Thursday, May 31, 2007


I often watch the spelling bee finals just to see if I know any of the words. Usually the answer is no, but one year they used several yiddish words, which I indeed knew, so anything is possible.
This year, in an effort to humanize the finalists, ABC had little interviews with them. The lone girl in the final seven, Isabel Jacobson, age 14, of Madison, Wisconsin, was asked her three favorite words. I have forgotten two of them, but one is now one of my favorites – kakistocracy.
Kakistocracy – Rule by the least able or least principled of citizens. A form of government where the people least qualified to control the government are the people who control it. From the Greek kakos, bad.
When your children ask you what kind of government the United States has, don’t say democracy or republic, say kakistocracy – it’s the most accurate description possible this century.
Future historians can refer to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, and Gonzales as the Flying Kakistocrats.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Making a Choice

Polls of Democrats show that people are generally satisfied with the field of Democrats running for President. I admit that I am not among them, as I see serious weaknesses in all of them, either in experience, leadership, or judgment. In some cases, the problem is more difficult, with electability being the key problem, which seems unfair, since these are experienced men and woman who have won multiple elections and perhaps it would be better to not jump the gun on the impossibility of victory for some of them. Unfortunately, this is not the case, since there is less time for these campaigns to catch fire than in the past. Let’s take a look at the second (and maybe third) tier candidates.

Joe Biden: Totally qualified. Has shown no ability at all to get support outside of Delaware. In Gallup polling he is locked in a battle with Al Sharpton and Wesley Clark. As for his judgment, I don’t trust him at all – he was a strong supporter of the war, has a “solution” which while it sounds reasonable, has no support either within Iraq or in any neighboring country. His vote on the bankruptcy changes two years ago was morally reprehensible and to me, renders him unfit to be President.

Chris Dodd: Totally qualified. Seems more anti-war than most at the moment. Has even less support than Biden, although he seems to have raised a decent amount of money – it’s good to chair the Banking committee. This seems utterly quixotic.

Dennis Kucinich: Frankly, I think he’s right about most things. Unfortunately, there is little realism in either his hard-line positions or his campaign. I wouldn’t mind looking at his wife for the next four years, but unfortunately, he comes with her.

Bill Richardson: Totally qualified – has the best resume since George H. W. Bush. Stunningly dull, seems to have no base or electability. While he seems like a good VP candidate, his dullness may even hurt that.

Mike Gravel: If we change the name of the party to the Slightly Loony Party, he’s our man.

On to the real race – and in one case the unreal one.

Al Gore: Gallup has been including him in their polls and his numbers, so he has to be looked at. Easily the most qualified, in a better world we’d be in the seventh year of the Gore administration. Right on the war and on the environment, he seems very comfortable with himself and I would love to see him in the race. I don’t think he’s going to run. He doesn’t want to discuss ethanol in Iowa and whatever other crap will get votes in various states. His disinterest in joining the fray reveals the biggest weakness of our system, wherein the best-qualified are forced to compete for votes on a demeaning level and forced to beg for money for hours a day. This is not a good way to pick a President.

Hillary Clinton: Sort of qualified – has been in the halls of power, has seen how the executive branch works up close, has met world leaders, has worked effectively in the Senate. Of the top tier candidates who are running, is easily the most qualified. Her stance on issues has been troubling. Her Iraq stance was awful, has tried to join the opposition, yet it seems, like everything else she does, thoroughly calculated. Says she will end the war when she takes over, yet hasn’t given the slightest indication of how, which seems thoroughly Nixonian to me. I hate comparing someone whose positions on many issues parallel mine with Richard Nixon, yet I feel comfortable with it. A Clinton administration would take on an unpopular war which she had supported, then promised to end. Like Nixon, she would enter office with remarkably little good will and trust. It’s not just that you’re either with her or against her – many who would be with her don’t much like or trust her. Like Nixon, she seems driven by a lust for power more than a vision. Because of the front-loaded primary structure, featuring many states where she has a big advantage, combined with her being strong among the most-likely primary voters (women and the elderly), she has to be considered a serious favorite to get the nomination. I would vote for her in November, of course, but I would be holding my nose while I did it.

Barack Obama: Here’s a man with a vision. He has no real qualifications, only two years in the Senate with no leadership demonstrated on any issue. In many ways, he’s the anti-Hillary – he’s warm, visionary, with a charisma which makes you think he could be the one to both lead the country and maybe even unite it. In his writings, the man emerges as thoughtful and knowledgeable. Yet he still speaks in generalities, seems careful on everything, and doesn’t seem to want to lead on issues of substance. I’m not sure what we get with him – his best chance is for it to narrow down to him and Hillary in time for him to get the anti-Hillary vote. Head-to-head matchups with her seem to favor her at the moment, yet that could easily change if he can make that the race.

John Edwards: Like Obama, it’s hard to see his qualifications. Six relatively undistinguished years in the Senate doesn’t exactly prepare you to run the country. What must Biden and Dodd think when they see these two “back-benchers” walloping them in the polls? In no other country in the world would this sort of thing happen. He was a lousy VP candidate in 2004, with a deer-in-the-headlights performance in the debate with Cheney being the most egregious example. He seems to have learned from that experience, seems tougher and maybe better prepared for the battle. He is driven to be President, yet it seems to come from a different place than Clinton’s drive. He has things he wants to do, people he wants to help. Talking about the poor and forgotten of society is not the best way to get votes, yet he does that. This is a good man, with the ability to admit mistakes (Iraq) and the vision to see the problems that face us, not in electoral terms, but in people terms. You may not agree with his position on trade, but he at least understands, as more and more economists now do, that free trade is not a panacea and that more and more Americans are being hurt by it. The first step towards tackling a problem is seeing that it exists. Unlike Clinton, he has talked about ending the war and how it should be done – he’s been derided as naive by Biden, but he’s at least shown the leadership to have a plan. Speaking of which, go to his website,, and read his health care proposal — if the Democrats were smart, we would adopt it as the official party position.
Of the three front-runners, Edwards would be my choice. He has thought about the problems and has taken the risk of making actual stands on them. I have no illusions here – his lack of experience will not help him get things done. Even more important, his poll numbers are troubling. We are still a long way from the voting, yet when I step into the voting booth on Feb. 5th of next year, I expect I will have a tough choice. Do I vote for the person I want to be President, or the person best able, based on polling data, to beat Hillary Clinton? For now, I will take the high road and hope for the best.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cowards and Frauds

The Democrats, led by the unctuous Harry Reid, have caved on Iraq funding. They had a chance to take a real stand, to fight the President and demand a timeline, or at least include benchmarks with teeth in them, but instead sold out for a minimum wage increase and few other funding issues. They will give some of them, including the Presidential candidates, who have been silent regarding the so-called compromise, and the Speaker of the House herself, who has said she won’t vote for the funding portion, a fig leaf in the form of a separate vote on war funding. In the end though, the funding will pass because the sections will be combined. That is the essence of the fraud, allowing Clinton, Obama, et al to say they voted against the funding section, then later voting for the whole bill to support the minimum wage increase and Katrina money.
Russ Feingold, the man who should be President, has spoken out against the fraud and cowardice, but there are too few with the courage to truly engage in the fight. Why not call Bush’s bluff, why not make him veto the bill again, with the promise that there will never be any other kind of bill coming? Why not make him the one who cut off spending through his own bloodthirsty demand for an open-ended commitment to the savagery? Why not – because they are cowards and frauds and an embarrassment to the majority of Americans who want this war to end. They have forfeited the issue in 2008 because they have shown they are cowards and will never accomplish anything in the face of a President who believes in the pointless death of our brave soldiers to preserve his own ego. They have allowed the lying scum in the Oval Office to laugh at them and the rest of us who truly care about the lives and welfare of the soldiers in the field. Democrats have had enough of this crap. Americans have had enough of this crap. Reid should resign as majority leader and make way for someone with the guts to lead and the guts to really take on an unpopular and murderous President. Surely there must be one man or woman of true courage and integrity in the leadership. Who will save us from the merchants of death?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Heaven Can't Wait

Jerry Falwell died today at age 73, reactions will be varied around the world. His funeral should feature a stampede of Republican Presidential candidates, as well as the President, himself. Of course, there will be reactions outside the world as well.

The Scene: Heaven, May 15th, 2007

St. Peter: Lord, Reverend Jerry Falwell passed away today.
God: You think I don’t know that already?
St. Peter: Truly, You are all-knowing and omnipotent. I was merely commenting. Perhaps we need to prepare?
God: Prepare? Is the Pompous Windbag section full?
St. Peter: He did seem a trifle vain.
God: A trifle, like Paris Hilton is a trifle slutty, or Britney Spears is a trifle screwed up.
St. Peter: Who are those people, my Lord? Are they here yet?
God: Not for many years. You need to pay more attention to the goings on down there, my son, those mortals are quite a show. I would suggest watching Extra, or Inside Edition.
St. Peter: I shall Tivo them, Lord.
God: You can’t understand the new people without understanding their world.
St. Peter: You are truly a wondrous God.
God: Yeah, yeah – so what about Falwell?
St. Peter: Will You be conducting the entrance interview Yourself, Lord?
God: Why would I do that?
St. Peter: He was a great religious leader.
God: Oh, please. Pope John Paul, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, those were great religious leaders. This guy is a hate-filled pompous windbag. You can handle him.
Jesus: If I may speak for the deceased...
God: Defending the indefensible again, my son?
Jesus: It is my lot, Lord.
God: I can understand defending tax-collectors and prostitutes, they serve a useful purpose. What purpose did this man serve?
Jesus: He preached our word.
God: He subverted our word.
Jesus: His heart was pure – he believed in Us.
God: Was it pure? I can see in there, remember?
St. Peter: You are the King, you are the All-Knowing and Merciful Judge.
God: Thank you for reminding Me, Peter. Although the “merciful” part wasn’t needed.
Jesus: Sometimes he feels the need to remind You, Father.
God: How come I don’t get to hang out with the funny Hebrews? Where’s George Burns?
Jesus: We must focus on the Reverend Falwell. He is made in Your image.
God: Are not the gays, the Jews, and the Muslims made in my image? Yet Falwell had no trouble hating them.
Jesus: He did not hate them.
God: He had a strange way of showing his love.
Jesus: Yet he felt he was doing Our will and following my teachings.
God: That’s always the excuse, isn’t it? And where did you teach that war was a good thing? Did you not take in society’s outcasts, rather than reject them? And where did you preach cutting taxes as the path to salvation?
Jesus: Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.
God: It’s been two thousand years, I would think you could move on from that.
Jesus: It’s my human side, Father.
God: I hope you gave your mother something for Mother’s Day.
Jesus: I gave her the blessing of peace.
God: And I’m sure she said it was just what she wanted. So all these people who subvert your teachings, who twist the words of Moses and Mohammad to their needs, they get a pass. Suicide bombers and assassins get greeted like decent human beings. Although I must admit that I love the look on their faces when they find out they’re not getting to have sex with 72 virgins.
St. Peter: Truly, the Lord appreciates irony.
God: The Lord invented irony.
St. Peter: Perhaps we need a new revelation, to bring mankind together.
God: Angels always want a revelation. That way they get to be Me for a few minutes while some poor human is in awe of them. Humans are too sophisticated now, and revelations only confuse things anyway. The last angel that tried that was Moroni, who told a story to that Joseph Smith guy. That ended up with them thinking blacks were inferior, polygamy was divine, and drinking coffee was a sin. Oh, and lots of people getting killed – as always.
Jesus: Shall We forgive Reverend Falwell, and welcome him, Father?
God: You know I’m going to.
St. Peter: Truly the Lord is a forgiving and generous God
God: You can say that again – and doubtless will. Okay, let Falwell in – we can room him with Ayatollah Khomeini for a couple of centuries, that could be good for some fun.

And Jesus laughed.

Fade Out.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Wasted Sympathy

Last weekend, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock died in a car accident at age 29. There is something about an athlete dying in his youth which is particularly sad, there is a sense of a race unfinished, of a future denied, with a truncated historical record left behind to remind us of the vagaries of life. His Cardinals teammates were understandably shaken – if the young feel invulnerable, surely young athletes, at the top of their profession, with riches and success beyond most of our dreams, feel particularly so. The Cards are the defending World Champions, and they can look forward not just to competing together in the near future, but to come back and relive their mutual glory 20 or 30 years down the road. Suddenly, one of them was gone, and it was hard for them to take.
Today the police report on the accident which took his life came out, here are the “highlights”:

1. His blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit
2. There was 8.5 grams of marijuana and a pipe used to smoke it in the car – the toxicology report isn’t out yet, but I know which way I’m betting on this one
3. He was going 68 MPH in a 55 MPH zone – there was no evidence he tried to stop, just swerved a bit.
4. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
5. He was on the phone at the time of the accident with a female acquaintance – let me quote the AP article on this one:
“Hancock was speaking with a female acquaintance about baseball and baseball tickets and that the conversation ended abruptly, apparently when the accident occurred. A police report said Hancock told the female acquaintance he was on his way to another bar, and that he planned to meet her there.”

That’s right, 12:30 AM, already loaded, and he was heading for another bar.
Considering that three days earlier he had been in an accident with a tractor-trailer at 5:30 in the morning, he was probably a long way from ending his evening’s fun.
So all in all, we can stop feeling sad for this asshole, and be glad that he only killed himself and not anyone else.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Republicans Debate

It’s a little hard for me to judge a GOP Presidential debate, since I don’t fit in the spectrum of the candidates, who run from conservative, to very conservative, all the way to extremely conservative. So their answers are clearly not aimed at me, but the Republican faithful who tend to use prayer to make their choices, rather than reason. Still, there were some interesting things to be gleaned about these fine, upstanding, white, Christian males.
Rather than look at them individually, let’s look at the issues and how they dealt with them.
The War in Iraq – Only Ron Paul, unrepentant Libertarian that he is, was opposed to it. Paul became the first Republican in about 50 years to refer to Robert Taft as the lodestar for international affairs.
Tommy Thompson gave the single most interesting answer on Iraq of anyone I’ve heard yet, full of stunning specificity. First, treat the 18 provinces of Iraq like they are states, have them each elect a government with local responsibility; that way, Shiites would run Shiite provinces, Sunnis Sunni provinces, and the Kurds up north. Then the oil revenue has to be divided – 1/3 to the central government, 1/3 among the provinces, 1/3 to the people. I assume that second proposal gave Bush and Cheney the vapors. The oil revenue division would give each Iraqi a stake in their society. Look for him to have trouble raising money from the oil industry.
Everyone agreed that it hasn’t been run well. Rudy gained points (at least with me) by being able to define the difference between Shiites and Sunnis.

Abortion – Rudy is opposed personally, but believes states should make their own decisions. He’s also in favor of the Hyde Amendment, which forbids federal money for abortions – he mentioned that twice. Ron Paul, of course, thinks it’s none of the federal government’s business. Jim Gilmore seems okay with it in the first trimester. Everyone else thinks it’s murder.

Evolution – Brownback, Huckabee, and Tancredo don’t believe in it. Therefore, I will proceed to ignore them in the rest of these comments, because they are too ignorant to even think about.

Tax Policy – The Alternative Minimum Tax appears to be a big deal to these guys. Most of them are against it, Giuliani just wants it adjusted, which is the better answer to the problem that exists with it. Romney is in favor of zero (yes, zero) taxes on capital gains.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research – Only Rudy and McCain are in favor. The rest either ignored the question or are opposed. Romney spent most of his answer being opposed to cloning. In fact, he referred to that on more the one occasion. God, I hate him.

So who won? I thought McCain came off best, looking tough, with a firm knowledge of who he is and what he believes. Rudy seemed solid, yet seemed a little unprepared for the tough questions he had to know were coming.. Romney kept using the word “family” as often as possible, when he wasn’t talking about cloning or what a great Governor he was. Romney is actually scary. Thompson is smart, yet stunningly dull; he is a born cabinet member. Duncan Hunter gave an intelligent answer on global warming and also is in favor of enforcing trade laws – so obviously he won’t win. The rest of these guys are loony or loony lite, take your choice. Fred Thompson, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.