The general election can't come soon enough. There may be nothing left by the end of the year at the rate we're going.
My hunch is that a Kerry-Edwards ticket could do it. Maybe even a Kerry-Clark combo if Edwards is serious about having zero interest in being veep.
I am ready to declare the Dean campaign dead. Maybe it isn't, but I can't see it rebounding sufficiently to have any meaning. All the money is gone. The campaign staffers have been made volunteers (which means that many of them will have to leave). TV ads are no longer viable with no money left. I think it's over and it's a shame that his campaign invested all of its money in just two states. It was a foolish gambit and a somewhat arrogant attempt to steamroll the other candidates early, and it backfired catastrophically. For one thing, there was a backlash against all those ads. Isn't this a basic lesson in political marketing? After seeing the same ads too many times, people get pissed off.
But while many of us monkeys are watching the primataries with interest, the conduct of the current administration becomes more and more outrageous.
Paul Krugman (link, requires free registration) wonders why there is zero accountability in this administration. He observes that, "As far as I can tell, nobody in the Bush administration has ever paid a price for being wrong."
Krugman's colleague, Bob Herbert (link, free registration required), discusses how Dick Cheney has been the architect of an incredible rip-off of the American people through Haliburton, which maintains off-shore subsidiaries in places like Vanuatu to move money into and avoid paying U.S. taxes, despite the fact that U.S. taxpayers' money feeds them billions of dollars per year in U.S. government contracts.
Then Joe Conason (link, expensive registration required) notes the incredible effort to rewrite history and pretend that Saddam did not allow U.N. weapons inspectors into Iraq which, of course, necessitated his war. First Bush said this last July while seated next to a stunned Kofi Annan. Apparently still not informed that, in fact, the most thorough search for weapons ever conducted took place just before we invaded, Bush said on Tuesday during a meeting with the president of Poland:
. . . . we went to the United Nations, of course, and got an overwhelming resolution -- 1441 -- unanimous resolution, that said to Saddam, you must disclose and destroy your weapons programs, which obviously meant the world felt he had such programs. He chose defiance. It was his choice to make, and he did not let us in.
(worth a read because Polish President Kwasniewski mentions Hans Blix just before Bush says that Saddam "did not let us in." Maybe it was the Polish accent.)
Then, the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts (R. KS) said the same thing to Wolf Blitzer on CNN when asked if, perhaps, Saddam was telling the truth about his lack of weapons of mass destruction:
But, in regards to Saddam Hussein, if in fact he didn't have them, why on earth didn't he let the U.N. inspectors in and avoid the war? That is a real puzzlement to me.
The puzzlement to me is why the fuck Blitzer, Annan, and the reporters trailing Bush around do not follow up and mention this insurmountable discrepancy between these words and the truth? Are they too slow to seize the opportunity? Are they afraid that bringing this up would seem unpleasant and impolite? Are they afraid of repercussions? I do not understand it at all.
I think something has gone horribly wrong with mainstream news coverage in this country in the past decade. It seems that a much more obvious attempt to intimidate journalists has occurred this week in Great Britain where the BBC was essentially told to BACK OFF. This cannot be good news for people looking for truth and justice and counting on the news media for anything other than a place for the lies to be repeated.
The results are not yet in, but, let's face it, this is going to be a long hard blog, as the Secretary of Defense once almost said.
Two of the leading candidates, Kerry and Dean, are from New England, and no matter how well they do in New Hampshire, their acceptability in the South is a very open question. Edward and Clark may track very well outside of New England. If that happens, then this could easily be the closest and hardest fought Democratic primary in monkey's memory.
I feel Dean's pain. After taking withering attacks from the mainstream media when he was the frontrunner, it has gotten no better since he dropped from the top spot. The bits I've seen from the Diane Sawyer interview were simply disgusting. Comedy Central's The Daily Show edited together each of the 143 times she asked Howard or Judy Dean about his temper. Then, Sawyer spent just as much time questioning why Judy Dean isn't on the campaign trail ("is it because you are afraid of his temper?")
It has become insultingly obvious that the networks and mainstream media will absolutely not under any circumstances cover a substantive issue in this campaign. Everything is covered with the tone and insight appropriate to the 1980s tabloid pioneers like A Current Affair and Hard Copy. Edward R. Morrow and his ilk are all rolling over in their graves (unless, of course, they are not dead).
And coming around the far turn it's Ketchup Kerry followed by Dean the Scream, struggling to keep a nose ahead of War General and, of course, Mr. Ed-wards. Bringing up the rear are Say it Ain't Joe, You Can't Call me Al, and Congressman Beetle Baum.
Do you like horse races? There seems to be little more to the analysis of the New Hampshire primary than predictions about who will finish in the money. This sort of analysis makes me sad because monkeys are not welcome at the track.
How about looking at the candidates by comparing their positions on major issues with each other and with Bush? Is that just too complicated for voters to follow? It seem like spending some serious time on issues like taxes, the deficit, health care, foreign policy, protection from terrorism and civil rights might be useful for people planning to actually vote for one of these candidates.
Instead, the emphasis is on picking a winner and the effect of this is that voters will want to pick the winner in the booth rather than pick the candidate who's views reflect their own . . . because very little time is spent discussing the candidates' views on the key issues!
Meanwhile, it seems that Republicans have been caught cheating again, this time, by sneaking a peek at documents and communications by Democratic staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Security was not set correctly on the Committee's server and GOP staffers copied strategic communications and selectively leaked them to right wing media.
Does this sound like the famous Watergate break in? Not really. I mean, yeah it could be seen as similar to Watergate if G. Gordon Liddy somehow knew that the lock to the office door of the Democratic National Committee was broken. Whether or not this is criminal conduct remains to be seen, but, clearly it is cheating. This is particularly true when the president, who may have been made privy to this information, decides to make a key recess appointment to by-pass the Committee.
The State of the Union speech was worthy of note because it provided a first look at the President's re-election themes: fear; terror; panic; alarm, fright; and apprehension.
Fundamentally, his pitch for re-election came down to this quote:
We have not come all this way -- through tragedy, and trial, and war -- only to falter and leave our work unfinished.
Apparently, there are still some valuables in the hands of the middle class or their heirs that could be transferred to the wealthiest 1% of the population. Surely we should be so frightened by the constant state of high alert that we won't notice that his tax "cuts," utter disregard for our air, water, and natural resources, and disdain for civil liberties has robbed us of much of the greatness of the nation in just three short years.
My big disappointment with the speech was that he seemed to forget to mention his promise to put a monkey on Mars. It seems that last week's space speech didn't go over too well on a country more concerned with the domestic economy than initiating Extraterrestrial Manifest Destiny at the moment. Never mind that this type of endeavor would surely put many more billions of dollars into the companies that have propped up this presidency.
I don't know why folks are so worried. The unemployment rate continues its steady decline as benefits expire and tens of thousands of out of work Americans are no longer counted as "unemployed."
Iowa. Hmmmmm. What the hell does it mean? On the one hand, it means that the pundits can talk on news programs endlessly and receive a fee per appearance without being able to read the minds of real voters. But how real are these voters anyway?
It's really hard to grasp. Here we have a "caucus" where people don't so much as vote as they show up at a house and stand in a particular room. Which room you stand in is decided after a preliminary show of hands. So, for example, if you support Kerry, you go to the living room. If you support Edwards, go to the dining room. If you support Dean, go to the family room. But if you support Gephardt, go to the bathroom and flush your campaign down the toilet because it's over.
Every precinct conducts such a caucus. According to a video piece from the Washington Post, "twenty people came to caucus at the Ennis home, a strong number that contributed to what Ennis says was the highest Democratic turnout in Adams County in the last 30 years." WOW!!!!!
The candidates that vie for dominance in Iowa spend enormous resources, both financial and personal, all across this rural state. This is not necessarily a good indicator of how the rest of the country will respond to the candidates. Maybe New Hampshire isn't either, but at least there, the voters actually go into a private voting booth and vote. I think there's definitely a different dynamic at play in a caucus that makes participants more apt to engage in herd-like behaviors.
What to make of John Kerry's victory? This monkey will admit that a little more than a couple of weeks ago, I thought Kerry was Krazy to mortgage his house for Kampaign Kash. Couldn't he read the writing on the wall? Dean and Clark were (and still probably are) the horses that will be fighting it out when Super Tuesday rolls around. He should get out of the way instead of risking a negative campaign that will dissuade the country's voters from considering any Democrat come November (or so I thought). As for Edwards, who this monkey had his eye on a year ago, I didn't even register his candidacy. I thought he was just practicing for another, more earnest campaign, in 4 or 8 years. But there they are, occupying the biggest rooms in the caucus houses. In a week, we'll have to see what will happen in the voting booths of New Hampshire.
Prediction: Dean, Clark, Kerry, Edwards, Lieberman.
Kerry is something of an enigma for me anyway. He is one of the Monkey's two senators. Yet, he does not generally give the impression that he is an energetic, passionate and hard worker. His Senate resumé does little to rebut that notion. He has not done great things with important legislation. But having served in the Senate as long as he has is a measure of his competency I suppose. Still, I remain unconvinced that he will beat Mr. Bush. Sometimes his speaking is extremely clear and focused. Sometimes he seems to be talking around issues . . endlessly. Once Clark entered the race, I really thought that John Kerry's campaign no longer had a real point. But I could be wrong about that yet. The one thing that a good showing in the Iowa caucus definitely does do is produce momentum and energy (not to mention kampaign kontributions).
There is a disconnect between what is happening and what some polls say that people are thinking. Today, for example, CNN published the results of a poll that suggests that two of three Americans believe that GW Bush has the right qualities for a president. Either these two of three Americans are even more cynical than this monkey and have reached the conclusion that lying to go to war for oil is an essential presidential quality, or these folks' minds are impenetrable by the facts, even if the facts are not usually found on the front page.
Ted Kennedy, who Right Wingers have for years invested enormous energy into demonizing and smearing (putting him behind only Bill Clinton on the Right's hit list), has it right in a speech he made today. Kennedy says:
The Administration capitalized on the fear created by 9/11 and put a spin on the intelligence and a spin on the truth to justify a war that could well become one of the worst blunders in more than two centuries of American foreign policy.
Okay there's that. But still, there's more to having "presidential qualities" than putting a little bad mustard on the ball before letting it fly. There's the lost opportunities to rip out the heart of al Qaeda from walking out in the middle of the action in Afghanistan in order to get the Iraq war on track within a reasonable political timetable.
Well, yeah. But of course, "presidential qualities" aren't built on foreign policy alone. There's the all-important question of domestic policy as well.
The monkey took a one year hiatus after posting only a couple of month's worth of material in 2002 and 2003. But did you expect anything more than monkeying around?
Since we last left our angry monkey, our government did, in fact, launch a preemptive war against Iraq for oil instead of committing those resources to neutralizing al qaida.
Our President Bush also provided a big tax reduction for the wealthy and, therefore, a heretofore unimaginable budget deficit and accompanying heretofore unimaginable interest expenses that the rest of us will have to pay off over generations of increased taxes. Yes, dear friends, Bush actually initiated a massive latent tax increase on the middle class in order to borrow money to give to his friends and supporters now.
Fortunately, there is an opportunity to stem the flow of both literal and figurative (economic) blood this year. The Democrats have a decent shot of turning things around if only they can get out ahead of the right wing lie machine with a message compelling enough to make people think and realize what has fucking happened here over the past 3 years. We flushed unprecedented prosperity and peace down the old poopomatic.
The Monkey will be climbing ever higher up the tree during the next few months as the efforts to get our country back begin to come into form.