Saturday, July 31, 2004

Nero Fiddled

While Glenn Reynolds remained a douchebag.

Via Tbogg, we learn what the Professor's readers think is an effective campaign ad.

FADE IN: on Ted Kennedy, on the podium, partway through his garbled convention speech, as he delivers the line, "The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George W. Bush!"

CUT TO: New York City skyline. The old one. With the World TradeCenter.


Being a screenwriter myself, I decided to use the same Ted Kennedy quote to create my own campaign commercial.

NOTE: V.O. stands for "voice over."




Familiar, sickening footage -- plane #2 SLAMS into the SECOND TOWER.

The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George W. Bush!



More familiar footage -- President Bush sits before a group of school children; Andy Card enters, whispers in his ear.


Sliding into FRAME next to the images of President Bush and the kids: NEWS FOOTAGE -- thick black smoke billows from the second tower.

The TIMESTAMP from each tape APPEARS in the lower right corner of its respective SCREEN; REVEALS that the TOWER FOOTAGE is occurring AS the President reads with the children.


ONE MINUTE -- The President has yet to leave.
TWO MINUTES -- The tower continues to BURN; no reaction yet from Bush.
THREE MINUTES -- This is starting to get uncomfortable.
FOUR MINUTES -- Nothing.
FIVE MINUTES -- THIS is our Commander in Chief?
FINALLY -- near the SEVEN MINUTE mark, President Bush EXITS the classroom.



A disgusting cloud of DEBRIS and SOOT envelops TOWER TWO as it CRUMBLES to the ground.

Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?

I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."



Convention Highlights

Stuff I didn't get to during the week.

General Wesley Clark:

War. I've been there. Heard the thump of enemy mortars. Seen the tracers fly. Bled on the battlefield. Recovered in hospitals. Received and obeyed orders. Sent men and women into battle. Awarded medals, comforted families, attended funerals. And this soldier has news for you: Anyone who tells you that one political party has a monopoly on the defense of our nation is committing a fraud on the American people. Franklin Roosevelt said it best: "Repetition does not transform a lie into the truth."

This hall and this party are filled with veterans who have served under this flag -- our flag. We rose and stood reveille to this flag. We fought for this flag. And we've seen brave men and women buried under this flag. This flag is ours! And nobody will take it away from us.

The safety of our country demands urgent and innovative measures to strengthen our armed forces. The safety of our country demands credible intelligence. The safety of our country demands cooperation with our allies. The safety of our country demands making more friends and fewer enemies. The safety of our country demands an end to the doctrinaire, ineffective policies that currently grip Washington.

Enough is enough! A safe America -- a just America -- that's what we want, and that's what we need. And with John Kerry and John Edwards, that's what we will achieve.

Al Sharpton:

The promise of America is that every citizen’s vote is counted and protected, and election schemes do not decide elections.

I often hear the Republican party preach about family values, but I can tell them something about family values. Family values don’t just exist for those with two-car garages and retirement plans. Family values exist in homes with only one parent in the household making a way against the odds.

I stand here tonight, the product of a single parent home, from the depths of Brooklyn, New York. My mother was a domestic worker who scrubbed floors in other people’s homes for me. And because she scrubbed those floors, I was proud to stand as a presidential candidate.

Those are family values.

I recall that a few days after the September 11 terrorist attacks I was in a radio station that played “America the Beautiful,” as sung by Ray Charles.

As you know, we lost Ray several weeks ago, but I can still hear him singing: “Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountains majesty, above the fruited plain.”

We must leave here committed to making Ray Charles’ song a reality and to making America beautiful for everyone.

Good night, God bless you all, and God bless America!

Ron Reagan:

It is a hallmark of human intelligence that we are able to make distinctions. Yes, these cells could theoretically have the potential, under very different circumstances, to develop into human beings—that potential is where their magic lies. But they are not, in and of themselves, human beings. They have no fingers and toes, no brain or spinal cord. They have no thoughts, no fears. They feel no pain. Surely we can distinguish between these undifferentiated cells multiplying in a tissue culture and a living, breathing person—a parent, a spouse, a child.

I know a child—well, she must be 13 now—I’d better call her a young woman. She has fingers and toes. She has a mind. She has memories. She has hopes. And she has juvenile diabetes.

Like so many kids with this disease, she has adjusted amazingly well. The insulin pump she wears—she’s decorated hers with rhinestones. She can insert her own catheter needle. She has learned to sleep through the blood drawings in the wee hours of the morning. She’s very brave. She is also quite bright and understands full well the progress of her disease and what that might ultimately mean: blindness, amputation, diabetic coma. Every day, she fights to have a future.

What excuse will we offer this young woman should we fail her now? What might we tell her children? Or the millions of others who suffer? That when given an opportunity to help, we turned away? That facing political opposition, we lost our nerve? That even though we knew better, we did nothing?

And, should we fail, how will we feel if, a few years from now, a more enlightened generation should fulfill the promise of embryonic stem cell therapy? Imagine what they would say of us who lacked the will.

No, we owe this young woman and all those who suffer—we owe ourselves—better than that. We are better than that. A wiser people, a finer nation. And for all of us in this fight, let me say: we will prevail.

The tide of history is with us. Like all generations who have come before ours, we are motivated by a thirst for knowledge and compelled to see others in need as fellow angels on an often difficult path, deserving of our compassion.

In a few months, we will face a choice. Yes, between two candidates and two parties, but more than that. We have a chance to take a giant stride forward for the good of all humanity. We can choose between the future and the past, between reason and ignorance, between true compassion and mere ideology. This is our moment, and we must not falter.


Friday, July 30, 2004

Hack Down!
From CNN's post acceptance-speech coverage, Judy Woodruff and Jeff Greenfield questioning Kerry Senior Strategist Tad Devine.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What about (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Tad Devine, though, that, once again, John Kerry did not talk about the last 29 years that he has spent in the United States Senate? Even some Democrats acknowledge that he has (UNINTELLIGIBLE) had a career that has been at times less than outstanding, that he's been one with a mediocre Senate career. You know, you heard Ed Gillespie say it again. He devoted almost no time in the speech to what he's done with his life for the last three decades.
Now, nevermind that Woodruff's "even some Democrats acknowledge" line of questioning is quite similar to the "some people say" method used by Fox News; after Devine answers the question, anchor Jeff Greenfield comes right back to the complaint that Kerry "devoted almost no time in the speech to what he's done with his life for the last three decades."
JEFF GREENFIELD: But, Ted, I wanted to see that. It's Jeff Greenfield. I really have never really heard an acceptance speech where 20 years of a guy's life in the U.S. Senate is kissed off in three sentences. In fact, the Bush campaign points out in this particular document that he forgot in the biography to mention that he'd been Lieutenant Governor to Michael Dukakis.I'm being inundated by balloons here as well. I just found that very striking, that there was nothing in 20 years that's worth more than a two-and-a-half lines in an almost-one- hour acceptance speech, and I can't figure that out. Explain it to me.
This isn't exactly an explanation Jeff, but here's where you and Judy might have seen 20 years worth of man's life glossed over in less than two-and-a-half lines.
This, in rather generous terms, is the portion of George W. Bush's 2000 acceptance speech devoted to explaining the 20 years of his life (spanning three decades) spent between receiving his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1975 and becoming Governor of Texas in 1996.
I've been where the buck stops in business and in government. I've been a chief executive who sets an agenda, sets big goals, and rallies people to believe and achieve them.
Two lines.
Twenty years worth of energy companies, catering businesses, drinking problems, SEC investigations and Major League Baseball teams in two lines.  
To be more clear -- whether or not Kerry chooses to discuss his career in the Senate, there is a record of where he has been and what he has done over the past thirty years. On the other hand, there is a twenty year stretch of George Bush's life of which we know little to nothing about, and which he has no desire to speak of. Yet strangely, it is the lack of focus on Kerry's past that Greenfield finds "very striking."


Thursday, July 29, 2004

Hope Is On The Way
Introducing, your next President of the United States.
We're told that outsourcing jobs is good for America. We're told that new jobs that pay $9,000 less than the jobs that have been lost is the best we can do.  They say this is the best economy we've ever had.  And they say that anyone who thinks otherwise is a pessimist.  Well, here is our answer:  There is nothing more pessimistic than saying America can't do better.

We can do better and we will.  We're the optimists. For us, this is a country of the future. We're the can do people.  And let's not forget what we did in the 1990s. We balanced the budget. We paid down the debt.  We created 23 million new jobs. We lifted millions out of poverty and we lifted the standard of living for the middle class. We just need to believe in ourselves – and we can do it again.

So tonight, in the city where America's freedom began, only a few blocks from where the sons and daughters of liberty gave birth to our nation – here tonight, on behalf of a new birth of freedom – on behalf of the middle class who deserve a champion, and those struggling to join it who deserve a fair shot – for the brave men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day and the families who pray for their return – for all those who believe our best days are ahead of us – for all of you – with great faith in the American people, I accept your nomination for President of the United States.
Remember the hours after September 11th, when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran up the stairs and risked their lives, so that others might live. When rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon.  When the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation's Capitol. When flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.
I am proud that after September 11th all our people rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats.  There were no Republicans. There were only Americans.  How we wish it had stayed that way.

And tonight, we have an important message for those who question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction for our country.  Before wrapping themselves in the flag and shutting their eyes and ears to the truth, they should remember what America is really all about. They should remember the great idea of freedom for which so many have given their lives.  Our purpose now is to reclaim democracy itself. We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism.

You see that flag up there.  We call her Old Glory. The stars and stripes forever. I fought under that flag, as did so many of you here and all across our country. That flag flew from the gun turret right behind my head. It was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind. It draped the caskets of men I served with and friends I grew up with.  For us, that flag is the most powerful symbol of who we are and what we believe in. Our strength. Our diversity. Our love of country. All that makes America both great and good.

That flag doesn't belong to any president. It doesn't belong to any ideology and it doesn't belong to any political party. It belongs to all the American people.
And let me say it plainly: in that cause, and in this campaign, we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them. I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago, and I want to say this to you tonight: I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side. And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country.

These aren't Democratic values. These aren't Republican values. They're American values.  We believe in them. They're who we are. And if we honor them, if we believe in ourselves, we can build an America that's stronger at home and respected in the world.

So much promise stretches before us. Americans have always reached for the impossible, looked to the next horizon, and asked: What if?

Two young bicycle mechanics from Dayton asked what if this airplane could take off at Kitty Hawk?  It did that and changed the world forever.  A young president asked what if we could go to the moon in ten years?  And now we're exploring the solar system and the stars themselves.  A young generation of entrepreneurs asked, what if we could take all the information in a library and put it on a little chip the size of a fingernail?  We did and that too changed the world forever.
And now it's our time to ask: What if?

What if we find a breakthrough to cure Parkinson's, diabetes, Alzheimer's and AIDs?  What if we have a president who believes in science, so we can unleash the wonders of discovery like stem cell research to treat illness and save millions of lives?

What if we do what adults should do – and make sure all our children are safe in the afternoons after school?  And what if we have a leadership that's as good as the American dream – so that bigotry and hatred never again steal the hope and future of any American?

I learned a lot about these values on that gunboat patrolling the Mekong Delta with young Americans who came from places as different as Iowa and Oregon, Arkansas, Florida and California.  No one cared where we went to school.  No one cared about our race or our backgrounds. We were literally all in the same boat. We looked out, one for the other – and we still do.

That is the kind of America I will lead as President – an America where we are all in the same boat.
Never has there been a more urgent moment for Americans to step up and define ourselves. I will work my heart out.  But, my fellow citizens, the outcome is in your hands more than mine. 

It is time to reach for the next dream.  It is time to look to the next horizon.  For America, the hope is there.  The sun is rising.  Our best days are still to come. 

Goodnight, God bless you, and God bless America.


The Batman Begins trailer is available for viewing on the official website.
Yes, I am hyperventilating. 

Yes, it is everything I hoped for and more.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Why You Should Vote For John Kerry (reason #1)
John Kerry has a plan to provide health care for millions of low-income American families, and at the same time, decrease the cost of premiums for those already insured. To fund the proposal, Kerry will rescind tax cuts for those Americans making over $200,000 a year (about 3% of the country.)
For a more thorough examination of the plan, economist Paul Krugman:

First, the Kerry plan raises the maximum incomes under which both children and parents are eligible to receive benefits from Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program. This would extend coverage to many working-class families, who often fall into a painful gap: they earn too much money to qualify for government help, but not enough to pay for health insurance. As a result, the Kerry plan would probably end a national scandal, the large number of uninsured American children.
Second, the Kerry plan would provide "reinsurance" for private health plans, picking up 75 percent of the medical bills exceeding $50,000 a year. Although catastrophic medical expenses strike only a tiny fraction of Americans each year, they account for a sizeable fraction of health care costs.

By relieving insurance companies and H.M.O.'s of this risk, the government would drive down premiums by 10 percent or more.

This is a truly good idea. Our society tries to protect its members from the consequences of random misfortune; that's why we aid the victims of hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist attacks. Catastrophic health expenses, which can easily drive a family into bankruptcy, fall into the same category. Yet private insurers try hard, and often successfully, to avoid covering such expenses. (That's not a moral condemnation; they are, after all, in business.)

Still, the Kerry plan will require increased federal spending. Kenneth Thorpe of Emory University, an independent health care expert who has analyzed both the Kerry and Bush plans, puts the net cost of the plan to the federal government at $653 billion over the next decade. Is that a lot of money?

Not compared with the Bush tax cuts: the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that if these cuts are made permanent, as the administration wants, they will cost $2.8 trillion over the next decade.

The Kerry campaign contends that it can pay for its health care plan by rolling back only the cuts for taxpayers with incomes above $200,000. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, which has become the best source for tax analysis now that the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Policy has become a propaganda agency, more or less agrees: it estimates the revenue gain from the Kerry tax plan at $631 billion over the next decade.


Knock 'Em Out The Box
State Senator, soon to be Junior Senator from Illinois, and Rookie of the Year candidate Barack Obama takes it out of the park.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America—there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here—the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!

Tonight, if you feel the same energy I do, the same urgency I do, the same passion I do, the same hopefulness I do—if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come. Thank you and God bless you.


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Dukakis This, Assholes
From Pandagon comes this USA Today story on the GOP's new strategy: they're going to pull a "Dukakis" on John Kerry.

Republicans ridiculed Democrat John Kerry's primary campaign contortions about the war on Iraq on Tuesday and handed out pictures of Kerry clad in a hooded blue anti-contamination suit as he climbed out of a NASA space shuttle orbiter. 
The GOP effort to pull a "Dukakis" on Kerry is shifting into high gear.
Asked the significance of the photo of Kerry in the anti-contamination suit, Republican chairman Ed Gillespie smiled broadly and said, "We just thought it was a great photo."
I've got another great photo for you Ed; and as a bonus, it proves why your bullshit attempt to pull a "Dukakis" on Kerry is going to go down in flames.

This is the last time John Kerry wore his country's uniform.

This is the last time our President wore his country's uniform.

To quote the Big Dog --
Here is what I know about John Kerry. During the Vietnam War, many young men—including the current president, the vice president and me—could have gone to Vietnam but didn’t. John Kerry came from a privileged background and could have avoided it too.  Instead he said, send me.


Killing Them Softly
From Josh Marshall:
Among Democrats, the rejection of this president is so total, exists on so many different levels, and is so fused into their understanding of all the major issues facing the country, that it doesn't even need to be explicitly evoked. The headline of Susan Page's piece in USA Today reads: "Speakers offer few barbs, try to stay warm and fuzzy." But the primetime speeches were actually brimming with barbs, and rather jagged ones at that. They were just woven into the fabric of the speeches, fused into rough-sketched discussions of policy, or paeans to Kerry.
That's quite true. Bill Clinton, without referring specifically to Bush -- in fact, earlier in the evening he called him a "strong man" who "loves his country" -- issued the most salient, scathing critique of the Bush presidency to date.
Their opponents will tell you to be afraid of John Kerry and John Edwards, because they won’t stand up to the terrorists—don’t you believe it.  Strength and wisdom are not conflicting values—they go hand in hand. John Kerry has both. His first priority will be keeping America safe.  Remember the scripture: Be Not Afraid [emphasis added].
How long before Karl Rove has Bush standing before a background that reads "Making America Stronger & Wiser"?


Monday, July 26, 2004

The Big Dog Is Loose
And God help anyone who gets in his way.
Tonight I speak as a citizen, returning to the role I have played for most of my life as a foot soldier in the fight for our future, as we nominate a true New England patriot for president. The state that gave us John Adams and John Kennedy has now given us John Kerry, a good man, a great senator, a visionary leader. We are constantly told America is deeply divided. But all Americans value freedom, faith, and family. We all honor the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.

We all want good jobs, good schools, health care, safe streets, a clean environment. We all want our children to grow up in a secure America leading the world toward a peaceful future. Our differences are in how we can best achieve these things, in a time of unprecedented change. Therefore, we Democrats will bring the American people a positive campaign, arguing not who’s good and who’s bad, but what is the best way to build the safe, prosperous world our children deserve.

When whiny pundits like Jonathan Alter issue banal pleas for civility, I turn a deaf ear; when the big dog says it's time we get positive and wrap this thing up, I'm falling in line.


Big, I Did It - Multi Before I Die
Do you hear that Mr. Bush? That is the sound of inevitability.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- What do Shrek, Spider-Man, Michael Moore and Harry Potter have in common? They all produced $100 million movie hits this summer.

Moore's condemnation of President Bush's actions regarding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" had a weekend haul of $5 million to lift its total to $103.35 million since opening in late June.

The previous best domestic gross for a feature-length documentary was $21.6 million for Moore's Academy Award-winning "Bowling for Columbine." That film took nine months to hit that level, while "Fahrenheit 9/11" did more business, $23.9 million, in just its first weekend.

The polarizing effects of Sept. 11 and its aftermath, with Americans bitterly divided over Bush's invasion of Iraq, have boosted the public's appetite for political documentaries such as "Fahrenheit 9/11," "Control Room" and "Outfoxed," Moore said.

"It's really cool now to talk about politics, and this is the first time I've seen this happen in decades, really," Moore said Sunday. "Being apathetic right now is very uncool."


Sunday, July 25, 2004

Hold On Loosely
Giving new meaning to the word "disingenuous," CNN anchor Drew Griffin pretends that CNN has no affect on what classifies as news, and how much coverage it receives.
DREW GRIFFIN: And this one: "How can any red-blooded American not be outraged by this "Holding Area" at the DNC?" It seems like any news can usurp John Kerry; is the pen issue, the holding pen issue going to knock them out of, knock the Democrats out of the center stage.
The reason that the "Holding Area" story has knocked Kerry off center stage is because CNN and other news outlets decided that it could be turned into a "hot button" issue; not because there is some kind of clamoring among Americans for more coverage of this topic.


A close associate of things fall apart is what you might call a Dolphins enthusiast. He will be, to somewhat understate it, displeased to learn this news.  

Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams has told the team he plans to retire after just five NFL seasons, The Miami Herald reported on its Web site early Sunday morning.
Step back from that ledge my friend.