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The Iraqi army in training:

Oh Dear.

See John Cole

I like the guy second from the right.


In honor of this most glorious of holidays, here's a gallery that reminds us that even politicians love putting on costumes:


November 4, 2008. If you’re anything like me, chances are you’re waiting for this day with bated breath. But what about November 6, 2007—an election that is taking place not next year but next week? Back in my hometown, the local Democrats have spent close to a million dollars to regain control of the school board and reinforce their majority in the township board of commissioners. But this is an off-off year election, and voter turn out is predicted to be 20% at best.

When asked, I say I’m from Philadelphia. That’s because few outside of the area know anything at all about Lower Merion, the township adjacent to a city nearly 50 times its size. Politically, that puts me in Pennsylvania’s 6th U.S. congressional district, the 17th state senatorial district, and the 149th state representative district. These districts refer to our representation on a national and state level. Next week’s election, however, is an exercise in local politics. LM’s school board may be relatively insignificant when compared to the office of the President of the United States, but its outcome will have a huge effect on one of the ‘08 race’s hottest issues: education. The local public schools are outdated, inaccessible, and in various stages of disrepair. They are also far too small. Our choices? Raise property taxes to rebuild schools, or “make do” with the resources we already have. No surprises here: a democratic majority on the school board would vote to build two state-of-the-art educational facilities for the township. This would cater to the growing demands of students’ families, such as class size, handicapped accessibility, and technology. Should we fail to grab the majority of seats on the board, Lower Merion will favor the demands of large and valuable property owners, leaving the school system to quite literally gather dust until the next off-off year, meanwhile cramming more and more students into undersized classrooms.

What’s going on locally in Lower Merion has no real implications for anyone living outside of the township. So why is this important? For one thing, no Democratic presidential candidate will get those two new schools built, no matter how many educational reforms he or she signs into law. Local politics are so often obscured by national elections, whose issues seem infinitely more impending and important than the concerns of the sixty thousand residents of my town. But local elections have the biggest impact on the communities they represent, and some of the best national changes start at home.

Sure, I’m hanging on to every word of every presidential hopeful. I’ve got November 8th, 2008 circled in red on my calendar. But in the meantime, I’m sending in my absentee ballot, so that the United States has two fewer schools to worry about.


A really cool article forecasting a new progressive era. Simon Rosenberg and Peter Leyden argue that the disaster that is the Bush Presidency combined with changing demographics could result in a huge Democratic majority and shift in the political discourse toward progressive values and issues. Their major source is a poll that came out about six months back which focused on our generation. The numbers are convincing but the whole "permanent Democratic majority" thing is exactly what conservatives were saying after 2004. Karl Rove's goal was a similar permanent Republican majority. There was a book by the always unbearable Hugh Hewitt and this Weekly Standard article.

Of course its not that this sort of prognostication have never been accurate. And I'll take the optimism.


Texas Republican Ron Paul’s quixotic quest for the White House has received a surprising amount of sympathetic coverage in the main stream press lately. A recent St. Anselm poll showing Paul polling 7% in New Hampshire, ahead of Thompson and Huckabee, raised a lot of eyebrows (yet the 5 other polls taken within the last month showing him in 6th place are generally ignored). Despite rarely registering above 1% in national polls, Paul raised $5 million in the 3rd quarter, almost matching the $6 million raised by the man who nearly won the GOP nomination in 2000. His campaign is driven by an internet-based cult following composed largely of young people. Even more startling is the attention and support he’s drawing from liberals.

On the surface, this following makes perfect sense. He’s against the war, favors abolishing the Patriot Act and restoring civil liberties, supports legalizing medical marijuana, funding stem cell research, while opposing torture and capital punishment. Yet this is all the main stream media seems to focus on when discussing Ron Paul, which might help to explain why so many people still take him semi-seriously.

Here’s what news stories on Paul generally neglect to mention:

Ron Paul wants to abolish Federal Reserve Bank and the income tax, which as the Politico notes are “issues widely viewed as settled since their creation in 1913”. Similarly antiquated is his support for abandoning the fiat currency system in favor of tying the value of currency to gold and silver and repealing the 17th Amendment. Yes, you read that right: Ron Paul wants to take away the right to vote for Senators directly, one of the landmark democratic achievements of the progressive era, and give it back to state legislatures.

Oh, and by the way, he also would like to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Education, the Food and Drug Administration, Medicare, Veterans Administration hospitals, and welfare, while pulling out of NAFTA, the WTO, and the United Nations. But who’s going to miss any of those things?

Other parts of his platform read like they were authored by a conspiracy theorist:

“H.R. 1146 would end our membership in the United Nations, protecting us from their attempts to tax our guns or disarm us entirely.”

“NAFTA’s superhighway is just one part of a plan to erase the borders between the U.S. and Mexico, called the North American Union. This spawn of powerful special interests, would create a single nation out of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, with a new unelected bureaucracy and money system. Forget about controlling immigration under this scheme.”

“Both the WTO and CAFTA could force Americans to get a doctor’s prescription to take herbs and vitamins.”

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in order to comply with standards dictated by supra-national organizations such as the UN‘s World Food Code (CODEX), NAFTA, and CAFTA, has been assuming greater control over nutrients, vitamins and natural health care providers to restrict your right to choose the manner in which you manage your health and nutritional needs.”

It’s not that I’m seriously worried about a President Ron Paul. True libertarians cannot win national elections because Americans are inspired by candidates who promise to DO things, not restrain, cut back, and downsize. While Paul can continue to delude himself saying “the majority of Americans are with me”, the bloated federal government that he is so appalled by came about for a reason – the people demanded federal action to solve problems.

The Ron Paul ‘movement’ is based largely on ignorance of his true extremism.


Last Tuesday, FEMA Deputy Director Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson held a press conference regarding the agency’s response to the wildfires in California. In light of the agency’s catastrophic failures during Hurricane Katrina, the questions asked by reporters seemed to be a little too soft. For example, one of the questions was, “What lessons learned from Katrina have been applied?”

Well, it turns out, the “reporters” weren’t actually reporters.

They were FEMA employees posing as reporters.

In defense of his agency’s actions, FEMA Deputy Director of Public Affairs Mike Widomski said, “We had been getting mobbed with phone calls from reporters, and this was thrown together at the last minute." You see, the agency only gave real reporters 15 minutes’ notice of the news briefing. They allowed reporters to call in and listen to the briefing, but not to ask questions. When no reporters showed up, what was FEMA supposed to do? Give reporters more time to show up? Reschedule the briefing? Perhaps the agency was afraid of showing a weakening of resolve. FEMA showed once and for all it will never give in to the, uh, traffic. The show must go on--in fact, this time it actually was a “show”.

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff promised “appropriate discipline” against those responsible but declined to say if any employees involved would lose their jobs. At least Chertoff is being honest with us and is not pretending that there will be real accountability for this incident. He’s clearly learned from the errors made by his boss, President Bush, who in June 2004 said he would fire anyone in his administration involved with leaking the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. When Karl Rove was named as one of the sources behind the leak, the president showed us how much his words count for.

Since the firing of the employees who participated in this charade seems to be out of the question, I have another suggestion. If these FEMA employees were so eager to pretend to be reporters, why don’t they leave FEMA and pursue real careers in journalism? Then perhaps we could get some competent people into this farce of an agency.


I like Barack Obama. I like him even though he didn’t put his hand over his heart the last time he heard the national anthem. I like him even though he doesn’t wear an American flag on his lapel. And I still like him, even though he plans to appear on stage with Donnie McClurkin, an “anti-gay” gospel singer. I like Barack Obama because Obama is trying really hard to get me to like him.

I can understand his desire for popularity—after all, isn’t that what buys a presidential victory? Still, watching his recent campaign performances, I can’t help but wonder if Obama is trying a little too hard. Take the senator’s South Carolina Gospel Tour, for example. The Gospel Tour features predominantly African-American acts, including “ex-gay” Reverend Donnie McClurkin and other gospel singers. This sensational political strategy, focused on a state where half of the democratic voters are black, was intended to be a vehicle through which this presidential hopeful could compete with Hillary’s popularity among black voters.

Yes, Obama is trying to be original. He is trying to build support from a grassroots level by taking part in a powerful cultural identity. But in his attempt to win the support of black voters, Obama has provoked the LGBT community. His on-stage companion, Reverend McClurkin, has made homophobic remarks regarding the need to “break the curse of homosexuality,” prompting the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to condemn the senator’s affiliation with the gospel singer. Instead of taking a stance either way, Obama attempts to neutralize McClurkin’s incendiary effect by tacking on an openly gay minister to the front of his tour. The situation that ensues is abominably awkward. Obama does not support McClurkin’s homophobia, nor does he want to take any chances at offending the black community by renouncing the reverend’s partnership. By catering to both sides, he seems unassured and hesitant where he should be decisive.

Barack Obama wants everyone to like him, and that’s his biggest problem. People
do like Barack Obama. He seems to be a genuinely good guy. But the HRC is not asking for him to be buddies with a gay minister. They—along with the rest of America—are looking for leadership. They’re looking for a man with the backbone to stand up for real values and to make real change.

The Barack Obama I like tries to befriend everyone and offend no one. He cracks jokes, organizes concerts, and relates to voters on a personal level. But the Barack Obama I might vote for is a man with vision, passion, will, and the agency to replace ideals with actions. I believe in his message. I believe in his visions for the future, in his hopes and his fears. What’s more, I believe that he has the potential to make his dreams for our America into our reality. But when Obama favors popularity over principal, voters lose confidence in his efficacy as a leader. It is when he stands soundly behind his own opinions, and delivers his message with the confidence of a president of the United States, that Barack Obama becomes a man who voters can believe in.

I like Barack Obama, but I’m crossing my fingers.


In a sign that the media & political junkies are already taking his presidential run much more seriously than the candidate himself, Rasmussen has conducted a poll with Colbert as a third party candidate. More surprising, though, is the fact that the public seems to be taking Colbert’s candidacy more seriously than he does as well.

The nationwide poll shows that in a three-way race against Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, Colbert gets 13% of support to Clinton’s 45% and Giuliani’s 35%. With Fred Thompson as the GOP nominee (a prospect about as likely as a 3rd party candidacy) its Clinton 46%, Thompson 34%, and Colbert 12%. To put these numbers in perspective, this is almost exactly the same level of support as Michael Bloomberg drew as a hypothetical 3rd party candidate over the summer (43-37-12).

Even more impressive, Colbert draws 28% of likely voters aged 18-29 with Giuliani and 31% with Thompson, actually beating the GOP nominee in both cases.

TPM: “Colbert seems to draw most of his support from the GOP column, indicating a real unhappiness among Republican voters — either that, or conservatives who have watched his show really don't get the joke.”

Colbert announced on his show last Tuesday that he was filing paperwork to run in both the Republican and Democratic primaries in South Carolina, stating “After nearly 15 minutes of soul-searching, I have heard the call.” While to Colbert the run may simply be an ingenious way to promote his new book and television show, he is clearly creating some excitement as evidenced by the 829,845 members of his Facebook group and the frenzy it has inspired among the media.

Personally, I think it would be a fascinating social experiment if he were to take his candidacy seriously (within the limits of his character, of course). Imagine an entire campaign premised on sarcasm and scripted by comedy writers—debates, campaign ads, rallies, all with the intent of mocking the other candidates and the American electoral process. But perhaps it makes an even better point to poll 13% —more than Ross Perot got after spending $8 million in 1996—without even trying.


Last Friday, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas ended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He is the third member of the illustrious group of ex-GOP presidential hopefuls, joining former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore and former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson. Let’s just say that Brownback’s decision didn’t exactly send shock waves through the political world.

However, Brownback’s dropout is the first significant one in the Republican field. About a year ago, when the presidential race was first getting underway, the three Republican favorites were Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. Needless to say, the Christian right wasn’t enamored with any of them. However, they did have a strong affinity for two lesser-known candidates: Brownback and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who are both firmly pro-life and anti-gay marriage. The winner who emerged was supposed to be the religious right’s answer to the three Republican frontrunners. It soon became clear that Huckabee won the battle between the two of them. Huckabee was witty and eloquent during the presidential debates, while Brownback sounded stiff and uninspiring. Huckabee then finished 2nd in the Iowa straw poll, beating out Brownback, who finished 3rd. While Brownback barely registers on national polls with 1-2%, Huckabee has made a move recently and now measures in at 7-9% on Rasmussen Reports daily tracking polls. And a recent Rasmusssen Reports poll in Iowa found Huckabee with 18% in a virtual tie for 2nd, while Brownback lagged toward the back of the field with a measly 3%.

Now that Brownback is done, the religious right is faced with a stark choice: back Huckabee or support one of the frontrunners. Well, pro-choice Giuliani is completely out of the question, as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council threatened that he and other evangelical leaders will back a pro-life third party candidate if Giuliani wins the nomination. McCain is still unpopular for calling Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson “agents of intolerance”, even though McCain and Falwell have made up. Romney has gotten some support from evangelical leaders, but the extent of that support is probably limited by his Mormon religion and his liberal positions on social issues prior to his presidential campaign. Thompson may have the most conservative record on social issues, but he has not made his faith a central issue in his campaign, unlike Huckabee. There is evidence that the religious right is beginning to take a serious look at Huckabee’s candidacy. In Sunday’s Family Research Council Values Voters straw poll, Huckabee finished with 27.2%, second only to Romney’s 27.6%. Among the voters who attended the event and heard the candidates speak, Huckabee received an astonishing 51%, while Romney placed second with 10%.

Many of Brownback’s staffers can be expected to flock to the Huckabee’s campaign, as the two are ideologically in step. With Brownback’s departure, Mike Huckabee is the only one candidate left who the religious right truly believes in, and thus has to be considered a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

As for Brownback, he is expected to run for Governor of Kansas in 2010 when his U.S. Senate term expires. He is only 51 years old, so he can continue to dream of reaching the White House someday.


Amidst a heated political debate pitting pragmatism against principle, House Democratic leaders seem to be backing off their previous commitment to vote on a resolution officially classifying the killings of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide.

The bill, which addresses the killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey) between 1915-1923, passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a 27-21 vote on October 10. Although the bill has 218 cosponsors (over half the House), Pelosi now says it "remains to be seen" whether the bill will come to a vote before the November recess, noting that "other matters on the agenda that have to be dealt with first".

Despite the consensus among historians that the slaughter of Armenians constitutes genocide, the Turkish government adamantly denies the genocide label. Though it admits that many Armenians died around the time of World War I, Turkey contends that the casualty figures are inflated, and that the Armenians were victims of civil war and unrest which killed many Turks as well. The century-old event remains a volatile political issue in Turkey, where a law requires that schools deny the massacre, and journalists and historians have been jailed or killed in recent years for publicizing the event. The Turkish government even spent $300,000 a month lobbying against the resolution.

The resolution has provoked strong opposition from the Bush administration, which has carefully avoided the ‘G’ word in recent weeks, instead referring to the “mass killings”, “forced deportations”, “atrocities”, and “horrendous suffering” of the Armenian people.

As if we needed further proof that we are selling our soul for ‘victory’ in Iraq, the administration refuses to condemn a clear act of genocide because it fears provoking a backlash from a key ally, whose airspace is used to transport 70 percent of the air cargo intended for U.S. forces in Iraq and 30 percent of the fuel consumed by those forces.

While I understand the need to maintain good relations with an Islamic democracy, NATO member, and strategic ally, we cannot play along with Turkey’s policy of whitewashing history and suppressing dissent. The United States cannot be a moral leader in the world if we only stand up for human rights issues when economic and strategic interests aren’t at stake.As the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-29) asks:

“How can we take effective action against the genocide in Darfur if we lack the will to condemn genocide whenever and wherever it occurs?"


This weekend Nomadic Theatre is putting on "The Exonerated", about the experiences of six people who were wrongfully convicted but still lost years of their lives on death row.*

Our justice system, though, is systemically unjust. It is racist, ineffective at deterring crime, often erroneous, and extremely expensive.

And yet... almost all our Democratic candidates -- including every single frontrunner -- support the death penalty. Clinton is a long-time advocate. Edwards believes "some crimes deserve the ultimate penalty". Obama, for all he is touted as a religious and moral man, and for all he believes that the death penalty "does little to deter crime", still would execute prisoners.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised, but Kucinich is in the only one on the field who vocalizes what I am convinced is the only appropriate approach. "Morally," he writes, "I simply do not believe that we as human beings have the right to 'play God' and take a human life – especially since our human judgments are fallible and often wrong." Along with him comes Gravel, who has been silent on capital punishment so far in this campaign but was opposed at least back in 1972, when his book Citizen Power came out.

I'm dismayed that once again, it's only the "crazy" and "ridiculously unelectable" candidates who are talking sense. (It reminds me incredibly of that debate where it was only these two who would lower the drinking age so that young people who are called to die for our country could also buy a beer. Yeah.)

Why is that? I think Liliana Segura has it pegged: "They know that as long as no one holds them accountable, it is a political stance that costs them nothing. It’s their “soft on crime” trump card." Kucinich (and to some extent Gravel) can say these things only because he isn't considered a real candidate.

Cynical? Yes. Unfortunately, it also rings true. How crazy is Kucinich really?

*It was a wonderful performance, and one that I suggest you all look into attending before the show ends this weekend.


Yesterday, the President encouraged Congress to be more responsible with taxpayer dollars, remarking that “every program sounds like a great program, but without setting priorities, the temptation is to overspend.” Yes, President Bush certainly has got his priorities straight. After approving an additional $190 billion dollars for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he blasted Congress for their proposed $205 billion dollars of additional government spending, which he deemed excessive. No surprises here—President Bush has demonstrated, once again, his unapologetic hypocrisy. While investing hundreds of billions of dollars in an increasingly unpopular war, the President has criticized a Democratic congress that is desperately trying to pass spending bills such as SCHIP. His defense? “It’s important for our citizens to understand that we spend $35 billion dollars a year for poor children’s health care…my attitude is, let’s help the poor children.”

Yes, Mr. Bush, let’s help the poor children. Let’s start by appropriating the necessary resources to do so. The President has declared what he calls a “fiscal showdown” with Congress, in his valiant attempt to prioritize spending. The trouble is, his priorities don’t seem to be the same as our priorities. Bush’s version of fiscal responsibility involves pouring billions of dollars down the begrudging throats of our biggest foreign policy disaster, while refusing to fund significant national programs under the smug design of keeping our taxes low.

Bush is too proud of the recent improvements in the Government budget deficit. Sure, a balanced budget by 2012 would be nice, and the President is well on his way to success—by reducing domestic programs such as education and health care, while our war spending soars almost as high as the national debt.

I’m glad to see we’re really getting our priorities straight.


Congratulations to Vice President Al Gore on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize earlier today. According to the committee who awarded Gore with the prize, he "is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted" to battle climate change.

Gore has promised to donate his monetary prize to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan non-profit organization that is devoted to changing public opinion in the U.S. and around the world about the urgency of solving the climate crisis.

One story that is likely going to be rehashed now that Gore has won this award is whether or not he will reconsider a bid for the US Presidency. The DraftGore movement, based out of San Francisco where Gore lives part-time, has reenergized lately. They've collected almost 200,000 supporter signatures, and, last week, ran an ad in the NYTimes urging Gore to make another run for office.

In the past, Gore has been somewhat evasive in answering the question, saying that he did not see himself running for President, but refusing to rule out the possibility. Now that the spotlight is on him, we'll see if that promise stands.

Again, kudos Vice President Gore, an award well deserved.


I'm not even going to waste energy typing this all out-- just watch this video. Ann Coulter's perfect world includes all Jews being "perfected" into Christians. Wow.


We hear about violence every day in this country. Our newspapers abound with stories of robbery and assault, and every day there is another conveniently edited sound bite about violent crime on our trusty television news networks. The way the news paints it, urban America is a not-so-safe place to live. But most of us at Georgetown—a haven for the “educated elite”—only experience violence from behind a television screen. We Hoyas are generally insulated from the everyday presence of violent crime in the D.C. area, not to mention the rest of the world. But last month’s assault on a gay Georgetown student hit a little too close to Healy Gates for comfort. Far from a mugging on the Lauinger Library steps, this crime has different implications for our student body. That the assailant is one of our own places hate and violence within the context of our own community, facing us with the unacceptable reality that Georgetown is not a bubble and that college students, too, can be victims—or villains.

Only a few weeks into the term, an anonymous Georgetown student was assaulted after being harassed about his sexual orientation. Philip Cooney, MSB ’10 (allegedly the son of Philip Cooney, Sr., former White House chief-of-staff of the Council of Environment Equality who was forced to resign after doctoring reports on the severity of Global Warming, which might explain why Jr. doesn’t play by the rules either), has been charged with assault with a hate bias. The incident was met with refreshing outrage on the part of GUPride, the College Dems, and other Georgetown students, which culminated in a Pride Ralley in Red Square on Tuesday, and a vigorous appeal to the administration that they must treat such incidents with a greater degree of gravity.

A hate crime on a Georgetown student, by a Georgetown student, may have come as a shock to the rest of us. But what’s more shocking to me is that it doesn’t happen more often. In a country where gay citizens are treated by the government as “separate but equal” at best—and even more frequently as second-class citizens—Americans are raised with conflicting notions about how to treat members of the GLBTQ community. Legislation, religion, and the news media all teach us in no uncertain terms that gay people are different, and an emphasis of that difference is only a stone’s throw away from legalized discrimination and socially condoned segregation. Under D.C. law, the punishment for a violent crime with a “bias/hate specification” is more severe than the same crime committed on an impersonal basis. And yet, current law discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation every day. Gay people are not protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1991, are actively denied entrance into the armed services, and are barred from participation in the most fundamental of social contracts. So why should gay-bashing be a hate crime? It seems to me that this double standard is the government’s way of shirking responsibility. The government can assault gay people in the harshest way they can—by denying them basic rights—but the average citizen is held to a more stringent standard. Here in America, it’s okay to discriminate against gay people, as long as you don’t hit them.

I’m not accusing the Georgetown community of fostering the rampant homophobia that spurred an attack on one of our own. On the contrary, I appreciate that the student body is shocked, surprised, and angry. But the reality is that we operate under a government that marginalizes the GLBTQ community—and an administration that has even threatened to veto legislation that would nationalize the hate-crime laws. If we can’t expect equality from the government, then how can we reasonably ask it from the citizens? In short, I hope the hate crimes legislation passes, and I hope that the assailant is punished to the fullest extent of the law. But I also hope that we use this as an opportunity to demand from our government the same behavior it expects from us. Real change needs to happen on a legal level, and that means ending the heterosexist doctrine by which we are governed. The attitudes and behaviors of the people just might follow suit.


So... Ann Coulter is smart. Like super-smart. Like so smart, she thinks all of her party's problems will be solved if we simply did away with women voting. It takes a really smart woman to think of that.

In an interview with the New York Observer, Coulter said the following:

If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women. It also makes the point, it is kind of embarrassing, the Democratic Party ought to be hanging its head in shame, that it has so much difficulty getting men to vote for it. I mean, you do see it’s the party of women and 'We’ll pay for health care and tuition and day care — and here, what else can we give you, soccer moms?'

She is just so special. And by special, I mean speshul.


So, apparently some idiot has been setting garbage can fires in Senate bathrooms for the past week. That's weird enough, but weirder is that they've done it at least half a dozen times over the past two weeks without getting caught.

Four of the fires were set yesterday between 10:45 am and 2:00 pm in women's bathrooms in Dirksen and Hart. You can read all about it at DCist, but I just wanted to bring this semi-bizarre story to everyone's attention.

'Cause seriously, who would do this? I can't imagine that whoever it is won't be caught eventually, and what thrill could he (or probably she) possibly be getting out of it? I may be quasi-delusional from a long day at work, but now that I'm thinking about this, I'm wondering-- what are the chances that this is someone communicating via smoke signals? That would be pretty badass. And with that speculation, this post has officially derailed from its original purpose of informing you about the sketchy SOB (Senate Office Building, get your minds out of the gutter) firebug, so I will leave you with the ever-wise words of Smokey the Bear: "Only YOU can prevent wildfires."

In this case, I guess we're talking about garbage-can fires, but still. Senate interns-- keep an eye out.


In the show The Simpsons, the Springfield Republican Party consists of select members of society who sit in a dark dungeon, usually during thunderstorms, and conceive ways to push a conservative agenda throughout Springfield. Members include successful businessman Montgomery Burns, congressman Krusty the Clown, the Rich Texan, action hero Rainier Wolfcastle, and Dracula.

This setup is strikingly familiar to that of the Council for National Policy (minus Dracula, plus Jesus enthusiasts). Formed in 1981, the CNP is basically a networking institute for conservatives who wish to influence various aspects of society into following a “morally correct” framework.
“Members include corporate executives, television evangelists, legislators, former military or high ranking government officers, leaders of 'think tanks' dedicated to molding society and those who many view as Christian leadership.” (check out http://www.seekgod.ca/cnp.htm for more info). Meetings are held publicly unannounced, and guest speakers, including VP Dick Cheney (Dracula??) rarely talk to the press about their addresses, which are not recorded.

When looking at the issues they are most concerned with, their list follows the typical Republican ideals – “conventional” values, shared Christian tradition, military freedom, and administrations that can do what they want. Original? No. Powerful? God, yes. The CNP can monetarily influence nearly any facet of society into following their instructions, thanks to their high-ranking members. An added bonus? Many of the members are not media-recognizable, at least not by their face alone. Would you be able to pick the head of the NRA out of a lineup? This relative anonymity allows the members to hold the reins of the Republican Party without worrying about over-exposure.

Now to put the conspiracy-theories into play. After a meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, Sept. 29th, talks emerged of a Republican-supported third party candidate, if relatively “liberal” Rudy Guiliani gets the presidential nomination. As terrifying as the authority of this secret organization may seem, a split vote between Guiliani and a third-party conservative Christian (potential crazy-person) candidate would be a Godsend to the Democratic candidate. Let’s face it, with a white woman and a black man as our two leading contenders, we’re going to need all the help we can get.

For more info about the CNP:
For more about Rudy’s competition:
For more Simpsons:


This morning, President Bush vetoed one of the most meaningful pieces of legislation to pass in the current congress. As usual, the administration sought to confuse the American people into believing they had their best interest in mind.

Dana Perino stated that the Bush administration was concerned that the cigarette tax in the SCHIP bill, which promised to help so many uninsured children, would hit the poor the hardest because they are more likely to smoke. This is a ridiculous statement.

One, shouldn't we be creating policy to discourage the poor (and all Americans) from smoking? Maybe a 61 cent increase in their prices could keep a few of us from getting lung and mouth cancers, among many other awful diseases. Republicans, stop answering to the calls from Big Tobacco.

Two, Mr. Bush, have you considered the beneficiaries of the bill? Oh, yes, that's right, the same impoverished people you are so concerned with keeping their cigarettes are just the people whose children need this legislation so they may have health care. What an admittance that this administration does not have its priorities in line.

I think my even bigger problem with the veto is this: Rep. Emaneul released a statement, in which he broke down the costs of this SCHIP legislation. This bill, which would cover the health insurance of 10 million children, will cost only the same as the cost of 41 days in Iraq. Despicable. Just over a month of killing in an endless, increasingly aimless, war or an entire year of ensuring that our great country fulfills a human right, that American children get the health care they need.


Some enterprising activists have taken to the streets to express their displeasure over the current state of the DC Vote fiasco by affixing stickers that read "DC BALLOT BOX: Your vote goes here" to trash cans around the city. DCist covered this story first, and they don't know who is responsible for the guerilla marketing campaign, but it's fantastic.

For those who are interested, one more super cool photo:


In an early morning email from campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, the Clinton campaign (FINALLY) announced that it raised an astounding $27 million in the third quarter-- $22 million of which can be spent during the primary, and almost $10 million more than she had been rumored to have raised.

By bringing in such a large haul and out-raising Obama's camp for the first time, the Clinton campaign might just have solidified its already-apparent front-runner status.

Before we (and by we, I mean me) start celebrating, however, I think it's important to look at these numbers in context. First, and Chris Cillizza also pointed this out over at The Fix, $22 million is not "substantially" more than $19 million, especially when you consider that so far this year, Clinton's primary fundraising still lags behind Obama's by several million dollars.

If anything, Clinton's fundraising this quarter (along with Obama's) shows that this race has all but eliminated the other candidates from the running. The two campaigns are going to be running smart, disciplined, and expensive campaigns in the early states that the other campaigns have no hope of matching.

Beyond that, however, I don't know how significant this victory is. Very few people outside of Washington will notice these process stories (and ever fewer will care if they do). But for someone on the side that I'm on, it's nice to be on top for once.

And sidenote-- the "personal" note from Hillary included in the email? The Fix says it's a nice touch... I'm not so sure. I think I'm leaning towards annoying, condescending touch. Thoughts?