Cleland Slide Greatly Exaggerated Observers and Washington-based reporters made a hullabaloo this week about newly released poll numbers in the Georgia senate race. Starved for good information, what with the paucity of worthwhile political coverage down here, reporters ran with numbers from the Chambliss campaign that showed the Republican challenger running behind the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Max Cleland, by just four points: Cleland–45%, Chambliss–41%.
Those numbers looked wildly different from polls taken earlier in the year, and given the disparity between the two campaigns' war chests — the Chambliss campaign's ads only went up on television three weeks ago, while Cleland advertised all summer — the narrow gap between the two candidates made no sense. Sure enough, a Journal-Constitution poll arrived this morning to dispel any confusion. The nonpartisan take: Cleland–51%, Chambliss–42%.
There you have it: one more example of why friends don't let friends believe partisan polls. =, For more information about the AJC survey, check the Daily Kos.
She Keeps Coming Back Calling in from the realm of the political undead: Cynthia McKinney, the deposed Georgia congresswoman who doesn't seem to know how to take "no" for an answer. Undaunted by a 16-point rejection in a district that sent her to Congress for five terms, McKinney demands a rematch. No, strike that — she just wants her seat back.
Republican voters who crossed over to help Denise Majette beat U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney in August's Democratic primary interfered with voting rights and their votes should be declared invalid, a lawsuit filed Friday contends.
Five DeKalb County voters were named as plaintiffs in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. It says the "malicious" crossover voting was unconstitutional and violated the Voting Rights Act, and asks that McKinney be declared the winner.
"The issue is that black Democratic voters in the 4th District had their voting rights interfered with and violated," said Atlanta lawyer J.M. Raffauf, who represents the five African-American plaintiffs . . .
The controversial five-term incumbent lost to Majette 58 percent to 42 percent. Before the primary, leading Republicans and conservative commentators urged Republicans to vote for Majette in the Democratic primary. McKinney has repeatedly blamed the crossover voting for her defeat, and charged that Democratic officials aided Majette.
In other words: Waaaaaaaaaaahhh!
Leave aside the paranoid and unsettling language about Democratic officials, and her argument comes down to this: Republicans voted against me in the Democratic primary. That's no fair.
Six weeks to think about this, Cynthia, and that's the best you can do?
Georgia law calls for open primaries, and has since Reconstruction. No one has to register as a Democrat or Republican. No one has to vote as a Democrat or Republican. In fact, the one time I can think of when state law even acknowledges the distinction between the two parties is during runoffs, where voters have take ballots for the races in the party they chose to vote for during the primaries.
Since party membership in Georgia is fluid at best, I can't see for the life of me where McKinney hopes to win her case. For all intents and purposes, under state law those who choose to vote in a Democratic primary are Democrats. Calling them "crossover voters" might offer some solace, but as a legal argument it cuts no ice.
I feel sorry for the woman, though. Left to pick through the shambles of her political career, she remains too blinkered to look in the mirror. Instead she sees enemies in every corner: white voters, black voters, Jewish voters and Indian-American voters, Klansmen, Republicans, Democrats and Andrew Young, not to mention Roy Barnes and Max Cleland. [If I've left anyone out, let me know.]
But enough of that. It's time to move on. Maybe Cynthia will, someday. Meanwhile, I hope she takes some of her time off to study her Shakespeare, particularly Julius Caesar: "[t]he fault, dear Brutus, lies not within the stars, but within ourselves."
A Week Is a Lifetime in Politics Hey, guys. Now, where were we?
I spent most of the week hunkered down coding a web page, part of a big project we were readying up for one of the major Georgia statewide campaigns. Since I don't code often, that absorbed a lot of time; I might be a quick study, but hey -- to make that work, I have to study first.
At about 4:45 this afternoon, though, I found out that all the work had come for naught -- we canned the project. The political stars just weren't aligning our way. I hate quitting halfway through anything, but at least I gave my HTML mojo a good working out. Same goes for the Cartoon Network animator who just wrapped up a great little cartoon for us. You would have laughed your duffs off. Believe me.
So that sent the better part of two weeks' labor down the drain. Great way to wrap up a Friday, eh? But a little Ben & Jerry's, along with a set of headphones, a good Oasis album, and a long nap, were enough to cure that. Watching O Brother, Where Art Thou would have iced the cake, but heck, I can wait. Besides, renting Amélie tomorrow might hit the spot, too.
Oh wait -- since it's mom's birthday weekend, I think I'll round up the family and take her out to dinner tomorrow. Blockbuster should still be there next week. =,
Spending the morning at Hands On Atlanta Day. I'm looking forward to the work, and hey -- I know nobody's cancelling that. =,
Lending a Hand Atlanta-area readers need to know that Hands on Atlanta Day, the mother of all community service events, comes up this Saturday, with projects starting at 9 a.m. Check the web site to learn about various projects, and then sign up -- register yourself, or better yet, a group or your family, the better to hit the after-party with later. [If that doesn't work, the least you can do is buy the t-shirt.]
Remember: it all starts this Saturday at 9. Hope to see y'all out there.
A Glint of Sunshine Considering how frustrating it gets to hear the same ideological cant batted around over and over, and how many topics in politics -- the war on drugs, Social Security, universal health care -- seem off limits, I smile a little after coming across free thought where I least expect it. Case in point: this anecdote from Esta Jarrett. I've felt disaffected about church lately, but at her church last Sunday, some novel topics came up:
Church was interesting yesterday morning. Now that I can go to grownup Sunday School classes, I find that they talk about pretty surprising stuff . . . the lesson was about homosexual adolescent development and how we can support those poor kids (did you know that nearly half of homosexual teenagers think about suicide, and a third actually attempt it?). Later, we found out that a friend's daughter's boyfriend had died last week from a heroin overdose. That poor kid. The woman to my right, a grandmother of five, turned to me and grumbled about the failure of the War on Drugs. "If we'd just legalize some stuff, like marijuana," she said, "it'd make all the difference. Can't these people see that their plan isn't working?"
Pax I run an LSAT prep class in the fall, which means I've spent every Tuesday and Thursday night for a month at Morehouse College. Tonight was the last class. I had good students this time, but just the same, I'm glad I'm done. I'm looking forward to some rest.
While I'm at Morehouse I tend to look around, and over the last few weeks I've noticed something. The school has a set of flagpoles in front of the Martin Luther King Chapel -- I'd seen them before, but never paid much attention to them. One night about two weeks ago, though, while I was walking back to my car to go home, I noticed what was flying from them -- the flag of the United Nations. From every single one.
I thought at first that the school must have been hosting a model United Nations. I've looked out for the flagpoles a few times since that night, though, and the flags are still there. That takes some air out of that theory.
So what's Morehouse up to? Do the flags amount to a statement of political dissent? Don't ask me -- but as far as political statements go, I'd say this one is interestingly put.
Poster Children for Bad Behavior Asparagirl's post last weekend about the kids at her high school in Scarsdale reminded me of my own -- including the drinking and the drugs. The campus wasn't a uniform bastion of privilege, but the parents of most kids there had a pretty good lot in life, and it showed. Especially in the parking lot, considering the number of SUVs and Beemers scattered around.
Anyhow, Asparagirl made a good point:
[W]hen Scarsdale parents seem to honestly think that their privileged lives somehow insulate them from life's realities, that their "position" (and other euphemisms for wealth) gives them some sort of pass on having to actually watch out for their kids, that galls me. It's ironic, too, because their "position" also creates all sorts of new pressures and influences that can be just as harmful to their kids. It's just more easily glossed over, that's all.
Dang straight. The wealth sloshing around my high school made for some wild times, especially among the kids who seemed to have the run of the town.
That said, those students were in the minority. I still keep up with plenty of friends and alumni, and they're good people . . . but then, they had good parents. When it comes to character, that counts for far more than cash.
Are They Smoking Something? Is it me, or does a huge swath of the conservative/libertarian blogiverse seem to be coming down with a case of the vapors? I thought Glenn Reynolds had gotten his liberal panic out of his system yesterday with his post on the Democrats’ supposed immolation on This Week yesterday, but he’s kept going:
We saw Gore's speech last week, which was roundly denounced, followed by Daschle's overheated speech, followed by this. . . . Are the Democrats' tracking polls so bad that they think they're going to lose everyone but the Nation/NPR hard core among their base, so they're just trying to energize that regardless of the cost among swing voters? . . .
This is a risky game. It's likely to do a lot of damage in the coming elections. And if there's another big terror attack, it's going to kill the Democrats for years. What are they thinking? Are they thinking?
Whoa there -- calm down, my friend.
For starters, contrary to blogospheric opinion, Gore’s speech was hardly “roundly denounced,” unless you mistake Sean Hannity and Michael Kelly for the voice of the country. Daschle’s speech, which by any measuring stick except his own fell well short of ‘overheated,’ seems to have had an effect. As for the Democrats tracking polls: surely Reynolds doesn’t think the party’s that far gone. He can look at these polling numbers, which bode well for the Democrats, as well as anyone else. Besides, the Big Pun -- smart though he is -- hardly makes a plausible stand-in for America’s swing voters.
But there’s more: Sully is in on the act now. [Quelle surprise.]
Congressman Jim McDermott has just accused president Bush of wilfully lying to the American people about national security threats from Saddam or Al Qaeda. He said this not on the floor of the House or in his district -- but in Baghdad, the capital city of a despot who is on the brink of war with the United States. At a time when the U.S. government is attempting some high-level diplomatic maneuvers in the U.N., when Saddam is desperate for any propaganda ploy he can muster, these useful idiots play his game. I think what we're seeing now is the hard-core base of the Democratic Party showing its true colors, and those colors, having flirted with irrelevance and then insouciance are now perilously close to treason.
Eh? Wot? “Its true colors”? Please. Did Jim McDermott and David Bonior look ridiculous yesterday? Sure. But they make up the public face of the Democratic Party about as much as Rep. Joe Wilson and Dick Armey do that for the Republicans -- which is to say, not at all.
Besides, in this hothouse atmosphere, it’s easy for political junkies to lose sight of some important truths. How much do average Americans think about politics? Five minutes -- per week. What percentage of registered voters outside Washington state could pick Rep. McDermott out of a lineup? Don’t bring out both hands – you won’t need ’em. Would the GOP really clip the tape from yesterday’s This Week into a nationwide generic ad against Democratic candidates? Don’t make me laugh. [They don’t have to, when they have Rush Limbaugh & Co. to do that for them.] So how much chance is there that this story can turn into a tsunami, sweeping Democrats from the political landscape? Hmmm?
The Democrats are just fine, the Bonior/McDermott misstep notwithstanding. Sullivan could stand to follow some advice from White House spokesman Ari Fleischer: “take a deep breath . . . stop finger-pointing and . . . work well together.”
Cheney the Armchair Colonel I just read a vintage 2000 article from Suck about Dick Cheney's lengthy education in the ways of war. All I have to say is: wow. Oh wow.
Having figured out that the general [Norman Schwarzkopf] was being too cautious with his fourth combat command in three decades of soldiering, Cheney got his staff busy and began presenting Schwarzkopf with his own ideas about how to fight the Iraqis: What if we parachute the 82nd Airborne into the far western part of Iraq, hundreds of miles from Kuwait and totally cut off from any kind of support, and seize a couple of missile sites, then line up along the highway and drive for Baghdad? Schwarzkopf charitably describes the plan as being "as bad as it could possibly be... But despite our criticism, the western excursion wouldn't die: three times in that week alone Powell called with new variations from Cheney's staff. The most bizarre involved capturing a town in western Iraq and offering it to Saddam in exchange for Kuwait." (Throw in a Pete Rose rookie card?) None of this Walter Mitty posturing especially surprised Schwarzkopf, who points out that he'd already known Cheney as "one of the fiercest cold warriors in Congress."
And this is the man with the president's ear? Heaven help us all.
Bush: Imperator? Jay Bookman writes the best columns at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and today he wrote a piece that sounded overwrought, but thought-provoking:
The President's Real Goal in Iraq: As it turns out, this is not really about Iraq. It is not about weapons of mass destruction, or terrorism, or Saddam, or U.N. resolutions.
This war, should it come, is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary policeman. It would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the making, carried out by those who believe the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the "American imperialists" that our enemies always claimed we were.
I don't agree with him -- call me crazy, but I'm a firm believer in Ockham's Razor. By default, I lean toward simpler explanations. Still, Bookman makes a well-developed argument here. It's worth a read.
Uprooting the Bushes, One Step at a Time I'm sure many of you readers are ready to get rid of the Bushes -- Dubya and his presidential sibling. I want to make a contribution to the Democratic challenger in the Florida governor's race, Bill McBride, but need to keep my money in Georgia this year. So I had to think of something else to do.
If you look over to the left-hand side of the page and scroll down a bit, you'll see a button I whipped up this weekend urging voters to 'Dump Jeb.' It's just moral support, and given how much the blogosphere can resemble an echo chamber, it's small moral support at that. But this race is important enough that all Democrats need to do their part to win it, whatever that happens to be.
The button's yours for the stealing. Hope you all get good use from it.
Baby, He's Cold Inside Vladimir Putin, world-class romantic? Hardly -- in fact, in his wife's new book, he comes off looking like a grade-A cad. For starters, when they were dating, he would meet up with her in the Moscow subway as much as 90 minutes late:
'I couldn't come late, because I thought he could be on time,' she said, remembering the agony of waiting for Putin in subway stations. 'I would bear the first 15 minutes normally, a half-hour would also be OK. But after an hour would pass, I would nearly cry out of humiliation. And one-and-a-half hours afterward, I would feel no emotions at all.'
He even managed to mess up when he proposed:
'Look, honey, you know that my character is pretty hard. Now you must make your choice in life,' she recalled.
She said his words plunged her into instant panic because she first thought he wanted to split up.
Sheesh. What a goof. So unlike the warm, fuzzy guy we see on television. =,
Whoo 'Hoo! Thanks to a romp of a comeback against Wake Forest yesterday, the Virginia Cavaliers have earned themselves a 3-2 win/loss ratio, getting into positive territory for the first time this season. As the K.C. & the Sunshine Band used to say, that's the way (uh-huh uh-huh) I like it. =,