Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Howard Dean is the worst candidate the Democrats could nominate for president this election cycle. He is an arrogant, hypocritical cynical politician, who can dish out the worst slams and insults to others but can't seem to take mild-mannered criticism. I say his because now he seems to be complaining that the other candidates should stop criticizing him.

Oh really, Howie? I seem to recall a certain candidate, let's call him H. Dean - no, that's too obvious, let's call him Howard D., attacking other candidates calling them "cockroaches", "Washington politicians", "Bush-lite", or even just straight-up calling them "Republicans". I didn't hear Dick Gephardt or Wes Clark going to Terry McAuliffe and asking him to ban Dean from attacking them. Besides, what the fuck does Howie expect? This campaign has been benign compared to previous Democratic nomination fights - 1968, 1980, and 1992 come to mind. And the person who as single-handedly made this campaign more vicious is none other than Howard Dean.

As far as Howard Dean is concerned, he has earned the right to be called Bush-lite - especially given his record as Vermont governor - pro-corporation, benign neglect of the environment, and consorting with the likes of Newt Gingrich on Medicare. When criticized, Howie's persecution complex leads him to whine about the unfairness of it all.

Which brings me to my biggest problem with Howard Dean - his arrogance and cynicism. The very name of his campaign belies his arrogant personality - "Dean for America". It's as if Howard Dean is the only person who can save the United States. And now that he's the front-runner, there's the strange notion he's got in his head that he's due the nomination and that everyone should drop out. This came to a head at the time of the Gore endorsement - it wasn't Gore's endorsement, but the way that Dean, his operators, and his more cultish (as opposed to his honest supporters - which I'm hoping and assuming are greater in number) supporters seemed to aggressively imply that the race was over.

And now to Howie's cynicism. It's utterly contemptible - and almost George W. Bush in nature. First, he panders to the left of the Democratic party, basically on the war with Iraq, despite his clearly centrist, nay conservative, record as governor of Vermont. The war is the showcase for Dean's cynical campaign. First, he attacks John Kerry for, of all things, complexity. Then he attacks Wes Clark for supposedly supporting the Iraq war (he did not), when in fact Dean held the same position as Clark at the time. When Clark entered the race, Dean waged a dishonest campaign against Clark, saying that he was a Republican and distorting his own position on the war. He's been prone to saying he was against the war "from the beginning" - he was not. It recently came out that he was in favor of an alternative resolution supporting the use of force that was proposed in the Senate. I have the sneaking suspicion that if Dean were in the Congress at the time of the vote, he would have voted in favor of the war resolution. Dean's other signature lefty issues are health insurance and gay rights - Dean didn't have anything to do with his Supreme Court's decision on civil unions (and in fact did what Bush did with McCain-Feingold -- dispose of it behind closed doors), and he provided insurance to the tiny, white-bred state of Vermont.

Now that he's the front-runner, Dean seems to be trying to dump the left and try to move to the center. He's going to pander to the "guys with Confederate flags on their pick-up trucks" by talking about Jesus. Now, he's got a good centrist/conservative record as Vermont governor, but he's not going to be able to get people to believe him due to his previous pandering.

Dean says he's from "the Democratic wing of the Democratic party" - a line he stole from the late Senator Paul Wellstone (who, I think, would not have approved). But he doesn't seem to have a whole lot of use for the Democratic Party beyond his own personal aggrandizement. Witness his threat to take his supporters and sit if he doesn't get the nomination. Which just confirms my suspicion that Howard Dean is from the Howard Dean wing of the party - his run for the presidency is all about Howard Dean, not what's best for the country or the Democratic party.

So Howard Dean can just suck on it.

UPDATE: When I say Howard Dean can suck it, it's on his attacks and complaints against the DNC and his opponents for which he can suck the aforemention it (or something like that). Should he win the nomination, I'll support him.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Can I call Howard Dean "Cheney-lite" now?

It only seems fair.
Shorter Tom Friedman:

Poland rules, France still sucks.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Shorter Paul Krugman:

The media sucks.


(seriously, this is a great column on the problems with the media. read it)

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Here's another pro-Clark, anti-Dean blog that's fairly easy to read and will probably be updated more often than the excellent if sparse TNR blog, Diary of a Deanophobe.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Shorter Christopher Hitchens:

The war in Iraq is directly responsible for all that is good and right in the world, regardless of the truth. And Howard Dean sucks.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Shorter Tom Friedman:

Ideas are like birds, and birds can't fly when the US embassy walls are too high.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Qaddafi's (that's how I'm going to spell it) son says that the war in Iraq had nothing to do with Libya's offer to eliminate its WMD programs. I'd tend to believe him - Qaddafi's been trying to reintegrate himself into the international community for the better part of the last 5-plus years, beginning with better cooperation over the bombing of PanAm flight 103. Libya, for its part hasn't really engaged in terrorism since Lockerbie. (Side note: Why hasn't Qaddafi promoted himself after over 30 years in power? He's still a frickin' colonel, for god's sake) And note that the negotiations had been going on for the last 9 months - about the time the war with Iraq began, which would indicate that Qaddafi was thinking about this for some time before last March, when he sent out feelers to see how the WMD-disavowal would play. I think he recognized that Bush had a jag about WMD, so he offered to abandon his programs in order to try and normalze relations. So I think that it's pretty clear that Qaddafi did this out of his own broader program of international reintegration which was underway before the war, rather than fear of being preventively attacked. Kudos, though, to the Bush administration and the Blair government for working with Qaddafi to get this deal done.

UPDATE: Calpundit's got some insight on this subject, as is usually the case. It's slightly contrary to my position, but worth taking a look at and giving a thought to.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Commence Google bombing:

Am I the only person who doesn't give a crap about the Lord of the Rings?

It's difficult for me to fathom why people and critics are tripping over themselves to gush about these movies. I've tried watching the first two movies, but was bored to tears - they all seemed rather pointless. I had no interest in the characters in the same way I had with, say, Neo in the Matrix or Tom Cruise's character in the Last Samurai. So there's this ring that controls shitloads of stuff. What's the point? Someone will probably start lecturing me at this point about how it's all about good and evil, but its philosophy is so bloody transparent and simplistic that it's hard for me to get worked up about it. Add that to the "we're going to beat this over your head" nature of it, and you realize it ain't "In the Pale Moonlight."

Now, I realize that it had great cinematography, but excellent landscape shooting does not pique my interest in a movie. Nor does production or visual effects. It just seems so pedantic and long-winded that I can't possibly get into it.
The Onion, hilarious as always.
Here's a great new blog by the New Republic's Jonathan Chair called "Diary of a Deanophobe." This'll probably be the one-stop shop for anti-Dean lefties like myself for the forseeable future.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Following up on the last post, which is probably a bit incoherent, I'd just like to clarify where I stand on what we should do with Saddam:

1. Have the CIA get as much information out of him as possible.
2. Have the United Nations set up an Iraqi tribunal, as the Iraqi justice system will be set up by the not-quite legit IGC and we shouldn't be trying him ourselves (Noriega he ain't).
3. The UN tribunal should take place in Iraq and have a large Iraqi component (i.e., the prosecution should be led and organized by the Iraqis themselves).
4. Saddam must be allowed a fair trial (something he denied to his victims), and therefore the judge should be neutral and Hussein should be allowed to choose his own lawyers.
5. The jury is a much more complicated matter - I feel that Iraqis should have a role is passing judgment on Saddam, but it would be impossible to find someone in Iraq who would be willing to give him a fair trial after all the suffering he's inflicted on them - perhaps it could be set up like the Hague, or perhaps there could be a mixed panel of judges from Iraq and others who have experience in trials of suspects of crimes against humanity, like the Balkans or Rwandan genocides.

Of course, whatever solution is eventually worked out won't satisfy everyone. Which makes it all the more baffling why the administration didn't work this out early. Dumb.

Monday, December 15, 2003

I think that one of the great tragedies of the war in Iraq is that we don't have an international tribunal set up to deal with the crimes against humanity perpetrated by Saddam Hussein and his minions over the last 30 years. Something like the UN tribunal for the former Yugoslavia would be appropriate and even have a legitimizing affect for our war in the eyes of the world. Hussein would be forced to answer for his crimes before the world, not just before us or the Iraqis. Not that it would deny justice to the Iraqis: it could be an Iraqi tribunal set up through the UN, rather than a court at the Hague. Of course, we probably should have indicted him with crimes against humanity before the war started; we have precedent from the Milosevic case for indicting heads of state. Oh well.

Note to the administration: Saddam's trial was something you should have thought out before the war.
Since it's write like Nedra Pickler day...

"When Wesley Clark testified before the war crimes tribunal for deposed Serb leader Milosevic, he failed to mention Saddam Hussein's many crimes against humanity."

Too bad that's probably what she'll actually write tomorrow.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Here's a better picture illustrating the humorous Marx/Saddam similarity.

People are talking about how Saddam's capture affects the presidential race. It certainly takes some of the wind out of Dean's sails and puts some into the Gephardt, Edwards, and Lieberman campaigns, otherwise known as the guys who voted for the war. Ironically, it's probably good for Wes Clark that he's testifying at the Hague - he doesn't have to respond to this beyond the "Saddam bad, capture good" argument that 99.9% of people embrace. It also provides a contrast between his experience with genocidal dictators and his opponents' (cough*Dean*cough) the lack of foreign policy experience. As the Bush administration fumbles around with what to do with Saddam (why didn't they think about this, oh, 9 months ago?), Clark can show that he knows how to deal with people like Hussein and Milosevic.

As far as the big show between Bush and a Democratic-candidate-to-be-named-later, it's very uncertain to know what will happen. This could actually backfire on Bush if people are wondering why we're still in Iraq after we caugh Saddam, especially if the guerrilla war continues and more of our soldiers are killed. And as far as the economy goes, it's unclear if this growth will last - it seems to have been a result of the war. If people don't get jobs real quick, the Democrats can still beat Bush on the economy. Bush will probably be the first president since Hoover to lose jobs - the Democrats should use this.
Watching the coverage of the capture of Saddam Hussein, I was struck by how many people were astonished that Saddam didn't go out with guns blazing. But that just isn't the way he operates - Hussein is more concerned with his own survival than with anything else. I don't think he gave a damn that we got him; all that matters to him is that he's still breathing. Unlike Osama bin Laden, Saddam doesn't have a martyr complex - he has a survival complex. Sure, he takes obscene risks and makes stupid decisions, especially when dealing with us - but he always made sure that Iraq and Iraqis died and suffered, always ensuring that he came out alive. So it shouldn't be all that surprising that we captured him without firing a shot.

On a lighter note, is it just me or does this picture of Saddam remind you of Karl Marx? It's the beard that gives me that impression.
Hussein captured?

Looks like it.

Good riddance.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

This is old, but Atrios has a post on the pairing of Howard Dean with any of the other eight candidates as either president or vice president. He basically argues that after the debate where no other candidate raised his or her hand when asked whether Dean could be elected that there was no way any could be his VP or he could serve as VP for any of them.

Let me disagree.

If history is any guide, there are counterexamples galore. In 1980, Reagan picked George Bush to be his vice presidential candidate, despite the fact that Bush had rightly attacked Reagan's economic plan as 'voodoo economics'. JFK and LBJ ran together, despite competing against one another in the primaries. Adlai Stevenson and Estes Kefauver made up the Democratic ticket in 1956 after opposing one another in the primaries. So it's not impossible.

On the other hand, there have been notable cases where it went the other way. Al Gore didn't pick Bill Bradley in 2000, nor did W. pick John McCain. Walter Mondale didn't choose Gary Hart in 1984. Gerald Ford didn't put Reagan on the ticket with him after the latter's primary challenge in 1976. If the blood gets bad enough, it won't happen.

Therefore, it's probably within the realm of possibility that, should he win the nomination, Dean could pick someone like John Edwards to be his VP. Wes Clark could be selected too, but it would be more likely that he's brought in as a foreign policy adviser during the campaign and then as Secretary of State or something, assuming, again, that Dean gets the nomination. Lieberman and Gephardt are right out. That being said, I don't think that any of the other candidates would pick Dean to be VP - the way the Dean campaign has operated in smearing the other candidates as being not-Democratic-enough probably precludes that, and the general media storyline that says that Dean is the second coming of McGovern (which Clark or Gephardt or whoever wouldn't want to be saddled with). Would he get a post in a Clark or Edwards cabinet? I don't think so, but anything's possible.
What I'm listening to right now - Foo Fighters' "One by One".

This is a great CD. For some reason, it reminds me of early Zeppelin albums where all the songs were great and you really had to listen to the whole thing through to truly understand how good it was. Of course, there are some good singles: 'Times Like These', which has probably received the most radio play, is the best song on the album; 'All My Life' is a ass kicking hard rock song; 'Halo' has a darker vibe to it; and 'Come Back' really reminds me of those Zeppelin records.

Listen to this one if you haven't yet.

you are mediumauqamarine

Your dominant hues are cyan and green. Although you definately strive to be logical you care about people and know there's a time and place for thinking emotionally. Your head rules most things but your heart rules others, and getting them to meet in the middle takes a lot of your energy some days.

Your saturation level is medium - You're not the most decisive go-getter, but you can get a job done when it's required of you. You probably don't think the world can change for you and don't want to spend too much effort trying to force it.

Your outlook on life is brighter than most people's. You like the idea of influencing things for the better and find hope in situations where others might give up. You're not exactly a bouncy sunshine but things in your world generally look up.
via Pandagon

via Pandagon

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

What Digby said.
Methinks Lord Saletan makes some sense.

I don't mind that Gore endorsed somebody for president; I do mind the implication (hell, Dean's said it out loud) that everyone else should just quit because Dean's ahead right now. Don't criticize him for the sake of the party? Please. That's what Dean has been doing for the entirety of his campaign. He is in no position to demand that people not criticize him. It reminds me of George W. Bush declaring that he would bring 'change the tone' in Washington, and then proceeding to savage John McCain and Gore in the most unscrupulous way possible. Another way Dean reminds me of Bush is trying to create the 'aura of inevitability' around him: Bush tried in NH, and in the general election - just as Dean is trying to do now. Convince your opponents that it's hopeless to fight and get the media talking like you're unstoppable. It didn't work for Bush, and here's hoping it doesn't work for Dean.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

There's been a buzz about cover songs at the blogs I frequent, so I'll give a listing of the covers I happen to like. To elaborate on the topic of covers, I just have to say that I enjoy them if they're done right. If not, ugh.

So here goes, in no particular order (orignial artist in parentheses):

1. "Blackbird" by Sarah McLachlan (The Beatles) - Great acoustic rendition by one of my fave singers.
2. "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" by the Who (Elton John) - You wouldn't think this would work, but it does.
3. "Renaissance Eyes" by Hootie and the Blowfish (Don Dixon) - Darius Rucker's searing vocals make this song stand out.
4. "Sweet Leaf" by Galactic (Black Sabbath) - Great live performance by the New Orleans-based funk-rock-jazz group.
5. "Last Kiss" by Pearl Jam (Wayne Cochran) - Somehow a song from 1962 suits Pearl Jam really well. Go figure.
6. "Kentucky Woman" by Deep Purple (Neil Diamond) - Thoroughly entertaining hard rock take on Mr. Diamond.
7. "Hard to Handle" by the Black Crowes (Otis Redding) - R&B to rock seems to work rather well.
8. "Hurt" by Johnny Cash (Nine Inch Nails) - Cash really makes this song his own.
9. "Baker Street" by Foo Fighters (Gerry Rafferty) - Interesting. Probably better than the original
10. "Boys of Summer" by the Ataris (Don Henley) - 80s songs are a little too adaptable to punk/alt, methinks

Saturday, December 06, 2003

George W. Bush: Miserable failure

Just getting in on some Google bombing.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Movies, movies, movies.

Two movies I've seen in the last week:

The Last Samurai: This is probably the best movie I've seen all year. Great acting, good plot, and epic battle scenes. Tom Cruise does a great job as the embittered American soldier employed as a mercenary by a westernizing Japanese emperor to liquidate the last of the samurai (hence the title). There are definitely elements of the Western genre, as evidenced by the fact that Cruise's character was formerly an officer in Custer's 7th Cavalry, as well as rebellion themes reminiscent of the bloated film that was 'Braveheart'. An 'A'.

Bad Santa: This is a biting, sarcastic, vulgar, and hilarious movie. Billy Bob Thornton plays one-half of a con-man team which uses the Santa gig at shopping malls to jack as much merchandise after the lights go out. It basically shreds every thing popular culture holds dear about the holidays in an enormously funny way. Also an 'A'.
Phil Carter makes a good point about the Bush fake-turkey episode during his surprise Thanksgiving trip to Baghdad. He points us to a picture of the prez serving some clearly boosted troops some not-perfect looking turkey out of cafeteria-style hot containers, saying that this is the real signifigance of the trip. Fine, I completely agree with him.

Then why did the White House (or whomever, but odds are extremely good that it was the White House) orchestrate the fake turkey?

It seems obvious that it was purely for domestic consumption and public relations. After all, as Mr. Carter points out, most major newspapers ran the fake-turkey picture on page 1. But don't blame the media for ignoring the more inspiring picture - they're just following White House orders.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

This is frickin' hilarious. Click on the banner.

Mark Twain 2004

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Howard Dean and the draft - this is one of those things that practically epitomizes why I don't like Dean and see him as sort of a Democratic George W. Bush in temperment and personality.

Here's the gist of Dean's draft: Dean gets a deferment for the draft due to back problems in 1970 (when he was a student at Yale) - he brings in x-rays and a physician's letter, to quote the NY Times, "eager to know whether a back condition might keep him out of the draft." Dean, after being exempted due to his back problems (which would be of concern to a draft board), proceeds to spend the winter skiing in Aspen. Now, this reminds me of a certain young Texan who skipped out of Vietnam because he joined the Texas Air National Guard, only to go AWOL and not complete his term of service.

Let me get one thing straight - I don't think dodging the draft should be a disqualifier for any candidate, Democrat or Republican. It's why you dodged the draft that counts. Getting out of the draft because you wanted others to fight a war that you support for you, like Dick Cheney or Tom DeLay, is wrong. Getting out of the draft so you can go skiing (Dean) or work on your dad's political campaigns (W) is questionable too. Standing up for your beliefs about the injustice of the war and the draft system, like Bill Clinton (who did submit to the draft - only to not get drawn), is commendable. And of course going to fight in the war, regardless of your feelings on the rightness or wrongness, like Wes Clark, John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, or John McCain, is certainly to be held in the highest esteem. It seems, though, that Dean wanted out of the draft because going to war would interrupt his ski trips, unlike Clinton, who had fundamental ethical problems with the war, and thus was "eager" to provide the local board with his back issues, rather than letting the draft system sort him out.

That's the problem with Howard Dean and his draft deferment - not that he got it, but the manner in which he conducted himself while getting that deferment. It seems like a Dick Cheney excuse - "I had other priorities."

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Mickey Kaus once again proves his hack credentials, in case anyone was in doubt. He goes off on Howard Dean for wanting to bring Saddam Hussein before an international war crimes tribunal (something Waffle-Powered Howard and I agree on) and then spouts off some nonsensical jibberish about Osama bin Laden. In doing so, Kaus just proves that he has absolutely no idea what he's talking about. Leave bin Laden out there while we roll up his organization? That's like saying we're going to defeat the Republican Party in the next election but leave George W. Bush as president. That does not make sense. Kaus has created an anti-terrorism doctrine based on the Chewbacca defense -- let's call it the Chewbacca Doctrine. If an eight-foot tall Wookiee lives on Endor with a bunch of two foot tall Ewoks, you must vote for Bush.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Well, the acclaimed Pirates of the Caribbean is coming out on DVD tomorrow, so I thought I'd weigh in with my thoughts on the movie.

On the whole, it was a good, light-hearted adventure movie, or: This movie would have sucked without Johnny Depp. His portrayal of Jack Sparrow single-handedly lifts this movie above its otherwise mediocre plot. Depp brings sarcasm and wit into a Jerry Bruckheimer production, something not easily accomplished. He deserves an Oscar (tm) for rescuing Pirates from obscurity.

So, despite excellent production values, without Johnny Depp, this movie wouldn't have gone anywhere. Depp's Sparrow is easily the best new movie character of 2003 (excluding returning faves like The Matrix and various other sequels).

See it.

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