Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Newsbrief: Bush Wants More US Troops, Civilian Contractors in Colombia 3/26/04
The Bush administration wants to step up US involvement in Colombia's long-running civil war, Gen. James Hill, the top US military official in the region, told a congressional panel Wednesday. Hill, who heads the US Southern Command, told the House Armed Services Committee that the administration is asking Congress to raise the cap on the number of US military personnel and civilian contractors.
In an effort to forestall a gradual build-up of US forces in Colombia, Congress mandated limits on the number of personnel who could be deployed there at any one time. That limit is currently set at 400 military personnel and 400 civilian employees. The administration wants to double the cap on military personnel to 800 soldiers and increase the number of civilian contractors by 50% to 600.
US military personnel train and advise one of the sides in Colombia's four-decade-old civil war, the Colombian Armed Forces. The US State Department and other government agencies employ civilian contractors for a number of tasks related to counterinsurgency efforts, most prominently as pilots and crews for the aerial eradication campaign against coca crops.
Increasing the personnel caps is critical to the success of Plan Colombia, said Gen. Hill. That multi-billion dollar program began under President Clinton as a counter-narcotics effort and was expanded and folded into the global "war on terror" under President Bush. It is now in its sixth year. The White House is seeking more than $700 million this year for its Andean Regional Initiative, the bulk of it destined for Plan Colombia.
"It is vitally important that we sustain Plan Colombia's progress," Hill said, according to a Reuters account of his remarks. The personnel caps must be raised or the limits will hurt Plan Colombia just as it "is beginning to pay huge dividends," he said.
Hill praised hard-line Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, claiming that Uribe had turned the tide against the leftist insurgents of the FARC and the smaller Army of National Liberation (ELN). "As a result of this substantial progress, a window of opportunity has opened in which the Colombian government has the potential to deal a decisive blow to the narco-terrorists," Hill said.
Some of Hill's audience remained skeptical, however. Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS) told Hill Colombia ought to do more to fight its own war, Reuters reported. "They ought to be digging deeper into their own pockets and they ought to be asking their own kids to serve," he said, adding that Colombia had not approved long-term revenue measures to pay for the war or reformed draft laws that allow the wealthy to avoid military service.
We've got God knows how many men and women facing death and dismemberment in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea, Africa, the Balkans, and now we want to send MORE troops and money to go to Columbia? This is beyond moronic. The 7 year war there is unwinnable, and it's outcome (either way) does not hold a prominent place in the life of America. But we've got to keep fightin against them evil ol drugs don't we. Come one, get our people out of Columbia and on our southern border. We can stop illegal immigrants, wannabe terrorists, and you're evil drugs all in one fell swoop. And it'd be a heck of a lot more efficient than training, supporting with troops, and financing mindless, souless killers in Columbia.
EU Think Tank Slams Global Drug Fight 3/26/04
courtesy NORML News, http://www.norml.org
Vienna, Austria: Representatives from the Network of European Foundations (NEF) Comite de Sages and The Senlis Council criticized UN-sponsored drug prohibition policies at a symposium last week coinciding with the United Nations 47th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
Speakers criticized criminal drug prohibition and enforcement policies as fueling drug-related crime, endangering international security, and sponsoring terrorism.
"The system [of criminal drug prohibition] is not working but [this] is not being debated at the UN; it is a taboo," said NEF member Sir Keith Morris, a former British ambassador to Colombia.
Former Interpol Secretary General Raymond Kendall said that the UN must "change its approach from repressive law enforcement" to one of harm reduction. "The United Nations in 1998 set itself the aim of a drug free world by 2008," he said. "We are halfway down the road to 2008 and there are more drugs than ever. So much for the idea we have made progress."
Canadian Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, who chaired a 2002 Senate committee that recommended regulating cannabis to those age 16 and older, said: "A drug free society has never existed in human history and will not exist in the near future... Sooner or later, governments around the world will have to, in the names of transparency and honesty, acknowledge this massive failure."
Other speakers at the conference included Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation on Drug Policy, Portuguese MP Vitalino Canas, and General Paulo Roberto Yog de Miranda Uch a, national anti-drug secretary for Brazil.
Monday, March 29, 2004
Oh fellow, come!
See such wondrous things as these,
And I’ll show you more.
See these words dance with more truths
Than a hula
Or African tribe
Such naked words, but shrouded in this subtlety;
Oh, how they move! Tear/
Laugh and back again.
So fellow, some
Amazement eh? Deny not the fragile elegance of such
Walk not, now.
There’s so much more.
Nor a stool
Nor a table nor woodblock for to stop a door,
Nor a fork nor spoon for the sake of your utility.
I am not a leaf of changing color for beauty-purpose only,
Nor a mirror or barometer to measure you or weather.
I am not a chair.
Sunday, March 28, 2004
POSTED: 3:55 pm CST March 26, 2004
UPDATED: 4:36 pm CST March 26, 2004
NEW ORLEANS -- It's a groundbreaking court decision that legal experts say will affect everyone: Police officers in Louisiana no longer need a search or arrest warrant to conduct a brief search of your home or business.
Leaders in law enforcement say it will provide safety to officers, but others argue it's a privilege that could be abused.
The decision was made by the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Two dissenting judges called it the "road to Hell."
The ruiling stems from a lawsuit filed in Denham Springs in 2000.
New Orleans Police Department spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said the new power will go into effect immediately and won't be abused.
"We have to have a legitimate problem to be there in the first place, and if we don't, we can't conduct the search," Defillo said.
But former U.S. Attorney Julian Murray has big problems with the ruling.
"I think it goes way too far," Murray said, noting that the searches can be performed if an officer fears for his safety -- a subjective condition.
Defillo said he doesn't envision any problems in New Orleans, but if there are, they will be handled.
"There are checks and balances to make sure the criminal justce system works in an effective manor," Defillo said.
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Recently, a teacher of mine asked the each person in the class to write an essay describing his or her political stance in the form of “I am a (blank) because.” Below is my response. I thought some of you might enjoy a little insight into my “true” political colors. :)
I will not be able to complete this essay as it was originally assigned. To do so, I would have had to state “I am a (blank)” and insert a particular ideology into the statement. In doing that, I would be declaring that I subscribe to said ideology, and that, therefore, would imply that I am an ideologue. This is not the case. I consider myself a realist. I am neither Democrat nor Republican. I am neither “conservative” nor “liberal”. The former are no less than political cartels; the latter are simply arbitrary labels used in arguments. This is not to say that I take no stand on any issue. I am not one of the quavering moderates of which Mr. Limbaugh speaks who take the position of the prevailing political wind. On the contrary, I shall discuss three issues on which I hold a solid position. These are, in no particular order, immigration, marijuana de-criminalization, and civil liberties.
Our country was originally built by and for immigrants; this is no secret. But some now would use that statement to propose that we should maintain a policy of allowing illegal immigration to thrive. I am of course speaking specifically of Mexicans illegally crossing the border into America, though I am against ALL illegal immigration into the US (as well as most legal immigration actually, we’ve enough to pay for now). Right now there are millions of undocumented workers in the United States. They pay no taxes, and yet they receive government welfare and services. They have committed a crime by entering our country illegally, and they are treated as normal citizens. This must end. The only people that gain from this system are businessmen and politicians. Businessmen gain by utilizing the cheap labor, and politicians gain by allowing the illegals to continue in order to court the Latino vote. The American people lose because our tax dollars are stolen to pay for the health and welfare of these people who have done nothing to earn it. The American people lose because California is being turned into another Mexican state. And finally, the Mexican immigrant loses because he never gets what he came here for, “The American Dream”.
He enters this country perhaps to try to make a living for his family. He is maybe twenty-three years old with a wife and a child. He finds that picking lettuce for $10 an hour in California is better than working in a factory in Mexico for $10 a week. And things are good for a while. Ten dollars an hour doesn’t look quite as good when you’re fifty and you still have a child to care for. The man never was able to break out of poverty. His hope of his son having a better life than his has fallen to pieces. He never thought it necessary to teach his son English, so he is now destined to follow his father’s path. Is this compassion?
There are millions of people slowly dying in America from painful and incurable ailments. Some can find help from standard pain medications. But for whatever their reasons, many can’t. There are hundreds of thousands of people in America that can and do benefit from medicinal marijuana. Those that do use it continue to use it, knowing they risk their freedom by doing so. But they have no choice. Unless one considers screaming one’s self to sleep every night to be a choice. And this is the current state of affairs in America. It is known that marijuana, used under a doctor’s guidance and supervision can be of great benefit for many patients. It is known that in most cases the benefits of medicinal marijuana greatly outweigh its drawbacks. And yet, it remains a serious crime to posses, sell, cultivate, or make available in any way, marijuana. I ask again, is this compassion?
It is said the world changed on September 11, 2001. I don’t believe this. It’s still the same world. We’ve just come to realize how dangerous it truly is. We can now know what it feels like to be an Israeli standing on the sidewalk wondering if today is the day he or she will be blown to bits. We can now know what it feels like to be a Russian wondering if today is the day Chechens gun him or her down. America can understand now the truth about the “peaceful” religion of Islam and its followers. But now there’s another feeling we can have. And that is the feeling of living on the verge of a police state. Attorney General Ashcroft is currently on a tour of the country touting the values of his so-called PATRIOT ACT, because there is a fast-rising tide of dissent concerning this law. People are beginning to actually take notice of the bills being passed by Congress. And they are not happy. Mr. Ashcroft wishes the public to be content about his Nazi-esque disregard for civil liberties. It seems the Fourth Amendment was a misprint, and he is trying to get legislation passed to fix that. He and his administration are not happy yet however. They have on paper the nicely named “PATRIOT ACT II” bill. It lays waiting in the wings for the apathetic masses to forget about the first bill and be complacent again. These tactics must not stand. I line must be drawn that separates, for purposes of law enforcement, citizens and non-citizens. It must be realized that simply because some visiting foreign nationals may be treated a certain way, we will not abide the treatment of our own citizens in the same manner. We are Americans. And as Americans we have rights. We must stand tall against those who seek to take them from us, and our hands must not flinch as we grasp the remainders of the constitution.
I assume that most people would attribute their own socio-political views to the influences of parents, teachers, etc. I do not. Sure, there was a time in my life when I knew little more than what my parents told me, but that was a short-lived time. I’ve been a news junkie for as long as I can remember. I try to keep up with all that is going on in our nation and in our world. And that is what I base my views on. I base my socio-political system of beliefs on what I see, what I experience. I do not need to be spoon-fed my value system. I believe that most humans are capable of the same thing, capable of forming their own views on subjects and forming their on rational belief systems. Some, of course, are not. I like to call them Democrats and Republicans and Greens and Libertarians. These sad party ideologues rarely even realize little more than what they are told. Rarely do they stop and think, stop and observe. Stop and reason. This is a sad state of affairs, but it is the state of the union nonetheless.
I hope I have been able to give an adequate example of some of my political views and why I tend to think in said fashions. I do realize that this was not exactly the assignment given, but this is the best I can do without sacrificing my own core values. The most important of which I take from Socrates. Know thyself. And stick to it.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Yeah, you gotta check this site out.
A few of my favorites:
italics denotes my added emphasis
"Neither in French nor in English nor in Mexican(?)"
"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test"
"The war on terrorism has transformationed the US-Russia relationship."
And finally, in his own admission of mangling the English language:
"I've coined new words, like 'misunderstanding' and 'Hispanically'."
Yeah, I thought "misunderstanding" was a word already too. But what do I know; I'm not even a governor.
Saturday, March 13, 2004
I just noticed something, the day of these bombings was 911 days since 9-11-01. Thought you might find that intruiging as I did.
Friday, March 12, 2004
A few interesting quotes:
"I'm a firm believer in feeding people their own words back to them, when it's appropriate."
– Trent Lott
"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
- George W. Bush, discussing Kosovo, Houston Chronicle, 04-09-99
"I said on my program, if, if the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again."
- Bill O'Reilly, on ABC's Good Morning America, 03-18-03
"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual gay sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. All of those things are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family and that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately. It all comes from, I would argue, the right to privacy that doesn't exist, in my opinion, in the United States Constitution."
- Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Associated Press, 04-22-03
"I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you. This is not a message of hate; this is a message of redemption. But a condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It'll bring about terrorist bombs; it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor."
- Pat Robertson, speaking of organizers putting rainbow flags up around Orlando to support sexual diversity, Washington Post, 06-10-98. For the record, Orlando remains undestroyed by meteors.
"Environmentalists are a socialist group of individuals that are the tool of the Democrat Party. I'm proud to say that they are my enemy. They are not Americans, never have been Americans, never will be Americans."
- Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Alaska Public Radio, 08-19-96
"I don't understand how poor people think."
- George W. Bush, confiding in the Rev. Jim Wallis, New York Times, 08-26-03
"Get rid of the guy. Impeach him, censure him, assassinate him."
- Rep. James Hansen (R-UT), talking about President Clinton, as reported by journalist Steve Miner of KSUB radio who overheard his conversation, 11-01-98
"We're going to keep building the party until we're hunting Democrats with dogs."
- Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), Mother Jones, 08-95
"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building."
- Ann Coulter, New York Observer, 08-26-02
"Homosexuals want to come into churches and disrupt church services and throw blood all around and try to give people AIDS and spit in the face of ministers."
- Pat Robertson again, The 700 Club, 01-18-95
"Emotional appeals about working families trying to get by on $4.25 an hour are hard to resist. Fortunately, such families do not exist."
- Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), House Majority Whip, during a debate on increasing the minimum wage, Congressional Record, H3706, 04-23-96
- Jeb Bush, during his losing 1994 bid for Florida Governor, when asked what he would do for black people, quoted by Salon on 10-05-02
"The homosexual blitzkrieg has been better planned and executed than Hitler's."
- Rep. William Dannemeyer (R-CA), The New Republic, 08-01-94
"When lawlessness is abroad in the land, the same thing will happen here that happened in Nazi Germany. Many of those people involved in Adolph Hitler were Satanists. Many of them were homosexuals. The two things seem to go together."
- Pat Robertson again, The 700 Club, 01-21-93
"Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."
- Lt. General William G. Boykin, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, New York Times, 10-17-03
"We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors."
- Ann Coulter, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, 02-26-02
"The fact of the matter is that this (increased American casualties) is a sign of the success of our operation, not its failure."
- Ralph Reed, GOP strategist, on MSNBC's program 'Hardball,' 10-28-03
"There are some who feel that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation."
- George W. Bush, Chicago Tribune, 07-03-03
"The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason."
- Paul Wolfowitz, quoted by Tim Russert on 'Meet The Press, NBC, 06-01-03
"NOW is saying that in order to be a woman, you've got to be a lesbian."
- Pat Robertson again, The 700 Club, 12-03-97
"I'm the commander - see, I don't need to explain - I don't need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the President. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."
- George W. Bush, Washington Post, 11-19-02
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Saturday, 28 February 2004
This week our CD MAP Settlement checks came. (This was the penalty against record companies for collaborating to keep CD prices artificially high.) $13.86 each, woo.
They must have come up with enough signups to use up the money without giving everyone $20.
The companies, who are settling by paying out $67,375,000 in cash and $75,700,000 in free discs (who's getting those? the language is both pretty and vague), maintain that they did not engage in the alleged price-fixing behavior... but are willing to settle out of court for over a hundred million dollars.
You know, just like any innocent companies with access to top-notch lawyers would.
Sunday, March 07, 2004
I suppose if I wrote, supported, and enforced legislation that gutted and bypassed the Bill of Rights, I'd feel a little sick as well. I'd like to wish Ashcroft the best. I'd LIKE to.....
Yeah, shocking, no? He gave the Dem's radio address Saturday. Among his usual rantings, he complained about the Bush Administration sending our troops out unprepared and underfunded. Well Johny, you finally nailed one.
I picked up on this and posted it a week or so ago, but now Kerry's caught up with me.
In his own words (MOST of which I basically agree with):
Kerry challenged the Bush administration Saturday to reimburse the families of U.S. troops "who had to buy the body armor" needed for protection in Iraq.
"If I am president, I will be prepared to use military force to protect our security, our people and our vital interests," (nice thought, but he won't be pres and he wouldn't do it)
"But I will never send our troops into harm's way without enough firepower and support." (nice idea, where have I heard that before....oh yeah..ME)
Kerry said tens of thousands of troops arrived in Iraq "to find that - with danger around every corner - there wasn't enough body armor to protect them." Many families purchased the equipment and had it sent overseas, he added. (Yeah, we know that already, I'm just pointing out that some folks other than you and I are catching on)
"Families should be sending pictures and care packages to Iraq - and the Department of Defense should be sending the body armor." (Right on)
Kerry also called on the president to support a bill he has introduced in the Senate to reimburse families for their purchase of body armor. Similar legislation is pending in the House. He went on to say that acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee had testified before Congress that U.S. forces were "not prepared" for the present conflict in Iraq and they didn't have the preparation and hardware they needed to fight as effectively as they could. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Brownlee was asked why the Army took so long to produce adequate numbers of upgraded body armor and Humvees with extra armor plating.
And finally, Kerry said, "We hear reports that - in dangerous parts of Iraq - our helicopters are flying missions without the best available anti-missile system."
Maybe because you and all your Lefty friends voted against those systems? Hmmm?? Yeah, I thought you'd say that
I don't like Howard Stern. I never have; I doubt I ever will. After the flap about Janet, it seems he's become a bit of a scapegoat for the FCC who know they've let things get out of control.
Stern claims he is being "silenced" and "censored". Let me explain to you something, he is not. Yeah, it's true that the religious right have been trying to drive him off of the air for years. And it's true they've launched boycotts. Here's the the thing, CONSUMER LED BOYCOTTS ETC. ARE NOT CENSORSHIP. Only the government can censor, and only in rare occasions of EXTREMELY inappropriate conduct have the FCC acted as censors. Yeah, Clear Channel pulled Stern off of a handful of stations. As powerful as CC is (too powerful in my humble opinion), they ain't the government buddy. So yeah, go and whine about whitey putting you down. The truth is Stern has no real talent other than offending people, and his listeners are tiring of it. His ratings have fallen, and not because of "censorship", but because he, basically, sucks.
Another thing, fines are not censorship either. I got fined for exceeding the posted speed limit, but I wasn't told I couldn't drive my car anymore in a reasonable way. Here's where Stern comes in. If he conducts his show in a reasonable way, the FCC, etc. will leave him alone. But he doesn't WANT that. He WANTS a fight.
So the players are in the ring now. I hope Stern gets his ignorant unfunny hiney booted.
Here's a little story from the Wash Post about this mess, you can get some of Stern's point of view from this:
March 6, 2004 -- An anxious Howard Stern yesterday said the FCC is on the verge of pulling the plug on his controversial radio career and predicted it would issue a blitz of new indecency fines aimed at dethroning him as the "King of All Media."
In a rant that took up nearly half of Stern's four-hour show, the raunchy radio host launched a verbal assault on President Bush, the Republican Party and the religious right for conspiring to control the airwaves and dictate what America should listen to.
"My days are over," Stern told his early-morning listeners. "I've become too much of a symbol of a country out of control to the religious right. That's why I'm saying my goodbyes now.
"I'm about to be served up my head on a platter because all I wanted to do was make people laugh," Stern said.
He urged listeners not to support Bush in the presidential election. "Vote this maniac out of office," he said. Stern told listeners he can go to unregulated satellite radio if he's kicked off conventional radio - but that may not be as easy as it sounds.
I've never been Rush's biggest fan. I listen a lot, his program's certainly entertaining, and sometimes even educational. But now, with all this crap going on with him and the State Att's trying to put him away, I am now in total support of him. This investigation into his legitimate search for relief is completely politically motivatied. Rush has been signled out for prosecution (persicution). For a little context of the Florida legal system concerning pain medication, i offer this story from the Palm Beach Post.
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has said prosecutors, specifically State Attorney Barry Krischer, a Democrat, have set out on a "fishing expedition" against him.
On Friday, Limbaugh, who is being investigated for illegal "doctor-shopping," offered up new evidence of unfair treatment.
On his syndicated talk show and on his Web site, he referred to the case of a Palm Beach County judge removed from the bench last year after it became public he was addicted to OxyContin.
County Judge Robert Schwartz was forced off the bench in February 2003, after a year of being unable to function partly because of his addiction. Schwartz was never investigated criminally, though -- an unfair double standard, Limbaugh's camp said.
"After admitting an eight-year addiction, Judge Schwartz entered treatment voluntarily and was praised by the community, not investigated and never prosecuted by the Palm Beach State Attorney's Office," Roy Black, Limbaugh's attorney, said in a statement Friday.
"This was sensitive and appropriate for someone facing such a difficult personal challenge. All we're asking is that Rush Limbaugh be treated the same."
Chief Judge Edward Fine said Friday that judicial commission members investigated Schwartz's situation, consulted with doctors, and that no allegation of anything criminal ever came to light, so there was no criminal investigation.
Schwartz was being treated by a West Palm Beach psychiatrist, Dr. George Kubski. Kubski had been charged with manslaughter in the drug toxicity death of a patient for whom he prescribed more than 20,000 pills in less than a year. If anything, Schwartz should be viewed as a victim of a criminal doctor, not a person who should be investigated, said his brother, Bill Schwartz.
"He was the victim of an unscrupulous physician who is now serving time for manslaughter as a result of what he did to another victim of chronic pain," Bill Schwartz said. "There was never any reason at all to open a criminal investigation on him. To do that would be a fool's errand."
Saturday, March 06, 2004
GI Denied Health Care After Speaking Out
Grand jury to review call logs from Bush’s (Air Force One) jet in probe of how a CIA agent’s cover was blown.
Democrats' Files Accessed and Leaked In Security Breach
Blair's defence is bogus, says the former UN weapons inspector:
From Blix:"I don't buy the argument the war was legalised by the Iraqi violation of earlier resolutions."
Interesting stuff, no? I shall return
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Of course, you and I both know that Kerry won because he was chosen by The Powers. However, if you'd like a less cynical (read: less realistic :) ) view of why Kerry won, here's a well written article by uberlefty Scott Galindez from uberleft site Truthout.org. I just read it for the articles...
Why John Kerry is Winning
By Scott Galindez
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Thursday 04 March 2004
Supporters of Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean are not going to be happy with what I am about to say.
Two years ago, I attended Dennis Kucinich's "Prayer for America" speech, and was inspired. I was a believer, and still believe in the goals of the Kucinich campaign.
Late last year, I attended a meeting titled "From Mouse pads to Shoe Leather" sponsored by the Dean Campaign. A straight talking campaign manager named Joe Trippi convinced me that Howard Dean had the best chance to beat George Bush. The enthusiasm of the Deaniacs was very exciting, and inspiring. Dean had the right message, but was the wrong messenger. He tapped into the anger that Democratic Party activists had at George Bush, but did not convince rank and file Democrats that he was the candidate who could beat Bush.
While activists want a President who is going to shake things up, most voters are looking for a levelheaded candidate, someone they count on to lead the country through crisis. A candidate who makes them feel safe.
Most people had written the Kerry Campaign off, but the experienced staff did not panic. They knew that most voters had not made up their minds; they knew that most voters were looking for a candidate who could A- Beat Bush and B-make them feel secure that the country would be in steady hands.
John Edwards and John Kerry stayed on message, while Howard Dean made too many mistakes at the wrong times. Activists forgave Dean's blunders, but the rank and file voters didn't see the qualities they were looking for in a President. They agreed with his message, but many worried that he was a loose cannon.
Kucinich stayed on message, but did not have the organization necessary to get that message out. Most Kucinich supporters blame the media, but Howard Dean was unknown and created a story that they could not ignore.
I wish the media did some things differently, but John Kerry should not be blamed for the media overplaying the scream speech, or for not covering Kucinich and Sharpton enough. Media reform is an issue that must be pursued, but punishing the person who benefited is not fair.
Many activists agreed with Dean and Kucinich on the issues, but let's face it, most Americans don't vote on the issues the way activists do. Politics is a popularity contest; most voters vote based on image. John Edwards and John Kerry appealed to rank and file voters and the others didn't. In December, activists were focused on the campaign and they went for Dean, although the real front runner was "undecided". When January rolled around and rank and file voters tuned in, they voted for Kerry and Edwards.
I was in Iowa, and attended rallies for all the candidates. Gephardt's rallies were dominated by labor. Dean's events were full of Deaniacs from out of state wearing the orange hats. Kerry and Edwards rallies looked more diverse. They stuck to their message, and they won over the undecided. Another factor was the TV advertisements. John Kerry and John Edwards defined themselves in the Ads, while Dean and Gephardt destroyed each other with attack Ads. Kucinich ran an ad that slowly zoomed in on his face, saying something about the eyes you can trust. It was not the kind of Ad that gave you the impression that this is the guy I want to be President. The media cannot be blamed for that flawed strategy.
The bottom line is that John Kerry is winning because he is running the best campaign. In November, either John Kerry or George Bush will win the election. Like it or not, that is the choice we face.
Small editorial of this to come.