HALLOWEEN + LABORED DAY EDITIONS (link) - Contents: Oct 25,99 - Starr Doesn't Die, But Slowly Fades Away- New IC/ For the Love of the Game/ Burning Bush/ Blacks Need not Apply/Send out the Clowns/ More Illegal Drugs;
JULY + JUNE Newsletters- More Links at Bottom


Some bizarre polls have Clinton with both a 64% approval in doing his job, 47% approval opinion, and only 31% personal approval. Aren't #2 and 3 the same? It's probably a good thing for the republic that the electorate can now divorce the job and private person of a candidate, rather than subject them to absurd, hypocritical Puritanical standards of behavior, and all the brutal political strategies that entails. In a more heartening poll: GORE HAS ALMOST PULLED EVEN WITH BUSH!!! 44 to 47%, if Buchanan is figured in as a Reform candidate, they're RUNNING EVEN at 43%. Bush has no lock, no right of primogeniture, and no pre-ordination. The Presidency isn't hereditary (unless of course you're a Roosevelt or Kennedy), and things "are the best they've ever been"... for now.


If there's any correspondence between Gore's surprisingly overwhelming win + Bush's obvious one, it's that money + organizational backing are crucial (though they say Bradley outspent Gore). I thought Bradley would be overshadowed earlier, but in listening to C-Span the night of caucuses, was very impressed with his sincerity, decency, and smarts; and quite surprised he was so blown out. His mistake, as Hart's against Mondale in '84, was to try to avoid a fight, to think he could only talk policy and issues and not react to Gore's attacks + challenges. "Where's the Beef", indeed. On the Repub side, was shocked by Forbes' high number- I still think the guy's an idiot ("wing-nut publisher" according to an MSNBC caller), but my mother said he was impressive in a radio program; and although half out of her mind, my mother did have the political smarts to charm the Gestapo bastard sent to investigate her for saying for being a 'Russian' agent (because she said "Good Morning" instead of "Heil Hitler" to a bitch landlady). Being beautiful + a war widow didn't hurt, but she had a 2 way military radio from her Army brother in her room (for BBC) that would've probably spelled a death sentence, had the guy searched. I suppose Forbes deserves something for his $20-30 million.

Caucus's are strange beasts, both the most pure and elemental representation of democracy at work, as when I managed one in Wash St. for the most Democratic district in Seattle.. for (that bum) Dukakis; and absolutely unrepresentative tiny samples subject to hijacking by committed fringe elements, as the anti-abortion people did to the Repub caucuses in Iowa. Iowa is a solidly liberal place with the highest literacy rate in the country- probably only 30-40% of the Repubs are anti-abortion, but that's the only audience the Repub pretenders were playing to, who had the best Right to Prohibition "credentials". It is the definition of community democracy, as citizens + neighbors ask questions of the candidates and each other. But, if you can get 50 of your friends to come, you can take the thing over and everyone else becomes irrelevant. That's what the Christian right has done to the Repubs in almost every state that still has a caucus + why they're so insidious- they're after total control and will stop at little to get it.

In our caucus, which was one the first + last times Wash St. HAD a caucus, we kept waiting for the person who would run it- then it turned out, as leader of the largest faction- Dukakis- I was the leader! ["SO, it is agreed.. I am ze leader." "I think it's VERY important that you be the leader, Franz"- Clint Eastwood to arrogant German mountain climber in "The Eiger Sanction."] There were 3 delegates being chosen, representing some thousands of people in the district- from the constitution of the room, 2 of them would've been committed to Jesse Jackson, who at the time was making much more sense than anyone else. I was able by calm persuasion + a healthy dollop of respect, to swing enough people to make it 2:1 for TB Dukakis, an effective proportional swing in a primary of 1000-3000 votes (assuming people really voted). This is about what MY vote should be worth. Later, we watched TB immolate himself on national TV at the Dukakis headquarters with the Mayor + Gov. by proving he was, in fact, an android , by his nonreaction to "his wife being raped and murdered". It was a sharp shot to the solar plexus, and the audience gasped sickly, witnessing TB's chances evaporate in 5 seconds, and GB1's election assured.

As, for the Repubs, with more money than God, Bush did poorly, at least compared to Big Al. In a press conference I saw; he slimely scuttled away from one question after another till an exasperated reporter, said "Well, when ARE you going to answer this question? When IS a good time.?" With his distinctly right-wing leanings and Texas background (where they've turned some high schools into prison camps in reaction to Colombine), Bush is the worst person in the world to be President in this new Millennium, when privacy issues will become paramount and could spell the effective end of some of our rights. Gore, at least, is on the right side of this issue. How can they continually pander to the anti-abortion right without losing the pro-choice 60% of Repub voters? I for one will miss having Oral Hatch to kick around anymore, although he was actually somewhat personable in his pull-out speech, relieved at shedding his dour dead-end political persona.


At the start of my TV career, we went on a gonzo blinding 3-4 day without sleep odyssey to Des Moines to cover the Iowa caucus- 400 miles on ice slick roads with my Samoan cameraman Daryl, and managed, with dogged persistence + skill, to capture all the candidates on tape answering my questions (except McGovern). Even Reagan came to town + was feted royally. Iowans like to give you wrong directions; you see them in the mirror snickering as you leave. Half hour later you realize why. I put all the footage together in an 8 hour documentary series hat I edited, aired, and to this day, never viewed. Seeing the standups at the Des Moines Capital brought it all back. Later I followed the Hart campaign to DC, an unstoppable juggernaut that came within an inch of knocking Mondale out of the race (on super Tuesday Hart won 7 out of 9 contests- if Mondale had lost Georgia-which he took by 2-3 points- he was going to withdraw- which as things turned out- would've been better for everyone. The media somehow turned Super Tuesday into a Hart loss because he didn't win every race). He did what Bradley did- try not to fight and not react to negative attacks. In modern campaigning, one needs to react to image problems, write and produce a commercial, and have it on the air in 2-3 days; or it can all slip away in 1-2 weeks; which is what happened to Hart. In '87, he got blown out of the race (at the time a massive front runner) by the Donna Rice scandal, doing what Billy Boy made commonplace. Now, Rice is an anti-pornography activist, her girlfriend that peddled the pictures to Nat Inquirer worked for the Repub Nat committee, Rice seemed the most calculating schemer I've ever seen in an interview then... so the whole thing may have been a SETUP, which is why the Repubs were so confident they could drive out Clinton with Monica, et. al..

UPDATE: Jan 20 Apparently Bradley's advisors have come to the same conclusions and he's decided to take off the gloves, but there's little to hit- their positions are really so close, the public's aware that it's all just politics. Bradley's primary liability is that he's too non-political: too soft-spoken, low key, and reticent- you don't see a fire in the belly and he really doesn't love the (brutal, inane) process. Then too, Big Al has 8 years of Vice Presidential chits to call in and a wealth of experience in dealing with foreign + domestic leaders. Bradley's efforts got a big boost with a very favorable Nightline where Koppel got down with him and had maybe the most informal conversation he's ever done- it's obvious he's a fan. Bradley swore to continue, come hell or high water; but if he loses badly in NH- that will be progressively harder. The difference between a basketball season + a political campaign is that if you fight like a banshee till the last game, you damage the eventual candidate enough that he loses against the REAL opposition. The stupid China + Buddhist fund raising attacks are just giving ammunition to the Repubs, who with all their rich donors have committed double the finance abuse.The Repubs have acknowledged this + muted criticism of GB2 with the knowledge + respect that he will, in fact, be their black knight.

COME TOGETHER RIGHT NOW (because soon I'll be gone)

Bill Clinton's final State of the Sated State address was another masterpiece of political back-scratching and feel good psychology, the first relaxed one in 5-6 years, tinted with the reflective hues of nostalgia- something for everyone and your chicks for free (well, maybe not ever). One year there was the Government shut-down, the black hole diversion of the OJ trial, there was the Monica Meltdown, then there was the bizarre spectacle of Bill trying to be President to the stony faced Repubs who were desperately trying to destroy him, Bill's SOU's have been benchmarks of the 90's. I couldn't help but think of Newt and Livingston, only a plane crash away from the Presidency before they succumbed to their violently destructive hypocritical hubris, watching the proceedings in some rented room and contemplating eating their gun.

If you can't beat them, join them in this ill-advised tax cut, not only counting your chickens before they've hatched, but cutting them up, cooking them, and eating them. But this surplus barely exists if Social Security underfunding is figured in, and could end in a few months if the market goes south as I frankly expect it to in the next few weeks. NASDAQ could easily lose 2000 points (1/2) and half the issues would still be wildly overvalued. In the last week of Dec 2 or 3 IPO's came out at $240-260/share and WENT UP (in Aug a HIGH open was 40), a speculative fever not seen since 1929 + like then, EVERYONE is into stocks (when JP Morgan got stock tips from shoeshine boy he supposedly got out a few weeks before the great crash). Speak of which- ADOT(BB) under $1- patented liquid crystal flat screen displays. With nothing to lose, Bill is rightly going for health care in bits and pieces- Medicare drug benefit, kids parent's insurance (it's bizarre to be covering poor kids + not their parents) and a host of other mid-sized proposals. Afterwards we had to listen to the Repub response, an annoying and unpatriotic custom (even if Repub, he is President and we really could have one event where he's not called a liar immediately after). Tennessean Doctor Rep Frist repeated the contemptible lie that people wouldn't be allowed to keep their own doctor, which helped scuttle the '93 plan. I did have occasion to go to a Montreal emergency room and received the worst treatment of my life, abused because I wouldn't pre-pop for $400 on something that was covered, then forced to wait 6 1/2 hours in an empty emergency room (for X-rays) till I walked out at 3:30am. The famous Quebecois resentment of English speakers may have played a part, because my other forays into Canada Health in BC were quite satisfactory: doctor's appointments for $12 and prescriptions for $6.


Anyone who saw the whole Clinton press conference (24th) about Elian had to be struck with his wisdom, decency, and simple casual eloquence. Reflective as his administration winds down and his achievements diminish next to the rubble pile of impeachment, he still is good - damn good, the best politician of the 20th Century. Without breaking stride, he punctured Repub balloons and listed his accomplishments- taming the nat. debt, a booming economy, more responsive government. He failed to get health care, he enacted semi-right public-pandering measures, he couldn't keep it in his pants.... but we probably will never the likes and skill of him again, and all that come after will suffer by comparison. Wherever he goes in the world, whatever he says.. he brought honor and acclaim to America and I'm proud that he was our President. We have, can, + will do alot worse.


Amazingly McCain has mutated into a pseudo-democrat, attacking Bush for tax giveaways to the rich, ignoring Social Security instabilities, and failing to support fair health care for all. This can only be good- if Bush is drawn far enough onto liberal positions to alienate the lunatic fringe that constitutes the base of the Republican party- in fact it's a stunning admission of how much Dems positions ARE the positions of the American people, and how bankrupt the Repubs tired fringe rhetoric is. McCain is an interesting and semi-decent guy- he's coming to a town meeting a couple miles from me tomorrow and I relish asking him a rough question or 2., since I just missed him in North Conway NH. I'm sorry, but I simply can't buy him refusing to be released from North Vietnamese captivity for 2 years- this has the smack of campaign legends.. like George Bush's fighter plane crash at 17. Though it was part of the campaign iconography, Bush never trumpeted it, and I always wondered how savagely ironic it would be if the terrified teen-age Bush had panicked and bailed out first, condemning his 2 crewmates. Mind you- war is hell, and that might have been the right decision- seconds later the plane might have exploded or gone into a terminal spin, but his sycophantic behavior as VEEP- pumping the Reagan voodoo agenda or dirty dishonest Willie Horton ads never showed much character (though he greatly redeemed himself in the Gulf War). Some of the most contemptible lies are often involved in the making of political war heroes, just the way they pump + use them for every mile of traction argues against any honor they earned. If I can find out if McCain voted to kill the Test Ban Treaty, which almost all Repubs did, would like to ask him WHY!!!! Keyes is a decent speaker, even if his positions are from Uranus, and his addiction to caffeine apparent. I expect Forbes at any point to start inflating with his own hot air, until he balloons up like parade float + explodes, showering some of his boatloads of cash on a grateful populace. I also want to ask McCain about his potato chips. Latest numbers have him running even with Bush in NH, but Bush can drown him in money.

UPDATE-Jan 20: Did ask McCain about his refusal to be released: he said he's proud of it and would do it again, but I still find it incredible he would prefer years of torture than embarrassing his father, who'd just been appointed Pacific Fleet commander. The vastly Republican crowd in the old armory hall was overwhelmingly appreciative. McCain also took digs at food stamps, somehow using some families' receipt of them as justification for vetoing military pay race increase. He was as funny as a Republican can be without being unintentional, but confirmed his devotion to pro-life and other right wing obsessions. He's alot more conservative in person than the media makes him out to be, but he deserves credit for battling dragons in the gloomy murk of the campaign finance swamp. Afterwards I gave an interview with a TV station as an "avowed Democrat" and said he was by far the best of the Repubs- like rating serial killers- though I was surprised at him attacking food stamps. Interestingly, I sat next to the head of a corrupt housing authority who, after I had questioned what happened to a missing $13 million the FBI was investigating a generation ago (not a penny of which had been spent on the tenants), presumably had the incipient housing authority paper I'd been hired to write for .... abolished, though in a typical RI twist, they kept paying me for the next half-year.


In the bizarre defections exchanges that have become more common, Rep. Virgil Goode (a conservative VA. Dem who voted for impeachment) has quit the Democratic Party + become an "independent", but he will join the House Repub Conference + voter for Hastert. Meanwhile 'liberal' Repub Rep Michael Forbes (who also voted for impeachment) of NY switched from the Evil Empire to Democrat, but in a big loss, Dem Senator Bob Kerrey has decided to not run for a 3rd term this year to pursue a college presidency. One more Democratic Congressman is quitting because of cancer.


I don't really follow football, but was stunned when I realized a week ago that I'd never HEARD of BOTH TEAMS in the Stuper Bowl: Tennessee WHO? WHAT Rams? They finally gave the public a show worthy of the name: switching back + forth from "Silence of the Lambs" bed-time story every 10 min, I missed the Tigers entire 16 point come-back. And how about the amazing Andre Agazzi, who came back from sloth, fat + Brooke Shield to beat Pete Sampras + Kefelnikov in some of the greatest tennis ever seen. Go Andre'.