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July 2004 Archive 

July 31, 2004

Floridagate 2004...

After the embarrassment of the 2000 election, Florida's overwhelmingly Republican legislature and its Governor Jeb Bush revamped the voting systems in 15 Florida counties.  Democrats have filed legal actions complaining that the new touch screen systems have no way of being audited or recounted.  

Jeb Bush and his cronies have staunchly defended the new system.  As recently as a week ago, Palm Beach County GOP chairman Sid Dinerstein described the Democrats' push for a paper trail as "a phony issue so when the Democrats lose, they can file suit."

But the Republicans, who are on record as opposing "flip-flops", recently sent out this flier to voters in a contested primary race:

"The liberal Democrats have already begun their attacks and the new electronic voting machines do not have a paper ballot to verify your vote in case of a recount.  Make sure your vote counts, order your absentee ballot today."

www.thedailyrant.us


July 30, 2004
(Happy Anniversary)

Who knew?

Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Max Cleland had me worried that the oratory bar was set so high that Kerry couldn't meet it, couldn't be the rousing success in his convention speech that we wanted him, needed him to be.

I had heard Senator Joe Biden say that Kerry is at his best when his back is to the wall.  I wanted to believe, but...

Wow!  Who knew?  This is the night that Democrats went from being anti-Bush to pro-Kerry.

What is best is the firm impression that Kerry's speech and the entire convention were no fluke - they were the result of meticulous planning and thought.  Will Rogers ("I don't belong to any organized political party, I'm a Democrat.") wouldn't recognize his party.

It is three long months until the election.  There is a lot of work to be done and a lot can happen in the world which may effect the results.  But, tonight, we know we are in the race.

 


Jay Leno:  "Did you all hear former President Clinton's speech Monday night?  It was great. ... You know it made me kind of nostalgic.  It reminded me of a different time when presidents could actually talk."


July 29, 2004

Proud to be a political junkie...
(Thanks to CSPAN, the only place to watch the full roll-call vote with the speeches which are the character of the convention.)


Jay Leno:  "It's now being reported that John Edwards' younger brother, Wesley, turned himself in to the state of Colorado for a warrant relating to a 1993 DUI arrest ... This proves Edwards is presidential. Have you noticed that most presidents have embarrassing brothers? Bill Clinton had Roger Clinton; Jimmy Carter had his brother, Billy Carter. You know the embarrassing brother in the Bush family? George." 

"According to a poll in Time magazine, 53 percent of people say it's time for someone else to be president. The other 47 percent said they were happy with Dick Cheney."


July 28, 2004

The Democratic Convention...

Highlights of the first two nights...

Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Ron Reagan.

Ron Reagan did an excellent job framing the issue on stem cell research.  Don't underestimate this issue in the election.  Bush has taken an extremist position on this issue, one which is not shared by the majority of Americans.  There are a lot of pro-lifers (Orrin Hatch, for one) who understand the distinction between abortion and stem cell research.  We all have hopes that the diseases and injuries which we all fear for ourselves and our children can be cured.  (Check out the 6/13/04 Rant in the archives).
Bill Clinton.  How ironic?  In 1988, Clinton gave his first speech to a national audience as the keynote speaker at the Democratic Convention.  He droned on and on in a speech which made him a national laughing stock.  Clinton learned from the experience (smart people do that) and transformed himself into one of our greatest political orators.  His speech last night was one of his best.

Barack Obama may well be the future, a very bright future, of the Democratic party.  He is intelligent, articulate, personable, and grounded in a political philosophy which reeks of common sense.  It has been suggested to me that this country is not now and will not be, in the foreseeable future, ready to elect a black man with an African name.  I disagree.  Granted that Obama does not have opposition in his race for the U.S. Senate, wait and see the response he gets from the Illinois electorate, not just in Chicago but in the more conservative rural areas and small towns of Illinois.  It doesn't get any more middle America than that.  Like Denzel Washington, Obama is a star who cuts across racial lines. 

Craig Kilborn:  "As the Democrats get revved up at their convention in Boston, President Bush is fighting back the only way he knows how: by going on vacation! Ah, it's nice to take a rest, replenish your supply of smirks. The vacation was expected, because Bush traditionally takes a month off every summer to relax and avoid reading National Security Warnings."

David Letterman:  "While the Democrats are up in Boston, the Republicans are down in Florida tinkering with the voting machines." 


July 27, 2004

"Strength and wisdom are not opposing values."
- Bill Clinton


July 26, 2004

   Awe inspiring.

July 25, 2004

Don't blame Nader...

Many liberals blame Ralph Nader for Gore's loss in 2000.  I blame those voters who voted for Nader because they wanted to make some kind of statement.

This year, let's keep it simple.  If you live in Texas and want to make a statement, go ahead.  Live it up. Vote for Nader.

But if you live in Florida, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, or any other state which looks to be close in the polls, remember that a vote for Nader might just re-elect Bush.


July 24, 2004

 

It's time for the Democratic leadership in Congress to assert themselves...

The Report of the 9/11 Commission is out and despite its urgent call for drastic reform, Bush is mulling it over and Congress, controlled by the Republicans, adjorned today for a six week summer "recess".  While the Democrats cannot convene sessions of Congress on their own or even conduct hearings without the assent of the Republicans, they can force the issue.  If Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi called all the Democratic members of Congress back to Washington to sit in mock sessions, the public pressure on the Republicans to act would be irresistable.

Sadly, it won't happen.  The Democrats, like the Republicans treasure this recess to vacation and cement their relationships with their voters in their states and districts.

Another missed opportunity.


David Letterman:  "They released the 9/11 report today and President Bush wasted no time not reading it." 

Jay Leno:  "The Bush administration announced this week they want to lift the ban on logging. This is part of their No Tree Left Behind program." 


July 23, 2004

Odds and ends...

Why do I think that the leak this week of the investigation into Sandy Berger taking copies of documents from the National Archive is politically motivated?  Is it because the investigation started last October, that Berger had no contact with the Justice Department since April, that shortly before the leak of the story the Justice Department notified White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez about the probe, and that the White House wanted to take some of the focus off the 9/11 Commission report which came out yesterday?  Or am I just a cynic?

The Miami Herald understands what is important.  Shaq coming to the Miami Heat has warranted banner headlines and special supplements to the sports section.  The United Nations report that Miami has more foreign born residents than any other city in the world was reported on the third page of the local section.

Another link to check out (not as good as the Jib Jab link, but worth a few minutes):  Ordering Pizza 

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I recently dined at the original Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in New Orleans.  Wow!  It was the best meal I've ever had at any Ruth's Chris (and almost all have been really good).  There were several unique items on the menu.  One which I've never had before and loved was peas au gratin. 


Craig Kilborn:  "As John Kerry rides John Edwards charisma into the Democratic convention this week, Washington is abuzz that Vice President Cheney might be dropped from the Republican ticket. On the plus side if he doesn't run, Cheney can spend more time ignoring his lesbian daughter."


July 22, 2004


Jay Leno:  "In a speech the other day to the Amish, President Bush said that God speaks through him. That's what he said.  I don't know, do you think God would mispronounce that many words?"

"President Bush said today he is looking into if Iran had anything to do with 9/11, but he's not declaring war yet. He said first he wants to know all the facts -- so apparently he's trying a new strategy."


July 21, 2004


July 20, 2004


July 19, 2004

Miami tops 'foreign-born' cities
Miami has the largest foreign-born population of any city in the world, a United Nations report says.

New York (BBC)  Some 59% of people in the city were not born in the US, the UN Development Programme report said.

The city is home to many Cubans, as well as migrants from the Caribbean and South America.

The report said Canada's Toronto had the second-highest proportion of foreign-born citizens (44%), while Los Angeles was a close third with 41%.

Another two North American cities - Canada's Vancouver (37%) and New York (36%) - made it into the top five, the report said.

Outside North America, the town-state of Singapore scored highest (33%), followed by Australia's Sydney (31%), Abidjan (30%) in Ivory Coast, London (28%) and Paris (23%).

The report said that due to globalisation, numbers of migrants had soared in the last decade, particularly in high-income countries in Europe and North America, and in Australia.

It said some people felt their identity was being threatened by so many foreigners, and it urged the promotion of cultural diversity as the key to development and stability.


July 18, 2004


(Drum roll) Another prediction:

A few days ago, I saw Barack Obama interviewed on MSNBC.  Obama is the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate from Illinois.  My impression of him is that he is one of the most intelligent, articulate, and personable politicians I have heard in a long time.  It is easy to understand why he appears to be the prohibitive favorite to win his election to the Senate.

Obama is 43.  He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in political science and a specialty in international relations. He worked as a community organizer in some of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods, helping church groups create job-training programs, reform area schools, and improve city services.

He went on to Harvard Law School, where he graduated magna cum laude and served as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. After law school, Obama organized one of the largest voter registration drives in Chicago history to help Bill Clinton's election, and worked as a civil rights lawyer on cutting edge voting rights and employment discrimination cases in federal and state courts.

Obama served in the Illinois Senate and was a legislative leader in areas including education, health care, and ethics reform.

My prediction?  Obama will be on the Democratic presidential ticket in 2012, possibly in the top slot.  

Save this Rant to see if I am right.


July 17, 2004


July 16, 2004


July 15, 2004

Check out this link - JibJab - it is a very long download, but very amusing!


Word of the day...LOGORRHEA

Main Entry: logqorqrhea
Variant: or chiefly British logqorqrhoea /"log-&-'rE-&, "lg-/
Function: noun
: pathologically excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness that is characteristic especially of the manic phase of manic-depressive disorders log
qorqrheqic or chiefly British logqorqrhoeqic /-'rE-ik/ adjective

Generally, when one thinks about the victim of physical and mental illnesses, one thinks about the person directly afflicted. There are certain diseases, Alzheimer's for instance, where we realize that the most serious impact is on those indirectly afflicted, the loved ones of the person with the disease. There is another disease (condition) for which the burden is primarily on the loved ones of the afflicted person - Logorrhea.

People with acute logorrhea exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

1.  A low threshold (or no threshold) for finding subjects of interest.  There is nothing too trivial to warrant a comment.

2.  An inability to apply discretion to oral utterances.  They comment on anything and everything seen or heard (or otherwise sensed).

3. An inability to apply thought to speech. This accounts for smart people saying dumb things.

4.  Bad conversation skills because of an inability to listen - one generally can't talk and listen at the same time. This is frequently manifested by interrupting others and finishing their sentences.

5. Asking what would generally be regarded as rhetorical questions and demanding answers.


Once, during a driving trip in England, I was asked what was the hardest part of driving on the right side of the road.  Shifting with my left hand?  Staying on the correct side of the road?  "Neither," I replied.  "The hardest part is shifting my deafness from my right ear to my left ear."


July 14, 2004


Jay Leno:  "Here's something shocking according to the latest issue of Newsweek magazine: The Bush administration officials are reviewing a proposal that would allow for the postponement of the presidential election in the event of a catastrophe. You know, like Kerry winning."

"I love that the Department of Homeland Security always tells Americans if you don't fly commercial airlines, 'the terrorists have won.' If you don't hold the Super Bowl or the World Series, 'the terrorists have won.' If you don't get out to the mall and do your Christmas shopping, 'the terrorists have won.' Comes time for the election, 'Oh, let the terrorists have that one.'" 


July 13, 2004


July 12, 2004


July 11, 2004

Tough time in the Big Easy...

We are in New Orleans for the weekend.  Those of you who have been hanging around the Rant since its inception may remember my discovery of Crabby Jack's in early February.  Well, we headed there yesterday.  I was particularly looking forward to the duck and andouille gumbo.  As I walked to the counter to place my order, one of the chefs stepped out from the kitchen and erased the gumbo from the menu.  I didn't say it out loud but I was thinking like Dick Cheney.

By the way, if anyone has ever told you that it is muggy in New Orleans in the summer, they were right.


July 10, 2004

An actual e-mail exchange yesterday and today...

From a physician friend:  Help me please. Bush is not smart, not a good president. Kerry is OK. Why did he have to choose a running mate that made a fortune suing me and others like me??   Am I wrong to be insulted by this.  Is the Democratic party so controlled by trial Attorneys that they think it is appropriate to insult the whole medical profession??  I will not vote for Bush, I cannot vote for Kerry.

My reply:  Yes, you are wrong (and you know it). I am not aware of any evidence that Edwards ever filed a frivolous lawsuit. I am guessing that when push comes to shove you will vote for Kerry because, in your heart, you are a Democrat. By that I refer to what I think the real difference is between the parties. The Republicans take a narrow view of government - what is best for me, now? Democrats take a broader view - what is better for the society of which I am a part? Democrats support programs like Medicare, Social Security, public education, etc. because they think that the broader society will benefit and, in the end, their lives will also be better. Doctors who only consider their own, immediate interests are thinking like Republicans. 

From the friend's wife:
Rick,
I love you, but I have to say BULLSHIT!!!!! You know better. That is a lot of crap. The majority of malpractice lawsuits are totally frivolous and inappropriate.
As far as the parties go there is very little difference between them these days. They both are self serving and suck. God help us, if this society becomes more litigious!!!  Kerry is okay, not great but certainly better than Bush (actually anybody would qualify under that category) but he made a grievous error with Edward's and I predict and certainly hope it will cost him the election! 
Love,
*****

My reply: 
Where do you get this assertion that the "majority" of malpractice lawsuits are frivolous?

When is the last time the AMA or any physicians group has publicly said, "Let us do our part in resolving the 'malpractice crisis' by cleaning up our own house."?

In order to get the malpractice reform you want, are you willing to have judges who will reverse Roe v. Wade and who would approve putting signs in courtrooms which say "Do what Jesus would do."

And then there are the 800 dead and the thousands maimed for a war based on lies. And the loss of respect around the world, the mushrooming national debt which our children and grandchildren will be paying, the failure to adopt an energy policy which encourages using less fossil fuels, and so on and so on.

Is your view of the world so myopic and egocentric (like a Republican) that you can't get past the malpractice issue?

Despite your protestations, I don't believe it.

Which is why I love you too.

Follow up from me:
Edwards' biggest case as a plaintiff's lawyer involved a little girl who was severely injured in a swimming pool because she was sucked into the drain. Edwards proved that the company which manufactured the drain knew of a number of similar incidents and took no steps to recall or remedy the problem. If it had been your daughter who had been sucked into the swimming pool drain, you would have wanted the best plaintiff's trial lawyer available.

Follow up from the friend's wife:
WHY?? It would not bring her back.

Follow up from me:
Why? To compensate in the only way possible. To punish. To keep the same thing from happening to other children.

I am not saying that there are not abuses in the plaintiff's bar. Unlike the medical profession, the legal profession is relatively open about its problems and disbars lawyers.  However, without the plaintiff's bar, we would not have seatbelts or airbags in cars, children's toys would not be tested for safety, there would still be lead in the paint we use in our homes, and the medical profession would have even less incentive not to be careless with patients.

I don't understand why doctors think that they are the only group in our society which deserves to be protected from compensating for the injuries they cause.


July 9, 2004


Jay Leno:  "This Edwards guy, he's going to be trouble for the Bush-Cheney ticket. He's charismatic, and that's going to hurt Cheney. And he can speak, and that's going to hurt Bush." 

George W. Bush:  "I have no ambition whatsoever to use [the war on terror] as a political issue." 1/24/02


July 8, 2004


July 7, 2004

 

Time to own up...

Yesterday, I recapped the history of my prognostication about Kerry's selection of a running mate.  Initially I predicted Bob Graham and then ended up with Wesley Clark.

Apparently I'm no better at this than I am at predicting football games - which is why I don't put money on either.

There are pros and cons about Edwards as there were for each of the other VP contenders.  But what is important is that Edwards proved himself in the primaries to be an electrifying campaigner.  

And the really important issue is that Kerry - Edwards is the only alternative to four more years of Bush - Cheney.

Time to step up...


July 6, 2004

Kerry to announce VP?

The media predicts that John Kerry will announce his running mate this morning.  Lately, the speculation has centered around North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt, and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.  Speculation is the operative word.  Paul Begala, a longtime Democratic advisor, who was instrumental in Clinton's selection of Al Gore, says that he has never seen a VP selection process played closer to the vest.  Because of that, Begala believes that all of the prognosticators are just guessing.

I, too, have a guess.  But first, in the interest of full disclosure, let me republish the very first Rant:

January 14, 2004

For almost a year, I have been predicting that Florida Senator Bob Graham will be the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee.  (I am not the first or only person to make this prediction.)

Graham did not have the charisma to contend in the race for the Presidential nomination.  However, he is well-qualified to be the second person on the ticket.  Graham was a popular two-term governor of Florida before his present position as a three-term Senator.  When the Democrats had a majority in the Senate, Graham chaired the Select Committee on Intelligence.

More importantly, Graham is still very well-liked in Florida and, absent a meltdown of the Democratic ticket, would deliver Florida and its important 25 electoral votes.

Remember, you heard it here first (maybe).

I still will not be surprised if Graham is the choice.  Only California, New York, and Texas have more electoral votes than Florida.  If Graham can deliver Florida, that is a lot of electoral votes for Bush to make up elsewhere.

But, since January, Iraq has moved ahead of the economy as the preeminent issue in the election.  There is nobody who would be more effective and credible criticizing the administration's Iraq policy and addressing veteran's issues than Wesley Clark.  Also, there is the contrast of two genuine military heroes, Kerry and Clark, running against Bush and Cheney, two dudes who have never come close to serving under fire.

So, my final prediction (guess) is Wesley Clark.

KERRY - CLARK  2004


July 5, 2004


July 4, 2004


July 3, 2004

Marlon Brando...

When we lose an artistic legend, it is a time to reflect on his or her contribution to our culture.

Listening this evening to some of the tributes to Marlon Brando, it is clear that he was a troubled man.  But it is equally clear that he provided us with some of the greatest acting ever put on film.  Moreover, many of the finest actors of the past four decades credit Brando with liberating actors to act.

In the upcoming weeks and months, there will be many opportunities to view some of these great films on TV as the cable movie channels honor his legacy.  I know I look forward to again seeing On The Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, and The Young Lions.  I suggest that you also take the opportunity to appreciate the artist.

 


July 2, 2004

Another fine evening of jazz...

We enjoyed a wonderful concert last evening with jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton.  She sings a lot of standards, many with her own stylistic twists.  At times she scats like Ella, she frequently lets her voice mimic an instrument like Cleo, and, when she sings straight, she reminded me of Barbra.  

In between the songs, Sutton really connects with the audience and shares her love for the genre.  She is especially a devotee of Frank Sinatra and her most recent album is comprised of songs recorded by Sinatra.  You can't help but share her respect for the artists and songwriters who provide her inspiration.


David Letterman:  "Dick Cheney was at the ball game last night. During the 7th inning they showed him on the jumbotron at Yankee Stadium and everyone started booing him. You know Dick Cheney has a temper. He went a little crazy and went around the stadium and grabbed everyone that booed him and then he ran them all around naked on a leash."

"Interrogators say that Saddam is arrogant. He's defiant. He thinks he's still popular and that people love him and he thinks he's still president no, wait that's Bush."

Craig Kilborn:  "This was nice, President Bush wished the Iraqis God's grace on their road to democracy. And then Vice President Cheney told them to go F-themselves."

"George Bush handed over power to the Iraqis. Then they asked Bush where he's going now and he said, 'I'm invading Disneyland.'"


July 1, 2004

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