...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Friday, August 29, 2003
      ( 4:13 PM )
Holiday for the Laborers

Not that any one who is an actual worker is appreciated much anymore in any tangible way. But I suppose the thought still counts for something. And to make it a true holiday in our house, the grandparents have taken the soon-to-be 15-month old tonight so that I can actually sleep in tomorrow. I wish that Labor Day actually meant something in this country - perhaps with a change in regime, workers will start to get the support and credit they deserve for keeping this country afloat.... and perhaps all those who have lost their jobs in the last 3 years will get them back again. There's always hope - isn't that what holidays are for? Have a great one.

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      ( 4:10 PM )
Evil Scorecard

In case you'd like to keep track of the evilness (from just plain evil deeds to really, really, really, really, really evil deeds). Thanks to DKos for the link.

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      ( 12:20 PM )
What They Said

Via Digby, via The Left Coaster - the voluminous list of lies. I can relate to Digby:

I honestly think that one of the keys to the Bushies'
"success" is the sheer volume and magnitude of
outrages they perpetrate. It's exhausting keeping up
with them and the resultant static makes even a hard
core news junkie like me want to pick up a cheap novel
or mindlessly watch TVLand just to keep my head
from exploding.

And Maru gives us the quote of the day:

"You can't keep the Democrats out of the White House forever!"
- - Sideshow Bob

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      ( 11:41 AM )
Wait, I Thought We Won That War

Fierce Fighting in Afghanistan. That's the title of the story. The story is that Americans and other countries' troops have been dying regularly in the last few weeks in a country where the President feels he can safely claim a final victory. This is a travesty. Not only that our troops are still there fighting and dying, but that the Taliban and the warlords are still maintaining power in so many parts of that country.

This is one subject which I also disagree with Dr. Dean on. He says regularly that he supported the attacks and invasion of Afghanistan because they had caused 9/11. They didn't. The Taliban didn't even cause it. It was a cell group of a worldwide terrorist organization. Now, the Taliban in Afghanistan gave refuge to that organization's leaders, but the country itself was not responsible. I do not regret the lifting of the horrible Taliban regime in Afghanistan. But I do regret that we killed so many people, I regret that our answer was to bomb a country and set that kind of precident, and I regret that we did not make good on our claim that we were returning it to democracy. I only hope the people of Afghanistan will find a way to make their country strong despite our hit and run methodology that the Iraqis are now beginning to get used to. I also hope that our men and women will stop being killed for wars that have nothing to do with defending our own country.

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      ( 11:28 AM )
Don't Stew, Activate!

It's Flood the Zone Friday! Get to work.

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      ( 11:23 AM )
End of Summer Election Blues

I have to confess that I don't like what I'm hearing about the rumors of Hillary Clinton considering a run for 2004. DKos and others have noted that it could be about the money...and about Clark. Clark has further delayed his announcement, most likely waiting to see the money number for Q3. And Gephardt is holding his breath hoping that he'll get the SEIU and then the AFL/CIO in October.

I'm no political genius or strategist, but I find common sense can often help sort through confusing times such as these. On the HRC front: she would be crazy to enter the race for 2004 if she has any care for the Dems winning. While it looks now that Bush is indeed beatable, it can't be by her. She is still too much of a polarizing figure, it is still too close to the "Clinton era" for her to have any independent self-identity in this world. If anything would mobilize on-the-fence Republicans, even moderates, it would be her in the race, and they wouldn't be mobilized against Bush as they are beginning to show signs of now. It would be folly indeed, and I hope that all the Democrat powers-that-be who are worth any weight in wanting a Dem victory in 2004 will advise her against it. So far she protests the rumors. Let's hope she sticks with that. She's in a much better position years from now, when the sting has worn off, when Dems have revived the country a bit.

As for the General, if he is waiting to see whether he could actually be a contender for the nomination, he should quit all the suspense. He can't get the nomination. But I don't think that should keep him from entering the primary races - he makes a good showing, shows he can go through the campaign nightmares, get lots of recognition and increased popularity, and he sets himself for the top VP slot. This is nothing to slouch at - VP is only one breath...

The question of Dean keeping up his momentum is going to be a big one through this fall. I think that the monthly meet-ups will do a lot to help this since it provides a regular, monthly way to guage the levels of interest in his campaign and possible presidency. His fundraising for Q3 will get him a lot more publicity as he probably will break Clinton's record in October. This will set him up nicely for the holidays and the beginning of the actual voting. Then it will most likely all be over within a couple of months. So the whole line about him "peaking too early" does not make sense - now is when he needs to be getting the kind of attention he is because now is when the fundraising ability comes to light, now is when the unions make their choices and now is when people are done with summer vacation adn ready to start thinking about stuff again. Hopefully that stuff includes how to get Bush out of the white house in a year.

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      ( 9:34 AM )
Friday is for Fathers

Catchin' up on the Dads today. Being Daddy informs us that Michael Jackson hasn't stopped terrorizing families yet, and though Rebel Dad is going on holiday, we can look forward to an exposition of Nathaniel Hawthorne's newly discovered writings about his stay-at-home dad experiences. One of my favorites is Laid-Off Dad, who seems to be mirroring my own experiences with my little boy. There must be some deeply ingrained baby-language that all babies speak as they transition into the language of their parents. Martin also "gocked" everything. (Not "grokked" as some of you Heinlein readers may be thinking - though it might be akin to the same thing in baby-world).

Two Dads really got me this week though. The first is Markos (aka Kos), who is giving us a look into his experiences as an expectant dad. His view from the "outside" of his child is wonderful to read - and those of us who have been through it really appreciate the laughs too (because I sure as hell wasn't laughing at the time!). I hope he keeps up his dad blog, it's wonderful to read. But in the end, the post that really set me to thinking was from David at Daddy Make a Picture. He has encountered a challenge that I daresay a lot of recently-new stay at home dads may face: An offer to return to the career that he was able to use his talents and skills in. But he has just gotten into the groove of staying at home with his kids and doing some part time work. What to do? It's not an easy choice, and one that Moms have to make all the time. I guess I feel sort envious that if he decides to go back to work full time, no one would fault him as they would a woman. Then again, if he decides to stay with the life he has created with his kids, then he may face judgment from elsewhere in society about being a "provider" or some such nonsense. I hope that whatever he decides, he will feel good in his heart about it. No one can know what is best for us except ourselves. I am proud of the people who buck the system to do what they feel is the right thing for themselves and their families. But I also think the system can be punitive far beyond where its reach should be, and I hope that in the coming months and years that the Dads who choose to stay home with their kids won't be judged for the careers they have left, but for the human beings they are helping to raise into citizens that will make our society that much better.

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Thursday, August 28, 2003
      ( 3:33 PM )
40 Years Ago Today

I didn't think much today could be as significant as this. Excerpts that should still teach and inspire us:

...We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. ... We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

...And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"<

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Wednesday, August 27, 2003
      ( 3:37 PM )
Was It That Letter I Wrote?

The astounding results of the latest Zogby poll are now online. There was much ado about the results as reported by the NYT this morning. Many of the comments (before it came out and was verified) on DKos were of the disbelieving type, as in: it must have been a typo. But it evidently is true:

Nearly two in five (38%) supported Dean, giving him
a substantial lead over Massachusetts Senator John
Kerry at 17%. In February polling in New Hampshire,
Kerry led Dean, 26% - 13%. In June, the gap had
narrowed to Kerry 25%, Dean 22%.

This kind of jump in one month is amazing. The Dean Campaign isn't attributing the jump to anything in particular. I don't know that all the letter writing that people did at Meet-Up last month was the key, but it might have made a little difference. Right after the letter-writing campaign to Iowans, his numbers in Iowa surged as well. This is an incredible lead over the favorite, Kerry. I don't know if it is sustainable, but at the pace Dean is going and considering how well his fundraising is picking up, I don't think Kerry is going to be the one to beat anymore. However, the Kerry team is saying it's all because of Dean's increased visibility via ads and stuff like that. But so what? If it was just name recognition that put Kerry ahead, that doesn't bode well for his being a "comeback kid."

I think the Dean Campaign is going to be going through some major growing pains in the next month. They have the huge end-of-quarter goal they are trying to reach, but at the same time they have to suddenly mold themselves into a prime-time, competitive and professional campaign. I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Dean this past weekend (if you're interested, I can give you more of my impressions of him personally) when he was in Portland and the privilege of standing casually with him and his staff as they and the press boarded the "grassroots express" to fly to Seattle. Dean was genuinely overwhelmed by the turnout he'd gotten on the Sleepless Summer Tour so far - and he hadn't even gone to Seattle with its 10,000 attendees. In response to this, one of his staffers commented that just two months ago their campaign had 3 political desks to Kerry's 30. Now, it was like they are a mom-and-pop store that has suddenly gone multi-national.

I hope that the campaign will use this very comfortable lead in the polls and in fundraising to take the time it needs to mold itself into the professional, smooth-running machine it needs to be for the race ahead. Trippi is on the ball, but it has to move from him into a delegation of people who are not yes-men, but people who will make good decisions, spend money in the right places, and keep the core beliefs at the center of their vision. They also need some really good speech writers. It's time to move on up into the big time. I think the dismissals of Dean are going to have to stop now - his staying power and his appeal are ballooning and it's time for his team to get really serious.

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      ( 12:39 PM )
Those Stupid Protesters

My favorite comment in the news coverage of the Portland protests against President Bush's $2000/plate fundraiser last Thursday came from a woman who was part of the "pro-Bush" support group. When asked what she thought about the fact that the protesters had a far larger crowd than her bunch, she replied, "well, of course there's more anti-Bush people out here today, most of them don't have jobs!"

things that make ya go hmmmmmm......

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      ( 12:37 PM )
FlyPaper Politics?

Digby points out very succinctly the absolute folly of taunting the bull.

Maru phrases the subject clearly too:

While he vacations, raises millions of dollars for
himself in champagne shakedowns.

Vietnam war deserter/callous, partying fundraiser Smirky
McAWOL vowed Tuesday there would be no retreat from Iraq,
even as the toll of dead U.S. soldiers since May 1 rose to 141,
surpassing the number killed during the six weeks of major combat.

The empty echoes of a president that speaks in untruths may raise money from his faithful corporate fans, but in the end, he isn't leading us with dignity, compassion OR wisdom as he promised in his campaign...he's leading us into the valley of death...

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      ( 11:30 AM )
GOP: Taking the Democracy out of Democracy

The shifty GOP is at it again. Thanks to Charles Donefer for a great post about what the Republicans are up to now. In Nevada, plans are underway to recall Governor Kenny Guinn. Is he corrupt? Has he lied in such a way that led his constituents to die? Has he somehow stained the office he holds? Nope. He just signed a bill that raised state taxes so the budget could be balanced. Yep, that's the crime that the GOP feels is equal to usurping the votes of the people of Nevada.

And it's not only in Nevada, Donefer explains:

In Pennsylvania, brand new Governor Ed Rendell, is
being considered as the target of a recall. Why? "The
problem with Governor Rendell, Miskin says, is his efforts
to advance his agenda." So it's a heinus act to be a
Democrat in Pennsylvania now? Well, not yet - there
isn't a recall process in place at the moment.

How can this continue without some kind of backlash? Republicans seem to be so caught up in their own monarchy - they feel so strongly that God has endowed them alone to rule this country that even the most ridiculous and outright thievery of the democratic process doesn't seem too excessive to them. Now that it looks like their Charmed Boy is going to have a major uphill battle in California, one would think that they would lie low for a while, you know: not be so obvious. But if Tom Delay had his way, that silly old "rule of law" thing would be thrown out with the bath water and a new regime would reign in Texas as well.

Is this all crazy talk? Nope. Is there a coincidence in the timing that as 2004 approaches, the GOP is doing its damndest to cheat as many elections as possible? Nope. A party that has claimed moral highground in politics since the good ol' Newt days doesn't have much to show for all their hot air. I think a good question was asked of Republican voters last night by a leading democrat candidate at a rally of 10,000 in NYC: "you've voted Republican for the last 30 years - what have you got to show for it?"

The best way that we can fight these attempts by Republicans and Conservatives to usurp democracy at its core is to show them via democracy that they and their scams are no longer relevant. Revolution is upon us. And it will be very obvious that every vote counts as these next months unfold. Be sure your vote is one of them.

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      ( 10:02 AM )
It's Getting Hot in the Pacific Northwest

Great article in the Seattle Weekly comparing last week's photo-op fundraising tour George Bush took through Oregon and Washington to Howard Dean's Sleepless Summer Tour that followed hot on W's heels.

It was hottest for Bush in Portland. That city has become
ground zero in this country for anarchists and radicals of
every stripe. To them, Bush is Satan. On Thursday, Aug. 21,
at least 3,000 protesters marched to the site of a Bush
fund-raiser, where a barbed-wire-topped chain-link fence and
hundreds of riot police hemmed them in.

But it wasn't just radicals standing in the blazing Portland sun
and giving the president a middle-finger salute. It was people
like Joel Spinhirne, a middle-class, unemployed high-tech worker,
who said he was "newly radicalized" as a result of Bush's handling
of the economy, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the wrecking of
the American health care system. "It's going to be people in the
middle class who turn this around," he said.


BUT THE STRONGEST SIGN that the Northwest's middle
class is mad as hell came when Howard Dean's "Sleepless
Summer Tour" swept through Boise, Portland, Seattle, and
Spokane, drawing thousands out to hear the Democratic front-
runner flay Bush and declare, "We can do better than this."

The excitement among the crowds in Seattle and Portland was
palpable, especially in Seattle on Monday, where an estimated
10,000 people gathered in and around Westlake Park. Despite
press accounts painting the Dean campaign as a youth
movement, the Seattle turnout was solidly middle-aged and


Listening to him, it's hard not to envision President Harry
Truman—short, combative, plain-spoken, truth telling, and
a pain in the ass for the Beltway crowd.

It's nice to know that the average Americans who are really mad about the way BushCo has abused and used this country are finally getting some acknowledgment in the press. It's about time BushCo starts feeling the heat.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003
      ( 1:42 PM )

I confess: I took a self-imposed break from the computer for three days - and then of course, today when I want to get back in the saddle, work has been a hellish string of fires to put out. So I shall post my usual witty, thought provoking and highly important comments as soon as I am able. Please come back and check up on me!

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Friday, August 22, 2003
      ( 10:21 AM )
The Bat is Back

Spurred on by Bush's $1million take yesterday in Portland, the Dean Campaign broke out the Bat again. The goal this time is $1million by the end of the Sleepless Summer Tour, which starts this weekend (coming here to Portland on Sunday at 12 noon at PSU!). The guys at Not Geniuses have a great post about it - reflecting some of my own thoughts. I think that a lot of people, even those who aren't really "Deanies," are really not impressed with the fact that while soldiers continue to be killed and bombs are going off and more people keep losing jobs, Bush is prancing around speaking for half an hour and collecting checks from a few huge time donors. Dean's goal is to try to show that we, the little people, can match that effort. So even if you're not sure yet who you'd vote for, slipping a $10 or $20 to the Bat this weekend could be a very small way for you to show that while you're not on the list of invitees for the Bush campaign, you definitely can have a say with regard to his job security.

The fact that they've already pulled in $160,000 before noon on the first day is a pretty good sign, I'd say. Reading the comments, you get this funny feeling that people actually are excited to give to a political campaign and show up Bush. Perhaps the total will roll past $2million, making up for what Bush will bring home from Portland and Seattle combined this weekend.

Note, Not Geniuses have some great activist tools - check them out! (Thanks to DKos for the link)

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      ( 9:41 AM )
Once More on the Zogby

P made a comment to me last night about the Zogby poll yesterday that was a great reminder to me. Beyond the fact that Bush's numbers are down and also that more people want another president than want him - if you look at the historical figures, Bush's approval ratings now are about where they were before 9/11. Literally, a massive terrorist attack on our country is what lifted him so high - one event is what measured his entire "job performance." We can't just ignore 9/11, it's now part of the fabric of our lives and our history, but I think it is interesting that without it, Bush has returned to being the unsupported president he was before it happened. How much of those approval ratings were the "sympathy vote" and just a desire in Americans for togetherness and some sort of reassurance after the horrible calamity of 9/11? It seems like truth emerges now: Bush's job performance as an effective president has not improved or even changed much without the influence of a massive attack on us and his massive attacks on other countries. In a way, it makes me sad that his job performance went up when he was commiting war on other nations - I hope our country begins to change a bit in perspective and sees that this is not the way we want to represent ourselves to the world.

I wonder if Rove is starting to worry yet?

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Thursday, August 21, 2003
      ( 4:33 PM )
THIS is What Pisses Me Off About News Reporting

The headline of this story is "Restart of Intel plant will employ 500." It's the kind of headline that makes a poor Oregon mama's heart jump with hope - maybe there will be a job for her husband! Maybe there will be new jobs for lots and lots of Oregonians! But the story is a stupid, stupid report about nothing. Not only will the jobs (and only 300) of them not be available until 2005 and then 2008, but

most of those employees will be transferred
from the company's Ronler Acres campus in Hillsboro

Nice. This state is languishing in the highest unemployment rates in history, people don't have work, especially people in tech jobs, and this purports to be a "business news" item? This is total crap - it's not even reporting, it's not even a news story, and it's most certainly not about employment or jobs for people...it's about a transfer of employees two years from now in a company that doesn't even pay taxes in this state. This is the desperate work of a media that can't even manage to report the truth of what the government (federal AND state) has done to its citizens. This mama is livid at such stupidity.

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      ( 3:43 PM )
Green Revolt?

I don't know if I buy this story that Greens are so virulently against the Dems that they will accept a Bush victory in 2004. It's not only that it's from Fox, but it seems REALLY like one guy's BS and not a story on the Green Party as a whole. I got the link from Counterspin, and I note that I can't find rumblings of this story anywhere else. It's because it's NOT a story. The entire thing is a spin off of one Green Candidate for CA governor - the only parts about the Green party as a whole are pure conjecture.

What I find really interesting in the whole "Greens v. Dems" debate is how so many people fail to recognize that it wasn't only Greens who voted for Nader in the last election. Without the vision of foresight to see 9/11 coming, those voters felt, and rightly so, that the Democratic party had left its roots and that the entirety of politics had moved so far to the right that the Democratic candidate, while espousing lovely language from the stage of the convention, went on to represent as further right than past republican presidents on some issues! It can be re-hashed until kingdom come, but the truth of the matter is that Gore did not lose that election, it was outrightly stolen - but on the other hand, he didn't make a showing to garner an overwhelming base of support either. Most of the people I know who voted for Nader are not Greens, they were faithful progressive dems. I would venture to guess that NONE of those previous Nader voters will vote Green in 2004. Not only that, but I personally have witnessed high-up Green coordinators and leadership come into the Dean camp, at least in this state.

Fox and its masters are going to do everything they can to throw a wrench in the Democratic process of nominating an opposing candidate to Bush. No matter who that candidate is, we can all rest assured he is in for a dirty tricks experience like he's never imagined. The Bush camp knows it's a threatened species now. We all have to stick to our guns and be together on getting Bush out. The core of the party knows that, the grassroots movements know that, the Greens know that and Ralph Nader knows that. I dont 'think it's going to be the election party that Karl Rove or the inside-the-beltway political press think it will be - the people have a taste of fighting back and many, many reasons to do so. Articles like this just prove to me how desperate the Right already is.

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      ( 2:29 PM )
Support the Brave Texas Dems!

Move On is fundraising today for advertising to support the Texas Democrats. Come on, give your support - they should know that we are behind them and that they are true defenders of democracy - and we won't leave them high and dry.

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      ( 2:17 PM )
It's All Over But the Forest Fires

The pResident has left the city and is heading for central Oregon, where a friendlier, more Republican population will welcome him. He is scheduled to speak about his new "Healthy Forest" initiative, which proposes to give a huge boost to logging and get rid of requirements to clear brush and dried wood from forests, rather than chopping down all the old growth. As if Nature had to protest itself, forest fires lit up right before his arrival in the exact area he had formerly been scheduled to speak... though, as I mentioned earlier, there is some question about the fact that they appear to have been purposely started. The reception here in Portland was loud on the outside and rich on the inside. It's now up to you, Seattle to carry on.

I may have spoken too soon...P reports by phone that the people gathered in the public park after the protest were trying to leave when the cops announced that at 2:00 pm, the park was closed and they weren't moving fast enough so the pepper spray came out. Well, it's a shame to get dressed up in riot gear and then not get a riot...might as well use the pepper spray anyway!

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      ( 12:39 PM )
"Widely Popular War President" No Longer Popular...
Goes Widely Unreported

The new Zogby Poll is out. The truth can now be put to numbers: lots more people think George W. Bush sucks as president than don't. The most telling part of the poll is that a majority of people don't think he should be re-elected. Will this downward trend continue? Well, it's obvious that he doesn't really mind, since despite everything happening in the world, he's spending the month collecting checks. Maybe he'll pay attention later. Perhaps we're asking too much...

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      ( 10:29 AM )
Portland Says No to Bush

This is where I'll update on the happenings here in Little Beruit while the President is visiting. It looks like several of my fellow Oregon bloggers will be out on the streets today, so in solidarity, I am following their progress. Early press reports indicate the "strategy" is to try to block the big money people from getting into the fundraiser. This, of course is going to create some clashes since the main way to do this will be to sit down in intersections leading to the campus. Success of this direct action of course will depend on the kinds of numbers they can turn out for the crowds. So far, I haven't found any reports on the estimate numbers yet. Of course, if there is an attempt to actually block the presidential motorcade (which is set to shut down all of Portland traffic here in about 1/2 hour), that could raise the hackles of the secret service dudes. It looks also like there is a group of people set to welcome the president as well. Guess they couldn't afford the $2000 to actually hear their beloved speak to them.

It's the People versus the president, take two (this happened exactly this time last year too). Will the national press even care? Only if the protesters here are able to make a big enough impact, which in years past they have been quite successful. No matter how much the GOP would like to intimate that they can corner Oregon's electoral votes, the pictures of massive protest in the streets speaks a little louder than $2000/plate supporters at a posh, exclusive, fenced-off luncheon. So we shall see how this confrontation goes...

UPDATE: Here is the traffic cam that is focused on the road that the Motorcade has to travel to get to University of Portland. If like the last time, all onramps will be blocked and the freeway cleared for him for up to and sometimes over an hour surrounding his drive.

: He's Here. Here's a question, why must they close all the freeways for him to drive from the airport - couldn't he take a helicopter or something? They don't just shut down his route, they shut down ALL of our surrounding freeways so that he can go whichever way he wants.

North Portland resident John Keenan sat on the grass
in Columbia Park, watching the crowds grow. "I was just
thinking about the $2,000-a-plate fundraiser," he said.
"With all the things going on in the world, it’s a pity the
President has to be going around collecting money. You
would think he would have better things to do."

UPDATE: Latest news, reporters from our local Independent Media Center, Street Roots (Our local homeless paper) and KBOO (our local community news radio station) have been denied acess to the event, despite the fact that they obtained press credentials and passes ahead of time. As Emily points out, it looks like non-corporate media is once again blacked out.

UPDATE: looks like ALL the media has been blocked. Begs one to wonder what the heck he's going to say to his pets in there.

UPDATE: Uh oh. The mood seems to be shifting - not in a good way (though a news reporter reporting on his own "assault" is questionable at this point before the objective facts are in about what really happened). I was hoping that the protest would not get angry. It's hard when there is so much visceral anger against Bush these days, but still. Let's hope no one gets hurt. FURTHER: Of course now we hear that the newspeople are assaulting each other. Hmmm.

UPDATE (1:45 pm local): Well, things have broken up. It wasn't as bad as the corporate media was making it out to be. Of course they were focusing on the troublemakers as usual and pretty much refused to report on why the bulk of the protesters were there in the first place. It seemed the biggest story one of our local stations could drum up was that one of them smelled The Pot amdist part of the crowd!! Call in John Ashcroft!!! All in all, I think it was a smaller crowd than expected, even though people there estimated it around a few thousand. The Resident has left the building...and left the city and is now on his way to the other (friendlier) side of the state. Yep, those fires are still burning.

I have two major feelings on this event. One is that I wish more people had shown up to protest, but considering that they purposely put it at an out of the way location and blocked everything off the night before, those who did show up were hearty activists. The other is that I honestly don't understand why it is that Bush is pulling in first-time donors of $2000 a pop to these things. What is that motivates these people to give so much money to him - what is it about his presidency that has helped this state or this country at all? I can't think of a thing. Honestly. Is it just a polarization of political parties in this state that is bringing out these Republicans? I suppose that could be part of it. But in the end, it remains a mystery to me why someone would support him, much less pay $2000 to hear him say the same damned thing over again about how we've won the war against Saddam and revenged 9/11. Is it just me?

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      ( 8:47 AM )
Even Nature Hates Bush?
(...or is something more sinister afoot?)

As some of you may know, the President is visiting Oregon today. His big fundraiser (expected to bring in $1 million) at University of Portland is going to be protested by an expected crowd of upwards of 5-20,000 people. There is even a demonstration blog set up. You may think that's quite a protest (W's Daddy called Portland "Little Beruit" after he tried coming here). But his other stop was to be in the Deschutes National Forest so he could "stump" his "healthy forest" initiative (which we all know follows the traditional Bushian logic of: in order to fix something, we must destroy it!). But in the exact area where he was set to have his forest speech, the forests have burst into flames!

Two wildfires are now burning out of control in the very location that Bush was expected to speak from today. So now he's going to have to do his thing from eastern Oregon, in Redmond.

But that's not the end of the story. At first look, the fires look intentionally set. But by whom??? The AP is reporting that some high-placed environmentalist organizations (and not lefty ones - more like the Sierra Club) are questioning whether it's just coincidence that the fires were set right when the President was coming to talk about preventing forest fires by cutting down the forests...

Bush's forest initiative isn't only opposed by environmentalists, it's also opposed by forest fire fighters and residents of small towns here in Oregon. They feel the money should be spent on clearing old, dry brush and thinning new trees, rather than the Bush plan of clearing out old growth. The "Healthy Forest" initiative is, in a word, a gift to loggers. Shocking, I know. And now suddenly, right on the eve of a speech set to show that Bush himself is more powerful than Smokey the Bear and he alone can prevent forest fires if only allowed to pass his distorted, hairbrained legislation - the trees are aflame. Political arson just to help the President? Could pro-Bush forces be so uncaring, so cruel? Were those rhetorical questions?

I will update today on the ongoing events surrounding the visit. It's looking right now like these fires were not accidental. The FBI has been called in. The question is, will we ever know the truth?

Cheering on Oregon bloggers who are standing up today for that truth...and to show that this President is not a president of the people, but a chicken President of the rich and one who blows more smoke than the forest fires.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2003
      ( 3:02 PM )
Dirty List

Thanks to Easy Bake Coven for the heads up about the Dirty List. Released today, it names of companies that continue to do business with the terrifyingly horrible government of Burma:

"The 'Dirty List' exposes companies who are directly or
indirectly helping to finance one of the most brutal regimes
in the world," said John Jackson, Director of Burma Campaign
UK. "Foreign investment and trade can benefit developing
countries, but in Burma it helps finance a regime that uses
rape, torture and murder to oppress its own people."

Unfortunately, the list targets primarily British companies. I'd like to see the American list. Or maybe I wouldn't.

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      ( 2:02 PM )
So Sue Me

The Fair and Balanced Movement is still growing.

And this is beautiful... Paul Newman has joined.

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      ( 10:34 AM )
Now You Too Can Get on the 'Enemies' List!

It's simple! It's fun! Build your own FBI file in one easy step! Want to know more? Here's how!

As you may have heard, John Ashcroft, the attorney general of the United States, has launched a wild and crazy speaking tour this week where he is rockin' the vote for the Patriot Act (aka "Revenge on Librarians Act"). Ashcroft's not such a tough adversary on his own (recall that when given the choice, the people of Missouri voted for a dead man rather than for Ashcroft), but he has vast resources behind him, and the Administration has already demonstrated that it is making a list and checking it twice...gonna find out who's naughty...

So now's your chance to get your very own FBI file! You might even get it red-flagged! If you've been wondering, "how can I get to be an enemy of the Bush administration?" or "how can I entice the FBI to search my home without my permission or tap my phones or delve into my private history of library book checkouts?" then this is your opportunity! Be among the first few thousand to be declared a true traitor - a clear and present danger to the safety of this country! Committing treason is so easy now, with just a simple signature, your name will be sent to the FBI and you too can be counted among the most unpatriotic, treasonous, lecherous and no-good dissenters who are making this country the disasterous, free-thinking, free-speaking bastion of liberalism that it is.

I can't fault the Dean campaign for taking this route. It is a clear way to speak out against Ashcroft and the Patriot Act, and frankly, probably everyone who has publicly joined the Dean campaign is already on a list somewhere in the Justice Department files. I didn't mind signing since I already know I have an FBI file (past indiscreet direct action and a few deportations from other countries), so I thought that for those of you who might be embarking on a fresh new FBI file, here are a few tips to make your interactions with Mr. Ashcroft and his minions more enjoyable for everyone:

1. You might want to put a sign up, not huge, but noticeable, somewhere near the front door welcoming the FBI agents when they break into your home without having first obtained a warrant or notifying you that you were under surveillance. This is always a nice touch and takes the sting out of the intrusion.

2. It's always good to pepper your house with "illicit literature." This is reading material that will instantly fatten your FBI file and even perhaps warrant confiscation (always good to keep your better copies somewhere safe outside your home). This literature can cover a wide range and should include any or all of the following: anything by Michael Moore; books or pamplets regarding the history of any revolutionary group (nice inclusions might be the IRA, ETA, Tamil Tigers and of course, the Palestinians); any books, pamphlets or flyers about unions, union organizing or the many and various massacres of union workers by the US government over the years; and of course any sort of pamplets or books on how to live without being connected to the grid or paying your taxes. It can be as effective leave handwritten notes or posters around with comments like "there's no government like no government," or "Free Leonard Peltier !!!"

3. Whenever you're on the phone, be sure to use lots of mysterious language, peppered with phrases like "big daddy" and "the meeting place."

4. If you would like your file to include some very flattering pictures of you, when at a rally or protest demonstration, be sure to go right up to and pose for any pictures being taken by young men with close-cropped hair wearing polo shirts, khaki pants and sunglasses (this is the new undercover uniform). And don't forget: smile!

5. It's always best to leave a trail of video and book checkouts that mark you as a true troublemaker - I leave it up to your discretion, but rent lots and borrow often!

6. Whatever actual public dissenting you can do will always help to fatten your file: attending rallies, coordinating committees, demonstrations, picketing, and saying things like "the 'healthy forest initiative' is about cutting down healthy forests!" Doing really dirty things like carrying signs or dressing up in costume can really add a touch of finesse to what otherwise might be a plain, drab FBI file.

7. Finally, in a few months, after you feel confident you've added enough solid material to your file, begin flooding the justice department with FOIA requests. One per week should do nicely - they really like to fulfill those requests, and it's lots of fun for them to black out things and pretend they're secrets!

By following these few suggestions, I assure you, your life will become much more exciting and you too might find yourself a named ENEMY of the Bush administration. Enjoy - it's the best company you'll ever keep.

UPDATE: Looks like 40,000 people have already signed on - don't get left out of the crowd!

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Tuesday, August 19, 2003
      ( 10:40 AM )
Destroying Our Infrastructure 101

This is the title of the class that will be team-taught by George W. Bush, John Ashcroft and Donald Rumsfeld - in fact, it's an ongoing class in which we're all students. Are we learning the lessons yet? I don't know if anyone saw this article in Sunday's Oregonian, but it bears comment. "Going Postal on the Nation's Mail Service" by Susan Nielsen was a sobering look at just one more thing that BushCo is intent on destroying. Have you heard about this one?

The recommendations to cut workers' wages and
benefits, enrich top executives, close rural post offices,
turn more of the mail delivery over to private companies
and form an unaccountable, overpaid corporate board
are part of a package commissioned by President Bush.
It's heading to Congress this fall for likely hearings.

Now, despite infrequent complaints (compared to the amount of mail delivered), the Postal Service is the best in the world. They've also already reduced their workforce by 40,000 since last spring when they began modernizing all their equipment. Not to mention having to recover from 9/11 and the anthrax even (hey, did we catch that guy yet?), we enjoy almost the lowest mail delivery prices in the world, and our postal service handles 40 percent of the mail on earth. They deliver faithfully not only to every address in big cities and centralized locations, but to the farthest reaches of rural America as far out as the small outposts in Alaska. So while a little more reorganization might help...what the Bush administration has planned is flat out demolition of this service that reaches every single American.

First, President Bush has said he wants to slash the
federal civilian work force in half and reduce other
government jobs. The postal service is the nation's
second-largest employer, after Wal-Mart, and its 750,000
employees are an easy target.

Second, powerful businesses in the $900 billion mailing
industry want a bigger piece of the pie.

And what other great ideas did Bush's panel on reforming the postal service come up with? Well, of course - pay CEOs more and workers less!

But the overall push is depressing and outrageous:
Pay top executives more. Today, top postal executives
have a salary cap of $171,000. That's not enough
money, Bush's panel said. These executives need to
be paid what top corporate executives make. They cited
private-sector salaries from about $300,000 for chief
financial officers to about $1 million for CEOs. Pay workers
. The average postal clerk or city letter carrier makes
$42,500 a year. That's awfully generous, said the panel,
especially considering the benefits. They said the postal
service should take "corrective action" to ensure postal
workers don't get better compensation than private-sector

Of course, we'd have to cut all that pesky oversight by Congress - no more fighting for rural post offices by Congressmen and Senators...nosireee....

Dealing with Congress is a pain, the panelists concluded.
They recommended a self-perpetuating corporate board
of directors whose members would be appointed by the
president or by board members themselves, with no
Senate input.

Naturally, these board members would make a lot of money,
just like the private sector. They'd be overseen by a new three-
member Postal Regulatory Board, appointed by the president
and confirmed by the Senate. Congress would have little to no
say in postal operations, rate changes or post office closures.

This is just another one of BushCo's attempts to turn us all into submissive sheep - we are just simple little worker bees, our role in this country is just to consume and like it. "Get back to normal life" Bush likes to say after disasters, which to him and his cronies means "start buying stuff!" The entire theme of this administration has been to take the power out of the hands of the citizens through the government and put the power into the hands of corporate giants...where each member of this administration will no doubt go to work for after their term is done (if they don't get their "president for life" package passed - which, God knows, is somewhere in their plans).

It's possible to improve the U.S. Postal Service.
But it's impossible to do so while treating citizens as
consumers, or postal workers as low-wage drones.
And it's folly to call rural post offices too quaint, middle-
class wages too high and the public too bothersome
to be consulted.

This has gone on long enough.

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Monday, August 18, 2003
      ( 2:32 PM )
Rise Up and Join the Revolution

Great Katha Pollit editorial on the Main Man.

Alter also finds "the diminutive family doctor" "brusque"
and says he "strutted like a little Napoleon onto the floor of
the usually genteel Vermont State Senate."

A little Napoleon? Is that the problem--Dean is short?
(He's 5' 8".) In order to run for President one must not only
be white, a man, married, religious and Southern--not to
mention whatever the opposite of brusque may be--one must
be tall as well? No wonder I love this man!

Every time the press pooh-poohs his chances, every
time they gloat over some trivial misstatement, every time
they make fun of Vermont and describe his supporters as
"Birkenstocked" "Deanyboppers," I think about the free ride
the media give Bush, who says more false and foolish things
in an afternoon than Dean has said in a lifetime, who is unmaking
everything good about this country from Head Start to habeas
corpus, who is stacking the government with faith healers and
fanatics, my fingers itch to write Dean another check.


On July 14, Bush explained why the United States invaded
Iraq as follows: "The larger point is, and the fundamental
question is: Did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program?
And the answer is: absolutely. And we gave him a chance to
allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And therefore,
after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power."
Eat your heart out, Hans Blix! The President of the United States
can bizarrely declare that weapons inspectors never entered Iraq,
and that's not a news story. He's "likable," he's tall--he's
not a Democrat.


Indeed, some pundits predict that when Dean's lefty supporters
discover Dean's center-right positions on such issues as Israel
and welfare, his campaign will fizzle. "The guy they think Dean is,
Dennis is," Jeff Cohen, Kucinich's ebullient communications director,
told me, predicting an exodus of progressives from Dean to Kucinich
as the truth comes out. (Presumably despite the fact that Kucinich
is a whole inch shorter.)

Maybe so. But I've talked to quite a few Dean supporters, including
mainstream Democrats, lapsed voters, flaming leftists, Naderites,
gay activists, civil libertarians, anti-death penalty lawyers, pro-single
payer health professionals and even a surprising number of Nation
staffers. I have yet to find one who mistakes Dean for Eugene Debs,
or even for Paul Wellstone, whose line about belonging to the
"democratic wing of the Democratic Party" Dean likes to borrow.
They've gone for Dean because, alone among the major Democratic
contenders, he has taken Bush on in an aggressive and forthright way,
because he's calling the craven Democratic Party to account and
because they think he can win


What the media see as progressive self-delusion is actually
the opposite: a bare-knuckled pragmatism born from the
debacle of the 2000 elections.

Give 'em hell, Howard. It's time to take back this country - no matter who it is, it has to be we that decide, not the richie riches, not the corporations, not the big money, not the backroom connivers. It has to be we, the people, the citizens. This is our way to do that. Howard Dean isn't merely a possible candidate, he is a viable candidate and one that will speak FOR us, but we are the ones who control our own destiny. If only we will take hold of that power and use it and keep it.

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      ( 1:59 PM )
Are YOU Talkin' 'Bout US???

Thanks to Maru for pointing us to this editorial in the WaPo from the weekend. Evidently, the rest of the world isn't as gullible as our own media and consumer-citizens. Of course, that's been obvious for quite a while now. But just to drive it home, it seems the spectacle of Schwarzenegger's run in California has added one more nail to our miserable, leaky coffin:

In Saudi Arabia, the editors of Arab News see Schwarzenegger
as the son of Ronald Reagan.

"Reagan's success heralded the arrival of presentation
as the prime consideration for successful politics. In a
sound-bite media age, political savvy by itself is no longer
enough. A high degree of stage management is necessary
and who is better qualified to walk into the limelight and
deliver the right lines on cue than a professional actor?"


Yet for an America that seems to be finding it increasingly
hard to separate reality from Hollywood's fictions
, it must be
hoped that Schwarzenegger is given the thumbs down by
California voters and is sent back to his day job in the film studios."


In Israel, columnist Larry Derfner, writing in the Jerusalem
Post, had much the same thought.

Schwarzenegger's "debut as the instant favorite in the race
for governor of California only confirms the world's opinion of
," he wrote. "They like violence, power, revenge, riches,
success and fame, and they don't know the difference between
real life and fantasy, between real people and characters in
an action movie

"As for their politics, it amounts to 'looking out for number one.'
They don't have a society and don't want one. The world outside
America's borders is irrelevant to them except as a threat or a target. "

But Derfner says the real precedent for Schwarzenegger
is George W. Bush.

"Bush also gets over on his image as a terminator, a blaster of
bad guys, a man with a swagger, an action hero who delivers
killer one-liners ('Bring 'em on!'). What are his politics? We're
good, they're evil. Taxes are evil. Now did you get all that, or
do you need some help?"

It's sobering to know that the rest of the world isn't buying our crap, even while we do. Ultimately, this could be our greatest tragic flaw (among others): that we cannot see our own stupidity and mistake it for wisdom. I think our country may need to take a Carnegie seminar or something. We're not doing too well at that whole "make friends and influence people" thing. Of course, why bother when we can just blow them up if we don't like them?

UPDATE: Compounded by the great impression we're making in Iraq. We're not as pretty as we think we are.

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      ( 11:30 AM )
Dim Bulbs and Light Stalkers

I checked in first with Greg Palast to see if he had anything on the background of the Power Outage...of course he did.

[I]n 1990, one devious little bunch of operators out of Texas,
Houston Natural Gas, operating under the alias "Enron,"
talked an over-the-edge free-market fanatic, Britain's Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher, into licensing the first completely
deregulated power plant in the hemisphere.


FDR gave us the Federal Power Commission and the Public
Utilities Holding Company Act which told electricity companies
where to stand and salute. Detailed regulations limited
charges to real expenditures plus a government-set profit.
The laws banned power "trading" and required companies
to keep the lights on under threat of arrest -- no blackout
blackmail to hike rates.

Of particular significance as I write here in the dark, regulators
told utilities exactly how much they had to spend to insure the
system stayed in repair and the lights stayed on. Bureaucrats
crawled along the wire and, like me, crawled through the account
books, to make sure the power execs spent customers' money
on parts and labor. If they didn't, we'd whack'm over the head
with our thick rule books. Did we get in the way of these
businessmen's entrepreneurial spirit? Damn right we did.

Most important, FDR banned political contributions from utility
companies -- no 'soft' money, no 'hard' money, no money PERIOD.

But then came George the First. In 1992, just prior to his
departure from the White House, President Bush Senior gave the
power industry one long deep-through-the-teeth kiss good-bye:
federal deregulation of electricity. It was a legacy he wanted to leave
for his son,
the gratitude of power companies which ponied up $16
million for the Republican campaign of 2000, seven times the sum
they gave Democrats.

He goes on to detail how Enron and its cronies moved in and took over...

It took until December 20, 2000, with the lights going out
on the Golden Gate, for President Bill Clinton, once a deregulation
booster, to find his lost Democratic soul and impose price caps
in California and ban Enron from the market.

But the light-bulb buccaneers didn't have to wait long to put their
hooks back into the treasure chest. Within seventy-two hours of
moving into the White House, while he was still sweeping out the
inaugural champagne bottles, George Bush the Second reversed
Clinton's executive order and put the power pirates back in business
in California.


Californians have found the solution to the deregulation
disaster: re-call the only governor in the nation with the cojones
to stand up to the electricity price fixers.
And unlike Arnold
Schwarzenegger, Gov. Gray Davis stood alone against the bad
guys without using a body double. Davis called Reliant Corp of
Houston a pack of "pirates" --and now he'll walk the plank for
daring to stand up to the Texas marauders.

There's more. What is so excruciatingly depressing is that the media finds it far more invigorating to repeat all the glam about Arnold and not delve one bit into the truth behind the energy crisis or the fact that the precedent being set in California is that they are about to recall a governor, who, though personally unlikeable, has done nothing wrong, committed no crime and has in fact done his best against an embittered state legislature to help his state's citizens. This is all above and beyond the entire bamboozling that BushCo has engaged in all weekend to cover up the fact that they have stalled all efforts to reform and regulate the energy industry by holding any reform bills hostage to drilling in ANWR.

Are people starting to see through the facade that is our country's leadership YET?

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      ( 10:48 AM )
A Study in Contrasts

Thanks to Bad Attitudes for the link to this article in TruthOut. I recommend reading it today and passing it on... This is our country to save or to let go, let's save it - and let's not be afraid.

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      ( 10:09 AM )
Back in the Saddle...

And trying to catch up.. reading all the news from the weekend. Looks like the lights going out across a quarter of the country didn't slow the Pres' pace on his $1million/per fundraisers this weekend. We here in Portland are REALLY looking forward to his arrival on Thursday. More after I catch up on everthing!

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Thursday, August 14, 2003
      ( 4:28 PM )

In honor of Friday the 15th, a day in Fair and Balanced history, I am posting this very Fair and Balanced blog post early since I won't be in the blogosphere for the esteemed day - which seems Fairly Unfair, but Balancing that with the fact that it's been ages since I've had a Fairly nice and Balanced getaway with my husband, I had to weigh the Balance of the Fare that will be in the blogosphere, and I came to the conclusion that it would be Fairly Unbalanced of me to choose to stay. It will be wonderful to return to read the Fair and Balanced posts of my blob pals, and I look forward to the Fare, and to Balancing all my favorite blogs on my desktop at once so I can read them as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, on Friday I'm sure you will find Fairly Balanced Fare here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Don't forget - the Fairest of the Unbalanced is here.

Well, that was a Fairly Balanced post, I'd say. Thank god the Fare isn't high for Balanced posting around here. So, in conclusion, Fox News, this is for Al and you can kiss my Fair and very Balanced behind, along with those of all of blogdom.

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      ( 4:13 PM )
Mini Holiday Weekend

P and I didn't have a chance to celebrate our anniversary back in July so we are taking off tomorrow for a long weekend in Sacramento. Why Sacramento? Well, because neither of us has ever been there, it was within affordable distance, and we are going to tour Napa Valley, which we've wanted to do. It will be interesting to read the local news down there in light of the recall, but honestly, I can say that I'm going to try not to pay much attention to it. Martin is staying here with the grandparents. My first long weekend away from him (P's been away from him twice when I've taken him on little jaunts to see friends, etc) - but I think it will be nice. It's been a long, long time since we've had a real getaway together, at least 2 years or more.

I'll be sad to miss all the FAIR AND BALANCED posting tomorrow, and I'll try to sneak one of my own in before I leave. I'll just have to catch up with everyone when I return on Monday! Have a great Friday and weekend - and may all my blogger pals on the east coast and the entire area get all your power back.

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      ( 2:55 PM )
Power's Out

Wow. Little Iraq? What else do New Yorkers have to endure?

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      ( 2:16 PM )
Meep Meep!

Crazy roadrunner day. Sorry for no posting...trying to catch my breath. More later - watch out for that cliff!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003
      ( 3:24 PM )
Nickel and Dimed All Over Again

A big thanks to Emily at Strangechord for posting the news that Barbara Ehrenreich's fabulous book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America is facing a huge uproar in North Carolina.

First of all, if you haven't read it, go right now, do not pass Go, do not collect your $200 and get it immediately and read it. It is not only brilliantly written but mind-boggling revealing about the day to day lives of Americans who are struggling just to simply make it. In a nutshell, she traveled to three different states (Florida, Maine and Minnesota) and took on four different minimum wage jobs to see how she might live on those wages. The book is an indictment of the generally-held expectation that "anyone can make it in America." So many Americans and immigrants are struggling with jobs like this, and Ehrenreich reveals the truth of the living conditions that are faced by so many families. Please read it.

Anyway, it seems that "The Committee for a Better Carolina" a group of conservatives dead set against the books assigned by UNC for summer reading has raised a full-on protest that Nickel and Dimed was one of the assignments. Declaring it to be "not academically or intellectually useful," the group thinks UNC should also assign the biograph of Sam Walton to balance things out.

Ms. Ehrenreich has written a fabulous response in September's issue of the Progressive: The Antichrist of North Carolina:

But when I read the full page ad the Committee for a Better
Carolina had taken out in the Raleigh News and Observer, I
saw that this controversy was less about the book than it
was about me.

The ad charged me with being a Marxist, a socialist, an atheist,
and a dedicated enemy of the American family--this last confirmed
by a citation from the Heritage Foundation on my longstanding conviction
that families headed by single mothers are as deserving of support
as those headed by married couples. I was greeted on North Carolina
radio talk shows by hosts asking, "What does it feel like to be the
Antichrist in North Carolina?" and similarly challenging inquiries.


I was getting into my new role as North Carolina's premier amateur
philosopher and religious studies scholar, and hoping for some in-depth
discussion of my own "anti-Christian bigotry," as one of the state
legislators put it, no doubt referring to my description, in Nickel and
Dimed, of Jesus as a "wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist."
On the "vagrant" part, there can be no debate, and, although
"guzzling" may be a bit overstated, Jesus was sufficiently associated
with wine ("I am the true vine," etc.) to be confused with the Greek wine
god Dionysus in the Hellenistic world--a subject I have yearned to
expound on for years.

As for Jesus being a socialist, I take it back. He was actually a little to
the left of that, judging from his instruction to the rich man to sell all that
he had and give to the poor. If that's what it takes to be a true Christian,
believe me, it's a hell of a lot easier to be a socialist: You have to dedicate
yourself to working for the poor, just as a Christian should, but at least
you get to keep your stuff. The topic of Christian altruism v. socialist
pragmatism could, I thought, entertain the rightwing radio talk show
audiences for weeks.

And now she gets to the real issue:

But I was being distracted and diverted. The real issue, I've decided,
isn't just the campus and its workers, but the state. According to
the North Carolina Justice and Economic Development Center, 60
percent of North Carolina families with children do not earn enough
to meet basic, bare-bone, needs. Nationwide, when last measured
in 2000, 29 percent of families were in the same straits, giving North
Carolina twice the level of economic misery as the country as a whole.

My former husband, who was a union organizer in the state for
several years, said he'd never seen such poverty anywhere. At a
union organizing meeting held in a motel meeting room, for example,
he noticed the workers covertly pocketing packets of Saltines left
from a previous event.

It's not a pretty picture: Well-fed suits engaging in chest-thumping
attacks on an exposé about poverty while at least some of their
constituents are basing their meal plans around soda crackers. I don't
know much about pornography--and am eager to hear from any reader
who has detected it in Nickel and Dimed--but I do know obscenity when I see it.

Besides giving a good whack to the conservative wankers who want to keep the students from reading this important book, she gets right to the heart of the matter. It's the name of the game these days: distracting the masses with hububs about non-issues so that no one realizes how bad off the working poor of America truly are.

Just like the new "growth" statistics they're giving us in Oregon these days. "Look! The Jobless Rolls (code for unemployed and outaluck) went down from 8.5 to 8.1! Yippee!" The statistics don't tell the truth. We all know that the jobs they are counting are not only not including the people who've gone off the rolls, but they are also pretending that the total jobs available right now are the same amount of jobs that were available 18 months ago, which is a total lie. In truth, the unemployment rate in this state is closer to 10 or 12% (if not higher). How is that possible, you ask? Well, because people are doing whatever they can to get by - which is working two or three minimum wage jobs, visiting food banks when they used to donate to them, and hoping as hard as they can that our numbskull legislature, the only one in the country that can't come up with a budget (but still has time to talk about baseball stadiums), will come up with the funds to provide the regular free school breakfasts and lunches this year for their children who otherwise won't eat.

What is wrong with this picture? Anyone, Anyone?

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      ( 12:03 PM )
Bush Inaction Figure

Now this is an action figure I could go for. (thanks Suburban Guerrilla)

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      ( 12:02 PM )
Portland v. Bush Redux

I blogged about this the other day. The Oregonian has finally printed some news about the upcoming visit by the highly esteemed Liar. Of course the story is framed in the "Bush Hearts Forests" thing that he did last year. Does't the GOP EVER get any new ideas? Of course the "Healthy Forests Initiative" is all about cutting down old growth, but who's quibbling about facts these days anyway? The main part of his day trip to "Little Beruit" is to raise lotsa moola with one of the ever-popular $2000/plate dinners with the Prez.

It's been a non-secret the last six months that the GOP has targeted the Pacific Northwest, and more specifically Oregon for this coming election. They feel that they lost by only a squeak in 2000 and can pull out the rest of the votes they need to make Oregon a red state. However, they seem to have lost track of the fact that Nader got almost 5% of the vote, as in Minnesota and Maine - states that also went to Gore anyway. From the way Greens have been showing up at the Dean Meet-Ups all around Oregon, it's pretty clear that those votes will firmly go in the Dem camp this time around. But the GOP is trying anyway. Just a couple of months ago, they held a high-profile strategy meeting here in Portland.

I haven't seen any news (mainstream) about protests that have popped up around any of these little fundraising jaunts Bush is taking during his month-long vacation. I'm sure that there are some everywhere he goes. But Portland plans to put civil disobediance on the map again. Call us the vanguard of dissent. Call us protesting maniacs. Call us fed up with Bush and the lies and this regime. Call us rioters. But don't call us scared. We don't shy away from confrontation when it comes to the truth. I hope that the precedent will be set that wherever Bush and his touring Cabinet go until November 2004 they will be haunted by crowds and crowds of people who are willing to say out loud how much this administration stinks.

As I mentioned earlier, there is action already planned for Portland. Come on, let Bush know it will be a cold day you know where when he takes Oregon's electoral votes.

Also, in preparation for the 2004 GOP Convention, which is set to defy all norms of decency and propriety by making a mockery of NYC and 9/11, here are some places you can go to prep for that big one too: CounterConvention and RNC Not Welcome.

Come on, speak up.

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      ( 11:27 AM )

Looks like Haloscan is back. Things always look funny when the comments bit isn't there. Probably just because I talk too much and life without comments would be dull indeed.

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      ( 10:01 AM )
How To Talk To Your Kids About President Bush

Thanks to Maru for pointing us towards Katrina Vanden Heuvel's article giving us Tips on How to Talk to our children about President Bush...

ON THE EVE of the Clinton impeachment hearings in 1998, the
Sexuality Information and Education Council sent out ''Ten Tips
for Talking about the Starr Report with your Children.''


It's now 2003, and if the events of these last weeks don't provide
parents with that special opportunity to talk to their children about
the president and values such as truth, lies, and consequences,
then I don't know what does.

So, with all due credit to the Sexuality Information and
Education Council, here are ''Tips for Talking about President
Bush with Your Children'':

Think about your values as they relate to this situation. What
are your family's values about telling the truth? What would you
do if your child lied to you and when you scolded him or her, he
or she replied: ''I am not a fact-checker.'' Or added, ''Isn't it
time to move on?''

Ask your children to tell you what words mean to them.
Explain that words have consequences and lies can come
in two, six or 16 words.

Clarify facts. Give short, age-appropriate answers.
Explain that shifting strategies at damage control only lead
to more unanswered questions. Make clear that even if
facts are malleable for President Bush, they're not malleable
in your home. Explain that even though the White House
strategy may be to say whatever is necessary, even if they
have to admit later that what they said the first time wasn't
exactly true, you don't do it that way yourself.

Ms. Vanden Heuvel makes a good point underneath her satire. One has to wonder what the parents who declare "I still support him because he is a strong leader" are communicating to their children. It's okay to lie, mislead and start wars, but only if you're "strong" when you do it? These are not the values we teach our children, they shouldn't be the values we project to the world. Now's also a good time to teach our children how lots of people voting can actually change our country for the good...

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      ( 9:18 AM )
A Fair and Balanced Call to Arms

Neal Pollack has put out the call. Friday the 15th is the day:

...I declare this Friday a day of emergency protest.

Yes. This Friday, August 15, is Fair And Balanced day on the Internet.
You are all hereby instructed to use the words Fair And Balanced in
very creative ways on your various websites. My cosponsor in this effort, '
Atrios, informs me that many of you are already using "Fair And Balanced"
in your taglines. Very good. Sometimes, I swear you don't even need
instructions from me. But we can go further. Tell Fox News to take its
Fair And Balanced slogan and shove it up its Fair And Balanced hole.
Feel free to be more subtle than that, if you wish.

To repeat. This Friday is Fair And Balanced day. Use the slogan at will.
I will not be keeping track of the uses on this site, because it made me
tired last time, but I still trust that you will spread the virus in funny and
creative ways. We cannot let Fox News beat us, people. If they sue one,
they can sue all. Al Franken has resources. Fox News' next victim
might not be so lucky.

Blah3 continues his coverage of the movement and announces that Al's book sales were up 14,300% as of this morning. Wow.

So Friday, be Fair and Balanced or be square.... or like Tom Burka, go to a Fair and Balance...

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Tuesday, August 12, 2003
      ( 1:02 PM )
All's Fair and Balanced in the Blogosphere

I'm joining in the fun...becoming part of the Movement. In case you haven't heard, Fox News is suing Al Franken because the subtitle of his new book is "Fair and Balanced." As Tom Tomorrow says, that's reason enough to buy the book (but, as Tom says, not until after you buy this one).

Seeing the Forest has joined in, along with Digby and tons of others. Daily Kos has something to say about it as well. Come on, join the movement! We're all Fair and Balanced - otherwise, why would we blog?

UPDATE: Looks like Drudge's coverage and the movement have helped sales

UPDATE UPDATE: Blah3.Com has the entire movement listed, along with the sales scoop... with special honorable mention to Maru, who's our favorite Fairly Unbalanced blogger.

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      ( 11:22 AM )
And In the End...
All the Children Were Left Behind

The ratings for Oregon schools came out yesterday under the new "No Child Left Behind" education act signed by the President last year. It goes without saying that this unfunded mandate was ushered in by a bipartisan group of senators, including Ted Kennedy, who now disavows himself of the law and the way the requirements burden already broke states. In a stunning indictment, 365 schools in Oregon, including 2/3 of the high schools were tagged as educationally inadequate under the new federal rules.

The majority of Oregon schools that got their names
splashed on the needs-improvement list had acceptable
overall achievement and made the list because performance
lagged among one or more groups: Hispanics, low-income
students or, most commonly, special education students.

But how does the federal law help these schools when they don't meet the standards of this sweeping legislation?

Schools that receive Title I federal aid to help disadvantaged
students will face stiffer consequences if they make the list
next year, too. They will have to give students top priority
and free bus rides to transfer to higher-performing schools.
And they face a series of escalating consequences each year
if they fail to hit the performance targets.

Eight Oregon schools, including Jefferson and Roosevelt high
schools in Portland, have triggered those requirements.
Another 113 schools, including 12 more in Portland and three
each in Hillsboro and Reynolds, will be hit with sanctions if
they don't improve by next spring.

So let me get this straight: the schools that have the highest minority and special needs kids and receive Title I federal aid will not get more help in funding their programs for their at-risk students if they fail to meet the mark of Bush's new rules - no, they just get more and more sanctions. Does this make sense? Not only are Oregon schools literally trying to tread water while the state roams around blindly trying to figure out how to fund them for a full year, but now they are slapped with federal regulations that threaten to take away aid for the schools that need it most. Oh, but at least the law requires schools to give up all personal information of its students to military recruiters or lose federal funding. That'll take care of things.

It's all nice and good to demand high performance from schools and students. But when that demand comes with no offer of help to the teachers and administrators who have to meet those standards, then it's just plain ridiculous. There is no logic to this method - except if your big-picture plan is to totally rid the country of public schools. Now THAT is a real likelihood coming from this administration. It's not enough to offer vouchers and refuse to give more funding to schools to improvements, no, let's just cripple public schooling altogether. I don't understand this way of thinking. Yes, it would be great to have better schools, more supplies, higher standards being achieved by students. But shouldn't we first provide school buildings that don't leak or poison our children, competitive pay and living benefits for teachers, funding for supplies and things like field trips, recess and oh, I don't know, school books? Let's rethink things in view of the schools' needs, instead of the federal government's needs to take over other countries.

I have an idea. Why don't we use the federal funds that we might have had if we hadn't given those tax cuts to the rich folks and instead put those into grants for local school districts to fund construction and repair of schools, thus giving jobs to many people and rebuilding the infrastructure of the district, along with providing much needed improvements for the schools. Then why don't we have designated part of our federal taxes go to public education instead of letting it eat whatever crumbs are left by defense spending? You don't have kids and don't think you should have to pay for other people's kids to go to school? How do you think you were able to go to school? The mark of a decent society is when the citizens are willing to pool their resources and provide for the needs of the youngest and neediest in order to build up a society that has a foundation of strength and knowledge, which benefits all of us. The mark of an autocratic, fascist society is where the government leaders at the top dictate unreasonable requirements and do not provide the means to achieve them so that nobody meets the expectations and thus the most needy or disadvantaged of the society are simply thrown by the wayside... which one are we going to choose?

In the immortal words of the verbally-challenged President: "Rarely is the question asked: is our children learning?"

Don't talk a good game about children and then screw them and those who teach them. Just stop with the lies already.

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