Friday, February 27, 2004

On theTable

Grateful to Greenspan

This insightful column by E.J. Dionne, Jr., suggests that Alan Greenspan's comments on Social Security have opened the door to an important debate that would never have transpired without him. Which priority do Americans value more: providing for our seniors, or giving tax cuts to our very wealthy? If you put it that way, not many people will say, "Let's keep the Bush tax cuts for the rich!" They'll see that Bush is actually taking money--future money, in the form of Social Security, that they'll spend on food and drugs when they're 72, but still money--out of their pockets and giving it to people who need build a yacht, or buy a Ferrari, or take a three-month cruise. As Dionne says, no Democrat could have put this issue on the table. We should be glad it's there, though. It deserves debating, and we have the better position.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Last Straw

What Goes Around . . .

This very interesting take on free trade from Thomas Friedman makes it official: I will cast my primary ballot for John Kerry. While protectionism sounds good--"Let's keep jobs in America!"--it ignores the reality of a global economy and reinforces the unfortunate idea that we Americans want to have our cake and eat it too. As one of the men in the column, from India, says, "It's unfair that you want all your products marketed globally, but you don't want any jobs to go." To reap the benefits of free trade--and we do--we must be willing to suffer the consequences of competition, just as those in other countries do when they compete with us.

There are better ways for the government to help those whose jobs are leaving these shores than to throw up barriers to trade--financial support, retraining, a far better safety net than the porous one we have now. But the appeal of John Edwards' message on trade must be resisted. If he fails to win the nomination, I hope potential VP candidate Edwards will lay aside his protectionist schemes in favor of more sensible ideas that nominee Kerry supports, like preventing U.S. corporations from engaging in offshore tax evasion.

Scare Tactics

Stations of the Crass

Today's column from Maureen Dowd melds two very current topics, the latest Bush proclamation on marriage and the latest Mel Gibson bloodbath. As you've probably guessed, she and I have problems with both; the former has asked that we write bigotry into the Constitution, and the latter has reawakened the notion of Jewish blood-guilt that had remained dormant for years.

What disturbs me about this is not that they're saying what they're saying--that is, after all, what the First Amendment assures their right to do, and I can't support my own right to have this site without supporting their right to say things that I can't stand to hear--but that their speech is attracting so many listeners, as it were. Bush has drawn a good deal of fire from folks at the New York Times, but I'm not so blinded by the opinions of my close friends as to think that there aren't those, like Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council, who thrilled at every word of his announcement and only wish he'd go further. Gibson, too, has found his audience, and he deserves credit; he worked the media and the public more effectively than anyone could have expected, getting huge crowds (estimates are in at $15-20 million for the first day) to see a subtitled movie so violent that one woman in Kansas died just watching it. I should include the disclaimer that I won't see his film in theatres, if at all. I don't want to give him any of my money or support his worldview. But it doesn't matter what I think: offending the Right in America makes you a pariah, offending the Left makes you a hero--at least to anyone who would boycott a movie or a company. Gibson and Bush have both hewed to a line that keeps them in the good graces of those most likely to squeak if not oiled. That doesn't mean the line is right.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

It's Official

Greenspan Urges Social Security Cuts

Remember Alan Greenspan, savior of the American economy, the man who could do no wrong, who engineered the go-go '90s?

Yeah, he's gone. In his place we have Greenspan the political crony, who rather than urging fiscally sound policies (as he did in the '90s, when everyone still thought Democrats would use their power to blow any surplus), advocates whatever will advance the cause of Bush and the far right, which is, ultimately, to shrink the government in any way possible, including the end of Social Security.

Need proof? OK. In 2001, Greenspan urged Congress to pass a tax cut--that would be the Bush giveaway to the rich, the one that has us facing mammoth deficits today and as far as we can project--because he feared that, if we continued to run surpluses, we'd pay off our national debt too soon. Because getting rid of that albatross on the federal budget wouldn't free up money for other things like Social Security, right?

Fast forward to 2004: there's no danger of paying off the debt anytime soon--it's grown by more than a trillion dollars since we last pondered paying any of it down. And we still haven't fixed Social Security. And the tax cuts have had no appreciable impact on improving the American economy. So what does Greenspan say? Oops, I was wrong, we should do away with these tax cuts post haste, because we can't break our promises to the American people who are counting on Social Security, and deficits this big are dangerous to our economic security and solvency? No, that's what an independent economist would say--you can find one and ask. Greenspan, though, calls for cuts in Social Security--the program that impacts everyone--rather than any rollback in the Bush tax cuts--you know, the ones that help the very wealthy VERY disproportionately.

Last I checked, the unelected, nonpartisan chairman of the Federal Reserve isn't supposed to offer blatant political cover to the president. Perhaps it's time for the soon-to-be-78 Greenspan to relinquish his chair to someone younger who is interested in doing the job rather than preaching the neoconservative gospel from the most powerful economic pulpit in the land.

Clearing the Decks

Since my Best of 2003 list was posted there’s been quite a lull in new releases; I actually went more than two months without buying a new release during the week it came out. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been acquiring new CDs—far from it! I’ll have something to say about some new releases from 2004 (perhaps Norah Jones, Kylie Minogue, or Melissa Etheridge) soon, but for now, here are very brief reviews of a few albums from 2003 that have come into my life since I created the top ten list—feel free to email me for more of my thoughts on any of these:

The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow
One of Amazon’s favorite CDs of 2003 and now one of mine as well. At only 33 minutes, it’s barely an album, but if you can find a better set of ten songs, you should cling to it like grim death. With witty lyrics that name-check Sir Thomas More and a song that starts with the singer witnessing an exposed ankle and “react[ing] like it’s 1805,” the album is funny, far from ordinary, sing-along-able, and wonderful. It rocks and rollicks its way into your head and once it’s there, you’ll never get it out.

OutKast, Speakerboxx/The Love Below
You’ve all heard the two singles off this album, “Hey Ya!” and “The Way You Move.” But with well over two hours of music to mine, Big Boi and Andre 3000 could keep releasing singles from this well into the Kerry presidency. The thumping “Ghettomusick,” the surprisingly political “War,” the gospel-infected "Church," the randy “She Lives in My Lap,” the witty “Behold a Lady” and the bizarre “Roses” all stand out on a hip-hop album that actually makes me want to listen. Oh, and The Love Below, 3000’s disc, is both touching—as Dre reveals his softer side—and hilarious, with even the obligatory skits advancing the album enjoyably.

The Jealous Sound, Kill Them With Kindness
Paul Allen’s number one is headed right into my revised top ten. It’s hard to imagine that anyone wouldn’t like this album—it’s accessible, with depths both sonic and lyric that reveal themselves further upon each listen. Maybe there are a few tracks that aren’t perfect, but there’s an undeniable power in the opener, “Hope For Us,” that carries through most of this outstanding CD. Some might call it emo, some indie rock, but it’s fantastic under any label.

Death Cab For Cutie, Transatlanticism
The Postal Service, Give Up
Benjamin Gibbard, who provides lyrics and vocals for both of these albums, should be considered the breakout singer and songwriter of 2003. With a willingness to make his songs accessible to a pop audience that eluded 2002’s phenom, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos) and left him holding a pail of critical acclaim that didn’t amount to any appreciable sales improvement, Gibbard’s projects should be selling millions of records—there’s just nothing to keep people away. Beautiful metaphors about cars and maps and traveling and love mesh equally well with the organic sound of the DCC album and the electronic blips and blops of the PS record. The two CDs provide two very different—and remarkably enjoyable—showcases for a singular talent.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

From the Horse's Mouth

Transcript of Bush statement

No need for media spin; the link above leads to the text of what President Bush had to say this morning.

Here's my spin, though: notice how the announcement offers no justification other than polling and voting data. Mr. Bush speaks as though this data, and the fact that his views have been favored by history, mean that he is right. Yet this is the same sort of argument a slaveholder would have made, the same argument as was made against allowing women to vote. The fact that an opinion is popularly held does not make it right.

The president says we must protect marriage; he does not say from what it must be protected. He does not say how the changes to marriage that he opposes represent a threat to the institution; we are told that they do, and we should believe. But were we not told that there were weapons in the desert, and should we have believed? Were we not told that the tax cuts were for economic stimulus, and do we not face red ink and joblessness? Should we take this statement at face value? Should we not demand justification, a rationale?

I can only hope that the "difficult debate" ahead is conducted with as much "kindness and good will and decency" as the president asks. If it is--if we speak truth instead of lies, speak from experience rather than fear--then this amendment will not pass. If the debate about this is conducted the way this administration conducts most of its affairs, though, we're at the start of a very ugly time in America.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Operation Indiscriminate Justice

Carrie Ends Up With Big in 'Sex' Finale

I promised Jon that I'd use the title above today, and it's as sensible as anything else for the mish-mash that follows.

First, the wedding was wonderful. Any fears of roasting on the altar were alleviated by the presence of enough tears to put out any fire, and the reception was one of the best nights of my life. If that's as close as I ever get to being the groom, it's as a good a surrogate as could be asked for--though, as I'll detail, I won't ever be satisfied by a surrogate.

Second, the end of Sex and the City was deliciously satisfying. While I was moved by the fact that Charlotte finally got her baby--and has found peace with her own imperfections--and while it was thrilling to see Carrie finally tame Big--I found the closure for Miranda and Samantha most satisfying. Samantha's realization that Smith really loves her, and that his love meant more than sex, was almost Kierkegaardian, and the way the writers moved from a very touching acknowledgement of Smith's place in her life to her final scene of ecstasy was a perfect capstone for her character. And Miranda: Magda's benediction of her, that kiss on the forehead, said everything. Who has watched Miranda's life more closely than Magda? When she saw Miranda bathing Steve's mother, the look in her eyes said it all: that woman has grown up. I know many people will say the show ended with a cop-out--returning to New York with Big, revealing his name as the Big kicker--but I was very happy that they let our girls grow and change in the final season and rewarded that growth so handsomely in the finale.

Someone else revealed that he hasn't grown very much on Sunday: Ralph Nader. I'm pleased that he's pledged not to go after the Democratic nominee, but his presence in the race is problematic for reasons beyond the practical, we-need-every-vote-we-can-get one: symbolically, it fragments our side of the debate while the Republicans, no matter how much they disagree about deficit spending and even social issues, stand together behind their favorite C-student. (For more about C-students, read Calvin Trillin's interesting op-ed piece today about the difference in how the media covered Dan Quayle's National Guard service and how they've covered Bush's.)

As shameless as Nader is, though, my notion of politics this election year may take the cake. The past year has seen great strides for gay rights and for public recognition of gay issues. There are those who fear that pressing the issue right now would be dangerous and potentially counterproductive, that actions like Gavin Newsom's in San Francisco and the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will turn the public against us. While that's possible, I think this is the time to push forward and push hard. The issue is on the table--the only question is whether we let Bush and his $150 million war chest define it or whether we do it ourselves. With that in mind, I believe that 2004 is the time when every gay man and lesbian woman should speak his or her mind to every straight friend and family member possible. Tell them just how much the notion of a Federal Marriage Amendment hurts. Talk about the financial and legal ramifications--inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, countless other accoutrements of marriage that the gay community must ask lawyers to cobble together for us if we want to protect ourselves and those we love. Talk about the stigma such an amendment would put on us, and how fundamentally wrong it would feel to live in a country that enshrined discrimination in its constitution. Tell them it's a deal-breaker: you can't support this amendment, or the president who will annouce his support for it any day now, and claim to support me, too.

We've been shamed, and ashamed, all of our lives. It's time to turn the shame around, to speak boldly and with one voice and say that we will not be driven back into the dark, will not be pigeonholed by commentators from Georgia or politicians from the Bible Belt. The personal has become political this election season, and if we're going to keep moving forward, gay people must be willing to confront this reality with the people who love us.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Going to the Chapel

No, not me. But don't expect much from me this weekend; Brian and Michele are getting married, which means that I get to test my theory that setting foot in a Catholic church could cause me to burst into flames. I'll be back to comment on the end of Sex and the City on Monday.

Until then, I leave you with the words that sealed the fate of Friends last night: "With us, it's never off the table." Methinks a Ross/Rachel reunion is in the offing...

Thursday, February 19, 2004


In Polls, Kerry, Edwards Both Lead Bush

It's way too early for a 12-point lead in the polls to mean anything--so why does the fact that Kerry leads Bush 55 to 43, and that Edwards leads Bush 54 to 44, bring me such glee?

It shows that at least 55 percent of the "likely" electorate (as opposed to the registered electorate, where I imagine Bush would be beaten even more soundly) is willing, right now, to consider voting for someone other than Bush in November. This means that calling him out on his record of job "outsourcing" and unilateral military response to "imminent threats" can sway people. That's very encouraging.

Not so encouraging: extreme close-ups of John Spencer on last night's West Wing made him look ghoulish. And fair is fair--it was just as lame for Leo to echo John Kerry's insistence that every day after Vietnam must be harnessed to honor the memory of those who lost their lives as it was to hear him echo the Bush rationale for unilateral war last week. The episodes aren't downright rotten--it was fun to see Ryan show up Josh in the Oval Office, for instance, and CJ's rout on the Taylor Reid show was amusing--but the overall plot of the show seems to be adrift. Hopefully the return of Tim Matheson as the ex-VP next week will make things interesting. Any speculation on what story CJ has to spin because of Hoynes?

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Common Sense

Daley has 'no problems' with gay marriages

It's nice to see someone from the "heartland" standing up for gay rights. Today Mayor Daley said he has "no problem" with gay marriage. He also urged people to look at the real problems plaguing marriage, like a high divorce rate: "People have to look at their own lives and at their own marriages," he said. "Don't blame the gay, lesbian, transgender community, please. Don't blame them for it."

I hope more heartland politicians take a stand like Daley's. It will help our cause immensely to see this in the Tribune tomorrow.

Foot in the Grave

Dean to End His Campaign

Just a few days ago, Howard Dean was saying it was too early to write his political obituary. The link above shows that at least two reporters paid him no heed; it's a pretty good obit of his campaign, which will end this afternoon.

It's my birthday today, and the gift I'd like from Howard Dean is this: drop out with grace, and don't endorse anyone yet, but make it clear that you intend to support the Democratic nominee and that you will push to get your supporters to do the same. Offer to continue to organize support on the internet. And please, reprise the scream! And my requested gift from Kerry and Edwards is this: thank Dean for changing the shape of this race, awakening the Democratic Party's soul, and getting so many people excited about politics again. During the long, parabolic arc of his campaign, it's undeniable that Dean changed the debate and showed that taking Bush to task for his failings can be a more effective strategy than coddling him. For that alone, we owe him a debt of gratitude.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


This says it all.

Pop Culture Shock

Polaroid Warns Film Users Not to 'Shake It'

As if OutKast hasn't been in the news enough the last two weeks, winning the Album of the Year Grammy, angering Indians during the ceremony, and opening the NBA All-Star Game, they've also inspired Polaroid to make a statement regarding the line "shake it like a Polaroid picture." Wouldn't it be fun if all the companies whose products are mentioned in songs issued press releases about it? Can you imagine how busy Cadillac would be?

In a Family Way

The 'M-Word': Why It Matters To Me

Andrew Sullivan is a gay conservative who has made a career out of his blog. That in and of itself is remarkable. But what I find most amazing is how he distills what it was like to grow up different from everyone else, and how he gives voice to the paramount desire that he and I share: that no one else need experience that pain, that questioning, that loneliness. It's a cliche to say we should do something for the children, and also one of the standard arguments being used to demonstrate the need for the Federal Marriage Amendment. Sullivan shows that the children, surprisingly enough, would be a lot better off without it.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Big Deal

Sex and the City - 'An American Girl in Paris (Part Une)'

Enough with the politics and the big baseball trades--let's talk about something really important. Will Carrie pick Petrovsky or Big in next week's series finale? How will the writers wrap up Samantha's cancer storyline and her relationship with Smith? Will Charlotte and Harry adopt a child? Is there anything left to say about Miranda?

And, perhaps most importantly, doesn't the new season of The Sopranos look like it's going to be awesome?

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Thanks, Bill

Valentine's Day, that great state holiday

To my great joy, the Boston Globe has posted Bill Maher's final new rule of the week, which deals--quite humorously--with the desire of the Republicans to amend the Constitution to deal with weddings. When you read it, realize that when Bill said it, he made it clear that the last words of almost every paragraph were meant to be funny. Enjoy!

Throw Down

He Ought to Know

The Washington Post apparently doesn't like being used as a pawn by the Bush campaign. The editorial above rips into Bush for citing the paper in the video he sent to six million supporters, a video that called John Kerry unprincipled and portrayed him as a tool of the very special interests he derides in his campaign.

As the Post said, "let's consider the source." Did you know that donors to Bush in 2000 were classified by industry code so he'd know how much pork he owed to each group? Neither did I, but it makes a man I already didn't like look even worse.

Hot Pursuit

So Begins the Vice-Presidential Mating Dance

Happy Valentine's Day. Who will win John Kerry's heart and be the VP on the ticket?

An interesting possibility dawned on me while reading the article above: why not pick Bill Richardson as VP to win the Latino vote and promise to replace the abominable John Ashcroft with John Edwards? Has there ever been a more natural Attorney General than Edwards, or a more divisive one than Ashcroft? I stand by my other picks below, and Edwards is still a fine VP choice, but this idea might help Kerry and the Democrats even more.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Time Out

Passionate speeches evoke tears

While gay couples marry in San Francisco, giving California something to think about, lawmakers in Boston have given up for a month. They can't get an amendment passed that bans gay marriage. If they don't find a way to pass it in March, I predict they never will: once the first couples marry, and the sky doesn't fall, passing an amendment that would undo those marriages will be seen as exponentially more cruel than the same amendment today. The speeches cited in the article above are the sort of argument that needs to be presented to the American people over and over, and not just in the Massachusetts legislature or the Berkshire Eagle . This supposedly black-and-white issue of fundamental morals is actually about real people and their everyday lives. We work alongside you, pay taxes alongside you, live and die with you. All the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has suggested is that we deserve the same protections as you. OK, I suppose this is an issue of fundemental morals.

You may ask why it matters whether those protections come as marriage or in the guise of civil unions. Every state has marriages; at the very least, couples who marry in Massachusetts can expect that some more liberal states will immediately recognize those marriages, and corporations that do business in Massachusetts would immediately extend benefits to married same-sex couples. In the longer term, allowing gay marriages in one state is a more useful social experiment than offering civil unions. We've already seen that civil unions didn't destroy Vermont; now it's time to find out if a state can survive gay marriage. If Massachusetts can survive, the slippery slope by which marriage rights may spread to the rest of the nation may not seem quite so daunting to those who fear it.

Of course, if the current Supreme Court heard a case in which Ohio refused to recognize a marriage from Massachusetts, there's a chance the same five justices who started this ballgame with Lawrence v. Texas could end it by forcing all 50 states to acknowledge gay marriages performed in any state. While that may not be the ideal way to make progress on civil rights, it would certainly be the fastest.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Rally Round

Clark to Endorse Kerry, Democrats Say

I've been burned before for saying that an endorsement will end a race, but this one looks a lot more like the icing on the cake than anything meaningful. How does John Kerry manage to lose the nomination at this point? What will journalists do until July?

Perhaps they can speculate on jobs for all the Democrats who didn't win the nomination. Here are my picks:
John Edwards: Vice-President
Wesley Clark: Secretary of Defense
Howard Dean: Fundraising Chair, Democratic National Committee
Dick Gephardt: Secretary of Labor
Carol Moseley Braun: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development or Education
Joe Lieberman: Senator, Connecticut
Dennis Kucinich: Representative, Ohio
Al Sharpton: Debating Partner for Alan Keyes

Birthday of a Saviour

Excerpt from The Partly Cloudy Patriot

The page above contains the full text of the first essay in Sarah Vowell's excellent book of essays, The Partly Cloudy Patriot. The essay is about her visit to Gettysburg, and it meditates on the meaning and importance of the Gettysburg Address. Since the man who delivered that address turns 195 today, I thought it appropriate that we consider a bit of his finest work. My favorite sentence in Vowell's essay, by the way, is the last one. It's a great payoff.

Unfortunately, I must mingle my respects for Lincoln with a pronouncement that has been developing for weeks now: The West Wing is no longer a great show. The clunky dialogue, ridiculous plots, and preaching have become intolerable. Josh doesn't sound like Josh anymore. Leo sounds like a moron: "There's a new member of the club." Jed delivers lectures in the Oval Office on how important his decisions are, and even the great Dule Hill is reduced to sounding like he'd rather be reading a menu than the lines he's been given. Toby saves social security one week and the next he's got to freak out about a nuclear explosion and toss a softball about the U.N. to Leo so Leo can explain, for John Wells, why the U.S. was justified in going to Iraq--the U.N. just wants to whine and moan but they really expect us to act unilaterally. The commentary on actual political events used to be sly and clever. Now it's obvious and sounds silly.

Feel free to prove me wrong. The show hasn't been giving you much to work with, though...

Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Bush Plans To Back Marriage Amendment

The headline above comes as little surprise; now that Bush essentially has a fall opponent in John Kerry, it's time for him to start running his campaign. But the following paragraph from the article above shows how tremendously cynical and deceptive this White House is:

Republican officials said Bush's decision to proceed now was driven partly by his desire to start the general election campaign on a fresh issue, at a time when his credibility has been battered by questions about prewar warnings of unconventional weapons in Iraq, as well as doubts raised by Democrats about his National Guard service.

The sad thing is that this will probably work, at least for a while. But here's an important question: will the Federal Marriage Amendment ever become part of the Constitution?

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Harsh Assessment

Mr. Bush's Revisionism

The last two days of editorials in the New York Times have not been shy about President Bush's appearance on TV this Sunday. I'm about to watch the tape, but thought I'd welcome comment on the appearance--and public reaction to it--now.

By the way, D.C. was great during the three hours I got to experience it. Seeing the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial was stirring as always, particularly reading the Gettysburg Address. I also heard a lot of interesting things while I was gone, including these:
"In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice,the path of faith, the path of hope and the path of love toward our fellow men."
"We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all our citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization."
"The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation. It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world."
Sound like something that was said over the weekend? It could have been, but it wasn't. The most interesting and inspiring of the many memorials I walked to during my eight-mile patriotic hike was the one for F.D.R., which is an open-air park featuring numerous quotes from the man on the dime, including the three above. John Kerry should take a stroll through the park as he contemplates his message for the fall; much of the wisdom of President Roosevelt is sadly relevant to life today, a point that is just begging to be made.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Capital Beat

I will be in Washington, D.C. for work from today until next Tuesday. There's a chance I'll be able to post from there, but I'd call it remote.

I know the comments are malfunctioning right now. I'm sure they'll be fixed soon. When they are, I'd appreciate it if you'd leave a comment if you visit. I'm requesting this because I used to know exactly who was visiting, and now I find that I have no idea who many of the visitors who show up in the log are.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Divider, not a Uniter

Bush's strategy: Pander to prejudice

All my optimism about the upcoming election ground to a halt this morning, just as the Massachusetts Supreme Court brought a smile to my face by saying that, yes, we were serious, and we won't take civil unions as a waffling way out. Marriage for everyone.

This is super news, but it would have been better if the presumptive Democratic nominee weren't from Massachusetts. Because I've figured out what the issue will be in this election, if Bush has his way: Me.

One day, someone will free me from my status as a wedge issue. A Democrat with nerve and guts will slam some poor Republican in a debate with a pithy statement that will knock this issue off the map, make it clear to the millions of Americans whose thinking on this issue is cloudy that, whether they support or hate the idea of gay marriage, it doesn't have a damn thing to do with their lives. What society and government eventually decide about the issue will help--or hurt--me, not them. Then the Democrat will get back to talking about the deficit, the war, the environment, health care--issues that impact everyone.

I hope the Democrat who can pull this off is John Kerry. But the fact that my life is about to be the center of the presidential election does not make me happy or optimistic. Please, America, prove me wrong.

Falling Short, Standing Tall

The New Math: Make a Wish

Still not convinced that the Bush budget is a bunch of crap? Read the article above. Then take a look at today's article from Nicholas Kristof in the Times. The Bush budget and fiscal policy are more than a load of lies. They're a threat to America as we know it.

Fortunately, a contender is rising from the messy fray of the Democratic Party to take Bush to town in November. There will be a few weeks yet of bickering among the candidates, but no rookie general or baby-faced trial lawyer is going to derail the increasingly presidential-looking John F. Kerry. Dean may as well be Void in Vermont as well as the rest of the country. Now that we have an answer to the race's biggest question--when will Joe Lieberman admit defeat?--the great drama of the race is wondering who will drop out next and who will try hardest to knock Kerry down. Also worth wondering: Will the running mate come from within the race or will it be someone like Bill Richardson of New Mexico? Don't be surprised if Edwards, who has nowhere else to go, sounds exceedingly gracious when he finally drops out and endorses Kerry. Nothing can keep him in the limelight like being the running mate.

John F. Kerry vs. George W. Bush. It could be the most important election in decades.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Conversion Factor

Kerry's New Position Brings More Interest

Not only does the article above feature plenty of Democrats who, like me, have fallen in step behind Kerry as the man to free us from Bush, but afterward you can read You'll Know Who Won If... and laugh at how well it lampoons nearly every media outlet covering the election.


Kerry leading Bush in new poll

It's very early, yes, but it's still encouraging to see John Kerry leading George W. Bush in the polls by an amount that puts his lead outside the margin of error. This also marks the first time a Democrat has polled above 50% in a national poll against incumbent Bush, at least in any poll I've seen. There's a lot of money yet to be spent--at least $200 million--but Bush better start hoping he finds bin Laden. He may need the boost.

Elevating the Debate

The Stars Have Voted

As long as the media are willing to obsess over botox and breasts, I feel justified in posting this link to an astrologer's take on the Democratic race. Like any astrology reading, this one seems eerily prescient in places. I hope you find it amusing.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Gathering Consensus

Budgets of Mass Destruction

It's appropriate that this column by Thomas Friedman ran on the same day that CBS didn't run's ad during the Super Bowl, as the two have the same theme. Friedman brilliantly sums up what people should realize between now and November: "long-term tax cuts without long-term spending cuts are not tax cuts. They are 'tax deferrals' — with the burden to be borne by your future or your kid's future."

If Democrats can make this the signature issue of the election, I honestly don't see how they can lose.

Skin Deep

Democrat Dean Hints at Rival's Wrinkle Rumors

Could the big issue of the 2004 be a dermatologic one? If it turns out John Kerry lied about getting Botox, you can be sure it'll be a punchline, not only now but in November. He does look younger now than he did a few months it the energy of being in the lead, or the magic of botulism?