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

Tuesday, December 30, 2003
      ( 4:45 PM )
So, How Did We Do?

Way back when, Billmon made a few (pre-Whiskey Bar) predictions about 2003... amazing how close he got!

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      ( 4:27 PM )
They Found Saddam's Money

$40 billion or so. Good. Now maybe Ashcroft and Bremer will pay back the POW's they stole from. Not holding my breath.

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      ( 3:38 PM )
Hmm...Let's See...

Thought I'd start working on my New Year's Resolutions...

1. Do everything I can humanly possibly do to get Bush out of the white house

2. Repeat No. 1 monthly until November. If unsuccessful in November, research living in Costa Rica

3. Quit working in a fluorescent-lit, essence-sucking cubicle and become something new

4. Write more letters to my baby

5. Kiss my husband more

6. Avoid trying any diet that has a title like a cheap romance novel (ie, the South Beach Diet, the Hazy Moonglow Diet, the Hollywood Heat Diet, etc)

7. Protest more - about anything, really.

8. Stop wishing Buffy would come back (I just can't let it go!)

9. Avoid cable news and watch more Daily Show

still working on my list...

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      ( 3:20 PM )
Hand Over that Almanac, You Dirty Rotten Terrorist!

Just wondering if sales of almanacs have rocketed since the announcement yesterday that all Americans should be on the lookout for strange people carrying them. If the ultimate protest were to carry around a book about everything, then what are we waiting for?

To laugh out loud about this silly circumstance, turn to Tom Burka. The Vet also has an almanac punchline today.

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      ( 11:42 AM )
A Fit Honor

For an end-of-the-year tribute, the Army Times published the pictures of all the slain soldiers that have died in the war in Iraq this year. The total numbers more than 500. Jimmy Breslin has a good commentary on why the Army Times was right to do this.

There were 506 killed by the time the newspaper
closed last Friday. Since then, another seven have
died. The newspaper has said this is the deadliest
year for the U.S. military since 1972, when 640 were
killed in Vietnam.


The chilling photos run at a time when the
government tries to describe the war as a civic
venture, and nearly all of the news industry doesn't
know how to object. This probably is the worst
failure to inform the public that we have seen. The
Pekingese of the Press run clip-clop along the hall
to the next government press conference.


And the dead are brought back here almost
furtively. There are no ceremonies or pictures of
caskets at Dover, Del., air base, where the dead
are brought. "You don't want to upset the
families," George Bush said. That the people might
be slightly disturbed already by the death doesn't
seem to register.

The wounded are flown into Washington at night.
There are 5,000 of them and for a long time you
never heard of soldiers who have no arms and legs.
Then the singer Cher went into Walter Reed Hospital
and came out and gave a report that was so
compelling she should walk away with a Pulitzer Prize.

Finally, a couple of television stations and a
newspaper here and there began to cover these
things. There are miles to go.

For now, Cher, on one day, and the Army Times for
the whole year, have served the nation as it should
be served.

Thanks to Atrios for the link. He also links to a transcript of Cher's phone call to CSPAN describing what she saw at Walter Reed.

I find it most heartening that the Army Times recognizes all who have died:

"They died at the hands of the enemy, from illnesses
contracted in the war zones and the accidents that
inevitably push human beings and their equipment to
their limit."

On the rare occasion that the press does report on the fallen, they often leave out anyone who wasn't directly killed by enemy fire. This is an untrue and inaccurate portrayal of those who have given their lives. Whether hit by a bullet, trapped in a flipped motor vehicle or felled by a terrible desert illness, each one of these has died serving in a war zone they didn't need to be in. It's time the country becomes fully aware of the true cost of this war. Bush will keep trying to hide it from us, but it's our duty to hammer home the truth again and again.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2003
      ( 12:03 PM )
Holiday Wishes

Well, though I have some more work to finish before I go home for the holiday, I wanted to take a few minutes and wish everyone the happiest of the Season. Whether Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanza, Solstice or nothing much - I hope that the down time will be restful for you and bring your heart joy.

I'm going to take a break from the computer for a few days (as well as a break from work - not coming back into the office until Tuesday - though if I get the bug, I may blog before that, but no promises). In the meantime, I wish you the best for the holiday weekend. For those who are missing loved ones this season, I also send fervent wishes for happiness, and for their quick and safe return.

Happy Holidays, my friends in the blogosphere! May joy and lightness of heart be your companion this week!

Now...to finish up work and head home to 5 1/2 full days with my little family...now that's something worth celebrating!

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      ( 9:31 AM )
Bah Humbug

So here I am, at the office. On Christmas Eve. It was especially nice standing at the bus stop in pouring rain this morning and again trudging through it to the office only to arrive to my being the only one in my entire area here, and even the lights were off. Nice. But the Bosses need someone to get their work done while they're home having happy family holidays. Why not a Mama who barely gets to see her kid the rest of the year anyway? At least it is supposed to be only a 1/2 day... we'll see... Just had to vent.

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      ( 6:35 AM )
Not So Merry....

Things didn't go so well with Santa this year....

Am I a cruel and horrible Mama to think that this picture is absolutely hilarious? Funny how my little guy's expression so adequately reflects my feelings at having to work on Christmas Eve...

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Tuesday, December 23, 2003
      ( 1:58 PM )
The Wolves Don't Get their Meat Today

A huge push in getting the venues for the DC Sniper cases was whether the death penalty could be used. Trying Lee Boyd Malvo as an adult and making the death penalty an option was one of the major pushes by the prosecutors in the various states who shared jurisdiction. They all decided on Virginia since Virginia has the death penalty and historically hasn't been afraid to use it. But the jury in the first case had an extremely difficult time deciding on the death penalty, and even after it did, many jurors expressed reservations and even admitted they were anti-death penalty after this experience.

The jury's decision has come in on Malvo, and they've decided against the death penalty.

A Virginia jury Tuesday decided Lee Boyd
Malvo should be sentenced to life in prison
without parole for his role in the Washington
-area sniper killings, rejecting prosecutors'
call for his execution.

The verdict followed about nine hours of
deliberation over two days. Judge Jane Marum
Roush set formal sentencing for March 10.

The death penalty is an arcane form of retribution, not punishment. It does not provide deterrence (unless it were possibly a sentence white collar criminals might get), and it has so often proven to have been falsly arrived at that the practical arguments are all against it. It simply isn't a choice that human beings on a jury should have to make for another human being. That juries are put into the position of having to decide a person's life or death is unconscionable. A lifetime without parole is not a cakewalk nor is it some sort of reward. It is a horrible sentence and a terrible consequence of a terrible action. As it should be. The jury made the right choice and I applaud them for not giving into the incredible pressures the prosecution and the politicians have put on them from the very beginning of these cases.

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Monday, December 22, 2003
      ( 9:01 AM )
Safer? Not.

Dean got all manner of poop thrown at him for saying last week that we were no safer for having caught Saddam Hussein. In fact, minutes after Joe Trippi eloquently defended the statement as true on This Week with Stephanopolopolopolos, the news broke in with Tom Ridge declaring that indeed, we're not safer, and in fact, may not be safe at all... Kos has the full rundown. Isn't it ironic...

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Friday, December 19, 2003
      ( 3:27 PM )
Friday Fun

What Christmas Carol are you? (I'm Silent Night)

And, if you just can't think of what to get your favorite politician this holiday season...here are some fun and practical gift ideas! While you're visiting, check out the new release for the holidays: Lord of the Right Wing!

(thanks to Maru and Dad, respectively!)

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      ( 2:04 PM )


(link via Maru, of course)

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      ( 12:32 PM )

My 18 month old child is addicted to the Wiggles. What are the Wiggles, you ask? Are they some form of squishy fruit snack? Nope. Are they some weird stuffed animal? Nope. Are they a bizarre Australian 4-man singing group that has a worldwide following of millions of children under the age of 4? Yep. I actually really like the Wiggles, in terms of content - they aren't annoying, they are very creative with how they visually appeal to little children, but most of all their songs are super fun and really great to dance to. My son generally completely ignores the television. He doesn't even look at it when we have the news on and such. We tried those Baby Einstein tapes - no interest. We tried Sesame Street - no interest (though now he'll sit through the Elmo's World segment). Then, one day he saw an episode of the Wiggles. And magic happened.

He sat still. And then he got up and danced around the rest of the day. (to picture an 18-month old dancing, recall that one episode of Seinfeld when Elaine dances and thinks she's so great and everyone else tries to avoid injury).

I thought I would take a few minutes to do a little research on the Wiggles, just to find out how this phenomena got started. Of course, they have an official website. They do live singing tours (where their audience consists of parents and 3 year olds dancing in the aisles). I find that they've been on the air for TWELVE years - that's like 4 generations of preschoolers. And these four guys, Anthony, Jeff, Greg and Murray, met each other in college when they were studying early childhood development. A side note: Anthony (the blue one) was in a "popular band" called the Cockroaches. Heard of them? Their albums have gone gold and platinum and they are the most popular music tour in Australia. They've also won prestigious song writing awards in Australia. Finally, I find they've toured the US 12 times.

And I'm just getting to know them. But I feel pretty accomplished already - one video already memorized. And a little boy who asks "Weewoos! Weewoos! Peeese!" is hard to resist. So I'm guessing the Wiggles may make another video appearance at Christmas.... Just thought the general public might want to know what the under-4 crowd is up to these days...

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      ( 8:57 AM )
Friday is for Fathers

I've really been bad the last month about seeing what the Dad blogs are up to. I thought the last Friday before Christmas would be a good time to get back into the habit. So let's see what our neighborhood Dads are up to this holiday season!

David at Daddy Make a Picture has just moved to moveable type (wooowooo!) and is also trying to figure out how to get three squirmy kids to sit still at the same time for a Christmas picture! Rebel Dad is still faithfully disseminating the Dad News, including a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor that discusses the new movie "Mona Lisa Smiles" in the context of what career-minded women face these days compared to the 1950's setting of the movie. One suggestion of how to lift the burden from women is to have more stay at home dads. Rebel Dad thinks this is a good idea...but how?

Laid Off Dad is extolling the virtues (and downsides) of raising a kid in the city - and the beauty of a woman who, after too many hours of labor, is no longer afraid to express how pissed off she is. Amen! Read the December 11 entry - it's grrr-eight!

Fulltime Father has decided to let the blog rest while he tries to accomplish Christmas shopping with a kid in tow. Don't let those mothers get you down about the christmas shopping - they are probably lying! Most of us moms are in the same boat as you! He also notes an article about fulltime working parents - a sobering reality that most of us have to face.

Kos the new dad, over at Fishyshark, is finding out what it's REALLY like to be the parent of a newborn. It aches. But it's wondrous. But here's to a first christmas with a new face in the house!

And Frenzied Daddy is going to be a Daddy...again! Congratulations!

I especially want to give props to Being Daddy, who is not only a stay at home dad, but is doing Christmas this year without Mom, who is overseas on military duty. Here's to all the dads...and mamas... who are facing the holidays without their partners and having to explain to the kids why. May we all be home together soon.

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Thursday, December 18, 2003
      ( 10:11 AM )
Let Them Eat War

Buzzflash has a great interview with sociologist Arlie Hochschild about her article "Let Them Eat War" about why 50% of blue collar white males will vote for Bush despite the fact that he's done everything possible to worsen the quality of their lives. This is a fascinating interview and the underlying article is really interesting as well. The basic theme is not that this important voting bloc is ill-informed (though most Americans are), but that a very fine piece of manipulation is taking place with regards to these men:

Maybe, however, something deeper is going on,
which has so far permitted Bush's flag-waving and
cowboy-boot-strutting to trump issues of job security,
wages, safety, and health – and even, in the case
of Bush's threats of further war – life itself. In an
essay, "The White Man Unburdened," in a recent New
York Review of Books, Norman Mailer recently argued
that the war in Iraq returned to white males a lost
sense of mastery, offering them a feeling of revenge
for imagined wrongs, and a sense of psychic rejuvenation.
In the last thirty years, white men have taken a drubbing,
he notes, especially the three quarters of them who lack
college degrees. Between l979 and l999, for example,
real wages for male high-school graduates dropped 24
percent. In addition, Mailer notes, white working class men
have lost white champs in football, basketball and boxing.
(A lot of white men cheer black athletes, of course, whomever
they vote for.) But the war in Iraq, Mailer notes, gave white
men white heroes. By climbing into his jumpsuit, stepping out
of an S-3B Viking jet onto the aircraft carrier USS Abraham
Lincoln , Bush posed as – one could say impersonated
– such a hero

But it's not just the hero motif that attracts them. Another, even more subtle thing is taking place, as further explored in the Buzzflash interview:

BuzzFlash: Well, what is it? You
identify a sort of an emotional trade-off, basically, that
the blue collar support of Bush isn't based on facts;
indeed, many of these blue-collar males are aware of
the facts. But Bush is offering something else. He's
offering them, as you say, confidence in reestablishing
their role in the center of the patriarchal world.

Hochschild: Right. And this is a delicate point to try to
get across. I think we all have feelings and they all can
get appealed to. It doesn't mean a person is stupid if
their feelings are getting appealed to. But I do think
that this is going on, and that there's a kind of a
dilemma here that the blue-collar guy, since the ‘70s on,
has been suffering a giant economic downward slide.
His paycheck is worth less. His job has become less
secure. His benefits have been carved down. And all of
this is bad, bad news for him. His wife's had to go to
work, and now, 30 years later, the two of them earn
what he alone would have earlier earned.

With this economic hit has come a cultural hit. Now
I think it's a worldwide story, a kind of economic undermining
of patriarchal customs and expectations. And so, with
this economic decline may come marital instability -- a lot
of hard things have hit this guy. And so how he feels
psychologically becomes a really important question. And
I think the story is that he believes -- whether it's true or
not -- that a lot of people have come up from behind him.
Women have come from behind. Minorities have come
from behind and gotten ahead; immigrants, new arrivals,
have come from behind and have gotten ahead. Even the
spotted owl -- a lot of them are not environmentalists
because they think somebody's now putting animal rights
over their human rights. As he's sliding down, he imagines
all these groups moving up.

And a very understandable thing to do is to look at them
and want them to go back where they came from. The feeling
is one of frustration, fear, anger. What he's not doing is
looking at Bush, the guy at the top, who's rigging the whole
economic game, and who's not doing a thing to support him,
and who's actually deflecting blame away from the top. So
it comes down to this: those feelings that come with a kind
of loss of position, income and status among blue collar
males is being exploited instead of addressed.

BuzzFlash: In this age, when liberals are accused of being
politically correct, the right-wing movement is probably even
more of a practitioner of political correctness on many
accounts. And Bush can't communicate directly to the white
male about how he stands for the white male being on top,
so there's a lot of coding going on, it seems. And much of
this is subliminal, because Bush can't say, well, I keep Laura
in her place, but --

Hochschild: You never see her. She's in a lockbox.

BuzzFlash: And she's always walking behind him and is
carefully scripted to say as little as possible. If she says
anything, it's once or twice a month, and it's a sentence or
two, or maybe a highly controlled interview. In their
relationship, she symbolizes the woman who is always
deferential to the husband. And Bush himself, although he
comes from entitlement, in many ways he shows that the
more he fails, the more secure maybe white males feel who
are feeling uncomfortable with their position, because he's
still the President of the United States. It is a reinforcement
of all of the white males -- that no matter how much they
screw up, they're still head of the family.

Hochschild: I think that's a really very perceptive remark.
Bush is a kind of a Dagwood, you know? However awkward
and wrong-headed, he's still the head of the family.

Hochschild ends her underlying article with a plea that we need to find a democratic candidate who "addresses the root causes of blue-collar anger and fear and who actually tackles the problems before us all, instead of pandering to the emotions bad times evoke." This reminds me of so many different arguments about social questions - like gays in the military or student achievement - it seems our society has become complacent enough to only expect the worst of people. This way of thinking has literally been embodied by our sitting President - everyone had such low expectations that when he didn't screw up too badly during his campaign, it appeared as a major victory. So we allowed someone like that to become our leader, and that has perpetuated the entire psyche of ruling by fear and low expectations.

Bush has been able to convince a large part of the electorate that he is worth voting for because he is projecting a certain patriarchal, in-charge image while at the same time beating these people down and coddling their worst fears and expectations. So while they know on an intellectual level that he (or any republican) has done nothing to help them in any practical way, and what's more has left a worse world for their children, they are able to ignore this on an emotional level because the emotional response to a culture-think that expects the worst is to be relieved when they see an image (no matter how hollow or false) of someone who is better than that worst expectation.

It's not enough for the Democratic candidates to keep hammering home the obvious: that the economy has worsened, that these blue collar white men are no better off because of Bush, and in fact, their lives are worse. They have to go further and build up these men - expect more of them, expect more of us as a nation. The candidates have to embody the kind of leadership that lifts people up, and empowers people - not the kind of false leadership that tears people down in order to appear more powerful and in charge. If the Democratic candidate, whomever that may be, can do this in an effective way, he will have no trouble winning that voting bloc away from Bush. I have to believe that the strength of human dignity is more powerful than an image disguising low expectations. That old dogmas can be truly put aside in the wake of new understanding of fellow humankind. That men and women alike can put aside the restentments harbored for so long against other kinds of people and come to realize our common dreams and our common humanity and our common needs... the main one of which is a leader that will empower us to change this country into what it truly is capable of being. I hope that my belief will prove true this coming election.

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      ( 9:45 AM )
It Didn't Have to Happen

While no one else seems to be picking up on this story (and I heard it first over the phone from Dad last night around 9pm), it appears that the 9/11 Commission is set to rake the administration over the coals - and for good reason.

For the first time, the chairman of the independent
commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is
saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should
have been prevented, reports CBS News
Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

"This is a very, very important part of history and
we've got to tell it right," said Thomas Kean.

"As you read the report, you're going to have a
pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what
should have been done," he said. "This was not
something that had to happen."

Kean is a republican and former governor of New Jersey. But he and his Commission have been locked in virtual hand-to-hand combat with the White House, trying to get the latter to release its 9/11-related documents to the Commission for review. It looks like the Commission has reached its limit of patience. They plan, starting next month, to air public hearings on 9/11 and bring out evidence that shows that not only could members of this administration worked to prevent it, but that the shoddy management of this administration (by the "CEO President" no less) has left people in charge who should have been canned immediately for failing to do their jobs and protect this country.

Asked whether we should at least know if people
sitting in the decision-making spots on that critical
day are still in those positions, Kean said, "Yes,
the answer is yes. And we will."

Kean promises major revelations in public testimony
beginning next month from top officials in the FBI,
CIA, Defense Department, National Security Agency
and, maybe, President Bush and former President Clinton.

It's too much to ask that heads will roll. But if this is something the administration was hoping to choke to death and keep hidden under the carpet during election year, that may not happen. But the fact that no other news agency is picking up this story makes one thing clear: The media still believes Michael Jackson is way more important than the security of American citizens. And that's another major problem the Commission will have to face in the months to come. Hopefully they can overcome it and this story will become widespread. Hopefully justice will be done. Hopefully.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2003
      ( 2:19 PM )
Where Have All the Young Men Gone

We've lost three young men from our local area in the last week in Iraq. On Monday, a 19-year old Guardsman, Spc. Nathan Nakis, a student at Oregon State, was killed when his truck overturned. He swerved to avoid what he thought was an explosive in the road. Nine other soldiers were injured, some severely, in the incident. Last Tuesday, two boys from the area were killed in a similar situation, except Spc. Joseph M. Blickenstaff, 23 and Spc. Christopher J. Rivera Wesley, 26 were in a Stryker vehicle when it turned over into a canal and they were killed.

There appears to be some dispute over whether these are actually "combat" deaths. I don't really understand why any death in a war zone is not automatically a combat death - they wouldn't have died except for the war. But more specifically, the Stryker "accident" may not have been one:

The 25-year-old Army specialist died Dec. 8 in Iraq
after the vehicle he was driving was attacked by Iraqis,
said his uncle, Santa Rita Mayor Joseph Wesley, citing
Army officials who had spoken to the family...
"They met up with (enemies) from the other side and
all of a sudden they started firing," said Joseph Wesley,
who received the information from military officials. "The
vehicle he was driving got shot, and it flipped over."

It strikes me as unfair to the families and communities that must deal with the grief and loss of these young people who are dying almost every day over there and be told that it was a non-combat death, as if the deaths of their sons and husbands don't really count. What strikes me as even MORE unfair, however, is that these young people even have to be there in the first place.

UPDATE: It's not just dying that young soldiers must face, but indefinite trauma. This war has proven to be one of tremendous psychological damage - there are actually studies taking place on the inordinate amount of suicides happening in Iraq. A disturbing story I heard on NPR this morning confirmed some of my worst fears for these soldiers. It was about a young soldier who, back in November, after seeing the disfigured dead body of an Iraqi had a panic attack and asked for help. His comanders responded not so well:

After seeing the body, he said he had recurring dizzy
spells and vomited several times. He asked his unit
for help but his senior officer just gave him sleeping
pills and told him to go away.

He didn't receive any help for the true problem and he was unable to function well - he was sent back stateside and charged with cowardice. This is a charge that is punishable by death. The charges were later reduced to "dereliction of duty." He's been put on mop duty and shunned by everyone, labeled a coward. He might well have been able to perform his duties as an interrogator if he'd just gotten the proper help when he asked for it. It wasn't his intention to shirk his duties or not do his job - he wanted to, but he knew something was wrong and sought assistance. The military doesn't have time for panic attacks or stress or psychological trauma, which makes me not so surprised at the high number of suicides - especially in an arena where everything is so uncertain and anyone could be about to kill you at any time.

There is something archaic and wrong with this situation. I hope that the military will begin to see that there are other options than charging someone with cowardice and ruining his career when an obvious human trauma has occurred. You can expect men who train to be soldiers to put up with a lot - up to and including maiming and the deaths of their friends and possibly themselves, but must you demand they lose their humanity as well?

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      ( 1:34 PM )
Read Burka


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      ( 1:32 PM )
School Headmaster Goes Over the Edge - With a Fish

Funny how I can relate to wanting to whap people with a fish:

A school headmaster attacked an 11-year-old
pupil with part of a dead fish after "completely
losing it" in a school playground during morning
break, it was alleged in court.

The boy had brought the fish head into school
and had been chasing girls with it, magistrates
in Norwich heard.

Headmaster David Watkins "shoved it down his
throat" after the boy failed to put it in a bin as
instructed, it was alleged.

Remember when boys just chased girls on the playground for no reason at all? It always gets messy when you add a fish...

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Tuesday, December 16, 2003
      ( 4:40 PM )
One of Those Days

Haven't had a chance to stop and breathe today, much less blog. But I did do something good: said to hell with it and took a vacation day for the 29th, so I am now happily looking forward to a 5 1/2-day Christmas weekend away from this hellish, fluorescent-lit cubicle. Now that's what I call good news.

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Monday, December 15, 2003
      ( 1:44 PM )
Workplace Humor

I'm not sure if I mentioned lately how much I loathe my workplace...but today I actually got a little bit of a smile. In the copy room, on one of the many stacks of different kinds of paper, one tray was labeled "Bond." And underneath that word, someone wrote "...James Bond." God Bless the graffiti.

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      ( 1:27 PM )
Got National Security?

Ummm... Someone's not sticking to the script of being weak and dumb about national security policy:

And, as President, I will renew America’s commitment
to the men and women who proudly serve our nation
– and to the critical missions they carry out.

That means ensuring that our troops have the best
leadership, the best training, and the best equipment.

It means keeping promises about pay, living conditions,
family benefits, and care for veterans – so we honor
our commitments and recruit and retain the best people.

It means putting our troops in harm’s way only when
the stakes warrant, when we plan soundly to cope
with possible dangers, and when we level with the
American people about the relevant facts.

It means exercising global leadership effectively to
secure maximum support and cooperation from other
nations, so that our troops do not bear unfair burdens
in defeating the dangers to global peace


I also will get America’s defense spending priorities
straight – so our resources are focused more on fighting
terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and honoring
commitments to our troops – and less, for example,
on developing unnecessary and counterproductive new
generations of nuclear weapons.


Now, when America should be at the height of its
influence, we find ourselves, too often, isolated and
resented. America should never be afraid to act
alone when necessary. But we must not choose
unilateral action as our weapon of first resort. Leaders
of the current administration seem to believe that
nothing can be gained from working with nations
that have stood by our side as allies for generations.
They are wrong, and they are leading America in a
radical and dangerous direction. We need to get
back on the right path.


As President, I will strengthen the National Guard’s role
at the heart of homeland security. Members of the
Guard have always stood ready to be deployed overseas
for limited periods and in times of crisis and national
emergency. But the Iraq war has torn tens of thousands
of Guard members from their families for more than a
year. It also deprived local communities of many of their
best defenders.

The Guard is an integral part of American life, and its
main mission should be here at home, preparing, planning,
and acting to keep our citizens safe.

Closing the homeland security gap is just one element
of what must be a comprehensive approach. We must
take the fight to the terrorist leaders and their
operatives around the world.


Today, billions of people live on the knife’s edge of
survival, trapped in a struggle against ignorance,
poverty, and disease. Their misery is a breeding ground
for the hatred peddled by bin Laden and other
merchants of death.

As President, I will work to narrow the now-widening
gap between rich and poor. Right now, the United
States officially contributes a smaller percentage of its
wealth to helping other nations develop than any other
industrialized country.

That hurts America, because if we want the world’s help
in confronting the challenges that most concern us, we
need to help others defeat the perils that most concern
them. Targeted and effective expansion of investment,
assistance, trade, and debt relief in developing nations
can improve the climate for peace and democracy and
undermine the recruiters for terrorist plots.


Our campaign is about strengthening the American
community so we can fulfill the promise of our nation.
We have the power, if we use it wisely, to advance
American security and restore our country to its rightful
place, as the engine of progress; the champion of
liberty and democracy; a beacon of hope and a pillar
of strength.

We have the power, as Thomas Paine said at
America’s birth, “to begin the world anew.”

We have the power to put America back on the right
path, toward a new era of greatness, fulfilling an
American promise stemming not so much from what
we possess, but from what we believe.

That is how America can best lead in the world. That
is where I want to lead America.

Get ready for it: A Democrat uses sanity to take back National Security as a powerful issue against the Bush administration. You can't wait to vote Bush out, can you?

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      ( 12:57 PM )
All Is Well With The World

Thank God. President Bush has saved the world - or so you might think if you'd watched any cable news television yesterday. He was riding so high on his victory of catching Sadaam (when will we see the pictures of Bush in some uniform holding the severed head of Saddam in one hand and doing a thumbs-up with the other?) that he even dared a press conference this morning... where he deftly tossed aside questions on whether maybe now he'd be able to show he wasn't lying about WMDs:

He also suggested the capture would not be
much help in substantiating U.S. charges
Saddam was developing the unconventional
weapons Bush had cited as a major reason for
war. Bush said the ousted leader had no credibility.

Which leader had no credibility? Well, despite republicans and conservative news pundits' hyperventilating over what they believe is an almost assured re-election in 2004, they might not want to speak so quickly. Juan Cole, Middle East Expert at University of Michigan, has very good insight:

The Sunni Arab insurgency will continue at least
for a while (see below), and the possibility that
the Shiites will make more and more trouble
cannot be ruled out. The US military is stuck in
the country for the foreseeable future at something
approaching current troop levels. The move to
give civil authority to a transitional Iraqi government
may not go smoothly. The administration will
have to ask Congress for another big appropriation
for Iraq sometime before the '04 election, and that
won't help Bush's popularity. The Iraqi economy is
still a basket case, the oil pipelines are still being
sabotaged or looted, and a whole host of everyday
problems remain that having Saddam in custody will
not resolve. If Iraq is still going this badly in October
of 2004, it would be a real drag on the Bush campaign.
Yes, I said "this badly." One arrest doesn't turn it
around, except in the fantasy world of political theater
in which pundits seem to live.

He goes on to talk about how Democratic candidates have got to stop coddling the public and being afraid of Bush's attack dogs. We saw it all over the news, especially with GOPers repeating that if Dean had been president, Sadaam would still be in power. Well, if Dean or anyone else besides Bush had been president, we might have actually turned our attentions and money towards the actual terrorist threats and the well being of our own citizens, we might have cultivated international relationships that would have put enough pressure to dethrone Saddam or get rid of him some other way. This victory dance is taking place on a fragile glass dance floor, and I think the administration and its spokespeople in the news might want to be a bit more careful. Cole goes on:

But in the coming year the Democratic candidates
just have to take off these kid gloves. I'd begin by
asking some hard questions about Republican
administrations' past relationship with Saddam.
Put that photo of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's
hand in 1983 in the commercials; ask hard questions
about former Reaganites now serving in the
Bush administration who supported Saddam to
the hilt while he was gassing Iranian troops and
Kurds; find out who authorized the US sale of
chemical and biological precursors to Saddam;
and be so rude as to bring up the horrible betrayal
committed by Bush senior when he stood aside
and let Saddam massacre all those Shiites in 1991,
after they rose up in response to a Bush call for
the popular overthrow of Saddam. The US military
could have shot down those helicopter gunships
that massacred Shiites in Najaf and Basra. Bush
senior clearly told them to let Saddam enjoy his
killing fields. And imagine, the Bush administration
officials are actually getting photo ops at the mass
graves their predecessors allowed to be filled
with bodies!

What happened Sunday was that the Republicans
captured a former ally, with whom they had later
fallen out.

The American public has proven its ignorance more than once since this president took office (witness the almost 80% who believed Iraq had something to do with 9/11) - they will do so again with this situation unless the Democratic candidates are willing to speak the truths above and continue to emphasize the cost this war has been to this country, not the least of which includes the lives of hundreds of American citizens.

Yay, they caught him. He can't come back. Now what?

(thanks to DKos for the link)

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Thursday, December 11, 2003
      ( 1:25 PM )
Coolest Kid Award

This little girl shows all of us what it really means to care for others and to put actions behind our words:

"I want you to always know that you are loved,
especially by me," the letter says. "And always
remember to be positive, polite and never give
up. Love Your Friend, Makenzie."

The writer is 13-year-old Makenzie Snyder, who
has been sending duffel bags and stuffed animals
to foster children since she was 7. Her mission:
comfort neglected children who often are shuttled
between temporary homes.

"I like to cheer up foster kids who have no real
family," the Bowie girl says. "They are important,
but no one cares for them. They are mostly

In six years, Makenzie has sent 28,000 stuffed animals and duffel bags to foster kids. Read the whole article. You might just find yourself inspired today.

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      ( 1:18 PM )
Live Free or Diebold

There will hopefully be continuing outcry against Diebold and its stranglehold on the upcoming elections in this country. Today it appears from an article in a the Montgomery County Gazette that the company might be prepared to sabotage states that insist on paper printouts of the votes cast on the machines.

ANNAPOLIS -- An e-mail found in a collection of
files stolen from Diebold Elections Systems'
internal database recommends charging Maryland
"out the yin-yang" if the state requires Diebold
to add paper printouts to the $73 million voting
system it purchased.

The e-mail from "Ken," dated Jan. 3, 2003,
discusses a (Baltimore) Sun article about a
University of Maryland study of the Diebold

"There is an important point that seems to be
missed by all these articles: they already bought
the system. At this point they are just closing the
barn door. Let's just hope that as a company we
are smart enough to charge out the yin if they try
to change the rules now and legislate voter receipts."

While it may on first look seem hilarious that a hacker was able to get into the Diebold records and steal their documents, on a second look, the fact that a hacker was able to get into a Diebold system is appallingly frightening.

According to news reports, a hacker broke into
the Ohio company's servers using an employee's
ID number and copied a 1.8-gigabyte file of company
announcements, software bulletins and internal
e-mails dating back to January 1999.

The purloined files include discussions of the
security of Diebold's voting machines, which has
been a contentious issue in Maryland and other states.

I think states are starting to realize that they took a big step in the wrong direction by embracing these machines. While the federal government may try to mandate this type of voting, the states should have the right to demand accountability, security and "proof of purchase" - basically backup proof of what people voted for. What we're talking about is a way to recount. If there is no record kept of the votes made on these machines, there is no way to do a recount. Thus, the entire integrity of an election is thrown into jeopardy. No candidate should want to face the uncertainty of an impossible-to-prove recount on these machines.

Just the fact that someone hacked into Diebold itself gives me the heebeejeebies. Am I too paranoid? Go on, tell me the truth. I can take it.

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      ( 12:56 PM )
Hey, It's All About Me!

There seems to be a theme emerging in the last two days from the GOP and the corporate media. It's that the Bush Administration now feels confident in the inevitability of a Bush win in 2004 because they will face Howard Dean.

But as Political Wire succinctly puts it today, the GOP shouldn't be so confident. Things are a lot different these days. In other words, as Mama would say it: It's not Dean they should be afraid of, but ME. And not just me, all of us.

What Bush and Rove need to put into their calculations is a vast number of voters who are actually energized and willing to not only work to get out the vote, but to get out NEW voters. What the "inevitability meme" produces for republican voters is an apathy, a laziness that says that they don't have to do much because their guy is bound to win, and besides, he has all that money. But what they don't see is that despite the flurry of anti-Dean articles in papers across the country yesterday and today, the Dean Campaign stuck out its "bat" and has already brought in 500,000 NEW dollars from small donors.

What activists always say is that you've either got to have the money or the numbers. We many not (yet) have the money to match Bush, but we've far surpassed the numbers. The actions of every person who believes they actually have power again to change this country for the good are more effective than one shiny television ad from Rove.

The power of these people is also why Dean will have coattails and why the style of his campaign is changing the Democratic party at its core. And the latter is sorely needed. What the GOP and the Dem old-time power people don't realize yet is that the base of people that have complacently watched the Dem party collapse over the last 30 years are angry now. And despite the ongoing complacency of Dem leaders in Congress, the people are no longer willing to let things go.

The very fact that hundreds of thousands of people meet together every month, in person, to talk about the future of this country and the 2004 election and that organizations like DFA and MoveOn.org can raise millions from their members in just a call for donations should trigger some thoughts in the minds of people who think that the old ways of doing things are going to prevail next year. They won't. This election isn't about Howard Dean or any of the other good Dem candidates that I would gladly vote for. It's about us. It's about me. And I can be very persistent when it's all about me...

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Wednesday, December 10, 2003
      ( 2:15 PM )
A Few Good Men

Two ex-generals and an ex-admiral declared publicly today that they were gay. They are retired, so have nothing career-wise to lose, but still the move is to be admired because they have publicly declared the ridiculous "don't ask don't tell" policy for what it is - and they should know.

The three, Brig. Gen. Keith H. Kerr and Brig. Gen.
Virgil A. Richard, both of the Army, and Rear Adm.
Alan M. Steinman of the Coast Guard, said the
policy had been ineffective and undermined the
military's core values: truth, honor, dignity,
respect and integrity.

They said they had been forced to lie to their
friends, family and colleagues to serve their country.
In doing so, they said, they had to evade and
deceive others about a natural part of their identity.

There have been many statements made since the policy was enacted 10 years ago, but this may very well be the most powerful. To see what these three men lost because of the military's inability to accept that them being gay, and that being so in no way prohibited their exemplary conduct as military officers, is very sad. They rose to the highest ranks because they loved their jobs, they loved serving their country, and they were very good at what they did. Unfortunately, their own personal lives suffered because they were unable to be their true selves throughout the entirety of their careers. What's even more of a crime, in these days of needing every good soldier we can get:

Nearly 10,000 service members have been
discharged for being gay under the policy, which
was signed into law by Mr. Clinton on Nov. 30, 1993,
according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network, a gay rights group that monitors military
justice. The group made the officers available to
The New York Times as part of a campaign to mark
the anniversary of the policy's official inception.

10,000 service members - discharged for no other reason than their personal lives didn't include heterosexual partnerships. This is a shame. This country that claims equality for all people will not even allow those who want to serve their country do so in full disclosure of their own personal lives. It's also a crime that they face intimidation and harrassment from other narrow-minded servicemembers. The military's policy should be to protect gay servicemembers, not to shun them and make them even more vulnerable to mistreatment or loss of the career they hold so valuable.

The officers said that the Defense Department
and White House had not adequately addressed
the problem of harassment.

"It is important that they engage the harassment
issue," Admiral Steinman, who lives in Dupont, Wash.,
said. "It needs to be tackled more forcefully. And
the president could set the tone."

General Kerr agreed. "The president seems reluctant
to emphasize the antiharassment part of the
`don't ask, don't tell' policy," he said in an interview
from his home in Santa Rosa, Calif. "He just doesn't
feel this is a serious issue."

General Richard said he thought the policy had
damaged military readiness and recruitment and
retention of soldiers. "There are gays and lesbians
who want to serve honorably and with integrity, but
have been forced to compromise," he said in an
interview from his home in Austin, Tex. "It is a matter
of honor and integrity."

Maybe soon we will have a president who takes seriously the harrassment of gay servicemembers and who makes clear the path for them to serve openly and honestly in the career that they have chosen and love and for the country they sacrifice for.

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      ( 2:04 PM )
Wake Up America

Great article by Harold Meyerson in today's WaPo. He argues that there are two kinds of Democrats, those who know they're being screwed and those who aren't paying attention:

It is the Bush White House and the Republican
Congress that set up this dynamic. By winning
office with a negative 540,000-vote margin and
then proceeding to govern in the most relentlessly
partisan fashion from the right, the president
has made unmistakably clear that the concerns of
Democrats are of no interest to him. On Capitol
Hill, meanwhile, the Republican leadership relies
solely on Republican votes to get its measures
passed, going so far as to exclude mainstream
Democrats from conference committees. When
America's new laws are to be negotiated,
Republicans talk only to themselves.

But like I keep saying, it's not just the Republicans who are making this happen. Our own party leaders are going along the garden path with them.

Disastrously, it's been the Democrats in Congress
who've been the slowest to pick up on their new
marginality. Some of the Democrats who voted to
authorize the Iraq war in October 2002 did so --
or say they did so -- in hopes of prodding Bush to
embrace a more multilateral approach toward Iraq.

This is why the "outsiders" are finally getting results. There was no where left for us to go, the only opportunities to actually oppose things had dwindled into nothingness. I can see why the media pundits have to read off the RNC hymnbook to describe the Dean campaign - there is nothing black and white about a few hundreds of thousands of disenchanted, disenfranchised voters taking matters into their own hands.

Thanks to Maru for the link

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      ( 1:32 PM )
Endorsement Blather

Of course I picked a huge news day to be home in bed sleeping off the third fourth fifth wave of cold in my House of Germs yesterday - so I am a bit belated on sharing my opinions. But of course, that won't stop me from sharing them nonetheless!

I have to say that I was a bit surprised by the Gore endorsement. From what Dean says, Gore approached him - Dean didn't directly ask him for the endorsement. However, I do know that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of letters were written to Gore back in October as part of the Dean Meetup activist activity. I wrote one myself asking for his endorsement. I haven't heard whether this had influence, but I'd sure like to know how many letters he got and if that did influence him.

All of the pundits seemed completely focused on the diss to Lieberman. Let me just say this once: Joe Lieberman didn't stand aside and wait to see if Gore would declare out of loyalty or courtesy - he did it out of practical self-preservation. There would have been no point in running if Gore had declared and Lieberman knew it. This just one more reason for Joe to be paaaaiined. But this is politics and Gore wasn't going to call Joe and let him know he was endorsing someone else before anyone else knew it - the risk of leaks and the fact that this just isn't how you do it - precluded that, in my point of view.

Now as for Gore pulling Dean to the center - could I be more sick and tired of the media declaring how liberal Dean is? If he's so liberal, why are Gephardt and Kerry attacking him from the left in their campaign ads in Iowa and NH? This was a strategic move by Gore to realign himself with what he sees as the emerging power in the party. The old DLC-let's-be-mini-Republicans days are gone. He put up with it during the 8 years in office and he let them run his show in 2000 and got nothing for it. He knows where the future is. Democrats and liberals who'd previously fled the party are up for fighting back now, and the only candidate willing to throw punches back at the bullies is Dean. Gore made that fantastic populist-centered speech at the convention in 2000 and then got scared into letting the DLC bulldoze him until he didn't look any different from Bush. He knows it was a mistake and he knows that his way back to power is not with the DLC crowd anymore.

I'm glad the debates are over for now. They were long, tedious exercises in repetitive Dean bashing and basically forums for us to see the wit of Al Sharpton. Once the field is narrowed, the debates will be better (though I don't know that there will be any now until the candidate is decided).

It's funny, this time last year, I was looking at the potential field of candidates and thinking to myself "Gee, this Dean guy would be great as president...but no one knows who he is and he'll never get enough notice..." And here we are, Dean has the biggest endorsement of them all, save Clinton, under his belt and the first primary voting booth hasn't even opened. I think it will only get more interesting from here on out.

Update: I just realized I didn't put any links in that post. Oh well. Blame it on the Cold Medicine.

Update 2: Here's a link. I found reference to the letters written to Gore in the NY Times:

At the same time, the campaign encouraged Dean
supporters to write to Mr. Gore, among other
Democratic figures, including former President Bill
Clinton, to seek their endorsements. A Dean aide
said that at an Oct. 1 gathering of 50,000 Dean
supporters in more than 700 cities around the
country, 2,500 people sent handwritten letters to
Mr. Gore
asking him to endorse Dr. Dean.

Mr. Gore, his associates said, loved the attention.

"Al Gore has been watching Governor Dean's
campaign pretty closely," said Roy Neel, a longtime
Gore friend and aide who was planning Mr. Gore's
aborted transition to the presidency in 2000. "They
have shown not only respect but substantive
interest in Al and Tipper."

Looks like he's still basking in the attention: Dean supporters have already sent over 14,000 letters of appreciation to Gore for the endorsement - and that is just in less than 24 hours.

Update 3: Haha! Of course: Tom Burka has the REAL story behind Gore's endorsement!

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Monday, December 08, 2003
      ( 10:49 AM )
*Cough* *Sputter*

I really did try...but I'm going to go home now. Head cloudy. Nose stopped. Voice gone... it's amazing how many germs a small 18-month old can carry around... and pass on to the taller people in the house. I think I shall head home and see if the wee one will serve me some tea or something... oh the trials of mamahood...

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Friday, December 05, 2003
      ( 2:02 PM )
Another Bush Crime Not Being Reported

Because for heaven's sake, we don't want to take time away from Michael Jackson or Scott Peterson. But I think that perhaps Bloggers might do some good here in getting this story out. So here I am doing my part.

A 9/11 widow has sued George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, George Tenet, et al. in US Distrcit Court and her claims against them include aiding and abetting terrorists and their conspirators; lying (duh) in Bush's version of 9/11 events; prior knowledge of terror attacks; failing to act when warned; causing the wrongful death of her husband; conspiracy; obstruction of justice and racketeering. I think someone finally got pissed off enough.

Of course of the THREE THOUSAND press releases sent out about the lawsuit, only ONE newspaper printed the story... in New Zealand. Ellen Mariani, the plaintiff, has written an open letter to the president which formed the basis of the lawsuit. It is scathing and though I'd like to reprint the whole thing here, I think you should go and read it in full from the source. And then pass it on. Some bits and pieces:

When you took no responsibility towards protecting
the general public from the possibility of attack, you
were certainly not upholding the oath you spoke
when you took office. In that oath you pledged to
uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.

On the morning of the attack, you and members of
your staff were fully aware of the unfolding events
yet you chose to continue on to the Emma E.
Booker Elementary School to proceed with a
scheduled event and "photo op". While our nation
was under attack you did not appear to blink an
eye or shed a tear. You continued on as if everything
was "business as usual".


It is my belief that you intentionally allowed
9/11 to happen to gather public support for a
"war on terrorism". These wars, in Afghanistan
and Iraq, have not accomplished what you stated
were your goals. Why have you not captured
Osama Bin Laden? Where are Saddam's weapons
of mass destruction? All that has happened is
a bill that is passed before Congress for 87
billion dollars to rebuild what you ordered blown
to bits. As an American who lost a loved one in the
"war on terror" I do pray and support our troops
who were sent to Afghanistan and Iraq by you.
These troops have and will continue to die for
your lies. As an American I can make this statement
as it appears that associates of your family may
stand to prosper from the rebuilding of Afghanistan
and Iraq.


We the families of 9/11 victims need to have answers to
the following questions:

1. Why were 29 pages of the 9/11committee
report personally censored at your request?

2. Where are the "black boxes" from Flight 11
and Flight 175?

3. Where are the "voice recorders" from
Flight 11 and Flight 175?

4. Why can't we gain access to the complete
air traffic control records for Flight 11 and Flight 175?

5. Where are the airport surveillance tapes
that show the passengers boarding the doomed flights?

6. When will complete passenger lists for all
of the flights be released?

7. Why did your brother Jeb (the Governor of
Florida) go to the offices of the Hoffman Aviation
School and order that flight records and files be
removed? These files were then put on a C130
government cargo plane and flown out of the
country. Where were they taken and who ordered it done?

It has been over two years since hundreds of
our lost loved ones "remains" have still yet to
be identified and their remains placed in a landfill
at Fresh Kill. We want our heroes brought back
and given a public and proud resting place
where we all can pay our respects and honor
them. These innocent people never had a chance
as they were taken from us on that sad September Day.

After what was done with Clinton, the GOP has no room to complain that a president has dispensation from being sued while in office. There is no reason why Bush and the other defendants should not have to testify before a grand jury or why records and documents should not be subpoenaed. Oh, I'm sure the argument will be "national security!" But that is what Ms. Mariani is suing for - she wants the truth and actual security, not the false blanket of lies that have neither protected us nor prevented anything in the future from happening like that again.

The Bush administration has hemmed and hawed and ignored the 9/11 Commission. The press is ignoring Bush's actions, statements and the fact that everything he did and has done regarding 9/11 has been dismally inappropriate. Why is this lawsuit against a president not a thousand times MORE newsworthy than that of a woman who claimed the president dropped his pants in front of her? Have the values of this country become so twisted that we actually care more about a disfigured rock star's grotesque lifestyle than about the president of this country putting us all in mortal danger? If so, then I think we may be in for even more of a rude awakening than 9/11 ever could have been.

I think I"ll be doing some legal reading this weekend.

(thanks to Maru for the story and the link. All you bloggers: pass it on.)

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      ( 12:51 PM )
Just In Case You Thought Kids Were Getting It Easy...

Bush is hacking away at Head Start again. Early Head Start is a program that has benefitted hundreds of thousands of children who otherwise would never have had a chance to get that kind of start in life. It is NOT just preschool. It is a full-service program for these kids and their families. It provides medical services, feeds the children and brings the children into safe environments where they can develop their social skills, make friends, learn some things and generally be kids who are ready to start preschool and kindergarten when they get old enough.

But to George W. Bush they are just another bunch of kids who should be tested. And if they fail, their program should be trashed. That's what it's come down to now. We are going to give standardized tests to 4-year olds. Yes, you heard me right.

Education leaders in the Bush administration
believe that many Head Start programs -- part
of the 38-year-old national program that tries
to prepare preschool children from poor families
for kindergarten -- don't do their jobs well
enough. So, this fall, they are mandating
standardized tests of the 450,000 4-year-olds
in the nation's more than 2,500 Head Start


But many Head Start officials, including some at the
three Head Start programs in Portland, say the tests
are useless, at best, and could end up threatening
the good work that Head Start programs do.

"It's totally inappropriate to test 4-year-olds," said
Susan Brady, executive director of the Mt. Hood
Community College Head Start, where Joe attends
classes. Four-year-olds don't reveal most of their
knowledge or their learning abilities through such
rigid formulaic tests, she said.

This is so disgusting I don't know where to start. Of course what this will turn into is a situation where all 3-year olds do in Head Start is "study" for their 4-year old exams. And if not enough of them pass...yep, their teachers go away and the program is de-funded.

This is child abuse. The Bush administration is mandating the abuse of children by putting unrealistic requirements on their teachers to force these wee children to be what they are not and to be accountable and responsible for a federally funded program that was supposed to be there to help them!! It makes me want to scream. And then weep. It seems to me that all this administration wants to do is pretend that anyone who isn't white, over 40, a millionaire and offended by free speech simply doesn't exist. And if they don't exist, then why should there be money going to them? But I also blame Democrats too. There is no one making a noise about this! The Head Start folks are screaming foul but no one is listening - even the party that is supposedly supposed to advocate for them!

Meanwhile, little kids who have never been outside the limits of an inner city life are forced to sit down and take written exams that ask them to look at a group of pictures and circle the picture of a farmhouse. Something they probably have never seen in their lives. Skewed? Unfair? Oh, that isn't the start of it. The test wants 4 year olds to do math and vocabulary!

Joe ... sits in a tiny chair across a small table from
Head Start test proctor Tina Williams, his short legs
swinging free, not quite reaching the floor. He's
able to name many of the letters of the alphabet
that Williams shows him. For another question,
he counts 13 blocks on a page before his counting
gets confused.

But then Williams asks him to point to a drawing of
a nostril, and Joe hesitates, before pointing a tiny
finger to the drawing of an ear on the same page.
Williams makes a little mark on her score sheet.

And Joe sighs.

Questions meant to test his vocabulary and math
skills sometimes bewilder him. When he's shown a
page with four drawings and is asked to point at
the "farm," he points instead to what looks to be
a drawing of the surface of the moon. When he's
shown a page with six frogs and is asked how many
would be left if three hopped away, he simply
counts the frogs: "1-2-3-4-5-6."

A drawing of the surface of the moon? Are they crazy? Critics of the test have pointed out that the questions are far too difficult and convoluted for a four year old, not to mention trying to get a four year old to sit down and TAKE a written exam. And of course it puts limits on a child's most valuable resource, his imagination:

And, said Mt. Hood Head Start's Dieker, some
questions require one answer -- a cup is used
for drinking, for instance -- even though a child
could come up with several creative ways to
use a cup.

It is a crime what Bush and his "Secretary of Education" are doing to the children of this country. That they have now become predators of four year olds is beyond explanation. There is absolutely no reason on earth why this is a good idea. There are a thousand other ways to see how a program is progressing or doing. Its success or failure should not depend on whether a child passes a test. In fact, it's my personal opinion that the litmus test used for Head Start AND public schools should be to see what they need and give them MORE.

Children are capable of so much. Their potential is immeasurable. Children who are most at risk in this country should get more help, not less. More attention, not less. More leeway to learn at their own pace, not less. And their teachers, who give so much to them should be paid MUCH more, not less than other public school teachers. This is where the gold of our society can be found. Yet we are allowing our govenrment to dismantle the very vehicle that brings this potential to fruition. Our government has no qualms about simply destroying everything that these kids need and are. These kids are the future of our country.

Oh wait, I forgot - our future doesn't seem to exist anymore...

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      ( 8:49 AM )
Top 20

20 Most Annoying Conservatives of 2003 - read 'em and weep laugh...

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Thursday, December 04, 2003
      ( 9:29 AM )
To The Moon!!!

George W. Bush plans to announce that he wants to send astronauts to the Moon. Yes, in an incredibly brave announcement on December 17, the President will set the unprecedented goal for the nation that by the end of the decade we will have landed a man on the moon! This is just another move in a series of courageous steps this president has taken to set the earth's agenda towards more progressive science and accomplishments. Already, people around the country are awed at the prospect that we might have the technology to actually fly a rocket to the moon, land on it, and step out onto the mysterious swiss cheese surface and play some golf!

US president George W. Bush is to announce
a new space program which could include
missions to the moon and possibly even to
Mars, reports say.

This is amazing. I wrongly thought that this president could do no good ever. How will we do it? This is unprecedented! It's never been done before! Some people may say that with a masterful plan like this, Bush might be trying to obfuscate the investigations into things like lies, leaks, deadly wars, etc., but I say, no, this is a far greater goal! It must have taken all the bravery in him to step into the spotlight of doubt and announce this incredible mission for our space program!

It must be courage, it must be visionary foresight! Here he is announcing, in the midst of a total freeze on NASA support, after years of neglecting the agency and giving it less than a penny for every tax dollar spent to help it upgrade its technology, resources and flying machines, we're now going to land on the moon? Oh, wait a minute... did someone just say that Halliburton has a new space division....

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      ( 9:12 AM )
Molly Picks Her Man

Well, Molly Ivins went and did it. She has publicly endorsed Howard Dean. Now what - one of the most progressive voices in the country is willing to back a not-so-liberal reformer who doesn't seem to care about toting the party line - what next? Al Franken? Jim Hightower?

For a while, I fretted over Dean being angry,
or at least appealing to the political anger that
is normally manipulated by right-wing radio
jocks. Anger makes liberals uncomfortable: We
prefer peace, reason and gentle persuasion.
Beloveds, it is way past time for us to get mad
-- social, economic and political justice are being
perverted by the Bush administration.

Dean gives a hell of a speech -- even if you're
Republican, you should go and hear him just for
the experience. But I fretted about Dean on TV
-- TV is so important. How could anyone poker up
on Margaret Carlson of PBS, not one of the world's
toughest interviewers? But then I saw Dean laugh
his way through a Chris Matthews interview
(which he should have done with Tim Russert, who
was hell-bent on gotcha questions), and I know
the guy can take care of himself. So he fights back
if you get in his face -- that's not all bad.

She concludes her article with: ...I don't think Dean is a moderate centrist. I think he's a fighting centrist. And folks, I think we have got ourselves a winner here."

I think Ivins is exemplifying what a lot of people are starting to recognize about Dean. He's not afraid to fight back. His Chris Matthews interview on Monday showed that. Liberals are sick and tired of leaders who milktoast their way through situations - who dodge and duck and dish out sweet platitudes when they should be kicking and yelling and pushing the nonsense being thrown at them out of the way.

William Greider of The Nation had an editorial in this week's edition about why he's for Dean, and it was basically the same reasons:

Howard Dean is an odd duck, certainly, in the
milieu of the contemporary Democratic Party.
He is, I surmise, a tough and savvy politician
of the old school--a shrewd, intuitive pol who
develops his own sense of where the people
are and where events are likely to take public
opinion, then has the guts to act on his
perceptions. That approach--leading, it's called
--seems dangerously unscientific in this era of
high-quality polling and focus groups, the data
interpreted for politicians by expensive consultants.
The press corps has not had much experience
with Democrats of this type, so reporters read
Dean's style as emotional, possibly a character
flaw. He reminds me of olden days when Democrats
were a more contentious bunch, always fighting
noisily among themselves and often with
creative results.

The wimpy Tom Daschles, the turncoat Zell Millers, the flashy Bill Clintons - what have they done (a) for the party or (b) for us? Not much - by betraying the very progressive values of the Democratic party, that most Americans hold, even if they are not Democrats, most of our leading politicians have sold us down the river to the highly organized, very slick and manipulative GOP rightists. The agenda has been so hijacked to the right that what once would have been considered a very conservative proposition is now closer to the left-of center. It's time to stop going along with this system. It's time to fight back for what actually is GOOD for this country, not what's good for politics.

I think that's why more people are leaning towards Dean. It's not just that he is a winner, but he's willing to stand up for the people of the country and not mince words and not play the Washington games. The party of Roosevelt and Truman - the party that came up with all the good ideas - the party that has rolled over for too long. The time has come to an end to stop complaining and start fighting back and winning.

James Carville is telling Democrats the same thing. Fight back. In an interview I saw with him earlier this week he was saying that among the things Dems need to do is stop apologizing, stop conceding points that don't need to be conceded, stop acting like the other side has a point at all, and start standing for something.

Hmmm... what a novel idea...

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Wednesday, December 03, 2003
      ( 1:46 PM )

When did that happen? I wasn't even paying attention, and then I noticed today that I have had over 10,100 visitors to this blog! Wow! I feel all grown up.

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      ( 12:00 PM )
Weapons of Mass Destruction Found

In Texas. Of course, this story hasn't made the national news at all, and as Ornicus points out - probably won't since the perpetrators weren't muslims:

Federal authorities this year mounted one
of the most extensive investigations of
domestic terrorism since the Oklahoma City

Three people linked to white supremacist and
anti-government groups are in custody. At least
one weapon of mass destruction - a sodium
cyanide bomb capable of delivering a deadly gas
cloud - has been seized in the Tyler area.

When did this happen? Was it a story that got brushed over last week because of Bush's intrepid and fabulous Thanksgiving trip? Nope. These people were arrested in MAY.

Since arresting the three people in May, federal
agents have served hundreds of subpoenas
across the country in a domestic terror investigation
that made it onto President Bush’s daily intelligence
briefings and set off national security alarms
among the country’s most senior counter-terror

So my first question is: Does Homeland Security issue the terror alerts based on information like this, or do the alerts only have to do with Al Qeda. And if the alerts are about information like this, why have we been led to believe that all the threats are from muslim extremists and why have muslims and arabs been singled out for retribution, discrimination and false imprisonment when it looks to me like there is a nationwide conspiracy of white boys set on committing massive acts of terror in our land?

Evidence seized and the fact that none of the
defendants will talk has given rise to speculation
that unknown conspirators may be still be
involved in a broader plot to use Krar’s home-built
chemical weapons, government officials say.

“One would certainly have to question why an
individual would feel compelled to stockpile sodium
cyanide, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, acetic acid,
unless they had some bad intent,” said Assistant
U.S. Attorney Wes Rivers, who is prosecuting the
case. “They certainly had the capacity to be
extremely dangerous.”

And evidently, the government was completely ignorant of this massive conspiracy until one of the blokes made a stupid remark on a mailed package. (Dumbness: often a cure for criminals getting away with things). So, just like before 9/11, one of our biggest threats is from our own citizens... and yet the Bush administration has failed to let us know the truth about this situation, continuing to perpetrate the racist and sectarian dogma that it has followed since 9/11 (and before). Sure, Al Qeda is still a threat, but that doesn't mean we should be lied to and other threats from inside our own towns and cities be dismissed as not important enough to let us know.

Then again, this administration isn't all that interested in our viability as long-living, healthy or safe human beings anyway. So why should they bother?

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      ( 8:31 AM )

PRODUCTIVITY IS UP!!! Everyone is wetting their pants in delight that this is yet ANOTHER SIGN THE ECONOMY IS IMPROVING BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS!! Companies are showing big profits because their strategy of laying off thousands of people to cut costs has worked - so the stock market will go up and everyone will be rich again!

So... let's get this straight. Today's report tells us that productivity levels are higher than they have been in 20 years... which means that fewer than ever people are working more hours than ever for less pay and benefits than ever before.

Happy Happy Joy Joy.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2003
      ( 4:01 PM )
Everybody's Sweetheart

Yep, Tom DeLay is once again making friends and influencing people. TBogg has a fantastic post today on ol' DeLay's new plan to rent a cruise ship and dock it in the harbor in New York for all the GOPers and their friends (read: lobbyists and hookers) to stay in during the 2004 Convention. But there's a wee problem...the GOP made a deal with the hotel service unions that guaranteed the unions wouldn't strike during the convention...but now the unions are saying that if the GOP doesn't stay in the hotels, they negotiated in bad faith, so the deal is off.

TBogg sums it up deliciously well:

Secondly, since when did the Republicans
care about the unions? Those people work
for a living and make good money, which
keeps them from enlisting in the military
because there are no living wage jobs. So
who is going to invade the other countries,
kill their leaders and convert their people to
Christianity? Huh? You see, unions are just
full of America haters, so screw 'em.

But go read the whole post... even to the very end it's pure TBogg-great.

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      ( 3:42 PM )
But the Little Lies Don't Matter...Right?

Ah... the thrill of the secret newstory! The joy of getting one up on the press and the democrats! It stirs the soul to hear of the fantastical 007-like moves of the President on Air Force One, barely missing being identified by a British Airlines pilot as they passed in the cold, dark night through which the president was whooshing across the sky in a daring and heroic dash into a warzone (oops- scratch that: a mission accomplished zone)! And the luck of sneaking by when the British pilot questioned whether it was indeed Air Force One and got the answer back that it was a Gulf Stream...and he kept quiet because he just knew something secret and amazing was happening!

But wait... British airlines said today that nope, none of their pilots contacted Air Force one when they were in the vicinity of its flight path.

"We have spoken to the British Airways
captains who were in the area at the time
and neither made comments to Air Force
One nor did they hear any other aircraft
make the statement over the radio,"
Verrier said.

The whole story about being contacted by a British Air pilot and Air Force One answering back that it was a Gulfstream was completely made up. Guess the White House needed that additional little tidbit to make the story even more delicious to the panting Fox News reporters on Thanksgiving day. It's like they are pathological now. They can't help but add a few little lies to everything! The big lies are getting buried under the little lies because the news media is so stupid. If you're going to manipulate a butt-kissing media that doesn't care about investigating stories before reporting, you might as well use cute stories with spy-thrilling bits to do it.

Meanwhile, the GIs that got visited for two hours on Thanksgiving day are still wishing they could have hitched a ride back on Air Force One instead of having to act grateful that Bush deigned to show up on the holiday he robbed them of in the first place...

(thanks to Maru for the link)

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Monday, December 01, 2003
      ( 1:25 PM )
Happy New Year

Just in time for the holidays and a happy new year, House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, and the republican majority in Congress have decided that while the rich and richer should get extended tax cuts, extending unemployment for those whose benefits will soon be exhausted is unecessary. If you've been out of work for a while, things aren't going to get better any time soon:

At the last minute, Congressional leaders added
legislation to their pre-adjournment agenda that
would extend more than a dozen tax breaks
scheduled to expire at the end of the year. But
despite efforts to squeeze the tax-cut “extenders”
package into the busy Congressional schedule
before adjournment, Congressional leaders have
shown no willingness to consider extending the
temporary federal program to help the long-term
unemployed, which, starting January 1, will not
provide any benefits to those who exhaust their
regular, state-funded benefits.

Tom DeLay just doesn't think the poor need extended benefits. And whatever Tom DeLay thinks, that is what the government does.

When it comes to the unemployment benefits,
however, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay
told BNA Daily Labor Report on November 19
that there is “no reason” for extending those
benefits. The House approach implies that
corporations need continued support amidst
a still-weak economy, but that laid-off
workers do not.

There are more unemployed workers now than ever before. And if the benefits aren't extended, between 80,000 and 90,000 workers per week will be thrown off the rolls starting in January 2004.

The dimwits in the white house and on Capital Hill are under the impression that our economy is helped in the long run by giving more money to rich folks than by extending unemployment (or even maybe finding jobs) for unemployed workers. This is proven to be a false assumption.

Second, it is also of note that unemployment
benefits provide more stimulus to the economy
than corporate tax cuts
. An Economy.com study
of the effects of various ways to stimulate a
weak economy found that for each dollar of cost
to the federal Treasury, federal unemployment
insurance benefits were the single most effective
policy mechanism examined. Unemployment
insurance puts money in the hands of people
who need it and generally will spend it quickly.
Although the Economy.com study did not examine
the specific corporate tax break contained in the
current House extenders bill, the study found
that similar corporate tax cuts were among the
least effective methods of stimulating the economy.

But that doesn't matter. What matters is short term giveaways and favors for corporate donors and sponsors. The republicans aren't worried about losing the House or the Senate in 2004 because the Dems haven't bothered to compete - and sadly, it doesn't look like they will any time soon. As for the white house, it's clear that Bush doesn't care about working people in America - he and Rove feel that Bush can distract attention by appearing to be a "strong leader" in fighting "terra" - and that Americans will roll over and ignore the fact that the economic "stimulus" Bush enacted only beats us down more and does nothing to help this country.

Tom DeLay and George Bush and the rest of them are banking on ignorance and people not paying attention. But 80,000 workers a week losing benefits might cause some attention to be paid. Let's just hope that the attention will be turned into action and that the white house will be turned over to someone who actually cares about the working people of this country and getting jobs back instead of rewarding rich folks for being rich.

(thanks to Kos for the link)

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