Sunday, February 29, 2004

Can the Kerry/Edwards ticket beat Bush/Cheney?
Who knows? I don't think so and I'll tell you why. Despite the polls that show Bush's popularity is slumping, there is still a strong constituency that supports his actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Revenge is one of America's strongest collective emotions ("Remember the Alamo!" "Remember the Maine," "Remember Pearl Harbor," et al) and Bush has played on that emotion like a master violinist plays a Stradivarius.
Not that I believe Bush came up with the tactics that put him at the center of the love-fest among nationalists/protectionists (Wolfowitz did that), but he does sell the package smoothly with that wry, college-boy grin of his.
Now Kerry is a strong leader, no doubt. But he's made sophomoric blunders that, I think, will cost him and his running mate (does anyone doubt it's going to be Edwards?) the election unless he recalibrates his strategy and course quickly.
One: Kerry vacillated on several issues, appearing to want to straddle the fence, and that's poison for a Democratic candidate in the current social/political climate. Kerry MUST go on the offensive and stay on the offensive, no matter what the president and his gargantuan reelection team throw at him. He must stand up and say: "Yea, I voted for NAFTA and I'm proud of it. It's just that, when it comes to managing our international trade policies this president hasn't got a clue. Subsequently, rather than Americans benefiting, as they should, from the broader trade routes opened up by NAFTA, Bush's policies have literally chased U.S. companies out of the country. In principle, NAFTA is a good thing. It's just that the nitwit steering the ship of state is ploughing the nation's core jobs market into the dumper!"
But Kerry has tried to defend his vote on NAFTA - BAD MOVE! Drop the defensive posture. ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK! And I mean that in a good way. I don't mean go to mudslinging, negative ad campaigns (though I'm sure we'll be subjected to a goodly share of that), I mean stand tall, proud and explain to the electorate how the programs he voted for can work to better the American worker, and how he will adjust the United State's position with NAFTA and turn that sloppy bit of economic horse-trading around so that American workers will see their lives improved by global trade, not destroyed.
And Kerry is overselling his Vietnam experiences. For him to come off sounding too far to the left (and he does) will lead to failure at the voting booths. He must get off that subject except when it's beneficial for him to explain how it built his character, gave him a deeper sense of patriotism and engendered in him a love for all branches of the military and personnel.
And he must stop saying he wants to pull the troops out of Iraq. Bush will make mincemeat out of him with the people who've lost loved ones in that theater and those who sympathize with those same people. Get out in front of that GOP ace-in-the-hole and say we're in it until we succeed, but with a little twist - a thing called international cooperation. If Kerry even suggests he would turn over the management of the Iraqi theater to the U.N. will be like pulling the latch on his own guillotine! But to express a willingness to revisit the international community - especially our allies - with a proposal to open the lines of cooperation and, at the same time, take a little heat off our troops would be prudent and, I think, acceptable even to those hawks who subscribe to the notion of "kill 'em all and let God sort out the innocent."
And Kerry must drive home to the electorate that Bush's first term has brought disastrous results to manufacturers, mom-and-pop stores, employers and employees in any corporation with more than 50 workers, etcetera, etcetera. Let's face it, putting the nation into debt (again) to the tune of $8 trillion in today's dollars is not a good thing. Some debt is healthy, sure, But $8 trillion? A disaster is lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce, and pounce it will unless the government reins in its spending and implements a deficit reduction plan immediately!
I haven't heard Kerry's vision in this regard, but he'd better come up with a viable, easily understandable plan SOON! (Clinton's catch-phrase "It's the economy, stupid" was briliant and, I believe, ultimately led to his win over Bush Sr.).
IF Kerry can manage to overcome the Bush juggernaut and pull this election out, it will be just this side of a miracle. But he can! I believe that! And with Edwards as his vice president, if he can improve the national and international standing of America during his first term and capture a second term, I envision a 16-year run with Democrats in the White House.
Now Congress is another animal altogether. But Congress will be facing the toughest questions ever faced since FDR's New Deal programs were implemented. This country is headed for a massive recession, followed by a tragic depression unless some tough decisions are made with regard to Social Security, Medicare, higher education funding, military spending, space exploration, the whole spectrum of government-fed programs our tax dollars are used to propel. We need a brand new bunch in both houses of Congress, and I mean pronto! The business-as-usual bunch has got to go before they run the nation out of business or sell it to the Saudis and Chinese.
However, winning the White House will be the first step in a long, arduous road for the nation's leaders (and I use the term leaders skeptically ...).
My one true hope is, that the presidential election doesn't come down to a recount in Florida, or any state, because that would spell disaster for the Democrats, without a doubt!
I'm out.

Friday, February 20, 2004

A quickieTwo killed in 30-car pileup yesterday during a dust storm. We had a brown-out complete with howling wind - which I think is what really caused the multiple wrecks. The spooky sound of the whistling wind distracted the drivers, spinning their memory banks into bizarre worlds of B-grade horror movies. Sad ain't it.

And now it's Kerry and Edwards which, I think, will be the Democratic ticket for president and vice president (in the order presented). Somehow I sense echoes of Bush 41 and Mr. Potatohead.

It's Friday and my schedule is completely screwy for the next four weeks. This week I get a 3-day weekend, a freakish anomaly given my employer - huge corporate media company. Heartless, soulless monster that it is!

And that's about it.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

HTML for Dummies

It's early Saturday morning and I'm sparking on four of six spark plugs, so to speak. The sun is glittering on the patches of snow littered here and there outside. Yes, we actually had real snow (as opposed to icy rain) fall last night, though the accumulation is negligble.

I'm thinking that the presidential campaign is beginning to look like a barn-burner in the making. Bush is attacking Kerry with the usual ad hominum attacks - as is Kerry versus Bush - and the nasty personal smear campaigns are bound to only degenerate into a mudslinging contest of epic proportions, if my bullshit meter is properly calibrated.

When are we going to get a fully-formed Democratic platform that we can examine without haveing to refer to our thesaureses? And when will Bush enunciate his platform (though it's pretty clear he'll simply keep repeating "9-11, 9-11, 9-11" in the clinches, all the while taking sneaky punches to the nuts and hoping he doesn't get penalized for low blows.

I am still not convinced that Kerry (or anyone on the Democratic ticket) can give Bush a solid challenge. Kerry has gained the biggest bloc of Dem loyalists, but they're not going to put him in the White House. It's the undecided, independent and disillusioned GOP'ers who'll give Kerry the push to climb that steep slope, and I haven't heard him reaching out the silent majority (mostly conservative, blue collar workers). And though I do believe that it's only a handful of registered voters who decide elections, and most of them are rich and/or market players who, by nature, are moderate to centrists conservatives, I think that the right candidate can arouse the mass of voters who haven't exercised their right to vote in the past few years, or who, perhaps, were not intending to vote this year. I believe that this year's presidential decision can be an historic event if that portion of the electorate which left-wing conservatives are banking on to continue passing on the polling booths when it comes time to vote. But if the Democratic Party has a snowball's chance in hell of getting its candidate into the Oval Office it must energize that broad base of non-voting slackers (whatever their reason for disdaining the election process) and get those folks to cast a ballot. Of course, they must hope that those long-silent votes will fall into their camp, but what the hell, the more votes, the better the Dem's chance, I think.

And so it goes. Kerry is certainly NOT going to lose too many, if any, of the upcoming primaries and/or caucuses (are there any of those left?) and Edwards and Dean may slog onward into the fog for one or two more beatings, but ultimately they must fold, of this I'm convinced.

And Bush, of course, will shake off the limp-wristed Washington corp of reporters in his usual rough-shod manner, so there's not much hope that the public will be well served by those quarters. In fact, this group of administration-watchers is the worst since pre-Watergate Nixon. The Washington press corps has, in my view, become insipid and useless, in large part, when it comes to serving the public by asking on-point questions that challenge the administration's policies. Witness the meek, mouse-like courage the Beltway-bunch mustered in light of the Patriot Act. I don't believe any journalists challenged the president and his cronies on this fascists piece of legislation, though its far-reaching powers literally created a secret police force in America with unlimited powers to impose legal penalties on innocent people in the name of national security. There are, of course, many precedents in history of despotic regimes using fear and military power to subjugate the public to draconian rule and invasive policies with the public's blessing. But the fourth amendment is all but destroyed by this so-called "Patriot Act," an ironic title given that its effect is to steamroll the United States' Constitution (specifically, its Bill of Rights). And now the fed has put gun records out the public domain by passing a bill that nullifies much of the Freedom of Information Act. More and more, this administration is burying citizens' rights in the name of naional security - used cynically by the Bush gang to rape your rights and slap your families HARD across the mouth should anyone attempt to disagree (in the context of history, does this stuff sound familiar at all???).

All I can say is this: if the American public loses all rights of privacy, all expectation of open access to PUBLIC records or ALL hope of personal rights being protected, we've only ourselves to to blame, particularly if we re-elect George W. Bush.

And that's the way it is.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

And then there were three ...Well, John Edwards and, it appears, Wesley Clark are both dropping out from the Democratic Primary race. Clark, well, no one will really miss the general too much, I think. But Edwards, I guessing, is hoping Kerry - if nominated - will select him as his vice presidential running mate. It became clear that Edwards was not going to gain the 'big mo' that Kerry clearly now has claimed as his own.

Now Dean, on the other hand, is hanging in (at least until Wisconsin, next week?) and will probably go down in flames - appropriate given the fiery rhetoric he brought to his campaign, and the meteroric rise to frontrunner status early in the primary process. It will be kind of sad to see him go but I doubt seriously that even a win in Wisconsin will resuscitate his deflating campaign momentum. I salute Dr. Dean, however, for kicking the Democratic Party in its collective ass and getting some issues defined in the process. Were it not for Dean, I'm not sure the rest of the diminishing field would have even had a platform - or a plank, for that matter.

But I'm unsettled by a Kerry vs. Bush battle. I just feel that Bush, by virtue of his incumbent status and the fact that the nation is still very much in the throes of 9-11 fervor, can overwhelm Kerry if the stoic-faced senator can't drive home clear and decisive issue-oriented arguments for displacing Bush in the Oval Office. And doens't Kerry kind of look like Lurch, the obedient, unemotional butler in "The Addams Family?"

Never underestimate the effect of sex appeal and homespun image (even if adapted only for pretense). Bush will undoubtedly attack Kerry on his liberal, pacifist-leaning stand in the late '60s when he testified during a congressional hearing that American troops were commiting atrocities in Vietnam, and that the nation's actions in that southeast Asian nation were morally untenable. Kerry will have to convince a lot of Americans that he's not going to turn our Iraqi venture into imperialism over to the U.N. or NATO allies - those two organizations are NOT in good stead with most Americans and for Kerry to suggest that he's pull U.S. troops out of Iraq and replace them with an international force will only serve to disaffect millions of voters. And if he tries to ride the liberal, far left notion of apeasement with terrorists he most certainly will be trounced by Bush.

No, Kerry must claim his leadership will be notable for its hard-nosed opposition to terrorists and their sponsor nations - it's the only message Americans (at least those who vote) want to hear. How he will go about ensuring America's safety within its borders and American troops' safety in far regions of the world will be a pivotal issue for the electorate. If he comes off sounding like an anti-war, liberal pacifist - forget it. Bush has staked out a strong political 'bloc' with his John Wayne-like, shoot-from-the-hip brand of leadership, militarily speaking.

Of course, the president is vulnerable on issues like jobs, the economic instability that still hangs in the air, and his ineptitude when it comes to managing international relations. Many jobless folks are angry with Bush (and his daddy) for signing off on NAFTA (unfortunately, Kerry, I believe, also printed his imprimtur on the borderless trade bill that has cost Americans millions of jobs.) Both men will to craft strong defenses for that seeming disastrous policy decision (originally introduced by Bush 41). I just feel that Kerry's fate against Bush will depend, in great extent, on his ability to make Bush look like a big business puppet and a reckless militarist, too quick to draw the gun and too slow to see the forest for the trees.

And life goes on.

Monday, February 02, 2004

What's with these politicos? For that matter, what's with my crummy Monday nights?

I see the run between Kerry and Dean growing more antagonistic which, of course, the Republicans will use against whomever emerges as the Democratic candidate. Lots of pundits say that a Kerry-Edwards ticket could be a winner. Well, maybe. But we have to give Dean his props' for energizing the Democratic Party, a party that was wobbling aimlessly before Dean began putting Bush on notice that his whacky policies were not going unnoticed. So kudos to Dean, no matter what happens.

But the fact that Kerry is reportedly the largest rercipient of big-business donations is unsettling, especially since Kerry has a large plank in his platform claiming he's against corporate favoritism.

I agree with Dean's statements on yesterday's "Meet the Press" interview when he said that the revelation of corporate nest-feathering was infuriating when Kerry is claiming to be the candidate for the little guy. Promises, promises, promises - then come the broken promises. One gets the impression that Dean is the real deal and would try to do exactly what he says he plans to do if he gains the White House.

But his temperment has become his albatross, despite most of the rhetoric about his ill-temper being fabrication and hyperbole. I doubt Dean would accept a vice president offer should Kerry's momentum carry him to the convention with more delegates than Dean, so I hope that Dean wins one this week and reignites his campaign.

Far as my lousy Monday evenings, it's simply that I'm broke and unable to enjoy the nightlife - hell, I can't even afford to drive to Target to pick up a color cartridge for my printer. Coupled with the fact that I haven't heard from my girlfriend since early this afternoon, and I asked her to call me so we could hang out together and, of course, she hasn't, has me bummed out.

Whew! So, that's the sorry tale today. Likely things will look different tomorrow, as they often do, and my attitude will improve. One hopes.

Meantime, good luck to you.