Saturday, February 28, 2004

The Politics of Fear
Placing the threat of terrorism
in historical perspective

Since this is a Fair and Balanced weblog, I will quote ultra-conservative commentator, former Nixon speech writer and occasional presidential candidate Pat Buchanan today.

In the March 1, 2004 issue The American Conservative, Buchanan reviews An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror by Richard Perle and David Frum. This is a review well worth reading.

This book is something of a neocon manifesto. Perle who has been called a neocon guru, resigned recently from the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, apparently not wanting his extremist views to taint President Bush during an election year.

Perle paints a picture of Islamic extremism, which will, if not destroyed, threaten our very survival as a nation. Buchanan sees this for what it is, over-the-top sensationalism.

As Buchanan points out,
In the worst of terror attacks, we lost 3,000 people. Horrific. But at Antietam Creek, we lost 7,000 in a day's battle in a nation that was one-ninth as populous. Three thousand men and boys perished every week for 200 weeks of that Civil War. We Americans did not curl up and die. We did not come all this way because we are made of sugar candy.

Germany and Japan suffered 3,000 dead every day in the last two years of World War II, with every city flattened and two blackened by atom bombs. Both came back in a decade. Is al-Qaeda capable of this sort of devastation when they are recruiting such scrub stock as Jose Padilla and the shoe bomber?

The timing of Perle's book is important. This is an election year, and George W. Bush doesn't have diddly squat to run on except fear. So he will keep invoking 9-11 and the war on terror, hoping to generate more fear than reason. Perle is doing his part by screaming "The terrorists are coming! The terrorists are coming!"

Buchanan gets it right when he says, "Perseverance and patience are called for, not this panic."

Thanks to Rodger Payne for pointing out Buchanan's review.

Arizona is a Battleground State
Don't take my word for it --
Check the numbers

At the Decembrist, Mark Schmitt notes a Sidney Blumenthal article in Salon (subscription required) that mentions Arizona's emerging position as a key swing state. Arizona ususally votes Republican, but swung to Clinton in 1996 and elected Democrat Janet Napolitano governor in 2002.

For anyone who doubts Arizona's position as a major battleground state in the 2004 presidential election, consider this: after adjustments for the 2000 census (Arizona picked up 2 additional congressional seats -- thus 2 more electoral votes), if every state votes the way it did in the 2000 election except Arizona, the Democratic nominiee will win the election in the electoral college by 2 votes (hanging chads and activist Supreme Court intervention not withstanding). You can check this out yourself on the American Research Group's Electoral Vote Calculator.

Speaking of Arizona elections, I've been encouraging Rain Storm readers to send a few dollars to the Babbitt for Congress campaign. I can't get his display ad on here until Blogspot completes whatever technical upgrade they're trying to do. But there is a blurb about Babbitt in the left hand column.

This is a race that Babbitt certainly could win. But the NRCC is going to bring a lot of money and muscle to Arizona, trying not to lose another vulnerable house seat. Tell 'em they can't have it. Send Paul Babbitt some money, and please add .19 so they know you read it on Rain Storm.


Friday, February 27, 2004

Down Time

My posting may be pretty thin for the next day or so. I'm in the midst of a couple large projects, while at the same time trying to fight off some nasty respiratory virus.

So I'm striving to attain the proper chemical balance between medication and motivation. And I'll try to get back to posting as soon as possible.

In my absence, why not wander over to the Decembrist. Mark Schmitt has a great little piece about explaining family relationships to his 2-year old daughter. If only our preznit was as bright as Mark's kid...


Thursday, February 26, 2004

Spreading the Word
Getting noticed in the big blog jungle

As some of you know, Rain Storm is just a couple weeks old. And it's not easy getting noticed when you're in the same room with hundreds of other pretty good bloggers (short of spending all your allowance on some major advertising at some high-traffic sites -- that is not in this week's budget, sorry to say).

So Rain Storm would like to thank the following bloggers for mentioning us on their site. And we encourage you to visit them. They have interesting, insightful content, and they were smart enough to find Rain Storm in the midst of the blog jungle.

The Conch

thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse

The Mahablog


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Hit hard, hit early, hit often
Kerry knows how to win this fight

Jesse at pandagon points out that John Kerry is (so far) being much more effective than Al Gore was at taking the fight to George W. Bush:

Here was 2000:

Bush: "Al Gore will endanger our nation's prosperity."

Gore: "I stand for the people against the powerful! They'll do bad things! I won't!"


Bush: "John Kerry will endanger our nation's prosperity."

Kerry: "If that means I'm endangering Bush's sorry record on the economy by making it better, then I'm a very dangerous man."

Jesse makes a good point. Kerry's style so far is a whole lot more effective than Gore's rather stiff performance in 2000. Maybe it's the difference between the genteel Tennessee manner and the bare-knuckles Boston way of campaigning.

But there is one additional factor. Bush now has a record to run against. He's been a monumental failure on jobs, international relations, the war in Iraq, and the environment. So in 2004, the Bush record is a "target-rich environment."

Kerry is absolutely right to take advantage of Bush's record. The only question is can he take the dirty punches from Rove and Cheney, and still have the knockout punch for Bush.

Hit hard. Hit early. Hit often.

Let's call it what it is
What it is - what it is - what it is

Over at the Whiskey Bar, Billmon has coined a term for the proposed constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage (or maybe he didn't coin it, but his was the first reference I have seen).

Billmon calls it the Unequal Rights Amendment.

I think it would be absolutely appropriate to call it only that from now on.

"Let's call this song exactly what it is
What it is - what it is - what it is"


Tuesday, February 24, 2004

More on the Marriage Amendment
Things you should know
and maybe some you shouldn't

Atrios lists lots of reasons why the marriage issue matters. Digby sharpens his sense of humor for the coming battle.

Travis says: Read 'em both.

Bush Supports Marriage Amendment
2004 election goes ugly early

By announcing his formal support of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, President Bush made it clear that the cultural wars will be as much a part of the 2004 presidential race as the economy and the war in Iraq.

Bush also drove a stake through the heart of his 2000 campaign promise to be a "uniter, not a divider."

To really appreciate how divisive this amendment would be, you need to hear the voice of a gay conservative like Andrew Sullivan:

"The president launched a war today against the civil rights of gay citizens and their families. And just as importantly, he launched a war to defile the most sacred document in the land. Rather than allow the contentious and difficult issue of equal marriage rights to be fought over in the states, rather than let politics and the law take their course, rather than keep the Constitution out of the culture wars, this president wants to drag the very founding document into his re-election campaign. He is proposing to remove civil rights from one group of American citizens - and do so in the Constitution itself. The message could not be plainer: these citizens do not fully belong in America. Their relationships must be stigmatized in the very Constitution itself. The document that should be uniting the country will now be used to divide it, to single out a group of people for discrimination itself, and to do so for narrow electoral purposes. Not since the horrifying legacy of Constitutional racial discrimination in this country has such a goal been even thought of, let alone pursued. Those of us who supported this president in 2000, who have backed him whole-heartedly during the war, who have endured scorn from our peers as a result, who trusted that this president was indeed a uniter rather than a divider, now know the truth."

Josh Marshall points out that this isn't exactly the script the Bush re-election campaign was hoping for:

"The strategy was to bank the president's rock solid support from Republicans and spend the year above the political fray with soft sounding proposals aimed at the political middle.

"But it hasn't worked out that way.

"The support among conservatives has taken some real hits. The White House has decided that the long-predicted rising economy won't float them through this election. The situation in Iraq looks wobbly and likely to get worse before it gets better. So deprived of the ability to run on his record he's decided to save his political hide by trying to tear the country apart over a charged and divisive social issue which is being hashed out through the political process in the states."

As I've said earlier, I don't think the Democrats can waffle on this. The fight is here and now. When the peace movement was shut out of the 1968 Democratic convention, Todd Gitlan coined the phrase "The whole world is watching." This time history is watching. Let history we say we did the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.

Find Somebody to Blame
and do it fast,
it's an election year

Kevin Drum points out that on the Sunday political talk shows, the new Republican talking point is "the Clinton Recession."

In essence, they are trying to say that the recession started in December of 2000 instead of March of 2001.

In itself this isn't particularly astounding. The Bush administration has consistently been (how shall we say this?) Truth-Challenged. So shifting the actual start of the recession 12 weeks is just sort of the way they have cooked their numbers all along.

What is interesting is that they are finally acknowledging that there is a problem or two with the economy. For months they've been trying to say that the statistics don't really capture all the new jobs the tax cuts for the rich have created. Even Alan Greenspan wasn't buying that line.

So now it's as though they've just discovered that the economy really is in the toilet, it's an election year, and the "oh shit" factor just kicked in.

So what do they do? Well in true Republican fashion, the party that waves the flag for personal responsibility starts flailing around looking for someone to blame.


Monday, February 23, 2004

They're Rich
and they're stupid, too

Atrios cuts to the heart of the Bush-Cheny re-election team:

"Stop being afraid of what's coming. They're nasty, but they really aren't all that bright."

I agree. Get out the vote and take them down!


Sunday, February 22, 2004

They won't get fooled again
Bush won't get their vote twice

The New York Times (registration required) has an interesting article on a series of interviews with voters in various parts of the country who supported Bush in 2000 but won't do it again.

Here are a few key graphs:

In dozens of random interviews around the country, independents and Republicans who said they voted for Mr. Bush in 2000 say they intend to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate this year.

George Meagher, a Republican who founded and now runs the American Military Museum in Charleston, S.C., said he threw his "heart and soul" into the Bush campaign four years ago. He organized veterans to attend campaign events, including the campaign's kickoff speech at the Citadel. He even has photographs of himself and his wife with Mr. Bush.

"Given the outcome and how dissatisfied I am with the administration, it's hard to think about now," he said. "People like me, we're all choking a bit at not supporting the president. But when I think about 500 people killed and what we've done to Iraq. And what we've done to our country. I mean, we're already $2 trillion in debt again."

I would just add that these are very reminiscent of the sort of things my parents were saying before deciding that they couldn't vote for Nixon in 1972.

Thanks to Kevin Drum for catching this one.

Thank a Liberal

Over at Legal Fiction, Publius has a great little piece. The gist is that the RNC loves to call Democrats liberals, as though there was something wrong with being a liberal. Then he goes on to say:

Did you like the American Revolution? Thank a liberal.

Are you glad slavery was ended? Thank a liberal.

The list goes on. Read it. It will make you feel good. Copy it and send it to your friends. Say it loud -- I'm liberal and proud!

The Industrial Whopper
Bush's job sector shell game

According to The New York Times, the Bush administration has figured out what to do about the thousands of manufacturing jobs that have been lost during the past 3 years. They're considering declaring the fast food industry to be part of the manufacturing sector.

They rationalize that the assembly line process of making a Big Mac is not all that different than the one Henry Ford used to manufacture the Model-T. And in the process they can claim the creation of hundreds of thousands of new manufacturing jobs.

As Dave Barry would say, I'm not making this up.


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