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

Tuesday, September 30, 2003
      ( 9:49 AM )
Meanwhile, Back in America...

In stories across the country's newspapers today, it was reported that the Census Bureau is reporting that the number of uninsured Americans has risen to 43.6 million people. This is a national, state and local problem. Here in Oregon, our state wide health system, The Oregon Health Plan, which was next to none in its provision for families and people in this state, has had to cut to the bones because of the economy and because the state is having to raise taxes to pay for things the federal government won't pay for because it cut taxes. The republicans seem to think that Americans won't buy a new health care system if it means rolling back the tax cuts. But I would venture to guess that the people who need the health care most are the people who didn't get much out of those tax cuts in the first place. Like most of my friends, I would be happy to go back to the tax levels of the 90's if it meant that a plan was being implemented to slowly nationalize health care so that at least all children are covered universally to begin with.

This is the most powerful and most advanced country in the world. Why is it that we can neither feed or provide medical care to each and everyone of our citizens? What good is it to have a country that can destroy the earth but does not care for its most vulnerable? That is not the kind of country I want to belong to. We must make it better. If we can change this country's priorities to care for the least of us, then it will be a country that does the right thing for all of us. Things have got to change - tax cuts and mumbling about adding prescription benefits to Medicaid do not solve the problem. I think this country is on the cusp of drastic changes, but good ones. We have to move forward - we can't afford to stay in the same place anymore. This country isn't built on money or technology or corporate power, it's built on human beings. And those human beings are ready to take back control. Food, housing and health care are rights that should be afforded to every one of those human beings. They are not privileges, as the current administration seems to think. Time to reclaim our rights as citizens and time to make a change.

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      ( 9:35 AM )
The End of Special Interest Campaigns?

If you'll indulge me, just a short note on the political front today. The Howard Dean campaign is set to announce $15 million as it's Q3 earnings. This not only breaks Clinton's high record of 10.3 million, it blows it away. But the story isn't the money itself, it's how Dean got the money. It wasn't from a few PACs lining up their big time donors, it wasn't from special interest corporate help. Nope, it's been from citizens of the country, giving $20, $50 and $100 bucks to a campaign that they believe is interested in what they think, not what Halliburton thinks. Even Dick Morris concedes:

Howard Dean is also catalyzing the most far-reaching
of reforms in campaign finance. Indeed, the Dean
campaign will likely mark the end of the big money
era in our politics, when campaigns were dominated
by ultra-wealthy donors or special interests
contributing massive amounts of money.

Dean is proving that, through the Internet, he can
mobilize large numbers of relatively small contributors,
whose combined giving can overwhelm that of
wealthy special-interest donors. In so doing, he's also
ending the oligarchy of monied power in the Democratic
typified by Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National
Committee chairman whose sole qualification is his
ability to raise big bucks.

I've said it tons of times before, but what excites me about the Dean campaign even more than I could be excited about the candidate himself is the way the campaign is working. In the end, if Howard Dean comes out on top, he will owe US, the American people who put him there, not any big corporate interests, not any huge political power-brokers, but us. He is hated by the old-style, top-down money controlling politicos - that's why the DLC are desperately trying to stop him - he doesn't buy into their power structure. He owes them nothing and seeks nothing from them. And that scares the pants off them. What to do with a man running for president who is accountable to no one but the people voting for him? Dean not only has used the Internet to deal a huge blow to special interest money, he's used it to establish firm bases in all 50 states of hard working, dedicated and organized volunteers who take the place of storefront campaign offices with a few paid employees - these volunteers are out meeting people, organizing events and registering people to vote.

Like I've said before, even if I don't agree with all of Dean's positions, I respect the way he is running for office, I respect that he has allowed the people to continue to direct his path but that he's made wise decisions. And I respect the fact that he can actually win over voters who might be on the fence about Bush. There's no longer any question that Dean can win the national election. And when he does, we will have propelled into office a man who depended on us to get him there. Now, for once, I think that we can all agree that we could live with that kind of precedent.

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      ( 9:13 AM )
Why Can't You Just Stay Dead?

That line is from DKos' post on the unraveling of the Wilson/CIA story. The White House is trying desperately to make the story die, and it just won't. As Kos rightly points out, this story is being led by Josh Marshall and as in the Trent Lott matter, the press has finally followed the lead of the blogs. Marshall is now blowing holes in the White House's and Novak's excuses, and it looks like the leaning house of cards that is this administration is starting to buckle. The media has finally gotten out front on this, though of course it is the print media mostly who is trying to dig into the story. The cable news just continues to blather on mindlessly - but that's their job. There is now an "official" investigation begun.

Of course Tom Burka may have already cracked the code on the whole affair.

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Monday, September 29, 2003
      ( 10:00 AM )
Creating New Jobs for Plumbers

The blogosphere is tightly following the unraveling of the Leak story that started this weekend. As of me writing this entry, so far the press has actually stuck to its guns in trying to investigate, at a press conference this morning, it was suggested it could be Rove that was the leak, but the press secratary emphatically denied it and said that Bush knows it wasn't Rove.

I suggest keeping up with Billmon:

Update 9/29 12:30 PM ET: Boy, I don't know how Josh Marshall gets the stuff so quickly, but he's already got exerpts from today's White House press briefing posted on his site. My favorite bit so far:

McCLELLAN: He wasn't involved. The President knows he wasn't involved.
QUESTION: How does he know that?

McCLELLAN: The President knows.

QUESTION: What, is he clairvoyant? How does he know?

Also the goods are coming fast and furiously over at Josh Marshall's TPM, Eschaton and Daily Kos.

I wonder if the CIA wanted an investigation all along, or if it just now started pushing for it after the DIA's report this weekend that the intelligence provided/used by the Administration regarding Iraq was all crap. My first inclination would be that the CIA has wanted the leak investigated since it came to light since it's a) caused them the loss of a valuable agent; b) compromised other assets and contacts they may have had through her; and c) was ILLEGAL (the last reason being the least problematic for them, I'm sure). But it's obvious that the press is now hounding this issue and though some attention was paid on Sunday to the bad intelligence issue, that's sort of getting swept under the rug right now.

Could this be the straw that broke the mainstream media's cowed back - what I mean is, will they finally start acting like journalists, investigate what's going on and do their jobs instead of being shills for an administration that is most precariously balanced upon its stack of brittle lies? Let's hope so.

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Friday, September 26, 2003
      ( 3:41 PM )
Bubba Ho Tep

The weekend is almost here and we have an evening sans child tonight. So because my husband is a years-long fan of Bruce Campbell (and has converted me into one too!), tonight we are going to the newly released gem Bubba Ho Tep. Here's the story: Elvis (played by Campbell) didn't die in 1977, but switched identities with an Elvis impersonator during the early 1970’s in order to escape the harsh glare of fame. Then the impersonator died and the real Elvis broke a hip and ended up in an East Texas retirement home...where he meets JFK (played by Ossie Davis). There is a soul-sucking mummy using their rest home as a feeding ground and they have to band together to save everyone.

I can't wait!

See you on the other side of Sunday.

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      ( 11:26 AM )
Okay, I'm Really Pissed Off Now

It gets worse and worse. I read a little blurb last night in Dollars in Sense (in their shorts section that doesn't appear online) about the lawsuit filed by Gulf War POWs against Iraq for the torture they endured while held captive. This morning I found more articles that substantiated what I'd read (get ready for it):

U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts of the District of
Columbia awarded more than $959 million to the
ex-POWs and 37 family members.

But money from Iraqi assets has been transferred
to a federal reserve bank, and L. Paul Bremer, the
chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, has told the court
he needs the money to rebuild the country. Justice
Department attorneys have argued that because
Saddam Hussein has been ousted, Iraq is immune
from such lawsuits.

So let me get this straight: The POWs won their lawsuit and were awarded $959 million out of frozen Iraqi assets for them and their families. Under US law, they are entitled to receive that money. But the Justice Department instead moved the money into the Federal Reserve and has decided to hand it over to Paul Bremer to use as he pleases in reconstruction (code word for private contracts). So the POWs get nothing. And Halliburton wins again.

I have two questions (that I can think of right now in the midst of my anger):

1. What right does the Justice Department have over frozen Iraqi assets legally awarded to tortured POWs?

2. How many total frozen Iraqi assets are there that are being used that we don't know about (this is non-tax dollar funds above and beyond the $87 billion being asked from our own pockets)????

I'm so mad I can't even think of what else to say right now.

UPDATE: Uh oh. Dad saw the article. Now he's pissed off. And he's a vet.

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      ( 10:46 AM )
Hate is a Four Letter Word

I heard Juan Williams on NPR this morning interviewing Jonathan Chait and Ramesh Ponnuru regarding their "debate" about "Bush Hatred." (putting aside that I don't see how anyone can actually call the New Republic "liberal" - as for this being a "debate" - give me a break!!) Here's a taste from Chait:


We agree on a couple things. The main one
is whether Bush hatred is a good political
strategy for Democrats: It's not. Bush
remains personally popular, and most people
don't like angry, bitter candidates anyway.

The question that divides us is: Does Bush
hatred have a rational basis, or is it an
unreasonable prejudice? In other words,
does Bush hatred result from the peculiar
mentality of the Bush haters--as
conservatives have been arguing--or does it
result from Bush himself? I argue that
it's the latter.

They then go off and argue about whether this entire hate-strategy of the Democrats will work or not. Whatever. The interview with Juan Williams was almost surreal, in my opinion. The whole discussion with the two editors boiled down to both of them agreeing that the entire impetus for the Democratic front runner (Dean) is Bush-hatred, and that Dean has based his whole campaign on spewing hate-Bush language. What??! What campaign am I watching then? Because in the pubilc appearances I have personally witnessed to the tv coverage of speeches to interviews and debates, Dean and the other candidates are making very clear arguments against Bush's policies but I have not once heard a hatred for him being pushed on the masses. Have I missed something?

First of all, this meme that the hatred for this president is the most visceral, personal hatred ever expressed in this country for a sitting president is ludicrous! What were those eight years we just went through before Bush? A huge national love fest? I heard this same thing from Hannity yesterday (husband watches for fun, I usually have to stay out of the room) - he even quoted JFK in an argument saying Ted Kennedy's words about the war were offensive and mean. But going beyond Hannity's propensity for the insane, it was as if the entire rightist plan right now is to pretend the right's viscious attacks, disgusting language and political annihilation of Clinton during his presidency didn't exist...and the current dissent is the worst stuff they've ever heard and an affront to political decency!

So building on that theme, they have now decided that there is some vast, sweeping hatred of Bush himself that is driving the democrats and thus the Democratic Party has now made its entire strategy a hate-based plan. Suddenly we all hate him personally? Now, I confess I don't particularly like the guy, he comes across to me as smarmy, sanctimonious, patronizing and not very nice. But I don't know him personally, so I don't hate him. I may be way off here, but I'd venture to guess this is how most people feel. Now his policies, the way he runs the government, the people he listens to, the decisions he makes and what is happening to this country - that I can hold no pretense of happiness - I'm downright angry. I'm angry that he and his cronies have gotten away with so much crap. I'm angry that the citizens of this country seem so apathetic during times like this. I'm angry that the media seems to not care to search for the truth at all in what it reports. Sure. I'm mad as hell. And I'm doing something about it.

Like hundreds of thousands of democrats, progressives, independents, greens, and even conservatives and liberatarians are also doing. Arguing about whether the national hatred for Bush is rational or irrational is like arguing whether that big purple monster in the sky has one eye or two. There is no purple monster.

The right is going to keep trying to come up with codes and talking points to distract from Bush's falling numbers. But they're only fooling themselves. Their whining sounds more hollow every day and while they can argue about how much we hate George W. Bush, we're focusing on how much we like the other options that are in front of us and how we're going to choose one of them of our own free will and then put him in the White House because we know he will be better than what we've got now. It's not hatred. It's Common Sense.

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      ( 10:04 AM )
A Sad Passing

I was very sad to read just now that George Plimpton has died. I most recently saw him last week when we watched When We Were Kings on BET - the documentary about the Rumble in the Jungle. His descriptions of Ali and the event and the way he told the story were riveting. His journalism is an example that most "journalists" today could only wish to live up to. Rest in Peace.

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      ( 9:32 AM )
A Mama's Love

Thanks to HyLo for pointing me to this story. A young man in France died in hospital today after lapsing into a coma. He went into the coma because his mum tried to help him to die, per his wishes. Of course people are calling for her head. I disagree with those people. This issue is long overdue for discussion.

Do people have the right to die if they want to? In France, this young man and his mother have sparked a debate:

Humbert's case has recently been at the center
of a media blitz, programmed by the young man
and his mother. They made no secret that a plan
for a mercy killing was in place, and Humbert
published a book arguing in favor of his right to die.

Humbert, at one point, had written to President
Jacques Chirac beseeching him for the "right to die."

His mother's attempt to end Humbert's life came
on the third anniversary of a car accident that
left him incapacitated. The mother's actions
reopened the debate in France over whether
there should be a law making euthanasia legal.

Here in Oregon, this issue is very prominent. Not once, but twice, Oregon voters have voted for a law enabling doctors to aid in euthenasia for their patients - it's called the Death With Dignity Act. John Aschcroft's Justice Department has taken our state to court to stop us from enacting the will of the people... the case is still in appeal.

It seems to me that cases like Vincent Humbert and his Mama will continue to occur- loving parents and spouses taking things into their own hands. Wouldn't it be better to have a physician assist in this final act of mercy for someone? If we claim to be a moral and just society and to protect the rights of all people to live, to be free, etc. Shouldn't we also protect their right to die if they so choose? Studies have already shown that since the law was enacted here in Oregon, there hasn't been some out-of-control increase in assisted deaths - doctors aren't running around killing people. On the contrary, people who are in such intolerable pain that living is a daily torture have had the right to discuss their situation openly and honestly with their physician, and with the consent of their families and the aid of their doctor, go into a peace that they have longed for.

I cannot imagine being in Mama Humbert's place. Seeing my child suffer so horribly, knowing what he clearly wants and wanting it for him, yet knowing that my act of mercy for him will mean lifelong loss and pain for myself when my son is gone. The process she had to go through to come to the place where she realized that helping her son die was the most loving thing she could have done for him could not have been an easy one for her. But I would like to think that if I were in the same position, I would do the same no matter what the laws said. Above all, we must protect and care for each other. The law here in Oregon does just that. John Ashcroft should leave us alone and let people here in Oregon who are like young Vincent Humbert live AND die in peace.

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      ( 9:11 AM )
This Morning

It was a good morning this morning. The baby spontaneously hugged me and blew kisses to me as I left for work. That was nice.

The other night as I was washing dishes I hear yelling from the other room:

"Da Da! Da Da!"


"Da Da!"

"Oh for crying out loud, stop licking the vaccuum cleaner!"

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Thursday, September 25, 2003
      ( 6:30 PM )
A Mama's Relief

Thank God. Amina Lawal, the 32 year old Nigerian mother who was convicted by a Sharia court last year to death by stoning has won her appeal. The case sparked a huge conflict in the country where its northern states have enacted the very fundamental Islamic Sharia laws. Amina was convicted for adultery, though the man who courted her was not charged or convicted of anything. In these laws, she could be sentenced to death - which was to make her stand in a hole in the earth while men threw stones at her head to crush her skull.

I am so thankful that the international pressure put on the Katsina, Nigeria government actually made a difference. I do not profess to know Islamic law, but I do know that any religious authority exercised to an extreme will produce abuse, not justice. I was so afraid that she would face a horrible death and never be able to raise her baby daughter. Amina is exactly my age. I am able to freely raise my child as I see fit, I would not face governmental censure if I did not have a husband, I am able to work to support my family, I am free to speak my mind and teach my child whatever I choose. Amina doesn't have these freedoms. She and the mamas like her in so many places on this earth are neglected, abused, and murdered without a second thought - every day. This is not a right of culture, society or religious belief - there is no belief or law that justifies the treatment of human beings - women and mothers - that way.

I just want to say it again, thank God she has been freed from this death sentence. I know her life will not be easy, but I'm so relieved she will HAVE a life and that her daughter will grow up with a mama who has faced the worst crisis and not only survived but emerged victorious. I just hope that the international attention that was paid to her case will not lose sight of the larger cause of justice and freedom for all women and children and human beings in this world. It's up to us who can grasp that freedom to pursue it for the most vulnerable of our sisters and brothers until it is achieved.

Congratulations Amina. Go home and rest - cuddle your baby and cry as long as you need to. We're here and we won't forget.

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      ( 2:15 PM )

Don't bother me, I'm "watching" the debate via the comments on Dkos.

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      ( 1:47 PM )
Take Back the Power

Literally. Here in Portland we will have a choice this coming election on whether to publicly own our utility company or let the corporations keep control of it and our money. The full court press is on. Yesterday we received a letter in an 8x10 envelope with a glossy brochure from Pacific Power:

"On November 4, you will be asked to decide if you want
to continue being served by Pacific Power, or create
a new layer of government
to run your electric utility..."

This is the new argument being used by the utility corporation - and we saw it again on tv last night in ads featuring a nice elderly lady saying that she didn't want a "new layer of government to operate her electricity." The ads were sponsored by some sort of "responsible citizenship group."

Portlanders need to educate themselves in the next month about this issue. This part of the reason our city and our state are struggling. It's why California ended up in the deep debt it's in. PGE and Pacific Power are all part of the old Enron system of running things. If you need a powerful argument for publicly owned utilities, how about what happened to the grid in the Northeast a few weeks ago?

The issue is so hot, we even got a letter from Greg Palast in our paper to all our citizens:

The parent company of Portland General Electric
corrupted the power markets, flimflammed
regulators, overcharged customers, wiped out
employee pensions and collapsed into
bankruptcy. And now, on the assumption there's
a sucker born every minute, they want you to
still love them.

PGE and Pacific Power want us to believe that our bills will go UP without them in charge (and pray tell how much of my last bill did you use to print this useless crap and pay for these television commercials?).

Palast answers:

Want to know what happens when the public
takes over a private system? First, your bills go
down. Every time. I'm writing this on Long Island,
where the public recently booted out a private
power company bigger than PGE. The outcome?
Every Long Island customer got a $100 refund
check plus a 12 percent cut in rates and a big
boost in reliability.

That's right: People-owned systems rarely black
out. Remember the California power crisis? The
city-owned Los Angeles system kept the lights
on -- and the prices way down. And the Great
Northeast blackout this year? Public systems,
from Niagara to Greenport, stayed lit. Why?
Unlike privateers, the public systems don't profit
from cutting service.

Don't fall for the smooth sell from PGE and Pacific Power, my fellow Oregonians. Now is not the time to cave to corporations again. We now have the chance to get rid of the system that has crippled the west coast power situation. We need to make a statement here. On Nov. 7, vote to take back the ownership of your own power.

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      ( 1:17 PM )
Dixie Chick Strikes Back

Note to Democrats: this is how to have kahunas - take some lessons from the girls.

(thanks to Atrios for the link)

UPDATE: Oh, and it looks like the Brits are up to their usual cleverness

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      ( 10:53 AM )
Political Junkies Unite

Predictions on today's debate.

Opinions on why the Clark campaign is missing the boat.

Bush the Businessman (in uggabugga chart form!)

But actually, it's all about the hair.

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      ( 10:46 AM )
Military Families

... Speak Out. (thanks to a Vet for the link).

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      ( 9:19 AM )
How to ruin a great army? See Donald Rumsfeld

Joe Galloway, one of the most awarded, most respected combat and war correspondents (you may recall he is the author of We Were Soldiers Once...And Young - remade into the movie with Mel Gibson) writes for Knight Ridder.

The title of this post is the title of his editorial today:

It took the better part of 20 years to rebuild
the Army from the wreckage of Vietnam. With
the hard work of a generation of young
officers, blooded in Vietnam and determined
that the mistake would never be repeated, a
new Army rose Phoenix-like from the ashes of
the old, now perhaps the finest Army in history.

In just over three years, Secretary of Defense
Donald H. Rumsfeld and his civilian aides have
done just about everything they could to
destroy that Army.

[...] How do you break an army?

- You can work it to death.

Under Rumsfeld, by next spring 30 of
the Army's 33 combat brigades will either
be in Iraq or on their way home from Iraq.
Some of them will come home from Iraq
and head almost immediately to Afghanistan
or Bosnia or South Korea or the Sinai Desert.[...]

- You can neglect its training and education.

With an operations tempo this high, there's
little time for units to do much more than repair
their equipment and send their soldiers home
on leave with long-neglected families before
it's time to deploy again.

[...] The Army began to break in Vietnam when
the senior NCO's, the grizzled old sergeants
who'd seen combat in World War II and Korea
and survived one or two tours in Vietnam, were
ordered back yet again and chose to retire
instead. Or went back and were killed. In their
place came 90-day wonders - young draftees
selected straight out of basic training, run through
a short course and shipped to Vietnam to be buck
sergeant squad leaders.

- You can politicize the Army promotion system for
three- and four-star generals.

Rumsfeld and his civilian aides such as Paul
Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith and his military
handmaidens have intruded deeply and harmfully
into the way the services promote their leaders.

[...] You can decide that you've discovered a
newer, cheaper way of fighting and winning
America's wars.

Rumsfeld and company have embraced, on
the basis of a fleeting success in Afghanistan
and a flawed success in Iraq, a theory that all
that's needed to win our wars is air power and
small bands of Special Operations troops.
Stealth bombers and snake-eaters.

On the strength of this, they've refused all pleas
for an urgently needed increase in the strength
of an Army that has been whittled down to pre-
World War II levels of 485,000 soldiers.

[...]Because reinforcement would be an admission
that Rumsfeld and company were wrong in their
belief that war would end quickly, their hand-picked
Iraqi exiles would take over and the soldiers
would come home in a few months.

Another defense secretary who could not admit
he'd erred was Robert Strange McNamara, who,
like Rumsfeld, was recruited from corporate
America. By the time he did, it was too late.

This editorial was in our local paper today, where the front page story was that thousands more Oregonian National Guard and Reserves were about to be called up. (for some reason the website isn't showing the article, but here's a version from other local news).

And yet, yesterday Tom DeLay, in a speech to the Heritage Society, continued the same old rightist haranguing that the people who are questioning whether there is any logical plan to what's happening, or exactly what the $87 billion is going to be used for, or how much more over that will be needed, are dividing the country, using hate language, are "blaming America first," and all the other flaming rhetoric right out of Ann Coulter's mouth.

The truth needs to continue to be spoken. The neocons in the government are ignoring even veterans who are calling for a hard look at what is happening. This train needs to be stopped before it's out of control and runs over everyone in its path.

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      ( 8:25 AM )
Bus Stop Conversation

(the following is totally true and happened this morning)

Man with yellow shirt and black tie who is having trouble lighting his cigarette, sees the campaign buttons on my backpack: "'Give 'em Hell Howard' - Who's Howard?"

Me: "Howard Dean, he's running for president."

Man: "So you're not going to vote for Bush then?"

Me: "Nope, no way."

Man: "Isn't Howard Dean that guy that broke into the Watergate?"

Me: "Uh no. You might be thinking of John Dean...but he didn't actually break into the Watergate, he just worked for Nixon."

Man: "Oh, right, that guy was Cuban. But he also helped kill Kennedy, right?"

Me: "Oh look! There's the bus!"

UPDATE: After relaying this story to my workmates, just discovered that: my friend's sister's ex-husband's stepmother's first husband was John Erlichman (verified by email today). Twilight zone, dude.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2003
      ( 4:33 PM )
wOOOPS, there it ain't...

The Beeb is reporting that the infamous Kay Report will reveal that indeed there were no WMDs in Iraq to speak of. And even the "programs" were barely there. In fact, it looks like Sadam employed a mass weapon of deception on the US by playing games in his own little way. Shocking really.

No weapons of mass destruction have been
found in Iraq by the group looking for them,
according to a Bush administration source who
has spoken to the BBC.

This will be the conclusion of the Iraq Survey
Group's interim report, the source told the
presenter of BBC television's Daily Politics
show, Andrew Neil.

Downing Street branded the story
"speculation about an unfinished draft of
an interim report".

"And moreover," said the President's spokesperson in response to this revealing news, "it's an interim report from a subsequently unsubstantiated incomplete rendering of unconfirmed factoids that may or may not have been relevant at the time they were inconsequentially revealed. So there." Or something like that.

Where will he move the goalposts now?

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      ( 4:13 PM )
Do You Want the Bad News First?

Or the good? (Maru strikes again.)

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      ( 4:07 PM )

From Maru today:

A federal judge, Lee R. West, has ruled that the
Federal Trade Commission overstepped its
in creating a national do-not-call list
against telemarketers.

The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by
telemarketers who challenged the list, comprised
of names of people who do not want to receive
business solicitation calls. The immediate impact
of Tuesday's ruling was not clear.

The list was to go into effect Oct. 1. ...
The name again is U.S. District Judge Lee R. West,
Oklahoma, in case anyone would like to give him
a call. Around dinnertime

Ring. Ring.

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      ( 11:50 AM )
Oh, I Get It Now!

An article in The Hill this morning (thanks to Atrios for the link) discusses a new bill (not really new, just a conglomeration of all the stagnated bills) offered by GOPers that supposedly will "create jobs." One of the ways they are planning to "create jobs" of course is by drilling in ANWR. But that's another post. There is another side to the argument though. No matter how much they posture about wanting to create jobs and help the economy, it may very well be that Bush and his cronies don't really care all that much either way. Even though it's an election year. Puzzled?

I was too, until I read our newly arrived October edition of The Progressive this morning on the bus. On recommendation of my husband, I turned first to the article by James Galbraith (it's not online yet). It's called "Why Bush LIKES a Bad Economy." The first couple of pages were a rehash of how truly stagnant our economy is and how really ugly the job market is going to continue to be. But then he started discussing that while Bush and his administration did not cause things like the dot.com bubble burst and stock decline, he has done nothing practical to help the economy, especially jobs. And then I hit gold:

It may be that the economic stagnation is to their taste.
They don't want a new recession, obviously, and they
look set to avoid that. But do they really want full
employment and strong labor unions and rising wages?
Probably not. The oil, mining, defense, media, and
pharmaceutical firms who form the core of their constituency
rely on monopoly power, patents, and the control of
public resources for their profits. They do not depend,
very much, on strong consumer demand.

[...] Stagnation, moreover, helps to justify more tax cuts.
... As things are going, quite soon, taxes will fall mainly
on real estate, payrolls, and consumption. This is to say
that taxes will be paid mostly by the middle class, by the
working class and by the poor. That is what the
Administration wants, and what - if not defeated - it
is exceedingly likely to get.

[...] Finally, stagnation and the Bush tax policy
promote rightwing plans to cut and privatize essential
services, including health, education, and pensions.

So the reason they appear cool as cucumbers with the election coming is because they are. They really don't care much about votes at this point - they have their constituency well in hand. Even to the point of loud and boisterous support from the head of Diebold, the company that has the contract to make all the new voting machines.

And the fix is in for whoever comes along next:

In the face of this reality, full economic recovery
is going to be hard, even if a Democrat wins the
next election. It cannot be done, certainly, by a
return to policies of the Clinton era. Nor can it
be done by stimulus alone - a simple matter of
spending more and finding the right taxes to cut.
We will need to rewrite - once again - the tax code.
We will need a revenue-sharing program to stabilize
the staes and cities. We will need to reestablish
the rule of law in the corporate world. We will need
to help labor reset minimum fair standards. We will
need a new energy and environmental strategy
consistent with geophysical realities and the dangers
of, among other things, climate change, and
including, as we just learned, a public initiative to
re-regulate power and rebuild the electricity grid....

If it's this bad already, what will another four years with them in power do to us? It's bad enough that the mainstream press refuses to report the truth about what this administration is doing. It's not likely to change anytime soon. I may sound like a banging drum sometimes, but this is why we need a campaign like this one to succeed this year. We have to prove that it can work to bring in a popularly elected president on the time and money of the citizens of this country, and not in the hands of corporate sponsors. If we fail to succeed at this extraordinary effort this year, I fear it will be a very, very, very long time until we can try again.

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      ( 10:02 AM )
Peaking Too Soon

Doubters Beware.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2003
      ( 10:17 AM )
II. Bottomless Well of Ineptitude

I can't ignore the interview either. It's absurd to me that this man was even allowed to candidate, much less get the presidency, unless you figure in that he is some sort of puppet. His interview with Fox last night sheds some uncomfortable light on our Leader. He insists that he doesn't need to read the news or get any objective sources of information:

"... the best way to get the news is from objective
sources, and the most objective sources I have
are people on my staff who tell me what's happening
in the world."

Billmon clarifies:

Emperor: Is my new suit not lovely?
Courtier: Yes, my Lord, and the people think so, too!

Not only should this be a "DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!" alarm to citizens of this country, it should be a wake up call to Congressional leaders as well. This president exclusively gets his information and advice from a cabal of people who have proven that they have agendas that supercede the health and welfare of this country. This is not just a matter of aloofness or uninvolvement. This is a president who does not even bother to notice what is being said around the country and the world, except as it is filtered through his yes-men? No wonder he keeps regurgitating the same old lines and excuses as if he is totally unaware we're all on to him! He has no idea we've cracked the code!

So now the question is - is he aware that he's sinking fast and his presidency is holding on by tenterhooks...or will he remain completely unaware just a little longer so that when he is swept out of office on a tide of disapproval that overcomes his faithful servants' attempts to sabotage the election, he will look around, and in a shocked voice with a furrowed brow say, "hey, how did that happen?"

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      ( 9:32 AM )
I. Bottomless Well of Shamelessness

It's like our government knows no shame. There is no concept so foreign to them as compromise or conflict resolution or dialogue or flexibility. There is no sense of shame. I'm not talking about the really bad kind of shame (which they should also feel), but the decent kind of shame - the sort of character trait that marks good leadership: the ability to know when you are out of line and the desire to maintain a sense of decency and dignity in all your conduct. This idea is anethema to this administration. And likewise to the pundits and foot soldiers that do its bidding. Thus, this nation further isolates itself from the rest of the world - and not out of self-defense or self-preservation, but out of imperialstic pride, ego and unwillingness to participate in a coalition of nations whose first goal is the benefit of human life on earth. Shameful.

I listened to the first speeches of the General Assembly of the United Nations this morning on my busride into work. I found that I was encouraged and even inspired by the words of Secretary General Kofi Annan. His speech really dignified the world body and its purpose and while criticizing unilateralism that has threatened world community (that's us, if you didn't catch the implication), he challenged the UN to turn a new corner into a broader recognition of its role in the world and a more urgent deadline for aiding humanity and politically protecting vulnerable people and countries from the ravages of war and violence...the original purpose of the UN. He suggested that a reform of the Security Council was in order too - a not so sly remark on the imbalance of power that now rests there.

President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ("Lula"), spoke next. His speech was also rousing and he emphasized the most pressing issue of the world - and one, that I daresay, might indeed limit terrorism's reign on earth if it were properly addressed: hunger. It is "absurd," he said, that there should be hungry and dying people on earth in the 21st century. There has to be a fairness, an equality amongst the nations of the world. If all the technology and science available today is only used to gain riches and power, then what good is it? This is also a point of shame for the U.S. Why we, the richest nation on earth, which uses more resources than any other, despite our small population, are not able to share technology and science for the benefit of poor nations instead of to take advantage of them is a question that must be answered by this generation. If we wait much longer, it will be even harder for this country to sustain any sense of reliability or respect amongst the nations of the world.

Finally, our own President addressed the Assembly. I've already commented on the lack of shame. Kos has a good rundown of the speech. There's not much more any of us can say that hasn't already been said. Despite the country's and the world's recognition of the lies and misleading, Bush still chose to repeat the same old stupid reasonings for his war - he refused to acknowledge that more diplomacy should have been sought by the US and he as much as suggested that the countries of the world should just forget all that we did and now step in line.

This seems to be the prevailing theme of this administration: Get Over It. They try to say that regarding the stolen election in 2000. They are trying to use this with the world regarding Iraq. Perhaps they should try it with the economy next: "Hey, all you jobless freaks - we gave you a tax cut, get over it!"

Yep, this is all gonna work out just fine.

UPDATE: Tom Burka, Humor King of the Blogosphere, best summarizes the entire attitude:

"I do think it would be helpful to get the
United Nations in to help write a constitution.
I mean, they're good at that," Bush told Fox
News in a taped interview over the weekend.
"And maybe they can mop."

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      ( 8:29 AM )
Shorter Interview

Neal Pollack has the total coverage of Fox's interview with Bush last night - in case you were dying to know what was said. This is all you need.

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Monday, September 22, 2003
      ( 10:25 AM )
Much Ado About ...

There was a huge deal made this weekend about the latest Newsweek poll which showed Clark in the lead amongst Dem voters. However, what the reports failed to discuss were the changes from the last poll, which are more indicative about what's happening than anything else. The July results are in parenthesis:

Clark 14 (*)
Dean 12 (12)
Lieberman 12 (13)
Kerry 10 (10)
Gephardt 8 (14)
Sharpton 7 (6)
Edwards 6 (6)
Graham 4 (7)
Braun 2 (3)
Kucinich 2 (2)
Undecided 19 (23)

Clark seems to have taken a few of the undecides, but has taken none of Dean's or Kerry's bases. The poll also has a +/- of 3, making the three top numbers virtually equal. This poll also shows Lieberman still ahead of Kerry and Gephardt, which doesn't reflect the responses of the democratic base in more narrow polls or at the forum/debates.

The main point of the poll may have not been about the dems, but rather about Bush:

For the first time in a year, Bush’s approval for
his handling of the situation in Iraq has dropped
below 50 percent to 46 percent
, a 5-point drop
from last week. Fifty-six percent of Americans say
they think the amount of money being spent in
Iraq is too high. And 57 percent of Americans now
disapprove of how Bush is handling the economy,
an increase of 6 points from only one week ago.

Considering that most voting Dems have committed to getting Bush out of office no matter who the Dem candidate turns out to be, this does not bode well for the GOP. Further, it looks like the White House and its foot soldiers are getting nervous. The entire weekend was plastered with news about a possible Hillary entrance again, this time with the added spice of Bill Clinton making some statement about how New Yorkers would forgive her for going back on her promise to stay in the Senate. This is the Hillary Red Herring again. It seems like the press, no matter who is ahead for the Dems, is unhappy because none of them create the scandalous ratings the media loves so much, so they continue to drag out the Hillary non-story every few weeks. (Besides the fact that Fox knows its viewers just froth at the mouth at the sound of her name).

They report on Dean only because they have to...but they try to ignore him because he's running an unprecedented campaign and the press doesn't know what to do with it. The press doesn't know how to handle a candidate that treats voters like they have brains and trusts them to use those brains on their own. It's easier for the press to deal with a president who considers us all to be nincompoops and treats us that way. And we are nincompoops if we let him get away with it. And the press continues to prove its nincompoop-ness.

An article in the Washington Post today proves the point:

Political strategists say that what began in
January as a quirky, long-shot Internet
strategy to attract online supporters to the
dark-horse candidate could revolutionize
presidential politics by minimizing the importance
of television media
and empowering grass-roots

For the first time, there is a candidate whose campaign is made up of thousands of new activists, people who have never mobilized before, and voters who are actually excited and feel they can make a difference (the campaign, in a bid to raise $5 million in ten days has already raised 1/2 a million in the first day from over 5,000 people.) What I would most hate is not if Dean doesn't get the candidacy, but if this kind of campaign is not successful - it's this campaign that is important to the American people. It's our comeback, our way of taking the steering wheel back from the corporate interests that have so completely taken over our laws, our leaders and the way we live. It's personal now. We have to prove that We The People are the power in this country - and this campaign is our vehicle to do that.

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      ( 9:04 AM )
More Cover Up

Thanks to DKos for this item. The Census Bureau's report on poverty and household incomes is going to be released on Friday this year. Usually the report is released on a Monday or Tuesday, but it looks like it may be a pretty bad report so the administration is hoping it gets swallowed in the black hole of weekend news. As Kos notes, last year's report was horrible, so this may mean we're in for more bad news:

Last year's reports showed that median
household income in 2001 registered the
first significant decline since 1991 and the
percentage of Americans living in poverty
rose from 11.3% to 11.7%, the first
increase in five years.

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Friday, September 19, 2003
      ( 3:21 PM )
Friday is for Poetry

Daily Kos found the perfect way to end the week.

Here are my Haiku contributions:

you hate your country!
the cry of desperate men
while I eat french fries


that's what they call me and you
when we tell the truth

(though, I do like "julia's":
Bush and Cheney stink.
Boy, they really, really stink.
No, really, they do

(okay, I have to add this one from "ebeck":
Grill me a burger
Add a big Gherkin
I know God loves me
I am a Merkin

Ah loves the poe-try.

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      ( 11:58 AM )
Awwww...What a Cute One Year Old!

Happy Birthday, TBOGG!!

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      ( 11:52 AM )
America the Disloyal

Media Whores Online note that a plurality of Americans now think the Iraq invasion wasn't worth it:

Fewer than half of Americans (43%) think the war
was worth the loss of life and other costs, the
lowest number yet in CBS News polls, while more
(47%) think it was not worth the costs. Last month,
the public was evenly split on this question.

How dare they. And how dare CBS conduct such a poll. Or, as Atrios puts it:

It's these kinds of polls that give aid and comfort
to the enemy, whoever they may be. CBS is
irresponsible for running the information, and when
more soldiers die they will be to blame.

... Perhaps we could ask if it's time for America
to invade America - given how disloyal it is.

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      ( 11:28 AM )
Just In: Truth Let Loose To Roam Countryside

A Covert Truth Campaign is going on. Have you caught it in your town lately?

Billboard posted in California: "Dear America, thanks for all the money, sorry about your kids - Halliburton"

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      ( 11:19 AM )
Ambassador Joe Tells it Like it Is

If you missed it, check out Talking Points Memo's interview with Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Wilson doesn't mince words:

TPM: So, setting aside why we're in Iraq,
how we go there, whether we should have gone
in in the first place, where are we now? Where
do you see our position right now?

WILSON: Well, I think we're f*#!@d.

(thanks to Maru for the link)

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      ( 10:42 AM )
Gray Davis: Earthling

I have tried not to mock California too much during this whole recall thing (what with my own state having not exactly a grand collection of brilliant lawmakers at the government level) - but one can sort of feel for them right now, trying to defend democracy against this recall stupidity while at the same time having to deal with this:

Davis answered some questions with personal
stories, including one about his ill mother, and
with apt anecdotes from the past, but, surprisingly,
he got caught up when someone asked him to
explain his "vision for the state."

"My vision is to make the most diverse state on
earth, and we have people from every planet on
the earth in this state. We have the sons and
daughters of every, of people from every planet,
of every country on earth
," he said.

Now, Gov. Davis could have just been really fatigued (as the article implies) when he said this. However, I tend to think that his vision for his state may be pretty accurate, after all, it's California we're talking about here ... (badump bump).

(shout out to Dad, who gave me the heads-up on this one)

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Thursday, September 18, 2003
      ( 3:31 PM )
Hope the Duct Tape is Working

A shout out to any of my east coast blogger buds who now have no power.

Those same officials said that as of late Thursday
afternoon, more than 800,000 customers in Virginia
were without power -- 41 percent of the state --
and some 9,000 residents had sought safety in
shelters. North Carolina authorities reported at
least 67,000 homes were without power.

Hurricane force winds extended outward up to
100 miles, and tropical storm-force winds stretched
more than 345 miles. Forecasters said the storm
could dump 6 to 10 inches of rain along its path,
and warned that hurricane-force winds could
reach inland hundreds of miles from the North
Carolina landfall.

Light a candle and read a book for a change, you computer addicted geeks! (Just kidding - here's hoping your basement doesn't flood).

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      ( 12:12 PM )
Party with Al, Gloria, Whoopi and New York Activists

Now THIS looks like fun. If you're in or near NY, you may want to check it out.

UPDATE: (still perusing yet unexplored avenues on the Dean blog) ....okay, it's obvious that I'm a Dean supporter. But come on, what other candidate has so many people writing original songs about him?? This has to mean something. Sample:

40 Million people can’t afford to get sick
While the people in Washington are up to their tricks
They give to you with one hand while they’re taking away
Everything you thought you had for a rainy day

Call the doctor, tell everyone
We gotta put the doctor in Washington
To cure what ails you
From Maine to California
And Texas too..

(From DC Blues)


When every other nation, that we call civilized
Will take care of their people, from birth until they die
Why can’t my home, America, give all of us health care?
Why must I go to Canada to buy my meds up there?

So let’s get together for America
Land of equality, home of the free
Let’s put Howard Dean in the white house
Cause it’s our house, not George Bush’s house
Let’s get on track and take our country back

(From Song For America)

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      ( 11:37 AM )
Dissenters Taking the Stage?

Max Cleland gets the one-two punch in:

Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President. Sorry you
didn't go when you had the chance.

It looks like a major change is taking place in the psyche of America right now. I think it's even spread to the press a little (hopefully to catch on even more). It's the new attitude that dissent is okay, appropriate...and dare I say it: responsible. It's the new thing! It's sweeping the nation! Come on, join in!

I find it unfortunate that it has taken Bush's falling poll numbers for opposition party leaders to speak up in...opposition. Or even just to clarify to voters what the real issues are. If a president and his dirty-tricks advisors can so threaten the leadership of this country and our elected representatives, not to mention stifle dissent and threaten those who do utter a word against them, then we have created for ourselves a fascist government.

From the dictionary: Fascism: 1. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism. 2. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government. 3. Oppressive, dictatorial control.

But lately, one can see that everyone from regular folks on the street to veterans to presidential candidates to reporters are losing their fear of the suppression and dirty tricks and are forging ahead with the truth. I am heartened by this change in attitude. It would be very bad for this country if we had ultimately given into the tactics that were being waged by the Bush administration on free speech and dissent. It is far better to have voices speak out than to have them silenced. No matter who is in leadership, it cannot be a viable or valid democratic leadership unless it truly hears the other side.

I have a feeling the other side will make itself well heard come November 2004.

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      ( 11:02 AM )
Checking in with the Dads

I missed my usual round up of my favorite dad blogs last week, so today I thought I'd do a little catch-up. And boy am I glad I did. I would have missed Being Daddy's announcement about the big change in his and his family's lives. I wish him the best as he begins this new challenge as a Stay at Home Dad. It prompts me to wonder how many children right now are living without a parent primarily due to military service.

In other Dad News, Daddy Take a Picture is on a short break, but did let us know that he's decided against the new high-power job and for staying home with his kids. Rebel Dad is just back from a big trip so we'll let him relax for a while. But check out his links to all the hot news on the Stay at Home Dad topics. Laid-Off Dad hints that "staying at home" is not exactly a relaxation regimen. Amen to that.

Fulltime Father confronts some very real issues for parents and confrontations about behavior in public places - a must read. And Kos over at Fishyshark is tired of pregnancy. Just wait Kos, you don't know tired yet! Finally, I will close with a little parental Haiku from Adam Gerstein, Stay at Home Dad:

What's that smell, my sweet?
Rotten food? Roadkill skunk? Dog?
Alas, it's Code Brown.

All kudos go to the Dads who love and take care of their kids. A special shout out to my very own Stay at Home Dad Husband, who not only works hard every day, but raises my son to be the kind of kid that I would want my son to be. It's not every girl who gets a deal like I have and I have to say I feel very lucky and proud. ... /mooshiness

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      ( 10:16 AM )
Caught in the Act

Tom Tomorrow (via DKos) has the run down on the turn-around on the Lie.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2003
      ( 1:37 PM )
Updating the Election Awareness

Just for your election know-how:

Gen. Wesley Clark now has an official candidacy website: Americans for Clark . Looks like he's got a good online network set up already - but no blog. Yet.

The DNC now has a blog (and it's pretty good!) (thanks to DKos for the Link).

UPDATE: Tom Burka informs us that there IS a Wesley Clark Blog - though unofficial and not from inside the actual campaign.

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      ( 10:09 AM )
Speak Truth to Power

That is what this election is going to be about. It's going to be about empowering the citizens of this country to feel that they can indeed have some say in their own democratic government by speaking the truth - the verifiable truth. I am heartened that Gen. Clark has finally made the committment to enter the race. As a Dean supporter, I see this as a positive step because it can only help Democrats to have a field of several GOOD options rather than a field of "who do I NOT want the most?" options, as in primaries past. But another thing that Clark brings to the mix is another voice pronouncing the Truth, another voice speaking out, defying the White House's edict that dissent equals treason. On this auspicious occasion of the primary field widening to 10 prospects, I'm feeling like a little rundown of the current administration's policies vs. their practices.

Middle East Policy: Befriend Arab nations and work with them to "win" the war on "terror" (if you can win a war against a psychological concept).
Middle East Practice: Veto a UN resolution that calls for Israel NOT to expel or murder the president of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the ruling party of the people of Palestine.

Foreign Policy: Pre-emptive invasion of any country that MIGHT threaten the US with "weapons of mass destruction"
Foreign Practice: Pre-emptively invade countries that would prove profitable to corporate benefactors and ignore or mistreat (or in some cases befriend) rogue countries that actually have nuclear weapons (N. Korea, Pakistan, etc).

Economic Policy: boost the economy and create jobs
Economic Practice: give tax cuts to the wealthy, reduce benefits to veterans, lose almost 3 million jobs in 3 years - oh, and grow the deficit to $500 BILLION.

Education Policy: Leave no Child Behind and help schools
Education Practice: Leave most children behind, cut early Head Start, create unfunded mandates for higher test scores, cut the education budget and promote vouchers instead of repairs and aid to public schools.

Government size management Policy: Make government smaller and more efficient
Government size management Practice: Make government really, really, REALLY big!!!

Here are some others: The Clean Air Act allows more pollution, the Forest Growth Initiative cuts down more old growth forests and the Energy Efficiency Plan calls for destruction of the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve.

What I hope most from the coming debates and primaries is the loudest speaking of Truth that there has ever been. The conservative pundits can whine all they want about "negativity" but frankly, their boss has made all our lives negative. It's a good plan to hammer that home again and again and then introduce the American public to a new and better way to govern: by the people and for the people...not against them. Let the games begin.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2003
      ( 2:39 PM )
The First Dagger Flies ...
And Fox News Does it Again

Digby informs us today that Novak has set the stage for a full-on launch of invective against Gen. Clark. We still don't know for certain whether he will join the race (though the odds are slim he won't) - but just the same, it's probably good to get the dirt flying sooner than later, eh boys? Well, I think the General can probably handle himself. What will be really interesting is to see the conservative commentators try to make a 4-star General sound like a miscreant and claim he is a bad choice for presidential contention. Paraphrasing Jim Croce, you might as well spit into the wind, boys.

On a happier note, Digby also nails Fox on its comments about Christiana Amanpour (background: Amanpour, renowned war correspondent, said that many reporters and stations were intimidated by the White House and Fox News during the Iraq coverage. Fox: "Given the choice, it's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than a spokeswoman for al-Qaeda."):

Evidently, Fox News takes their motto very
seriously. Being Fair and Balanced requires
them to point out the equivalency of the Bush
administration and al Qaeda. Good for them.

Nice one.

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      ( 2:20 PM )
A Shame on America

I just read this post about the fact that veterans are 3 1/2 times MORE likely to be homeless than any other sector of our population. This can't be. I thought the government provided for its faithful veterans who served at the pleasure of the President and risked their lives for this country? Not so. Add this to the long list of the ways that this administration is stealing the lives of veterans. It's long past time the Democrat candidates start nailing BushCo on this issue. In my book it's far worse to say you "Support the Troops" and backhandedly rob them and their families than it is to question where the money is going.

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      ( 12:30 PM )
Mama Lament

Now is one of those times I'm breaking from my usual political banter to utter nonsense about "working" mothers. Today one of my bosses called me in and said she'd been talking to my other boss and they both agreed that they would like me to work later because they both arrive later and work later. I originally arranged my work schedule so that I could have at least an hour with my baby before he goes to bed. He is going to bed a little later these days (between 6:30 and 7 usually), but still, with my 45 minute bus commute I get home in just enough time to hurry to share Baby's dinner with him and bath and bed. Sometimes I get a bit of playtime. This is something that I value above all other things, especially my job.

To be honest, I felt a little ambushed by my boss. We thoroughly talked through my scheduled hours when I first started working for her (and for the other boss). It's one of those situations where they say you can just think about it but you know that if you offer any other solution than you working later (which will always stretch into even later overtime) then you're forever labeled as uncooperative and not a "dedicated" worker. I have to admit that part of my negativity on this issue could revolve around the fact that my heart isn't really in the work I do for money. And though I am happy to even have a job and thankful that my family is provided for in this economy, I also find that when situations like this arise I have to battle with myself to even give a damn.

On a similar, but totally worse note, I just learned that one of my oldest friends, another working mom who supports her family and barely gets to see her baby (who is 2 weeks older than mine) during the week just found out that what she thought was a miscarriage turns out to be some rare form of ovarian cancer for which she may have to enter chemo for.

I think I'll just switch back to politics and aim my anger at all the successive governments of this country that have never taken the time to provide guaranteed health care for the citizens of this country. It shouldn't be that working our butts off is the only chance we have to get (overpriced as it is) healthcare, and then if we can't work when things like cancer happen, what do we do? Why can't governments that are supposed to be for the people ever act that way?

Okay, all done.

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      ( 8:29 AM )
Just in Case You Were Worried

Take comfort those of you who are in the path of the giant Isabel. Homeland Security is On The Job! Yes, that's right, the people who brought you totally useless warning systems against terra(tm) are now going to give us accurate warnings and accessible help for a level 3 hurricane as it hits our shores.

Is it just me, or could this be because there are no Guard or National Reserves around to help?

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Monday, September 15, 2003
      ( 1:56 PM )

I don't know if anyone caught the Harkin Steak Fry speeches on CSpan this weekend. All in all, mostly the same stump speeches. I was more impressed with the attendees, braving what looked uber-gross weather. But what really lingers for me was that when Clinton was done with his speech, immediately "We Are Family" started playing on the loudspeakers, and all the candidates and Clinton and Harkin held hands - lovely lovely. Then as Clinton descended to the rope line and people flung themselves at him like he was Jesus ("heal my baby, Bill!"), the song changed to a country song about the Heartland. Appropriate, I thought, for an Iowa event. Then, the third song came on as Clinton finished up the rope line and everyone started tromping through what looked like foot-deep mud to go home: "Don't Fear the Reaper." Hmm. Interestingly ironic choice of music. What I can't help wondering was it on purpose for addicted CSpan viewers like me, or just sort of happened that way? Or have I just gotten too obsessed with politics and am reading waaayyy too much into things?

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      ( 1:21 PM )
Get'cher Red Hot Lies Right Here!

MoveOn.org has found a new and improved way to disseminate truth. Sign up now for Misleader.Org...the new website that will keep track of Bush's daily statements and email counteracting TRUTH! I'm looking forward to my daily dose of truth...starting with this:

Bush said: "the budget for next year boosts funding for elementary and secondary education to $53.1 billion. That's a 26-percent increase since I took office. In other words, we understand that resources need to flow to help solve the problems."
The Truth is: Bush's proposed elementary and secondary education budget for next year is $34.9 billion, not $53.1 billion, according to his own Department of Education. It's his total proposed education budget that is $53.1 billion. More importantly, there is no next-year "boost" in this budget. Elementary and secondary education received $35.8 billion in 2003. Bush's 2004 budget cuts that back nearly a billion dollars, and the overall education spending in his budget is the same as the 2003 level.

Truth should not be a casualty in the battle to improve this country.

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      ( 1:04 PM )
Cancun Crash

WTO talks fall apart. Read a great explanation of this situation from Crooked Timber (thanks to Atrios for the link). This post is excellent, and I thoroughly recommend everyone read it.

As a brief explanation, what happened in Cancun is a perfect illustration of two forces coming together in conflict - the two explanations of what the WTO is about. While most news reports said the Cancun round was about farm subsidies, there was something else on the agenda: the old argument that multinational companies should have precedence over national governments in setting trade rules.

When push came to shove, the rich nations were
not prepared to give an inch to the poor ones on
agriculture unless they got their quid pro quo in the
form of progress toward an agenda which has
nothing to do with trade and everything to do with
massively undermining the ability of democratically
elected governments to set the terms on which the
ownership of the means of production is decided.

On the basis that you can tell a lot about a person
or an organisation from what it regards as negotiable
and what it regards as a deal-breaker, it appears
that those who suspected that the WTO was a ploy
to force a political agenda down the throats of the
third world would appear to have a point. It is going
to take a heck of a lot for the WTO to win back the
credibility it lost in Cancun.

There are so many reasons that I'm against the WTO. But the main one was the subject matter of the collapse in Cancun. I am very glad that the small countries stood up for themselves and protected their sovreignty and national rights. What the "free traders" don't like to talk about is that while the beneficiaries of the huge corporations will make out like bandits in any of these "trade" deals, it is the citizenship of every nation of this world that will be hurt unless globalization depends on fair trade and the support of governments, not mastery over them.

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      ( 12:10 PM )
Starting off the Day with a Bombshell

California Recall has been postponed till March. The federal appeals court ruled basically that fair voting could not be guaranteed. This could be a huge victory for Davis, who now has lots more time to improve his image and show that it's not (awwww) all his fault and because the Democratic presidential primaries will be in March, which will draw tons of dem voters. I find this good news. This recall is a very undemocratic way to fix government. Will constant daily pictures of AHHHNOLD end now and leave us in peace? Too much to ask?

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Friday, September 12, 2003
      ( 4:17 PM )
Pink Ribbons for the Weekend

I, my son and my mom are doing this this weekend. I hope your weekend is just what you hope for. See you on the other side of Sunday.

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      ( 1:20 PM )
Uh Oh. The Knives are Coming Out

Looks like things are starting to get a little bit dicey in the democratic primary race. Everybody feeling some heat from the impending speech by Gen. Clark next week, perhaps? Not only are the candidates slinging hard at Dean, but the press has now started in on the pot shots. Here is a great run-down on the way the media is working these days (by Chris at Interesting Times):

1. Howard Dean gives an interview to Wolf Blitzer and says that Hamas invited attacks on themselves by declaring war on Israel.

2. FOX, Drudge, etc. start accusing Dean of saying that Hamas is not a terrorist organization.

3. Dean replies that he said no such thing and of course Hamas is a terrorist organization.

4. The establishment media says that Dean flip-flops on his position on Hamas.

(as Atrios says, If Hey, if ... the National Review, and the LA Times refer to "Hamas Soldiers," why can't Howard Dean?)

It's very clear that this is now Dean's race to lose. How he responds to the continuing attacks and mis-reporting on his statements will say a lot about how he will handle the big time dirty tricks that Rove will throw at the ultimate Democratic candidate. I tend to have faith that Dean will not get dragged down into the dirt on things and that he may in the end be able to use this to his advantage. His campaign is unprecedented - the entire power of it is firmly grounded and based on the work and support of the grassroots volunteers in all 50 states. He and his campaign maintain an active dialogue with the supporters and interested seekers through his blog, and he is consistently rising in all the polls. It is because of this that the slinging of mud may not be as effective, nor the mud itself as sticky when it comes to Dean.

For instance, he has an army of volunteers who will show up to his website to find out the truth about any rumors flying around and then will explain it to anyone who will hear them. This word of mouth will counter much of the rumor-mongering engaged in on Fox TV - whose majority audience won't vote in the democratic primaries anyway. I shall demonstrate:

You, A Curious Voter: Why, Mama - you're a supporter of Howard Dean, what do you think about what Dick Gephardt said today about Dean agreeing with Newt Gingrich's plan to decimate medicare?

Mama: Well, Gephardt is definitely slinging arrows at the wrong target. He has taken Gov. Dean's past record completely out of context and tried to resort to name calling by invoking the name of Gingrich. As one of his many supporters explains, in reality, Dean did support the plan proposed in the mid-90's, but with good reason. The Gingrich proposal was to have the government fund several alternatives to Medicare, ultimately leaving the choice of programs up to individuals. Gingrich's hope was that most would choose other alternatives and Medicare would "wither on the vine." Gephardt and other Dems made it sound like Gingrich was going to simply revoke funding for Medicare and leave Medicare beneficiaries out to dry. This was never the case. Dean's support of the program came from his own experiences with Medicare as an MD. It's a total mess, and it needs reform -- reforms not unlike what Clinton, Dean, Kerry, Kucinich, and even Gephardt have proposed. Ultimately, he DID use a plan similar to this by turning his state's system into a government managed HMO system (with full prescription benefits), thus providing universal health care for his entire state.

YACV: Okay, well that sounds alright. But Mama, what about John Kerry's accusations that Dean is against the middle class because he wants to revoke all of Bush's tax cuts?

Mama: I think Dean has adequately explained that neither can the budget be balanced nor efficient healthcare for all citizens be provided unless these tax cuts are repealed. He said it succinctly on CNN in an interview a few weeks ago: I think most people would be fine with returning to the tax levels of the Clinton years if we could return to the economy of the Clinton years. The plain and simple truth is that the Bush tax cuts haven't helped us. Jobs are still being lost. The child tax credit is nice, but I think most people, like my family, would prefer to have a job than get a tax credit we can't receive anyway because we're below the income level it goes to.

YACV: Alright. But Mama, what about Joe Lieberman's appearances all over the mainstream media saying that Dean is an anti-Semite and is breaking a 50-year tradition of US support for Israel, and Fox News saying that Dean has called Hamas soldiers and does not consider them a terrorist organization?

Mama: First of all, I think it would be mighty odd for Howard Dean to be anti-semitic since his wife and children are Jewish. Secondly. Dean's statement was clear and actually very refreshing. He says that he believes the US should be an unbiased broker in the middle east conflict. He reiterated several times that of course the US has a special relationship with Israel, but we must be a truly fair mediator for any results to ever come of the negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Thirdly, Fox's report on Dean's statement about Hamas was taken completely out of context without using his full statement. What Dean actually said was that because Hamas soldiers have declared war on Israel, Israel is justified in its targeting of them - a position taken by Joe ("It paaaiiiins me to hear you say that") Lieberman himself. (Mama notes here that she does not necessarily agree with Dean's position on this but nonetheless feels it is only fair that he be quoted accurately). Furthermore, it is ridiculous that Israel should be an issue on which the other Democratic candidates and the Bush administration's mouthpieces are focusing on - this is not an issue voters are going to be looking at for this election.

YACV: Well, Mama, thanks for setting me straight. It sure is frustrating when the news media won't report the actual truth and when candidates who are fast sinking in the polls desperately lash out with personal attacks. Maybe the press is more interested in sensationalizing everything than actually reporting on the campaigns?

Mama: I think you may have something there.

UPDATE: Holy crapola. From the looks of the comments on Dean's blog, Gephardt's office is really hearing the backlash today in calls, faxes and emails. There is something to be said for an army of supporters getting your back.

UPDATE 2: Billmon shows why this sort of stuff makes us feel like we're in a parallel universe. Or as one of his commenters, Shaun, this quote from Will Farrell in Zoolander applies: Is everybody blind?I feel like Im taking crazy pills!

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      ( 11:28 AM )
Howard Dean is Worse than France! (Gasp)

Check out BusyBusyBusy today. It includes a bonus Shorter George Will:

Democrats, being stupid, are advised to vote
the opposite of their own preference, for
their own good.

Methinks George will (ha ha) have the trashcan of shame on his head next November.

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      ( 9:50 AM )

Seems like I've been saying that a lot lately. Today I say a fond farewell to Johny Cash. I have memories of sitting in my living room as a kid listening to "Boy Named Sue" and laughing hilariously with my dad. Johnny Cash was an Air Force veteran and a school of hard knocks veteran. He was devout in his faith and true to his roots. I don't think I would be too far off the mark to say this great man died of a broken heart. I hope am sure he and June are together and happy again.

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time.
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine,
I walk the line

I find it very, very easy to be true
I find myself alone when each day is through
Yes, I'll admit I'm a fool for you
Because you're mine,
I walk the line

As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And happiness I've known proves that it's right
Because you're mine,
I walk the line

You've got a way to keep me on your side
You give me cause for love that I can't hide
For you I know I'd even try to turn the tide
Because you're mine,
I walk the line

(p.s. I had been trying to think how the Rule of Three could fit Warren Zevon, Edward Teller and Leni Riefenstahl - but now I see it fits Zevon, Cash and John Ritter (R.I.P) and the other two are just waiting for their trio to fill out...perhaps the world will be rid of another scourge soon)

(p.p.s. a note on John Ritter - he was truly talented and was so full of zest. He really made very role he was in so energetic, and he always made me laugh. I know too that little children will miss him as well...he has been the voice of Clifford the Big Red Dog for a while now (for which he received two Emmy noms).)

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      ( 9:02 AM )
Why One Veteran Won't Be Voting For Bush

What about the rest of us?

While I'm continuously confounded by what this administration is able to get away with, I'm sure my frustration is nowhere near what people of experience, especially vets like my dad, are feeling. Here are a couple of really succinct reasons not to vote for Bush. Simply put, he entered the presidency promising to be the "CEO President" - to manage and lead (in contrast, he claimed, to the previous administration). Yet, every step he's taken has not been one of leadership or skilled management, but bumbling, missteps and lack of accountability.

Are we still holding him to the low expectation standard? Can't we, after 3 years of him in office, start applying to him and his administration the standards of accountability we should expect from a president? When the decisions he is making affect us so directly and affect whether actual people are living or dying, shouldn't we be as fervent in our pursuit of his accountability as we were with Clinton? At least?

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Thursday, September 11, 2003
      ( 12:28 PM )

Go Here.

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      ( 9:54 AM )
No Words Are Good Enough

To all my friends in NYC, I'm sending you my love today. Especially to L. in Brooklyn who walked home over the Brooklyn Bridge with ashes in her hair on that terrible day, assisting her friend who could not see through the blood and ash trickling into her eyes, and J, who couldn't get home at all. To all my father's friends in DC who lost their husbands and wives at the Pentagon that day. To the parents and spouses of all the soldiers who have been killed in the days since 9/11 in unjust wars that were committed in the name of the lost. To the children who don't have moms or dads anymore. To all those hundreds of thousands in Chile who today commemorate their lost and dead at the hands backed by this country's government... and to this great country that is fast losing its freedom from fear. To you. To us. May we turn our fear and sadness and anger into action and make this country better than it was, turn it into a country that promotes peace and welfare here and around the world, turn it into the place that gives back to its own instead of takes from them - we must do this for each other and for our children. In the end, it's only up to us.

UPDATE: Why this is so important: Read below the fold at Tom Burka today.

UPDATE 2: Thanks to Nathan Newman for reminding us that opening our hearts and eyes needs to go beyond our own shores.

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