anchor link to jump to start of content

The Seattle Times Company NWclassifieds NWsource

NEXT home page
Letters to NEXT
NEXTopia Weblog
Speak out
Meet the NEXT team

Welcome to NEXTopia, a Web diary in which NEXT writers — and readers — share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. The opinions you read below are those of the individual writers, not necessarily those representing The Seattle Times.
Respond to NEXTopia
Currently, NEXTopia cannot automatically post readers' comments on the blog. However, writers and editors will regularly post your name and comments unless you note otherwise.

space space space space
Our freelance team and advisory board members who contribute to this blog.

Photo of Christina Asavareungchai
Christina Asavareungchai
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Sharon Altaras
Sharon Altaras
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Drew Avery
Drew Avery
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Althea Cawley-Murphree
Althea Cawley-Murphree
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Camille Coldeen
Camille Coldeen
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Chris Collins
Chris Collins
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Dana Dibble
Dana Dibble
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Karan Gill
Karan Gill
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Randy Henderson
Randy Henderson
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Gavin Hesse
Gavin Hesse
E-mail | Bio

Photo of John Hieger
John Hieger
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Hana Kawai
Hana Kawai
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Anne Kim
Anne Kim
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Kailani Koenig-Muenster
Kailani Koenig-Muenster
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Brent Ludeman
Brent Ludeman
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Nate Robinson
Nate Robinson
E-mail | Bio

Photo of April Seipp
April Seipp
E-mail | Bio

Photo of W. John Schroder
W. John Schroder
E-mail | Bio

Photo of Daniel Thies
Daniel Thies
E-mail | Bio

Colleen Pohlig
E-mail | Bio

Robert Hernandez
E-mail | Bio

Tracy Cutchlow
E-mail | Bio

Eric Devericks
E-mail | Bio

James Blethen
E-mail | Bio

Boo Davis
E-mail | Bio

Carlin Pressnall
E-mail | Bio


October 29, 2004

Halloween haters

Officials have cancelled the hour-long Halloween parties traditionally thrown in Puyallup schools, reports the Associated Press. They cite the loss of class time and fear of offending Wiccans with stereotyped witch costumes (black hats, blond straw hair, warts, broomsticks, the like.)

The Puyallup school district’s decision is a ridiculous case of excessive political correctness.

First, missing one hour of class time isn’t going to significantly impact the education of children. Since parties have been cancelled, the children may be glum, distracted and sullen anyway.

Besides, “Many schools in Puyallup and elsewhere have already changed to seasonal ‘harvest festivals.’” While officials justify the end of Halloween festivities by citing missing class time, they’re throwing “harvest festivals” at the same time.

Second, if the district wants to avoid stereotypes of witches, it could ban witch costumes from school Halloween parties. Instead, officials have cancelled all the festivities, disappointing schoolchildren and making themselves look like strict, mean, fun-sucking Halloween haters.

Respond to Christina

Posted by Christina Asavareungchai at 02:22 PM

Those damn reporters

You know, the government had everything going just fine in their scramble to pass the buck on the missing explosives. Both Bush and Rumsfeld insisted the explosives were probably removed before U.S. forces even got there.

And then, miraculously, the Pentagon (Rumsfeld's stomping ground) produced a photo of some trucks parked next to a building before the invasion, and suggested the explosives might have been moved out then.

Phew. Political crisis averted.

Never mind that the building the trucks were parked next to wasn't likely the one holding the explosives. Never mind the lack of any pictures actually showing any explosives being removed. Never mind the fact that Bush forced the inspectors out of Iraq who were tracking the explosives to begin with. And never mind the explosives are still missing. Bottom line, hey, it's not their fault.

Then, oops, ABC produces video of U.S. forces examining the explosives after the invasion.

Oh, ummm...Did we say they were removed before the invasion? No, wait, here's a GI who, though he isn't an explosives expert or anything, can tell you yes, they did remove a bunch of stuff and destroyed it. Some of it may have even been a small portion of the missing explosives.

OK. But the fact still remains that our leaders were all prepared to feed us a bunch of BS about the explosives being gone before the invasion even begun. Yet again, both Bush and Rumsfeld appear pathologically incapable of taking responsibility for any mistakes, let alone focusing on necessary action rather than political butt-covering.

And even if Bush and Rumsfeld believed the explosives were not in Iraq before the invasion (similar to the way they believed the WMDs were), then why are they so ignorant of what's actually going on?

And if U.S. forces really had destroyed all the explosives (which they probably didn't), why don't they know whether they did or didn't? Why was it only after ABC released its video that someone was brought forward to say that maybe, possibly, they blew some of the explosives up?

If not for ABC, Bush and team would have spun yet another fable about weapons in Iraq to the American people, and we would have been none the wiser. Now, if only they could find a videotape showing that, despite Bush's claims of fighting a war on terror, bin Laden is still alive and free.

Oh, wait, that's right, they did.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 02:19 PM

Guiliani's partisan hacking

I have two issues with former NY City mayor Guiliani.

That line at the RNC, when the World Trade Centers were attacked, allegedly his first thought was, "Thank God George Bush is President!"

Not only do I not believe this statement, but for Rudy to drop this gem at the RNC made the remark that much more cheap. Do I know he didn't think that, no, but my gut tells me it was just a little too corny to be true.

"Thank God Dubya is President?" What the F&*#!

Anyway, everybody seems content to let that line fly but now comes Rudy's statements on the missing weapons in Iraq: "No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough?"

Thanks, Captain NY. Blame intelligence shortcomings on the grunts on the ground. Not only is this the antithesis of "Supporting Troops," but it reflects Guiliani's willingness to overlook or misrepresent reality for the benefit of his Republican buddies.

People can call this guy's reaction to 9/11 heroic, but his statements of late are suspicious and disheartening. Maybe he misses playing the role of America's Favorite Mayor or maybe he's just been a partisan hack all along.

I don't know, but if he wants to play the role of a strong Republican, he better stop the troop bashing and fall in line with the party anthem that "Republicans love America More."

Respond to John


Posted by John Hieger at 02:11 PM

Gonna be prez when I grow up

Here's a nice little comparative timeline of the candidate's lives with interesting side notes about what past presidents had done at the same ages.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 01:57 PM

Grades and labels

A reader wrote to me: "Actually, George Bush's grades in college were better than Kerry's. But that doesn't matter to you. I have never known a liberal to let a fact get in the way of their argument."

Well, first, thanks for writing.

Second, we can't know what Kerry's grades were because it turns out he hasn't released his transcripts. So I guess I have as much chance of being right as you. And since, for example, Kerry got into law school on his record while Bush got into Harvard as a legacy thanks to daddy (setting the trend for his professional life), I think I'm safe in saying it's not a sure win for Bush.

Still, I admit I did not consider comparing Bush's grades to Kerry's, I only presented what I've heard repeatedly about Bush. I guess the fact that I had not heard anything negative about Kerry's grades made me assume they were better. But you know what they say about assuming. Thanks for the civility check, even if it regrettably came in a most uncivil manner.

As for the liberal comment, we should never paint "all" liberals or "all" conservatives as any one thing. For example, some people are socially liberal, fiscally conservative. Some liberals are vegetarian environmentalists, and some are meat eating SUV driving gun owning soldiers who recycle occasionally and believe our wealthy society should not leave the poor and elderly to die on the streets.

And certainly, if you look at George Bush's campaign for example, any of the non-partisan fact checking websites or post-debate fact checking articles will show you that Bush certainly didn't let facts get in the way of his arguments (and neither did Kerry, though to a lesser degree).

So if you are calling Bush a liberal, that's fine. Considering he mocked a woman he was about to execute, has run up record deficits, and exploited the pain of 9-11 for political purposes (just to name a few unfortunate acts), he probably needs a new label to replace "compassionate conservative."

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 01:53 PM

Eminem vs. Bush

While Kerry is touring with Bruce Springsteen (you know, that guy who was really popular 10 or 20 years ago) and Bush tours with Arnie (you know, the guy who holds Nixon as his inspiration), Eminem has a new song and video that attacks Bush and makes you want to pump your fist, either with him, or at him.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 01:44 PM

No, this isn't Afghanistan

At this rate, we are going to need to have the UN monitor elections in the US in 2008.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 01:41 PM

Curses and trends

Now that the Sox curse has been broken, perhaps the Redskins trend will be as well.

Especially since Kerry is the Mass. Senator, so the Sox win may be a sign from above that the curse that has seemed to hang over Mass. politicians -- John and Robert Kennedy being killed, Dukakis being lame, Ted Kennedy being a bloated caricature of old school liberalism -- will be broken as well.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 01:29 PM

October 28, 2004

Lady luck?

Startling parallels between the World Series and the upcoming presidential elections. First, the boys from Massachusettes march into the heart of the midwest and defeat the Cardinals on their home field.

Busch field nonetheless, take out the "c" and the connection becomes more obvious.

The momentum is with Boston, i.e. Kerry. Ominous tones loom large for our midwestern president. A Cardinals victory would have boded better for his sense of superstition. If the magical Red Sox victory is a desperate indication, then it looks like Kerry has lady luck on his side.

Respond to John

Posted by John Hieger at 03:32 PM

Young Republicans, old victims

You know, if Republicans want to shake the image of being all about money and personal gain over the greater good, they should really stop, well, doing things like this.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 03:27 PM

Using old people

I heard a story on the radio this morning about elections and the elderly. No, it wasn't about embryonic stem-cell research or social security.

It was about how thousands of elderly people in nursing homes are either denied their right to vote, or have their vote abused.

First, the nursing home staff gets to choose who can be allowed to vote or not based on their own subjective opinion. In other words, elderly people have to prove they are mentally capable of voting, including passing verbal tests on knowledge about the candidates and the issues -- something that no other U.S. citizen has to do. Also, this opens up the residents to being denied if the staff member doesn't like them, or the way they would likely vote.

In addition, many of these elderly people suffer from losses in mental faculty due to Alzheimers, dementia, and other reasons that is abused by relatives or organizations that basically "help" the elderly person to vote when that person can't really make the decision for themselves. Hey, got a grandmother with Alzheimer's? Suddenly, you have two votes, not one.

Add this to the stories about registration fraud, discrimination, and just our campaign and incumbent systems overall and it is getting harder and harder to be proud of "democracy" in this federated republic of ours.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 03:25 PM

Tough on terror?

"The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year," The New York Times stated Monday.

Further proof the American occupation has made the region less safe. What do
the Republicans think about this? What is the convienent rationale today? Has Rush Limbaugh issued any talking points to deflect a perceived weakness?

This development could lead to a potential massacre and it appears as if the negligence of our leadership is responsible for this revelation. How many soldiers will be blown to pieces before the conservative half of the American people are willing to admit that their policies are ridiculous and their goals unattainable?

It's easy for conservatives to talk about "staying the course;" it's another thing to be stuck on the ground in Iraq bearing the brunt of an insurgency that has more momentum than we have answers.

Young conservatives who support our foreign policy should sign up to fight, because it isn't fair to the men and women struggling to stay alive on the ground to have to suffer the consequences of a clueless administration that is riding on empty promises and false optimism.

Young Republicans who support Bush and Iraq need to walk their talk. To support the war and duck military duty is the definition of hypocrasy.

Respond to John

Posted by John Hieger at 10:41 AM

Whatever it takes

Bush released a new television ad titled "Whatever it takes." I see this as sadly appropriate to this election year. Whatever it takes to get elected, that is what the candidates will do or say. The Bush campaign will capitalize on smear campaigns about Kerry's record, and distort it themselves, not to mention play on fears of terrorism.

Kerry meanwhile has lowered himself to their level by capitalizing on fears over Social Security and a military draft.

While driving along 148th in Redmond, I have twice seen evidence that some voters themselves have forsaken civil democratic action for a "whatever it takes" mentality.

Last week, I saw a woman at a red light tearing up Kerry/Edwards signs along the road and tossing them into her car.

Then, this morning as I drove along, I saw that all of the Kerry/Edwards signs for blocks had been ripped and shredded.

I'm sure there are Bush signs that have suffered the same fate in less conservative neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, both campaigns are gearing up already to dispute votes, fight recall battles, and have operatives at strategic voting locations (i.e. locations where the opposition has a high voter base) to try and spot any opportunity to deny people their right to vote, as well as report instances where this is happening at locations they favor.

And all of this doesn't even touch on what will happen if yet again the person with the most popular votes doesn't win, or if the electoral college is tied. We are really straining the ideas of peaceful, civil democratic transitions of power, of a government of, by and for the people, and of balanced and checked government power to the limits in this partisan struggle for power at any cost.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:34 AM

Ashlee not in synch

You've got to be kidding me. Ashlee Simpson is all over the news because it was revealed that she may either lip-synch or have a vocal track play to bolster her voice?

Oh how shocking! How scandalous! I can't believe it! Pop stars lip-synch?!

Next you're going to tell me that many of them can't play instruments, or that they don't write their own music, or that pop stars are just commercial products packaged and sold like the soda pop they endorse!

This should definitely be front page news in my opinion, accompanied by a hard-hitting investigative report that reveals...and I'm sorry to break this to you...professional wrestling isn't real!

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:28 AM

Washington ignored, thankfully

Oh my gosh. The Everett Herald, which usually leans conservative, gave its endorsement to Kerry.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I think Washington just might, just may, go to Kerry.

I know. Shocking.

Now if only the candidates didn't take this outcome for granted as well, we might have gotten a few more visits, a few more state-specific promises, and a little bit of Bush's relief, I mean funds. You know, the supposedly hurricane related $7.1 billion "disaster relief" funding that went in part to non-coastal, important Electoral battleground states like Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania?

Heck, it's almost worth letting the Republicans win just so we can get some special attention around here. Then again, I kind of like having water I can drink, air I can breathe, and a few programs left to help the poor. And all those states where the candidates go have to pay heavy prices for extra security and all that.

Yeah, never mind. Let other states pay the price of Bush's attentions.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:25 AM

Cut and run?

This is the best editorial I've read in a while. It's by Leonard Pitts Jr.

While a majority of Americans still believe this president is strong on terror, the reality suggests otherwise.

Take the past two days for instance. The latest and most recent developments in Iraq are increasingly becoming more startling. Scores of Iraqi policemen were slaughtered recently, tons of missing weapons reported this week. If this war were a game, by all accounts we'd be losing.

Until recently I questioned the logic of cutting and running from the Iquagmire (get it, Iraq merged with quagmire), but now I think maybe that might be the best plan.

The fear of leaving Iraq as it is today is that the country will erupt into Civil War. Well if you take a good look around, it would appear as if Iraq is already mired in near Civil War. Battles on the street, bombs in police stations, I don't know how much more civil this war is going to get.

Staying the supposed Neocon course is an exercise in stupidity. Since when has an Arabic culture ever embraced the policies of an infidel mentality? It didn't work during the Crusades, it isn't working on the Gaza Strip. By investing conservative hopes in rearranging some 1500+ plus years of Muslim culture, the Bush administration has effectively created a new Palestine, and we all know how well that experiment has worked.

How long can we pretend that Iraq is worth the blood and money? Bush's positive example isn't worth the opportunity cost, moreover it will never work. Bush isn't Lawrence of Arabia and this camel ain't going to fly. Return Iraq to the tribal leaders and focus on securing Amercian borders.

Let's play a game we can actually win; redefining Iraq is more trouble than it's worth.

Respond to John

Posted by John Hieger at 10:13 AM

Explosive mistake

Don't worry about the 380 tons of explosives that have disappeared from stockpiles in Iraq. I mean, sure, these can be used against our troops in Iraq (if they haven't already), used to make plastic explosives, to blow up planes, to level buildings, and even used to detonate nuclear weapons.

But the White House's response is...hey, no biggie, I mean, it's not like they ARE nuclear weapons.

Phew. Thanks, Bush. I feel better now. You the man. And it turns out that you knew about this a month ago. No wonder Cheney told us terrorists might detonate a nuclear weapon in a U.S. city. You already knew we'd allowed the terrorists to get the detonators.

See? This administration is right on top of the intelligence. They aren't going to be surprised again by a terrorist attack, no-siree. They know exactly everything they've done to help it happen.

Four more years! Four more years!

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:02 AM

Bush better on foreign policy?

Gavin's column in NEXT last Sunday on the Bush versus Kerry foreign policy is so backward, I hardly know where to begin.

Let's begin with North Korea, since that is by far the most important concern right now, our relationship with Australia not withstanding. Here's a CBS article that explains it clearly.

First Bush ceased negotiations with North Korea, blew them off and embarrassed Colin Powell, and called them part of an axis of evil. Then he invaded Iraq to prevent the use of WMDs that didn't exist, while virtually ignoring North Korea which was openly declaring a nuclear program.

Yeah, that's good diplomacy. And Bush did not "[put] together a coalition to put pressure on North Korea," the coalition exists in spite of Bush. Bush is just trying, again, to take credit for other people's work, since he doesn't have much of his own to be proud of.

Further, Kerry's promise to enter bilateral negotiations with North Korea isn't "inexplicable," nor will it drive China away. Bush was just again demonstrating his ignorance of foreign policy matters. China has ASKED us to also enter bi-lateral talks with North Korea. All the other nations in the coalition have already done so.

What has made us "more hated, not less, in China, Japan, Russia and South Korea" has been Bush's hamfisted, impatient, amateur approach to foreign policy.

Kerry was right. Bush was wrong.

Meanwhile, Gavin goes on to criticize a couple of campaign statements by Kerry, or as often just someone associated with Kerry. Yeah, these really stack up to the actual actions of our current president, or the fact that no president in the entire history of our country has generated larger world-wide protests, or done more damage to longstanding alliances, than Bush.

Further, our own nation is more divided and more cynical about our own government than it has been since Vietnam and Watergate.

Outsourcing? You're going to complain about reducing tax incentives for companies to ship jobs overseas? Seriously? Kerry acknowledges this won't stop outsourcing, only reduce the incentive to do so. And voting for Bush because he won't reduce the number of unemployed in America for fear of upsetting India seems like the wrong kind of, shall we say, global test.

Gavin's column almost reads as a one-sided transcript of the debates, repeating many of the claims Bush presented there. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the many fact-checking articles that newspapers ran after the debates, both candidates made a number of errors and exaggerations.

The Kerry campaign has certainly erred on the side of insensitive statements occassionally while trying to make larger, valid points about Bush's failure to form a coalition that would equally share the burdens in Iraq, or about Bush's ignoring of the realities of Iraq.

Meanwhile, Bush has definitely erred on the side of actual, disastrous foreign policy decisions (not to mention domestic and environmental policies), costing thousands of lives, years of effort, hundreds of billions of our tax dollars, all the while making the world less safe.

BOTTOM LINE: Kerry can apologize for his big transgression -- a poorly worded statement. But Bush cannot simply apologize to take back an invasion, grant life back to the dead, repair relations with nations he's screwed over or pushed away, give back two years of extended service to reservists, capture Osama bin Laden, erase record deficits, erase the images of prisoner abuse by American soldiers, or reverse any one of the many disastrous mistakes he's made. Not that he's capable of admitting he's made any.

You want another four years of this? Really?

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 09:57 AM

Monday morning quarterbacking

Here's a summary of the Iraq war for the American sports fan.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 09:49 AM

October 22, 2004

Fun with the Electoral College

As the candidates bring their messages to places like Ohio and Florida and Ohio and, uh, Florida, it becomes clear that the election is really all about graduating with top honors from the Electoral College. So here are some suggestions to improve presidential elections under this College system.

All presidential campaign attack ads must be done in MLA equivalent with full citation and a bibliography of valid sources supporting their claims at the end.

Institute an Electoral College Greek system for the states. Then on election eve all the Blue states can throw parties and invite the Red states, or vice versa. Then everyone will just be too hung-over on election day to figure out all that state electoral vote allotment stuff and hey, what the heck, whoever gets the most votes can actually be president, whatever man, just get me some aspirin.

Presidential candidates must run their entire campaigns to win the Electoral College on the current maximum allowance for Pell grants. This won't take the big money out of campaigns, but it should make politicians find miraculous loopholes to raise individual Pell grant maximums to $250 million dollars. Heck, then real college students will be able to pay for half of their text books and top ramen all at the same time.

Presidential candidates must share an Electoral College dorm room for the entire campaign season. That should teach them to get along, or kill them. No reporters come in the room when a tie is hung on the doorknob, please.

Presidential candidates must personally pay back the full amount spent on graduating them from the Electoral College. As long as they are still serving as President AND meeting their campaign promises, no collections will begin. If they actually manage to work in public service their full term as President, then the "loan" will be dismissed.

On a partisan note, it's a shame the Electoral College won't be decided by the candidates' actual college performance. Then, Bush could cheer from the sidelines as Kerry wins every state.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 06:40 PM

Iraq update

Here's a pretty good update on the current situation in Iraq.

Summary: Even now, it isn't really a front in the war on terror (except as we have made it so); it is mostly a nationalist and criminal mess.

My brain is still trying to understand how Bush could have screwed things up so badly.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 06:36 PM

Bring It On

I just wanted to invite all those who send me "fan mail" to come to the non-partisan Democracy Fest this coming Tuesday at the UW Hub, 11 to 3:30.

Not only will you be able to enjoy music, breakdancers, some pretty great speakers, and try your hand at graffiti, you can get up on a real honest soapbox and tell everyone what an idiot I am, and how you would solve the world's problems, and anything else within the realm of decency and the spirit of promoting democracy in our glorious federated republic.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 06:32 PM

Still yes on R55

In his blog against Referendum 55, Drew said, “there is a time for creativity and it isn’t now, when government programs are getting cut and under funded. If you’re serious about charter schools you’d probably agree that this is a rough time to try that experiment.”

It’s true that the budget is tight. But charter schools won’t raise taxes or receive local levy funding, unless the local school board and local voters approve, according to the Washington Charter School Resource Center.

And unlike normal public schools, charter schools can receive federal start-up funds averaging $450,000 per school. Private donors also contribute; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated over $130 million dollars.

R55 is reasonable in scope, too. It’s a “modest experiment,” according to The Seattle Times, with only five to ten charter schools created each year for the next six years. It’s not an extreme, massive, super-expensive project by any stretch of the imagination.

With the added benefit of federal funds and private donors, R55 isn’t an unreasonable burden on our state.

Drew also wrote, “Haven’t we slapped teachers in the face enough? It’s a tough job and shouldn’t be made tougher by making union teachers compete with non-union teachers.”

R55 might pose a challenge to union teachers. I definitely support public school teachers and backed them up in the 2002 Issaquah School District strike. However in this case, it’s important to balance the needs of teachers with the educational needs of students.

R55, a modest proposal for a limited number of charter schools, probably won’t significantly affect teacher salaries. However, the potential gains for students are immense.

R55 failed twice. I hope the third time’s a charm.

Respond to Christina

Posted by Christina Asavareungchai at 06:28 PM

October 21, 2004

Bush 2008

I have a new theory for 2008. Laura Bush is going to be the Republican candidate.

Dick Cheney certainly wouldn't run for prez even if Bush wins this election. And I have to say I would almost vote for Laura just based on how she's handled this whole broo-ha-ha over Theresa Heinz Kerry's remarks.

Even while the Bush campaign manager is busy claiming insult on behalf of Laura and housewives and slamming Heinz Kerry, Mrs. Bush herself graciously dismissed the whole matter and said she understood how such things happen.

If only the actual candidates could be so dignified.

As for Heinz, it seems like she's a little too salty, or perhaps has too much vinegar, for her own good sometimes. But then, she's still pretty sweet compared to ole scrooge McCheney.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 05:31 PM

Germy water

Yuck. Only a few school districts in the country meet “the federal government's voluntary aesthetic guidelines for public water utilities,” which set guidelines for taste, odor and color, says The Seattle Times.

Currently, Seattle Public Schools don’t meet these guidelines.

The federal government recommends lead levels of less than 20 parts per billion (ppb) -- a recommendation exceeded by about a quarter of Seattle schools.

“Public health officials say lead exposure can damage a child's brain but caution that it is unlikely that any child in Seattle has suffered neurological damage.” They “caution that it is unlikely” to cause brain damage? Somehow, that’s not completely reassuring. I think of the poor kid who guzzles down water from the fountain every day, for all twelve years of schooling.

Worse, “Some schools have plumbing connections with non-potable water sources that could permit coliform bacteria to enter the drinking water.” This means that school drinking water doesn’t just contain lead; it’s germy, too.

In middle and high school, I sensed -- as many students probably do -- that the water was nasty. It had an unusual greenish tinge and tasted slightly metallic. I didn’t know it contained lead and germs, too.

The lesson: bring bottled water.

Respond to Christina

Posted by Christina Asavareungchai at 05:28 PM

October 20, 2004

“The Biggest Loser”

Step aside, Top Model. Say sayonara, Total Makeover and The Swan. A new NBC reality show, “The Biggest Loser,” might actually have a positive message for viewers.

“The biggest winner is ‘The Biggest Loser’ in this compelling new weight-loss drama in which two celebrity fitness trainers join with top health experts to help 12 overweight contestants transform their bodies, health and ultimately, their lives,” says the show’s website.

Basically, whoever loses the most weight wins the show. Along the way, there will be “Unique physical challenges, surprising alliances and irresistible temptations.”

True, there may be a bad tendency to make fun of fat people in the show by, say, making a group of overweight dieters resist chocolate cake; however, potential inspiration outweighs the potential negativity.

This show might actually motivate people to work out and eat healthier. A big change from shows that emphasize liposuction, breast and ab implants, nose jobs and facelifts instead of long-term good health.

Respond to Christina

Posted by Christina Asavareungchai at 05:54 PM

Fun with biotech

In addition to solving the world's health problems and creating jobs, biotechnology and cloning could do many things specifically for Washington State.

First, we could clone those spotted owls and stop worrying about them.

We could design fire resistant trees.

We could engineer pizza-flavored coffee beans. Okay, wait, maybe not. I think we're still recovering from the coffee-flavored microbrews.

We could bio-engineer year-long tans. This would be a good money-making export as well except maybe to Ohio and the Deep South.

We could reverse the bio-chemical effects of road rage so that sitting in traffic actually becomes an intense pleasure-inducing experience.

We could engineer sports teams that actually win.

By scientist! The possibilities are endless!

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:13 AM

Re: Be smart. Save money.

Here's an article claiming the SS crisis is overblown for political purposes, what is needed to fix it, and why privatization is a bad idea. And here's the Social Security site's Q&A section, including a link to a study done on the various solution proposals.

I didn't suggest that people should naively shrug their shoulders and "cash in" on SS. Rather, if their various investments fail, or they hit some serious medical problems, it is good to know that SS is there to keep them from complete destitution and starvation.

I mean, while SS serves as a retirement fund, it is more specifically a safety net. And if Bush gets his way, more people are going to fall through that net and hit the ground with a loud splat.

Bush's plan is not a fix. Kerry's plan (or lack thereof) is not a fix. The only difference between them is, Bush's plan would actually make things worse.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:10 AM

Cheater parking meters

Forbes magazine thinks Seattle is THE most overpriced/overrated city in America. Unfortunately, that is about to become clear.

To rent downtown, one would be left with the belief that our economy is on the up and up, but reality tells us something different -- this place is flat-out expensive!

Food prices are high, gas prices are bogus and locally inflated, you name it, local merchants and businesses are charging at least 15% too much and now the city itself has joined in on this fleecing orgy -- new automated parking meters are taking over.

Oh yeah, and they cost a lot more than the older models they're replacing.

"While parkers adjust to the new system, the city's parking-enforcement officers are practicing leniency," said Seattle Police Lt. William Edwards.

"BS," I say. My street got these new demon-thiefs just this week and I already got a $35 ticket today. Apparently, a dollar only gets you 42 minutes on these thrifty new models.

Why not just replace parking meters with slot machines? Maybe you get a ticket, maybe you cash in, because as it stands now I don't think most know
what a rip job they're getting when they try to buy a couple minutes of parking downtown.

A big thanks to the city for sneaking these "lenient" and "gradual" increases to our cost of living under the public radar with minimal notice.

Seattle needs to get cheaper if it wants to get better -- that's my two cents, which won't buy you any time on a parking meter downtown.

Respond to John

Posted by John Hieger at 10:02 AM

October 19, 2004

Washington, the problem-solving state

Arnie's backing stem-cell research in defiance of the GOP.

His father-in-law is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. I'm sure that had a strong influence on his decision.

For some reason, this reminds me of a Saturday Night Live sketch where the actor wakes up and discovers he (or she? I can't remember) had been president for the last four years, and had found cures for AIDs and other diseases by infecting the 10 richest men in America.

Anyway, I wish our state would do the same thing. That is, invest in stem-cell research and cloning technology, not infect rich people. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because, as Arnie noted, it would be a boost to the local bio-tech industry.

I'm thinking of the day, 10 years from now, when Microsoft moves its offices to Texas or India where it gets better tax breaks and a cheaper labor pool, when Boeing goes under or moves away, when the baby boomers are retiring and the health care crisis is only intensifying.

It would sure be nice if Washington were the industrial heart of the nation's biotechnology and scientific research.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 03:41 PM

Jon Stewart rocks

Just a quick shout out to my man Jon Stewart, for calling out the moderators of CNN's Crossfire as the partisan hacks they are.

It took some real guts from this TV funnyman to turn his serious guns on Paul Begala, Tucker Carlson, and their hot-headed television pundit ilk. He confronted
them essentially as corporate sellouts, playing into partisan strategies that willfully stifle meaningful discussion and debate in the mass media.

And ya know what? He's was right.

Sure, Stewart may be drawing fire from both sides now, but at least he managed to remind viewers that perhaps it's more important to talk about serious issues than to distract the public with lame arguments over whether or not it's okay to call Cheney's daughter a lesbian.

It's rather telling, and quite sad, when these supposed elite media personalities feel threatened by a fake news man, and completely fold under the scrutiny of a latenight comedian.

Respond to Dan

Posted by Daniel Thies at 03:39 PM

Tea-sippin' Mama's boys

The Guardian, a Brit newspaper, is actually organizing a campaign to persuade people in Ohio to vote for Kerry.

What the heck are they thinking? Don't they know it's wrong for one country to go around and try to force regime change or influence democratic elections in another country? Geez! And I mean, it's not like anything an American president has done has had any impact on Britain. Nope. I don't see where they think they have any stake whatsoever in this election. Pansy tea-sippers indeed!

Unfortunately, I am guessing their well-intentioned efforts will only cause more harm than good, especially in a state like Ohio.

Sure, Britain's not as bad as those froo-froo Frenchies by gawd. I mean, at least the Brits helped us out in Iraq with actual troops. Republicans in Congress didn't have to take the bold move of renaming English muffins something like liberty muffins.

But there are surely a handful of people who would vote for, say, a shrub if some danged foreigner tried tellin' them not to, just to show 'em they can't influence our vote. And of course this plays right into the Republican's name calling about Kerry being a lackey to foreign interests, with his global test and sissy UN lovin' ways.

I imagine that for Democrats in Ohio, the phrase "with friends like that, who needs enemies" probably comes to mind.

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 03:04 PM

Comparing the worst

Sigh. I received yet another e-mail from a reader slamming Kerry for his post-war activities. So okay, let's get down and roll around in the mud, shall we? Instead of comparing the candidate's best qualities, let's take the worst possible 5 minutes out of their entire lives and decide who will be the most powerful man in the world based on that, shall we?

Now, the Kerry smear campaign is crap. But even if it were real, it's not like Kerry was a commie rat who fought against the war when he returned home only as an excuse to sleep with hairy-legged liberal college girls, that he peed on the American flag, and, oh, what, let's say had an affair with chairman Mao.

What he did do was try to stop a war that was killing American soldiers by the thousands, and while doing so he shared stories he had heard in the form of confessions by other soldiers.

Okay, now, if you really want to disqualify Kerry based on what he did 30 years ago, guess what. You have to judge Bush on the same thing. And if you hold up Bush's life next to Kerry's, year by year, who do you really want for president?

All Kerry has ever done was serve his country in one way or another. Kerry was serving his country while Bush was AWOL and suspended from flying. He was serving his country while Bush was (allegedly) doing drugs and (definitely) getting a DUI. Kerry was serving his country while Bush was off running oil businesses into the ground and (allegedly) doing insider trading. Kerry was serving his country while Bush ran up a record for executing people and degrading the environment.

You decide. Frankly, I've been amazed that Bush is president. But hey, he's got his daddy's name.

Now, can we please move on to the real issues? Like what a mess Bush has made of Iraq, our country, and our environment TODAY? And what Kerry can do to fix the problems TODAY?

Respond to Randy

Posted by Randy Henderson at 03:01 PM

October 18, 2004

Government stupidity

Is it just me, or is our government really messed up? I mean, yeah, it's way better than some Fundamentalist Religious Totalitarian Regime (though some would say Bush is trying to close that gap). But the insanity of the Electoral College and our current elections aside, there's just so many things that are scuh-rewwwwed up.

Who decides whether legislators get big raises? The legislators themselves.

Who are the ones who would have to decide to impose term limits or campaign finance reform on legislators (and thus deprive them of power and influence)? The legislators themselves.

Who gets to approve the judges who are supposed to be a Constitutional check and balance on legislators' partisan, ideological, and special interest-influenced law making? The legislators themselves.

And while there may have used to be some sense of dignity and tradition, some greater sense of duty and honor, that kept things in check in the halls of power, I think too much of that has been stripped away in the partisan, winner take all fist fights these days. When Republicans start literally shutting Democrats out of discussions, or have police kick them out of meeting rooms on Capital Hill, things are getting ridiculous.

In my biased view, of course, I see Republican extremists as the worse, though the Dems are guilty as well (feel free to respond with examples). And when I say Republicans, I don't mean Joe Smith watching Fox News. I mean the extreme-right ideologues controlling and steering the GOP.

I see the difference not in wanting power to push their agenda, which both parties do, but in what they are willing to do to make that happen. The Reps, in my mind, seem to have more of an "end justifies the means" approach that ignores whether what they are doing is good for democracy or our system in the larger sense, and focuses only on achieving and maintaining the power to implement their ideological goals.

The Reps redrew districts to marginalize Democrat votes. They have arguably played havoc with elections and the basic right for people to have a vote, such as in Florida 2000. They held that stupid all night filibuster session to complain that the Dems had denied four of the GOP judicial nominations. Four. After approving 160. And that's not even going into how many of Clinton's appointees the Republicans blocked, creating a crisis in our legal system.

And speaking of Clinton, what the heck were the Republicans thinking with impeachment? Impeachment! I don't care how much you don't like Clinton, let's not turn our own government into a joke. Heck, Nixon was impeached only after tax evasion, spending public money for personal gain, violating civil rights left and right with secret wiretaps and recordings, using the CIA and FBI to spy on and block political rivals, the Watergate break in, and the secret bombing of Cambodia.

Somehow, spending years, millions of our tax dollars, and tying up federal resources all to finally nail a guy for lying about oral sex seems pretty stupid in comparison.

Where will the insanity end? When will the government get back to representing the needs and interests of the people, working together to lay out and realize a grand bi-partisan vision for our nation, and all that glory glory hallelujah stuff? And how can we inject a little more real accountability into the system?

Sigh. I fear it is only going to get worse before it (hopefully) gets better.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 03:24 PM

Under my skin

“On Wednesday, a Florida company announced that the Food and Drug Administration had approved its microchip for embedding into humans to convey information about their medical conditions,” says The Seattle Times.

If a patient is unconscious, the tag can be scanned and medical records pulled up.

Embedded microchips may also be used commercially in the future. “Retailers envision using data from item-level tags for targeted marketing campaigns. For example, a clothing tag could identify a frequent shopper as he or she walked through the store. Shop clerks could then approach the customer with special offers.” If embedded into products, the small tags may not be detected.

Already, other nations have begun using microchips. In Japan, some parents put tags on their children’s backpacks or clothes to track movements. In Spain, implanted chips are used to enter nightclubs and buy drinks. Naturally, the trend raises privacy questions.

Identity theft, government abuse, retail abuse, information sold about a person’s buying and spending habits, aggressive and annoying niche marketing, are all potential consequences of embedded chips.

Personally, I don’t want a hacker to know my medical records, or a retail store to pester me about how I liked the last sweater I bought, and if I’d like it in pink this time. I don’t want someone to track my movements.

However, embedded microchips with proper guidelines and limits could be useful. I think it’s okay to embed microchips in pets. Pets don’t need to worry about identity theft, government abuse, and commercialism. And microchips could help return lost pets to their owners more quickly.

In regards to commercial use, microchips could be deactivated after a product leaves a store or after a person has paid, preventing shoplifting.

Microchips also may be extremely useful in daily life. They could be used to locate items that are frequently lost, such as glasses or the remote control.

The potential for the personal abuse of microchips also exists. Overprotective parents could use microchips to track their children's every move. Jealous girlfriends could slip the microchip on their boyfriend's collar to find out where he goes. Roommates could attach microchips onto their food to see what's stolen and what's eaten.

However, individual users need to address these potential abuses, not the government.

Bottom line, I don't want a microchip under MY skin.


Posted by Christina Asavareungchai at 03:16 PM

Re: Courting justice

Nigel wrote, “during the 3rd debate, Kerry came straight out and admitted that he would apply a litmus test to whom he appoints to the bench, while President Bush expressly stated he would not apply one.” He’s right.

However, this doesn’t mean that Kerry will appoint a judge based on his own political agenda, while Bush remains impartial. In the third debate, Bush said just one sentence -- a single sentence -- about the matter: “he [Kerry] clearly has a litmus test for his judges, which I disagree with.” I wouldn’t necessarily place much weight, trust, and hope on this one sentence; it doesn't confirm Bush’s impartiality, especially when compared with his past statements.

In the second debate, Bush said, “I wouldn't pick a judge who said that the Pledge of Allegiance couldn't be said in a school because it had the words ‘under God’ in it. I think that's an example of a judge allowing personal opinion to enter into the decision-making process as opposed to a strict interpretation of the Constitution.”

One, this statement could be interpreted as Bush’s own informal “litmus test” for a potential judge. Or it could be one of many deciding factors.

Two, this demonstrates how open-ended the Constitution is. The First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of religion, could be interpreted to mean that the word “God” should be in the Pledge of Allegiance, or shouldn’t be. Bush thinks that a "strict interpretation of the Constitution" means keeping "God" in the pledge, a statement that reveals his own personal sense of fairness -- which is different than Kerry's sense of it.

It’s up to the president to pick a justice, often one who interprets the Constitution in ways that align with his own personal beliefs. Separating the two is nearly impossible, since our interpretation influences our vision of fairness.

Either way, personal opinion DOES enter the decision-making process. Personal opinion colors how Kerry and Bush define “interpreting the Constitution fairly” and would likely influence potential Supreme Court appointments on both sides.


Posted by Christina Asavareungchai at 03:12 PM

Re: Be smart. Save money.

While I agree with Randy that we, as young people, need to start investing our money in different retirement and savings plan, I don't think that we can naively shrug our shoulders and say, "Hey, if our investments go sour then we can just cash in on social security." Based on the bi-partisan study of social security's future, that won't happen.

So everyone that looks at social security realistically recognizes that the massive government program that eats up 22% of the federal government budget is headed for serious problems in the next few decades if some dramatic changes are not made.

Kerry's doesn't have a plan, Bush's plan is somewhat unrealistic since it claims it will allow us to invest some of the money that would normally go into social security taxes while not cutting any of the benefits to the current recipients of social security.

I'd be surprised if he's able to pull both of the campaign promises off, but I definately think it's worth the strain Bush's plan will put on the system instead of ignoring the expanding problem and ignorantly thinking that social security will be around forever.

If you've got a bucket with a serious leak, do you just sit there and hope it goes away or actively try to fix the problem?


Posted by Chris Collins at 03:06 PM

October 15, 2004

Bush's vaccine blunder

George Bush's flu vaccine blunder could prove to be the nail in the coffin.

Kerry now has a simple theme he can beat over and over again to paint Bush as careless and his health care plan as inneffective.

Blaming the shortage on England didn't help Bush's credibility either. People want a President to handle things outside their grasp of control, allowing basic needs to go unaddressed is a glaring sign of negligence.

Now Bush is turning to the very same Canadian agencies he blasted as third-world in the past to help remove the foot from his mouth.

I can hear Homer Simpson now, "DOH!"

Respond to this posting

Posted by John Hieger at 05:23 PM

Right man, right time

We've heard a lot about Kerry's military actions and voting record, but this Seattle Times editorial shows another important side of Kerry's professional qualifications, as presented by a lifelong Republican.

Respond to this posting

Posted by Randy Henderson at 05:09 PM

Be smart. Save money.

To answer Chris' question, Kerry doesn't have a total solution to the Social Security problem. But then, neither does Bush.

The simple fact is that retirement ages will have to be raised, and/or benefits cut. No politician will admit this, since it is political suicide. And so the problem will grow worse before the government is forced to act and do what it must, not what the voters want to hear.

Kerry's arguments had merit nonetheless. If more people are employed, then yes, more money will be going into the current SS pot. If health costs come down, if preventative medicine prevents more expensive treatments down the line, then that will make the money that is in the Social Security pot go a lot further. If we can eliminate the deficits, and return to fiscal discipline, there will be less money taken away from programs that help stretch the SS dollar, and there will be a better chance of surpluses that can be used to shore up SS.

But again, it is doubtful that will be enough.

As for the private investment accounts, that is simply a bad idea for two reasons. One, we simply cannot afford the cost of implementing it. That will hurt current recipients, and/or have dire long-term impacts on taxpayers, to implement something that is an ideological agenda but not a real solution to the fundamental problem of SS running out of money.

Two, what happens when many of those investments don't work out? Yes, some people may get more money by investing in higher interest or higher risk options. But many people will also likely lose their money. I mean, even 401(k)s aren't guaranteed. What happens when the stock market slumps, and millions of people retire on a "disappointing" return? Do we miraculously whip out Social Security 2, SS for those people who lost their SS money?

Finally, nobody says young people can't invest our take-home money however we want to. Be smart. Save money. Invest in a 401(k) or other retirement plan. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. So on and so forth. And know that, if your investments don't work out, Social Security is protected and waiting to catch you if you fall.

Respond to this posting

Posted by Randy Henderson at 05:06 PM

Life beyond the "L" word

The whole thing about Kerry mentioning Cheney's daughter seems way overblown to me. I re-read what Kerry said, and it isn't in any way insulting. It is only positive. Anything Kerry or Edwards has said about Mary, or the Cheney family situation, has been positive. So the Cheney's are "upset" because Kerry mentioned their daughter, period, not because of what he said ABOUT her.

Since Cheney himself has repeatedly mentioned the fact that his daughter is gay, it's not like it is a big secret or taboo topic. It is something the voters know, something that has been openly discussed in this election campaign. After Edwards paid Cheney a compliment on this same topic during their debate, Cheney said thank you. So I can easily see how it would seem okay and even natural for Kerry to use Mary as a positive example of homosexuality during the debate.

It is easy to say, in retrospect, that Kerry shouldn't have given his opponents any excuse to claim offense, or paint him as somehow having ulterior motives. Such is the wonderful world of partisan politics we have today, where every opening is leaped upon to attack your opponent. And Mrs. Edwards' comment didn't help matters any. But was Kerry in any way insulting or attacking the Cheney family? No, not even remotely. But now everyone knows, don't mention Mary if you are a Democrat.

Got it. Let's move on.

Respond to this posting

Posted by Randy Henderson at 04:57 PM

Courting justice

Christina may have been right in saying that during the 2nd debate the two candidates essentially gave the same answer to the question of who they would appoint to the Supreme Court. However, during the 3rd debate, Kerry came straight out and admitted that he would apply a litmus test to whom he appoints to the bench, while President Bush expressly stated he would not apply one.

Kerry admitted that he's not "going to appoint a judge to the Court who's going to undo" Roe v. Wade. If you support Roe v. Wade, that's fair enough, but this is a litmus test, plain and simple. Saying you won't appoint anybody to the court who DOES NOT support Roe is as much a litmus test as saying you won't appoint anybody the court who DOES support Roe, which Bush has never said.

Personally, I want a Supreme Court Justice who keeps an open mind to everything and doesn't blindly follow precedent. After all, sometimes precedent is wrong. Even if you think abortion is constitutional, it is important to continue considering that question and remain open to alternative opinions.

I'm sure glad that our justices were open to alternative opinions when it came to Plessy v. Ferguson (ruling that separate but equal was constitutional) or the Dred Scott case (which ruled that African American slaves were property and slave owners could do whatever they wanted with their property). Whomever becomes President, I hope they appoint someone who will keep an open mind on the bench. Whether you believe Bush or not, he has said he will not apply a litmus test, whereas Kerry has expressly said he will not appoint someone who will keep an open mind.

At the same time, considering no justices have retired despite all the hysteria during the 2000 campaign (and especially during the summer of 2003) that the winner of the 2000 election would appoint maybe 3 (or more) justices, I'm a little more hesitant to get worked up over the issue this time around, although I still do expect at least one to retire.

Respond to this posting

Posted by Nigel Stark at 04:44 PM

Cheney's choice

Well, I guess the Cheneys are pretty distraught over Sen. Kerry's response to the question of whether or not homosexuality is a choice in Wednesday night's

I hear Lynne Cheney still wakes up with cold sweats, and the VP has to have his pacemaker checked every half hour, as they each continue to re-live the terrible moment the big bad liberal Senator from Massachusetts unleashed his malicious verbal assault on their sweet, precious gay daughter.

And how dare he even mention this poor girl's name? He can hardly be considered worthy of that honor, let alone the presidency.

But seriously, what are the Cheneys really so upset about? Is it because Kerry simply mentioned that they have a gay daughter? No bombshell there. Is it because he mentioned her in a public, televised forum to clarify a particular stance? Nope, the VP already beat him to that punch, too. Is it because he used the dreaded "L" word to describe their daughter? Last I checked, that term was still within the realm of political correctness (at least in the Blue States).

What really bugs the Cheneys here is the fact that Kerry managed to make the president look out of touch. When asked if he believed homosexuality was a choice, the president simply answered "I don't know."

Kerry's response was that he did not believe it was a choice, that Mary Cheney "was being who she was born as," and that if the president would only take a look in his own backyard, he would figure this out.

The Cheneys' faux outrage and indignation is nothing more than politicians playing politics. They're not so upset that Kerry talked about their daughter, but more that he made the president look bad while doing it.

And as they continue to come out swinging against Sen. Kerry, just remember, it's simply their way of saying that if anybody's going to score ploitical points off their daughter, it's going to be them.

Respond to this posting

Posted by Daniel Thies at 04:36 PM

Start your engines

There's talk of bringing NASCAR to Snohomish County?

Image and noise issues aside, is this really a good idea? Especially for a county that keeps trying to shake its big-truck-mullet-cut image? I mean, bringing hockey to Everett, that's cool. It's indoors, not a lot of fans (unfortunately, since it beats baseball anyday in my book). But NASCAR?

Probably the biggest thing that is going to suck, however, is the fact that putting a major event like that in Snohomish County will only increase the likelihood of our freeways being completely hosed going both ways now. Traffic going into Seattle for Seahawks and Mariners, and traffic going north for NASCAR. Can't wait.

Respond to this posting

Posted by Randy Henderson at 04:26 PM

Vintage timber

This is a pretty silly topic to begin with, but what the heck. Here goes:

That was some logic worthy of a campaign, Chris. The fact that Bush claimed joint-ownership of a timber company doesn't count as "owning" a timber company? Hey, I'm not arguing. It's not the first time Bush has fudged the truth about tax matters. And I wouldn't knock the $84. Given Bush's record as a businessman (not counting buyouts by family friends or illegal stock deals), that's a pretty good year for him. Arbuzzo timber, anyone?

The fact that he even made $84 makes me wonder if the Saudi embassy needed a new desk.

Respond to this posting

Posted by Randy Henderson at 04:22 PM

October 14, 2004

Still No on Ref 55

In response to Christina's blog, I’m not against schools getting creative. I’m not against local government getting creative with schools. But there is a time for creativity and it isn’t now, when government programs are getting cut and under funded.

If you’re serious about charter schools you’d probably agree that this is a rough time to try that experiment (and it is an experiment, even The Seattle Times editorial support referred to it as such).

Maybe charter schools would have been better funded during the more economically prosperous years of 1997 and 2000. Oh wait, even then the people voted against charter schools.

In addition, charter schools aren’t being supported by teachers unions. Haven’t we slapped teachers in the face enough? It’s a tough job and shouldn’t be made tougher by making union teachers compete with non-union teachers.


Posted by Andrew Avery at 05:24 PM

Timber company flap

Bush, it turns out, had invested in a timber company in 2001. But that's a little different than how Kerry put it in the second debate: "The president got $84 from a timber company that he owns, and he's counted as a small business."

I think anyone could quickly come the realization that Bush must own the smallest timber company in the world if he only made $84 off of it. It does, however, bring out the fact that Bush's definition of a small-business is skewed as well -- Kerry's retraction of the tax cuts for those earning more than $200,000 would seriously affect only about half as many "small business" as claimed in Bush's 900,000 figure.

So, bottom line here: Bush doesn't "own" a timber company as Kerry claims and Bush did exaggerate the extent of Kerry's tax-cut repeal.

I still want to know why Dick Cheney is counted as a small business.

I'm interested in what others think, but I would call debate No. 3 a draw, putting the score at 1-1-1.

What do folks think of Kerry's social security plan? I paraphrase: If we allow our young people to invest their money wherever they want and not pay into the social security blackhole, then the system will become a "disaster"?

I wonder how that comment went over with young people?


Posted by Chris Collins at 05:16 PM

Kerry pulls a Bush

I won't bother with any real debate analysis. The media has actually done an amazing job of fact checking and analysis for once.

But I did want to note my favorite line from the debate. Kerry said, "Illegal hiring is against the law."

No, really? Illegal hiring is illegal? Are you sure?

A line worthy of Bush.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 05:12 PM

Playoffs over Politics

Did you honestly think I would watch the debates when the Red Sox were playing the Yankees? Even the Astros versus the Cardinals ranks higher on my watchablity list than round three of Bush versus Kerry.

I did manage to catch some of the debate between innings. At this point, I could tell you the candidates’ answers as soon as the question was asked. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed these debates.

In contrast to 2000, when it was hard to tell who was representing which party, these debates have outlined the key difference of these candidates and the parties they represent. Finally we have a true Republican against a true Democrat.

Maybe I was getting lost switching between the Red Sox Yankees game, but I all of a sudden I realized: the Yankees are a hated team for their big money, huge market and total disregard for the financial problems of other teams around the league. Hated, unless of course they are the team you root for. They win at all cost. The Red Sox are the favorite underdogs even though they have just about as much money as the Yankees.

They’d like you to think that they represent the working class. And it always seems to be these two teams when it comes down to the wire; the real small market teams are left at the bottom.

Maybe baseball and politics aren’t that different.


Posted by Andrew Avery at 05:07 PM

Who's feeding Kerry facts?

In Debate No. 3, Kerry claimed that more immigrants had been sneaking across the border since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Bush called Kerry's assertion ridiculous. Kerry didn't counter that counter.

In Debate No. 3, Kerry claimed that Bush had never met with the Congressional Black Caucus. Bush called Kerry's assertion simply not true and pointed out that he had, in fact, met with the caucus in the White House. Kerry didn't counter that counter, either.

Who's feeding Kerry bad info? That seems to be a disturbing pattern in the Kerry camp.

It's true that hardly anything comes out of either campaign without a healthy dose of spin, but I wonder how far all-out lies will take you?


Posted by Chris Collins at 04:56 PM

October 13, 2004

Referendum 55

In his recent column in NEXT's special election section against Referendum 55, Drew argues that we shouldn’t take money away from public schools to fund the charter school “experiment.”

I disagree.

Kids fail, even in well-funded public schools. They're often too large for personalized attention. When 25 talkative students compete for the teacher’s attention and five disengaged students avoid eye contact, how can we argue that it’s not worth our time and money to try something else?

Charter schools would allow for smaller classes. Teachers would tailor to individual learning needs -- using unconventional methods to reach out to everyone, not just the majority. This is made possible by charter schools' greater freedom from restrictions.

Drew also writes, “Instead of bothering to fix what we have, we'd rather throw it out for something new.” We’re not “throwing out” public education, but providing a viable, promising, do-able alternative with the creation of charter schools.

It’ll take longer to reform the public education system than test out a few charter schools. But it's not an either/or situation -- why not try reforming public education while establishing charters? We should be willing to try different possible solutions.

“A yes vote on Referendum 55 means choosing a modest experiment with charter schools run by qualified nonprofit organizations under the direction of local school boards. Under the plan, only five new charter schools would be created each year for the next three years, and 10 a year for three years after that,” says The Seattle Times.

If charter schools fail, then we can clear it from our minds and get it off the ballot -- instead of having it appear three times over, and having the debate go on and on and on for years. If charter schools succeed, children will have a second chance at learning.

Ultimately when education is at stake, isn’t it worth a try?


Posted by Christina Asavareungchai at 12:52 PM

October 12, 2004

Halo 2 move over

Oh. My. Gawd. You've got to be kidding me.

Such was my first reaction when I saw that soon, you will be able to play a video game of John Kerry's actions in Vietnam.

But after reading about it, I realized it wasn't done for political purposes. And I suppose it is understandable. The same company has made other war games centered around people like Pat Tillman.

Basically, they are capitalizing on public interest and free publicity to get their war games sold by basing them around people and events that are in the news. Supply and demand, baby. Ain't that what America is all about?

And I suppose it is only fair. Bush got himself an action figure for his courageous landing on the aircraft carrier to declare an end to major combat in Iraq. Way back when. Before, you know, things got really bad.

Still, I suppose they could create a flight simulator, and call it the Texas Air National Guard Training game, featuring Bush. But then, it would probably be a short game since you'd be suspended from flying halfway through.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 04:55 PM

October 11, 2004

Supreme Court appointments

Interesting. During the debates, Bush and Kerry essentially gave the same answer when asked, Who would you appoint if a vacancy opens on the Supreme Court? They both replied, an individual who can interpret the Constitution without regard to personal opinion or politics.

I don’t think such an individual exists in reality. Everyone is influenced by morals, background, family history and life experiences.

There have been some justices more well-known for their conservative (cough: Burger) leanings and others for their liberal (Warren) stances. There have also been swing votes, such as Sandra Day O’Connor, who look at things on a case-by-case basis.

But no one exists, who can read the Constitution and tell America exactly what it means, how it should be applied, and its implications for the future in a perfectly impartial way. A 200-year-old document can’t give precise, scientific answers to all the complicated dilemmas that have arisen in our crazy 21st Century world. Personal interpretation, individual judgment, fills in the Constitution’s gaps.

It’s just not as simple as “interpreting the Constitution” fairly. Everything is relative; it’s hard to see “good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong” because it’s just not that clear-cut. There are thousands of ways to look at a single sentence of the Constitution.

From the Fourth Amendment guaranteeing freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, the 1960s Warren court ruled in favor of suspected criminal defendants and the 1980s Burger court ruled in favor of law enforcement.

And even though the presidential candidates both supposedly want a “fair” justice, “fair” is in the mind of the beholder. Maybe to Bush, “fair” means a justice who' against abortion and to Kerry, one who’s for it. Fairness is relative to a person’s opinions.

Whether you like it or not, personal bias and politics are inherent in us as people and by default, our interpretation of the Constitution.


Posted by Christina Asavareungchai at 05:47 PM

Bush's timber company

Sorry Chris, but in point of fact Bush did get $84 and claimed part-ownership of a timber company in 2001, and Cheney qualifies as a small business as well under the measures that the Bush-Cheney campaign itself uses in its claims about Kerry hurting small businesses.

Kerry and Bush stretched a few facts, but this wasn't one of them.

Of course, I'm not surprised that Bush couldn't remember every tax loophole or corporate interest he's used. Still, you're right in that it was a good sound bite.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 05:39 PM

Kerry's great betrayal

Here's Kerry's 1971 Senate statement. You can read or listen to it.

There is no denying that some of our troops were insulted or felt betrayed by Kerry's testimony and activism. It is unfortunate that his honest efforts were overshadowed by radical protestors or the actions of "Hanoi Jane."

But how are the words and actions of a passionate young man 30 years ago related to today's campaign, or the words and actions of a much more mature, much more experienced, and wiser Kerry? They are not, except in that I know Kerry is someone who is willing to do what he feels he must to protect our troops, and the integrity of our nation.

The North Vietnamese and Vietcong actually used the anti-war protests, including Kerry's statement, as propoganda, and to try and break POWs, to convince our troops still in Vietnam that they were on the wrong side of the war.

This is of course horrible, and it is no surprise that Kerry's statements carry bad associations for troops who experienced this. But as Kerry himself said, what was the option? To come home and be silent? To not do anything to try and stop the war, or the dying of American troops?

I think it is unfortunate that men like Carlton Sherwood, who made the upcoming "documentary" on Kerry, are not able to see the larger point -- that Kerry was fighting to stop the war and the sacrifice of more American troops. He was doing what was necessary to get action out of the government. He was fighting for our troops, not the North Vietnamese.

And it is a shame that his many efforts on behalf of Vietnam vets, and POWs, over the past 30 years has not changed their feelings on the matter.

But most of all, it is regrettable that the war created such deep divisions and pain in our country to begin with. It is a shame that Sherwood holds onto such pain and anger after 30 years.

And it is a shame he, and others, have chosen to focus it all not on the men or events that created the war, not on the war itself, not even on preventing such a thing from happening again, but rather on a conveniently prominent target whose greatest crime is that he cared enough to try and fix the problem.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 05:34 PM

The men who control your info

A fine example of why the FCC's moves to allow more consolidation of media is a bad idea. The Sinclair Group created a smear piece on Kerry, and is forcing stations and affiliates that it owns across the nation to air it just before the elections -- without commercials even. Which is appropriate I guess, since really it is just a long campaign commercial for Bush.

I'm sure it will air, despite the legal challenges. And I'm sure it will influence some votes, though hopefully not many. Certainly, airing it free, to millions of households, with little time for Kerry to fairly and equally respond to it will have some kind of influence, no matter how untrue it is.

And even if the company faces huge fines from the FCC, it won't matter to them if it helps Bush win. Sort of like calculating the cost of lawsuits versus the cost of recalling a faulty product or dumping waste in the river. They'll just pay the fines, and not care as long as they win.

Ultimately, it would be nice to just have the election decided on who the candidates are today, and what their plans are for tomorrow, rather than arguments over their Vietnam-era actions.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 05:31 PM

Re: Bush pulls a 180

Chris, according to (the same website Cheney told us to use in the Vice-Presidential Debate) -- "according to his 2003 financial disclosure form, Bush does own part interest in "LSTF, LLC", a limited-liability company organized "for the purpose of the production of trees for commercial sales.”

They also point out that “Bush was wrong to suggest that he doesn't have ownership of a timber company. And Kerry was correct in saying that Bush's definition of ‘small business’ is so broad that Bush himself would have qualified as a ‘small business’ in 2001 by virtue of the $84 in business income.”

And Bush did not pull a 180 -- I heard the same lines, the same distortion, the same labels -- he really didn’t say much. But hey, I guess some people like talk more than facts.


Posted by Karan Gill at 05:27 PM

Bush pulls a 180

Every time Bush opened his mouth at the first debate, I was wondering what kind of embarrasing soud byte he was going to offer to millions of viewers. It wasn't a disaster, but Debate Round 1 was not a highlight for the Bush campaign.

But on Friday night, Bush made up for his weak performance a week ago. Not only had he improved on presenting better arguments, better content and a better message, but he also came across much more confident and persuasive then his previous debate. I'd say the Bush-Kerry debates are 1-1 right now. Good thing they planned to have three.

Ironically, I believe the Bush campaign was fighting to only have two debates and dropping the townhall.

Finally, I'd like to end with my favorite line from the debate.

KERRY: "The president got $84 from a timber company that he owns, and he's counted as a small business [On the split screen you see Bush' face light up in shock]. Dick Cheney is counted as a small business. That's how they do things. That's just not right."

BUSH: "I own a timber company? That's news to me. (Laughter.) Need some wood? (Laughter.)"

Dick Cheney is counted as a small business? That's on par with Al Gore inventing the Internet.


Posted by Chris Collins at 09:24 AM

October 08, 2004

Debate game

For those 21 and over of course, I'd suggest a drinking game: Take a shot every time Bush says "free" or "freedom" while spouting empty, patriotic rhetoric in response to a national security or Iraq question. But I wouldn't want to be responsible for the inevitable toxic alcohol poisoning this would cause.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 05:12 PM

Delay of ethical thought

Republican House majority leader Tom DeLay has been censored multiple times on ethics violations. Some of those are tied to that fun period when Republicans were abusing their majority in many states to redraw districts, to essentially invalidate some Democrat votes and reduce the number of Democratic representatives.

Dems are of course asking him to step down. Big surprise. I have to say though, Pelosi is lame -- I mean, she does the job, but the Dems need a real, inspirational, and exceptional leader right now, and she doesn't impress me.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 05:08 PM

Politics as usual

I know politics are obviously partisan, but here are the types of things that make me shake my head (these were noted by Robert Novak):

The Bush administration's $7.1 billion dollar relief package following the recent hurricanes includes three key battleground states in the upcoming elections -- Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania -- that aren't even coastal states, and were untouched by Jeanne. Last election, he bought votes with tax refunds. Now, he uses our tax money to buy votes with disaster relief? Hey, whatever works, right?

And Kerry returned to the Senate to vote in support of a proposal to increase health benefits for veterans. Republican Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader, then postponed the vote until the next day, when Kerry had to leave, preventing Kerry from voting on it. The proposal failed. Don't be suprised to see an attack ad talking about how Kerry didn't support veteran's health benefits, that scoundrel.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 05:05 PM


Anne Kim is right in her recent column about scholarships that ran on the NEXT page.

In addition to (or perhaps instead of) applying for loans and working umpteen hours at part-time jobs, students should apply for scholarships. Yeah, they require forms, essays, resumes and letters of recommendations (piles and piles of paper). But that’s better than working 20 hours per week to earn extra cash -- or graduating with a hefty debt.

From personal experience, the best time to apply for scholarships is the senior year of high school. Community and state organizations, the government, clubs, private businesses and even schools themselves offer scholarship money. They’re extremely generous. They WANT to help you go to college, with less financial burden.

And contrary to a major misconception, these scholarships aren’t just for low-income students or minorities. An entire category -- called “merit based” -- exists for those willing to apply. These scholarships are awarded solely on achievements and/or writing/interview ability.

Some of these “merit-based” scholarships look for commitment to a particular field of interest, such as the environment, academics, athletics or community service. Heck, there's even scholarship contests that ask you to make prom outfits out of duct tape (wacky).

I applied for the Washington Thoroughbred Breeder’s Association Scholarship (totally random, but absolutely awesome) and numerous others. Without the help of such scholarships, I'd be like many of my "starving college student" peers.

In college, scholarships are available from specific departments within the school. However, the number of private scholarships decreases while the competition increases.

If you’re a student in high school and need money, make scholarship-searching your part-time job for the year. It's the best, and perhaps the easiest, one you could ever ask for (at least in my opinion, it's easier than scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbin's or making Subways, both of which I tried, despised and will never do again).

Besides once you’ve got the paperwork down, you can often use it for multiple scholarships. Try to compete for school and local scholarships, or very topic-specific scholarships; those are generally more accessible than national merit scholarships to which many, many students apply for.

Be proactive.


Posted by Christina Asavareungchai at 04:54 PM

Re: I-872 not that tricky

I agree with Karan’s post in being against I-872, but still prefer the way it was before. He is correct that opposing political parties can “set up” the election to face an easier candidate.

However, in the current primary system, a registered independent, such as myself, can now vote for no one. I liked Ron Sims and have for a while. I also don’t particularly like Christine Gregoire. I wouldn’t have voted for Ron Sims because of a desire to hurt Gregoire’s chances against Rossi; I would have voted for Sims against Rossi as well.

The current system essentially disenfranchises many voters from making important election decisions and that is wrong.

I still don’t believe that I-872 is a perfect solution (and that it would eliminate any possible chance for a third party), but the current situation is unfortunate.

Also, the most recent poll, out today from Strategic Vision, has Gregoire up 45% to 43% over Rossi, contrary to the survey in Karan's blog.


Posted by Gavin Hesse at 04:45 PM

October 07, 2004

I-872 not that tricky

I-872 is not a wise initiative to support. While it changes the current primary system we have, it makes it worse. If I-872 passes, voters will not have a choice of whom to vote for in the general election, whereas in the current new system, we are allowed to cross party lines or vote down the party line as we wish in the general election.

I really don’t understand the big fuss about the new primary system. It has no affect on the general election, which actually counts, so why are people so bent out of shape about not being allowed to vote for the other side?

The new primary serves as choosing the best candidate to represent that party for that particular race. Democrats don’t want Republicans to vote in their races, and vice versa.

For instance, in this year’s Democratic governor race, Republicans would have loved to have had to face Ron Sims in the general election instead of Chris Gregoire. No disrespect to Mr. Sims, I have the utmost respect for him, but Chris Gregoire is a better candidate for the seat of the governor.

Now, if our old system were in place, you can bet that some Republicans would have voted for Ron Sims so he could win the primary to face Rossi in the general. And that is not the intention of the primary election. Still with me?

With the new system, Republicans voted for Republicans and Democrats for Democrats -- now Rossi faces Gregoire where quite honestly, he doesn’t stand much of a chance. Gregoire is just the better candidate and has more and the right experience for the governor's seat, and others share this view as the most recent poll done by SurveyUSA has Gregoire (51%) with a ten point lead over Rossi (41%).

Back to I-872 -- I am hoping voters don’t vote with their emotions, and understand voting for this new system would make things worse and they’d even be more upset because their party candidate might not be represented in the general.

Honestly, if I-872 does pass, it won’t hold for too long. I am sure both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party will sue because they want their parties represented in every general election, and both parties are very much against I-872.

Oh, and you can forget about third parties because they will be non-existent in every general election if you vote for I-872.

I hope that clears things up more, and I hope voters educate themselves and see the downfalls of supporting I-872.


Posted by Karan Gill at 01:34 PM

More Moore

So, Fahrenheit 9-11 is out on DVD. I still feel pretty much the same as when it came out in theatres -- regardless of whether you agree with the conclusions Moore comes to based on the facts and assumptions, the film is worth seeing just for the footage, such as of our troops in Iraq, and more.

I was puzzled, and even surprised, at the bonus footage however. I mean, the 18-minute interview with imbedded reporter Urban Hamid on his footage from Samarra was definitely worth watching, incredibly disturbing, and worth renting the movie alone, whatever your political leaning.

But given all the world events and reports (including the 9/11 Commission report) since the film was released, not to mention the criticisms of the film, the boycotts, the threats, the challenges to his conclusions, I expected a kind of update, not additional footage from the cutting room floor and a self-congratulatory premier special.

I did think the extended discussion with US Marine Henderson was good, and not because of the name.

I also found Condoleeza Rice's testimony interesting. It actually improved my impression of her, and lowered my opinion somewhat of the commission member asking her questions. If he was seeking the truth, the whole truth, he wasn't doing a very good job it seemed. He came across as either biased, cynical, egocentric, or all of the above.

I did like the video of Bush coming out to speak after he and Cheney talked to the 9/11 commission. I've never seen a president talk so long without saying anything, or be so flippant and arrogant.

And I appreciated the reminder that Bush opposed both major 9/11 investigations, refused to speak under oath, refused to let any recordings, including transcripts, be made of his "testimony," set time limits, and insisted he and Cheney speak together (but not so they could keep their stories straight, oh no). Because, you know, he really wanted to help.

And what was also interesting was that some of the rhetorical, pat lines he used back then were exactly the same, word for word, as those he used in the debate Thursday. He's like one of those old dolls where you pull the string. After a while, you notice that he's only got so many lines. But hey, as long as they work, why change?


Posted by Randy Henderson at 01:25 PM

October 06, 2004

VP debate

From a reader regarding Tuesday's Vice Presidential debate:

John Edwards showed a clear command of the issues and a high level of engagement with the American audience. Cheney mumbled and repeated the same old talking points. John Edwards did a great job hitting the Bush administration on their lies and flip-flops.

Written by a reader

Posted by Colleen Pohlig at 05:48 PM

VP debate facts and results

Here's a couple of "fact checking" articles on the VP debate that looks at exaggerations and untruths by both sides. One presented by MSNBC and one presented by Knight Ridder.

As for who won, the polls are in, and the resounding winner was...both of them. Or neither. Or...whatever.

Point is, each poll and pundit says something different. It does appear that Edwards was more popular among undecided voters though, and since that was the target audience that may matter more than how many Republicans thought Cheney won, for example.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 11:27 AM

VP debate

While I admit to only catching about half of last night's vice presidential debate, I was able to absorb plenty of the afterward analysis on TV. Viewer polls seem to already be calling it a draw, but the pundit classes seem to have, at least in
the immediate aftermath, awarded the win to Vice President Cheney.

But what was considered one of Cheney's strongest moments was based on a remark that simply wasn't true. The VP, berating Sen. Edwards' attendance record, claimed that in his capacity as president of the Senate, he had never before met Edwards.

This statement, however, is undermined by a couple of facts. The senator and Cheney had met at least twice before: once when the vice president personally acknowledged Edwards at a prayer breakfast in 2001, and they met again last year at the swearing in of Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

And while Cheney may, as he claimed, visit Capitol Hill once a week while the Senate is in session, as Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy pointed out, he only meets with Republicans.

In the broader context, this statement loses even more weight, when played against Edwards' attack on Cheney's own woeful voting record in the House of

Okay, Sen. Edwards' attendance record while running first for president, then vice president, hasn't been that good. But just because Cheney had better attendance in the House doesn't render his votes against Head Start, Meals On Wheels, the Department of Education, creating Martin Luther King Day and a resolution calling on South Africa to free Nelson Mandela any more defensible.

Sure, he showed up for class, but he still failed the test.

Another apparent gaffe was when Cheney claimed never to have asserted a connecton between Saddam Hussein and 9-11. This was of course refuted when NBC News was immediately able to locate footage of him asserting that very connection.

So, whether you consider it a draw, or a Cheney victory, it seems the vice president's performance last night mirrors the history of this administration: all style, and little truth.


Posted by Daniel Thies at 11:24 AM

I-872 is tricky

Voters, read the wording of this initiative carefully. If you aren't aware of the background on it, the description alone is a bit confusing.

I'm sure many voters will share my initial impression that it is simply to repeal the recent change in our primary system, and return it to the one we had before, where you can choose whomever you wanted.

It kind of does that, true, but it actually implements a THIRD, new type of primary system where, apparently, whatever two candidates get the most votes go on to compete in the general election. Again, sounds the same as before, but the devil is in the details.

As a result of this system, you could have two Republicans running against each other in the general election, without even having the option to vote for a Democrat or third party member, if both those Republican candidates got more votes in the primary than the leading Democrat or third party candidates. And vice versa.

The result is that people who support the initiative are using arguments about being able to vote for who you want to, including third party candidates, because they are thinking of the fact that this initiative "would allow voters to choose among all candidates in a primary election."

They are either willing to accept, or perhaps unaware of, the fact that this in turn may reduce their options in the general election itself.

Then, just to add to the confusion, people who oppose it make many of the same arguments about having the freedom to vote for whom you want, including third party candidates, because they are thinking about how this initiative impacts the general election, not the primary election.

Ow. My head hurts. Good luck, folks.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 11:16 AM

Ambassador of stupidity

Traveling through Europe during election season -- as I'm doing now -- is a daunting task. I can say this much about Bush: He makes ALL OF US LOOK BAD.

Speaking with a couple of Spaniards on a Barcelona street corner the other night, I was shocked by how much influence our president has over the general perception of America. As it exists now, Americans do not benefit from President Bush´s perceived simple man-atrocious agenda track record.

In Europe, it seems overwhelmingly that an American has to prove him or herself to be taken seriously. We have to reestablish our credibility. Bush is ruining the American experience for Americans everywhere.

Don´t believe the hype -- even the British people hate this man and his ideas. It doesn´t seem to be out of jealousy either; it´s just contempt for our arrogance and the endless flow of witless ideas expressed by our leader.

People here have the vantage point and perspective we should find useful, not threatening. They know their politics and they know a bum when they see one -- Bush has insighted widespread scorn. Europeans see an American Empire
on the decline. They see a clumsy, dumb bully intent on self destruction.

The train station in Paris had three different books on John Kerry and four on President Bush in the primary display window. I doubt anybody in America is reading up on the goings-on of the European Union; we just eat our freedom fries and tighten our blinds shut.

Being an ambassador of stupidity in a foreign land is an unfortunate burden. The Republican party stands at odds with the rest of the developed, thinking world. Thanks for the stigma, George.


Posted by John Hieger at 11:11 AM

Vance goes partisan

Chris Vance, chair of the state Republican party, is mad that Dave Ross (Democratic candidate for 8th Congressional district) got to use his own air time to promote his name and ideas on the popular Dave Ross radio show for "thousands of hours" while the Republican candidate didn't get airtime.

That's inconsistent with the conservative belief that the free market of ideas should be held up high above governmental regulations on election-time speech restrictions. Vance needs to let this one drop because it's not worth going partisan over an issue that is much more important than whether Ross is the next Rep for the 8th district (that is, free speech).


Posted by Chris Collins at 10:58 AM

Darth Kerry

Okay, I was reading this article on Kerry calling Bush's latest attack "pathetic," (which it really was), and noticed this:

"...the test I was talking about was a test of legitimacy, not just in the globe, but elsewhere."

Not just in the globe, but elsewhere? Like, uh, Mars?

Oh man, I wonder if this was a Freudian slip? Could it be that Kerry has plans to launch a pre-emptive strike on those suspicious Venusians? Or perhaps declare that Jupiter has WMDs as an excuse to take over the moon Io?

You see? You just can't trust these politicians. First, he criticizes Bush's Star Wars program, then he's planning on creating a galactic Empire! Another flip flop!

And here, I thought Karl Rove was the Sith lord, manipulating Darth Bush from the shadows. But now, I see it all so clearly. Why did I miss Bush's resemblance to Yoda before? I...I've been so blind. And it nearly cost the freedom of the galaxy!

To be fair, I'm sure he meant "not just in the nation" or something similar, and all this "global" talk just got the word confused. Still, pretty funny.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:55 AM


Take this quick test/game.

This is why I love cognitive psychology. It requires a little basic math work at first, but trust me, the result (which is not a number) will blow your mind. Probably.

And it kind of ties into my last blog on predispositions and mental shortcuts, etc.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:50 AM

Re: Blog of love

First, I agree with the reader, (who technically I would count more as a voter supporting Bush than a Bush supporter, but that may be too fine a distinction). Generalizations and stereotypes do not help a constructive debate. Having said that, a couple of thoughts.

When I say that many (not all) Bush (or Kerry) supporters are predisposed and likely to accept the Bush (or Kerry) campaign spin and lies, or that they will seek excuses to support their decision, it's just a fact.

Even people who do research on the candidates are subject to a wide range of mental shortcuts and biases when making their decisions.

That includes the reader who wrote the blog. That includes me, and the smartest man in the world. Oh, wait, I'm being redundant. (Just kidding. Geez).

As for the remarks about Bush supporters being "illogical," "the mob," or even voting out of spite, these are factually true as well for SOME. Just as it is for some Kerry supporters. It is a fact that people make decisions based on emotion more than logic, and it is also a fact that politicians exploit this in their campaigns.

In my opinion, of course, Bush does so more than Kerry, with the fear of terrorism and patriotic rhetoric. But of course I'm biased. Again, if there is any error, it is in generalizing any one of these characterizations to all voters for either candidate.

I can speak only for myself, of course, but not everything I say about SOME or even "many" Bush supporters automatically applies to all Bush supporters, and could often apply to "some" Kerry supporters as well. And I have repeatedly pointed out that people vote for all different reasons, from single issues, to family influence, to intelligent research, to who looks better.

I apologize if I have ever been unclear on this, but I do not believe all Bush supporters are "illogical, the mob, misinformed, believing the lies, too lazy to research the true facts, just looking for excuses to support Bush, voting based on spite, etc."

However, just by our nature, and quality and accuracy of the sources of information, "many" voters are probably at least one of these things. And the same applies to Kerry supporters.

Don't like it? Fine. Challenge your own beliefs. And get out there and tell people the facts. Just don't be surprised when some of those people don't believe you, and prefer the "facts" as the Bush, or the Kerry, campaign spin them.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:48 AM

October 04, 2004

Chuck's oversight

Charles Krauthammer had an editorial today about the relationship between Kerry and Nixon, via Vietnam.

While much of his editorial is fine, he misses some basic facts, and loses it at the end. He points out that Nixon ran on a similar platform to Kerry -- one of "Vietnamization" where we would enable the Vietnamese to defend themselves and so pull out our troops. He then points out that Kerry ended up criticizing Nixon for prolonging the war.

What Krauthammer fails to mention is that it was not Vietnamization that prolonged the war, or that Kerry criticized. Nixon actually expanded the war into Cambodia and Laos, and used his impressive relationship with China and Russia to basically ensure we had room to expand our own actions North without fear of retaliation from those larger communist powers.

Further, the problems of Vietnamization were many, including a corrupt and already unstable government in South Vietnam; the fact that we had spent years destroying the source of their culture and way of life (their villages), so that we lost the support of the people we were supposedly helping; the fact that we were preparing them to take over a battle that was already being lost, against a determined and organized enemy, and more.

While the basic concept is the same -- self-reliance and logistical support versus American troop support -- the situation is (hopefully) not.

Krauthammer also asks, "does [Kerry] imagine the administration is operating at anything less than breakneck speed to transfer the burden from American soldiers to Iraqis?"

Well, yes, I suppose Kerry does. Considering that the administration has been caught red-handed drastically exaggerating the number of Iraqis trained. And given the fact that they have had over a year to train them, and are just now really ramping their efforts up and -- oops -- begging for money to do so.

And then there's the fact that we haven't fully engaged other nations with shared interests in assisting with the training. So yeah, Kerry and others are probably kind of suspicious that maybe, just maybe, we could have done better.

Krauthammer also fails to note that Bush is also running on a similar platform of "Iraqinization," or that, like Nixon with Kissinger, the Bush triumvirate of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld is one that thrives on secrecy, and on doing what it thinks is best without really consulting outside voices on the issue.

Just as Nixon did whatever he wanted even after Congress criticized his actions and removed his authority by repealing the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, so too Bush ignored the conditions and logic behind the authority granted him by Congress to wage war in Iraq, and doesn't seem to care too much what anyone thinks still.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 05:17 PM

The blog of love

Written by a NEXTopia reader:

Ah, America. Land of the free, where we are free to speak, to believe in various religions, to vote for our leaders. But what happens in the case that my opinion clashes with another's? Well, let us look at the examples shown on the NEXT blog.

During the course of the last month I have read on this site that people voting for Bush are: illogical, the mob, misinformed, believing the lies, too lazy to research the true facts, just looking for excuses to support Bush, voting based on spite, etc.

Well, golly, just call me all of the above. And that's good to know, as it puts me in my place. Thank God (oops, religious wacko) that I can now not pollute the system with my vote. Isn't Democracy awesome, where people from different points of view can eloquently put forward opposing thoughts, hoping that between them a greater good can arise? I'm sure Plato would look at this and applaud heartily.

You know what?

Truth #1: Big shock: BOTH campaigns have engaged in acts that I would generously describe as foul.

Truth #2: This country desperately needs a viable (sorry, Nader) 3rd party.

Truth #3: I cannot trust Bush or Kerry completely.

Truth #4: I do need to pick one of the candidates in order to become a participant in democracy.

Truth #5: Some of us DO research, and look at the issues, and don't even watch Fox News, and discuss it with members of both parties, and come to the conclusion that Bush is a better person for the next four years than Kerry.

Truth #6: Stereotypes and generalizations are a ridiculous form of logic. I will not say that all Democrats are sandal-wearing, marijuana smoking, weak lovers of taxation liberals who are on a slow path to the pit of fire. Why? Because that would be stupid, and because I know people who I respect who are voting for Kerry.

Truth #7: Dick Cheney is, and has been for at least the past three years, an android incapable of normal human communication.

Truth #8: I received a 3.95 GPA at the undergraduate level and was accepted to a top 10 grad school in my field, where I am now pursuing my Ph.D. I don't say this to toot my own horn, but simply to say that I do consider myself to be an educated voter, both on the issues and simply in general.

You want to argue with any of those points? Fine, I respect that and I welcome that. Challenges to my beliefs are always welcome, because they cause me to reexamine why I believe what I do believe, and, sometimes, they cause me to change my mind.

But, honestly, at least try to accomplish this with some dignity and value for people on both sides of the fence.

Written by a NEXTopia reader


Posted by Colleen Pohlig at 05:10 PM

You're rubber, I'm glue

The Democrats are now on the "flip flop" bandwagon. Here's a couple of examples of the Bush flip flops they are featuring in their ads:

"I don't think you can win it." -- George Bush on the war on terror, August 30, 2004.

"We are winning, and we will win." -- George Bush on the war on terror, August 31, 2004.

"And had my unit been called up, I'd have gone." -- George Bush, September 29, 2004.

"Do not serve overseas." -- Box checked by George Bush on application for extended duty with the Air Force, May 27th, 1968.

Again, however, I don't think these political gaffes or 30-year-old records are nearly as important as W's record of failures and broken promises these past four years, or who will be a better leader for the next four, based on the issues and their stated (as versus real, for who can know those) plans.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 05:03 PM

Bush documents

Here's the latest startling development in the Bush records. Not the Onion's best, by far, but still funny. And pretty spot on.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 04:59 PM

Double shots

Feeling shaky? Depressed? Nauseous? Tired? Got bugs crawlin' on your skin? Well, okay maybe not that, but feeling twitchy? You might have forgotten to shoot up this mornin'.

Maybe they should call the shakes "star-buckin'."


Posted by Randy Henderson at 04:56 PM

The costs of war

In US air strikes on Falluja over the weekend, two children were killed and other civilians wounded. Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened, or likely the last.

I mention this not to criticize, or paint us as the bad guys, or anything stupid like that. Sometimes, both war and casualties are inevitable. Rather, I just wanted to express how incredibly terrible a thing war is for all sides, even that of the victors.

I cannot imagine how a pilot must feel after a bombing run, when reports arrive of dead women and children pulled from the resulting rubble. No more than a sailor, soldier or marine after a friendly fire accident, or a shell or grenade that results in a friendly or civilian casualty. Because, no matter how good the intelligence or weapons, this will happen in war. I can't even imagine how difficult it must be for some after killing an enemy combatant who, in the end, is likely very much like themselves.

Certainly, this is as gut wrenching and difficult a time for the young service men and women who are serving their country as it is for the families of the victims.

I think it is important to remember that war has many costs, not just the $200 billion or current count of dead American soldiers. Not even just that of civilian casualties. There are thousands of wounded rarely mentioned, some with lost limbs, not to mention internal peace or mental health.

Both the Iraqis and the American service men and women will be affected by, and have to deal with, the effects of this war and the actions they are called upon to perform for the rest of their lives.

I know this is obvious. But with everything else that is discussed around the war, I think it good for this to be mentioned and repeated out loud every once in a while as well. It is remembering the true costs of war along with the goals that should dictate how a war is debated, and that keeps war from becoming too ready a solution for future problems.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 04:55 PM

October 01, 2004

Fun with facts

Regarding Thursday's prez debate, the Bush campaign has done a good job of seeming to counter Kerry’s debate claims -- if you don’t realize that their arguments often don’t apply to what Kerry actually said, or are half-truths and misdirection.

One example of the type of logic they use is to hit you with impressive sounding statistics, as if that refutes Kerry’s claim.

For example, on Kerry’s claim that too few security personnel have been trained in Iraq, they argue that there are “164,000 Iraqi Police And Soldiers (Of Which About 100,000 Are Trained And Equipped) And An Additional 74,000 Facility Protection Forces"’ as well as other military, guard and police forces.

Wow. That’s big numbers alright. However, is that as many as could have or should have been trained by now? Is Kerry wrong about it being too few, given the bombings, insurgency, and no-go zones? And, of course, is it true?

Actually, no, no, and no. Here’s the facts.

Another example of playing with numbers is in refuting Kerry’s claim that Bush has failed to adequately support first responders and fire fighters. The Bush team claims massive increases in funding, but if you read the fine print their numbers are based, in large part, on a proposed 2005 (aka created during election year and not yet real or paid for) budget.

Okay, so in the future, Bush will maybe, supposedly increase support for firefighters. But what about the reality of the past four years? Well, again, the facts are vastly different than the Bush campaign spin. Not only has Bush cut or failed to provide funding, but firefighters are angry over Bush’s exploitation of them and 9-11 for political purposes.

Another example of Bush campaign strategy is to answer the question without, well, answering the question. What’s their argument against Kerry’s claim that Bush has alienated allies, and fueled anger at America? That Kerry has insulted and belittled the coalition.

Uh, okay. Apparently, if Kerry said something bad about the coalition, then “logically” Bush must not have angered or alienated our allies or other nations. 2 + 2 = 5. Gotcha.

They do quote Bush’s praise of the coalition, and statistics about recently promised troop contributions however. Doesn’t exactly change the realities of worldwide protests -- America carrying 90% of the costs in Iraq, or the many other rifts created by this administration though, does it?

Another example of this tactic was their response to Kerry’s claim that Bush handed the job of catching Osama bin Laden over to Afghan warlords. In response, they offer two quotes by Tommy Franks saying the troops in Afghanistan showed no hesitation in their duty, and that it was untrue that troops were pulled out of Afghanistan to fight in Iraq.

Okay, good points. But does that mean our troops in Afghanistan were being used instead of Afghan warlords to hunt Osama bin Laden? No.

A third Bush campaign strategy is simply to mischaracterize Kerry’s position. For example, they refute Kerry’s claim that we “should” spend the $200 billion for Iraq in America -- yet Kerry’s stance never was that we should yank funding away from Iraq. Rather, it has always been that if Bush had done things right, more of the 200 billion would have been spent here.

The final Bush campaign tactic is, of course, say it often enough and it must be true. That is why every comment from the White House, every stump speech, every answer during debate somehow comes back to Kerry being indecisive and a flip-flopper.

But is he?

No. No more than any politician, including Bush, and less than many. How many times can the Bush team repeat that ridiculous “voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it” quote? Don’t people know by now that it was two separate bills -- a fiscally responsible one Kerry supported and Bush threatened to veto, and a fiscally irresponsible one that Kerry voted no on as a protest, knowing the troops would still get their funding?

Now, to be fair, I'm sure Kerry was indeed selective in the facts and numbers he presented. Just as Bush was. Some truths were stretched by both sides. And Kerry does make conflicting statements on occasion, just as Bush does.

But intelligent people understand that, for example, Bush’s famous statement that he would not use US troops for nation building must be taken in context. Situations and stances change, especially in politics, and Kerry is actually more consistent and decisive than most.

So I am not so worried about that as I am about where and how each man would lead our nation. And based on the past four years, and that Bush’s plan for our nation is summed up as “Kerry is indecisive,” I am certain Kerry could do a better job than Bush.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 04:57 PM

Debate reactions

As a formerly undecided voter without cemented party ties, I viewed last night’s presidential debate from a somewhat nonpartisan viewpoint. Here are my reactions:

BUSH: At first, I found his repetition helpful in driving certain points home, such as Kerry’s “mixed messages” and how he'll win the war in Iraq by being strong. However after a while, he sounded like a broken tape player. Didn’t he have anything else to say in response to Kerry’s points, instead of repeating the same stale phrases over and over?

Bush would also benefit from learning how to stall and think with dignity. His indecisive “umms” and his goofy facial expressions (made while thinking) undermined his composure and disrupted the viewer's focus. He also blinked a heckuva lot.

Watching the debates in the main lounge of my dorm with about 100 other students, I noticed more than slight chuckles (usually loud, cackling guffaws) whenever Bush made long, awkward pauses. Kerry was better at maintaining his poise while pausing.

KERRY: He brought up interesting issues and tough points, putting pressure on the president -- which Bush didn't handle well.

Still, though some facts are definitely on Kerry's side, he speaks with less charisma (that certain something, that indescribable quality or flair in presenting oneself) than Bush. Bush has the whole Texan charm thing going, along with what I think is the appearance of steadfast conviction -- whether or not you agree with his decisions.

Kerry makes a lot of promises. Very noble promises. The question is, will he follow through? Will voters trust new leadership to carry through, or would they prefer the incumbent for familiarity?


Posted by Christina Asavareungchai at 04:08 PM

A Fox news example

I know it is a no-brainer that Fox News would be biased, but I find it sad anyhow how Fox News spun the debate.

Having ideological mouthpieces like Hannity who are expressing opinion is one thing. But calling something that is biased real "news" is another. Yet by strategically cutting and pasting quotes, and interspersing them with "interesting" tidbits of information that weren't even in the debates, they (oh-so-surprisingly) bias it toward Bush.

As ever, it is just subtle enough to be defensible, but clearly there.

For example, in covering the issue of whether Kerry could better lead the country against a 9-11 attack, they gave this quote from Kerry: "I can make America safer than President Bush has made us, and I believe President Bush and I both love our country equally but we just have a different set of convictions on how to make America safer." Notice that the part of "Kerry's" position that they selected mentions that Bush loves his country, and they didn't include Kerry's actual reasons for believing he was qualified.

They then give a two-paragraph quote from Bush about staying on the offense and how he wakes up every day thinking about how to protect America, etc.

They then changed topics, and gave two paragraphs to summarize Kerry's position, then six paragraphs of Bush quotes and factoids (without noting the discrepancies, such as the 10 million voters in Afghanistan remark).

Next, in the most blatant abuse of journalistic integrity, they actually have this: "Kerry has said that if elected, he would pull American troops out of Iraq within six months, although later he said he would not impose such a fast deadline. Bush said that would only signal weakness to terrorists in the region, and that once Iraq is on its feet and ready to take the reins of its own security forces and democratic process, that's when U.S. servicemen and women can begin coming home."

Problem is, this is not at all what Kerry said during the debate. This is a Republican talking-points accusation, and yet another "Kerry flip flops" attack intended to make him appear indecisive and ready to pull out of Iraq too soon.

The sad thing is, it is being slipped into a real news story about the debates as if that is what Kerry said. This isn't even an opinion piece -- it is supposedly actual news.

Later, in a neatly edited quote, they have Kerry saying, "It's vital for us not to confuse the war, ever, with the warriors. That happened before, that's one of the reasons I think I can get the job done ... that's the most noble thing anyone can do and I want to make sure the outcome honors that nobility."

The way they have it edited, it comes across like Kerry thinks his getting the job done or not confusing war and warrior is the most noble thing anyone can do, but before Fox trimmed it down Kerry was actually talking about our troops serving our country as the most noble thing.

Then, their final section is titled: "Who Can Lead Us to the 'Valley of Peace?'" Gee, I wonder. Given that Bush closed with those very words, and the Fox News article closes with Bush's quote, who could Fox have in mind with that rhetorical question?

I also like that they gave this for Kerry's closing: "In closing out the night's stand-off, Kerry reminded those listening that he's served this country in war time and he'll go to bat for his country whenever it's needed. The comments come despite attacks of late from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and others, who have challenged Kerry's stories of heroism there and the number of medals he received."

I don't have a problem with them adding a little background or context to the story. It's just a shame it is so one-sided and backed by an agenda.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 04:03 PM

More on debate

The one thing I thought Kerry had to do in the debate was clarify his position on Iraq, one way or the other. He didn't. He continues to flip flop.

The Bush campaign isn't making this stuff up. In one 90-minute debate, Kerry managed to contradict himself several times. For example, the most important flip flop is still whether he thought we should have gone into Iraq. When Lehrer asked Kerry if Americans are "now dying in Iraq for a mistake," Kerry responded bluntly and clearly, "no." However, earlier in the debate he said "we can't leave a failed Iraq. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a mistake." Kerry also said later in the debate, "the President made a mistake in invading Iraq."

For some reason liberals can't see this, but this is indecisiveness, plain and simple. There's no way around it, and regardless of the left's attempts, there's no way to spin it.

Also, Kerry must have mentioned he fought in Vietnam at least 10 times. While I used to think this strategy was reasonable, it’s been proven not to work, and Democrats have advised him to knock it off because it's hurting him.

I'm beginning to think that Kerry's constant repetition of his service in Vietnam is not his campaign telling to keep bringing it up, but his ego not wanting to let people forget about it.

Written by Nigel Stark, a former NEXT writer


Posted by Colleen Pohlig at 03:58 PM

Debate over debate

The entire debate over the debate is being held in the wrong context. It’s naive to think that presidential debates are actually about debating the issues. They're not, and it’s not because the Bush campaign is afraid of the facts or the Kerry campaign or anybody else.

Presidential debates are a major media opportunity where the candidates share their message with a large chunk of America. That's just the way it is; it’s the nature of political campaigning.

Campaigns take place in a world of limited time and resources so you always look for the most efficient way to advance your campaign. Going back and forth on policy details is not efficient; communicating your overall message is, so that's what "debates" become.

From that perspective, Bush is the clear winner. While Kerry may have won the debate technically, Bush was clearly the better communicator of his campaign's messages. On November 2nd when truly undecided voters step into the ballot box and choose who to vote for, they will not remember the details of the debate; they will only remember the basic theme for the candidate from that debate.

Looking back, it’s difficult for me to determine what Kerry's single, over-arching theme was. For Bush, it was obvious: uncertainty and inconsistency in one's core principles is dangerous.

Whether you agree or not -- or whether you think Kerry is a flip flopper or not -- is completely irrelevant. What matters is that the voter will remember this theme and won't be able to remember anything from Kerry.

While we may ridicule Bush for repeating that theme so many times, he does so because he knows even the most simple of ideas must be repeated a million times before it starts to get remembered.

Clearly, Bush has learned these basic facts of communication while Kerry has not.

Written by Nigel Stark, former NEXT writer


Posted by Colleen Pohlig at 03:55 PM

Clarification on debate

Here is an excellent analysis of the more questionable statements and facts during the debate by Seattle Times news services.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 03:49 PM


Watching Senator Kerry debate President Bush last night was an awesome sight. Finally, the world caught a glimpse of the John Kerry we’ve been waiting for, the John Kerry we were promised would be the most electable and most presidential of his Demoratic primary challengers.

The Senator's steadfast demeanor and commanding presence throughout the evening enabled him to confidently shrug off any of attempts by a slouching
Bush to protray him as an indecisive, so-called flip-flopper. His answers were informed and well articulated, he sounded eloquent, and appeared, well, presidential.

President Bush, by any objective measure, lost this debate. He came off as uncomfortable, and often off guard. As he slouched at his podium, and he mumbled his overly repetitive answers, which were peppered with "um's" and "uh's" and too many uncomfortable pauses to count.

As this debate demonstrated, Bush's justification for the war in Iraq, and his rationales for numerous other foreign policy blunders simply don't hold up to
the kind of instant scrutiny and logical challenges that a face-to-face debate offers, and that the so-called liberal media has been so impotent at providing.

Applause lines only work when the audience is allowed to applaud, and your challenger isn't right there to call you on your nonsense.

But the most important thing winning this debate did for Kerry was demonstrate that Kerry is no less capable at leading this contry in times of crisis and war than President Bush claims to be.

The debate's theme, foreign policy, was supposed to be Bush's greatest strength, but, as we all saw, he spent most of the evening where most people expected Senator Kerry to be, on the defense.


Posted by Daniel Thies at 01:37 PM

Opposite day

So both the Kerry and Bush campaigns have already begun spinning the debates, both declaring victory of course. I got a good laugh at the Bush summary from their campaign site. I'm guessing it was actually written well before the debates even occurred (as much of their "debate debunking" website was) since it is so exactly the opposite of what actually happened:

"Tonight, President George W. Bush stood in stark contrast to a vacillating Senator John Kerry. President Bush showed Americans a detailed path forward in the War on Terror, a plan that will ensure that America fights the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan -- not in America's cities. People saw for themselves tonight where John Kerry would lead our military, our allies and the world in the War on Terror -- down a bumpy road paved with indecision and cynicism."

What actually happened? Kerry laid out a detailed path for the war on terror, while Bush accused Kerry of vacillating and being indecisive and cynicism.

But hey, close enough, right?


Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:58 AM

Debate buzz

So, I thought the debates wouldn't have much affect. But this morning, on the ferry, the people behind me were talking about how they were impressed by Kerry's answers. One person said he was a Republican, and was watching it with his Democrat father, and was embarrassed at Bush's performance, and wished the president had actually given clear plans like Kerry had, instead of saying the same things over and over about "wrong war, wrong time," Kerry being indecisive, etc. He still was going to support Bush, but thought Bush hadn't debated well.

Then I got into work, and the person who shares an office with me said she was surprised at Bush's performance. She found herself wondering if he were wearing an earpiece, and being fed prompts, because he would say a couple words, then pause for a long time, and say "umm, uh," etc. I doubt its true, but I found her reaction funny and interesting.

Of course, whether or not this changes any votes is hard to say. Polls haven't really changed much from before the debate, but then we have a month and two debates to go.

If nothing else, maybe this will encourage the media to actually do its job, and comment more prominently on the accuracy of the campaign accusations and political attack ads. They should do this for both sides, of course, but given the nature of the Bush campaign I think fact-checking by the major media would most aid Kerry.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:55 AM

Put the spin on it

John Kerry must have learned much from Al Gore's debates in 2000. He must have learned exactly what not to do, because Kerry didn't repeat any of the same mistakes that damaged Gore -- no lecturing, no long-winded answers, and, thank God, no sighing.

If Kerry's goal was to prove that he could handle the post-9/11 presidency, than he nailed it. If he was hoping to take over in the polls, he has some more work to do, but not as much ground to cover as he did before the debate.

After the debates, I felt it was clear that Kerry won. But I didn't know how the debates would be spun. Unfortunately, it isn't just what you see and hear from the candidates with your own eyes and ears. The outcome is often determined by what you're told happened from the mouths of the party faithful.


Posted by Andrew Avery at 10:44 AM

First debate

Sadly, I could have written this before the debates even happened, and been dead on.

Bush would somehow fit into every response some variation on their campaign's big spin -- Kerry is indecisive, a flip flopper. That's what he does well, stays on message.

And Kerry would argue well, but not really hit a home run.

Although I did like when Kerry called Bush on blending the war on Iraq into being a response to 9-11. I just wish he had been a little stronger, and provided more of the examples he did in his National Guard speech for example, of the various Bush administration failures and deceptions.

So round one: neither fell on their face, and little probably will change. Especially, again, after all the post-debate spin and filtering occurs. Certainly, there was nothing that would change people's minds and keep them changed for the next month.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:41 AM


Okay, now that Gavin and I have got the "I know you are but what am I?" out of the way with the stunning revelation that politicians play with the truth, whose campaign is MOST based on deception?

Never mind that. I'm sure we'll face the same problem of bias.

So instead, let's ask who is the better leader on the issues?

No doubt Gavin will say Bush. But I challenge those still saying Bush to prove it, given the last 4 years of deficits, job loss, the mess that is Iraq, the ignoring of science, the roll backs of environmental protection, the failure to fund education mandates, the failures to address poverty and health care issues, and the fact that the world is less safe than it was before we committed ourselves to Iraq.


Posted by Randy Henderson at 10:36 AM

 October 2005
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003

Halloween haters
Those damn reporters
Guiliani's partisan hacking
Gonna be prez when I grow up
Grades and labels
Eminem vs. Bush
No, this isn't Afghanistan
Curses and trends
Lady luck?
Young Republicans, old victims


Other blogs to watch


Talking points memo
Altercation, by Eric Alterman (
Daily Kos - Political Analyst
The American Prospect - Tapped
Whiskey Bar
Counterspin Central
The War in Context
Between the Lines


The Belgravia Dispatch (London conservatism)
Real Clear Politics
Anne Coulter
The Right Coast
National Review Online
The Daily Dish - Andrew Sullivan
Banana Republican

Reason online - Hit and Run
Juan Cole - Informed Comment
Think About It


Stefan Sharkansky's Shark Blog
Seattle Sucks
Tikun Olam


Pop Culture Junk Mail (local pop culture)
Three Imaginary Girls (local indie-pop music) (local)
MOBYlives (literary critique) (everything pop culture)

Powered by
Movable Type 2.51

Speak out: NEXT welcomes letters and opinion submissions
More opinion from The Seattle Times home
Home delivery | Contact us | Search archive | Site map | Low-graphic
NWclassifieds | NWsource | Advertising info | The Seattle Times Company


Back to topBack to top