My apologies for the somewhat skimpy postings these past couple of weeks; I’ve been trying to figure out how to fit daytime grad school classes into a fulltime day job – a task worthy of those old analytic reasoning questions that used to be on the GRE (I hated them, when I first took the test 20 some years ago; now I buy magazines full of them for entertainment — and they’re no longer on the test?!). Anyway, I’m embarking on a masters program in environmental ethics. Time will undoubtedly get even tighter, but it will get settled and predictable.

Speaking of ethics, or the glaring absence of them —

Ralph Reed, founder of the Christian Coalition, has found a way to earn millions of dollars from organized gambling while still proclaiming his moral opposition to it. How? He helps to prevent some Indian tribes from opening casinos, taking payments from lobbyists for the competing tribes (who are, of course, trying to open – or limit competition for – their own casinos) – for his “consulting” work.

And the same conservative “journalist” who told us all what Valerie Plame does for a living —

Has been defending and promoting “Unfit for Command” – the Swift Boat Liars’ book, without mentioning that his son published it. “I don’t think it’s relevant,” he says. Nope; it just amounts to pages and airwaves of free publicity for the book and the publisher.

Call me a nattering nabob of negativism —

But does anyone really think Bush cares that the leader of the Log Cabin Republicans might withhold his endorsement of the president? (That reminds me of another Bush flip-flop: he initially refused to meet with LCR during his 2000 campaign, then decided it would be OKsort of.)

Every time you think the Republican party can’t possibly find a lower, slimier road —

they prove you wrong. Leading the intrepid pack of mud burrowers this week: Dennis Hastert suggesting that George Soros got his money from drug dealing.

Pandering to swing voters —

In Robert Reich’s Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America (which does not really present a basis for the grand vision suggested by the subtitle, but perhaps I’ll get back to that later), he writes (pg 199) “If I hear another pundit say the real action is with the 20 percent upscale suburban ‘swing’ in the middle who have no strong political commitments, I’m going to scream.” With upwards of 90% of the electorate already “decided,” and virtually evenly split between Kerry and Bush, the election – which Arianna Huffington calls “nothing less than a referendum on the soul of our country” – could turn on the whims of the least politically committed individuals. And as Arianna says:

The problem is, this fixation with all things undecided is threatening to turn a campaign that should be about big ideas, big decisions and the very, very big differences between the worldviews of John Kerry and George Bush into a narrow trench war fought over ludicrous charges.

As a group, undecided voters long to be soothed and reassured. And the danger in playing to this fickle crowd is that the message is tailored not to offend rather than to challenge and inspire.

Timing is everything —

The FBI says the disclosure of their case against Lawrence Franklin has jeopardized their investigation. Juan Cole says that’s exactly what the Pentagon intended. He has other good background here.

Why Bush Can’t Run On His Record, continued —

Daily Kos has the details encapsulated. Let’s see — fewer jobs, lower median household incomes, higher poverty, and more Americans without health insurance. How’s that War On Terror coming along?

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