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8.03.2004

Sweet 

Dave Chappelle just signed a huge new contract with Comedy Central, bitches. We're gonna get new eps, we're gonna get new eps...

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8.02.2004

Al Franken...in the flesh. 

Well, sort of. Looks like the Sundance Channel is picking up Franken's Air America show , not in its entirety, but it's definitely a start!

I'm gonna do a little distribution dance. I like what Franken says about Don Imus:
"I don't know how much I'm going to make an effort to adapt the show to TV," he
added, suggesting he might follow the example of Don Imus, whose widely
syndicated radio show has been simulcast on cable's MSNBC since 1996.
"Imus
does nothing to adapt to TV but sit up straight," Franken said.

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7.28.2004

More Convention Observations... 

--Older gentleman – pretty obviously a vet, shaking his fist when Edwards talked about taking care of the vets who have taken care of us, then later, another shot of him, rocking out to Black Eyed Peas – I’ll damn well marry somebody like that someday.

--The children of the nominees/wives looking for all the world like Camelot Kennedys:  Cate Edwards, with the Jackie O hairstyle and the beautifully tailored, 60’s Chanel-inspired suit, and sounding like every American’s Southern Belle ideal.
The Heinz brothers, almost spookily reminding me of John F. Kennedy Jr.

--Edwards’ message – blending his “Two Americas” message seamlessly with the idea that we should only have one America, and I appreciated one passage in his speech in particular.  

I feel such an enormous responsibility when it comes to issues of race and equality and civil rights.

I have heard some discussions and debates about where, and in front of what audiences we should talk about race, equality, and civil rights. Well, I have an answer to that question. Everywhere.
 
This is not an African-American issue, not a Latino issue, not an Asian-American issue, this is an American issue. It's about who we are, what our values are, what kind of country we want to live in. 
--The Alabama delegation – I was glad to finally see them on camera!  Hey Jack!

--The convention secretary, coyly wishing the mayor of the District of Columbia Happy Birthday.

--Poor Mississippi: they came right after Michigan, who put Kerry over in the delegate count, and “Celebrate” just ran all over them…but he got to speak (eventually).

--Someone (I won’t name names…mostly ‘cause I can’t remember) got sort of caught up and changed Kerry’s middle name to Fitzgerald. 

--Uh, calling Walter Mondale “the greatest statesman our country has every known” might be hyperbole.  I’m just sayin’.

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7.27.2004

If you can't read, just shove it. 

From Media Matters
In her remarks at a Massachusetts Statehouse reception July 25, Heinz Kerry had referred to "un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics." But as she pointed out, McNickle asked her afterwards what she meant by "un-American activities"; Heinz Kerry explained that there was a great deal of difference to her between saying "un-American activities" and "un-American traits." "Un-American activities," she said, "has a very different connotation. It's a political connotation of [Senator Joseph] McCarthy implications, which I would not use unless it was very specific. And I would use it if it was correct, but that's not what I was talking about."

Yes, she said "un-American" but go Cheney yourself if you really think that she didn't remember what she said. Someone said that to me today. I hate that I don't find stuff like this until after I've been challenged and only been able to come up with a line like "somehow I'm betting Fox News didn't get all their facts straight." Of course the facts weren't complete - but this kind of clarification is inconvenient to report, huh? Jerks.

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Somewhere between Clinton and Obama 

I'm tongue-tied.  I'm amazed.  I'm...oh, good gravy, still feeling teary-eyed after that. 

Of course Clinton, yesterday, was masterful, his usual self.  I loved how he began the "send me" refrain:

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.

If we want an image of strength, I'm not sure it gets better than this. 

But Obama.  My gracious.  I can't even think of words to really get to what he made me feel.  I'm so proud to be a Democrat.  He articulated so clearly the things that make me passionate: real support for our troops, the idea that individuals are important but that it somehow makes us less if we only think of ourselves, that different political beliefs don't mean we don't all belong in one America.  He gave me hope that that vision is achievable - he confronted head-on the overarching criticisms of ol' bleeding heart liberals, i.e., that we think government alone can solve everyone's problems - and he convinced me that he is committed and able to help our party and our country achieve it.  I'm inadequate. 

I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or with nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists. When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

Now let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure. John Kerry believes in America. And he knows it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga.

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief-I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper-that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.

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.

So freaking proud.  Thank you, Bill Clinton.  Thank you, Barack Obama.  I'm overwhelmed.

ETA: Mistyped something.  Fixed it.


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7.20.2004

Now taking bets... 

...on how many young lefty men will be taking part in the Bush twins' live chat on Friday.  I'd love to be the person who screens the questions.  Four words:  Pee-your-pants funny. Thanks to TBogg for the link.

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Just a dumb funny. 

The caption on this picture of Bush & the twins.  (The picture isn't very interesting, it's just the caption.)
President Bush (news - web sites), helps her twin daughters Jenna, center, and Barbara, right, board Marine One as they leave the White House for a trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa and St. Charles, Mo., Tuesday, July 20, 2004, in Washington. Barbara and Jenna, are making joint appearances with their dad on the campaign trail, for the first time. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(obviously, the emphasis mine)  Also, what up with the grammar in the second sentence?  Is that correct AP style, or is it just me that the comma splices give the willies to?
 
Small things, people.  Small things.

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Yes, Virginia, there are Two Americas 

John Edwards, bless his precious little heart, was right.

The WSJ reports today (on the front page, no less) on the economic recovery. They basically say what Dems have been saying all along: that the tax breaks disproportionately benefitted the wealthy.
With the U.S. economy expanding and the labor market improving, it isn't clear how well the Democrats' message of a divided America will resonate with voters this fall. But many economists believe the economic recovery has indeed taken two tracks...
Um, but if 'Murica is divided, and even you guys will put it on the front page, it'll resonate more. Thanks, WSJ!
Upper-income families, who pay the most in taxes and reaped the largest gains from the tax cuts President Bush championed, drove a surge of consumer spending a year ago that helped to rev up the recovery. Wealthier households also have been big beneficiaries of the stronger stock market, higher corporate profits, bigger dividend payments and the boom in housing.

Lower- and middle-income households have benefited from some of these trends, but not nearly as much. For them, paychecks and day-to-day living expenses have a much bigger effect. Many have been squeezed, with wages under pressure and with gasoline and food prices higher.
Okay, if gasoline and food are two of your biggest expenses as a percent of take-home pay, yep, that's right. The article quotes Bush talking about the child tax credit, and, to be fair, he's right, $2700 does mean a lot more to me than it does to someone who makes over $100k, but number one, I don't have a kid, and number two, if it means that little, why do they want to protect their precious tax cuts? I mean, if the upper crust, George, see money on a different scale from the rest of us, and if it's so much less important, let them freaking do without just a little sliver of it, huh? It'd mean so much more to those of us who aren't your "base."

Moving on.
"To date, the [recovery's] primary beneficiaries have been upper-income households," concludes Dean Maki, a J.P. Morgan Chase (and former Federal Reserve) economist who has studied the ways that changes in wealth affect spending. In research he sent to clients this month, Mr. Maki said, "Two of the main factors supporting spending over the past year, tax cuts and increases in [stock] wealth, have sharply benefited upper income households relative to others."

....

Mr. Maki of J.P. Morgan Chase estimates that in terms of dollars saved, the top 20% of households by income got 77% of the benefit of the 2003 tax cuts, and roughly 50% of the 2001 tax cuts. And of stocks held by households, roughly 75% are owned by the top 20% of those households. That made them prime beneficiaries of last year's stock-market rally, although also big sufferers from the stock carnage from 2000 to 2002.
Oh, poor stockholders. Those people who don't have any stock investments know it hurt a couple years ago and would feel sorry for you, but the good thing about the stock market is that it generally has positive returns over the long run, so really you're fine and they don't, you big, asset-owning babies. (I get company stock grants and purchase some myself, I'm a big, asset-owning baby as well, or I would be if I whined about how my poor stock portfolio went down the toilet. I'm lucky to have any at all and I'll continue to appreciate it, thanks. No whining here.)
The affluent also benefit more from stock dividends, on which the federal income-tax rate was cut last year retroactive to the start of 2003. Total dividend payments have risen 11% to $3 billion since the end of 2002, estimates Berkeley's Mr. Saez. Higher-income households also are larger beneficiaries of the surge in corporate earnings, which helps to drive dividend and stock returns. The level of corporate profits has risen 42% since the last recession, which ended in the final quarter of 2001. Wage and salary income is up just 6.3% in that time.
Ack! Did I read that right??? Just 6.3%? Versus 42% for corporate profits? Wow, well, at least we can buy more of what those companies produce, right?
Average hourly earnings have risen at just a 1.9% annual rate since the job market started improving notably last August. Meanwhile, the consumer-price index -- driven by higher food and gasoline prices -- has risen at a 3.3% annual pace. The average worker's purchasing power, in other words, has declined even as more people have been finding jobs since August.
Oh, guess I was wrong, then.
Weekly earnings for production workers and nonsupervisors at service companies, adjusted for inflation, were down 2.6% in June from a year earlier. This slip might be transitory, and it wasn't anywhere near the drops of 5% to 7.5% registered in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Still, it was the largest decline since 1991, and it is a shift from the late 1990s and even the 2001 recession, when real wages were increasing.
But if you lived on less than $300/week, you'd notice that ten bucks, wouldn't you?
As a result, after rising last year, the University of Michigan's consumer confidence index for lower-income households is off 12% so far this year. Confidence among the affluent is lower as well, but by a smaller 6.7%.
Um, duh?
The recovering job market and an easing of food- and gasoline-price increases could reverse some of today's pressures. But these aren't the only issues hanging over lower-income households. Many are also highly exposed to rising interest rates, says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com, because these households were more likely to take out adjustable-rate mortgages to squeeze into an ever-pricier housing market. For those who don't own homes, the chances of buying have become more remote as house prices have soared....Many in this group are also getting squeezed as health-care costs rise and companies seek to shift the burden to workers. From 2000 to 2003, employees' average annual out-of-pocket expenses for family medical premiums rose 49% to $2,412, according to an employer survey by Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research group in Menlo Park, Calif.
Sort of leaves us with a pretty clear choice, doesn't it? If you're an asset-owning baby, go give some moolah.

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Arafat, schmarafat. 

The latest, in which Palestinian PM Qureia quits, and Arafat refuses his resignation,over the unrest following Arafat's appointment (and subsequent removal) of his cousin to head up security forces.
The Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qureia, yesterday called on Yasser Arafat to put the people before his own interests amid a growing challenge to the Palestinian leader over corruption and cronyism.
In unusually direct criticism of Mr Arafat from within the Palestinian government, Mr Qureia said he had not withdrawn the resignation letter he submitted at the weekend during a spate of kidnappings, violence and protests in the Gaza strip over high-level corruption and Mr Arafat's appointment of a close relative to a top security job.
The prime minister said that Mr Arafat, who is popularly known as Abu Amr, should recognise that "Palestinian citizens are in deep need".
"Enough, enough," he said. "Put the people's interest first. ... Oh brother Abu Amr, it is time to put the right person in the right place."
Mr Arafat attempted to quell the unrest yesterday by sacking his cousin, Moussa Arafat, two days after he appointed him security chief.

I wonder what would happen in Gaza if Arafat were not the head of the Palestinian government. Would those in his government who criticize him change the tenor of the Palestinian debate? Would corruption be less widespread, and would the first vestiges of a rational solution to the turmoil in Gaza appear? Qureia's rhetoric suggests that possibility. Thoughts?

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This outrages them? 

Linda Ronstadt apparently dedicated a song to Michael Moore and has now been blackballed from Aladdin's casino in Vegas. The freepers can't stop talking about how fat she is, but I'm with Moore, who issued this challenge:
"I have an idea how you can make it up to her -- and to the millions of Americans you have offended," Moore wrote.
"Invite her back and I'll join her in singing America the Beautiful on your stage. Then I will show Fahrenheit 9/11 free of charge to all your guests and anyone else in Las Vegas who wants to see it."

Apparently this isn't a new thing, seeing as how she started doing this on June 30. The reviewer in the Washington Post says:
The biggest excitement of the night, by a long shot, came when Ronstadt then dedicated her encore of "Desperado" to filmmaker Michael Moore, kick-starting a boo-cheer competition throughout the venue that drowned out her singing and left grown-ups in tuxes and evening gowns yelling at each other on their way to the parking lot.
Ooh, classy.

ETA: She didn't "start" doing this on June 30 - she started it whenever the tour started. Oops.

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7.16.2004

Reasonable? 

I honestly think Martha Stewart's sentence seems reasonable. Five months in prison, two years of probation? I don't see how it would be possible to justify a longer stay in prison - locking up nonviolent offenders, (particularly those in good financial shape) for extended sentences strikes me as a collosal waste of taxpayer dollars, and, you know, just fucking dumb. Our prisons aren't more overcrowded and drug-infested as a result of mandatory minimum sentences or anything.

Anyway, point being that it's probably about right - I know I'm probably in the minority, but I don't particularly dislike her. I don't particularly like her either, but for this crime, I wasn't prepared to burn her at the stake. Pardon the moral relativism, but I'll wait to chortle with glee until someone who's done something really beyond the pale coughKenLaycough goes to up-the-butt prison.

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7.15.2004

I'm so proud! 

My favoritest cousin hosted a MoveOn.org phone party at her house last weekend to register voters in Florida. About eight people came, and she was incredibly excited - it was quite the success, and provided some good stories, too, like the woman that she had to call back, having forgotten to get some information from the woman. When she calls back, the woman tries to get her 18-year-old son to register, but he doesn't want to or something, so my cousin tells the woman that she can hear the TV and that she should tell her son that registering to vote is much more important than television, whereupon the woman puts down the phone and hollers at the kid. (Alas, he didn't register, but she sent him a blank form. We're betting his mom will make him do it.)

The people who came to this party were all other preschool moms (like my cousin) and dads who have never been involved in politics before, which really excites me. Other people she knows through her daughter's preschool are part of the group as well, and they're all really pumped. Plus, don't wanna be a starf***er or nothin', but Camryn Manheim's part of their group, which I think is totally cool.

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Bogged down with work... 

...but I'm not in a total news vacuum. Didja see the latest Zogby Interactive Poll?

Quite honestly, I don't live and die by polls, but the WSJ Online keeps this pretty prominently displayed, and it's nice to see that Kerry's pulled ahead in all but four of the Zogby-identified "battleground" states (Tennessee is tied), but even nicer is that, in the three where Bush is leading, it's tenuous - within the margin of error.

That's good stuff. It'll swing around a bunch more and next week I'll be cursing at it, probably, but it's still nice to see.

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