Saturday, July 31, 2004

Only 3 answers for the Bushies

I don't think it's expanded to the mainstream yet, but there is a clear feeling among the pundits and political junkies that this race is becoming Kerry's to lose, or Bush's to steal.

Just look at these recent comments by pundit Charlie Cook (thanks to Chris at

"An axiom in politics is that undecided voters rarely end up casting their ballots for well-known, well-defined incumbents. If a well-known and established incumbent picks up one-quarter to one-third of the undecided vote, he is lucky indeed...

Kerry simply needs to come across as credible and acceptable to this group, which will only now be checking into this race for the first time. He has an opportunity to do that Thursday night in his acceptance speech.

Bush's challenge is much greater. He has to convince people who do not like what's happened for the past four years, who do not approve of his performance, and who are significantly more pessimistic about the economy than other voters to support him anyway. That is a challenge."

So Bush's options are:

A) An October Surprise
B) Messing with the Voter Rolls in a major swing state
C) An unforeseen public reaction to another terrorist attack

Only need to hold our breaths for 95 more days...

Bush on Antidepressants

So who cares of it must be a lie? Capitol Blue is promoting an article that claims the President is on antidepressants to help with his instability. Couldn't you this scene in your mind's eye?:

"Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after a clearly-upset Bush stormed off stage on July 8, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay.

“Keep those motherfuckers away from me,” he screamed at an aide backstage. “If you can’t, I’ll find someone who can.”"

This story is plausible and really fits with the storyline that Kerry is starting to write. The President is not a bad guy (which he isn't), but good intentions are not enough to fix the problems we find ourselves in. Witness the line from Kerry's acceptance speech:

"Now I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities - and I do - because some issues just aren't all that simple.  Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so.  Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so."

Bush has wanted to be a 'regular guy' for so long, that he brought that approach to the presidency and it has failed him, and this nation.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Did you see the Ali G this week?

If so, you need to read this page by James Broadwater the candidate for US Congress that the Kazakhstani reporter went door to door with.

This is as funny as the original skit!

" interview has been used to make Christians look bad and to make me look like a person who hates Jews. But then, what else can you expect from people who are so anti-Christian and anti-God?"

and his summation:

"this stunt pulled by HBO is just one more reason why I believe that the liberal, anti-God media needs to be brought under the strict control of the FCC, and that as soon as possible."

Thank God (no joke intended) that this guy couldn't even get out of the primaries.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Also guest posting on Angelissima

Every Thursday (at least for the past 4 weeks), I've guest posted to Angelissima's Fotolog. I used to manage my own Fotolog, but couldn't keep up the habit. Check out Angela's site though; a truly cool Fotolog with a great little community of fans.

Rumor has it that the Angry Chicken

is posting under the alias Will at another blog: Meetup Watch.

Hope is on the way!

Awesome. What a great theme for a speech.

That said, I was left wondering whether the speech would have been anything without John Edwards. If this guy read the words to Put on a Happy Face, I might have been inspired:

"Gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face!"

Or Tomorrow:

"The sun will come out, tomorrow! The sun WILL, come out tomorrow!"

Sorry for the light posting this week: There has been a lot going on at work and getting home after 9 puts a damper on the Angry Chicken's rage.

Anyone see Dean's speech the other night?

I saw it on ABCNews Now (interesting Howie Kurtz article on their technical difficulties but how they have appealed to us political junkies), and it was depressing. Dean really seemed to be only going through the motions. Deadpanning his slogan "You've got the power", if he didn't want to be there, he shouldn't have come.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

So Who's Coming With Me?

Chicken Meetups!

How Campaign Finance Reform is Working

For a while, I've held an idea that the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 was actually working to Democratize fundraising nationwide. In the past week, I saw an unbelievable show of fundraising clout displayed by independent bloggers in helping to propel candidate Ginny Schrader (Democrat - Congressional district PA-8) to legitimacy. I was exhilirated to be part of this experiment in direct democracy and realized that my $30 may have helped to change this country. This ability to help fund candidacies has given a real stake and credit to the blogs and is reflected in many other arenas of fundraising.

The first inklings of a (positive) change coming that I saw were within the Bush campaign. In early 2003, word started spreading about Bush's Pioneers and Rangers. These are the supporters who have rallied friends, families and coworkers to donate to Bush's re-election bid. However, these are not just any fundraisers. The Pioneers are responsible for having raised over $100,000 for the campaign; while the Rangers have raised over $200,000. Recently, the RNC announced that there will also be 'Super Rangers', those supporters who had raised over $300,000.

While many will decry the fact that these are ridiculous sums of money flowing into the campaign, I think it's important to realize who these benefactors are. While some fit the profile we might expect of an oil baron, or energy tycoon; many are younger people who have decided to use their connections to help raise money for the campaign. Instead of being judged solely on the amount of money they could donate; these super-donors were in effect bundling donations from numerous people in order to get access to the campaign. While this doesn't eliminate the presence of money in the campaign; it does help to democratize its presence in the campaign by allowing those who are most adept at raising it to have access to a campaign.

Next up came the 527's. These groups, nicknamed for the section of the tax code that they fit under, are allowed to raise and spend unlimited donations as long as they don't coordinate with a campaign and don't advertise within 60 days of the election. The most notable groups here would have to be MoveOn and ACT. These groups (while still heavily funded by the "elite") give average citizens the ability to vote for their own top causes. Essentially, when someone gives money to MoveOn, they are voting for certain parts of the Democratic platform.

Similar to the 527s but legally different are PACs (political action committees). PACs engage in what is known as bundling, they make solicitations on behalf of individual candidates a nd then collect donations from their supporters. By bundling donations, these PACs forward their positions. For instance, The Club for Growth is an extremely Conservative group which advocates for rolling back most (if not all) federal taxes. If 100 of their supporters donated to a candidate, they wouldn't be noticed individually. However, by donating together, these 100 supporters can drastically increase their influence.

The main effect that has been seen from the BCRA of 2002 has been a sharp proliferation in the avenues of donation to donors. This proliferation has essentially created hundreds of 3rd parties that exist as fundraising shells. While it is true that money still rules politics, the changes have caused the power of money to be split many more ways. Over time, the hopes of the reformers may be reached in different ways than expected, with individual fundraising avenues becoming real parties.

UPDATE:Check out yesterday's NY Times Magazine for an article on the diffusion of power away from the Democratic Establishment.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Beware a Rush to Judgement

I have a nagging feeling that the decision to call a special session of congress to discuss the 9/11 Commission's findings, while a positive step; has the potential to mimic the Patriot Act, a well-intentioned move that is rushed through Congress with proper analysis. Just a fear, though I prefer that they are at least being responsive to the commission.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Bravo for the 9/11 Commission

So sometime in early April, the 9/11 commission began holding public hearings, coinciding with Richard Clarke's book release. I listened to most of that day's hearings and there was a subdued sense of politics throughout the day; especially as people on both sides of the aisle attacked or counterattacked based on Clarke's accusations. I felt disappointed that, as usual, our leaders couldn't rise above the fray.

Over the weekend, the acting CIA Director, John McLaughlin, attacked the morning shows; proactively trying to undermine the Commission's recommendations to form a central intelligence head within the White House.

On Tuesday, the Sandy Berger story broke; clearly a case of a political leak by the Republicans to defer attention from the Commission's report. At the same time, the leadership of the House (Delay and Hastert) began to do two things; blame and defer. They repeated the talking point "Clinton had 8 years, Bush had 8 months" and they took the typical Washington answer to a call to action (reforming intelligence); they prepared to drag their feet. (As I was writing this, I saw footage of Delay mention that we did nothing before 9/11 to punish our attackers and Hastert say that we can't change things overnight).

Amid all this backdrop, the Commission rose to their responsibility today. They paired off for all sorts of media request; a Dem and a Republican, each time. They decried partisanship and refused to talk about individuals. They said that they knew it would be tough on Congress, but challenged them to step up to this task.

They have essentially inserted themselves into the BS continuous debates over process and power in DC; and said "DEAL WITH US NOW". Might they make our leaders relearn to act like they have a huge responsibility on their shoulders?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Now singing backup for George W. Bush

The George W Bush Singers.

Check out some samples from their new album including:

-Commiserate, not Commiserate

-Deep Thoughts, Part 1

-Deep Thoughts, Part 2

-and much, much more...

Monday, July 19, 2004

I knew the mainstream press was holding back

Now I've come to find out Leahy and Cheney had an old-school rap battle on the Senate floor. That's more like it.

"Mr. Leahy was applauded for managing to rhyme the phrases “unethical for certain,” “crude oil spurtin’,” and “like Halliburton.”"

The President is Masterful, and I'm a Poopyhead

Another excellent comic by Tom Tomorrow, author of This Modern World. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Tom, you should take some time exploring his site; his Monday comics always give me a boost.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Blogs Keeping the Old Media Honest.

dKos has a post today about how both CBS news and AP have amended stories to reflect criticisms made by Kos readers. These examples of press bias were brought to the forefront by Kos and other blogs. We're really starting to have an influence on the responsibility of the mainstream press.

That said, CNN is still using the story angle that terrorists want Kerry to win, which is a baseless scandalous conjecture.

Rejoice! Discrimination is kept out of the Constitution.

The Hate Amendment was defeated 48-50. The following "leaders" have some explaining to do:

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Byrd (D-WV)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeWine (R-OH)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fitzgerald (R-IL)
Frist (R-TN)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
McConnell (R-KY)
Miller (D-GA)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nelson (D-NE)
Nickles (R-OK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Santorum (R-PA)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-OR)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Talent (R-MO)
Thomas (R-WY)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)

Looks like it was all RePugnicans besides Zell Miller (D-GA) (a DINO - Dem In Name Only), Byrd who is old school, and Nelson from NE. Good to see our caucus held together.

On the flipside, respect is due to Campbell, Chafee, Collins, McCain, Snowe, and Sununu for breaking ranks and voting for inclusion (with the party of inclusion).

Please don't forget that our fearless standard bearer, John F Kerry, sat this vote out; as did Edwards. Way to take a principled stand guys. So glad to have leaders that stick to their guns.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Slow news day?

Stoned Del. student gets lost in Conn.

This is too damn funny. After eating a bag of mushrooms a 21 year-old college student found himself on a mountain 3 days and 300 miles from where he began his, ahem, trip.

This part reminds me of a song I once heard about a bear:

"In Canaan, he decided to climb Music Mountain to see what was on the other side, police said."

Buying of the Blogosphere?

The RNC has launched a program to pay bloggers up to 30% for any donations that are made through their site. The RNC will offer banner ads and panel ads to bloggers as a way to drive donations. As the New York Times explains it:

"The new program, though, has an added advantage in that it allows the Republicans to piggyback on existing relationships between Web sites and their users. The idea is that people might be more likely to donate if their favorite site appears to endorse the idea of giving to political parties."

Now maybe this is just the paranoid liberal in me, but I think there is a larger goal here. By tying a bloggers revenue directly to the fate of the national party, the RNC has helped to bring conservative bloggers further towards the party's politics. This is especially noteworthy at a time when most Right-wing bloggers are Libertarians before Republicans. This is a way to buy the bloggers' loyalty.

Before I hear the argument that people like dKos already take advertisements from Democrats; please consider that he gets paid regardless of whether his ads inspire donations. This program takes the next step.

This Land Belongs to You and Me

Too bad we're all wackos(warning: large Flash file, worth the download).

Monday, July 12, 2004

Somebody's Lil' Sis

Just started a weblog, "Everything is just fine-e-e-e". We won't reveal her identity, as she is posting anonymously, but her eclecticism definitely reminds me of a Chicken I know.

Check it out, she's got politics, cable news and entertainment; all in the first 3 posts. I'm going to bookmark this site and add it to my RSS feed. I'm sure you will too.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

(a Conservative review of Spiderman 2)

I went to see Spiderman 2 today. As soon as the movie started (with its overtones of good, evil and responsibility), I was attracted to how the film speaks to our times. Though it was definitely my desire to see this film supporting my beliefs as a liberal (and there were a few points I may discuss later regarding "collateral damage" and civilians), I definitely saw several conservative arguments laid out in the film. What follows is how I would read this film as a Conservative (it actually served as an interesting intellectual project, defending a position I don't share), please beware that this review is short on film details and will ruin the film if you have yet to see it:

"With great power comes great responsibility," is a line that Uncle Ben says to Peter Parker in Spiderman 1. This will be the guiding principle in Parker's commitment to fighting crime. This responsibility forces Peter to turn away from his true love (Mary Jane) and to keep his true identity from his friends and loved ones. So ends episode 1.

We are shown that those who are strong, just and humble will be attacked for no reason and scarred by life. This message spoke strongly to Americans in 2002 as we deal with the aftermath of September 11th. It told Americans that we will have to fight those that attack us unjustly, and that this is our responsibility and the sacrifice we will have to make(eternal vigilance, etc).

Spidey 2 begins with a montage of Peter Parker's life. Mary Jane is always in front of him (on billboards) but always out of reach due to his commitment to vigilance. He's unable to keep a job due to his secret career as a vigilante and he is at risk of failing out of school. His refusal to compromise Spiderman to the Daily Bugle costs him his greatest opportunity to make money. Meanwhile, everyone who matters to him (Mary Jane, Harry Osborne, Aunt May) must be kept in the dark about who he really is.

In short, his Great Responsibility has undermined his ability to enjoy himself or even be himself. This speaks to the way that a good deal of the American public feels; wearied by the fear and responsibility that comes with living under constant vigilance. Many on the Left have begun to rebel against this responsibility (I am ignoring the validity of their position), Michael Moore shows this attitude by mocking the Terror Alert system as an instrument to control the public rather than recognizing the system as a means to protect us from a real enemy. Other people are paralyzed by fear to the extent that they have trouble returning their life to normal.

When Peter tells Aunt May about the truth of what happened to Uncle Ben, he begins to lift the curtain and let her know that he is Spiderman. Reading between the lines, she encourages him to bring back Spiderman, telling him "The World needs a hero". Encouraging him that, despite what the newspapers would have us believe, the world recognizes the responsibility that comes with power and that he can overcome the press' cynical desire for him to fail.

This would speak to how a lot of the world has turned its collective back on the US, cynical about why and how we exercise our might around the world. However, at the end of the day, the world needs the US to keep all the bad guys in line. For this reason, we should be prepared for their scorn as we engage in pre-emptive and heavy handed actions because they will miss us if we aren't there.

We are also shown the consequences of trying to relinquish this responsibility. Peter tries to pretend that Doctor Octagon is not his problem and he can let someone else deal with it. However, when you ignore evil it will eventually come for you; just as Doc Ock comes for Peter. This is a clear and simple argument for the current Bush policy of pre-emption.

But this film is from Hollywood, and it's not a political piece; so we do have a happy ending that everyone can draw a lesson from. When Mary Jane returns to Peter and lets him know not to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders, we see that vigilance and responsibility should not preclude us from enjoying life. This is a serious challenge for America right now. How do we balance this incredible responsibility of being vigilant with our desire to live life and be happy? Spiderman suggests that we have to.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Why local broadcast news sucks...

Is it because people are stupid? Or just journalists? I vote for somewhere in between. We don't hold them to any sort of standard, because we don't expect anything from them but inflammatory teases.

Salon had a fun piece today (subscription required), which ripped into local anchors (and named names) quoting their inane statements. Will Farrell would be an improvement.

"A television news reporter is doing a story on a man who murdered both the ex-wife he was planning to remarry and her lover. Fixing the camera with a stern face and an even sterner voice, the reporter intones, "Well, the marriage is definitely over now!"

Have you stumbled across Ted Knight as the hapless Ted Baxter on a "Mary Tyler Moore Show" rerun? No, you've tuned into the WPIX "News at Ten" (the May 28, 2004, broadcast, to be specific) in New York City and heard, courtesy of reporter Vanessa Tyler, a pretty good example of what passes for journalism in local TV news these days."

The Journal Drops the Knowledge

In an excellent article today (excellent for its simplicity), the WSJ drops the knowledge on what an RSS/XML feed is and why dorks like me love it. For those of you who have had trouble figuring out what a blog is and don't understand my obsession with RSS, this article might help to enlighten. One quote:

"Rather than forcing you to jump from one blog to another to keep up with new entries, newsreaders bring together the latest postings from your favorite blogs in a single place."

Sprint's Rules of Cellphone Ettiquette

This is pretty good stuff, thanks to Jarvis for the link.


"Let your voicemail take your calls when you're in meetings, courtrooms, restaurants and other busy areas. If you must speak to the caller, excuse yourself and find a secluded area where you can talk.

Don't display anger during a public call. Conversations that are likely to be emotional should be held where they will not embarrass or intrude on others."

Is cellphone usage in a courtroom a common problem? Exactly what kind of loud, angry, criminal customer does Sprint market to?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Cheney less unpopular than Bush

Bush is just incompetent, but Cheney is evil, yet...

According to NBC's Nightly News overnight polling on the Edwards announcement:

"According to the survey, 48 percent of the respondents disapprove of Bush's job as president, compared with 45 percent who approve. And while 44 percent approve of Cheney's performance versus 43 percent who disapprove, the poll also shows that 44 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him compared with 41 percent who have a favorable opinion."

48% disapprove of Bush but 43% disapprove of Cheney

I don't get it.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Some Independence Weekend Thoughts...

As we prepare for JFK's VP pick and enter the long holiday weekend, I hope that Dick Morris is wrong, that there is a reason Kerry is running, besides not being Bush.

The founders had a vision for our country. They were well to do landowners rebelling against England's taxes, but they wrapped their financial motives in concepts and beliefs that we all understand and value. The ability to have self-determinism. This was their reason for being, and their reason for doing. Then I look at today.

Reagan wanted to restore American pride and the we can beat anything spirit of this country. Clinton wanted us to enjoy the peace dividend, he believed that our victory in the Cold War entitled us to enjoy ourselves and value ourselves (hence, I feel your pain).

Why did Bush and Gore run? Bush wanted to 'restore dignity to the White House'. Is that a platform? Compassionate conservatism. Well that's a bit more of a platform, but it was never planned out and never existed. Gore? Why was he running again? To clean up profanity in Hollywood? For the environment, no, he abandoned that cause after he thought the public didn't want to hear about it. Oh, that's right. Gore and Bush were running because their daddies were politicians and they looked the role.

So what is Kerry running for this year? Not really sure if I know. He got into politics as a born leader, against the pointless war in Vietnam. Clearly a noble cause. As the Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor and Senator, he never had a main platform. Veterans were always close to his heart, but not his drive. And we come to 2004 and I ask, why does this guy feel the need to be President? I'll vote him in because he is less compromised than Bush is by corporate forces, but I wish the guy would let me know why I want to vote for him. Hopefully his VP choice and his nomination acceptance will clarify this for me.

Have a happy holiday, and if you got some time, think about what you would want your leader to run for. Is Edwards son who died in an accident something that inspires you? Education for all? Healthcare?

I think education is my answer, but I'm not sure...

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Planning ahead...

The Massachusetts Legislature voted yesterday to change the state laws on Senate replacement.

Previously, Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, would have had the right to name the replacement to any Senator who was unable, or chose not, to finish their term. With a closely divided Senate (and the Democrats looking to have a decent chance at regaining control), the loss of Kerry's seat, were he to win the Presidential election, could have really hurt the Dems. Under the new rules, an election must be held within 160 days. Leaving the Senate with an open seat for up to 5 months and creating a situation similar to the California recall where name recognition becomes the most important factor in the election.

This is the borderline underhanded move that the Republicans have recently done repeatedly (please see Colorado and Pennsylvania redistricting or out of session court appointments). While I'm not proud that we also have to make shortsighted moves, I'm glad that we're beginning to wise up.

Where is the bottom to this downward spiral?

Speaking of dumb people...

Drudge is reporting that Hillary Clinton is receiving a lot of attention as a potential VP candidate for JF Kerry. PLEASE!?!?!

The supposed justification for her being nominated is that: "The insider continues:'The Democrats feel like health care is the domestic issue. But how to make it the dominant topic of conversation -- break through war and terrorism? Hillary Clinton. She catapults it out front with her commission. She tried to provide health care before and the Republicans in congress attacked her and her husband and used a bunch of scandals dirty tricks to stop it, we know they are scandals and dirty tricks because the former president book says so.'"

Does this sound like a Democratic insider? Sounds like Dick Morris to me, and he gave up the right to be called a Democratic insider a long time ago.

As time goes by, John Edwards seems more and more likely to me.