I like to watch

ABCNews says that there is a 70% chance that Mt. St. Helens will erupt within days, and they should know. They’d already posted the results from tonight’s debate this morning. Though they’ve since taken down the article, apparently they had posted something several hours ago.

Anyway, if you want to stay on top of the mounting pressure at St. Helens (which last blew its stack, by the way, on my 7th birthday), you can just bookmark the VolcanoCam page and check it between visits to the real-time traffic map site to see how the seismic activity might impact your commute.

Doing my duty to save our language

In this week’s Savage Love, Dan mentioned that after a visit to NPR’s The Next Big Thing, he was challenged with resurrecting a few words that have fallen into obsolescence. Although they were all perfectly fine words, my personal favorite–and the one that I can see pushing into very relevant usage these days–is kakistocracy (a society governed by its worst citizens).

In fact, I’m going one step further. I bet we would actually find that there will be quite a few posts that would easily fit into the kakistocracy category.

The Dirty Work

Face it. The phone calls are a drag. It’s telemarketing, plain and simple; it’s a politician you’re selling, not magazines or timeshares. And it sucks. It’s wearing and dull. And people are angry. They’ve been called 97 times by 97 different campaigns. They don’t want to talk about their politics to a stranger on the phone. And hell, why should they? As they reminded me repeatedly, it’s their right not to tell anyone how they’re voting. They are right. I can’t argue with them. Also, it turns out, duh, there’s a ton of policy I know f*ck all about.

The hardcore Republicans? Very nice to me. Really nice. Polite. The undecided voters? Totally inscrutable. I’d ask them what issues were important to them in the election and they didn’t know. Are they kidding with that? A bunch of people hung up on me. And I talked to one funny old coot who said this in a slow southern twang:

“I don’t like that Bush. We shouldn’t have gone in there.I fought in WWII. I was 19 years old when I enlisted and I don’t like how we went into Iraq. They’ve been fighting there since time began. And our Lord was there, Jesus was there and they were fighting then and they’re still fighting.” How do you respond to that?

The staffers do the dirty work too, it’s not just the volunteers. the staffer next to me cranked through her list of phone calls while I did mine. What a day. I’m whacked. I must have made a hundred phone calls.

I turned on the radio when I got in to the car. American Pie had just started and I sang along. When I got off the freeway, the huge orange moon was hanging low in the sky. I guess that’s the payoff. The orange moon and “this’ll be the day that I die.”

My family’s favorite wingnut strikes again

Watergate felon and prison convert Chuck Colson is treated like one step down from the Second Coming by many people in my family. So Why Does He Hate America???

We must be careful not to blame innocent Americans for murderous attacks against them. At the same time, let’s acknowledge that America’s increasing decadence is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. When we tolerate trash on television, permit pornography to invade our homes via the internet, and allow babies to be killed at the point of birth, we are inflaming radical Islam.

Radical Islamists were surely watching in July when the Senate voted on procedural grounds to do away with the Federal Marriage Amendment. This is like handing moral weapons of mass destruction to those who use America’s decadence to recruit more snipers and hijackers and suicide bombers.

One vital goal of the war in Iraq, and the war against terrorism, is to bring democracy to the heart of the Islamic world. Our hope is to make freedom so attractive that other Muslim countries will follow suit. But when radical Islamists see American women abusing Muslim men, as they did in the Abu Ghraib prison, and when they see news coverage of same-sex couples being “married” in U.S. towns, we make our kind of freedom abhorrent–the kind they see as a blot on Allah’s creation.

Um, isn’t this traditionally known as appeasement? If Kerry suggested we should avoid irritating Muslim extremists, what would happen?

The scarier thing is how Colson is finding common ground with Jihadi murderers in order to foist his morality here at home. To simplify and personalize this; “Because Osama bin Laden exists, Jay and David can’t get married.”

But wait– I thought when Bush says “They hate us for our freedom,” we are supposed to like freedom. I guess not. Real Americans hate gay freedom. And so does Osama. Which brings me to an epiphany: after all these years of being a wedge issue, it feels kind of good to be a uniter, not a divider.

But wait, here’s how he closes his article: “This makes reversing U.S. decadence an urgent priority, not just for Christians, but for all Americans. If our cultural rot continues unabated, a Talibanized West may no longer be a joke, but grim reality.”

If by “cultural rot” he means “self-righteous convicted felons hijacking our religious and political systems,” I totally agree. Because from where I sit, Chuck Colson is the Mullah-fucking-Omar of our own Christo-Taliban. Frankly, he and his ilk have done a lot more to hurt me over the course of my life than the Taliban, Osama, and Saddam Hussein combined. The hate Colson, Dobson, and Falwell preach is just as dangerous as the filth that flows from any madrassa in Peshawar or Jeddah. It motivates people to hatred in the name of religion and leads to policies that have killed tens of thousands of gays in this country in the past 20 years: AIDS, gay bashing, and the shameful statistic that gay kids are three times more likely to kill themselves. And not a day goes by that I don’t thank God that none of those fates befell me.

So go Taliban yourself, you lousy criminal. And may you– despite your pretense of following Christ– join Osama and Saddam in their “special place in Hell.”

The Justices: also scum

SCOTUSBlog has posted the enture October 2004 Vanity Fair investigative piece that quotes Supreme Court clerks telling us just how ugly and political were the machinations that accomplished the 2000 coup. Talk about your activist fucking judges! You must read this– just not on a full stomach. As Lawyers Guns and Money’s Scott Lemieux notes, “The liberals are simply playing at a different level, inexplicably assuming their opponents are acting in good faith no matter how much evidence of the opposite accumulates. While it’s the thieves of the 2000 election who deserve the most blame, let’s not forget that the timorous likes of Christopher, Gore, Lieberman, and Ginsburg made it a lot easier.”

To quote Digby, “This time, we must operate on that assumption and prepare for a knife fight — in the courts and in the realm of public opinion. There are no rules other than winning.”

Rove is scum

Talking Points Memo has a post that Rove look like the most evilly effective propagandist since Goebbels.

“So now we get some details about how the Rove treatment works — and not just speculation, but with descriptions from former Rove staffers who helped organize some of his trademark whispering campaigns.”

“An article out this week in The Atlantic Monthly focuses specifically on a series of races Rove ran in Texas and Alabama in the 1990s.”

“The Alabama races in particular haven’t gotten that much national press attention in the past. And one of the most lizardly passages in the article describes how Rove launched a whispering campaign against one Democratic opponent suggesting that the candidate — a sitting Alabama state Supreme Court Justice, who had long worked on child welfare issues — was in fact a pedophile …”

When his term on the court ended, he chose not to run for re-election. I later learned another reason why. Kennedy had spent years on the bench as a juvenile and family-court judge, during which time he had developed a strong interest in aiding abused children. In the early 1980s he had helped to start the Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama, and he later established the Corporate Foundation for Children, a private, nonprofit organization. At the time of the race he had just served a term as president of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect. One of Rove’s signature tactics is to attack an opponent on the very front that seems unassailable. Kennedy was no exception.

Some of Kennedy’s campaign commercials touted his volunteer work, including one that showed him holding hands with children. “We were trying to counter the positives from that ad,” a former Rove staffer told me, explaining that some within the See camp initiated a whisper campaign that Kennedy was a pedophile. “It was our standard practice to use the University of Alabama Law School to disseminate whisper-campaign information,” the staffer went on. “That was a major device we used for the transmission of this stuff. The students at the law school are from all over the state, and that’s one of the ways that Karl got the information out—he knew the law students would take it back to their home towns and it would get out.” This would create the impression that the lie was in fact common knowledge across the state. “What Rove does,” says Joe Perkins, “is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Mark is not your typical Alabama macho, beer-drinkin’, tobacco-chewin’, pickup-drivin’ kind of guy. He is a small, well-groomed, well-educated family man, and what they tried to do was make him look like a homosexual pedophile. That was really, really hard to take.”

So really, my friends, Kerry is getting off easy with the Swift Boat thing. It could be a lot worse.

Election 2004: Lawyers, start your engines

There’s a good chance that we may not know the outcome of the Presidential election for many days after November 2. Many of the reasons why have been covered elsewhere, but one provision of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) sn’t aware of was mentioned in this BBC article discussing how for the first time, representatives from the OSCE (the European body which has traditionally monitored elections in fledgling democracies) will observe the election. In addition to providing funds to “upgrade” election equipment, HAVA also mandates the concept of a “provisional ballot”:

The Help America Vote Act (Hava), passed in October 2002, mandated all states to introduce provisional ballots as a means of avoiding what happened in Florida during the 2000 poll, when thousands of voters incorrectly listed as criminals were alleged to have been removed from voter rolls and turned away.

Under the new system, everyone who believes they are entitled to vote – regardless of whether their name features on a roll or not – may cast a ballot. The validity of their vote will be decided later – although how this will be decided has also been a subject of some speculation.

(My emphasis.) If the election is close, expect not just lawsuits around hanging chads (which will still exist) and faulty electronic voting machines, but also around each end every provisional ballot cast.