Politics as poker. The Democratic leadership could take a lesson from David Mamet...
Excerpts from an op ed piece the playwright wrote for the L.A. Times:
One needs to know but three words to play poker: call, raise or fold.
Fold means keep the money, I'm out of the hand; call means to match your opponents' bet. That leaves raise, which is the only way to win at poker. The raiser puts his opponent on the defensive, seizing the initiative. Initiative is only important if one wants to win.
The Republicans, like the perpetual raiser at the poker table, became increasingly bold as the Democrats signaled their absolute reluctance to seize the initiative.
Control of the initiative is control of the battle. In the alley, at the poker table or in politics. One must raise. The American public chose Bush over Kerry in 2004. How, the undecided electorate rightly wondered, could one believe that Kerry would stand up for America when he could not stand up to Bush? A possible response to the Swift boat veterans would have been: "I served. He didn't. I didn't bring up the subject, but, if all George Bush has to show for his time in the Guard is a scrap of paper with some doodling on it, I say the man was a deserter."
This would have been a raise. Here the initiative has been seized, and the opponent must now fume and bluster and scream unfair. In combat, in politics, in poker, there is no certainty; there is only likelihood, and the likelihood is that aggression will prevail.
One may sit at the poker table all night and never bet and still go home broke, having anted away one's stake.
The Democrats are anteing away their time at the table. They may be bold and risk defeat, or be passive and ensure it.
Perhaps Mr. Mamet could expand on this at the 2006 Yearly Kos convention in Vegas next year??
Cheers and Jeers bets the farm with a pair `o deuces in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
Note: A personal message to the "Intelligent Designer": Who designed you, Smartypants?
By the Numbers:
Days `til Ramadan: 11
Days `til Rosh Hashanah: 11
Days `til the 2005 Fryeburg Fair: 10
Number of "earmarked" (i.e. pork barrel) projects in the 1982 highway bill: 10
Number of porky projects in the 2005 highway bill: 6371
(Source: Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek)
Number of spending bills President Bush has vetoed in 5 years: 0
Chance that Bush has started drinking again ("He poured himself a Texas-sized shot of straight whiskey and tossed it back"), based on yesterday's story in The National Enquirer: 80%
CHEERS to Autumn---Day 1. The air is crisp. The flannel shirts are out. The leaves are changing. And New England feels unabashedly old-fashioned this time of year. Summer may get all the publicity...but fall is the real deal. Tonight: Chowder.
JEERS to Autumn---Day 1. Two words: Hurricane Rita. Thanks for ruining the moment.
CHEERS to hoofin' it. Energy experts say that $5-per-gallon gas prices are on the way, thanks to hurricane Rita. It will encourage bicycle use, walking, carpooling, and mass transit use. And I want to make a prediction right here, right now: buggy whips are making a comeback. Call your broker.
CHEERS to 139 happy endings. Jet Blue flight 292 en route from Burbank to New York had to turn around for an emergency landing in L.A. last night after a landing-gear malfunction turned the nose wheels sideways. I don't know who was happier...the dexterous pilots who "split the white line" or the 110 emergency personnel who ended up having little to do but applaud. And exhale.
JEERS to fighting insurgents over there so we can't fight hurricanes over here. From USA Today:
Much of the [National] Guard's best communications equipment was being used by troops fighting in Iraq and wasn't available for units helping Gulf Coast states recover from the hurricane, [National Guard Chief Lt. General Steven] Blum said.
Many Guard military police in New Orleans were patrolling with obsolete radios as they sought to restore order, he said. That, combined with a crippled civilian communications network, made it harder for them to communicate. Many also lacked night-vision goggles.
Only 34% of the Guard's equipment is available for use in the USA.
Are you absolutely sure we can't blame Canada for this??
CHEERS or JEERS to what lies ahead. Yesterday president Bush said, "We hope and pray that Hurricane Rita will not be a devastating storm but we got to be ready for the worst." Yeah...the federal response.
CHEERS to stuff that wins you Emmys. As transcribed in Laura D's excellent Daily Show diary yesterday:
Jon Stewart: Well, at the very least, is the government better prepared to deal with Rita then perhaps we were with Katrina?
Rob Corddry: Absolutely Jon. Whatever they're shortcomings in the past, the federal government has learned the lesson of Katrina: start blaming state and local officials now. I've already been assured by FEMA that the mayor and governor will have failed. And this time the president will not be detached. There are already plans to have him helicoptered in to save a baby trapped in raging floodwaters.
Jon: That seems to be taking a bit of a chance, no?
Rob: Nah, they've got 5 babies spread out around the area. Jon, they're confident Bush will get one.
Jon: Who would give their baby to be used in that type of fashion?
Rob: You'd be surprised Jon. The GOP has a classification for that level of donor. They're people who have donated $250,000 and, of course, a baby.
...or was that from a Karl Rove conference call? Hard to tell.
JEERS to your tax dollars not hard at work. (link via Crooks and Liars) Take a look at the plans for a $223 million bridge in Alaska that, when built using funds from the 2004 pork-barrel transportation bill, will be larger than the town it leads to. Tell me this ain't a great country.
CHEERS to billboards we'd like to see. The jokers at Dribbleglass.com take on a certain right-skewing polling firm. Now you know why I never accept a hard-copy of their reports.
JEERS to New George same as the Old George. On September 22, 1760, George III was crowned King of England. USAhistory.info has proof that President Bush is the monarch reincarnated:
"It was a sad day for the British Empire when King George became its political master. He was a man of narrow intellect, and lacked every element of the greatness of statesmanship. `He had a smaller mind,' says the British historian, [Peter] Green, `than any English king before him save James II.' He showered favors on his obsequious followers, while men of independent character whom he could not bend to his will became the objects of his hatred."
Now we know why George the Petulant is dismantling America: revenge for kicking his ass 225 years ago.
CHEERS to panda babies in Tupperware. Wow...even in D.C. they're hunkering down for Rita.
JEERS to returns on your 401k. When President Bush took possession of the keys to the kingdom, the one thing everyone agreed on (c'mon, admit it) was that Wall Street would be very kind to the "CEO president." After all, they were peas in a pod...joined at the hip...in symbiotic harmony, right? Well, let's see how that's going, shall we? Clicketh here for a 5-year Dow Jones snapshot. Everything he touches... Ever-ee-fuckin'-thing.
CHEERS to fighting the fundies. In a month and a half, Maine voters will decide whether or not to repeal the state gay rights law that was passed by both houses and signed by the governor last winter (the Christian wacko on the other side promises that there will be "more twin towers [and] more Hurricane Katrinas" if gays are given protection from discrimination in employment, credit, education and public accommodation). A blog called Believe in Maine is a good resource for tracking the fight. This is the third time we've been through this...let's hope it's the charm.
One Year Ago in C&J: September 22, 2004...
CHEERS to Yankee flip-floppers. Maine's ex-governor, Angus King (an Independent and wicked popular), voted for Bush in 2000. Yesterday he endorsed---strongly---John Kerry. He says the Iraq war is "a real disaster in American foreign policy" and the runaway deficit "verges on being immoral." Then he goes for the jugular: "I think the country is in the most significant danger in my lifetime. I wouldn't be here unless I thought there was a grave threat to the future of the country." Did we mention he's an Independent?
JEERS to misplaced priorities. The Center for Voting and Democracy says that more people are excited about fall foliage than they are about the election (54% to 48%). But more people care about the election than "cold weather." Good. Because if Bush wins again, the weather's going to be the least of our worries. [9/22/05 Update: Okay...I'm an idiot.]
And just one more...
FURTHER WORDS FROM GEORGE. W. BUSH AFTER HE SAID TO FEMA CHIEF MICHAEL BROWN, `BROWNIE, YOU'RE DOING A HECKUVA JOB.'
A qualified guy, I wish I had added.
Your résumé's super, even if it's padded.
We wanted the best to lead FEMA's forces,
And who would know more than a man who
You saw that the storm was more than some
And sent off a memo within four or five hours.
You found out that life in the Dome was not
And only a day after Anderson Cooper.
A heckuva job! You know how to lead `em.
We hope to award you the Medal of Freedom.
Floor's open. What are you cheering and jeering about today?
Today's Shameless Testimonial
"Bill in Portland Maine is a man of integrity. I can only take him at his word that he does not have an ideological agenda."
--Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)