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Friday, November 12, 2004

The Edge of Doom

The Gays are killing the Democratic Party. Or so you'd believe if you read a paper some time during the past week. This past election was all about moral values, and in this country, moral values comes down to one thing: steamy man on man sex. For years, the charge against The Gays has been that all they want to do is have cheap, meaningless sex; that their lives are all about promiscuity, at least when they're not dressing up as women and parading across town in their annual membership drives. This year, things changed. Now that The Gays want to cast off their wanton pasts and settle into committed, monogamous relationships, they are guilty of trying to destroy marriage. The President proposed an amendment banning gay marriage and the Republican Party Platform opposed both gay marriage and civil unions. In the 11th hour, The President said he was just kidding, that marriage was out, but that states could offer civil unions if they wanted. Now that 11 states - including two that should have known better, Oregon and Michigan; and I see you snickering over there, Ohio, you're no better - have passed laws banning gay marriage, and in some cases, civil unions, He is banging the drum again. The Party faithful are thrilled. To display his moral values, one protester has taught his 8 year old daughter the meaning of sodomy, so she can hold a placard declaring, SODOMY IS NOT A CIVIL RIGHT." Actually, honey, according to the Supreme Court, it is. Even for you, when you are old enough. Visiting your loved one in the hospital when they're dying is not a civil right.

Although this is the year gay marriage had her coming out ball, she's been kicking around since the mid-90s, when Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. DOMA was passed in a frenzy of fear that Hawaii was about to legalize gay marriage, and basically said that no other states had to legally recognize such a marriage. In regards to straight marriage, states operate under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, which essentially says that if you're married in one state, you're married in all states. Under DOMA, "No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe" is required to recognize "a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship." So even if The Gays get married legally in Boston, Pennsylvania has no legal obligations. DOMA also defined marriage under Federal law as "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."

Apparently, this is not enough to protect poor, helpless old Marriage. Now she needs additional defense against those who are encroaching on her borders. I agree. So I am campaigning to protect Marriage against the greatest threat to the institution. I am referring, of course, to divorce.

We've all seen the shocking statistics: that there is one divorce for every two marriages in the United States. People are marrying like crazy, but divorce is turning these new marriages into a sham. How can marriage possibly survive in this country if half the people who try it give it up before it has a chance to truly infest them? That's why I'm petitioning for new legislation to truly strengthen marriage.

My bill is the Defense of Original Marriage act, or DOOM. When a couple enters into matrimony, they do so before God, and obviously God's laws hold sway over those of man. So how can we continue to fool ourselves into thinking that a court - an activist judge, if you will - should have the power to put asunder what God has joined together? Christ was clear on this one. Not only is divorce against God's will, but remarriage to a divorced man or woman is adultery. We'll have none of that in Christian America! Some try to get around God's law by saying Christ allowed divorce in cases of fornication, or infidelity. As if two wrongs make a right! Divorce on top of fornication, and even worse, remarriage on top of divorce, is just piling sin on sin. DOOM makes it clear that once you're married, you're married.

Speaking of fornication, DOOM will also make it illegal for unmarried men and women to live together. All this cohabitation is clearly weakening marriage. Think of cows. Think of milk. Under DOOM, any unmarried couple living together will face strict fines. Unless they're gay, of course. The government will encourage parents and other family members to turn in their sinful relations, perhaps by rewarding them with a tax credit. Some sort of a fornication finder's fee. Florida has already passed a measure limiting the rights to privacy granted girls under the age of 18. Once voters see the sanctity of marriage is at stake, I'm sure they'll get behind similar measures in other states. The Census Bureau tracks individuals living at every address, so it should be easy enough to use that information to start cracking down on these criminal pleasurnauts.

DOOM is not completely unbending, though, and will dissolve marriages under special circumstances. The marriage vow makes it plain: "As long as you both shall live." DOOM does not advocate murder. But the death of a spouse is sufficient to dissolve a marriage. So if one partner should willingly allow him- or herself to be put to death in order to free the remaining partner, DOOM will gladly provide the structure to carry out his or her wishes. In addition, the penalty for divorce will be execution. DOOM does not condone the murder of innocents, but once one has turned away from God, all bets are off.


I'm also working on legislation to appease both those who are against abortion and those who oppose stem cell research. Obviously, if life begins at conception, anyone who opposes abortion should also oppose in vitro fertilization. Since only 10 to 20 percent of eggs fertilized in this process ever result in a normal pregnancy, tens of thousands - perhaps hundreds of thousands - of human lives are destroyed every year through this barbaric procedure. Children are not a civil right.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Fat Lady Sings

I'm not going to write about election irregularities. I just don't have it in me. For the past week, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has been the only mainstream reporter to have anything to say about it. Now candidates are starting to descend on Ohio and New Hampshire, asking for recounts in precincts using the "scantron" type optical ballot scanners. All I will say about this is what I've ever said: the only people who believe that electronic voting would be more reliable than any other sort are those who have never used a computer. If you're looking for details, and are good places to start.


By now, I assume you've seen the slew of red and blue maps of the United States, from the standard "red state / blue state" map to the vote by county map in USA Today and other sources. By November 3, at least one blog had gone in a new direction, posting a map on which states were colored in shades of purple, to indicate the percentage of Democratic or Republican vote. Only Utah remains completely red.

If these are insufficient for your needs, a handful of wonks from the University of Michigan have posted a slew of maps and cartograms stretching the nation this way and that in order to make sense of the vote. In a cartogram, the areas of specific locations, such as states, are resized according to their population. In these maps, the Northeast bulges grossly, while such states as Montana and the Dakotas all but disappear. As you might expect, the area covered by red and blue are roughly equivalent. There's another purple map, this one demonstrating voting patterns county by county, originally posted by a Princeton mathematician. His site also has a photograph of the US as seen from space at night, with cities clearly visible, marked by their lights. The correspondence between population centers and blue votes is striking.

Then there's this map.


By the way, if you're not sure if you live in a red state or blue state, Mrs. Betty Bowers can help.


I am not the writer of, but I cannot disagree with anything he or she has to say. I was asked earlier this week if I thought the South had gone off the deep end. I replied that I thought much of the South had always been off the deep end. This writer takes it one (giant) step further. As you can tell by the title, the language is pretty harsh. But the anger is righteous. One (highly edited) point: "The next @#%& who says, 'It's your money, not the government's money" is gonna get their @#%& kicked. Nine of the ten states that get the most federal dollars and pay the least? That's right, they're red states. And eight of the ten states that receive the least and pay the most? They're blue states. It's not your money, @#%&, it's our money. What was that Real American Value you were spouting a minute ago? Self reliance? Try this for self reliance: buy your own @#%& stop signs, @#%&." Go there. You'll feel better. Or (depending on your point of view) perhaps chastened.


Woody Allen once said that 90 percent of success is just showing up. (Or 80%. Or maybe 95. Source?) Steve Rocco is unwilling to go that far.

Rocco was just elected to the school board of the Orange County Unified School District. His opponent, Phil Martinez, is a park ranger who has three children in the district, is president of the PTA at his kids' school and is active with the Boy Scouts. Rocco, 53, lives with his parents. Martinez. raised contributions, attended forums, sent mailings to voters in the district and was endorsed by the teachers' union. Rocco ignored mail from district officials and the teachers' union during the campaign. He didn't respond to media requests for interviews and didn't bother with a ballot statement outlining his platform. When the PTA sent him an invitation to a candidate forum, the letter came back unopened.

Rocco won the election with 54 percent of the vote. One scenario suggests that voters chose the non-Hispanic name over Martinez. Another says Rocco won because he identified himself on the ballot as an "educator/writer" (he has no quantifiable experience in either) and uninformed voters chose the educator over the park ranger. One local politician said, "This is just one of the rough edges in our electoral system, where the voters can elect someone they know nothing about."

Yeah. We've seen that.


If you live in a red state, there's a good chance you won't see Saving Private Ryan tonight. ABC is showing the World War II epic as part of its Veterans Day observance, but a number of affiliates, concerned about the FCC's stance on language and violence, are unwilling to risk possible fines. Citadel Communications, which owns stations in Iowa and Nebraska, sought assurances from the Federal Communications Commission that the film was acceptable. The agency was unable to provide such assurance in advance. In addition, they've made it clear that virtually any use of foul language - which is used repeatedly, but appropriately, in Ryan - is unacceptable for broadcast radio and television.

Stations in Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Charlotte and Louisville, amongst others, will not air the movie. Sinclair Broadcast Group, which chose not to air the Nightline episode honoring the soldiers who have died in Iraq and chose to air the anti-Kerry film Stolen Honor, passed on saving Ryan.


If you're looking for a ray of light in our troubled times, here's an excerpt from a letter Thomas Jefferson write in 1798, after enactment of the Sedition Act.

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt . . . If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake."

Friday, November 05, 2004

Blue State

The first call came at 8:20 Wednesday morning. "What the hell happened?" It was my brother, the Kerry Republican, trying to sort out how the electorate could have gotten it so wrong. One of the stats I relayed to him, one I found inconceivable (in the word of Vizzini) at the time, but which apparently proved as true as the other things that dwarf doubted, was that 97% of Republicans had voted for Bush. The 3% comprised my brother, the editors of The Economist, and some Knights of Columbus in Michigan. We bartered theories, felt each others' pain, and then went on with our day.

I was surprised at the equanimity I felt. Shouldn't I be tearing my hair (what little there is of it) and beating my (expansive) breast? I mean, it was bad enough that my candidate had lost. But the winner was a man I consider a plague on both our houses. A man who has defiled the values I hold most dear as an American. I had expected at this moment to feel a rage that could not be quelled. The previous Friday I had spoken of starting an underground revolt. I had anticipated rioting in Detroit, King's County, Chicago. Why wasn't Selma burning?

I made coffee.

To some degree, this is chronic loser syndrome. Having lived most of my life in Chicago, I've gotten used to losing. In my nearly 30 years of voting, the only victorious presidential candidate I've supported is Bill Clinton. And yet this time, I thought we had a chance. It would be tight, but the tide was turning. Polls said we could win Florida, but I never believed that. But I knew we had Pennsylvania. And Ohio. Surely Ohio. The previous night, the networks had taunted me, built up my confidence because of their wariness after 2000. Virginia, too close to call. Missouri, too close to call. Arkansas, too close to call. Had the cobwebs fallen away? Had America rubbed their collective eyes and said, "My God! What have I done!"

No. State by state, Dixie fell. But it was still okay. Red states were staying red, but blue states were staying blue. New Hampshire took her time to get her dress on, for a tiny state of 1.2 million souls, but finally fell for Kerry. Florida turned, but that was no surprise to me. Come on, Ohio. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio. And yet, when Ohio fell, I didn't go nuts. I didn't rant. I didn't curse. Which is shocking, because it takes so little to make me curse these days. I just turned off the TV. Once the first shudder of disgust and loss had passed, I turned it back on. Just in time to see John Edwards declare they would count every vote. Then off to bed.

Earlier this week - it seems so long, long ago - I wrote of my Pre-Election Anxiety Disorder. All I can imagine is that my pre-election jitters were so intense, that once the worst happened, I had no feelings left.

Side note: I had a conversation Wednesday evening with a friend of mine in which I ran through some of the Senate contests, who had won and why, and what I thought it meant. She was surprised at the information I had at my fingertips. What I told her is what I'll tell you: my PEAD was not limited to the presidency. I was obsessed. I had my nose in every race. I know why Lisa Murkowski was expected to lose and why she won. Is it any surprise that once I was freed of that tension, the actual results felt less crushing?

Then the emails started. Such an outpouring of grief! I do not mock it; I understand it. I especially feel the need to reach out to others of a similar mind when you feel that the rest of the country has tuned against you. Which is, quite frankly, what we feel. This election turned into "Deliverance:" a boatload of northern intellectuals got raped and shot at by southern conservatives. George Bush made us all squeal like a pig. We are suffering from our own little post traumatic stress disorder. A correspondent on one list summoned it up thus: "I'm glad we have this forum in which we can be together in spirit if not in person." (Another took it a step further: "I take solace in the knowledge that when the Civil War begins, I have a platoon to join.") At noon came the plea, "Will you offer a salve for our wounds any time soon?"

This is that salve.

I'm trying to remain positive about it all, contrary though it is to my nature. On one hand, we're no worse off than we were six months ago. Sure, we lost a few seats in Congress. Zell Miller was a Republican in everything but name, so it's really a total of three seats in the Senate. Florida was a tough loss, and hard fought, but it's hard to fight two Bushes at once. Trading Fritz Hollings for Jim DeMint in South Carolina is unfortunate, but as with Bob Graham in Florida and John Breaux in Louisiana, it's more the man than the seat that will be missed. The big news is the loss of Minority Leader Tom Daschle, but as Jon Stewart said on the Daily Show (I'm paraphrasing): It's uncertain what Tom Daschle will do next, but he's sure to be ineffective. Daschle has bent over backwards for the Bush agenda over the past four years. His "leadership" will surely not be missed.

On the other hand, of course, now that GB2 has nothing holding him back, we can expect him to run rampant over the Constitution. The most frightening prospect is what he might do to the Supreme Court. It has become apparent to me that the only people who hold Bush in higher disregard than the Dems are the Supremes. Sure, they put him in office four years ago. And yes, Fat Tony Scalia and Uncle Clarence Thomas are his lapdogs. But William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor - conservatives both - have been aching to retire for the past two years, and have held off just waiting for Bush to be voted out of office. At least that's what it looks like from here. Rehnquist isn't going to be able to wait much longer. So Bush is expected to have at least two, and possibly as many as four, opportunities to add justices to the Court, including a Chief Justice. (The Chief Justice has to be nominated and approved just like any other, even if he or she is already on the bench.) But moderate Republicans have already made it clear that they won't just roll over. Arlen Specter is expected to be the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he has warned the White House against trying to fill any upcoming Supreme Court vacancies with judges who would oppose abortion rights. The moderate senators of the Republican Main Street Partnership have issued a similar statement. Both of Ohio's Republican senators came out against that state's gay marriage initiative (which passed anyway, of course.) And Lincoln Chaffee, the Republican senator from Rhode Island, threatened to switch parties if Bush was re-elected. So we're not completely on our own.

Here are some other thoughts, in no particular order.

1) Stunning as the election results may be, on examination, they're not surprising. Red states went red, blue states went blue. Iowa's trend into the red is distressing (Come back into the light!) but not a huge shocker. For years it has been a state divided between the Democratic intelligentsia and the Republican "traditional values" folks. The same is true in Ohio, where the liberals of the cities are balanced by the conservatives of the suburbs and rural areas. The same, for many years, was true of Illinois, which has only recently become blue. Look at each seat the Republicans took, and you won't be surprised. Hell, it's more surprising that Tom Daschle ever got elected from South Dakota to begin with than it is that he lost this year.

2) We didn't do anything wrong. On reflection, the only way we could have won was with a more dynamic candidate. But where is that candidate? It's why the Dems are Obama-happy. He stands out. In this year's crop, Kerry was simply the least bland of the bland. Not including Sharpton, who is unelectable, and Dean, who I believe would have proven to be. We had the issues, we had the money, we had the get out the vote effort. We lost because the GOP matched us on get out the vote, and too many Americans are not well read, so they can't (won't?) follow the issues. People vote with their gut. But, as Shakespeare reminds us, "A man may smile and smile and be a villain."

3) We must stop running from ourselves. Kerry's biggest problem was that he was too (small "c") conservative. Q: "Is the war in Iraq a mistake?" Kerry: "No." Q: "Are you the biggest liberal in Congress?" Kerry: "No." Yes! Yes, we are liberals. Look it up. Liberal means generous. Liberal means forward-looking. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, liberal means: 1. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry. 2. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded. 3. Tending to give freely; generous. Free from bigotry. Favoring reform. Tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others. Generous. That's what liberal means to me. And to most people who consider themselves liberal. We need to present ourselves in that way. We must stop letting those on the right define us. We must be active, not reactive. (And please, please, not "proactive.") Yes, I'm a liberal, because I believe in progress and reform and tolerance. These are the moral values which are the basis of the Democratic Party. Why are we afraid of having values? Why are we so afraid, period? "Yes, the war in Iraq is a mistake. It is morally insupportable. It is a horrible tragedy but at this time, the men and women who have died there have died in vain. We owe it to them to make sure that as few Americans continue to die there as possible." If you're going to lose anyway, you might as well take a stand.

4) The only people more upset about George Bush's re-election than us are traditional Republicans. Face it, in most of the red states (and blue states, for that matter), people are voting for the party, not the person. We can't win that game. But when The Economist supports Kerry, when American Conservative supports Kerry, when Pat Buchanan says Bush should be re-elected because the neo-cons need to be held responsible for the war in Iraq and its ultimate failure, there's trouble a brewin'. Right now, we are out of power. But we need to be able to reach out to those traditional Republicans - the McCains, the Lugars, the Chaffees - in order to survive the onslaught of the radical / religious right over the next four years. It's in the best interest of both parties to do so.

5) We need to figure out who we are. And we need to let people know. The old bromide holds now more than ever: All politics is local politics. There are plenty of Dems in those blue states. They know how their Republican friends and neighbors think more than we do. The Party needs to organize both from the bottom up and the top down. Why do the red states hate us? How can we change that? Most hate is based on fear and distrust. If they hate us because, once again from Jon Stewart, "dudes kissing trumps everything" - well, then there's nothing we can do. If they don't trust our economic policies, or our social policies, or because they believe that abortion is murder, then there's no reason to try to change their mind. We differ in opinion, and that's why there's more than one party. If they hate us because they think we're all a bunch of city slickers who have sex hanging from the chandeliers, well, we can lie about that. But seriously. If they hate us because we've been demonized by the other side, we can change that. But that requires personal contact. And a recognition that this is an effort that needs to happen constantly, not just every four years. And it needs to start now. In places like Iowa and Ohio, where we're not that far apart. And Nevada and New Mexico and Colorado, where we have a chance. And in Michigan and Wisconsin and Minnesota, which you'd better believe Republican strategists are targeting even as we speak.

6) After its long winter nap, the media seems to be starting to shake off some of the slumber that affected it even before 9/11. We can and should encourage that. And by "we," I mean we, individuals, groups of individuals, not counting on our elected officials to do that for us. No we cannot fight the media giants (although we can petition our representative in government to do that), but we can nudge and harass individual outlets into doing their job.

7) The best thing to come out of this election is increased involvement by the electorate. We can't let that drop. As long as we become politically active only every four years, we will never make any progress. One third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives will be up for election again in two years. Think how many atrocities this Administration can commit in that time. We (and by we I mean us and the Party) need to look ahead now to those races, and start organizing today to defeat who we can. Joe Hoeffel did very well against Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, even taking the lead in the vote tally at times during the evening. This run was seen as a "warm-up" for his race against Rick Santorum, a less popular and truly egregious senator, in 2006. What can we do to bring about a Hoeffel win? Who else do we want to target? This is how the other side thinks; we need to get in on their game.

Despite the way we may feel, none of our losses in the election were insurmountable. We keep hearing that George Bush got more votes than anyone who was ever elected president. You know who got the second most votes of anyone who ever ran for president? John Kerry. You know who got the third most votes of anyone who ever ran for president? Al Gore. Turnout was at a near-record high of almost 60%. Only 4 out of 10 eligible voters couldn't be bothered to show up for "the most important election of our lives." (TM everybody) Who didn't show up? As usual, the kids. For all the hoo-hah, the breakdown of voters across age ranges was about the same as in 2000. Even with the turnout, Murkowski beat Knowles in Alaska by 10,000 votes, in a state which hasn't sent a Democrat to the Senate in 30 years. Thune beat Daschle - the only incumbent of either party to lose - by 4600 votes. Castor lost to Martinez in Florida by 78,000, but that's out of more than 7 million votes cast, or little more than 1%. In Illinois, Alan Keyes received nearly 1.4 million votes, leading MSNBC's Keith Olbermann to observe, "These are the voters who wear tinfoil hats."

As you surely know, 22% of those who voted for Bush said their top issue was "moral values." Such as an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation which led to more than 10,000 civilian deaths, based on a fabric of lies and deception. Oh, I kid. Actually, these voters are opposed to homosexuality and favor school prayer and leaders with strong religious faith. Let's see, who else has those values? Oh that's right, Islamic Fundamentalists. Democratic leaders are now trying to figure out how they can extend their appeal to voters outside the cities and to those involved with religion. The sight of politicians kissing babies will soon be replaced by images of them kissing icons.

Ballot initiatives banning gay marriage passed in 11 states; in Mississippi, it received 92% of the vote. Initiatives banning interracial marriage would probably have passed in many of those states as well. One quarter of the voters in swing states are white evangelicals who voted for Bush by almost 3 to1. The only way to bring these voters to the Democratic Party is to ditch everything we believe in. But 30% of swing state voters are from cities over 50,000, and they went for Kerry by 2 to 1. Suburban voters supported Bush 54/45, and rural voters went for him by 57 to 42. We can reach out to these voters without pretending to be something we're not.

Monday, November 01, 2004


If you've made it this far - not only in today's issue, but in the year - it should come as no surprise that I'm supporting John Kerry for President. Our relationship is strained at best. I fell in love with him a little bit at the convention, but that was pretty much because I had to. I feel like this is an arranged marriage. I don't love my fiancee, but I don't have much to say in the matter. He's the best my parents could find. At least with their limited resources. He drove me crazy for weeks on the campaign trail, but there were times during the debates when he made me remember why I fell in love with him to begin with.

Kerry has the potential to be a bad candidate who turns out to be a good president. If nothing else, we know he'll be able to read the intelligence presented to him and make decisions on it based on his own understanding and judgment, rather than on what his advisors and his idea of Jesus tells him. I don't begrudge George Bush his faith, though I wish he would stop shaking it in my face and giving it primacy over facts. Especially since, from what I've read, his faith is based on such a limited understanding of the Bible that if he actually makes it to heaven, Jesus will shake him like a baby for his ideas. I pity anyone who has to clean up the mess George Bush has made, and I don't believe Kerry has the balls to piss off enough people by doing what needs to be done. But anything that stanches the flow of money, bad will, American lives and ecological disaster wrought by this Administration is a blessing. There is a good chance that Kerry would be another Jimmy Carter, a president so paralyzed by choices that he's unable to make any, but even that is comparable to the bad choices that define the past four years.

I feel bad for any Republicans out there who feel that have to have the same relationship with George Bush that I have with John Kerry. I understand people feeling enough of a distrust for the Democratic Party or for Kerry himself that they feel a need to stay the course. But unlike my husband, who I don't love but have to marry, your husband is abusive. I don't know how my marriage will turn out, but you're staying in a bad marriage. If I was a Republican, I'd be appalled at the effect this guy was having on my Party. This is the point my brother makes, when he points out that he should be (and is) more angry with Bush than any of us, because he voted for him. To my mind, Bush is destroying the Republican Party. Not weakening it: the Party is stronger than ever. But what does it stand for? We have gone from a record surplus to a record deficit. The government has grown to the largest size ever. (The business which created the most new jobs over the past four years is the federal government.) Programs such as No Child Left Behind (not to mention the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment) take power away from the states and grant it to the federal government. George Bush runs the United States the way Ken Lay ran Enron. He is the CEO-in-Chief: he brokers no dissent from below, and fiscal responsibility is important only to the degree that it does not keep him from getting what he wants.

I don't just want this president out; I want them all out. It's hard to come up with a name in this Administration which does not cause me to shudder in disgust. Dick Cheney. Lying, self-centered, power mad plutocrat. Donald Rumsfeld. Single-minded, arrogant, buck-passing mob boss. John Ashcroft. Did I use lying already? Underhanded, secretive, entitled hatchet man. Condoleezza Rice. Did I use power mad already? Shrill, misleading, aggressive academic. The only one I like is poor Colin Powell, who has tried to exert a rational influence on this group of commandos and has been rewarded with a swift kick to the curb. He announced some time back that he would not be back for a second term, and if Bush is victorious, I hope for the sake of what's left of his reputation that he acts on that statement.

If they weren't so arrogant and smug, I might not hate them quite so much.

My view of the Bush Administration has been influenced, to no small degree, by The New Yorker. Long before re-election was even an issue, the magazine has been reporting on the actions of this White House, from lying about the environment to quashing unfavorable statistics coming out of the Departments of Labor and Commerce. It was here that I first read about the abuses of the Help America Vote Act that are currently in the news. (Abuses prompted, I might add, by John Ashcroft.) It was here that I read what's really in the Republican Party platform, and the degree to which it clashes with the moderate stance put forth by people like McCain and Giuliani. Long before the PEAD set in, the New Yorker described what the Bush tax code is really all about. So it came as no surprise when the magazine endorsed John Kerry for president. Unless, of course, you consider that this is the first time in its 80 year history that the magazine has endorsed any candidate. In a similar vein, a number of conservative magazines and newspapers - including his home town newspaper - have refused to endorse Bush, supporting either Kerry or no candidate at all. Would the American people read more. I recommend you read the New Yorker endorsement - its 4500 words of political insight will make you gnash your teeth.

I've heard a number of people say that they follow politics the way some people follow sports. This is just part of what's wrong with politics. When it becomes a question of rooting for your team over the opposing team, you've given up all responsibility for personal judgment. Not only that - the comparison is not particularly apt. I think that people who follow sports probably know more about sports than most people who follow politics know about politics. When it comes to voting for the All-Star Team, only a stupid fan would vote for everyone from their home team instead of the best players from their league. And only the most simple-minded fan would vote for the best players in their league and the worst players in the other league, hoping for an uneven match. I believe most baseball fans vote for the players they consider the best from both leagues, hoping for the most exciting game possible. People need to choose their candidates the same way they would put together their team in a fantasy sports league. Select the best players you can get, no matter what team they come from, in order to create the greatest benefit to yourself.

Isn't that the point?