Sunday, October 31, 2004

‘Traffic’



Well, as we’ve seen and heard, not even those who are supposed to know can call this presidential election very well.

As I’ve said – and as I’ve heard some experts say – this is “the toughest election to call” I’ve ever witnessed.

So what do we expect to happen on Tuesday?

This year, more people have registered to vote than in any other election year in history. There are 250,000 new voters here in Colorado – a “Bush state” – for instance. Because polls are showing a difference of only one or two points in every single swing state it will be these voters who decide Tuesday’s election.

Usually, 50 percent or less of all registered voters turn out to vote. All projections are that this year is decidedly different. Some analysts even believe that up to 59 percent of all registered voters will turn out this year. If the “early voting” programs in several states are any indication we may reach this mark or even higher.

This is very bad news for George W. Bush.

The new voters are markedly higher in democrat registrants than in republicans. Further, these new registrants don’t show up in the polls. The big question is whether they will turn out to vote or not. Again, the “early voting” in many states shows that the turnout will be higher than almost any year before.

At one Bushbot message board I go to for news they are actually praying for bad weather so that democrats do not turn out in the expected numbers. In fact, the title of one thread on that board was: “70% chance of tstorms in Cincy Election Day (WOO HOO!)”

This reveals a lot; that Bush supporters are counting on a low turnout and that Kerry supporters want a heavy one.

If the turnout for ALL registered voters, both old and new, is as heavy as “early voting” and the projections the result will be that the polls were never even close to being accurate, as they have consistently shown that Bush is ahead by a point or two.

The situation is just as you have heard it on TV… it’s all about “turnout” now. The “undecideds” are long gone.

The fact that the race is as close as it is isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for the Bush presidency. The fact that the Bushies are praying for a low turnout is also not a strong indication that they are hopeful about the outcome.

Both Bush and Kerry have energized their base. The election will now turn on the wildest card of all: the newly registered voters.

The question is: Will they show?

If they do… expect a Kerry victory.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

'The Hunted'



Well… just when you think (as I wrote yesterday) that we may have a better hand to play in our future, along comes the joker in the deck.

Ever since the day of the 911 attacks – for reasons I cannot fathom – polls have indicated support for the man in charge who, through continued and demonstrated incompetence, allowed the terrorists to attack us in the first place… George W. Bush.

John Kerry, for months, has been trying to remind people of the fact that Bush allowed Osama to get away back in December of 2001, and that he hasn’t brought the terror leader to justice as promised. But, now, Bush might actually win the election because of it.

Ever since Tora Bora we haven’t seen hide nor hair of Osama Bin Laden. We were treated to several videos of him in the months after 911 but, then, he disappeared.

Several MOABs landing in the general vicinity of Tora Bora, where Osama was believed to be entrenched, led many to think that the bearded one might have been spending the years since then as a greasy spot against the wall of some Afghanistan cave.

But, as we saw on Friday, Osama is alive and well… although he is a bit older and his beard a bit grayer.

Osama actually looks pretty good for an aging terror leader who is being “hunted mercilessly.” There he was, again, on our televisions… just like he had never been gone at all. Osama was in fine form too, delivering his diatribe against the “US monarchy” and threatening another “Manhattan.”

What people should be asking is “WHY is Osama still on the loose?” Osama is rumored to be hiding in Eastern Afghanistan – a country we control! Hasn’t our great protector George W. Bush declared that we have been “on the hunt” for him and that we would get him “dead or alive”?

Which one of these things is Osama right now?

But, people won’t ask those questions. They also won’t answer mine: WHY, for Heaven’s sake, are we trusting the guy who has the worst track record of any president in history on “guarding our homeland” to guard us from future attacks?

If you can answer these questions you are wiser than I am. But, the polls reflect that people trust Bush more to protect us against what he has already failed to protect us against.

Now, to ensure reelection, thanks to Osama, all Bush has to do is raise the terror threat level. You know… change the color on the terror bar (a completely useless but effective exercise). We are at “yellow” right now (whatever that means), but, even with Osama’s help, I don’t think the color “orange” will get the desired numbers for Bush. No, he’ll need to order Tom Ridge to raise it to “red” this time.

That’ll bring in Ohio.

Friday, October 29, 2004

‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’



Wow! I’ve seen some intense windups to campaigns before. But, what John Kerry is doing to President Bush makes the others I’ve seen pale by comparison.

When they say Kerry is a “good closer” they aren’t kidding.

I’ve thought for a while now – and speculated here – that if Kerry could keep it close in the polls he’d likely beat Bush handily. This seems to be happening, as the polls are closer than ever. The “Bush surge” we’ve all heard was coming has not materialized.

Bush is having a very bad week. This is a problem in the last week of any campaign, much less one where the polls have called a close race.

So much is happening this week I can’t mention only one aspect. There are three big issues that Bush is playing defense on…

Deep 'Qaqaa'



John Kerry has been plugging and pushing the issue of the missing munitions at Iraq’s al-Qaqaa facility at each and every campaign stop.

I thought Kerry was simply trying to win one or two news cycles with the issue but he has been going on about it for four days now.

Bush was slow to respond (he took two days), and even then his rhetoric was defensive rather than explanatory. The official administration line has also changed from “didn’t happen” to “we’re investigating.”

Kerry’s tactic on this is keeping Bush on the balls of his feet and, true or not, has caused the administration to look apprehensive, defensive and incompetent. Mainly because the Bushies themselves aren’t sure what happened to the bomb-making material.

When a candidate has to defend policy and explain mistakes at campaign rallies things are not going well for that candidate.

It also didn’t help matters any when Rudolph Giuliani, who has been on-hand for campaign rallies, defended Bush by blaming US troops for not searching the al-Qaqaa facility “carefully enough” on the “Today” show.

This comment took some of the spin out of Bush's defensive spinning, as he has been accusing John Kerry all week of “blaming our troops.”

Halliburton Burden



The issue of whether Dick Cheney’s “ex” company illegally acquired federal contracts and then bilked taxpayers is now a “criminal” investigation as opposed to a “political” matter.

The FBI announced yesterday that they are seeking an interview with a top Army contracting officer and collecting documents from several government offices.

Bunnatine Greenhouse, the Army Corps of Engineers' chief contracting officer who went public last weekend with allegations that her agency unfairly awarded a Halliburton subsidiary no-bid contracts worth billions of dollars in Iraq apparently was waiting only for an assurance of “whistleblower protection” from Pentagon retaliation before cooperating with the FBI.

Rest assured the media will cover this one intently.

Bush will ignore it all, as is his wont, and Cheney will holler that the allegations are “false” or “somebody else’s fault,” but this issue is also something that will not help the administration in a close race during the last week of campaigning.

‘Doctor My Eyes’



CLICK HERE TO ENLARGE PHOTO

The least trouble Bush is in this week concerns a “doctored” photo in a campaign ad that enhanced the number of US Troops featured behind a stage.

The president’s campaign acknowledged that it had doctored the photo and promised the television commercial would be re-edited and reshipped to TV stations.

Naturally, a lowly editor was singled out for the blame.

The campaign says the group of soldiers in the crowd was electronically copied and used to fill a space where a podium had been.

You be the judge. Click the link above and tell me if that wasn’t one huge podium.

Buh-Bye, Bush, Buh-Bye!



We also have these items this week:

  • Minneapolis ABC affiliate KSTP-TV, which had a crew embedded with the 101st Airborne Division during the war, has released videotape that shows soldiers examining explosives at the massive al-Qaqaa facility nine days after the fall of Baghdad.


  • Several more US soldiers have been killed this week.


  • Terrorists have released a video showing the executions of 11 Iraqi National Guardsmen.


  • A newly released survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout that country in the 18 months since the US-led invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war.


  • And, we now are learning that Bush plans to ask for another $75 billion to pay for the on-going war.


  • The Bushies have been saying that all of this news was “timed” for release during the last week of the campaign. But, the truth is, we've been treated to a steady stream of bad news for almost four years now. This is just another week of news in the life of the Bush Administration.

    Nobody can have a last week like this one, in a close election, and expect to win reelection.

    It’s fitting, really… all of Bush’s chickens coming home to roost during the final week of the campaign; the half-assed way he planned and executed the Iraq invasion, the greedy way he’s allowed Cheney’s “ex” company to cash in on the misfortune of the situation, the deception used by the administration.

    Throw in what's happened this week, the close polls, the newly-registered voters and the unemployed people who got a tad angry when Bush said it was a “myth” that people have been losing their jobs and benefits during his tenure and you’ve got a rather large defeat looming on the horizon.

    It’s almost time to bid four years of hell, hard times, tragedy, war, greed, avarice, opulence and stupidity a final and well-deserved…

    … “buh-bye.”

    Thursday, October 28, 2004

    ‘Elmer Gantry’



    With five days to go until the election, the punditry shows on the cable news networks are getting to be very entertaining.

    I wish this election were easier to call and that I did not feel so desperate as to turn the television to Fox, CNN or MSNBC. But, last night, I did.

    The whole thing is really infantile…

    “Bush will win!”

    “No. Kerry will win!”

    “Bush!”

    “Kerry!”

    “LIAR!”

    It’s actually worse than that. Flipping from one news channel to the other in the evening can look like several angry mobs arguing over an elevator.

    The most tense evening news show these days HAS to be “Hannity and Colmes” on Fox. Last night was no less stressful than ever.

    The show is supposed to be about opposing views and discussion. But, if you watch it for more than five minutes it becomes clear that the main source of the stress and irritation is… the overgrown and spoiled brat Sean Hannity, who constantly hollers down guests as well as his mild-mannered co-host Alan Colmes.

    I’m fairly certain that, as a child in school, Sean Hannity was the one in class who always volunteered to take names and was also brazen enough to give the returning teacher a full and detailed report on who misbehaved in her absence.

    In the last week alone Hannity has gone over the top against several of his guests, hollering at them, in turn, about “why you bother to appear on the show.” It’s a good question, as they cannot get any words in edgewise and even if a few words manage to get through they are “WRONG, WRONG, WRONG” according to Hannity.

    Last night a democratic congressman sat patiently waiting for his turn (which never came) while a bemused Colmes watched Sean Hannity holler at him. Hannity also dragged a confused ex-army private onto the show to claim that weapons were already missing from the al-Qaqaa facility before our invasion of Iraq.

    The poor guy.

    Even though he was there to bolster Hannity’s claims he could not get many sentences out because Hannity kept finishing them for him. It also didn’t help the ex-private that he had a slight stuttering problem.

    Now… the private and his battalion weren’t at the al-Qaqaa facility for very long. They also had no orders to search for the munitions. They also didn’t search the whole facility. But, to Sean Hannity, this was “conclusive proof” that John Kerry has been “lying” about the whole thing. The others attempted to suggest that there was no “conclusive proof” either way, but Sean Hannity drowned them out with “SEE?” “SEE?” “WHERE’S THE APOLOGY CONGRESSMAN?”

    Hannity has a penchant for digging up “facts from the past” to use against his guests. I recall that once he used a clip of President John F. Kennedy against a democratic quest. The clip was out of context with some recent event Hannity took exception to – and I as well as those on the show didn’t get it – but Hannity went on for five minutes with “SEE?” SEE?” “WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE?”

    I suppose where the guests are concerned Sean Hannity IS “fair and balanced” with both sides of the political discussion. He hollers at and interrupts both. The democrats get hollered at before they open their mouths and the republicans get hollered at if their degree of “Bushbotism” is not as vitriolic as Sean’s as fast as his own.

    It is certainly not a virtue, on the show, to even agree with the pontificating blowhole.

    Watching the show on a regular basis one cannot help but have a growing respect for Hannity’s co-host, Alan Colmes, who puts up with Sean’s antics on a daily basis. One also cannot help but have a growing irritation by listening to Sean Hannity.

    Late in the show, last night, Republican Congressman Peter King, of New York, sat hollering at Alan Colmes while Sean Hannity hollered over him. Colmes could only sit and shake his head at the camera.

    It may be the fact that the election is tight that Hannity is becoming more fervent in his screaming and screeching on his show. But Hannity has increasingly become more full of himself with the success of his radio show and his books that he constantly hawks on both programs.

    We’ve seen this sort of thing before with Rush and O’Reilly (drugs, sexual harassment). Trust me. People like this have piles of bones in their own closets. I fully expect that we will someday see Hannity as the next self-righteous hypocrite to meltdown in public.

    I think I might enjoy that immensely.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2004

    ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’



    As the New York Times story about the missing explosives in Iraq was released Monday and covered by the wire services I thought everyone would be arguing this week as to who was to blame. Instead, the argument has been about when it happened.

    One NBC reporter, imbedded with the 101st Airborne, as our troops surrounded and entered Baghdad, amidst general chaos, claimed yesterday that the troops found no munitions at the al-Qaqaa facility, the place near Baghdad where the munitions were known to have been stored.

    This same statement was later clarified by NBC to say, also, that the troops did not search for any munitions at the facility.

    This makes a bit of sense… you can’t find something if you’re not searching for it.

    No matter if the details are murky… the Bush team has been saying the weapons were gone before our troops arrived and the Kerry campaign has been hitting Bush hard for the “incompetence” of our occupation.

    At first, yesterday and the day before, the Bush Administration issued strong denials about the mishap. They’ve since had to back off because it’s becoming clear that they simply don’t know what happened to the high-grade explosives that the IAEA documented before the war.

    Now we hear, this morning, that the Bush campaign has no plans to engage in the debate about the missing weapons and will not be issuing any more denials about them. They now say they are “investigating” the situation.

    Bush is saying that Kerry is “making statements without all the facts.”

    Is anybody besides me troubled that Bush doesn’t have “all the facts” about the missing material? Why am I still concerned even when Bush – the guy in charge right now – promises he will “investigate” what happened?

    Weren’t Saddam’s weapons THE REASON we invaded in the first place?

    Apparently, the munitions WERE at the facility at one time. Whether Saddam or somebody else moved them before we arrived or whether they were removed during the ensuing bedlam – or even afterward – now seems to be the question.

    What cannot be disputed is the mayhem that ensued after Baghdad was liberated. We all remember that. I remember seeing one guy loading a refrigerator onto the back of a flatbed on live TV. While the cameras focused on everyone looting office furniture, televisions and food, some more enterprising Iraqis were robbing Saddam’s money vault across town.

    The Bush Administration was asked about “control” and “the looting problem” in Baghdad. They were asked how they planned to deal with it. Donald Rumsfeld took a ho-hum attitude about the looting and it soon became clear that the administration had no plans to deal with it at all.

    This struck me as strange even then considering that Iraq was full of “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Dick Cheney had even claimed, “we know where they are.”

    The Bush team must have still been expecting that parade with all the flowers being tossed at our troops by the happy Iraqis.

    But, the Iraqis were too busy taking everything that wasn’t nailed down.

    Were the munitions at the al-Qaqaa facility taken around the same time, to be used against our troops in the now never-ending insurgency? Were they taken before the invasion? More frightening… have they been taken since then?

    There’s no way to know.

    Apparently, we never bothered to check.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2004

    ‘Final Countdown’



    As you may or may not know, voters do not elect the president… something called “Electors” do. Voters do not even vote for the candidates themselves. When you cast your vote you are actually voting for a set of your state’s “Electors,” who represent a particular candidate.

    It is these “Electors” who then cast a ballot for the candidate you prefer. But, the “Electors” aren’t obligated by law to vote a certain way. They rarely vote against their candidate but they can vote for whichever candidate they want.

    Follow?

    I didn’t think so.

    The “Electors” are represented by state with something called “Electoral Votes.” In most cases, state by state, whichever candidate wins that state’s popular vote – not a majority but a plurality – gets ALL that state’s Electoral Votes.

    There are some exceptions to this; Nebraska and New Hampshire divide their Electoral Votes into districts. So it’s possible that more than one candidate can claim a share.

    In these last days of the presidential campaign it is the Electoral Votes that are garnering the most attention. The magic number for victory is 270. Each candidate is either visiting the states they determine are most “in play” right now or visiting the ones they want to shore up, in order to try and nail down as many Electoral Votes as they can.

    With all this in mind political junkies like me are researching where each of the candidates stand, state by state, in order to gauge what the Electoral College numbers might be.

    There are several web sites I track to see what the latest numbers are:

    This first one, Electoral-Vote.com, shows the current state polls when you pass the curser over and also gives a total of states for each candidate with several degrees of certainty, “Strong Bush,” “Weak Bush,” “Barely Bush,” etc. The site is updated with each new slew of polls.

    Another good one is from the L.A. Times. This one is flashier than the first and differs in its analysis. But you’ll still get a good idea of which states are solid for one candidate or the other.

    The Electoral Map at the New York Times is my favorite. At first it shows you what their analysis is, state by state, but it’s also interactive and you can clear the boards and play your own scenarios. Amazing stuff.

    I’ve been following the polls and pundits and, using the New York Times map, have it nailed, I think, down to Ohio and Florida… not unlike almost everyone else. There are a couple of scenarios where Kerry can win without Ohio but they don’t seem likely. To me it looks like Bush needs BOTH Ohio and Florida to win, while John Kerry only needs one or the other.

    My current tally, for prediction purposes, is: Kerry 316 Bush 222.

    Anyway… try it yourself and see what you think.

    The polls are all over the place but seem to, generally, be tightening up. Not at all what I expected.

    This last week is gonna’ be nuts.

    Monday, October 25, 2004

    ‘Collateral Damage’



    Two huge stories over the weekend show just how rotten things are going in Iraq. One of them is open to a discussion on whom is to blame one is decidedly not.

    The one everyone will be arguing about today concerns this morning's New York Times story and some “380 tons of powerful conventional explosives – used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons – [that are] missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.”

    What the argument will be about today and through the rest of the week is, well… just “how the heck did this happen?” Isn’t everything going peachy in Iraq? Will everything still go just as “peachy” now that we’ve given the enemy enough explosives to blow up hundreds of buildings and kill many Iraqis and US troops?

    The same administration that says everything is swell in Iraq – the same administration that allowed Saddam’s soldiers to keep their guns and then sent them home… the same administration that then declared, “major hostilities are over” – will downplay this latest fiasco. Everything will still be “peachy.”

    The 2nd story involves the loss – the execution-style murders – of 49-51 new Iraqi soldiers being trained by the United States.

    The soldiers were dressed in civilian clothes and were heading home on leave. They had been put onto three buses for the 95-mile drive. They were unarmed and un-escorted.

    Their bodies were found lying in the desert in neat rows of 12. All had bullet wounds to the back of the head.

    It appears the massacre may have been an inside job, as the buses were stopped at a fake checkpoint and the men, apparently, were ordered to leave the buses and then were killed systematically. The group run by the beheading master Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – who we can’t catch or kill even though we know where he is – has claimed responsibility.

    The job of training Iraqi troops to take the place of our beleaguered, ill-equipped and overextended troops will be that much more difficult, because we not only have to replace the soldiers who were killed we also have to convince more Iraqis that they will not meet the same fate.

    In other words, we have to convince them that they can trust us when they obviously cannot. They might think that we have little regard for them too… delivering them unarmed and un-escorted into enemy hands.

    It’s difficult to understand how a country such as the United States could get itself into a mess like this. We’ve learned we cannot trust our own intelligence, we’ve discovered we could underestimate our enemy and we’ve forgotten our history. Heck, we didn’t even bother to take into account IRAQ’S history.

    How wrong have we been about it all? Well, you know the whole story. I won’t belabor it for you today.

    Suffice to say that we have now given tons of quality explosives to the same guys we summarily let go while we also allowed them to keep their firearms.

    With enemies like us, who needs friends?

    Peachy.

    Sunday, October 24, 2004

    Special Birthday Post!



    HAPPY 12th BIRTHDAY TO SHEYANNE ALEXIS FOX!

    My daughter.

    Born in 1992, it took a couple of years for Sheyanne to grow any hair. She was the baldest baby I’ve ever seen. Now, of course, she has much hair.

    Sheyanne loves to sing and play the piano. She has recently taken to writing (although we still have much work to do on grammar and punctuation). Her latest efforts can be found on her blog.

    Sheyanne knows the lyrics to every Olivia Newton John hit and plays the songs often (she is especially fond of the Grease soundtrack). Her singing is getting better all the time.

    Sheyanne has a shoe fetish as well. I believe it is her intention to collect every sort of shoe known to human kind.

    It is my daughter’s wish that we all go for breakfast and bowling this morning, in celebration of this day. We will also be picking up a huge cake for her.

    I have no desire for this young lady to grow up, but Sheyanne IS growing up fast. She has all the marks of a fine and responsible young person. I wish I could take all or some of the credit, but I believe she has these traits naturally.

    I’m very proud of her.

    Saturday, October 23, 2004

    ‘Are We There Yet?’




    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry speaks at a rally at Union Depot in Pueblo, Colorado, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2004.



    Well… that was a workout.

    My aspirations are always bigger than myself. I never seem to take into account how rough something will be before I attempt it.

    This is the way the John Kerry rally, here in Pueblo, went for me this morning.

    But, I’m not sorry at all that we went. The kids had a great time. They especially enjoyed watching grown adults argue with each other, flip each other off and shout and holler insults. All of this must have been quite a shocking switch for them.

    We dropped Michelle off, as planned, at her workplace. After we stopped at an ATM machine we routed toward Union Depot across the river. I guessed (correctly) that we might already have a crowd ahead of us, as there was more than a little traffic (there is NEVER any traffic early on Saturday).

    As we neared the event area it became obvious that, even though the gate opened at 7am and John Kerry wasn’t speaking until 9am, we might be a few hours behind the curve anyway.

    We parked and walked to find the end of the line. When we finally found it, after walking around the entire block, we were back only a few yards from where we parked in the first place.

    I estimate that there were, perhaps, 15,000 people who had made it there before us. Thousands more made it to the event behind us. From that point onward the event was simply more and more crowded.

    It was an eclectic gathering. After we were in line for a while we heard booing from behind us. The Bushbots had arrived – 12 or 13 strong. They had their anti-Kerry signs and two were dressed in Dolphin costumes (for “Flipper”). A few in the line cursed at them. Most people just laughed, as there weren’t all that many of them.

    I got many photos of the entire event (Btw, I’ll have the personal photos up as soon as I can get my film developed… the digital was kind of a disaster).

    7am came and went and the line didn’t move all that much. This afforded us the opportunity to see many characters walking by. One guy who went by a bit too quickly was dressed in some sort of plumed outfit – and shorts and short sleeves to boot. He had around him straps from his neck and waste and a metal prop that held a video camera, aimed at his face. A monitor was next to that where he could see himself. He was talking into the camera and commenting on the scene. I missed my chance at getting a good shot of him.

    There were many others. One young lady was walking the line of people asking them to help “impeach Bush.” It soon became apparent that she was a Ralph Nader supporter. Another lady in line in front of us got into a heated debate with the Nader girl about “changing the electoral process.” The kids especially enjoyed watching the two of them go at it.

    As the line moved and we made it around the first block, back toward the gate, the classiest group of demonstrators showed up in a taxicab. As four or five of them got out we noticed they were dressed in tuxedos, overcoats and top hats. Their signs were great too, “Billionaires for Bush,” “Don’t vote,” “More corporate welfare.” They got a rousing hand from everyone in line. They moved quickly but I got a couple of shots (with the non-digital).

    The line finally started moving about the time the kids began to get restless. Everyone in line was in a good and upbeat mood. The chill began to leave the early-morning air.

    The Nader people were at the gate passing out literature disguised as if it were from the Democratic Party. Most people just threw the papers in the trash.

    Across the street I saw that the Bushbots had set up camp and were alternately chanting “four more years” or “USA, USA!”

    At the gate I learned why the line had taken so long: an intense and thorough search of each and every entrant. The kids made it through easy. Naturally, I set off the beeper on the metal detector. I was then invited to remove everything from every pocket on my person, told to take a drink of my water and I feared as though I may be subjected to a “body cavity” search as well.

    After making it through the gate we learned there was yet another line to get in, leading up to the old Union Depot. This line took another half-hour.

    Finally, we made it to the rally area. We weren’t real close, and the kids were disappointed at that. Matthew began to tell me repeatedly that he wanted “to go home.” I promised him hamburgers and this took the edge off the situation.

    Since we were in line for so long we didn’t have to wait much at all for John Kerry to show up. I had seen some Secret Service people before getting into the rally area but when I started seeing them on both sides of the crowd I knew Kerry would soon be there.

    It was the perfect setting for a political rally, the air was crisp, the sky was clear, 20,000-plus people there to hope for better times. When John Kerry was introduced the crowd went wild.

    I enjoyed listening to him speak. It’s not real hard to agree that the Bush Administration has been a colossal failure. It’s not hard to believe that we, as a country, can do better than the low expectations of the current “leadership.”

    I had already heard much of what both candidates have had to say. So, there were no surprises for me. I was there for the kids and to allow them to experience something different. I think they enjoyed it a lot.

    After the rally ended I could hardly move my knees. I had a hard time walking back to the car. On the way back to the car I found an open restaurant and we stopped immediately. Everyone was hungry, so I treated the children to burgers and fries.

    The kids ate quickly because they wanted to get back home and see the rally again on C-Span. The kids, by the way, have listened to both candidates a lot and have already made their decision on the race. They prefer Kerry over Bush, although they DO like Laura Bush a lot and believe that she is “much smarter” than her husband.

    I certainly don’t support everything the Senator stands for. But, after everything I’ve seen and been through for four God-awful years it’s hard to disagree with the children very much.

    This is an exciting race. There are nine days left until we learn what to expect for the next four years.

    I don't know about the rest of the country but if what I witnessed today is indicitive of other places - with the huge turnout and the extremely small opposition - we are in for one big surprise on November 2nd.

    Friday, October 22, 2004

    ‘The Next Big Thing’



    As a write-in candidate for president I consider it my solemn duty to confront my opponents in this election. Thusly, I shall take the children (this week’s civics lesson) to the John Kerry rally here in Pueblo this Saturday.

    Actually, the kids are pretty excited about the whole thing. This is their real, first experience with a presidential election. They are taking things quite seriously too… and I’m proud about that.

    At any rate… I can’t NOT take them. How often does anybody get to see a presidential candidate during an election? I still remember my first one. I was 16-years-old and I went to a Jimmy Carter rally in Jackson Square in the New Orleans French Quarter.

    Just to be fair and comprehensive about things I’d take the children to the Bush rally in Greeley, Colorado (near Denver) too if I could… just so they could get both sides. But, our “Bushmobile” wouldn’t make it there.

    I doubt Bush would have the nerve to come down this way. Pueblo is a Democratic stronghold. Certainly some unemployed person would holler, “Get a rope!”

    I was kind of surprised that John Kerry decided to come to Pueblo. The area will no doubt go strongly for him. But, I imagine, both candidates are aiming for their base during this last 10 or so days.

    Plus, Colorado is closer this year and there is an electoral initiative on the ballot as well. This initiative, if passed, would divide Colorado’s electoral votes into districts. The initiative would also, if passed, apply to this year’s election. So the state and the initiative are important to both candidates.

    Michelle goes to work at 7am on Saturday so we will be dropping her off and heading straight down to the old train station depot, across the river. Don’t worry about my driving. Nobody is up at that hour and Michelle’s work place and the rally point is also not far from the house.

    We’ve been down to that part of Pueblo once or twice in the past. The area is home to an early-morning smell that I’ve never been able to distinguish (it smells a tad like cattle slaughter). I hope it doesn’t stink too bad this Saturday.

    Since we’ll be there early we should be able to get a good position up close to the stage. I plan to take many pictures as I’m bringing two cameras, including the digital. I’ll have a special weekend post this week and, hopefully, I'll get the pictures up for you.

    I’ll report and… I’ll decide.

    My big concern, like usual, is with Matthew. I think he’ll enjoy the experience. He loves being around a lot of people. But at events exceeding an hour-and-a-half he almost always gets sick and throws up.

    So… if you are watching the event on C-Span and see an exasperated old fart, with glasses, a goatee and a blue Cheyenne Mountain Zoo ball cap, suddenly with an area all to his own in front of the stage, while John Kerry is speaking… that’ll be me.

    And… you’ll know what happened.

    Thursday, October 21, 2004

    ‘Thirteen Days’



    I’ve always prided myself in being able to read the presidential races. This one, though, is more difficult with each passing day.

    First off, forget getting any reliable information from any network or cable news channel; they either lean toward one candidate blatantly or pick only the polls that favor their candidate against the ones that don’t. This is a funny process (and a waste of time) as the polls themselves are skewed in favor of certain candidates.

    On the cable news channels, Fox, MSNBC, CNN, is, perhaps, the most useless process of all: the never-reliable “opposing views” guests segments on every single program they run. You know the ones… where the guy who supports Bush says his candidate is blowing Kerry out of the water and then the guy who supports Kerry takes a turn and tells how his candidate is blowing Bush out of the water.

    Try gleaning some useful information from that.

    As for the polls, they don’t help much either. Just when you decide that the race is going Bush’s way, because the total poll average gives the edge to Bush, the internals show something else and the state breakdowns favor Kerry.

    Meanwhile, on a poll-for-poll basis, the national result is either a one-point Kerry lead, a tie, a one-point Bush lead, or an eight-point Bush lead.

    So, it’s been difficult to predict this one.

    I CAN tell you what I think about it though.

    It’s close. And the one thing everyone has been waiting on is the “surge” by one candidate or the other.

    Most people don’t think a “surge” happened last time… but one did happen. The surge was for Gore, at the last minute. This “surge” came a bit late in an already tight race and, well… you know what happened.

    Everyone fears the same thing this time. But, I don’t think it’ll be close either way.

    If the apparent Bush lead IS the “surge,” and it is happening right now, Bush wins in a landslide. Of course, if the “surge” has not yet occurred then we'll see a landslide one way or the other for whichever candidate it favors.

    The other possibility is that the “surge” has already occurred, in Kerry’s favor, and left us with a tight race. In this case the newly registered voters (more of them than any other year) will likely decide the race in Kerry’s favor.

    These new voters are NOT being polled right now. They are the biggest unknown factor in the race.

    The famous “undecideds” traditionally break heavily for challengers in any race… and always in the last week or so.

    So, there you have it… the best way I can call this one:

    If the polls stay tight, and Bush does not break away, prior to the vote, expect a Kerry win.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2004

    ‘1984’



    We have been told now, for some time, that we are “safer” with George W. Bush as president. In fact: Vice-President Dick Cheney has gone so far as to say if John Kerry is elected the “danger is that we’ll get hit again.”

    Cheney cannot leave his vitriolic comments alone. No… he must top himself if possible. It seems that the prospect of getting “hit again” did not scare enough voters into the Bush column. So Cheney is amplifying the statement…

    "The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us - biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans."

    Is that right? Is it true that nukes and bio-weapons against American cities is something “we face now”? If this is the case shouldn’t we vote Cheney and his boss out as soon as possible and try to protect ourselves against this threat?

    Of course Cheney was just trying to scare the voters about John Kerry again. He should just come out and say what he is really saying, “vote for me and Bush or else John Kerry will get you nuked by terrorists.”

    I sometimes wonder where this Orwellian reptile came from. Was it Texas or Wyoming? We should rope off whichever it is and let the scientists research whether Velociraptors have found some way to regenerate themselves from extinction.

    Of course we face many threats. Trying to scare the voters about John Kerry, and a lack of protection, is not only hypocritical but also a bald faced lie.

    John Kerry wasn’t president on or before 911… Bush was. John Kerry is not president right now… Bush is.

    Just in case everyone has forgotten, it was Bush and Cheney who had Iraq on the brain and allowed Al Qaeda to attack us on 911. Now they want to be reelected by us because it is they alone who can make us safe from a similar attack.

    I don’t know about anybody else but if a manager of a store I own allows the same robber to keep hitting the place because he is too busy marking up the Post Toasties, instead of standing guard, this manager is not the one I will keep turning to for protection. No. I'm gonna' fire the guy and go with somebody who hasn't allowed the place to “get hit” already.

    But do Bush and Cheney REALLY insist we’ll be “safer” with them in charge? Not if you believe what Dick Cheney says about it…

    “That's the ultimate threat. For us to have a strategy that's capable of defeating that threat, you've got to get your mind around that concept."

    Which “concept” is this? Is Cheney saying we should be “aware” of the nuke threat or simply “get used to the idea”? How can Cheney blame John Kerry for a “threat” “we face now” when he's one of the two people in charge right now?

    John Kerry has been campaigning against the president’s plan to partially privatize Social Security in a new term – something that is true and that Bush admits. But, both Bush and Cheney have been saying that Kerry is “trying to scare senior citizens.”

    Talk about “foxes guarding the henhouse.”

    We cannot afford – or, apparently, even be sure to stay alive for – four more years of Bush and Cheney’s sort of “protection.”

    For that matter… Dick Cheney himself is a scary “concept.”

    Tuesday, October 19, 2004

    ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’



    After getting up fairly early – but not early enough – yesterday I thought I might be ahead of the day’s game. But, sometimes, you just have “one of those days” that makes you wonder why to bother with it all.

    As soon as I was up, at 6am, and at the computer… thinking I had some time to myself… Michelle got the kids up via the downstairs phone and began an inquiry as to where her work clothes were.

    This call got the children up and bickering before I was done with my first cup of coffee, as her work clothes were not ready despite warnings, alerts and threats the night before.

    As I scrambled to have some information ready for Matthew’s teacher, who calls each Monday at 9am, I did so to the general chaos of “Clothes-Gate” being debated by everyone else around the house.

    Michelle finally got her clothes and set off to work… Matthew’s teacher called and I survived.

    I thought there might be a reprieve the rest of the day, since Mondays are usually slow.

    But, I was wrong.

    Things began to warm up literally and figuratively. The landlord had sent the handyman, Phil, by on Friday to shut off the swamper for the winter… prematurely, like usual. Naturally, we immediately entered a warming trend. So, it has been uncomfortable in the house.

    After Michelle left for work, LA and Sheyanne began to bicker about their chores with which they have been running behind. I thought they might have been pleased there was not any schoolwork for the day. But it didn’t matter. They had more free time to fight.

    The phone started ringing early… political ads and recordings pitching the candidates who could make my life better.

    The doorbell started ringing; first Fed Ex, then Staples, then the mail lady. Then two guys showed up to announce they had arrived to change the porch carpet. The neighborhood dogs and our dog began a barking campaign that lasted several hours.

    Matthew learned both of the workers’ names and then stood at the front door using both their names alternately the whole time they were working.

    A general sense of chaos filled the little bit of air that entered the house.

    To make matters worse we all HAD to be at LA’s Boy Scout meeting last night. It was my job – my mission, rather – to be sure LA had everything he needed to wear. I had an especially difficult time getting him to shower. LA made sure that there were several arguments about his assemblage.

    We also had to bring a dish for the award ceremony’s potluck.

    Trying to get the children showered, dressed and ready was something I began early… but also not early enough:

    LA could not locate his scarf clip… like usual.

    Sheyanne could not find the right shoes or the right dress.

    Nobody could locate a pair of pants for Matthew.

    By the time Michelle got home and the exasperated workers finished the porch I had had enough of this particular Monday.

    Even though I was beat we all loaded up into the car and went to the Boy Scout meeting. The air in the building was shut off there as well and it was extremely uncomfortable.

    Matthew was becoming ill from the lack of oxygen and I had to leave the building with him several times to get fresh air outside. Matthew also threw a fit when he realized that the chicken had run out and that he could only have one piece of cake.

    After we made it through the ceremony and arrived back home I was concerned that we would get everyone to bed later than normal and that the day might never end.

    Upon reentering the house (stuffy and hot due to the lack of breathable air) I saw Pearl sitting in my nice leather chair, in which she is not allowed. When she saw me she immediately pissed all over the chair.

    Another hour of general chaos and the game I like to call “The Same Thing Happens Every Night,” and, finally, things did begin to calm down.

    But, now, I was too upset and uncomfortable to get to sleep. I’m not the sort who can go to sleep immediately. Michelle, however, can go to sleep on a dime, which she did.

    As I tried to relax and drift off, Michelle began one of her loudest and most obnoxious snoring sessions in recent memory.

    I was up until about 2am… crying.

    Monday, October 18, 2004

    ‘Signs’



    The signs continue that we are due for a terror hit, and the signs still show us that this hit may be aimed at our children.

    Let us review the signs…

    Firstly, a known terrorist was arrested in Iraq last month. On his person was found a disk. On this disk was found… a public report downloaded from a US Department of Education Web site on crisis planning in school districts, including San Diego Unified.

    Then, last week, Bill Gertz of the Washington Times reported that the federal government was attempting to find 25 Chechen terrorists, who had slipped over the Arizona border with Mexico and were likely plotting an attack somewhere in the southwest.

    After the horrid Beslan attack, against children at a Christian school - by Chechen terrorists – you would think these bits of information would cause quite an alarm. Oddly, they have not.

    Now we have this quaint little story from the Payson Roundup, located in VERY rural Arizona: Terror alert issued to school bus drivers.

    Has the federal government issued a “heightened alert”? No. Has this story been carried by any network? No. Have you heard about any of this? Not if you keep your eyes on our leaders, the network news or the 24-hour cable news channels.

    Is all of this something to be concerned about? Absolutely.

    Has George W. Bush, Tom Ridge or even John Ashcroft held a news conference advising people to be aware of the possibilities of an attack against our children in public schools? No.

    Two of the Three Stooges HAVE held many press conferences to announce inane crap about “possible attacks” and talk about vague information called “chatter” and then ended these conferences with something like “be vigilant but go out and buy something.” These alerts have been issued when Bush was lagging in the polls and needed a boost. But, they aren’t being issued right now.

    Why has our government remained so incredibly quiet about information that has much more substance than their little color-coded alarms and alerts?

    There are likely several reasons for this – all of them self-centered, reckless and stupid:

  • Bush has been running for reelection announcing that we are “safer” with him as president. He cannot suggest that this may not be true.

  • Bush doesn’t want to bring attention to the on-going border infiltration problem, a gift to his corporate buddies. 25 Chechen terrorists slipping across could highlight the issue. Can’t have that.

  • In Bush’s mind the “southwest border” is at Iraq’s border with Saudi Arabia and not in the US because, as we all know by now, Bush thinks of and talks about Iraq 24 hours a day, seven days a week and says the word “Iraq” in every sentence he utters.


  • Behind our backs – and very quietly – the federal government HAS issued SOME warnings to SOME government employees. There has been nothing like Tom Ridge holding a presser, where he announces three-year-old information as an “immediate threat.” There has been nothing of the magnitude needed in order to reach people.

    That’s because people vote.

    And… they might vote this dufus out of office if they realize how much danger they – and especially their children – are in because of Bush’s willful ignorance of the border problem and because of his wanton disregard for anything not immediately self-serving and profitable to his friends.

    The truth is that the Beslan attack itself and alone should have been warning enough to Bush, considering we are “at war” with the same bunch of terrorists.

    There is more information in these three lonely and ignored news stories than all of the “terror” pressers held by Ridge and Ashcroft separately and put together. But Bush and the federal government aren’t mentioning anything to parents who send their kids to school each day.

    There is a danger of a Beslan-type attack against our children here in the US. You need to know about it. You deserve to know what the government is doing about it… if much of anything.

    Regarding the public schools George W. Bush is playing a very dangerous election game with YOUR children.

    Friday, October 15, 2004

    'Eyes Wide Shut'



    Whew! I think I need a shower.

    I just got finished reading the complaint, by an Associate Producer of the “O’Reilly Factor," Andrea Mackris, against one Bill O’Reilly… the “bloviating” pompous ass who headlines one of the Fox Network’s highest-rated news shows.

    The complaint is really something.

    If you are into porn, you may want to check it out HERE. There are no pictures but you might enjoy it nonetheless.

    I’ve seen and heard many things that are simply too difficult to believe. But, for some reason, this complaint – this lawsuit – is incredibly easy to believe. The actions described in the complaint sound just like the overblown egomaniacal celebrity.

    Until about a year ago I watched Bill O’Reilly almost every night, at once admiring his ease before the camera, his “no spin zone” pontifications and his apparent desire to get to the truth.

    He had – at least to me – begun to grow extremely tiresome by then. In short, he seemed to have become too full of himself. He DID seem that way before but, by the time I stopped watching, the image had begun to fit him even better.

    Many right-wingers have, of late, begun to outright denigrate him for his decided lack of support for their cause (whatever that might be). I’ve heard much rumbling lately about his ambivalence toward Bush and his defense of John Kerry.

    I knew something was wrong for sure when I heard that O’Reilly had proclaimed he was “undecided” about the upcoming election and even more right-wingers abandoned his program.

    Then, the other morning, there was a flash headline on The Drudge Report that O’Reilly was suing some New York lawyer for “extortion.” Turns out that the lawyer represents the Associate Producer who is suing O’Reilly for “harassment” and that O’Reilly’s suit is some sort of stalling tactic.

    That wasn’t my first thought, however. I heard the rumblings – emitting from the O’Reilly camp – that the suit and the “extortion” was simply an attempt to get money from a celebrity. I thought that might be the case.

    But then I noticed that O'Reilly and his lawyer weren't denying anything happened. Instead, they were threatening to “destroy” this woman, not unlike the way O'Reilly is accused of threatening her in the suit.

    Then… I read the whole complaint and researched the circumstances as purported by the other side.

    If only a little, teeny tiny bit of the complaint is true O’Reilly’s toast. Some of the text, in the complaint, reads very much like telephone transcripts. There is the very real possibility that O'Reilly has been recorded talking dirty and also, apparently, doing things to himself.

    It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

    O’Reilly is just the sort of self-promoting and self-serving hypocrite that I’ve worked for before… the sort that turned me away from the “conservative” cause in the first place. The same and not any different from the likes of Christopher Ruddy (NewsMax) and David Horowitz (FrontPage) who are also both hypocrites and crooks, pontificating against common sense – in support of profiting themselves – and telling whatever lies they have to in order to further their “cause,” which, sadly, is only themselves.

    I know this because I worked for those two criminals. I could just as easily have worked for O’Reilly as well. But then again I don’t have “big boobs” and I’m not into vibrators. So maybe I might not have worked for him.

    I find the complaint – or, rather, the details inside the complaint – disgusting.

    I immediately believe the Plaintiff.

    I’m not on a jury and I owe no allegiance to a “preponderance of the evidence.” I have been burned AND disappointed by too many “heroes” on the right. I have found it safer to just pay attention to my lying eyes, when it comes to right-wingers. They almost NEVER have the courage of their convictions.

    They also rarely have courage upon being convicted.

    No. Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to ever admit they are human like the rest of us. They will die thinking they are better than we are before ever doing something like that.

    Another day and another rightwing ideologue is shown to have more than one face. Just like the doper Rush Limbaugh, like the tax-evader Spiro Agnew and the ever-crooked Richard Nixon.

    Just more of the same for me, as one who has already learned his lesson but continues to be amazed by these people.

    Gosh. I hope I'm not being too "pithy."

    Thursday, October 14, 2004

    ‘The Final Cut’



    As I’ve mentioned before the presidential debates are nothing more than a series of expectations, appearances and spin. My opinion about this is firmer than ever after this year’s three presidential debates.

    I think most media mutts, like me, were watching the debates and looking for that one moment, frozen in time, that would swing the election one way or the other. The one, single and decisive moment we were expecting never came.

    As we assess how each of the candidates performed – after the fact – I think that, perhaps, we DID see a moment and missed it. We missed it because we were all expecting the one gaffe, misspoken word or zinger phrase that we’ve seen in previous debates.

    The “moment” was not what we all expected.

    That’s not to say that the debates were not decisive in this campaign. I think they may have been.

    There are several factors I’ve noticed, concerning the debates, and how these factors have and will affect the election’s outcome…

    Firstly, there was the “expectations” game:

    Do you recall how Kerry headed into the first debate on the ropes, far behind in the polls and one body blow from being blown out by the Bush team?

    Whatever your level of support for Bush I don’t think anybody believes things are the same way after three debates. The polls have tightened up considerably.

    Everybody expected that Bush would dispose of Kerry in the first debate on foreign policy. It obviously didn’t happen, as it was Bush who blew the first debate with his demeanor, hesitation and scowling.

    This was the only major mistake by either candidate in all three debates. Bush allowed Kerry back into the game because you never get a 2nd chance to make a first impression.

    Secondly, there was the “appearance” game:

    Long before John Kerry showed up at the debates Bush had been selling, via commercials and rhetoric, Kerry’s “wishy-washiness,” “flip-flopping” and “indecisiveness.” For six-months the Bush team hammered away at the senator’s stance and flip-flopping on the issues. The public bought the Bush vision of Kerry and the polls reflected this.

    But, unfortunately for Bush, the “left-wing, flip-flopping, three-eyed, wish-washy car salesman from Massachusetts” was not the person who showed up at the first debate.

    Rather, Kerry “appeared” to be decisive, sure of himself and steady, next to the president who “appeared” to be “out of touch,” “indecisive” and “unsure” of himself.

    It was at this debate that millions of people saw John Kerry and saw the two candidates side-by-side for the very first time. Along with what they were told to “expect” and what “appeared” on their TVs is our “moment frozen in time.” It is these two factors, I believe, that will turn out to be the deciding ones of the campaign.

    Thirdly, there is the “spin” game:

    As we all waited for the “gotcha” moment of the campaign, during the 2nd and 3rd debates, the strangest thing happened: The moment never came.

    Rather, Bush held his own, somewhat, in the 2nd debate and he did just fine last night at the 3rd. The problem for Bush is that Kerry did just fine too. There were no more points earned by either candidate. BOTH campaigns can use these debates to solidify their base.

    It is these factors that swing the debate series slightly to Kerry. And it just may be enough to swing the election to him as well.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2004

    ‘Bad Company’



    The Internet news-junky world is abuzz about a new story from the Washington Times overnight.

    'Chechen Terrorists Probed'.

    It’s a scary story about a group of 25 Chechen terrorists who have crossed the border from Mexico and, apparently, are planning a terror attack sometime soon… perhaps in the Southwest United States.

    According to the story these terrorists crossed into the country sometime in July, giving them time and a chance to blend into society in a variety of ways and, perhaps, near the targeted strike zone.

    Several weeks ago a known terrorist was arrested in Iraq. This guy had on him a disk, which displayed the safety procedures for school districts throughout the United States.

    The fact that these terrorists crossed into the country through Arizona and that this is where tonight’s debate is being held is causing some concern.

    The good thing in this instance is that the debates were not even set in July, so this may not be the target.

    Like many I am still concerned about the schools and a Beslan-type attack on one or more of our public schools in the southwest.

    These terrorists are also not easily profiled. Chechens are white Muslims who could blend in easily as school bus drivers, kitchen help or many other ways in any community in the southwest.

    I should note that this story is believable for several reasons; it is written and researched by Bill Gertz, the foremost national security reporter in the country. When Gertz reports on something you can be very sure it is correct and has sources high up in government. The paper, The Washington Times, is a very credible publication. This story would not see the light of day unless Gertz passed the particulars through the well-respected editors.

    The story is also exactly what many have feared following the 911 attacks; that the next attack could easily come through our wide-open borders. The fact that we are expecting an attack prior to the election is another factor – and also not an irrational one.

    Nothing would shake the citizens of this country more than an attack on our schools. Nothing would affect the upcoming election more.

    Who these people plan to attack is the only speculation (they aren't here to pick blueberries). Personally, I believe there IS some evidence – and also a history now – that they may plan an attack on a school or several schools.

    Be vigilant like you never have. Watch the activity at your child’s school closely.

    Let’s pray that Gertz has this one wrong.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2004

    ‘Night Shift’

    I haven’t been able to understand why my oldest, Lawrence “LA,” has been so tired and groggy each morning for the past several months. His bedtime is 10pm each night, and we rarely make him get up before 7am the next morning.

    Yet he has been cranky upon awakening for school and chores each day.

    Actually, we’ve had more than a few problems with him lately. At 13, he has developed quite a lip. Lately he has been the biggest pain in the butt amongst the three; always ready for an argument, always with an ulterior motive and always – always – ready to challenge every decision I make around here.

    LA’s main goal in life is to spend time on the computer, dealing with others his age about something called “Yu-Gi-Oh” cards. If he were allowed to do whatever he pleased he would spend all day and night doing this.

    But LA is NOT allowed to do whatever he pleases and so it is a constant battle of wills with him, each day, concerning one of our three computers. We have at least one argument a day about his computer time. He is always angling for more time and even trying to intimidate the other two, who also use the same machine for schoolwork and surfing.

    I’m not sure why LA keeps fighting. He always loses. I’ll let him go only so far in a “discussion” before I lose my temper and he ends up getting penalized. I’ve taken his computer time and his Yu-Gi-Oh cards away from him on a regular basis.

    I'm sure the next time I visit my doctor she will increase my blood pressure medication.

    So, lately, LA has been crankier in the morning when we wake him up. This on top of the problems we’ve been having already.

    Last night I discovered why he has been crankier lately.

    I had dozed off sometime in the 4th quarter of the Titans-Packers game. Later, at about 11:30pm, my body told me to wake up and get something to drink.

    I sat at the edge of the bed for a moment, checked the time and heard – I thought – the distinct sound of fingers hitting a keyboard at the computer in the living room.

    As I got up and walked toward the kitchen, I thought I also heard a stomping away from the area of the computer, which is next to the kitchen. As I ducked into the living room I noticed nobody was there. The computer, however, was displaying what appeared to be a Yu-Gi-Oh card game of some sort. I called out for LA but there was no response.

    Eventually I traveled toward the front door, where there is a cranny out of view of the living room. That’s when I saw LA crouching behind the opened closet door – hiding from me.

    The little turd even had the nerve to pretend to be sleeping.

    Not content with the prospect of a midnight confrontation I ordered him to go to sleep – for real – in his room. This morning Michelle tells me that she thinks LA has been doing this same thing every night for a while (better communication in our marriage would be a good thing).

    I don’t understand what can possibly make a 13-year-old think he is so much smarter than the rest of the world. I’ve tried to remember my own experience on this but it’s been too long. I honestly don’t remember being this way at that age.

    Now, of course, it’s clear why LA has been so cranky.

    LA’s problems and my difficulties with him continue into a new day (he will be dealt with upon awakening this morning).

    His biggest problem now is that I am crankier.

    Monday, October 11, 2004

    ‘Frequency’



    With two debates down and one to go on Wednesday, in the presidential election campaign, a couple of new polls by the so-called “experts” are out.

    This “poll mania,” as I call it, has gotten very much out of hand. Depending on their disposition toward the candidates the various media outlets promote whichever poll shows its candidate doing the best.

    For instance: Fox News supports Bush. There is no mistaking this, no matter their claim to be “fair and balanced.” Now Fox News doesn’t like ANY of the other established media but, right now, they sure do like the ABC/Washington Post poll that shows Bush up by five points. They make sure to mention this poll at least once every half-hour.

    Other media outlets support John Kerry. They are the ones who like the Zogby Poll, which has Kerry ahead by three points.

    Here are the latest results I can find on all the polls, concerning the presidential race:

    Zogby: Kerry +3
    ABC/WaPo: Bush +5
    Rasmussen: Bush +4
    Time: Bush +1
    GWU: Bush +3
    AP/Ipsos: Kerry +4
    ICR: Bush +7
    FOX: Bush +2
    ARG: tied
    CBS/NYT: tied
    Gallup: tied
    Pew: Bush +5
    Vault: Kerry +1

    You’ve likely heard of all the polls except for the last one: The “Poll Vault,” which has Kerry up by one point. That’s because this is MY official presidential poll.

    While these other polls lay claim to various complicated formulas (usually 150 or so persons polled amongst 260 million people) the Poll Vault simply leaps over all of this malarkey and also computes what I like to call the “BS factor.”

    The “BS factor” penalizes each candidate one point when one of his supporting media outlets promotes a conflicting poll with another media outlet. All of the polls themselves are also penalized one point for whichever candidate they show in the lead because they are always slanted and rarely correct anyway.

    The “BS factor” is very high right now and this has led to the following breakdown in the Poll Vault:

    Kerry-31%
    Bush 30%
    Whatever 39%

    In the Poll Vault Bush is penalized one-point overall because, well, he’s a bit dumber than Kerry.

    Now you can criticize my polling methods all you want but I’m willing to bet that I am correct.

    What’s that? You say that my polling data is not “scientific”? Well, all the others claim to be scientific, like you want. But, look how much they agree.

    I think my new poll fits right in.

    I can’t wait until the Poll Vault’s results are announced in the media. I hope the media takes it as seriously as all the others.

    Friday, October 08, 2004

    ‘The Candidate’

    In an attempt to follow up on my plan from yesterday it occurred to me that the reason my campaign for president is not getting traction is because of the fact I never leave the house.

    Yesterday I attempted to rectify this problem and began campaigning in person here in Pueblo, Colorado. After all, John Kerry has been campaigning here in the state for a week now. I needed to campaign in person too. If I cannot win Colorado I may not have a shot at winning the general election.

    As the saying goes, “you should campaign where your strength is the strongest.”

    So, yesterday, I got the kids dressed, put Pearl on her leash and began a walk-a-thon around the neighborhood to garner the votes I need to win the state (Michelle takes our one vehicle to work with her and I can’t drive anymore).

    Our first stop was at the Loaf-N-Jug down the street. I was a bit nervous about talking to customers, so I bought the kids a round of candy and chocolate milk instead. Everyone seemed to be in such a hurry. I didn’t want to bother them.

    I did take one shot, out by the gas pumps, as we left. I noticed that gas prices are now well over two-dollars. I saw one sad-looking, burly guy pumping gas and said, “Hey. Those prices are pretty bad huh? You know whose fault that is don’t you?”

    He replied, “Yeah? Tell me what I don’t know, asshole!”

    I didn’t push the issue of who to vote for. I didn’t want to get beat up or something.

    I thought the Pizza Hut next door might be a good place to begin campaigning but that didn’t work because they weren’t open yet. That’s when it hit me that the community college near our house might be the perfect place to start.

    There are actually many younger people at the school campaigning for either Bush or Kerry. I thought that it might be a great opportunity to change the minds of some of the younger people involved in the electoral process.

    So I took the children and Pearl over to Pueblo Community College in search of minds to change.

    When we got to the area of the school designated for pontificating political beliefs there were several young persons there. They were arguing with each other… Bush was this… Kerry was that… Nader was something else.

    I decided to interject my philosophy. I told them – even while they argued – that I was a viable alternative…

    “Right. Get a life dude.”

    “Get out of here, creepo!”

    Obviously I had my work cut out for me.

    I tried to explain that Bush and Kerry were BOTH problems and that the only solution was to elect a third-party alternative. That way we can stay safe and get our people back to work.

    The Kerry kids told me that government should be expanded and that “peace” was the only alternative. The Bush kids laughed and told me “anybody without work has only themselves to blame.”

    I asked one Bush kid what he did for a living and he told me “I don’t work. I go to school.”

    The Kerry kid, who had mentioned “peace” to me a moment before, tried to kick Pearl because she was getting too close to a box of donuts he had near him.

    About that time the children wanted to leave for the lobby, where there was a variety of snack machines. So off we went, leaving scowls, condemnation and incredulous stares behind us. After I used up all of our quarters at the snack machines in the lobby the day’s “campaigning” was effectively over.

    I was beat.

    I sure can understand why it takes such a huge organization to campaign for national office. It’s grueling work.

    Thursday, October 07, 2004

    ‘The Contender’

    The momentum in my campaign for president has been slowing down as of late. My campaign budget is very small and the cardboard buttons, with the red and blue crayon, that my kids made just aren't catching on like I had hoped.

    People are beginning to focus more on the two major party candidates. I expected this but I'm still confident that it can be overcome.

    The main problem is that the media has neglected all of the third party and independent candidates from its coverage and the elites have eliminated us from the debates.

    I thought that, perhaps, the others and I could band together and combat this prejudiced practice of shutting out alternatives. But this has not worked out well. I’ve tried phoning the others and also emailing them. What a stubborn bunch.

    I wrote an email to the Libertarians…

    “Hey, guys! Meet me at the Burger King and we’ll talk about protesting at the next debate over a fish sandwich and a shake.

    Kerry”

    How did they reply?

    “Hello,

    The Libertarian Party appreciates your support in the upcoming election. Help us bring back fiscal responsibility, common sense and TRUE liberty to Washington D.C.

    Sam Spam
    Libertarian Party Field Manager”

    A brick wall these guys.

    Undeterred, I attempted to contact a real person over the phone at the Constitution Party headquarters.

    “Hello… Michael Peroutka for president…”

    “Hi… this is Kerry. Is Mr. Peroutka around?”

    “Excuse me?”

    “I need to talk to him a minute, so we can get a decent protest going on the debates. They are shutting us…”

    “Who is this?”

    “Kerry…”

    Click.

    How rude! No wonder no progress is being made.

    Finally, I attempted another call to the Nader people. But I was subjected to a maze of phone options and mini-commercials that reminded me of your basic multi-level marketing program. I never did get through to Ralph.

    I’ll get my revenge when I’m swept into office in November. Mr. Bandarik, Mr. Peroutka and Mr. Nader can all expect I.R.S. audits next year.

    So that’s it, I guess. I’m in this all alone. If someone is going to do something about the elimination of all third-party options from the ongoing debate I guess I’ll have to be the one to do it.

    I’m not sure how it can be done, but a fish sandwich at Burger King seems like a good way to start.

    Remember to write-in for president, “Kerry R. Fox, of Colorado.”

    “The Right Kerry for Now!”

    Sorry, Senator.

    Wednesday, October 06, 2004

    ‘Second Sight’



    After the debate last night I was kind of surprised by the spin on the networks. Apparently nobody saw the debate I did.

    The pronouncements – even from the lefties – was that Cheney “wiped the floor” with John Edwards. Well, I doubt that this was the case. But, I’ll defer a bit to the masses and simply convey what it is I witnessed.

    Keep in mind that the network people cover these “debates,” know the issues and call the play-by-play on all things political. They think about these things and pontificate about them all of the time. The voters do not behave this way. The voters – especially at this point – look at mannerisms, poise and stature.

    On these points Cheney looked old, tired and mean. John Edwards looked fresh and confident.

    After the Bush-Kerry debate everyone said that Bush won on “substance” and Kerry won on “style.” I didn’t divide these two points on the Cheney-Edwards debate. Edwards talked about issues close to my heart and Cheney defended policies that have caused misery to untold millions. On substance, I thought, Edwards did as well as on style.

    Cheney spent most of the debate rubbing his hands together and holding them close to his face like Mr. Burns in The Simpsons. The affect of it was to muffle his microphone, which was below his face on the desk, and caused his lowered, mumbled voice to sound even more faint and mealy-mouthed.

    And, YES, I DID hear what he had to say…

    He defended outsourcing.
    He defended high insurance rates.
    He defended tax breaks for corporations.
    He defended his main benefactor, Halliburton.
    He defended high drug prices and high health care costs.
    He defended mistaken CIA intelligence on Iraq.
    He defended the conflicting reports from his own administration.
    He defended continuing low wages and no benefits.
    He defended the unfunded education policies.

    The entire night Dick Cheney defended everything under the Sun, except for one thing: He never defended George W. Bush. Cheney never even mentioned George W. Bush. This was the one thing that the pundits saw that I saw as well. And this was mentioned next to everything they believe they saw Cheney do that I did not.

    Oh well.

    On who "could have nailed" whom on what? Edwards could have nailed Cheney on the vote to supply our troops in Iraq. Cheney mentioned that the funds were for body armor and protection. Edwards could have said that it was the Bush Administration that sent the troops into harm's way without these things in the first place.

    Cheney was smart not to mention AGAIN that unemployed people could scrap a living by selling their possessions on eBay. He also stayed away from his previous contention that if everyone did not re-elect him and Bush they would... all die.

    Edwards, for his part, was very aggressive and confident against Cheney. As far as “substance” I thought he mentioned the things that are on the minds of most people, that is to say… he talked about the things that Cheney spent all night defending.

    I DID NOT see things the way the pundits and the Bush supporters saw them. I don’t really even think it was a “draw” either. But, I’m just one lonely voice in the blogosphere.

    I’m of the opinion that if John Kerry does well against Bush this Friday he can actually put away the election.

    That’s my call.

    We’ll see if it is the pundits or me who are correct on these finer points when the next slew of polls begin to come out.

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    ‘Dumb and Dumber’



    They have been everywhere the past couple of weeks, on every newscast, in many newspapers and in polling firm and television network “focus groups.”

    They are the most important people involved in the US Presidential Election. In fact: They will decide the election’s outcome. Such is the magnitude of their intellectual prowess, beliefs and experience.

    Who are these people?

    They are the constantly sought-after “undecided” voters.

    Right now, each presidential candidate and their staffs are trying to figure out how to appeal to the "undecided" voters. Everything the candidates do for the rest of the campaign will be done to lure these people into their respective columns on November 2nd.

    Think about what it takes to be an “undecided” voter inside 30 days before the vote:

    You can’t have watched many newscasts, read many papers or talked about politics with many knowledgeable people.

    You can’t belong, faithfully, to any political party… unless you signed up on union orders or to just “get laid.”

    You can’t have much passion about many of the issues either; considering that “undecided” voters haven’t made up their minds about two “major” candidates with philosophies so diametrically opposed as to be as different from each other as a Mercedes and a Yugo.

    Remember… in order to be an “undecided voter” you have to work in the phrase “I don’t know” or a derivative at the beginning, middle or end of each sentence you utter. The more professional “undecided” voters manage all of these.

    “Undecided” voters are crawling out of the woodwork everywhere these days. The other day, on the back of the Mighty Pueblo Chieftain (sarcasm over), “undecided” voters were featured rambling about their indecision on the matter of the presidential election…

    “Gee. I’m just not sure. I mean, Bush has been bad but Kerry could be worse. I wish I knew which would do what.”

    “Iraq is a mess and we have to win at all costs or get out. I don't know who will cost us more. I'm not sure we should stay either.”

    “I wish I knew who to vote for. It’s such an important decision. I may not know until I’m in the voting booth.”

    I should mention that next to each respondent’s name was listed their profession. Most were listed as “unemployed.” No doubt these people can’t decide whether to work, where to work or why they don’t. They also can’t decide whether they or one of the presidential candidates are to blame.

    I mean… they just don’t know.

    The “focus groups” on TV are a fun, yet depressing, thing to see. Featured are “undecided voters” from all walks of life. They are shown clips of the candidates on a monitor and then vomit out their thoughts…

    “I don’t know. Kerry’s hair was a bit out of place. He licks his tongue a lot too. I’m concerned how this might come into play during cabinet meetings. Will he have the respect of his Secretaries? On the other hand, Bush...”

    “Well… I liked what Kerry said. But… I also liked what Bush said. They both talk so well. I just don’t know.”

    I even heard one of them say, “If only we could blend the two of them together…”

    Good Lord!

    I say… JUST MAKE UP YOUR STUPID MIND YOU IDIOT!!!!!

    “Undecided” voters have convinced me of just how little hope there is for our beleaguered nation. I don’t believe that either of the “major” parties are best for our country. Can you imagine if “undecided” voters realized they had more than two choices? They could blow a gasket or something.

    I’m sure I’ve seen these people before. They are the ones at the four-way stop who have the right-of-way but wave you to go ahead first, even though it is stupid and illegal.

    As much as I despise anyone so ill-informed as to not have an opinion about something so important I realize that it will be THESE PEOPLE who decide the upcoming election.

    “Undecided” voters are either a plague on the United States, arising from a screwed-up educational system and furthering a dumbed-down society or they are mutant zombies from another planet.

    I can’t decide which.

    Monday, October 04, 2004

    ‘Deuces Wild’

    Early poll indications, after the first debate, are that the presidential race is now back to “even.” The newest polling shows the effects of the debate last Thursday and may swing even more after polls released late today and tomorrow.

    This should be the decisive week in the campaign with the vice-presidential debate tomorrow night and another Bush-Kerry debate on Friday.

    The last few weeks of a presidential race are always very interesting. As the race tightens up both sides become shrill, more desperate and more prone to vitriolic hyperbole.

    One thing that crops up every four years is talk about a possible “October Surprise.”

    Now, an “October Surprise” rarely happens but every four years each party is scared to death that the other will have one, or that something out of their control will happen during this crazy month.

    The phrase "October Surprise" doesn't necessarily mean anything about October. It is merely the phrase used to explain how one party may do something that leaves the other no time to combat the problem before the voting.

    This all started back in the 1980 election when Ronald Reagan was challenging Jimmy Carter. “Radical students” had been holding American personnel from the US Embassy in Tehran hostage for well over a year. The Republicans were scared witless that, somehow, Carter would arrange the release of the hostages during October and that this would result in a surge in popularity for the struggling president. It never happened and Reagan went on to trounce Carter in November.

    Ever since that election we have heard about a possible “October Surprise” by one side or the other.

    The biggest “October Surprise” we HAVE had was the one in the last election, and was actually in November. The night before the election the Gore people released a story about how President Bush had been arrested for drunk driving some 25 years previous. Nobody is certain if the news did any actual damage to Bush but to this day the Republicans swear that it caused the close vote.

    This year it is BOTH parties that fear an “October Surprise.” The Democrats are fearful – and in fact talking about the possibility – of the Bush Administration capturing Osama Bin Laden sometime in October. This, they believe, would swing the election Bush’s way.

    The Republicans are rightfully concerned about a terror attack here in the United States. Not from the Democrats, of course, but from amongst the many illegal aliens they have allowed across the wide open borders for the purposes of lowering wage demands from workers for their friends in business. An attack during October would do much damage to Bush’s claim that we are “safer” and possibly swing the election to John Kerry.

    While each party dreads an “October Surprise” that would hurt their chances it is safe to assume that each party also hopes for one that will help its chances.

    It’s all kind of silly, I know. But this is the American electoral process at its height. October is always an interesting time in a presidential election year.

    To me the only thing that SHOULD be a “surprise” never is: That after the silliness of October one of these two parties will win on Election Day.

    Friday, October 01, 2004

    ‘Great Expectations’

    American presidential debates – at least the very first one – are NEVER about substance.

    Back in 1980, Ronald Reagan tilted his head toward President Jimmy Carter and said, “There you go again, Mr. President.” That was the enduring image of the campaign. The replays of that moment alone caused Carter to lose and he ended up conceding before the polls had even closed on election night.

    Knowing that the first debate is for the “undecided” alone it was with great interest that I watched last night’s debate between Senator Kerry and President Bush. Which one would the undecided voters pick? Which one would seem more confident? Which would be more reassuring? Okay, okay… which one would come off as a bumbling idiot?

    I sit here this morning absolutely stunned.

    It was President Bush who came away looking haggard, unsure, confused, unsteady and, frankly… out of touch with reality. John Kerry, on the other hand, punched all of his answers and responses assuredly, steadily and with confidence.

    Keep in mind I make no reference to “substance.” This debate was not about that. But even if it had been President Bush wouldn’t have been able to find a point with two hands and a flashlight. He was that terrible.

    MY image of last night’s debate is that of Bush leaning uncomfortably against the podium with his brow wrinkled and his mouth agape. During several such episodes I had time to say, “Yes? Yes? Yes?”

    Bush’s speech was halting and sounded indecisive. He kept interrupting the moderator, Jim Lehrer, to ask for a “special 30-second response,” during which all he ever mustered was, “Yeah? Well, um, um… you flip-flop!”

    On the split screen Bush did his best imitation of Al Gore’s debate performance, sighing repeatedly and smirking. To me he looked agitated. John Kerry kept all of his mannerisms in check throughout. The effect of the difference made Bush appear childish while Kerry looked mature.

    It didn’t help Bush a bit when, in defense of his policies, he kept saying – about the presidency – “It’s hard, it’s hard!”

    Another gem was the painful minute or so, during talk about Iran, when Bush kept saying “moo-lahs” instead of “mullahs,” and while he seemed to be searching for other words that failed to come. At that point I saw a wry little smile from John Kerry. He knew it was over.

    John Kerry was impressive as hell, never faltering, never rude and ready with an assuring answer on every point. If he doesn’t grab most of the undecided vote after this I’ll be very surprised.

    For me the performance was not unlike Holyfield-Tyson I, where everyone expected Evander to get the crap kicked out of him. Only he came out, shoved Mike Tyson backward and gave him the soundest and steadiest whipping he ever had.

    Expectations did a lot prior to this debate. The Bush team has made his career by lowering expectations of Bush’s upcoming performances. Then, when he holds his own, he appears to have won.

    This time that tactic backfired on them. The Bush people have been talking about how “Kerry is the best debater since Cicero” and that the president will “have a tough time.” Only, last night, Bush lived DOWN to the expectations set for him. To compound the matter John Kerry IS a fine debater and he showed up at the top of his game.

    The debate “spin” tells me I am right about my assessment. The Bushies are saying “he was tired” and that the debate “was a draw.” They are hoping it was a “draw.” If they thought they had won the night the crowing could be heard for miles.

    They may be right about the “tired” part though. Bush is “tired.”

    Last night he looked it.