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You Decide in 2004: Kerry or Scary?

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Terror and Liberalism

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria


Polyarchy by Robert Dahl

The Nazi Seizure of Power

The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen

Terror and Liberalism

Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman

In Association with

The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck



Who Will Be Kerry's VP?

After seeing the latest numbers for the upcoming primaries and caucuses I think we can safely call this one. Zogby has Kerry pulling in 47% in Michigan with Dean and Edwards struggling to break into double digits. (Note: Zogby has been incredibly accurate in this election cycle compared to some of the other polling organizations.)

Survey USA shows Kerry edging out Clark and Edwards in Tennessee (something both of them will need in order to go on) and Kerry is sitting pretty in California, Ohio and Georgia (!), three states that will play important rolls on March 2nd.

Kerry will be the nominee. It's settled. So now, what about a vice president? Who should Kerry pick? Should he pick someone from the south to give the ticket geographic balance? Should he pick someone with military experience to give the ticket as much bang for its buck as possible? What is best for Kerry? What would be best for beating Bush?

A lot of people make the geographic argument when a candidate is looking for a running mate. It seems logical that a northerner would pick a southerner or a blue state candidate would pair up with a red state sidekick. But when was the last time this happened? Bush picked Cheney (rather, Cheney picked himself) - not the most exciting number two. Cheney brought nothing to the table: he was nominally from Wyoming - the state Bush/Cheney won by the largest margin of any state in 2000. He was a fellow oil cowboy, though Cheney was way creepier at it. Why choose someone so similar?

In 1992 Clinton did the same thing. He chose Al Gore - a fellow southerner and an ideological brother. True, Democrats had begun losing the south and another southerner would add that much more to their potential for success there, but I doubt this was really the reasoning.

Instead, recent candidates have chosen those who are their ideological twins. Presidents want their vice presidents to be an advisor and friend, not their competition taken out of commission with a glorified internship breaking ties in the Senate. Kennedy did this with Johnson in 1960 so he wouldn't have to deal with Johnson messing with his agenda as Majority Leader. Recent presidents though have sought a companion, not a conflict.

It's hard to tell who John Kerry would choose, but here are a few options in no particular order:

Max Cleland:
The former Georgia senator would be a solid choice for Kerry if he wanted a veteran heavy ticket. Cleland is a triple amputee and has a firey personality that would throw Cheney off balance in a debate. Rove and company ambushed Cleland in 2002 by having Saxby Chambliss (could he have a more elitist name?) call Cleland unpatriotic and compare him to bin Laden. Yeah, that's right: Chambliss, who got out of Vietnam service under questionable circumstances, called Cleland, a man who left three of his limbs in southeast asia, unpatriotic. To say Cleland is a bit unhappy about this would be a vast understatement. He would love to get revenge on Rove and his hit machine. Cleland has been actively campaigning for Kerry and
Cleland would gladly fill the pit bull attack position so Kerry could remain above the fray.

Bob Graham:
The retiring Florida senator is one the most qualified of the lot. He has been a chief executive as Florida governor and is quite popular in the state. Would he be enough to carry Florida for Kerry? That could be tough. It would be a major coup for Kerry if he could since Florida is now three electoral votes richer than it was in 2000 due to census changes. Graham's presidential campaign was a classic case of every-senator-looks-in-the-mirror-and-sees-the-next-president syndrome and it was clear that he wasn't destined to win the White House. One thing is for sure: his minute by minute notebooks of his every movement of his life would be even more boring than they are now if he was vice president. Hard to imagine, but true.

Dick Gephardt:
The word tonight is that Gephardt, who dropped out of the presidential race after his poor showing in Iowa, is endorsing front-runner Kerry. I would have thought that ideologically Gephardt would have thrown his support to Edwards, but at this point that would be just another loss for Gep. The soon-to-be former Missouri congressman would give Kerry a solid chance at picking up some industrial midwest states that will be battlegrounds this election. It's because of this that I supported Gephardt in the first place. Adding Gephardt to the ticket wouldn't be bold or exciting, but it could ultimately be a good choice. In 2004, will voters be looking for flare or stability in leadership? Unlike in 2000, this time I think a steady hand will prevail. Gephardt would provide just that and give Kerry some midwest appeal.

John Edwards:
The North Carolina Senator is the presumed front-runner for the vice presidential slot. He has shown he has what it takes to win (in South Carolina) and he is everything that John Kerry is not. He looks young. He's from the south. He's a plebeian to Kerry's patrician elitism. He's got no record that could be twisted by the opposition. He makes people think of Bill Clinton. In sum, he's the anti-Kerry. Would this combo work? Would they be a good policy-making team? I think it could work and Edwards would be the perfect candidate for 2012, assuming Kerry could win reelection. I doubt he could bring North Carolina to the Democratic column, though his positive attitude could play well in closer southern states like Virginia, Arkansas and Louisiana. If Kerry doesn't pick Edwards it would result in a surrender of yet another southern Senate seat but with no potential for Edwards being of use.

Evan Bayh:
I like the Indiana senator a lot. He's a typical DLC senator and would shore up Kerry's wishy-washy Iraq position and would bring a refreshing young face - but one with experience - to the ticket. He served two terms as governor of Indiana so he knows what its like being in the driver's seat. But I have my misgivings about Bayh. He is a popular Democrat in a very Republican state, therefore if he were to give up his seat a Republican would appoint his successor and no doubt the seat would go to a Republican in the next cycle. I would like to see Bayh run for president some day. He has the qualifications and would appeal to a nice cross section of America. His abilities and his position shouldn't be wasted to install him in the boringest job in the world. (UPDATE: sketchy reports suggest that early polling by the Kerry campaign indicated that a Kerry/Bayh ticket would deliver Indiana to the Democrats. That would be huge. That's a whole new ballgame.)

Bill Richardson:
The New Mexico governor has been talked about quite a lot. He would be the first hispanic person on a major presidential ticket and New Mexico's (and Arizona's?) electoral votes will be key to any win for Kerry. He has an impressive resume that includes U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and Secretary of Energy during the Clinton administration. He also served in Congress for 15 years and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize four times. He would be a great choice and would bring a lot to the table for Kerry. It would be a solid ticket.

Wes Clark:
The former NATO allied supreme commander would fulfill the same role that Cleland would with his veteran status, but he lacks the political experience to really bring much to the ticket that Kerry doesn't already have. For almost any other candidate Clark would be a great vice president, but Kerry wouldn't gain anything from a Kerry/Clark ticket.

Bob Kerrey:
The former Nebraska senator would be another solid DLC choice much like Bayh and would bring a solid veteran flavor to the ticket as well. He was solidly in support of the war in Iraq and would be able to neutralize Bush/Cheney on national security that much more and would be able to help carry states like Iowa and Missouri, though probably not his own home state. His involvement in a possible war crime in Vietnam could preclude his selection on the ticket, though I still think he would be a good midwest companion for Kerry. Oh, and a Kerry/Kerrey ticket would be hilarious.

Joseph Biden:
The Deleware senator is a big national security buff and looks quite presidential. On a lot of things though he would appear to be a Kerry twin - not that that would be historically counter to recent VP choices. He thought about running in the primary this year but ultimately decided against it. Probably a good decision. He would probably be better suited in the Senate anyway.

John Lewis:
The Georgia congressman would really shake things up. He would be the first African-American on a major party presidential ticket and no doubt would get African-American turnout through the roof. In the 1960's he was a leading civil rights activist with Martin Luther King Jr. and is highly respected in the Congressional Black Caucus. His district encompasses all of Atlanta and theoretically could bring Georgia back to the Democrats for the first time since 1992. A Kerry/Lewis ticket would be bold and unexpected, yet solid and dependable.

Gary Locke:
I don't know much about the Washington governor, but he seemed like an up-and-comer when he gave the Democratic response to the 2003 State of the Union. He is Chinese-American and is from a state that was tight in 2000. He is the son of immigrants and would provide a rags-to-riches tale to counter Kerry's privilaged upbringing. This might not be his time, but sometime in the future it will be.

Hillary Clinton:
Man, would Republican ever eat this up. Conservative columnists can't stop talking about how Hillary still might jump into the Demcratic race and mix everything up. They really are scared to death of her. Why, I'm not sure. But let me say it right now: it isn't going to happen. Hillary will never be a number two. She's destined to run in 2008 if things don't work out for Kerry or in 2012 if they do. Either way Hillary is her own woman and isn't going to be anywhere near the 2004 race. Sorry Bill Safire.

OK, that should do it. I can't really imagine many other possible candidates. Kerry has a lot of options and has the potential to be really bold with someone like Lewis or really unimaginative with someone like Biden. Only time will tell.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 8:57:00 PM

Thursday, February 05, 2004  


Analyzing February 3rd

Clear John Kerry was the big winner for the day. He won five of the seven contests and won the two largest delegate prizes, Missouri and Arizona, with solid wins. I'm not at all enthused about a Kerry nomination so I'm naturally pulling for a John Edwards breakout. He also came away from the night as a winner. He won comfortably in South Carolina and beat expectations in Oklahoma where he nearly stole one from Wes Clark. Clark had a decent evening as well with some second place finishes. Dean seems done, but he doesn't know it yet.

John Kerry:
He seems quite destined to win this thing. Sigh. I worry about his 20 year legislative history (something that is always trouble since law-making is bound to produce some compromises that come back to haunt a candidate) and I worry about his ability to win the states that a Democrat will need to win in order to beat Bush. Kerry is a politician's politician - he looks the part and does nothing but talk the part. He hasn't heard a cliche he wouldn't repeat. If there was ever a politican who I thought would encompass the "say anything to get a vote" persona, its John Kerry. Oh, and did I mention he was in Vietnam? In case you hadn't heard...

Yet he's going to win. I'm not looking forward to it, but he's got the game and he's seemingly the only one who's campaign isn't running on fumes. As we move onto the next set of contests, Kerry already has more than twice as many pledged delegates as his closest competitor, Edwards.

Kerry: 162
Edwards: 80
Clark: 48
Dean: 27
(2,161 needed for a majority)

We're only 10% of the way through the process, but as we all know, momentum is the whole story once the delegates start rolling. Kerry will compete in Michigan (128 delegates) and will probably win it with Dean and Edwards making minimal gains. Washington (76) will be a similar case though with far less Edwards seeing as he's not even trying there. Maine (24) could be a bit closer for Dean, though if things are rolling for Kerry Dean's effort will still prove futile.

Supposedly Kerry should be well positioned to cash in in these three states and it will provide a big bump for him going into Tuesday's test cases of Tennessee (69) and Virginia (82). Kerry really is lucky that Michigan, Washington and Maine come before the two border states. In the three weekend contests Kerry's only competition will be Dean and we've all seen how fickle Dean's supporters get when they actually have to go vote for the guy. With three wins on top of his seven already in the bank Kerry will roll into Tennessee and Virginia ready to finish off the competition, Edwards and Clark. If he can beat them there (and early numbers look like it will be close) this thing is over. Kerry wins. We can all go home and be depressed.

John Edwards:
The momentum is with him, but he is going to need more than a win here and a win there to derail the Kerry train. The press loved his South Carolina win and really wants this to be a Kerry-Edwards race before it turns into a Kerry-Edwards ticket. It's up to Edwards to win Tennessee and Virginia solidly and to make a decent showing in Michigan. If he is able to do that he will indeed make it a two candidate race. He will still be plagued by the "regional candidate" label but he will also deprive Kerry of a southern state win - something that will allow Edwards to turn the label around on the front-runner.

Wes Clark:
Clark will need a plan much like the one Edwards will need to implement. He will need to win both Tennessee and Virginia in order to knock Edwards out and make himself the "other" candidate to Kerry. A showing in Michigan wouldn't hurt either. I think Clark is in the weaker position of the two since Edwards is the media darling right now and the media would love to narrow the field as soon as possible.

Howard Dean:
I almost considered not listing him on this list since he's almost certainly finished. He will need to impress people with at least two of three this weekend. Of course the larger two, Washington and Michigan would be ideal, but to the media any two would suffice to get him back in the heat of things. Two wins there, however unlikely, would put him in nice position going into the Wisconsin (72) primary on February 17 which he is banking his campaign on.

It looks like Kerry will be hard to beat as February goes on. Wins in favorable northern states will give him all the more momentum against his credible southern challengers, possibly enough to finish them off. Meanwhile, cleaning house in those three northern states will finish off Dean despite what he says about a last stand in Wisconsin. Therefore, we could see Kerry annointed by February 10 when Edwards and Clark will have to prove themselves in Virginia and Tennessee or else call it quits and hope for a spot on the bottom half of the ticket.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 11:39:00 PM

Wednesday, February 04, 2004  


America Speaks

Say what you will about the electoral college being more important, if John Kerry is able to win 53% of the popular vote Bush is going to be very hard pressed to win the election without some tomfoolery.

The latest poll numbers for a seemingly likely Kerry-Bush showdown:

Quinnipiac University Poll
Kerry 51
Bush 43

CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll
Kerry 53
Bush 46

I can't wait.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 9:25:00 PM

Monday, February 02, 2004  


History Lesson

An interesting first hand account about Nazi Germany:

'I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber,' he said. 'The parents, son and and a daughter. The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing.'

Hyuk has drawn detailed diagrams of the gas chamber he saw. He said: 'The glass chamber is sealed airtight. It is 3.5 metres wide, 3m long and 2.2m high_ [There] is the injection tube going through the unit. Normally, a family sticks together and individual prisoners stand separately around the corners. Scientists observe the entire process from above, through the glass.'

Wait, no. That isn't about Germany in 1944. It's about North Korea - today. We have a second halocaust on our hands yet we have done little to stop it. I guess some things never change.

We need an aggressive policy for North Korea as soon as we possibly can commit resources to that growing problem and we need to twist some diplomatic arm in the meantime to get China and Russia to put some heavy pressure on the North Korean regime to make itself transparent. Immediately. We can't stand by and watch millions die at the hands of a dictatorial regime again.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 6:52:00 PM


The Real Threat

Read Friedman today:

"It should be clear to all by now that what we have in the Bush team is a faith-based administration. It launched a faith-based war in Iraq, on the basis of faith-based intelligence, with a faith-based plan for Iraqi reconstruction, supported by faith-based tax cuts to generate faith-based revenues. This group believes that what matters in politics and economics are conviction and will — not facts, social science or history."

It's time for facts.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 6:11:00 PM