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October 31, 2004

There goes MY Nader vote!

"I'll show you! You won't let me in the debates? I'll have my own!" There's a clip from Ralph's action figure debate here.

Hey Ralph, last time around I actually defended your voters, I really did. We badly need governmental reform to support third party politics, I still believe that. And when I'm checking out my post-Kerry election optioins for how to continue the momentum for change, it's one of the issues I'll explore. But not until after. You can't win, Ralph, why are you being such a spoiler? Could we put the fire out before we talk about how we're going to remodel?

Related aside: I was in the library last week where I saw a woman wearing a Nader button. It took every ounce of self-restraint I had not to walk over to her and punch her. I totally could have taken her, she was pretty skinny.

October 30, 2004

More on "A Soldier's Story"

Steve Clemons has more on the story I wrote about a few days ago. Apparently a lot of people (an anonymous commenter here included) didn't want to believe some of what the soldier told him. Steve has confirmed some of the details and is continuing to investigate others. But I point out again that Steve is a professional journalist and not likely to be taken in by someone who is either a pathological liar or a deliberate agent of disinformation. It's worth a read.

I Was Chosen By God To Vote Bush Out of Office

Yesterday's installment of To the Point talked about faith, reality, and Evangelical support for George W. Bush. Sometime after hearing the interview with Janice Kraus (starting around 29:30) of Concerned Women for America, I realized that God has called me to vote against her candidate of choice.

October 29, 2004

Switch

Today I hung out with Pat. He's ex-Boeing, laid off two years ago. He's 62, an avid cross country skier, and he makes his own apple cider. He's also an ex-Republican. Naturally, I asked him why.

To my surprise, it was abortion rights that made Pat switch.

"Men can't have babies. Until they can have babies, they shouldn't be make decisions about abortion. Also, some time back I attended a rally, some right wing organization, where they were on about abortion. I asked the guy if he was willing to pay to raise the little bastards - by that I mean the traditional definition of the term, a fatherless child - himself. Heavens, no, he said. So I said, wouldn't it be better to let that soul have another shot at finding a host that wants it?"

I don't know why I was suprised by this, but I was. It's not everyday an old guy in a Dickey jumpsuit and aviator eyeglasses tells you why abortion rights matter. I kind of think he should be the new front man for Planned Parenthood ads.

From a Texas Air Force vet

Via The Poor Man, a retired soldier's eloquent and very sobering take on the election, written to family and friends. Worth a read (Porters and Tompkins, especially you).

Friends and relatives,

In only five days, most of us (minus those of us who have already voted early) will be going to the polls to vote for our next president and various state and local candidates. Not trying to sound overly dramatic, I believe this is the most important election in my lifetime. I want to make sure my choice is correct and that I leave a better country, state, county and city for my children and grandchildren, plus all the others who will be affected by my vote. Normally in the past, I have not revealed my choice for national office, not even to close family members, nor have I campaigned for a specific candidate. This election in 2004, however, has spurred me to action. As well as the importance of any election, I believe this one election offers a choice between a foreboding or a bright future, between promises of a one-party country and a true democracy, between mean-spirited actions and inclusive concern. I cannot sit by and not speak my mind. I don’t pretend to try and sway undecideds to my way of thinking, not convert those who disagree. Nor do I want to pander to those who agree with me. I simply want to put down on paper my thoughts in as candid a manner as possible.

By now many of you have received the email from S---- which included a letter I had received from a former Air Force General, Tony Verrengia whom I had known when I was stationed in Wichita Falls, Texas. He was commenting on an article by Texas political commentator, Molly Ivins, regarding what she sees as a disturbing trend toward fascism in the Republican Party, not necessarily wanted by moderate Republicans. My letter may strike some of those same notes, but I felt like I had to explain why I am voting for John Kerry this year. As you read on, I hope you will understand why I had to.

S---- and I have lived in Texas for over 21 years – first as a military family bouncing between Wichita Falls and San Antonio, and then as employees in the private sector of the Texas economy. Many of you do not understand all the ins and outs of Texas politics – be they from a Democratic or Republican Party perspective. The one thing I did understand, and I gathered a lot of information from S---- when she worked for an analytical think-tank in Austin called The Center for Public Policy Priorities, was the wretched state of affairs in this state when then Governor George W. Bush ran for election for president in 2000. He left this state (and it still is, thanks to his successor, Rick Perry) close to last in most measurable categories of excellence, but at the top in the less desirable categories such as the percentage of children without health insurance. Unfortunately, nothing is going to change in Texas, because our present governor started out the last legislative session with the proclamation, “No new taxes!” So, with the downturn in the economy and corporations getting huge tax breaks to attract them to this state, there will not be enough money in the State budget to correct the problems that affect us all. Of course, statements like “No new taxes” will play to the masses – people who don’t want to or can’t understand that the lack of money in the state treasury will affect them much more than the wealthy who could care less.

It was for these reasons that in 2000, whenever someone would realize I was from Texas, they would say, “So you’re from Texas; you must be voting for George Bush.” I would emphatically respond, “No, and that’s because I AM from Texas.” I realize that there are many people from Texas who have voted and will vote for George W. Bush. I don’t believe they have carefully examined George W. Bush’s record these past 3-1/2 years and are unwilling to educate themselves as to the character problems displayed by our current president. A lot of these people are what I called, single-issue voters. They base their vote on one single issue without looking at the bigger picture.

I served my country as an Air Force officer for more than 27 years. Back in early 2003, before we went to war in Iraq, I was at the demonstrations here in Austin carrying signs that said “No, to war in Iraq.” I did not feel threatened by Hussein and his minions, nor did I believe the rhetoric coming out of the White House, State Department and the Pentagon. I, like John Kerry, fought in Viet Nam, but I was hardly down at the grass roots levels as was Bush’s Democratic challenger. Yes, we lost several pilots from my squadron during my year in Southeast Asia, but these were deaths that seemed more distant than someone being shot in front of your eyes. Yet, as the years went by, I, too, realized that our rationale for going to war in Viet Nam was seriously flawed, and I saw the same reckless decisions as we headed into war with Iraq.

While I volunteered for my duty in Viet Nam, I must say that W’s “escape” from war duties by jumping ahead of other applicants for the Texas ANG in Houston was deplorable. Yet, it’s not the only example I know of. During my 20th class reunion at my high school in Washington DC in 1981, I discovered that many of my classmates got deferments by enrolling in college and getting married. These were mostly the well-to-do classmates who are now mostly Republicans. They could have been just like the Neo-conservatives (Neocons) in this present administration who purport to understand all about war and have no qualms about sending us and our young men and women into war, but who never actually were in the military or fought in a war themselves. I guess I was a bit naïve to assume that all my classmates would have done their patriotic duty. In fact, I applaud those who demonstrated against the war and who risked jail or who left the country more than I do those who relied on legal technicalities to escape service to their country. One group followed their conscience, while the other just “chickened out.” And I didn’t consider moving to Canada as deserting, because the alternative was being thrown in jail here in the States.

I remember returning from Viet Nam in May of 1969 to Seattle-Tacoma Airport to a rousing welcome by…no one. I guess I didn’t realize it at the time – just how unpopular the war was – until I witnessed just how the troops returning from the first Gulf War were greeted. It was even later, as I mentioned above, that I realized that our rationale for being in Viet Nam, and the loss of American and Vietnamese lives was not worth it to accomplish our muddled goals. John Kerry understood much earlier than I did how folly our goals were when he lobbied against the war after his return. Of course, George W. Bush could not have cared less. He wasn’t within arms distance of a combat unit and thumbed his nose at Air Force and Air National Guard regulations requiring that he perform his duty with the Guard. If you’re pampered enough to get into the Guard unit in the first place, then you really have no reason to fear any repercussions about failure to perform your duty in the Guard. He understood that all too well.

Now fast forward from Viet Nam to the present era. I was against GW Bush in the 2000 elections mainly because of what he had done in and to Texas. Like a friend and candidate for a Texas House District seat here in Austin, Kelly White, I used to consider myself independent as a voter. But in recent years, and especially since I have read about the character and career of one George W. Bush, I have become more stridently a Democrat. As I sat and listened to friends and colleagues discuss why they favor the Republican Party, I began to realize that I was not a part of that group. In fact, I wasn’t even close to them. Rightly or wrongly, I began to see Republicans as a repudiation of all the good attributes that were instilled in me by my mother since I was a child. I began this journey, I believe, when Ronald Reagan became president. I saw through his plan to privatize all that was being done in the public sector. He was going to rely upon private businesses to solve the unemployment problems and many other social ills that had befallen our country. I was incredulous. I remember heated debates in class at the Air Force Academy about whether the private sector would act for the general good or for what was good for them and their shareholders. The answer to me was obvious – but it took 8 years of Reaganomics to show the unbelievers that the private sector was corporately selfish when it came to helping the general population. It demonstrated that there is a definite need for the federal government in the protection of the general population.

The present administration and its Neo-conservative politics have gone way beyond that approach to governance. It has catered to special interests in a way that no other administration has ever dared to do…and all under the guise of “family values.” “If you’re not with us; you must be the enemy.” That’s exactly the approach this administration took to those who dared question what happened before and after September 11, 2001. Like most Americans, I supported the president’s decision to go after Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan. And like many in this country, I strongly opposed the decision to invade Iraq. My arguments at the time - this is for oil and to bail out the senior Bush’s decision not to go into Iraq – were a bit simplistic, but not far from the truth. I have read reports, analyses and books in recent months and discovered, to my surprise, that many moderate conservatives and MANY former military officers hold views similar to mine or even more insightful as to the danger of the neo-conservative strategy for domestic and international dominance. It’s not a coincidence that all these threads intertwine, nor is it a coincidence that so many people have written about the basic flaws within this administration, more than have written about any other administration in our history. It’s actually scary. If you have any questions as to how and why, just READ. There are plenty of sources that bring to light all these ties.

That’s just a small piece of the evil puzzle. I use that word, “evil” with hesitation. It’s not a word I use lightly, but after seeing what this administration has forced onto the people of the world, it’s the only one that fits. Sure, radical Islam is often to be feared as being dangerous to us, but I equate what the Bush Administration is doing to us, citizens of the United States, with a technique we learned when we were on a survival trek at the Air Force Academy. Each group of 10 cadets was given a live domestic rabbit for food (broth, smoked meat, etc). After the hunter in our element cut the rabbit’s throat and let it bleed all over the place, our element leader/instructor suggested an approach that was a bit more humane and a lot less messy. He told us that the best way was to pet the rabbit running your hand down its head, over its ears and down its back to get it to relax. Once it was relaxed, you would then deliver a swift karate-type strike to the back of its neck which would kill it swiftly and with a lot less mess. That’s what I see this administration attempting to do – pacify those of us who are unbelievers (be it with tax cuts or promises of better this or that) until we become relaxed and unawares. Then comes the karate chop – the one-party system envisioned by Karl Rove. Then Big Brother really will exist.

I know that our family is very concerned about life issues. I would like to recommend a truly holistic, world view of life issues. I know that I stand on firm ground from the perspective of two respected Catholics, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. I would suggest that life issues go well beyond the single issue of abortion. As our pastor here in Austin stated in a letter to the parish two weeks ago, abortion is just “one of many” issues in the pro-life arena. Others include quality education, health care (both physical and mental health care), being against the death penalty, and (here’s Pope JP II) being against pre-emptive wars. Also on this list are trade and foreign policies that knowingly harm other societies; constructing more prisons today than schools, rehabilitation programs and mental health facilities; refusing to look at the imbalance in racial makeup in our prison systems; asking why and then formulating city, state and national policy around the issues of racial profiling, and economic inequity (a BIG one for Mother Teresa); domestic and foreign trade and environmental policies that compromise the physical and mental health of children that are not our own; a foreign policy that obliterates whole groups of women, children and elderly to prove a point; treating prisoners in ANY system over which we have authority in an inhumane, sadistic and cruel way – behind our backs and without our consent; and demonizing one religion over another. None of these practices presently part of our body politic is pro-life. That’s one reason I have a difficult time when they play and sing “God Bless America” at sports contests. To many in our American society, that is providing fuel to the belief that whatever we do is good – even torturing prisoners ala Rush Limbaugh, because God is on our side. Is God really on our side if we are that barbaric? It’s the “Crusades” mentality. That mind set is patently wrong. There are other issues I have not addressed here, but the final one that is creating a threat that my grandchildren – and their children will live with for decades – is definitely not pro life. I do not want my grandchildren to fear, or worse, hate a Muslim child because of 9/11. But that is the horrible probability we have created by occupying the Middle East and insisting that we, not they, know what is best for them. Is that, too, because God is on our side? To me that is the scariest part of the Neo-conservative movement in this country – that faith, even when it is misplaced and misguided is justification for whatever we want to do, including to our own citizens.

My biggest fear is the increased polarization of this country under the present regime. It has reached heights that I never believed it would. I can foresee the day when we run the risk of a coup or civil war (again) in this country because so many people are being disenfranchised or marginalized (what else would be the reaction to Karl Rove’s one-party society). People don’t understand why terrorists are willing to strap bombs to their bodies and blow up innocent civilians or even our soldiers. It’s because they have no hope. That’s their way of speaking out – the only way they know how. I can see the day that segments of our society feel themselves so cut off that they, too, must resort to insurrection to make their plight known. Make no mistake; there will be no complicated ideology behind such actions, only hopelessness.

This last picture - that of civil war in this country - is the main reason we must have regime change NOW. Unlike our inane local newspaper in Austin, I would vote for anyone other than Bush. He and his people are a danger to America – a fascist menace to paraphrase my good friend BG Verrengia. I care about our country. I love its inhabitants. I cherish its history. I relish its friendships. That’s why I will, must vote for John Kerry on Election Day 2004.

----
October 2004

Far right wingers for Kerry

Daily Kos sheds light, I think, on Bush's odd trip today to tiny New Hampshire: I think he had to shore up his base given a stunning defection:

Bob Smith of New Hampshire lived at the far right of the GOP. He even left the Republican Party at one point because he considered it too moderate. In fact, he was one of those guys who waved around plastic fetuses whenever abortion was debated.

But in 2004, this hard right winger is endorsing Kerry.

As someone who worked with you daily for 12 years as a United States Senator, I am acutely conscious of the fact that we disagree on many important issues. Despite our differences, you have always been willing to engage in constructive debate in an effort to forge sound public policy.

I deeply respect your commitment to our nation and your patriotism which, I believe, was forged when you-like I-proudly wore the uniform of the United States Navy in Viet Nam...

Because of the courage and character you demonstrated in Vietnam, I believe you when you say that you'll do a better job than President Bush to win the peace in Iraq, as well as to win the war against terrorism.

President Bush has failed to restrain federal spending, sending our deficit spinning into the stratosphere. I well remember that you were one of a handful of Democrats who crossed the aisle to forge a bipartisan coalition in the Senate to balance the federal budget [...]

John, for each of these reasons I believe President Bush has failed our country and my party. Accordingly, I want you to know that when I go into the booth next Tuesday I am going to cast my vote for you. So will my wife, Mary Jo, and all three of my children: Jason, Bobby and Jenny.

Moreover, I will do all that I can to encourage my friends in New Hampshire and Florida to join me in supporting you.

Fantastic Turnout Tonight at the "Election Day Training"

I was wondering if I was going to make myself do anything actively political (I know, I know) in the last days before The Apocalypse (or maybe The Exodus). I have serious doubts about effecting anything useful with this effort, but I responded to a friend's invitation to go to University Heights Center tonight, and I'm signed up for the whole f---ing election day as part of my friend's team for canvassing and precinct checking.

There was a phenomenal turnout tonight. I was almost a half-hour early, and the parking lot and surrounding streets were already packed with cars. I'd love to know what the count was, but there were so many people that we easily had as many out in the hall as in the big room at the top north end of the building. I mean, it was truly overwhelming.

October 28, 2004

Everyone is doing it

You know what's cool? When you meet the volunteers. One of whom might very well include a transvestite in black and purple striped stockings. Or a 60ish schoolteacher who lets you have her salad because she can see you're really hungry and you've been there since, well earlier than her, that's for sure.

I'm running a phone bank in Shoreline on Election Day. If you're not yet signed up to volunteer that day, I can use your help. Drop me a line.

What it has come to

milwaukee.gif

This was found in a black neighborhood of Milwaukee and posed on Daily Kos.

If these people win I cannot stay.

Damn! That was fast.

But not fast enough. Apparently Bill O'Reilly has decided to settle with the woman who dared reveal what a perv he is. I doubt he was fast enough to save his marriage though. Let me see... what would I do if it was published on the web that my husband was bragging to a stranger about going to Italy for sex romps while I was pregnant...and that same stranger said that he was sexually harrassing her...I think I might consider kicking his ass to the curb.

Nice that he dared to write a children's book. God! I hate these people.

Here's the Washington Post link to the story.

No Comment

"A survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout the country in the 18 months since the U.S.-led invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war. "

Read the whole story here.

And in the meantime...

The election season is almost over, and I share Jay's sentiment from last week that regardless of who wins, the fight's not over, and all of the energy and enthusiasm people in this country have shown over the election needs to be harnessed and grown. It would be a terrible shame if all of this sense of civic duty and desire to fix things just crumbles on November 2.

So, in that spirit, I'd like to share a list of statistics I came across today, as a little reminder that no matter what happens on Tuesday, there's a lot of work to be done, right in our own backyard:

  • The average age of a homeless person in King County today is 9 years old
  • Over 50% of shelter requests by homeless families went unmet in 2003
  • More than 1.2 million people, a fifth of Washington residents, used food banks between July 2001 and June 2002. Washington is #2 in the nation
  • In King County, 1 out of 3 students who start high school don’t graduate
  • Kids who take part in early childhood development programs are 40% less likely to become teen parents
  • Two-thirds of students who cannot read by the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare
  • 484,000 people under the age of 65 were uninsured in 2000 in Washington State
  • 37% of people requesting emergency food assistance in American cities are employed
  • In King County, on any given night 8000 people are homeless. This represents a 39% increase from 2001.

I hope everyone who's been energized by the desire to make the leadership of the country better will decide to channel that energy into making better the lives of the people in our little corner of it.

where do they stand on technology issues?

So I came across this survey from Comptia asking the candidates several questions regarding technology issues and knowing this audience thought you might be interested. It is all a lot of political rhetoric but what the hell?

"A Soldier's Story"

From the wise and moderate Steve Clemons, confirmation of much of what I've heard about the military and Bush:

I JUST SAT NEXT TO A VERY TOUGH SOLDIER FROM THE 82ND AIRBORNE on a flight back from Europe. I have been thinking for two days about how to share some of the things he told me without compromising him.

This guy I met is not one prone to talk; he was very serious, very mellow -- and comes from a family of enlisted military men. His dad was in Vietnam.

He has had one rotation in Afghanistan, one in Iraq. He is now in Germany but will soon be transferred back to Iraq. He was at Tora Bora and has seen a lot of Iraqi, Afghan, and American dead.

According to him, 75% of all soldiers want Bush defeated in the election and don't care who defeats him; anger and resentment are high. He says that 90% of the officers remain far out of harm's way. From lietenants all the way up, there is general understanding that the officers are hiding in holes, or holding back in well-defended buildings and quite cavalier about sending troops out for assignments and errands that are frequently stupid, poorly planned, and dangerous.

From there, it gets more graphic, more depressing, and even weirder:


He shared quite a bit more, including that his military commanders are planning for at minimum an eight year deployment in Iraq, maybe longer. He also shared an interesting anecdote that about a year ago, certain commanders in the 82nd Airborne had been told to prepare for a quick incursion into Cuba. I was stunned.

He said, "Yep, we couldn't believe that on top of everything else, Bush thought he could go take out Castro." The Navy Seals were going to go in and do the dirty work, he said, and the "82nd was going to go in for clean-up." He said that he never heard more about it but that the orders clearly didn't go forward -- but they were prepared for that possibility and told that "Bush just wanted to take out Castro."


In full

A great post from Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money:

John Kerry says George W. Bush made a mistake by failing to secure 380 tons of high explosives in Iraq.

George W. Bush does not make mistakes. The US Army was responsible for guarding the explosives. The US Army failed. Therefore, John Kerry is attacking the US Army.

John Kerry hates America.

Is that about right?


October 27, 2004

"One-fingered victory salute"

Bush gives the camera the finger. Apparently, he cares less what Jesus would do and more about "What Would Dick Cheney Do?".

"It's amazing what you can capture when your camera is turned on. This video shows what George Bush thinks of democracy. He was caught on video while governor of Texas.

On November 2nd please join the army of volunteers who will keep an eye on our democracy. Volunteer here to submit video of disturbances outside polling locations. Enter your contact info and we will send you an email with more information."

John Ashcroft. Soft on Terrorists. The Wrong Choice for America.

Brilliant article in Slate today: "The Case Against John Ashcroft". Despite granting himself sweeping powers of detention and the virtual dismantling of due process, there have been zero -- ZERO! -- terrorist-related convictions since 9/11. A failure by any standards, as the article does well to explain.

October 26, 2004

Get your war on, p. 42

The always astounding get your war on comic is blindlingly sharp this week. Check out barbs like this:

"You know what I don't like about Kerry? He doesn't have a real strategy for winning the War on Terrorism."

"I know! I heard he'd only allow, like, one-hundred-and-ninety tons of explosive to fall into the hands of the terrorists! What kind of half-assed plan is that?"

"Speaking of half-assed, did you hear the one about the soldier whose Humvee rolled over and IED made of looted explosives from Saddam Hussein's ammunition stockpiles?"

Ouch. The rest of it is that good.

(Almost) nothing about the election

This is a great little blog: 5ives: Merlin's Lists of Five Things. My favorites:

Five bands I don’t think I’m enjoying as much as I’m supposed to
1. Radiohead
2. PJ Harvey
3. Sleater Kinney
4. Liz Phair
5. Scissor Sisters

Five things I suppose you could do to “the vote” if you ever tire of “rocking” it
1. Broast the Vote!
2. Pummel the Vote!
3. Gently Strum the Vote!
4. Benchpress the Vote!
5. Botox the Vote!

Five companies I suspect I may be the bitch of
1. Gillette
2. Apple
3. Sprint
4. Costco
5. Trader Joe’s

Five things it’s probably better not to do when you’re kind of drunk
1. buy domain names
2. hire an attorney
3. do lots of file management from the command line
4. sort out your finances
5. telephone people you remember fondly from elementary school

Five ass-related words I think I use a lot
1. metric assload (n.) - a lot
2. asshat (n.) - willfully ignorant person
3. assy (adj.) - unacceptably low-quality
4. big-ass (adj.) - large
5. asstacular (adj.) - really bad

Bush Campaign Dead Letter Office

For an amazing insight into the internals of Bush/Cheney reelection campaign check out this Dead Letter Office at georgewbush.org. Note -- that's the parody site at .ORG, not the official campaign site at .COM. But the dead letter office is no parody -- these are apparently real emails intended for campaign staffers, that were sent to email addresses at the .org domain (instead of name@georgewbush.com) by mistake.

There could be some real gems in here. In browsing through, I've already spotten a memo intended for Karl Rove, and a weekly report from "Pennsylvania Evangelical Outreach". Kos is already tracking what could be a big story about evidence of voter suppression found here.

Eminem wants you to vote

And assemble our own army "to disarm this weapon of mass destruction that we call our president."

Really. His new video is very explicit on this matter. Not that Eminem can be accused of ever not being explicit.

October 25, 2004

"Because blood is thinner than oil!"

That's the motto of the amazing site Bush Relatives for Kerry. It's a beautiful, non-shrill bitchslap. Thanks for sending it Carol!!!

Three Good Reasons to Vote Democratic

I pay 240 dollars a month for health insurance. This might not seem like a lot of money to you, but when you’re not working, it’s a good chunk of change. Not that I’m complaining about not working. I plan for it, it’s the nature of being a freelancer, plus it gives me time to volunteer for the Democrats.

Since I go hang out with the staffers on a regular basis, they’ve got to know me and what my political issues are. They know that my marriage to a damn foreigner makes me a rabid advocate for international diplomacy. And they know because I’m a freelancer who runs her own business I care about the cost of insurance. That’s why they invited me to be a speaker on a panel with Senator Patty Murray.

Senator Murray, in case you were wondering, is tiny. I could have tossed her over my shoulder and made a run for it. So tiny is she that I’ll bet I could have made it to the front door before I’d been stopped. But that is neither here nor there.

The room was filled, mostly with seniors, though there were a few students, and some local government reps. There were three other panel speakers. The idea was that each person would talk about their issues with health insurance and then, the Senator would respond. I went first. I talked about how I used to get my insurance from my agencies, but I was always ending up having to pay COBRA when I could least afford it. I talked about how I’m the primary income in our house and how when the husband relocates, I’ll be paying out for both of us. I talked about how employer based health insurance doesn’t work for me. I talked about how I love my work and my lifestyle, but that doesn’t alleviate the pinch I feel when I have to pay that bill every month.

Next up was Mary. She’s 59 and a survivor of two strokes. Her husband, who’s 60, was laid off two years ago from his job as a computer programmer. Mary shells out a lot of money for the medication she needs to manage her post-stroke condition. Her disability and social security are what keeps their household afloat. Her husband’s unemployment ran out long ago. It shouldn’t shock you to learn that they have a hard time paying for everything Mary needs.

Then was Valerie. She’s 52 and she’s a nurse. She spoke about the delivery of health care from the other side. An insurance company they used to work for recently dropped their certification of their facilities. Patients entering without the correct insurance are billed at double the rate of those with the correct insurance. Apparently, you can get care in the emergency room or the walk in facility, and they are two totally different pay scales. She says the docs and nurses want desperately to do right by their patients, but they are regularly faced with wrenching decisions about care as they find out what’s paid for and what’s not.

Kelly spoke last. Kelly is 46 and has Parkinson’s disease. She couldn’t hold the microphone so the Senator set the stand in front of her. Kelly said stress that makes the shaking worse and that she was so nervous that if she spoke without notes, she’d just lose it. She then read an eloquently composed plea for stem cell research. She read about how she’d been laid off from her job a mere three months before she was diagnosed. She read about how her symptoms have progressed. She made a joke about how while she’s intrigued by the idea of being cloned, what she really hoped for was to clone a Petri dish full of the cells she needs to cure her disease.

The Senator had reasonable comments for all of us, naturally. But the thing that stays with me is how humbling my companions were. A woman who’s had two strokes. A 52 year old nurse who really wants to help people on both sides of the counter. And a woman who’s had her life ravaged by disease. God, I thought, HELP THEM! LOOK AT THEM! CAN YOU SEE THEM? DOES ANYONE SEE THEM?!

After we wrapped up, I got to talking with a man in the audience. “This is what they need to see,” he said. “They need to see that policy is affecting real people.” He’s not fucking kidding. I would like to have seen the president of the United States tell Kelly he would not approve the research that gave her the only hope she had.

I shook hands with the Senator and then talked with my colleagues. They were sympathetic to my economic worries over my monthly insurance bill. I was awed by their strength. What an honor to be with them. No one is going to send those kind women to Washington to address Congress, so we will have to send representatives who have met them. When I plead with people to vote Democratic, I usually ask them to do it for me because I’m so wrapped up in foreign policy issues. But now I know Valerie and Mary and Kelly. I’m not voting for me anymore. I’m voting for them.

Don't vote for those Democratic FAGGOTS!!!

That's what this sick and ridiculous ad is clearly saying. Clearly, these are the same kind of people who still get jollies from fag jokes. And, funny thing is, they are voting for a cheerleader.

October Surprise, Bush-style

This administration is so incompetent that it can't even get a traditional GOP "October Surprise" going. Instead, we get this mindbending bulletin about their raging incompetence. Making the world safer-- for terrorists wielding high explosives.

Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq

Baghdad, Iraq - The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.

The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year.

The White House said President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed. American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program "60 Minutes."

Administration officials said Sunday that the Iraq Survey Group, the C.I.A. task force that searched for unconventional weapons, has been ordered to investigate the disappearance of the explosives.

American weapons experts say their immediate concern is that the explosives could be used in major bombing attacks against American or Iraqi forces: the explosives, mainly HMX and RDX, could produce bombs strong enough to shatter airplanes or tear apart buildings.

The bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 used less than a pound of the same type of material, and larger amounts were apparently used in the bombing of a housing complex in November 2003 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the blasts in a Moscow apartment complex in September 1999 that killed nearly 300 people.

The explosives could also be used to trigger a nuclear weapon, which was why international nuclear inspectors had kept a watch on the material, and even sealed and locked some of it. The other components of an atom bomb - the design and the radioactive fuel - are more difficult to obtain.

I would call this unbelievable-- if it weren't possible to believe any amount of stupidity and incompetence about this administration.

How do I loathe W?

Let me count the ways.

October 24, 2004

World peace and pizza pie

You’d think that with all the traveling I do, I’d have come to terms with flying. Well, I haven’t. I hate it. I don’t like being batted around in the air like a kite. I don’t like the tiny spaces the airline allots each passenger. I don’t like hurling through the air at hundreds of mph in a metal tube. I can’t stand it. The skin on the back of my neck gets damp, my stomach curdles, I spend the time vaguely nauseated and uncomfortable. I’m not really afraid, I tell myself, and indeed, I’m not sitting there thinking, “I’m going to die” but I’m not exactly enjoying myself either. I’m happy for distractions when I fly, be they quality reading material, slightly out of date Steve Martin movies, drugs, or the person in the next seat.

The weather was very windy in Tucson and the plane was very small. The man who folded himself in to window seat was tall, well over six feet, and dressed in flipflops, linen pants, a dark blue blazer with gold buttons, and a Rasta colored knit cap. He was reading USA Today and looking out the window. As the plane took off, I folded my hands into Namaste, closed my eyes, and tried to keep breathing.

About ten minutes into our ascent, my neighbor jostled me with his elbow. I opened my eyes and looked at him, probably wearing my usual white-as-a-sheet take off face. He pointed out the window. I leaned forward to look. There was a rainbow to the right. I’ve never seen a rainbow from the air before – it was bright and clear. “Thank you!” I said, and I meant it. I went back to my in-air meditative cocoon. You know I didn’t get to stay there, right?

“Do you have any questions?” he asked.

“Um, no. Do I have a questioning look on my face? Do YOU have any questions?”

“It’s just that I have this book I keep with me and if you have questions, you can read the answers in it," he said.

“Is there anything in there on travel?” I asked as he handed me his copy of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.

My neighbor, let’s call him Bill (because it’s too easy to give him some good hippie name like Sanskrit or Wheat Grass), travels with three books everywhere he goes. The Prophet, the Bible, and a third book which he showed me when I asked. It was a cheap paper bound number with an Egyptian eye and an Ankh on the cover. I opened it up to see a picture of a handsome, graying, African man in shiny purple robes with red, green, and yellow trim. “Wow, what a great looking guy,” I said, because he was.

The ice was broken. We started talking. Bill is a gardener/organic farmer. He’s been living at a place called The Tree of Life in Patagonia, Arizona. When he first mentioned Patagonia, I thought he meant South America, which led to an amusing misunderstanding. Once we cleared that up, I learned that The Tree of Life is founded by a guy name Gabriel Cousens who apparently is in Israel right now where he thinks he can fix the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . “Gabriel says there’s a teaching that says it only takes 8000 people to create world peace and he thinks he’s one of them. Either that, or he’s there to get more money,” said Bill.

Gabriel espouses some combination of Essene, Jewish, and Aryuvedic teachings along with the observation of a raw food diet. “We got in trouble for growing watermelon; it’s too high in sugar. It’s a really hard diet to follow,” Bill told me. “Sometimes, when we know Gabriel is going to be gone for a while, we go in to town for pizza and beer.”

We talked about Hawaii, where Bill was thinking about starting a new farm, and northern California, where Bill’s wife is, and Seattle, where I live. We talked about how we both hate to fly and how Bill, who was on his way to Cabo San Lucas on a redeye, was planning to get thoroughly doped up on pot brownies before getting on that flight. We talked about surviving the coming chaos, which I just assumed was the November election, and about how much we both hated to fly. Pretty soon we were descending in to LA over massive sprawling suburbs, freeways, and shopping malls. Bill told me how he had to leave Arizona because his astrologer said it was too hot for him there.

When we landed I pulled my Rasta colored bag out of the overhead and set it on the seat next to Bill. “Nice bag,” he said. I laughed.

“I’ll bet there are 8000 people in LAX right now,” I said. “Maybe you could get some recruits.”

I was in LAX for about an hour. I looked for Bill in the line at the McDonald’s but I didn’t see him.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here's the site for the Tree of Life, in case you think I made it up. Also, I've posted some pictures of Tucson on my site.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

If you've seen the GOP's new ad "Wolves," you really need to see this.

October 22, 2004

Triumph after the debates

Triumph the insult comic dog, that is, from the Conan O'Brien Show. The video
is long, but hilariously funny. But also depressing... the mouthpieces on both sides are simultaneously vacuous and overinflated. Triumph was a little harder on the Repubs, though. Seeing Rove, he says, "Bush's Brain! I would have expected a much smaller man!" On encountering Ralph Reed, he says, "If you're going to be against gay rights, you should really take that pole out of your ass."

Strong leader, bad comedian

Watch this ad from Win Back Respect, which features the sister of a dead soldier who wasn't laughing when Bush joked about not finding any WMDs. Stunning. In testing, it produced an 8 point swing away from Bush-- which it pretty huge for one viewing of one ad.

Who's the hunter, who's the hunted

First Draft sets the record straight amidst Badministration mocking of Kerry's hunting trip.

[W]hile campaigning against incumbent Gov. Ann Richards, Bush thought it would be a great photo opportunity to show the people of Texas that he was the bold epitome of Lone Star Macho, a fearless take-charge kind of guy who could sight-in on any kind of problem. So, he and his gaggle of aides staged a dove hunt to attract the reporters and photographers. He flushed that bird. He looked. He aimed. He shot. Blasted that dove right out of the sky. At least he thought it was a dove. Turns out the bird was really a killdeer, protected by federal law. An embarrassed Bush, who obviously couldn't distinguish a 10-inch long brown-and-white bird with two black bands and a loud and constant whistle from a long greyish/white bird that coos, paid a fine for his stupidity.

Wow, that would have been a great example any of those times W couldn't remember ever making a mistake?

Relativists ARE part of the reality-based community

Italian and American scientists, presumably disloyal to Albert Einstein in applying the scientific method to prove his theory that objects warp space and time around them, have shown that the old boy was, in fact, correct.

Everybody breathe a big sigh of relief.

Or not. You know, think about it. As the earth rotates, it drags time and space in the direction of its movement, affecting nearby objects, such as satellites, noticeably. Changing time and space?! Are time and space at the heart of our experience of reality? This seems dangerously close to changing reality. The earth is constantly creating its own reality, then? So the earth is a republican? Or was Einstein, then? No, I think Einstein would have been a member of the RBC (reality-based community). He might have been socially inept, but he did participate in an awful lot of subversice RBC-related activities, like observing reality, studying it, and drawing conclusions based on those observations.

But the earth...Better watch out for that one.

Of course: Falaphilia.com

It's amazing to me that O'Reilly can still show his face in public. Especially now that his actions have coined the term falaphilia: An abnormal fondness for being in the presence of middle eastern foods. Also called taboulehmania, hummulingus.

Paulette, I think you may have actually said this the other night! But the real gem is on their fam mail page: "Do I see an advertising spot in Mr. O'Reilly's future? Baba Gadouche Feminine Cleanser (TM) needs a spokesman!"

October 21, 2004

Bush-backers--not part of the reality-based community

I've said for months that, considering what's been going on since the current administration took control, you have to be either stupid or a Jesus-freak (I realize those are not mutually exclusive) to continue to support Bush. A report today by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland at least proves true the first of my conditions. "How can people continue to support Bush?" they ask. And the answer they find: by being really, really ignorant.

No, seriously. That's what they found.

For example:

72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program.

And most Bush supporters don't even get that because of Bush, the rest of the world hates us. Less than a third of Bush supporters have figured out that we went into Iraq without anyone's blessing, and more than half of them think the rest of the world wants Bush to be re-elected.

Do they pass out LSD at republican conventions or something? I think Timothy Leary had a better grasp on reality than the average republican these days.

If your blog needs hosting...

And, if it's a blog, it does... Use Tranquil Blog Hosting. Mark, the owner, is both a class-A Linux geek and a soldier for the forces of good in a world beset by evil and ignorance.

No, really. Many of you know what I'm talking about. He has gone so far above the call of duty that the other hosting providers should be ashamed any time his name comes up.

As David can tell you, I am not a genius when it comes to the technical parts of blog-owner-dom. I play HTML by ear, mangle CSS, and have a nasty habit of wanting to futz with the inner workings of MySQL. I really know how to fuck all that shit up, in addition to losing my password and all the normal stupid stuff English majors do online. Now that I think about, Mark has probably saved my young marriage a few times--if David had had to fix my errors, it could have gotten ugly. Mark just fixes everything with a smile--and a really pleasant Carolina drawl.

So seriously, friends, tell anyone you know: TQbloghosting.com is the way to go.

EnjoyTheDraft.com

armyx10.jpg

EnjoyTheDraft.com is like The Onion, on a really bitter day, with a well-justified sense of paranoia. Perfect for jaded college students. You gotta love the "Tell us why the draft is AWESOME" soundbites:

"Michael Moore might feature my grieving mother in his next movie!" - Joe in Flint

"I thought I'd miss my boyfriend when he went to Iraq. How ironic that I got drafted and killed!" - Missie in Miami

"Foshrapnel woundizzle" - Mark in Albuquerque

"The army vaccinated me against Anthrax, Botulism, Smallpox, and Sarin. Once I get the Ricin vaccine I get a happy meal." -Stanley in Denver

"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder excuses a lot of crazy-ass batshit behavior." - Matt in Columbus

"I look hot in a black body bag, and I don't even work out." - John in Madison

There's nothing like great satire. Except maybe great satire and a really nice single-malt Scotch to go with it.

No draft... unless you're a doctor or nurse

U.S. Has Contingency Plans for a Draft of Medical Workers

The Selective Service has been updating its contingency plans for a draft of doctors, nurses and other health care workers in case of a national emergency that overwhelms the military's medical corps.

In a confidential report this summer, a contractor hired by the agency described how such a draft might work, how to secure compliance and how to mold public opinion and communicate with health care professionals, whose lives could be disrupted.

As Kos said, It's just another rumor on the Internets. So probably no need to worry. Right?

October 20, 2004

What's next, what's needed, and who's game?

Here's a long and serious post, friends. Please read it, think about it, and get back to me.

I may cry bitter tears into cheap whiskey on Nov. 2 remembering these words, but I now believe that (barring catastrophe) Kerry is going to win the election. So now I'm mostly worried that it will be close enough that the inevitable voting screwups will tarnish the win--in which case it will be pain to watch the Bushies argue the exact opposite of what they screamed from the rafters in 2004. But my money is actually on a 20 EV margin by Kerry. (Some people are way more optimistic.) I've read more than I really care to America is going to let the incumbent off the hook, and a lot of these supposed "battleground" states (like Oregon) will fall blue with 5-7% margins.

Great, you say. We can go back to normal. Whoopie!

No. Hell no. To relax our pre-election posture for more than a moment would be as dumb as my least-favorite horror movie cliché. Because The Monster Is Never Dead. Especially if that monster is the American Right. There are enough think tanks and policy foundations and pressure groups to keep monsters like Neoconservatism, Neo-Imperialism, and a whole host of Christofascist ideas alive almost indefinitely. (Who thought supply-side economics had survived the 1990s? But here it is, alive, well and eating us in to a trillion dollar debt!)

So we have to keep doing what we've been doing, and then some. We have to win back the House in 2006, and the Senate--assuming we don't get there sooner. We have to attack the state and local groups that are pushing anti-choice and anti-gay legislation--even in Washington. And we have to keep raising money to support a truly diverse and representative grassroots on every major policy front. We have to reach out around the world and try to undo the damage done to our reputation. Oh, and by the way, we probably have to re-invent or flat out innovate around the Democratic Party. Clearly, left to its own devices neither it nor the Kerry campaign could afford to be this hopeful. Finally, we have to figure out how to wake up the media so that they will, and I quote, "stop hurting America." (Alternately, we could just use the Super-Size ray to make Jon Stewart 50 feet tall and let him eat all the hacks).

I don't pretend to know what this effort will look like, but I think the 527s offer a pretty good model. I have a laptop and even a little bit of time on my hands. (I have a couple of URLs I quite like, too.) Anyone interested in getting formal about this? What I want to hear is what you think, friends. What can we all commit to doing to ensure that this become the "It's Not Over" election? Because I want this to be a real turning point in American history, not just a bump in the road of continuing national decline. There are a lot of great new organizations doing important work, and we have to continue supporting them. Maybe that's the best course--just opening our wallets. But I'm not convinced that the people who make up this community don't have something unique and worthwhile to offer as well.

No mincing words here. I want the head cut off the snake. I want the ring thrown into the volcano. I want the ideology that has gotten us to this terrible place to become as discredited as Stalinism, National Socialism, and belief in spontaneous generation. I want to sow salt in the fields of the Right and to fight them on any soil where their pernicious ideas take root. No more of this "we are history's actors" bullshit. Nobody gets to create their own reality--there's just one, and we all have to share it.

In short, I want my country back. For good. So that David and I can live here in peace with you nice people. Because it's not just about this election, any more than the WWII was just about the Battle for Britain.

So talk to me... what are we going to do? Because we can't afford to assume that everyone else has it covered. Because nothing ends on November 2, and if you stop for even a moment to gleefully kick the corpse it will grab you by the ankles and start in again.

Miss Cupcake Royale

Click here to see Nonfamous.com's Official Drag Queen in all her glory. Jamie, can we all go trick or treating with you? We could be The Sprinkles!

October 19, 2004

The gayness is spreading...

CNN.com has this headline:

"Gay novel wins Booker prize"

Wow, the gayness is spreading to inanimate objects...I always knew that you homosexuals were a corrupting influence...I hope my dog doesn't turn into a gay homosexual next.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 Posted: 2227 GMT (0627 HKT)


LONDON, England (Reuters) -- British author Alan Hollinghurst has won the Booker Prize, one of the world's most prestigious literary awards, for his critically acclaimed gay novel "The Line of Beauty."

Holy Jesus Juice by the bottle

From time to time I get to thinking…I know, thinking is a dangerous things, but I fall prey from time to time. So this morning I got to thinking about the whole ‘Swallow, don’t Spit’ thing, which lead me to thinking about drinking wine, which lead to thinking about wine in general. And then I thought: Where the hell do they get the wine for communion!!?? I mean, really, does the priest just run down to the local 7/11 on his way to mass on Sunday? While out dining does a priest come across a rather good vintage and think, “Hey, that would make a good Jesus. It has nice body!” Is it ok to use any type of wine for Christ sake or does the Blood of Christ have to be of a certain grape. Who decides? Can I wine be blended and if so with whom does it get blended….St. John? St. Mary Magdalene? One of the many patron saints of wine-growers ? How much should one spend on a bottle of Jesus Juice? Does Boone’s Farm make a Christ Blend?
Well I did a little research and found that Christ Blood cannot be found at your local discount wine chain...it's here!!! Thank God we don’t have to see the labels as they would scare the hell out of anyone… Anyone wanna come over for a little ‘Swallow, don’t Spit’ with Jesus and me? Oh, and case you are wondering how to dispense of Christ, check this out ! Now that’s what I call Fast Food for Christ sake!

I really need to get out of the house more, or not be left alone for so long!!

October 18, 2004

One less undecided voter

Unshrill and beautiful. Good patriotism is reality-based.

Agreeing with WFBjr

There are very few true conservatives like William F. Buckley Jr. left. He can be an ass, but he is a consistent ass... I might even go so far as to say a reality-based ass. Steve Clemons quotes him here on the inanity of the GOP's argument that Kerry somehow smeared Mary Cheney. To wit:

It is not in question that Mary Cheney's gayness had already become a part of the cast of characters in the political play. Senator Kerry was in no sense "outing" someone who had hidden her sexual impulses. So that the question narrowed to whether what was said was an expression of magnanimity and inclusiveness, or whether it was a bid for votes from the bigoted.

This last interpretation of it was taken by an evangelical Christian politician, Gary Bauer, who ran for the presidency four years ago. He reasoned as follows: that traditional-values voters would react to the public reference as to an animadversion against the Bush ticket, and that by saying what he had said, Kerry could reasonably hope "to knock l or 2 percent off in some rural areas by causing people to turn on the president." This view holds that Kerry was in fact trading on bigotry.

That position is of course irreconcilable with the position that Mr. Cheney has profited politically from publicizing his daughter's gayness -- that he has, in effect, said to the gay community: Look, my own beloved daughter is a member of the Cheney family, and a member also of the gay community. You can hardly suspect in the GOP ticket prejudice against gays, when you see that we have one in the family, whom we cherish.

Proud member of the Reality-Based Community

If you missed the Ron Suskind article in the Sunday NYT Magazine (and were consequently able to sleep):

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

History's actors, indeed. The article should be required reading. Coming on the heels of a surprising trip to Oklahoma-- where even my grandparents admitted that W was giving them pause with his disconnect from reality-- we now see that the Administration thinks that the American Empire creates its own reality. Would that it were so... but if we do not defeat these people who believe their lies create a new truth, this Republic is toast. If Bush wins, we will all undoubtedly talk more about leaving the country... but the reality will be that our country will have left us.

Oh, after you read the article, buy one of these.

October 16, 2004

Thunderbirds are GO

I wasn’t a big fan of South Park, though I did get a good laugh out of the very early Santa vs. Jesus “is that Brian Boitano” years. I skipped the South Park movie and while, yeah, I could probably pick Kenny out of a line-up, I don’t really know who those kids are and why they’re funny. If they’re funny. I have been, and remain, however, a HUGE fan of the Thunderbirds. I saw the preview for the live action version of the Thunderbirds and thought it amusing, but kind of a yawn. However,I was a sucker for the Supermarionation of the South Park boys’ new epic, Team America.

I shoulda known better. Okay, okay, I did get a lot of laughs out of it. A lot. The music, of all things, is freakin’ hysterical and there’s some hilarious stuff about what happens when Team America comes to make your world a safer place. Also, I cracked up all over the place over a sequence that's shot with total disregard for scale. But a lot of the humor is pretty vulgar and some of it is just gross. I have a pretty low tolerance for the gross, humor or no.

I’m just letting you know, just in case you, too are a dyed in the wool Thunderbirds fan and know not so much of South Park. The characters are absolutely a nod to the Tracy family, but that kind of language never came out of Alan Tracy’s mouth. Team America could probably kick the Thunderbirds collective marionette asses, but you don’t want to invite them to dinner.

October 15, 2004

Jon Stewart, My Hero

Apparently, Jon Stewart just totally bitchslapped Tucker Carson of CNN's Crossfire. I haven't seen it yet, but you can read the transcript, and there's reportedly video here [update: link deleted, see below] (though I can't get it to work). Here's just one of many great quotes:

What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

It's about time Jon got a chance to take the media to task in their own forum (he's been doing it for years on the Daily Show, of course). Jon Stewart is my hero!

Update: OK, I've actually seen the video now and the transcript just doesn't do this justice. Media Matters has the video. Go watch it.

Distort the vote

This piece by Paul Krugman in the NYT is a must-read. It describes a series of coordinated Republican operations to deny the vote to primarily Democratic (big-D) voters through abuses (and sometimes, outright felonies) of the democratic (small-d) system of voting. Here is the damning conclusion:

The important point to realize is that these abuses aren't aberrations. They're the inevitable result of a Republican Party culture in which dirty tricks that distort the vote are rewarded, not punished. It's a culture that will persist until voters - whose will still does count, if expressed strongly enough - hold that party accountable.

Krugman also mentions a forthcoming article in Harpers detailing how errors in the "felony rolls" in Florida which denied thousands of legitimate (and mostly black) voters in Florida the opportunity to vote in 2000 were largely deliberate. These errors have not been corrected. In fact "those attempting to get their votes back have been required to seek clemency for crimes committed by others, or to go through quasi-judicial proceedings to prove that they are not felons with similar names". I look forward to the article, but despair that it's not likely to make the front-page news it ought to.

Because there's no place else to go in Wyoming

This just breaks my heart.

October 14, 2004

Deconstructing W

Today's NYTimes Op-Ed page features a reflection of Jacques Derrida's philosophy that begins by discussing the wide scope of it's influence and unfolds as a brilliant indictment of the current administration without ever actually naming names.

He defines Derrida's deconstruction ("The guiding insight of deconstruction is that every structure - be it literary, psychological, social, economic, political or religious - that organizes our experience is constituted and maintained through acts of exclusion. In the process of creating something, something else inevitably gets left out.") and immediately segues into its history of misuse at the hands of those who have not "responsibly understood" it and used it to create divisions between groups and people. He discusses Derrida's black and white thinking is inherently flawed. "There can be no ethical action without critical reflection."

Without ever mentioning Bush's name, Taylor does a fantastic job of consciously criticizing the administration and its absolute, blind certainty in its righteousness.

Mr. Derrida reminded us that religion does not always give clear meaning, purpose and certainty by providing secure foundations. To the contrary, the great religious traditions are profoundly disturbing because they all call certainty and security into question. Belief not tempered by doubt poses a mortal danger.

If there is anyone today who poses such a mortal danger, it's the leader of the free world, the man who constantly reminds us that there are only two sides in this world--with us or against us. The man who constantly reminds us that you're either on the side of evil or the side of good. The man who so often tries to convince us that a sign of a leader is never changing one's mind. That certainty is strength. Good ol' Jacques might have counseled him otherwise.

[Derrida] also taught us that the alternative to blind belief is not simply unbelief but a different kind of belief - one that embraces uncertainty and enables us to respect others whom we do not understand. In a complex world, wisdom is knowing what we don't know so that we can keep the future open.


Do the debates really matter?

I hope so. In the 1st debate, the voices in Bush's ear were telling him to scowl. In the 2nd debate, his overcompensation for the previous piss-poor performance came off as desperate and manic, tempered only by his winking at nobody in particular. In the 3rd debate, he was somewhere in between the two, but still lying at will. (See the transcript from the press conference where he brags about not being concerned with Bin Laden.)

But isn't it disappointing that immediately afterwards the right-wing pundits laud Bush as the "clear winner"? Why can't people have a serious debate about the debates –– is it because we're merely mimicking them?

October 13, 2004

O'Reilly sick-out factor

Leave it to The Smoking Gun to post facsimiles of the recent sexual harrassment filing against Bill O'Reilly. The only thing worse than actually watching him scream at people on his show? Reading about how he masturbated while talking dirty to one of his female employees while talking to her on the phone. Apparently, his big turn-ons are vibrators and sex with "little brown women" in third world countries. He also gets off on telling his victim how Bush and Cheney are going to get revenge on Al Franken:

If you cross FOX NEWS Channel, it's not just me, it's Roger Alies who will go after you. I'm the street guy make loud noises about the issues, but Alies operates behind the scenes, strategies and makes things happen so one day BAM! That person gets what's coming to them but never sees it coming. Look at Al Franken, one day he is going to get a knock on his door and life as he's known it will change forever. That day will happen trust me.

So one more reason to vote them out of office: otherwise we can look forward to the FBI morphing into O'Reilly's own private Stasi operation.

Equal Time

I've no doubt that the nonfamousi are already well informed about the Sinclair Broadcasting company's decision to air the anti-Kerry "documentary." This link covers the issue and at the bottom of the page, you'll find an email address for Sinclair.

I have to admit that I stumbled around for years blithely ignoring the consequences of media consolidation. I naively think that the blogosphere negates some of that, but when you learn about the heavy handed partisan politics practices by organizations like Sinclair, you have no choice but to wake the hell up.

October 12, 2004

If you can't beat 'em

Just tell them the game is off. And not to bother showing up.

In West Virginia, the Republicans are apparently trying to win the election by calling registered Democrats to tell them they are not registered to vote or that they are but won't be allowed to vote if they go to the polls.

These guys really know how to play dirty.

October 11, 2004

Rampant, I tell you!

Kos has the story that has creamy thighs aquiver all across Oklahoma!
In the tape released by the campaign of Brad Carson, the Democratic candidate, Coburn says a campaign worker from Coalgate told him that "lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that's happened to us?"

So proud of my industry

From Agenda Inc., a sure sign of the coming apocalypse:

"Target marketing" has taken on a whole new meaning in the first-ever viral marketing use of an interactive urinal communicator in America. To help create buzz for its new landmark television event, CMT OUTLAWS concert and countdown specials premiering Friday, Oct. 29, CMT will target men at bathroom urinals in bars, concert venues, colleges and radio stations with the - Wizmark(R) - the world's first and only device of its kind. The deodorizing urinal drain filter cover - featuring a waterproof anti-glare lenticular viewing display, pre-recorded audio and flashing lights - is motion-activated: step up to the urinal and the unit starts flashing, talking and alternating pictures. The units are designed to last more than 10,000 flushes.

Google Labs Aptitude Test

Have fun, David... This one is not for me.

It's for you

I guess it should not have surprised me, but I don't have kids. See, it turns out that young teenage girls LOVE to talk on the phone! This was especially handy on Friday afternoon when the three good sports I took to the campaign office learned they were going to spend the afternoon making phone calls.

Not only did they cruise through the list, lining up volunteers left and left (I can't say left and right), but they did it with good humor, patience, and they didn't want to go home. They were kind to the cranky, didn't take the hang ups personally, and they worked really hard. I kept checking in on them to make sure they were okay and to see if they wanted to do something else, but nope, they even turned down the project involving markers.

Two 13s and a 12. They get a 10. Plus.

Oh, great!

Just what you want to read on a Monday morning:

An unexplained and unprecedented rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere two years running has raised fears that the world may be on the brink of runaway global warming.

Scientists are baffled why the quantity of the main greenhouse gas has leapt in a two-year period and are concerned that the Earth's natural systems are no longer able to absorb as much as in the past.

It could be the carbon cycle failing, or it could just be that the world really is going to Hell... where, predictably, CO2 levels are higher.

October 10, 2004

Dred Scott = Roe v. Wade

We spent some time asking "What the hell?" about the Dred Scott comments from the last debate. We weren't alone. My friend Emily sent me this fine link that deconstructs it nicely for us.

Have you helped out the Kerry campaign yet? Just asking.

October 09, 2004

Butterfly ballots be gone

Software saves the world--and democracy.

(Am I paranoid for having the thought that I hope this is a joke?)

Grazie to Erik for the link.

October 08, 2004

The latest in neocon fashion!

If you want to know who is the real flip-flopper, shop at G.W. & Crew. I only wish I had come up with this.

A Milli Vanilli President?

Get a Day Pass to Salon and read this. Now.

Was President Bush literally channeling Karl Rove in his first debate with John Kerry? That's the latest rumor flooding the Internet, unleashed last week in the wake of an image caught by a television camera during the Miami debate. The image shows a large solid object between Bush's shoulder blades as he leans over the lectern and faces moderator Jim Lehrer.

Wow... and I always thought Cheney was the robot on the ticket.

It's good to be in DC

Our friends at JibJab (remember that "This Land is My Land" funny?) have a new jingle out, and it's good for a chuckle.

October 07, 2004

Dowd in good form today

I'm not a big fan of Maureen Dowd, but she's sharp today:

Senator Kerry evoked the voice of Bush 41 to get under 43's thin skin. The more Mr. Kerry played the square, proper, moderate, internationalist war hero, the more the president was reduced to childish scowling and fidgeting, acting like a naughty little boy who refuses to sit in his seat and eat his spinach and do all the hard things a parent wants you to do.

"You know, the president's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad beyond Basra," Mr. Kerry said, as W. blinked and burned. "And the reason he didn't is, he said, he wrote in his book, because there was no viable exit strategy. And he said our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land. That's exactly where we find ourselves today. There's a sense of American occupation."

Mr. Kerry told the now-and-then Guardsman about the "extraordinarily difficult missions" of our troops in Iraq: "I know what it's like to go out on one of those missions where you don't know what's around the corner. And I believe our troops need other allies helping."

Playing the Daddy card was part of the Kerry makeover by the Clintonistas - Bubba eye for the Brahmin guy.

In their '92 debate, Bill Clinton used the same psychological trick to rattle Bush 41. Objecting to the Republican pinko innuendo about a trip he had taken as a young man to Moscow, Mr. Clinton reminded the first President Bush that his father, Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut, had stood up to Joe McCarthy: "Your father was right to stand up to Joe McCarthy. You were wrong to attack my patriotism."

The Bushes get very agitated when confronted with the specters of fathers who made them feel that they never measured up.

Didion has a riff about "Appointment in Samarra" in my favorite of her inimitable essays, so Dowd's larger point has been on my mind of late. It is unfortunate that part of the fall of WASP society into cultural irrelevance is our amnesia about their inbred flaws. Were we all as obsessed by their manners as we were in the 1950s and 60s, we would have recognized W on his face for the sad loss that he is.

Can you revoke an MBA?

I'm sure the exhaustive list of business and economic professors who signed the Open Letter to Bush about how dangerous his economic policies have been would like to do just that.

The closing paragraph says it all, really:

Sensible and farsighted economic management requires true discipline, compassion, and courage – not just slogans. Given the tenuous state of the American economy, we believe that the time for an honest assessment of the problem and for genuine corrective action is now. Ignoring the fiscal crisis that has taken hold during your presidency may seem politically appealing in the short run, but we fear it could ultimately prove disastrous. From a policy standpoint, the clear message is that more of the same won’t work. The warning signs are already visible, and it is incumbent upon all of us to pay attention.

Le Darwiniste malgré lui

Click here to see Bush prove the theory of evolution. For a creationist, he does an amazing job of demonstrating that we humans share 99.4% of our genome with chimps. It's hard work. Hard. Work. Proving your opponents right, that is. He sees it on the TV every day.

The image is big, so I'm sure we'll be paying extra for bandwidth, but it's too good not to share with you.

From the War is Peace files

So, the top weapons inspector in Iraq says that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction since 1991, thus, of course, adding more evidence to the mountain of it showing that the administration lied about the reasons for invading the country. Right?

Apparently not. The fact that one of the two main reasons for going to war was a complete fabrication justifies the decision to go to war, according to Cheney.

Ok, so I understand the concept of spin. But I feel like good old Fuck Cheney has put reality into a centrifuge.

October 06, 2004

Sideways: a wine movie

This sounds really interesting, but so often I find wine movies really tannic.

We should do a "Cinema Don't Spit" when this comes out!

Dick, John. John, Dick.

In last night's Vice Presidential debate, Dick Cheney artfully slashed John Edwards as being an ever-absent Senator – so much so that, incredibly, minutes earlier was the very first time they had met.

hidick.jpg

Fascinating that after having sat and prayed next to each other at a breakfast just a few years ago, they had no idea who the other person was.

Why Edwards didn't call him out on this omission as well as Cheney's bomb that he had never suggested a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda (!) is beyond me.

vpdebate.jpg

And now for something completely different

And now, in a break from our usual fare, check out this totally non-political bit of absurdity from from www.tvgohome.com. Be sure to check out the viewer warnings for When Rumsfeld Met Sally.

tvgohome-040403.jpg

October 05, 2004

Bread and Circuses

1. Grandma on the phone, calling Seniors: "Oh honey, I KNOW, we all loved him as president. Things were so much better than." I sat next to her for a while and watched her work. She was AWESOME. A thing that is true: YOU are the best person to activate your crowd. She's a perfect illustration of that.

2. Woman I called while recruiting volunteers: "Just look at what happened in Rome. I mean, that's what President Bush is doing. He's giving us bread and circuses. This has GOT to stop." Hallelujah, sister.

BTW, I can hook you up with an election day Get Out The Vote crew. Just drop me a line.

NASCAR DADS, SECURITY MOMS, AND NOW, UNEMPLOYED GYNAECOLOGISTS?

In the 1st presidential debate, Bush pined for Missy – an anonymous widow recently made so by the Iraq war – and expressed his burning "love" for her. Then here, he complains that OBGYNs can't "love" their patients because of some unnamed setback.

Is Rove up to something with this language, peppering Bush's speeches with code words meant to seep into the psyche of a voting contingent, or is Bush just saying weird shit?

The Rude Pundit: even angrier than I am

Do not read this if you a) like Dick Cheney or b) dislike vulgarity. (It suggests a debate stance for John Edwards that is just a bit more aggressive than I expect him to be. I do take some relish in this guy's tagline, "Proudly lowering the level of political discourse." It does take quite a lot to get lower than Faux News.

October 04, 2004

Staying on message

Watch this. Sad, really. Sadder still that America is falling for it.

One angry + eloquent Brit

This should be required viewing. Of all the agit prop animations and samizdat ads we've seen this election cycle, this takes the cake. The visuals are beautiful, but the message is devastatingly grave. It makes an incredibly valuable point: the neoconservatives are not engaged in a conspiracy, but rather have undertaken their palace coup in broad daylight. Shame on us, and farewell the Republic, should we fail to turn them and their pawns out of office. Really, watch this. And pass it on. Huge thanks to Jason for sending the link.

Two and One

I got two Republicans and a non voter. That's right. I got them, they're voting for Kerry this time around. I wanted to mention that in a big old public forum like this to remind you that the while election is a mere month away you can still bag a swing voter. Run, don't walk, to your nearest campaign office. Or just start workin' the crowd. You might think you don't know any Republicans, but you do, you do. I might have only got three votes, but they'll tell two friends...

We have to win. See, I'm not leaving if we don't. I've decided to secede. And it is really going to piss of my downstairs neighbors when civil war starts on my front porch. Do it for them.

Miserable Failure

This video from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is great. It juxtaposes some of Bush's statements from the debate with -- who'da thunk it? -- facts. Go watch it.

October 03, 2004

Simple question

Since everyone keeps mentioning Reagan's "body blow" against Carter in the 1980 debate...

"Are you better off than you were two Bushes ago?"

Two terms of out-of-touch jerks who find democracy pesky and debates demeaning is enough. Even Reagan was better than this. And while we're at it, Senate races are tightening up-- it looks like we might end up down by just two seats. Give some money to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is focusing on close races. Let's not stop with a Kerry victory--let's get ready to start talking about how long his coattails are. $51 is a great amount-- symbolizing the 51 seats that will turn Frist and the Rethuglican committee chairs out so we can start undoing the damage done to democracy in the past four years.

October 01, 2004

Revenge of the butterfly ballot

Here we go again. See if you can spot the problem with this absentee ballot, sent to Michigan voters:

michigan-absentee-ballot.png

(I excerpted the President section of the ballot -- you can see the whole thing at the original livejournal entry.) The computer would read a ballot with the first arrow filled in as a vote for Bush, but as you can see the arrow actually points to Kerry.

Good thing Congress passed the Help America Vote Act so things like this wouldn't happen again after Florida ...

Bush's tar baby

[This is my latest Backyard Blog post, but who knows if they will run it!]

I received this mail from a reader this morning after last night's debate.

"Having watched the debate two times, I concluded that Kerry did not make much sense about his stand on the Iraq war. At least he agreed that Sadam [sic] was a dangerous leader in the Middle East and replacing him was ok. I don't understand his argument of not the right time and right place for the war even though he voted to go for the war. What make any one think that Kerry knows what would be the right time and right place for the war? That means he would have waited until Sadam [sic] does some thing horrible to this nation?"

My first impulse in responding to this is to say that Kerry wouldn't have whipped a grieving nation into a frenzy with fake intelligence about the "imminent threat" of Iraq. Without Bush & Co.'s amazing sales pitch about why we shoud worry about Saddam instead of Osama (whom they couldn't find, so-- oh look-- shiny object! Over here!) I would imagine we would have had a proper national discussion about Saddam, worked with our allies, and eventually done whatever it would have taken to fully disarm him. Oh yeah, except he had nothing to
disarm!

But at the risk of being rude (and then meeting my correspondent, a la Libby) I don't really think I can have an intelligent discussion with someone who is, at this late date, a believer in the discredited theory that Saddam had it in his capacity to do more than play boogeyman to the U.S. So instead, I'll offer a children's tale. What we've done in Iraq resembles nothing so much as the old story of Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby, wherein crafty Br'er Fox creates an effigy out of sticky tar and connives Br'er Rabbit into attacking it. Complications ensue. There's nothing worse than attacking a big ball of tar, thinking it's a monster... except maybe attacking Iraq when you should be catching Osama and finding yourself locked in a guerrilla war with nothing resembling an exit strategy. What's worse, our presence in Iraq has turned it into a big Tar Baby factory.

Kerry proved last night that Bush is more Br'er Rabbit than he is presidential. Bush hammered away at one point: that no amount of tar would ever convince him that he has made a mistake. Nope, give him four more years and he'll find more messes to get us intractably stuck in. And you can bet he'll look at us with that smug smirk and tell us how "resolute" he is in fighting tar wherever it exists. Wow... "terror" even sounds like "tar" in his fake-Texas accent.

In closing, I'd like to hear from one of our republican friends... how do you think Bush did? Sure you still want four more years of that?

How kerry almost lost my vote last night

I admit, I only watched part of the debate last night. It was painful and irritating, and one of the most offensive moments of the entire campaign came early--and from John Kerry's mouth.

Neither of them said much of substance from what I could tell, but in discussing the fiasco in Iraq, Kerry said at least twice that 90% of the casualties in Iraq were Americans. So, somewhere around 1,000 Americans have been killed, and the estimates from varying sources indicate somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 Iraqis have been killed. It takes some pretty skillful manipulation of mathematical principals to come up with Americans representing 90% of the deaths.

Then he got the vote back when Bush, upon being asked about the miscalculations in the plan for after the war was over, basically said that the war had ended too quickly and we'd planned to kill a lot more people first, which we didn't get to do.

I wish I liked Kerry better. I really do. But I can't. On the other hand, I couldn't hate Bush more. So Kerry keeps my vote.

And thanks to Dan Savage for teaching me the most useful and relevant new word I've learned in years.

Bugging Out

From the site that keeps us all awake a night wondering who those people are, comes this choice bit:

“President Eisenhower's son, John, a lifelong Republican, has switched his party registration to independent and is going to vote for John Kerry. This makes the second child of a Republican president who is jumping ship (Ron Reagan spoke at the DNC). Eisenhower does not feel he is leaving the party; he feels the party has abandoned the principles his father stood for, including balanced budgets at home and working with our allies abroad. To read his story, entitled "Why I will will Vote for John Kerry for President," click here. So far Chelsea Clinton, Amy Carter, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg have not announced for Bush. But they still have a month if they want to.”