "the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence and the speeches I have given are backed by good intelligence." The attraction of such assertions of conviction was the high road they offered for bypassing conventional reality testing, which could be dismissed as lack of resolve. "I do not believe we should change our course because I believe in it," Tony Blair was saying by September 2003. "I carry on doing the job because I believe in what I'm doing."

It's a must read, if only to reveal the layers of insanity we've gotten entwined in, even amongst we, the rational.

Sign Up for the Hedgehog Meme 

"People out there listening know what I believe. And that's how best it is to keep the peace." -Bush

It is so the best!

I could swear I just heard Howard Fineman on MSNBC say that Bush had "Hedgehog like stubbornness". I think we should bring that up more often.

"Bush has got real resolve."
"Yeah, so does a hedgehog."

Ask And Ye Shall Recieve 

Complete Transcript.

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