DEMORATS-- Instead of fleeing a sinking ship, the Democrats are falling over themselves to be the lead candidate going into the 2004 primary season. Their political consultants see a repeat of Bush I: successful war, horrible economy equals Democratic president. Everyone wants to be the next Clinton. Tell them what your audience wants to hear. The national media usually falls for a liberal underdog, and this go-round it appears to be Howard Dean. The moderates seem to like the Clinton-like rap of John Edwards and his potential big fundraising skills.

REPUBLICANTS -- The Republican deficit hawks are getting ground up into turkey patties by both sides of the Congressional aisle. You cannot spend like drunken sailors in a recession. You cannot fund a huge war effort and reconstruction without raising taxes. Bush wants tax cuts and big spending. Democrats want big spending and no tax cuts. The compromise is pure pork belly politics: compromise tax cut and bigger spending.

KILLING THE GOLDEN GOOSE -- An Illinois judge has decided that Phillip Morris must post a $6 billion bond to appeal a $12 billion verdict against the cigarette maker. Panic has run through the statehouses. If Big MO cannot post the bond, it may file for bankruptcy. And that means the billion dollar tobacco settlement payments will be frozen, and possibly be voided under federal bankruptcy laws. The problem with the tobacco litigation mess is that is how politics and social mores conflict with legal duties and obligations. The government subsidizes tobacco farmers to grow more tobacco. Tobacco companies sell addictive cigs to adults as a legal product. Government taxes the sales as a major source of revenue. The government attorney generals sue big tobacco claiming that it is a harmful product; but instead of it being banned as being harmful, the only penalty is money damages to the states--- who were supposed to use it to pay for medical or medicaid costs, but most states have spent the money on other projects, including lawmaker pensions. Tobacco companies have stayed bankruptcy by adding the settlement into the cost per pack. The smoker winds up paying forall the settlement, health costs and health concerns.

U....F....--- The federal budget contains a line item of pork worthy of head scratching worry. The UFO Museum in Rosewell, NM gets a $300,000 grant. Why? The federal government has DENIED any UFOs. Then why pay to support an organization that claims UFOs exist? Because the New Mexico Congressional delegation is powerful?