Mining The Electoral College 2004

Aquarian Weekly 10/20/04 REALITY CHECK

Campaign 2004 NO REST FOR THE DESPERATE The Final Statistical Push for the White House

Karl RoveBy the time these words hit the streets there will be less than two weeks for Senator John Kerry to convince the American electorate of his legitimacy as a presidential candidate and why the current chief must go. George W. Bush has a similar time frame to argue otherwise. The national polls (any one you choose to believe) are all over the map. Some have Bush ahead by 5%, others show Kerry leading by as much. Some have it a dead heat. No change from 2000, which ended in one of the closest, most hotly contested and controversial presidential elections in the history of the United States. There is no indication this will time will be any different.

John Kerry, as is his wont, has reconstructed another faltering campaign. He’s done it before, as recently as Iowa earlier this year against a surging Howard Dean. Mere weeks ago he was on the ropes against the tide of effective attacks from the formidable Karl Rove team and a bungling strategy of white noise. If not for the debates, a significant Achilles heel for a president hardly used to confrontational verbal interaction or even explaining himself, it is this observer’s opinion that Kerry was toast.

But the debates proved clearly that a president sitting on 80-year and record economic lows and a questionably philosophical war with no end in sight has problems standing in front of a national audience at a podium defending them. Kerry was good. Bush was worse. I’m sure if we were choosing sides for a debate team the president would not be cracking the short list.

Questions remain. Is Kerry’s rally too late for the all-important electoral state count that will decide this contest? Can Kerry, who just this summer had several swing states and southern states in his column, survive the body blow his campaign took in early autumn? Was the president exposed enough in the debates to sink his otherwise sheltered aura? Has Bush rallied his base enough to withstand a potential loss in the final glut of independent voters?

November 2 is calling.

By taking an average snapshot of various state polls currently available to the press and public, the Reality Check News & Information Desk crew, tired of working with little money and no direction for lo these past months, has rendered an interesting verdict on the 538 potential Electoral College votes in 50 states. With most of the union going in one strong direction or the other, the 270 votes needed to become president comes down to a few precious states, which is why both campaigns have been rolling out the television ads and traveling through said states with desperate repetition and verve.

So all this jive about a Kerry comeback and how Bush held his own in the debates and who has more money left really comes down to how much these polls can be trusted and what the candidates can do to budge them in the crucial final hours of this campaign.

They remain: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Wisconsin, with the most intriguing being Colorado. Fully in the Bush column in 2000, Colorado has a state vote on whether to split the nine electoral votes by district, instead of handing all nine to the winner as 48 other states do. This could compromise four or five key votes if this puppy is as tight as advertised. Therefore, Colorado, looking like a Bush state by as much 10%, is now a possible swing state.

Of course there are precarious leads for each candidate in certain non-swing states, but judging from past election leanings and the slight movement of the percentages for almost six months, those states will be given to the current leader. Clear evidence to support these assumptions is that the trailing candidates have pulled their ad campaigns in these states as late as this week, all-but a concession from those who think the money is better spent elsewhere. Thus, if the election would be held today (an awful sports query that never seems to pan out) the tally of Electoral College votes without the aforementioned swing states is Bush 198 and Kerry 179.

Considering that the swing states do have leaders, albeit ones with a less than 5% lead, for the sake of argument and to frame the mission of what the candidates who are trailing must do to win, we will award the current leaders the votes from those states. If so, the president has very shaky leads in the laughably insane Florida (27), Ohio (20), West Virginia (5), Missouri (11), Nevada (5), and the normally Democrat stronghold of Wisconsin (10). Kerry is barely leading in the highly volatile Pennsylvania (21), Iowa (7), Oregon (7), and the must win Michigan (17) and Minnesota (10).

By that count George W. Bush will be re-elected with 276 electoral votes. Kerry comes in with 241.

Three states are a statistical dead heat: New Mexico (5), Maine (4), and the only other state besides Michigan that has never tipped its hand when it comes to presidential elections, New Hampshire (4). These ties are amazing when considering some seven or eight different polls have been used for this exercise. The above states, and their 13 electoral votes, are literally up for grabs. But Bush has the luxury of letting them go if he carries his states.

So all this jive about a Kerry comeback and how Bush held his own in the debates and who has more money left really comes down to how much these polls can be trusted and what the candidates can do to budge them in the crucial final hours of this campaign.

In a close election, as it was in 2000, two intangible factors can benefit either candidate. Firstly, military absentee ballots normally go to a Republican candidate, or the incumbent (its current commander), of which Bush is firmly planted in both categories. That is unless all this blather lately about disgruntled soldiers in Iraq is true. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

The second wild card is the youth vote. Historically young people don’t vote. They didn’t vote when the adjusted age was made 18 back in ’72, and for the most part they never have since. This fact killed Howard Dean, and it will ruin John Kerry. You see, most 18-24 year-olds live at home or don’t have a stationary land phone. They are not polled. They float in the air. Therefore they are a crapshoot. Kerry needs them, or he cannot win.

It is also getting pretty clear that if Kerry cannot snatch Florida and/or Ohio from the Bush column, or if he loses Wisconsin, or worse, Pennsylvania, a distinct possibility, George W. Bush will be re-elected. Period. Terry Mac and the Democrat boys knew that going in. They are now, with only days remaining, the four key battleground states of this election. Digesting all of our data and research, it may be Kerry’s only hope. Take half, or all of the dead-heat states, hang onto his stash and steal Ohio or Florida, the latter being a more likely scenario, or go home.

For Bush, it is stay the course, hammer home the constituency, and blanket Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida until the last poll closes on 11/2. If he splits those states he remains president. If not, pack those bags and head back to Texas.

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Kerry/Bush Debate

Aquarian Weekly 10/6/04 REALITY CHECK

Campaign 2004 HALF-TRUTHS & SOUND BITES An Experiment On The First Presidential Debate

Rich, White Boys“Yes, we have to divide our time between our politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever.” – Albert Einstein

The presidential candidates almost killed my cats last night. Grievances and morality aside, it was a fair experiment in semantics and responsive electroshock suggested by several Desk members and carried out beneath the angry protests of my wife, who, despite being a woman of science, could not fathom its goals. But it is a presidential election year, and there will be causalities, and I could not be expected to sit through 90 minutes of the rich white Yalies yammering on about how they plan on carving up the planet and restructuring cultures under the guise of “protecting” the United States without some sort of interaction.

It should be noted that I asked neighboring parents for human volunteers, but instead of allowing their children a chance to escape video games and pouting to be part of an educational endeavor many chose to call the cops. It was an obvious indictment on our community’s stunted evolution in thought that needs to be dissected in future columns, but, alas, this is a state that mocked Thomas Edison and then named towns and counties after him.

The experiment, headed by noted scientist and close friend, Doctor Cunliffe Merriwether, author of the exciting new book, “Quitting Science”, was two-pronged. Firstly, any candidate merely using the exercise of debate to spew the usual campaign rhetoric would send a mild shock to the ears of each cat. Our female cat, Mazzy was hooked up to the Kerry Meter. The male cat, Gueem was attached to wires under the Bush Battery. Both were dialed into hardware carefully designed by the hard working kids at Fairleigh Dickinson University (the Teaneck campus). The second penalty was for an error in facts while advancing an argument. This was a lethal component and nearly led to divorce, but luckily, as you will see, stretching the truth and playing with numbers did not get the felines fully singed, only slightly so.

In its most basic form the experiment, if not the debate, proved two things: The participants and their allies are hoping we don’t pay attention to detail, and my cats now cringe when shown a picture of either candidate.

It should also be noted that these college kids consider themselves “dog people” and are not planning on voting, or voting for Ralph Nader, which many consider the same thing. I do not concur with this defeatist attitude, but then again I was torturing my pets merely to compile material for a column, so who knows?

A third penalty was not agreed upon by my wife or even the hearty members of our experimental group, a searing shockwave if either candidate went over the allotted time designated by a 30-page Debate Commission rule book amazingly agreed upon by the Kerry attorneys, considering the bluster of their candidate. But, it turned out, having flashing green-yellow-red lights on the podium kept these crisp orators from blathering forth, and, I think, provided a nice Game Show kind of feel to the otherwise dry proceedings.

The following are the results of the experiment and apparently clear evidence that if not for my wife constantly switching to the NY Yankees winning the American League East title throughout the broadcast, the life of my cats were in serious jeopardy.

Doctor Merriwether insisted on my offering the results of the second phase of the experiment first for it “best postulates doom for the system.”

Gueem shuttered violently when the president, defending his half-assed military campaign in Afghanistan, claimed on three separate occasions that 10 million Afghanis had registered to vote. However, the Human Rights Watch this week proved that figure inaccurate because of the illegal multiple-voter registration and rabid human rights abuses fueled by a pervasive atmosphere of repression and fear throughout the country.

Poor Mazzy, already cranky with wires attached to her little head, was screeching terribly when John Kerry suggested that the United States has spent $200 billion on Iraq. Technically the senator was in the ballpark when cleverly factoring in expected spending by the end of 2005, but hardly near the actual, but already outrageous sum of $120 billion. And apparently, much to the chagrin of Pottery Barn spokespeople, there is no “You break it, you own it” rule to which Kerry bungled anyway, by stating, “You break it, you fix it” falsely attributed to something Colin Powel told the president in the ponderously tiresome Bob Woodward tome, “Plan of Attack.”

Other half-truths and bold-faced lies included the George W. Bush’s insistence that there are 30 countries in the war coalition, when half a dozen have already bolted, and the disingenuous suggestion that Poland was involved during the invasion when they were only part of what has become the interminable clean-up, policing affair. Also, the president’s insistence that 100,000 Iraqis have been trained to fight on the coalition’s side is wishful at best. According to a widely recorded statement by Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi last week, only 50,000 Iraqi troops would be ready by the proposed January election.

Kerry erroneously claimed weapons of mass destruction crossed the Iraqi border every day. Zap!

Bush claimed 75% of al Qaeda was gutted, despite CIA reports in August that just 66% of the original members responsible for 9/11 were apprehended or killed while more than twice as many have joined forces since the Iraq occupation. Buzz!

Finally, both candidates, expecting most Americans to have little to no idea what’s transpiring in North Korea or Russia threw facts to the wind in a drunken abuse of reality. Bush charged that Kerry’s proposal to have direct talks with North Korea would end the six-nation diplomacy that the administration has pursued over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and cause China to withdraw. Zap! Truth is four of the countries have already held extensive talks with North Korea during the six-party process and China has publicly called for the U.S. to conduct open negotiations with the rogue state. Kerry lost his mind for a moment when he claimed to have visited a place he called Treblinka Square in Russia years ago when no place exists. Buzz! Treblinka was a Nazi death camp in Poland during WWII, not a salient geographical location to the present debate.

But even I had to step in and end the madness when the Buzz Word/ Mission Statement part of the experiment got out of hand. From the beginning both candidates used questions and issues to set up their repetitive campaign jargon like Bush’s mantra that his opponent sends a “mixed message”, a phrase he used no less than seven times, while Kerry drove home the words, “mislead or misjudge” some 11 times.

Thanks goes to MSNBC’s David Shuster for providing these crucial final tallies. He also wanted me to point out that he made several calls to the ASPCA to report us.

Just imagine yourself getting a little electric charge on the ear every time pre-programmed politicians use the same damn expression.

When discussing his expensive and questionable strategies in this ever-popular War on Terror, Bush used the words Threat and/or Protect American people 16 times, Free or Freedom a whopping 35 times, Strong 12 times, Hard Work seven times, and Progress five times. John Kerry, driving home this fantasy that any country not already involved in this Iraq mess would be willing to follow his pitch, used the words Alliance 12 times, Plan 17 times, Change Direction seven times, and Safer five times.

In its most basic form the experiment, if not the debate, proved two things: The participants and their allies are hoping we don’t pay attention to detail, and my cats now cringe when shown a picture of either candidate.

Pavlov be damned.

P.S. For those slow on the take, the above is satire. No cats, especially my spoiled felines, were harmed for this column. However, its liberal pushing of the deadline might piss off my copy editor, Terry.

P.P.S. Unfortunately the bluster and lying by candidates is no joke.

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John Kerry In Neutral

Aquarian Weekly 9/29/04 REALITY CHECK


Kerry on Permanent VacationIn less than two months John Kerry has gone from a confident frontrunner chasing down a wounded president with crippling domestic and international albatrosses and the lowest approval ratings in decades to a battered and bruised public defendant neutered by his own inexplicable fears to solidify his philosophical record. By any standard of political prognostication, John Kerry is in big trouble – floundering in opaque Hades kind of trouble. And that is no place for a liberal senator from Massachusetts 40 days from paydirt.

Never mind the cute pundit buzzwords like “convention bumps” or “momentum shifts”, and forget national polls, which mean less than nothing in the electoral vote process; this campaign was Kerry’s to lose, and he’s losing it.

George W. Bush was ready to be had by anyone aggressive and smart enough to build a viable alternative argument to massive job losses, a throbbing recession, the most spendthrift administration since FDR, and the worst post-war effort ever bungled by a sovereign nation. This election is supposed to be a referendum on the incumbent’s standing. It was ripe for a legitimate challenger to seize the opportunity to engage a debate on its merits. Instead it is one mired in 30 year-old military records and slap fights over who said what and where anyone was during the first Nixon administration.

The fact is John Kerry is not a legitimate candidate. These shifts in the national debate are his fault. It is brilliant strategy for the Bush people to push the thing as far from the president’s current problems (and there are many) as possible. What Karl Rove and White House frat boys have done is stonewall Kerry by simply forcing him to come clean on his dissenting voice. This was easy since Kerry has no dissenting voice. His camp has no plan, and never did, beyond “not being Bush”, which may be good enough for 46% of the partisan populace, but not enough to maintain the anti-Bush sentiment that was growing strong in this country since things got uglier and uglier in Iraq and the economic numbers looked as anemic as ever.

A month ago Kerry was competitive in three or four southern states, actually leading in Arkansas, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Now that is a pipe dream. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and California are back in play and Ohio is lost. Florida was a crapshoot from jumpstreet, but appears to show no signs of getting strongly behind this candidate. This is not because George Bush is winning these states back. Kerry is losing them by not distinguishing himself from his opponent and failing to rally his voter base, primarily anti-war. Kerry is not anti-war. Kerry is not anti-anything. He is anti-winning this thing. And he and his friends like Bob Shrum will be anti-employed very soon.

Bush ain’t getting any better. The news from the Middle East ain’t either. Only Kerry can make this a horse race. It is a miracle he is still relevant, which speaks more to this country’s willingness to hold off than rubber stamp a second term to this mess. But can Kerry take it? So far, evidence is piling up to the contrary.

The sacking of half of his staff has given rise to a new John Kerry: The James Carville model – angry, spitfire and brimstone Kerry. This is an entertaining Kerry, but a few weeks too late. The time to fight was during those “swift boat” ads and that joke of a convention, when the Republicans made the Democratic candidate look like a confused wet-noodle that would turn the planet to cinder given half the chance. But Kerry and his peeps chose to do nothing, and have not recovered yet.

Shrum was brain damaged when he told Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter last week he believed the post-9/11 America would not stand for political attacks. This whiz-bang strategy has molded an ambiguous, rambling, castrated candidate that’s managed to turn rightfully putrid poll numbers of Bush’s “handling” of Iraq into positive ones, which is mind-bending to those using any form of logic.

Getting nasty on issues means one has to feel strongly about them in the first place. Say what you want about George Bush, he believes he is doing the right thing in alienating the planet and being grossly steadfast in his Iraqi strategies. He believes God wants him in charge and he’s willing to cheat, steal, kill and maim to retain it. His opponent wants to be “fair” and “sincere” and “deliberate about sensitive solutions”. This is insane and a recipe for defeat. Presidents have to be one-dimensional, willing to breed pithy one-liners, and appear staunchly something. You learn this by becoming governor of a big state like Texas and have a daddy in the White House and being surrounded with Washington lifers who would think nothing of disemboweling their grandmothers for a sniff of a majority vote.

Kerry has been in the senate too long. Compromises and vacillating votes based on minutia won’t cut it in a run for the big prize. Consider for a moment Kerry does have “more complicated” visions of events and has made decisions based on intellectual digestion, it doesn’t help when he is on the same page as his competition in nearly every main category from gay marriage to taxation to war etc.

But Kerry has rallied before. He rallied in Iowa when John Dean looked unstoppable, more unstoppable than our boy president. He used his own funds, jacked a little dead wood, and turned ignominious front-runner defeat into roaring victory. According to a compelling story in Time magazine by Joe Klein three months ago, the Kerry senatorial campaign record speaks volumes about his ability to get off the mat, that he is a lousy frontrunner and needs the pressure of the sinking ship to focus. Well, those rooting for a change at the top and/or a Kerry presidency better hope so.

Now that Bush has the lead or pulled even in these key battleground states, he can use the debates as a holding pattern, as he did in 2000 against Gore. Why do you think the White House is suddenly giddy about three debates? No one thought Captain Shoo-in would survive a Gore assault four years ago, and judging from these incoherent rants on the trail, nothing should change that assessment. However, in 2000, expectations were so low many in the press fully expected to see the old boy dribbling fluids on his power tie halfway through. But Bush showed he’s a good frontrunner, and can manage to not screw things up. Bush was under whelming, but Gore’s pompous snooting and puffing served to bring in the pity vote, and things turned. In other words, it is doubtless Kerry can win by burying Bush in the debates now.

So the final five weeks of this thing should be fun for those of us paid to watch and comment. On Memorial Day we conceded that Bush would need a magic broom to sweep this horror show in Iraq under the spin rug. But we didn’t count on a one-man brigade combated weakly by badly-timed forged military documents slipped under a willing dupe like Dan Rather’s anchor door or unleashing a fossil like Kitty Kelly on the Today Show to convince us a wooden haircut like the first lady was a dope dealer and her husband did more blow than Liza Minnelli from 1972 to 1993.

It’s bush-league tactics (no pun intended) and it needs to be ratcheted it up fast. For Kerry’s almost psychotic penchant for playing this thing close to the vest has damaged the democratic process. Even sane voters rooting for a Bush victory must agree that making an incumbent accountable for his record and at least fake a pledge for improvements and counter-balance ideas is what this thing is all about. Granted Bob Dole did none of that against Clinton, but the Gingrich Revolution in ’94 had already pulled the Clinton’s further right. Reagan, however, did not have to answer for his insane military build-up and his most arrogant minions dumped the old man into Iran-Contra quagmire in the ensuing second term.

Bush ain’t getting any better. The news from the Middle East ain’t either. Only Kerry can make this a horse race. It is a miracle he is still relevant, which speaks more to this country’s willingness to hold off than rubber stamp a second term to this mess. But can Kerry take it? So far, evidence is piling up to the contrary.

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NJ Politics Exposed

Aquarian Weekly 9/15/04 REALITY CHECK

NOTES FROM THE CESSPOOL Part IIIJimmy Mac & The Ol’ End Around

Howell Champ“Before all else, be armed.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

Things are far more messed up in the New Jersey political arena than even I suspected. Two weeks into this full-scale Reality Check News & Information Desk investigation and many on staff refuse to return calls or make appointments. One gritty veteran of “research” describes the entire Trenton power elite as “spooky”. No one at the governor’s office even bothers to mention his name anymore. It’s Jimmy Mac or Captain Lame Duck. The lock-down of info is complete, and with only days from an alleged hand-off of power in the governor’s office, no one is talking on or off the record.

“Here’s the thing,” one staffer said in passing, “McGreevey isn’t really quitting.”

This seemed a perplexing turn of events, until I began peeling the onion on some of the key names that dragged the governor to the “bail out” altar in the first place.

McGreevey confidant, and leading N.J. Democratic fundraiser, Charles Kushner, accused of allegedly hiring a prostitute to blackmail a witness in his highly publicized federal tax and campaign finance fraud case had, according to one very deep and morally bankrupt source, “disappeared for two weeks on an Ecstasy binge.”

Word out of Trenton is the drug abuse rumors were started by Bush stooge and once Republican National Committee Finance Chairman, U.S. Attorney Chris Christie. Under pressure to release “certain incriminating documents” last week, Kushner reluctantly granted an interview to the NJ Herald and proceeded to let fly a heinous string of expletives that rendered the piece unfit for publication. There was serious talk of actually printing it by citing journalistic precedent from the San Francisco Chronicle.

It was two days after the massive earthquake of 1906, wherein the paper of record quoted Mayor Eugene Schmitz’s infamous Shoot To Kill proclamation that ended with the published post, “The Federal Troops, the members of the Regular Police Force and all Special Police Officers have been authorized by me to KILL any and all persons found engaging in Looting or in the Commission of Any Other Crime.”

Cooler heads at the Herald prevailed on this occasion, and the Kushner interview was scrapped. As for Schmitz and the Chronicle, opponents accused the mayor of having brain bubbles resulting from a monstrous bout of syphilis. The Chronicle sold more papers that day than any time since; no harm, no foul. But rising circulation and journalistic ethics aside, Schmitz never admitted to ordering the citizenry murdered without something to gain, much less admitting to being gay, whether it was to exit a sinking ship or to avoid lawsuits.

Which gets us back to Governor Jimmy Mac, who at press time still refused to change his date of resignation and throw an Emergency Election over to the Republicans, least of all a political pit bull by the name of Bret Shundler, who more than once in his gubernatorial campaign two years ago referred to the governor as “a conniving little shit heel”.

Fellow Democrat, Senator Jon Corzine, who according to his accountants does officially have more money than God, has actively pursued the gig. A spokesman for the senator told the Newark Star Ledger “a rail is far to good a conveyance in which to run the governor out on.”

One thing seems certain at press time; McGreevey will not fold his doomed tenure until the 11/15 deadline.

But I’ve been told more than once that Corzine is a loose canon and has very little pull in Trenton. Most NJ Dems think he’s a closet Republican and would rather turn the mess over to NJ Senate President Richard Codey and let him take the blame for whatever inevitable fallout occurs.

Since I have no connections, nor do I seek any, in NJ government, a serious drawback when trying to get a “real” background check on Codey, I hear mostly gibberish and fear. Once again, no one goes on the record and those who do fail to identify a single merit to this man’s ascension to the state’s highest office save his relatively clean criminal record. Many who know the ones who know describe Codey as “confused, but not crooked, and that’s a start.”

One thing seems certain at press time; McGreevey will not fold his doomed tenure until the 11/15 deadline.

The governor got another reprieve on 8/31 when alleged lover, and the man for whom he is ostensibly “stepping down” to avoid blackmail entanglements, Golan Cipel, dropped chargers of sexual harassment and has been holed up in his hometown in Israel telling the Jerusalem Post daily that he is not gay and the suit was “never about money”. Then someone from the Asbury Park Press e-mailed me a dubious picture of Cipel dancing atop a bar in the gay district of Haifa waving fistfuls of hundred dollar bills over his head. So, who knows?

Still, most of us at The Desk were distracted by a story coming over the wires on Labor Day that a cockfighting arena was raided by police near my old stomping grounds in Howell. The illegal ranch boasting steroid-jacked roosters run by a 67-year-old Jersey City escaped mental patient named Raphael Liranzo, who had been repeatedly fined for “animal cruelty” for the past 22 years after his first arrest for cockfighting in ’82 when he tried to get his “exhibition” on the sports book in Atlantic City.

Liranzo went to prison and the governor still might. But as of press time the Attorney General’s Office has hinted at the possibility that the case against his drawing out the resignation to avoid a special election is moot due to the fact that no vacancy exists in the governor’s office. McGreevey, it turns out, never submitted a formal written letter of resignation.

“This guy isn’t going anywhere,” my hearty researcher reiterated when I pressed him further. “Legally he holds the right to rescind his resignation when all the villains are put to rest.”

McGreevey’s Press Secretary Micah Rasmussen disagrees, finally going on the record on 9/8 by stating simply, “The governor made a thoughtful and careful decision and he is standing by it.”

There was little reason to believe him, or anything else oozing from the governor’s office. So we decided to lay low, place “thoughtful and careful” cockfight bets, and wait for the arrests to become official.

Part I

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RNC 2004

Aquarian Weekly 9/8/04 REALITY CHECK

Republican Convention 2004 ELEPHANTS ON EIGHTH AVENUE

“You can slap lipstick on a pig, but it don’t make it the prom queen.” – Voodoo Madam Sissy Meechum

Zell Miller SnapsAs far as charades go, the Republicans put on a hum dinger in NYC last week. Unabashedly fabricated references to God and Country and weepy nonsense about fear and military might managed to fuse nicely with insane comparisons of the president to FDR and this clusterfuck in Iraq to WWII. It was an off-Broadway production worthy of Fosse and Goebbels that spent more time trashing the opponent than trumpeting the ugly facts this administration has wrought, smartly spinning the debate back to those halcyon days just after 9/11 when George W. Bush was the angry monarch and all dissenters were labeled treasonous.

The Karl Rove Show is open for business, DON’T WORRY ABOUT MY RECORD, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE OTHER GUY FOLLIES- and it has a two-month run.

Thanks to the zombies over at John Kerry For President, who’ve refused to aim their candidate in taking a stand on anything, the Bush people were able to make the 2004 Republican National Convention a referendum on the opponent, deftly avoiding a “celebration” of the past four years of recession, war, and jingoistic madness.

Politically, it’s easy to understand why for the first time in memory the candidate being nominated for the most powerful post in the land took a back seat (more like the trunk) to the ostensible concepts of the party, all of which were released in its platform; that is, of course, before unleashing a litany of speakers who don’t support much of it.

Celebrity social liberals like Rudy Giuliani and John McCain recalled the tragedy of 9/11 to connect the jagged dots to everything but Aids in Africa, while Arnold Schwarzenegger wooed the immigrant vote with a rousing speech, although admittedly my anxiety tends to rise when I see an Austrian standing at any podium waving his fist to thunderous applause.

In starkest contrast, conservative Southern Democrat, Zell Miller, a phony loon who had the balls to trash the voting record of a senator when he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, was mildly entertaining in that Al Sharpton – “I’m a crazy pissed guy, pay attention to my rant” kind of way. He barked like a strange amalgam of Billy Graham meets Lester Maddox with a three-mile stare spooky enough to remind us all that there are parts of this country better left in the shadows.

Bush’s kids are idiots, no surprise there, and his wife was cheerily plastic. Our vice president took up 45 minutes of network airtime looking like he’d rather be getting root canal surgery without a local than speaking to delegates foaming at the mouth. But his tough guy routine is getting as tired as Bush’s cowboy bit. Here is a man with five – Five!- military deferments calling a wounded veteran a wimp. I don’t know, maybe someone somewhere outside that convention is buying these eastern establishment corporate bullies as John Wayne and General Patton, but it’s hard to fathom.

Frankly, the 2004 Democratic National Connection made me embarrassed to cover politics. The RNC made me sick to be human.

Those “tributes” to the victims of 9/11 and the use of the widows of the fallen were the height of exploitation and so blatantly inappropriate in a political arena the ghost of Boss Tweed was aroused in downtown Manhattan and seen scrounging for coins in the toilets at Grand Central Station.

Frankly, the 2004 Democratic National Connection made me embarrassed to cover politics. The RNC made me sick to be human.

Sitting at home for most of it, and wandering around Madison Square Garden looking for a coherent homeless guy to hand over my credentials to was bad enough, but at least I thought the streets would be alive with protesters or GOP supporters raging with political fire. Instead there was the usual “Look At Me” dinks and college kids trying to score drugs or get laid and 7th Avenue whores tossing plastic Gatorade bottles at Chris Matthews’ head.

There were some Log Cabin Republicans protesting gay rights and a women’s group with a Right to Choose thing going, but mostly cops and helicopters and generator trucks. I was tempted to go hear my friend Bernstein play anti-Bush dirges in Washington Square Park, but I’ve got deadlines and the president was speaking on Thursday night.

So in the grand tradition of my award-winning “Clinton Mia Culpa Speech” presentation (Bill Clinton – An Appreciation 8/19/98), here are some highlights of our 43rd president with defining comments parenthetically inserted for clarity:

“I believe the most solemn duty of the American president is to protect the American people. (With the notable exception of 9/11) If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. (Not counting 9/11) This will not happen on my watch. (Except, of course, 9/11)

“I am running with a compassionate conservative philosophy: that government should help people improve their lives, not try to run their lives.” (Except if you’re gay, don’t believe in God, or disagree with anything we say)

“To create jobs, (Would you like some fries with that?) my plan will encourage investment and expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation and making the tax relief permanent.” (It’s probably a good idea I stop the insane spending of this Republican controlled government and start creating the record number of jobs lost while I was in charge the first time around)

“We will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy.” (Not even I really believe this bullshit coming from me)

“In northeast Georgia, Gainesville Elementary School is mostly Hispanic and 90 percent poor. And this year, 90 percent of its students passed state tests in reading and math.” (Did I just make the analogy that poor Hispanics are normally dumb?)

“I will continue to appoint federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law.” (Like those crazy fuckers who put me in office)

“Despite ongoing acts of violence, (If you haven’t noticed) Iraq now has a strong prime minister, (American Puppet) a national council, (More Puppets) and national elections are scheduled for January.” (Bet that goes as well as the rest of this thing)

“The terrorists know that a vibrant, successful democracy at the heart of the Middle East will discredit their radical ideology of hate.” (You know, like Israel, there’s no terrorism over there) “I have returned the salute of wounded soldiers, some with a very tough road ahead, who say they were just doing their job.” (A job, I, myself, got out of ’cause I’m rich)

“By promoting liberty abroad, (Bombing more of the brown people) we will build a safer world. (Safe like Iraq) By encouraging liberty at home, (Phone bugging, racial profiling, and passing more laws to throw people in prison for even spelling terrorism) we will build a more hopeful America.” (Or I’ll kill everyone while trying)

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James McGreevey’s Cesspool

Aquarian Weekly 9/1/04 REALITY CHECK

NOTES FROM THE CESSPOOL Part I A Reluctant Study In New Jersey Politics

James McGreeveyNilikuonyesha nyota na uliangalia kidole tu. Translated -I pointed out to you the stars and all you saw was the tip of my finger. – African Proverb

“All crimes should be punished with humiliations–public exposure in ridiculous and grotesque situations–and never in any other way.” – Mark Twain

Digesting aphorisms in Swahili is not unlike consuming rancid herbs you instinctively know is land fill, but have somehow convinced yourself will make you invincible, like the poor bastard who dupes himself into believing he has it all to avoid the nagging emptiness. The power of suggestion is a valuable asset to understanding politics, and a must if you are planning on covering it.

Twain? He was a rare warrior sent by God to remind us why it’s better to embrace our sins rather than deny the inevitable. His kind is needed in these times of high crimes and weird public trials in this fuck-awful diseased state. Mr. Clemens described politics with the proper mixture of humor and loathing. I would sooner let that cigar-champing crank take a shot at the implausible quagmire of New Jersey politics and spend the next three months stripping the sheen off these scabrous primates running for president.

But here I am, 36 months a citizen of the Garden State, having refused to face what has been described by the remaining working journalists around here as “an enviable level of corruption so fantastic it trumps the nightmare that is Florida”.

My last public recording of local politics was the week a bleating toad of a senator named Torricelli quit his post when he suddenly and painfully realized it was less likely he could save the charade of his campaign than buying back the acres of wetlands he sold to the Arabs for a healthy stack of OPEC shares. That, and a regrettable report I sent to press on shooting bear hunters in Sussex County, which got my wife in dutch with the card-carrying loons over at PETA.

On Torricelli, I wrote: “I do not want to get into the shady end of this mess of Jersey politics at this juncture of my career without some buffers in these warring camps. Let that read: I am not about to start uncovering the rotten cheese inside this fucking abortion without someone on the inside at least running interference for me.” (Senator Quitter or The Ballad of a Gutless Swine – 10/2/02)

And I meant it. It took me half a decade to collect “proper” sources in New York who had as much to lose as I did. Like I’ve said before, I own property now, and don’t write for a big-time news organization with a cadre of lawyers and a handy Journalist Protection Program. Causes are all the rage for renters, free spirits, and young, angry types. Aging journalists with a snappy column for a pop-culture weekly must stand down.

But then the calls started coming in mid-June about the governor finally cracking under the pressure of a pile of investigations stemming from top aids blackmailing public officials with video-taped sex acts, the transport of contraband from Cuba with government vehicles, illegal harassment of the voter registration board, code words on the misappropriations of funds uttered on tape, and a litany of e-mails emanating from the U.S. Attorney’s office threatening Tom Ridge with bodily harm.

“C’mon, Tom Ridge, why?” I asked one caller.

“Do you realize New Jersey receives an annual average of four dollars a head from the federal government for homeland security?” the voice intoned.

“So?” I shot back.

“So, Wyoming gets $20 a head! Wyoming? Who the hell is going to attack Wyoming? Jesus, we’re a river away from Manhattan? More than half the 9/11 hijackers were from Paterson! And do you know how many Jersey residents died on 9/11? How many from Wyoming, you think?”

“I’m worth four bucks to Tom Ridge?”

“Less than a beer at the Jersey Shore.”

But would McGreevey quit the governorship because he was gay?

His excitement was contagious. I already despised Tom Ridge, called him “a jabbering ass and a con man” in print. I have little use for anything called Homeland Security in a country where the military costs about half of our national expenditures and the CIA and the FBI are run by clinical masochists and Hell’s Angels rejects. But ultimately these gory facts did little to rouse my interest in “covering” New Jersey government corruption.

Then came the early rumblings of 8/12; the day the wisest Jerseyites among us now call “The Day of the Locusts”.

The morning was unusually cool for August. The first e-mail came in around 10:21 am, followed by a phone call from my pal Georgetown and another from The Desk’s henchmen, Senior Gack.

“The governor of New Jersey is quitting,” Georgetown reported over the machine.

I didn’t pick up. Fuck it, I thought. This is the kind of thing that got Mike Barnicle suspended from the Boston Globe. Crazy made up stories of black children dying from malpractice with no records or sources. Barnicle was suspended, then quit, and then went on television to increase his celebrity enough to force The Globe to hire him back in a fit of sensationalism. No one mentions it anymore, least of all The Globe, which has printed more front-page fiction since 1998 than the New Yorker.

Barnicle snapped under deadline pressure. Told some lies. Who doesn’t? Ethics are for students and newbies. Working stiff scribes need to lie. Black kids dead. New Jersey governor quits. Whatever.

However, by noon the legitimate press had it in black and white. United Press International went so far as to say that Jim McGreevey’s decision to resign is of “a personal nature – sexually related.”

So what? Sexual nature? Somewhere I could hear the ghost of Bill Clinton’s presidency chortle.

Then someone on WABC radio blurted out that the cat was out of the bag, or the closest.

But would McGreevey quit the governorship because he was gay?

Another friend of The Desk, Bohammer, later put it this way: “McGreevey hired some Israeli kid, a soldier, and put him on the state payroll at $110,000 a year. Called the job the Chairman of Task Force For Defense or something and set him up in cushy digs like a mob boss’s chippy.”

By then McGreevey was on television with his wife and family tossing out first-class spin like Civil Liberties and God and some babbling nonsense about grappling with his identity and looking deeply into the mirror of one’s soul.

Fifteen minutes later the Israeli soldier was officially suing the governor for sexual harassment.

“If you knew what I knew about the McGreevey administration,” Senior Gack told me later, “you would tell the nation you were a cross-dressing puppy killer to avoid the truth.”

“Jesus Christ,” Georgetown said halfway through. “He’s telling everyone he’s gay to get out of this! It’s genius!”

The bigger the lie, the more they’ll believe it.

Hitler said that. They accused him of all kinds of things. They said he was a monster or a mutant. But he was neither. He was a chicketshit finger painter with a big mouth and stale ideas of genocide to sate the ego of a broken system. He whipped up enough frenzy to begin the Thousand Year Reich with The Big Lie and it lasted a miserable 12 years. The Russians found his charred body near a drainage ditch in charred Berlin and beat it with rusty chains and gun buts.

But enough about that, it’s more important to find out why a governor of one of the richest states in the union would cash in his chips in a national election year with half his term yet to come.

Because he’s gay?

No one without dung for brains was buying it, least of all state Republicans who screamed bloody murder when they found out McGreevey was officially turning in his papers long after the deadline to have an emergency election, which would surely turn the reigns over to the GOP, despite a quote from someone inside the Bush campaign that told me the week I interviewed Ralph Nader, “They can catch John Kerry screwing an altar boy and he would carry Jersey by two million votes.”

I was now officially, if not reluctantly, on the case.

Part II

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Ralph Nader Interview

Aquarian Weekly 8/25/04 REALITY CHECK/BUZZ

Campaign 2004
A Candid Discussion with Independent Candidate for President, Ralph Nader

Ralph NaderThis discussion was conducted over the phone lines from Nader Campaign Headquarters in Washington D.C. and The Desk on 8/5/04.

In this polarized political landscape of 2004, it’s getting harder to not be swept up in the fervent “pick a side” mentality propagated by both The Right and The Left. Independent voices are as welcomed as dissenting voices were in the weeks after 9/11 or the weeks leading up to the Iraqi war. One such voice has been vilified from all sides for feeding his ego, mucking up the process, and aiding the enemy. He’s been begged to pack it in by the Democrats and even accused of getting Republican support to stay in. Yet he fights on, but for what purpose, to what end?

His name is Ralph Nader and he is running as an independent candidate for the country’s highest office, and this space (an unabashedly long suffering proponent of a viable independent national political voice) thought it wise to give him the floor to explain his side, a side not too popular whichever way you lean.

james campion: Why are running for the presidency again in 2004?

Ralph Nader: Because the two parties are proxies of large corporations who have turned Washington D.C. into corporate occupied territory and are excluding citizen groups from trying to improve their country.

jc: I agree with that assessment of the two-party system, but many voters, including those who support a majority of your issues feel that the Kerry campaign, despite your stance, embrace many of the same concerns. Why should a voter consider your independent campaign over a larger party who has a legitimate chance to unseat this president?

RN: The majority of people in this country want out of Iraq. Bush and Kerry are pro-war, pro-occupation. No withdrawal date. The majority wants to settle the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with an independent Palestinian state, including almost 70% of Jewish Americans. Kerry and Bush are supportive of the Israeli military policy. Kerry and Bush both support the Patriot Act. Kerry and Bush both support the bloated, redundant, wasteful, and sometimes corrupt military budget, which amounts to half of the federal government’s operating expenditures. Both Bush and Kerry are for corporate globalization, NAFTA and WTO style. They want to expand it. Both Bush and Kerry are for the failed war on drugs. Both Bush and Kerry do not have a health care plan for all or a living wage for all. Both Bush and Kerry are for capital punishment, although Kerry is for a modified form. Both Bush and Kerry do not support public funding of public campaigns. Both Bush and Kerry will not take a stand against the draft. We’ve sent them letters and they’ve refused to take a stand against the draft.

jc: Pretty good list. Let’s concentrate on two specific ones trumpeted by the mainstream media. Although Kerry has talked a good game about jobs being transferred to other countries, he did vote for NAFTA and is a supporter of the WTO. He is also a supporter of the war, whichever way he would like to slice it. I’ve written several times that you’re the only anti-war candidate standing, but why do you think it is so difficult for voters to differentiate your candidacy from the Kerry campaign, whose supporters continually cite that your existence in this race compromises their effort to oust Bush?

RN: It’s very simple, all these voters you talk about believe Bush has been a terrible president and so anything, they think, is better than Bush. But once they analyze it, anything is not very good at all. In other words, they are falling prey to the “least worst” voter choice, which, in effect, leaves Kerry without a mandate. Without having any demands made on him by environmental, labor, minority, consumer, youth groups, because they’re so freaked out by Bush, Kerry can get elected with no mandates. Now, what are mandates? Mandates are the way voters can pull candidates toward their interests before the election, when they have the bargaining power. If you don’t demand anything of Kerry you are just basically playing a one-sided tug-of-war that you’re losing, because the corporate lobbies are pulling Kerry and Bush 24-hours a day in the direction of no health insurance for all, no living wage for all, no reduction of the military industrial complex, no revision of the failed war on drugs, on and on.

Both parties are being pulled in one direction by extremely powerful forces, and Kerry and Bush are saying to their voters, “You’ve got nowhere to go, other than to stay home or vote for us, shut up and get in line.” Kerry says, “You obviously know that Bush is worse than me and Bush says, “You obviously know that Kerry is worse than me.”

Both parties are being pulled in one direction by extremely powerful forces, and Kerry and Bush are saying to their voters, “You’ve got nowhere to go, other than to stay home or vote for us, shut up and get in line.” Kerry says, “You obviously know that Bush is worse than me and Bush says, “You obviously know that Kerry is worse than me.”

The “Anybody But Bush” attitude is a brain closer. Nothings else is discussed, entertained, analyzed, or absorbed, not even the spillover vote from the Nader/Camejo candidacy, which might tip the scales in the few close races in the House and Senate and give the House and/or Senate to the Democrats, so if they don’t beat Bush, they can block him. They don’t even want to talk about that. It’s a kind of political hysteria that’s going on. The “politics of fear” at work.

jc: I call it the “politics of the moderate”, wherein the candidates of both parties feel they have to swing to the middle for a few months. Therefore the differentiation of the platforms is not distinguishable. In fact, I’m still waiting for a platform from the Kerry campaign, beyond being the alternative to crap.

RN: Exactly, in fact Kerry’s main strategy is to take major issues off the table by “me too-ing” Bush; the war in Iraq, the Israeli/Palestinian issue, the Patriot Act, and, most importantly, where he’s getting his money. Pretty soon you take so much off the table you become indistinguishable from your opponent. George Will said on television a couple of weeks ago, “I just read the Democratic platform, and you know what?, it could be the Republican platform.”

jc: Let me ask you politically about the games being played right now over you getting on the ballot in certain states. I understand you’ve just won a battle to be included on the ballot in New Jersey.

RN: Right.

jc: What exactly is the Democratic Party doing to keep you from getting on ballots in different states?

RN: As we speak, they have nine computer terminals trying to bump us off the Pennsylvania ballot. They hired three corporate law firms in Arizona and they bumped us off the ballot with all kinds of legal challenges we couldn’t afford to defend at $250 dollars-an-hour for our lawyers. They’ve stalled us in Oregon by infiltrating our convention. Under Oregon law, you can get on the ballot in two ways; a thousand registered voters all at once in an auditorium signing for you, under state election supervision, or fifteen thousand verified signatures around the state. So we took the convention room between five and seven in the evening about a month ago. Six-thirty arrived, and we got around eleven hundred people in the room, and the counters didn’t take signatures from half of them. This was done openly. Then in Illinois, the House Speaker sent some of his staff people over to examine our ballots, which is pretty inappropriate unless they took a leave.

jc: Would you say you represent a dissenting voice of the electorate? In other words, if some of your principles and your main platform for running for president fails to make a dent, a likely scenario, do you then believe by merely running you’ll make transparent the two-party machinations to keep an independent voice out of the process.

RN: Of course. We’re setting an example. We’re setting a framework. We’re laying the basis for post November 2 expansion of progressive political movement. We’re bringing in a lot of young people who will be the leaders of the future, who are presently turned off politics, and above all we’re pushing the agenda and trying to educate the voter to how to be much more discriminating between the two parties, and much more demanding. Some of the things we’ve stimulated are available on

jc: In 2000, when you and Pat Buchanan were trying to get into the debates and the election commission arbitrarily put out a number of 15% of the vote needed to participate, I wrote a piece denouncing it and interviewed Pat on the subject, to which he was predictably candid. (“Raging Against The Machine” – Issue 1/26/00) And I would think that was the strongest example of your argument against the fear of the two-parties right there. But how direct has the Democratic Party been in speaking to you on your candidacy this time around? Did Terry McAuliff or anyone, even Kerry himself, ever approach you directly and ask you to not run.

Nader in 2000RN: Every time I talk to McAuliff, he says, “I hope you withdraw.”

jc: But have they promised you anything if you bowed out, tried to cut a deal?

RN: No. (laughs) Did they promise anything to Dennis Kucinich, a loyal Democrat, who campaigned for two years, and they handed him his head and refused him every one of his proposals for the Democratic platform? These guys are massively arrogant. It’s their way or no way. They’re unlike European majority or plurality parties who negotiate with small parties and coalitions. The arrogance here is unprecedented.

jc: I’d like to get to some items that have been reported and I have touched upon recently in previous columns regarding the Edwards choice for vice president and your alleged public, or not so public recommendation of him. A lot of people I talked to inside thought once that was accomplished it would serve as an appeasement to get you out of the race. How true was that nugget?

RN: Not true at all. This is just part of trying to make Kerry a better candidate, as far as wrongly injured people given their day in court, which Edwards should be champion, but is not. That’s been taken off the table too. You hear the Republicans ragging against wrongfully injured people’s right to go to court, an all-American right that goes back to the challenge of King George, the right of trial by jury that the colonies accused him of taking from them, and the Democrats can’t stand up for people who the business press has shown wrongfully injured and defrauded and are finding hard just to get a hearing in court with all the tort reform that is going on in state and federal legislature.

jc: How do you feel about your impact on the 2000 race, one of the closest in this nation’s history?

RN: The Democrats should be going after the Republican thieves who stole the election from their candidate, instead of the Green Party, but they’re into scapegoating, because they don’t want to look at their own internal weaknesses and infirmities.

jc: Many categorized your campaign, especially the Democrats, as that of playing the spoiler, and putting Bush, a sub-standard president, in office in the first place. Of course I applauded the Gore defeat merrily. So thanks for that.

We are all prisoners of an exclusive two-party monopoly with a barrier called an electoral college and we’ve got to break out of prison. We have to liberate our minds, begin voting our conscience, and stop voting for politicians who go to Washington and month after month vote against their supporters.

RN: Well actually it could have come out very well for the Democrats, because Gore did win nationally and in Florida in respect to a statewide count. The Republicans stole the election from Gore before, during, and after the Florida election. Secretary of State Katherine Harris, Jeb Bush, the Supreme Court, and all the shenanigans with falsely designating ex-felons and the crazy ballots did them in.

jc: I’m so sick of hearing, “We won the popular vote!”, when that’s not the name of the game.

RN: Yeah, well you’d think since they won the popular vote they’d start the rollback of the Electoral College, and they’re not even doing that.

jc: But you must admit there is some credence that your 2004 candidacy threatens the Kerry campaign to some degree.

RN: Not so. Either campaign could benefit from our agenda. In late October I sent to the RNC and the DNC a 45-page document called “Agenda Inquiry for the Common Good”. Inside are 25 issues the Democrats could pick up on and landslide Bush, like living wage. That’s worth four, five million votes right there that they wouldn’t get. You’ll also find on there the letters we’re sending to Bush and Kerry. I mean, look, we sent them a letter to take a stand on the draft, they won’t take a stand on the draft. We’re going to send them a letter basically asking them to campaign in Hawaii and Alaska, which Democrats and Republican never travel to, because Hawaii is Democrat and Alaska’s Republican. So they carve the country up into these districts and they abandon these people, and they really resent it. I just came back from those two states. To me, if you run for president, you campaign in 50 states. You could flunk both parties just on the grounds that they’re carving up the country into single party districts.

jc: Regardless of what happens in this election, do you have a positive viewpoint for the political process at large as a result of this campaign?

RN: Well, we’re keeping the hope for a progressive agenda alive in the country. We’re giving voice to tens of millions of people. We’re the underdog candidates for tens of millions of American underdogs who get pushed around and defrauded and harmed and disrespected and excluded and underpaid and laid off and denied health care. That’s a pretty big constituency in this country, and it’s a pretty sad commentary on the Democratic Party that it chooses not to vibrantly represent these people because it wants to privately raise tens of millions of dollars in commercial interests to keep up with the Republican campaign finance fund-raising party. So we think that’s a very important role that we’re playing.

In my book, “The Good Fight” I quote Eugene Debs’ “The American people can have anything they want, the problem is they don’t seem to want anything at all, or at least it seems that way on Election Day.”

We are all prisoners of an exclusive two-party monopoly with a barrier called an electoral college and we’ve got to break out of prison. We have to liberate our minds, begin voting our conscience, and stop voting for politicians who go to Washington and month after month vote against their supporters.

jc: Do you foresee anyway come October that anyone can convince you on either side to step aside and throw your support for either national party candidate? Even if you are only on seven to ten to twelve ballots nationwide, do you see any way you’re not still standing come the first week of November?

RN: No, because all they can offer are words by politicians who’ve left a trail of broken promises to millions of Americans over the last decades. We’re not interested in words; we’re interested in deeds. They’ve had many years to demonstrate good deeds, and instead they’ve have sold our democracy, our elections, and our government for a mess of corporate pottage. They’ve turned over the U.S. government to an increasingly smaller number of giant multi-nationals, who’ve turned Washington into corporate occupied territory, and have no allegiance to our country or communities other than to control or abandoned them to China or elsewhere as they see fit. Check our web site, and you’ll see how we’re challenging Kerry and Bush almost once or twice a week on various issues.

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Republicans Throw Ugly

Aquarian Weekly 8/18/04 REALITY CHECK


“Cruelty, very far from being a vice, is the first sentiment Nature injects in us all.” – Marquis de Sade

Dick ChaneyThe pathetic wail of a wounded beast is recognizable by every creature in the wild. For the pride, its hellacious cry means a swift change of address, for the hunted, a reprieve, and for the hunters, the wondrous sound of dinner. Of course, some choose to ignore it and others redefine it, for it is too painful to merely accept. In politico-speak, they are the sounds of haughty boasting, strategy changes, circling the support wagons, and – the telltale sign of the wounded – vicious and desperate attacks.

This past week the sound of the wounded Republican Party machine, still harboring hope that their presidential candidate will be left standing by 11/5, the way it holds out hope that Osama bin Laden will be captured alive, the Iraqi War will ease into a peaceful solution, the jobless rate will wane, and the incredibly outlandish national deficit will disappear before autumn has reached a crescendo.

The president’s men know Junior is in trouble, and they’re finally starting to show it.

Working back from the latest of these painful shrieks is last week’s CIA director appointment of war hawk, Porter Goss, a Florida congressman (the state that put Captain Shoe-In in the catbird seat in 2000 and one he is currently trailing in several polls) and a vociferous proponent of the hackneyed pre and post war Iraqi policies. By mere mention, Gross becomes the first partisan choice for the CIA in more than half a century and a blatantly red-faced stab at three political moves: Throw the groundswell popularity of the 9/11 Commission a bone without really complying to their wishes for a single intelligence chairman, stoke up the Florida constituency for a needed boost in the polls, and bury all chance of a dissenting voice in intelligence while things continue to sink into chaos in Iraq.

Although former CIA Director George Tenet should have been executed for treason, much less forced out, Goss is a desperation move. Anyone denying it knows next to nothing about presidential politics. You think these crazy fuckers in the White House are screwing around with less than three months to go straddled with a fantastically inarticulate candidate with less than a 50% approval rating? Think again.

Scrambling to find ways to sell an inferior product is why the big-ticket power suits get the large money on Madison Avenue, and why the mortality rate on Pennsylvania Avenue is higher by the minute.

These latest ads from the Swift Boat Jolly Rogers, or whatever these slack-jawed cretins are calling themselves, accusing John Kerry of everything from baby killing to desertion in Viet Nam reeks of paralyzing fear. Although the Bush campaign people have denounced the ads, the oldest move in the book, they come from a Texas Republican group and conveniently fall into the strategy of the White House to undercut the Kerry mantra from the convention two weeks ago; his “stellar” war record. This has Willie Horton stank all over it and the obvious signs of the loser’s lament.

When the Bush people were pushed by the John McCain primary campaign in 2000, they went a similar route, painting the POW sacrifices of McCain into the category of overrated to out and out lies. It worked like gangbusters, and despite the denials from on high, there can be no doubt where these little end-around’s came from then and are emanating from now. If there is still any question of their actual origin, it was answered when McCain, who gushed like a schoolgirl when introducing the president at every stop including a Florida appearance on 8/10, declined to speak at a New Mexico rally the next day.

There is also Bush’s axing of his latest campaign slogan “Turning the Corner”, appearing in well over $3 million worth of national political ads and a dozen of his recent stump speeches. Reports of near fisticuffs in the Bush campaign offices in D.C. over this have been corroborated by several sources. Seems someone missed the fact that it was a Herbert Hoover slogan during the months after the stock market crash that defined his doomed presidency.

Several of the brainchildren behind the “Turning” slogan, including it’s most vociferous proponent, senior strategist for the Bush campaign Matthew Dowd had all but convinced RNC chairman Ed Gillespie to keep it before Friday’s damning jobs report made the whole thing seem like a sick joke. As a result Dowd is days from being demoted, if not sacked altogether, leaving what has been described by our boy inside, Georgetown as “a rather divided focus group on how to redefine the indefinable”.

“Dowd is a scapegoat in a power struggle to rescue this thing,” Georgetown continued to report from inside the RNC main offices. “This is looking more and more each day like something between ‘Mission Accomplished’ and the Gore earth-tone costume changes back in 2000.”

Sounds like the Red Sox sitting on a late post-season lead kind of doom.

Finally, the White House’s decision to keep Secretary of State Colin Powell away from the GOP National Convention at month’s end under the guise that it is procedural sends up political red flags all over the place. Powell, who has been treated like leper by this administration since he fronted the laughable fictitious pitch for war before the UN last spring, will not even be in the building. Powell is just one of many insiders who have openly criticized several and varied aspects of the war’s handling from Washington to the Pentagon. Since, he has been labeled the crippling tag of “not on board”, and will not survive a second term if something miraculous puts the coughing George Bush train back on the tracks.

If nothing else, the Bush mid-summer strategy has been wisely defensive. Beats the alternative. Running on this mediocre to abysmal domestic or foreign affairs record is not a sane option. These radically paranoiac moves, and several lesser ones like sending that fat coward Dick Chaney around to paint Kerry as some kind of hippie peacenik speak volumes to that end. Scrambling to find ways to sell an inferior product is why the big-ticket power suits get the large money on Madison Avenue, and why the mortality rate on Pennsylvania Avenue is higher by the minute.

Politics, like nature, has a way of eradicating its wounded, whether the corpse knows enough to lie down or not.

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NJ Democrats Block Nader Campaign

Aquarian Weekly 8/11/04 REALITY CHECK

2004 Campaign RUNNING SCARED New Jersey Democrats Play Hardball To Block Nader Campaign

Terry MacSay what you will about Ralph Nader’s 2004 edition of an independent candidacy, there can be no argument on his right to conduct one, unless you are members of the New Jersey Democratic Party, who have seen fit to try and block Nader from getting on the ballot over the past weeks. Lawyers allegedly hired by Governor McGreevey’s top aids lost the battle late last month, so Nader will be allowed to participate in New Jersey. However his campaign is currently tied up in legal scuffles in several states to include a third candidate, which is wrong constitutionally and very wrong politically for the Democrats, who despite being solid contenders this November have, in this reporter’s summation, shown petty and cheap methods to keep the disaster of 2000 at bay.

Fear mongering, a Bush administration staple, is now firmly entrenched in the Kerry campaign. These dime-store tactics and infantile personal attacks on Nader’s integrity as a candidate will only serve to alienate the all-important independent voter and cause many who voted for Nader in 2000 to do so out of a show of protest for voter rights.

Many feel, and I must count myself as one, that enough is enough for Ralph Nader. But if that’s truly the case then no one should vote for him, like no one should listen to Howard Stern or Eminem or watch bad reality television if they don’t want and it will all go away. The whole point of democracy (even in a compromised democratic republic) is for its people to be heard, especially in elections. The power wing of the Democratic Party apparently doesn’t adhere to this principle. It has perpetuated these frivolous blockades of the independent candidate to ultimately only damage the image of their candidate, who, in its wake, appears scared and weak and unable to take on the landscape of an arduous campaign without leveling the playing field in his favor.

Isn’t this what the Democrats accused Republicans of pulling in Florida four years ago?

In a letter recently sent to Democratic chairman, Terry McAuliffe, the man who buried Howard Dean, Nader wrote “I am writing to request that you stop Democratic Party officials, state Democratic partisans, corporate lobbyists, and law firms from inappropriately and maliciously taking steps to keep the Nader-Camejo ticket off the ballot. I was disturbed to read press reports from the Democratic Convention that indicated sessions were held at the convention to plan a national campaign to keep Nader-Camejo off the ballot and limit the choices of voters.”

The accusations went on to list Dem corporate lobbyists, a stream of attorneys and key Dem officials, including using Dean (ironically the only anti-war candidate besides Nader and the recently silenced Dennis Kucinich) to block the independent campaign from getting on the ballot in key battleground states.

Hate Bush all you want, but victory at the cost of the freedom to vote with conscience and make a stamp on the public record is sinking to everything The Left claims Bush represents.

Nader’s charges support the theme this space has presented for months, that this Kerry/Edwards campaign had better be about something other than the alternative to another four years of Bush fast, because in the end it might not be enough to stop the expected late rally by an incumbent in September, particularly if Nader corrals even the slightest groundswell of independent voters. What the Democrats should be doing is working harder to cull the disenfranchised vote, not pushing its only voice, however wacky and repetitious they deem it, out of the process to force these people to choose between a two-party system they rightly feel has been long co-opted by money and political favors.

In other words if the Dems keep this shit up it could backlash and lead to a Bush victory, which history tells us will have crippling effects on the immediate future of the war effort and the structure of this executive branch. Second terms have been unkind mistresses to presidents for half a century (Nixon – Watergate, Reagan – Iran-Contra, Clinton – Impeachment) and this one has the chance to sink into the kind of oblivion rarely seen on a national political stage.

But the growing litany of problems with George W. Bush and his doomed presidency will have to wait for a future column. For now, having spoken to Nader in length over the past days, (full interview on the record to come in Issue 8/25) the idea of a late bow out to endorse Kerry is less and less likely due to these constant harassments. Kerry must now fight, albeit a slight one, on two fronts for the presidency.

There is no secret the Bush people see, and rightfully so, an inadvertent ally in Nader. In four or five key battleground states in 2000, not the least of which was the penultimate Florida count, Nader votes pulled some 60% of possible Gore votes out that easily could have sent Bush back to Texas. What Ross Perot’s historic independent run did to make Clinton presidency a reality has happened already once for Junior, and these ardent and clumsily pusillanimous blockades of voter rights conducted by the Democratic Party speaks volumes to those fears.

Crazy as it seems, I adhere to the outlandish idea that if people wanted to vote for Gore in 2000, they would have. What frightened Democrats choose to believe instead is if forced to vote for Gore, maybe more people would have.

What transpired in the Supreme Court of Florida in 2000 was a travesty, despite these myths that Gore somehow won the election because he carried the popular vote, as if having more hits in a baseball game you finish with less runs counts as a victory, and its legacy should be for the press (asleep at the wheel on this one) and the American people (busy keeping tabs on an Olsen Twin’s weight loss) to stand up and be heard. Voter fraud, pay-offs, corporate and special interest lobbies are all part of the two-party system that is so patently dysfunctional and crooked it begs the manner of revolution, but not allowing an independent dissenting voice to join the fray is the exact reason why there is a Ralph Nader and why so many Americans refuse to be included in what they view as a fixed process.

Hate Bush all you want, but victory at the cost of the freedom to vote with conscience and make a stamp on the public record is sinking to everything The Left claims Bush represents. Trading one set of shenanigans for another is playing big-time politics, and all of us having spent anytime around this bilge understand it, and in weaker moments claim to love it, but in the end the people must be allowed to vote for a tree stump if they so choose.

Isn’t that what these asshole country-club white guys keep telling us we’re sending the poor out to die for?

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John Kerry Reports For Duty

Aquarian Weekly 8/4/04 REALITY CHECK

Democratic Convention 2004 G.I. JOHN DIGS IN

John Kerry For 50-plus minutes last Thursday night the Democratic nominee for President of the United States ended four long days of bashing, cajoling, revising and challenging from every spectrum of the party during its Beantown convention, finally setting a course for battle over the next 90 days. When considering the amount of cable, network, internet and radio coverage all over the planet, and the relative ambiguity of his primary platform, this may not only have been John Kerry’s most important hour, but arguably the most dissected speech given by a presidential candidate ever.

And although it was not Ronald Reagan in 1980 or the first JFK in ’60, it put a little meat on the bones of the Kerry campaign and transformed the otherwise vagueness of his vacillating messages that so far had all but added up to “I’m not Bush” into a viable street-fighter mentality needed to force a debate this fall.

After the usual spitfire incoherence of Ted Kennedy and Al Sharpton, the overly contrived shill of Senator Rodham and the expected bombastic brilliance of a Big Bill rally-chat, a fine piece of oration by Illinois senator, Barack Obama and a wildly overrated presentation by the vice presidential candidate 24 hours earlier, Kerry burned through four key segments of what his people believe he will need to defeat a man who barely knocked off the worst campaigner this reporter has ever seen or covered four years ago.

The overwhelming key to Kerry’s coming out party was his military service. No less than ten times by my count the Massachusetts senator roused the locals by referring to his experience as a foot soldier or his sentiments blooming from such a position or his sympathy for the present-day soldier or remembering his fellow Viet Nam soldiers. Beginning with a salute and his announcement that he was “reporting for duty” immediately put the onus on his toughness in these tough times to which the Bush people believe they have erected a kind of monopoly upon.

This puts the expected White House backlash on the defensive for no other reason but its administration’s assistance that everyone must, regardless of opinion “Support the troops!” Well, for half of his acceptance speech, the one that would finally define him to the American people, John Kerry effectively announced himself “One of the troops!”

Somehow Kerry has managed to erase hundreds of hours of sound bites bloated with anti-war rhetoric from his youth, the likes of which seemed to galvanize the Democratic base during the primaries and co-opted the Howard Dean movement to the tune of comeback victories in Iowa and New Hampshire and a burial of Dean. Taking the mantle from the opponent seems to be this man’s style, and that bodes well for victory in this stinking arena.

The second, and not without merit or coincidence, Kerry hammered home images of hope from every corner of populist-speak. Not unlike the 2000 Al Gore snoozer that actually zoomed a 15-point spike in the polls, Kerry read a laundry list of impossible federal programs from (ho-um, here we go again) the ever-popular Universal Health Care to Middle Class Tax Breaks and “hit-the-rich-corporate-devils” commentary to the gauche but always effective swing-vote middle America tap dance of a united, free and working country.

For half of his acceptance speech, the one that would finally define him to the American people, John Kerry effectively announced himself “One of the troops!”

Yet Kerry was also able to invoke a sixties mentality, an almost Hippy-Messiah kind of mantra with “We believed we could change the world. And you know what? We did. But we’re not finished. The journey isn’t complete. The march isn’t over. The promise isn’t perfected. Tonight, we’re setting out again. And together, we’re going to write the next great chapter of America’s story.”

A bold slice of Baby Boomer Pollyanna to say the least.

The man who voted for NAFTA having the balls to shout about halting the export of jobs to other countries has the ring of winner written all over it. Where Gore failed to realize the sick genius of Big Bill, the Kerry people fully understand its importance to political survival.

These first two points has given root to what you will be hearing, seeing and enduring from this campaign over the next three months and it has to scare anyone working for the Bush campaign because the “All-Things-To-All-People” stuff worked gangbusters for Al Gore, and everyone with half a brain knows if he wasn’t hated by most of the voting public he would have waxed Captain Shoe-In with it by Labor Day. Believe me, several key members of the Bush 2000 staff told me as much on several occasions when I warned them of Gore’s power to promise the moon for a vote.

The third point of the Kerry speech, which was without argument a speed-reading exercise to take advantage of primetime network coverage, was the aforementioned “I’m Not Bush” portion. The sign of a serious contender is not forgetting what created your candidacy in the first place: The other guy’s pathetic performance while in charge. For there is no doubt that every re-election bid ever conducted has been a referendum on the incumbent, and this one reeks of it. John Kerry is not too proud to admit, “As long as I’m not George Bush, you have to at least consider me!” The very reason John Edwards is the antithesis to Dick Chaney, physically, emotionally, ideologically, metaphysically, and the perfect reason to invoke the idea that after 9/11 this country was all together in a support group and somehow the Bush administration managed to ruin it.

Last but certainly not least, because the brand spanking new nominee closed with it hard, John Kerry has put out the united front of taking the high road, laying down a positive, touchy-feely gauntlet for the next few crucial weeks when the Republican machine will try and gain a foothold into whatever bump this convention may hold by lambasting him on his flip-flop, liberal mess of a voting record.

To wit: “My friends, the high road may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And that’s why Republicans and Democrats must make this election a contest of big ideas, not small-minded attacks.”

This way Kerry can gain a measure of momentum from something like a Michael Moore propaganda film, while not being straddled with having to defend its aggressive stance. After Moore, for whom I’ve had a good relationship from afar through his lovely wife and his always-passionate and humorous satire, was taken apart by Ted Koppel the other night, Kerry would be wise to take any road that lets the other guy gut Bush like a prize fish and reap the benefits without the inevitable embarrassment.

Every pundit across the land waited for John Kerry to either fall flat on his face or rock the foundation of this election season with his acceptance speech, but on the final night of the Democratic Convention, his first real moment in the spotlight, he did neither. What he did was set up an interesting scenario by which the attack must now come to him rather than from him, and if so, perhaps at a cost for his opponent. He told us he is a soldier who cares about everyone from every walk of life and affiliation and who is not the other guy because that is what being the opponent is all about and when you get on board with it let’s remember to play nice.

John Kerry may still be a blurry image to many of the voting public, but he is now at least an image, and one that the president will have to contend with and not easily brush aside any longer. The Liberal who wants to jack up the military and raise taxes for your financial relief has spoken.

Good luck fighting that nonsense.

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