Thursday, September 11, 2003


Living in the NYC metro two years ago today was something else. On September 4th, 2001, I drove into the city with a few friends. I fell asleep in the car and woke up in Jersey City, just in time to catch fantastic view of the towers. Really briefly, it crossed my mind that it's really sad how underappreciated the towers were. They were huge and imposing, but their simplicity ensured their asthetic appeal. Besides, I thought about all of the time I spent under their shadows in Battery Park when I was a homesick student at NYU. (It was a quiet spot with a nice view of Jersey back home.) And then that was it. In all honesty, I'd never have remembered those random thoughts 9/11 hadn't happened. I'm glad I had that last encounter with the towers.

When I hear conservatives talk about how glad they are that Gore wasn't President during 9/11, I want to gag. I don't know what--if anything--President Al Gore would have done differently, but in all honesty, politics is not the first thing I think about when I think about 9/11.


So there is a bit of political news out there.

Ron Fournier at the AP seems to think it's a story that Wesley Clark is leaning towards a run for the White House. I mean, it is a story, but it's not a real story until he announces.

Out in corn country, Howard Dean has taken the lead in the primary polls. Dean's got 23%, Gephardt has 17%, Kerry brings up third with 11%, and Edwards is beating Lieberman 6%-to-4%. Actually, despite the headlines, it seems that the real leader is some guy named Undecided who has a commanding 32%.

The John Zogby read? "Iowa could be a nail-biter."

The DemWatch read? Thirty-two percent undecided--this thing is wide open.


In keeping with the theme of remembrance, a friend of mine has written a very touching piece about the passing of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh. It's news here in the states, but understandably getting drowned out by the anniversary story. Suggested reading on a sad topic.

posted by Scott | 9/11/2003 | |

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Tonight's Dem Debate

Part of me felt like Fox News and the GOP were secretly scheming to make the Dems look like a party in disarray. Over Lyndon LaRouche. But that's probably just me.

LaRouche supporters aside, the performance was not too far off from the last NM debate. Lieberman was back in "get Dean" mode, this time more obnoxious and more... well... ridiculous. Dean's under fire for his comments that the U.S. shouldn't take sides in the Middle East. He clarified his position rather well, saying that Bill Clinton took the same position in maintaining America's role as an honest broker in the peace process. Lieberman fought him on it and it just sounded mean. And oddly boring. And if Joe's going to do mean, he's certainly not going to win by being mean and boring.

Dean also batted another bit of criticism out of the park. He's been taking flak for not being able to identify with black voters, especially since the state that elected him Governor has a 98% white population. He was asked about the issue tonight. "If the percentage of minorities in your state has anything to do with how you connect with black voters, then Trent Lott would be Martin Luther King." Well said.

And Reverend Al! The man is not going to win, but he's certainly proved himself a commanding figure. Every time there was an absurd pro-LaRouche outburst, Sharpton took the floor and pulled the focus back to the debate. Which was a good thing, because it seemed that the Fox people didn't really have any interest in making sure the debate went smoothly.

posted by Scott | 9/10/2003 | |

Quick Clark News

1. The 1.5 million member--and extremely politically influential--AFSME is delaying any endorsement until Wesley Clark makes his decision on a run. President Gerald McEntee has been one of the leading Democrats quietly pushing Clark to run. I could make some sort of grand comment here, but... that hardly seems necessary.
2. Sure sign you're being taken seriously as a candidate? Other candidates start taking shots at you. In a recent interview, John Kerry acknowleged the strength of Clark's military record. He then tempered the flattery with, "he does not bring some of the other things that I have, which are 20 years of experience in the other field and leading in the policy side." Sounds like someone's feeling a little bit threatened.
3. Prior to his MeetUp address Monday night, Clark had a meet up of his own. He sat down in Los Angeles with the folks behind Media strategist Maya Israel came away from the meeting with a feeling of "strong optimism."

posted by Scott | 9/10/2003 | |

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Three Cheers for Jonathan Alter

For asking in the pages of Newsweek if it isn't "Time for a New Patriotism." Alter challenges the new Britney Spears consensus that “we should just trust the president in every decision he makes” and wonders why American isn’t taking a cue from Britain in questioning exactly how sexed-up those dossiers really were.

He also smartly brings Mark Twain back into the public debate. Twain was once called a traitor for opposing American involvement in the Philippines. Patriotically, he reminded his fellow Americans that the idea that “the king can do no wrong,” had been merely replaced with the mindset, “our country, right or wrong.”

Alter ends his piece by pleading for a return to the “enlightened internationalism” that served America so well throughout the Cold War and beyond. I’ve got to second that motion and thank Alter from the bottom of my heart for reminding Newsweek readers that, even though it may fall out of fashion, reason is still patriotic.

posted by Scott | 9/09/2003 | |

Big News...
GOP Wakes Up: Dean Is For Real
Clark Shakes Up: Decision Soon
Dem Fates Up: Zogby Numbers Promising

1. It seems that the GOP is finally figuring out that Howard Dean is a force to be reckoned with. Says a Team W advisor in NH, “There is something going on there, and I tell you, if we don't pay attention ... we're making a big mistake.” Well, duh!

So what I want to know is if this is a diabolical part of Karl Rove’s grand conspiracy to get Dean nominated, or is this the real deal? Well, seeing as how I never really bought into the conspiracy theory, I’m betting it’s for real. Though they may be trying to energize Dems to support Dean on the eve of a Wes Clark announcement. Which leads me to…

2. Tonight was the final Draft Clark MeetUp before Wesley Clark makes his ultimate decision whether or not to run for President. To commemorate the occasion, Clark himself taped a message to be shown at each MeetUp. Interestingly, this is the first time Clark has coordinated publicly with the draft campaign. Here are some of the greatest hits:

“We haven't had anything this powerful in American Democracy since 1772 and the committees of correspondence set up by Sam Adams in Boston… It's a tremendous inspiration to me, and it's been the encouragement to me to really give serious consideration to joining this race.”

“We stand for participation, for citizens' involvement in their government, for keeping up with the issues, for expressing strong opinions, and for believing in what our country stands for and our potential for greatness and goodness in the world.”

“…[W]e can do great things for America. Each and every one of us working together, working on behalf of the causes we believe in, and helping to make this country strong and great and good.”

How do I read it? Some of it doesn’t sound good. Clark seems to thank the people for being involved, while letting them down gently. For example, he thanks the draft movement for encouraging him “to really give serious consideration” to running. As in, “I’ve given it serious consideration, but I have to decline.”

But some of it sounds very promising. “We stand for…” and “we can do great things.” Ultimately, that leads me to believe that Clark is trying to start… something. Whether he’s running for President or attempting to turn Leadership for America into a much more potent activist organization, I’m not sure, but I’m leaning towards the former.


You all know I’m not prone to all caps, but I felt like this one deserved it. Bush’s approval ratings are at less than half (45% positive, 54% negative) and a majority of voters feel that the country is headed in the wrong direction (52%--40% think we’re doing alright).

More important than that are the re-elect numbers. If you haven’t already seen them, then maybe you should take a seat. Sitting? Good. FIFTY-TWO PERCENT believe we need a new President! Only 40% think Bush deserves re-election. By a margin of 47-to-40%, an unnamed Democrat beats Bush. (So I guess that means there’s a solid 5% out there waiting for McCain to challenge Bush in the GOP primary? Or maybe that’s a solid 2% and Nader’s 3% are more stubborn and deluded than previously thought. Whatever.)

Coupled with Zogby’s previous numbers for the Draft Clark folks, it’s all very good news for the Dems. The comparison of the blind and non-blind Clark v. Bush numbers was very telling. In the straight Clark v. Bush poll, Bush wins 49% to 38%. In the blind Clark bio v. Bush poll, Clark wins 49% to 40%. This suggests that voters are looking for alternatives to Bush but do not yet know the candidates well enough to consider voting for them. So all of the Democratic candidates--not just Wes Clark--should be able to benefit by marketing the positive aspects of their individual bios. For example, among the leading candidates are a country doctor, a Vietnam vet-turned-activist, and a lawyer with a track record of defending the peoples’ interests from abusive corporations. All of them should easily beat “failed businessman with rumored history of substance abuse.” Especially when tacked on to that is “brash, ineffective commander in chief, responsible for thousands of unnecessary deaths.”

posted by Scott | 9/09/2003 | |

Monday, September 08, 2003

John Edwards is Serious

Edwards announced today that he will not be running for re-election to North Carolina Senate. This is a momentus move for the NC Dems, who are now free to run a full-time candidate without having to worry about the "what-if" factors that went along with Edwards' White House run.

Most everyone else is going to write about the two likely Democratic candidates for the now-open seat and their chances at winning, but I'm going to leave that to them.

What interests me is what Edwards is thinking. Does he really think he's going to win the nomination? Does he really think that he's going to be able to beat Bush if he does?

He might. But I'm guessing that he doesn't really. Edwards' seat was far from safe, with some polls showing him losing the seat. I think Edwards is lining himself up for a job in the Executive branch if not the job. The most obvious would be Vice-President, but I think he might also be targeting the AG's position. His likely competition there would be NY AG Eliot Spitzer who may want to stay there anyway to keep an eye on Wall Street... or to run for NY Governor.

A lot of hypotheticals there, but none--I don't think--that are too outlandish.

posted by Scott | 9/08/2003 | |
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