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

Friday, January 30, 2004
      ( 1:03 PM )
Cheating our Children

I have been a political activist all of my adult life, both here in the U.S. and in other countries. Issues like equal rights, immigration issues, things like that were first on my focus list. But I have more recently become a "social activist" - that is, once I became a parent - the issues of my society around me in my own community became much more important to me. Suddenly, when I had a child, these issues became much more clear to me through the new prism of being a Mama. Of course, before I cared about children's issues - I was fairly educated about the problem with education, foster programs, poverty. I became more concerned about education issues once I realized that what I'd really like to be is a teacher. But once I became a parent, it got personal. That's why the news out yesterday about Oregon's "report cards" on our schools has me once again in a rant about No Child Left Behind.

Oregon issues "report cards" every year about all of our public schools. The ratings changed this year to not reflect so exclusively on test scores - a position that is out of the ordinary these days. Instead, the ratings judge a mixture of factors, including drop out rates, attendence, the number of students tested and their improvement over time percentages. Our report cards were good this year, boys and girls!

One in eight Oregon schools was rated exceptional this year,
the highest proportion to get the top grade since the state
first issued school report cards five years ago.


Statewide, 130 schools were graded exceptional. Most were
elementary schools. The change in the report card formula
allowed 34 schools that would have been rated strong to
earn the coveted top grade.

Unfortunately, the fact that so many schools across the state were graded exceptional by the state no longer matters in terms of how they will pay their teachers or, in some cases, even continue to exist. Now, the federally mandated No Child Left Behind Act determines what schools, what teachers, and what children will live to see another day of good education.

Those report cards used to matter more, because a low
or unacceptable grade put a school on a federal watch list.

But the federal ratings required under the No Child
Left Behind law have taken over that role: Schools
that don't meet the federal performance targets get
put on the watch list and face escalating consequences
if they don't improve.

Across Oregon, 330 schools fell short of the federal
performance targets based on their 2003 test scores
-- far more than the 39 schools graded less than
satisfactory on their 2004 report cards. That's mainly
because the state grades schools on their overall
performance, while the federal law holds schools
accountable for the performance of their minority,
low-income, special education and second-language
students, too.

In other words, the federal funds and assistance that might have come the way of many schools in this state if our statewide report card system was still the measure used are no left to scramble because according to Bush's reckless standards, lack of funding, and ridiculous "goals" the No Child Left Behind Act is robbing our children and teachers... and ultimately, our entire community.

The federal government is determined to treat our children like hamburgers, as former teacher and administrator Jamie McKenzie says:

The prevailing model for school improvement imposed by
Washington these days is fast food education. We have
leaders and self-styled reformers who see schools as
assembly lines and deep fat fryers. Their response to
educational distress?

- Standardize everything.
- Bring in the stop watches.
- Get the routines straight.
- Teach by recipe.
- Follow the script.
- Flip the burgers.
- Stamp out anything that seems unique,
special or magical.

As a mama and a (hopefully) future teacher, I'm incredibly distressed by this idea. In fact, all adults in our country should be distressed by it, no matter if you have children or not. The reason is, your future will be handled by these very children who are being stripped down to nothing but assembly line products of a consumer nation. People used to worry that public schools were nothing but indoctrination sessions to teach children the government line. Sure they were, but at least the teacher that wanted to had the ability to step out of the mold and inspire. But now it's much worse. The indoctrination isn't about the government, it's about consumerism. It's about measuring UP to the LOWEST common denominator. It's about stifling the personalities and differences in our children instead of investing in them. We choose, as taxpayers and citizens, time and again to support a government and its policies that would take money away from schools that need help rather than give more aid to the schools that need it most. We are selfish, short-visioned and, frankly, cruel. I do blame Bush and even Ted Kennedy, who thought that he could trust what Bush/Rove told him, and I blame Congress that went along with the whole thing without thinking. Now most of them regret it, but what are they doing about it? Nothing. So it's up to us, and so far, we've proven to be a bunch of selfish, short-visioned and unthinking citizens when it comes to the future of this nation.

I could go into why we are like that - that all we ever hear about is consume, consume, consume - that our entire culture is based on instant gratification and "looking out for number one" - that our entire legacy is built on the falsehood of the "american dream" myth and that our entire national mindset of "manifest destiny" has ruined more lives that got tramped down in its path than anyone could count anymore. I could go into the fact that the new "anti tax" people that have taken over almost all the local special interests in almost every state are not looking out for the working people - of course they're not! - but those are the people they're suckering into their empty message. While they preach that we should have our taxes lower or not have to pay even a small amount more to help our own state, our own community, they pretend that all the services we take for granted will still be there for us, and they certainly don't preach that the corporations should pay the same taxes! I could go into the fact that the next Martin Luther King, Jr., or the next Harry Truman, or the next Maya Angelou might be a 4 year old child right now who is hungry because his Head Start Program was cancelled under No Child Left Behind, and that was the only place he got breakfast and lunch, and now he doesn't even have a place to color or paint or look at picture books or build blocks because all the kids in his class couldn't pass the TEST.

But none of that is going to change if we, the adults in this country, don't get off our asses and DO SOMETHING to change it. Already, I see democrats falling into the same old traps they did in 2000 and 2002 - going for what they imagine is the "safe" route. Not standing up in the face of the Machine and demanding something totally different, something that is in their name - no, that's too scary, too risky! The same laziness and fear infects us all when it comes to issues like education and our children. We no longer see the power in collective action against the government, we no longer see the long term interests of our children when we vote on tax measures, like the one we have before us here in Oregon next week (more on that in another post). We no longer even care enough to vote out the people who betray us as our representatives in Congress! What is wrong with us?! Don't we see the forest for the trees anymore? It doesn't seem so. That we've allowed No Child Left Behind to go on this long (it celebrated its 2-year anniversary this month) is a crime in itself. Why aren't we massing at our school buildings, defending our teachers, insisting our children be measured not according to George Bush's standardized tests, but according to their potential?! What's wrong with us?

Damn right I'm angry. Why aren't you?

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004
      ( 4:59 PM )
Joe Out

Not that Joe. Joe Trippi. He has been replaced as campaign CEO by Roy Neel, the former campaign manager for Al Gore. All signs point to the fact that something needed to happen to shake up the campaign, and obviously some major changes needed to be made in the communications/advertising department for all those horrible tv ads. So all the major figures are out and in with some new blood. Looks like maybe some bad money was poured out in IA and NH and Dean wants the money better spent.

It hurts to see Trippi leave after the incredible job he has done revolutionizing presidential campaigns. But this business is not a friendly one, and this move will not only give Dean a lot of free press, but will also have the effect of causing more people to pay attention again. I'm sentimentally sad for Trippi and on the other hand have a resurgence of hope that this will be the break moment for the campaign to get back into contention. Lots of discussion at Kos.

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      ( 1:49 PM )
Running Mate Blues?

BlahBlahBlah notes that Cheney may not be long for the Republican ticket. Could he be right?

The vice president, whose apparent moderation
and 35-year Washington experience reassured
voters worried about the callowness and
inexperience of Bush during the 2000 campaign,
is seen more and more by Republican Party
politicos as a drag on the president's re-election
chances in what is expected to be an extremely
close race.

The reasons are simple: instead of the moderate
voice of wisdom and caution that voters thought
they were getting in the vice president, ongoing
disclosures about his role in the drive to war in
Iraq and other controversial administration plans
depict him as an extremist who constantly pushed
for the most radical measures.

It's about time the sharks start circling that blood-covered white house. Perhaps there is some panic in the ol' Rove War Room? We can only hope.

Story from Hesiod.

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      ( 1:36 PM )
'Imminent' Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Maru does a fantastic summary of today's news that the white house is claiming "we never said the wmds were an imminent threat!"

On January 26, 2003, CNN asked White House
communications director Dan Bartlett "is he
(Saddam) an imminent threat to US interests,
either in that part of the world or to Americans
right here at home?"

"Well, of course he is," Bartlett replied.

On May 7, 2003, a reporter asked then WH
spokes-tool Ari 'the liar' Fleischer: "We went
to war, didn't we, to find these - because
we said that these weapons were a direct
and imminent threat to the United States?
Isn't that true?"

"Absolutely," he replied.

Well, there you are.


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      ( 1:25 PM )
The Nominations Are In

Tom Burka's got the low down:

Today, the White House garnered a host of
nominations in a crowded field for this year's
Academy Awards, stunning director Peter
Jackson and actors Tobe Maguire and
Uma Thurman.

George W. Bush was named for Best Actor,
"for his depiction of an utterly carefree man
blissfully leading the nation into war."

Karl Rove was named in the Best Director
category for his "stunning manipulation of
a difficult medium," and Dick Cheney was
nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for
his "scripting of scenario after scenario
based on a work of fiction."

Now if someone would just read that entire post out when they accept their award at the Oscars, all would be well with the universe!

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      ( 1:13 PM )
Day After Machinations

Just felt like using a big word. Well, obviously my prediction abilities leave something to be desired. I got everything really REALLY wrong. Oh well, at least I didn't bet money. I think the absolute BEST news coming out of NH yesterday was posted by Kos earlier today:

The best story of the night? The one that should
unite us all? From the Republican primary results:

Bush 57,670
Kerry 835
Dean 633
Clark 545
Edwards 541

That's over 2,500 registered Republicans who
wrote in a Democrat
in their ballot.

That's got to scare the shit out of Rove.

With that many crossover republicans in just a small state like NH, now is the time to start considering the fact that we don't only have to appeal to our base, but we may just have the ability to draw away republican voters who voted Bush in 2000. What candidate can best do that? From this sample result, it looks like any one of our top candidates can do that, but realistically the one with most appealing record for Republicans has to be Dean, with his fiscally conservative record, his record on guns, and his stance on the economy and jobs. In a general election, I still can't see how John Kerry can appeal to possible cross-over republican voters over Bush (except for veterans).

In my own opinion, Dean's post election speech last night was the best I've ever heard him give and by far outshined any of the other candidates'. He stayed on target with all the issues, gave an entire theme of hope and his entire soliloquy about bringing back community was unscripted and very well put. And the crowd enormous. I hope it gets a lot of airplay - though I'm not holding my breath.

People seem to think that Kerry, now that he's the frontrunner, will get the same treatment from the press. I'm not holding my breath on that one. For one thing, he's almost too boring to attack, unless the media wants to talk issues - and when do they ever do that? He is touting his veteran status big time (because he's so weak on his voting record and lacks so much passion), yet he has not offered one piece of veteran policy as part of his platform. Does just being a veteran make you a good president? Well, it certainly is one up on our current president, but the issues people are voting on are domestic. That's why Dean has to keep touting the message he made last night and why the people of the southwest and other states will hopefully take another look at the fact that Kerry doesn't hold the same fiscally conservative creds, nor does he have the experience of working with an obtuse legislature to balance a budget or provide health care for all chidren in his state. To all those dems who think Iowa and NH decided this race, you are wrong. This is a true, old - fashioned race for the delegate counts. Dean is still ahead in delegates, counting super delegates, and if he gets the right strategy going into February, Kerry isn't in the home stretch.

People, stop voting out of fear. Vote out of hope and stick with the candidate that stands strongly for Americans. Any one of our guys will beat Bush, I have that confidence - it's too early to throw in the towel, no matter who you support. Vote your guy, but don't vote because you're afraid. That's just what Karl Rove is hoping for.

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      ( 8:48 AM )

When I got to my bus stop on Monday morning I discovered the city had built a shelter. Then this morning a bench inside the shelter had appeared. Seems small, but being able to sit down and be dry while waiting for the bus, after trudging through wind and rain is a much nicer way to start off the day. Thanks, City.

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Monday, January 26, 2004
      ( 3:30 PM )
Mama Rejoices

[note: I thought I posted this late yesterday, but evidently it didn't publish]

No child should EVER be tried as an adult. I don't care what the circumstances are. Even if they are a teenager. Via Atrios and and Talk Left, we get the good news today about Lionel Tate, the boy who was sentenced to life in prison for killing his playmate when he was 12.

Tate, who was 12 years old at the time of the
killing in 1999, is believed to be the youngest
person in the United States sentenced to life
without parole.

Of course, it was in Florida. States that want to play like they are tough on crime and try children as adults and even allow them to be executed, but DON'T prosecute corporate thiefs who steal people's livelihoods, don't protect the most vulnerable of society, and don't even keep track of children in foster care are downright criminal in my book.

I'm so happy for Lionel and for his mother that he was allowed this second chance, that he will be able to live his life and try to grow into the man both of them always dreamed he'd be. I don't know how prison life has injured him, and I know he must live daily with the guilt and shame of what happened, but it is only right that a child be seen differently than adults. It's a good day when a child is given a chance despite the best efforts of those who cannot see the shades of gray that make up most of human existence. Mamahood softens those grays even more, and I rejoice in solidarity with Lionel's mama today.

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      ( 1:32 PM )
Nail Biter

Okay, it's.... (looking at clock and doing very bad math in my head) 11 hours till the NH primaries... technically. But most people won't start voting for another 18 or so. The weather is slated to be pretty bad tomorrow across the state- lots of snow, and the temps have stayed at subzero. But New Hampshirites are not known to be fainthearted. Having lived there for a few years in my early life, and having gone back many times to visit friends, I am as much fond of the quaintness of the state as I am of the independent and strong spirit of its inhabitants. Just look at their state motto: Live Free or Die. Which brings us back to the primary. Some may be living or dying after this one, but in the best of traditions, the election is actually and literally too close to call at this point.

For a discussion on all the polls and to get a look at some predictions, jump over to Daily Kos today.

I like the look of the Zogby poll today, but Zogby has a mixed history of calling them right. But more important than the poll itself are the headlines it's generating today. Another good part (in my opinion) is that it shows Dean's unfavorables declining and Kerry's picking up. What all of the other polls and this one mean to me is that the Kerry lead was falsly manufactured upon the screeching of the media after Iowa.

Dean's speech was hardly a barn burning event - he was responding to the screaming crowds that had already been worked up by Sen. Harkin. He showed passion and enthusiasm for his supporters and wanted to encourage them after a very discouraging defeat. The massive overdose by the media was incredibly malicious. The claims that Dean was just not acting presidential seem to be really hollow when you see the same media pundits remaining silent in the face of John Kerry playing ice hockey while campaigning or his picture spread as a surfer in a sports magazine. It is clear that the media doesn't like Dean because he isn't in their in-crowd. He doesn't cowtow to them, and he excites the populous to make up their own minds rather than go along with the party lines printed and spoken by the corporate media.

What people are going to start figuring out - and it looks like they already have - is that Kerry's campaign was faltering 3 weeks ago for good reason. He is a losing prospect against Bush. He is as boring as a post, and his congressional record holds nothing stand out that he can show to be new and different. He voted for the war, and he may have insight into the ways of legislation in DC, but that doesn't make him a good leader of the country. On the other hand, Dean's passion about bringing new choices to Americans, his actually well-thought out plans and policy ideas for the issues that mean the most to Americans, and the fact that he doesn't owe any corporate power broker or the DLC anything in this race is something that voters are starting to remember. By far, the candidate between the two of them that can beat Bush is Dean, and people need to relax about "the scream" and start thinking about the bigger picture.

I don't know that Dean can pull off a win tomorrow with the incredible negatives built up against him this last week. But pulling off a solid second (leaving the 3rd place far behind) will propel him into next week's primaries with a much greater chance of wins than he had after Iowa. Kerry doesn't have the money or the statewide campaigns in next week's primary states that Dean does, so that is also a plus for Dean (though a solid win for Kerry could bring him more moola). So all in all, I am more hopeful than I was this weekend - when, I confess, I was feeling pretty deflated by the domination of the idiot media.

I would like a Dean win tomorrow to bring the pendulum back, but I'm going to go with the following prediction:

Kerry 31
Dean 29
Edwards 18
Clark 16
Lieberman 3
Kucinich 2
Sharpton 1

I think Edwards is really picking up steam and Clark seems to be losing some momentum. I look for Edwards edging Clark out for third, though I don't think that ends Clark's run. I don't think anyone will drop out after NH, but I look for Lieberman to drop out after Feb 3. Sharpton and Kucinich are in it for the ideology at this point, and I would be happy for them to stay in the race all the way to the convention, so that at least their ideas might have a seat at the table. They also serve as the progressive anchors for the party in this race, and I think that is nothing but healthy at this point. Bush's declining numbers, among other reasons, continue to show us that now is not the time to get wimpy and nervous - it's the time to get even more passionate and even more determined to win in November with a candidate who inspires voters, not gives them a "lesser evil" choice. Those days should be gone, and I'm hoping that they will be.

This anticipation and tension is almost as bad as the baseball playoffs last fall. I don't know if I can take the emotional roller coaster!!

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Friday, January 23, 2004
      ( 2:07 PM )
Blogs on Radio

Blogging the President is having a special 2-hr show on NPR this Sunday. Two hours of the first ever radio blog discussion:

Christopher Lydon will be hosting the first sustained
blog conversation on network radio and you’re all
invited to join in. The purpose is to air out the
internet effects that the political campaign has
suddenly made obvious. We want to encompass
the new voices and communities, the critique of
institutional journalism, the expressive possibilities
beyond politics, the doubts, the hype, and the truth.
Among the guests will be Atrios, Andrew Sullivan,
and many more (a lot of biggies, we'll be updating
the site daily) including you, if you’ll tune in, phone
in, or just blog it as we speak. If this were a political
campaign, which it’s not, the slogan would be
: Take
back the conversation.

Tune in and talk blogs!

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      ( 1:37 PM )
Primal Scream Steam...picks up, that is...

The Interview was great. It was preaching to the choir for me, but I did enjoy "meeting" Dr. Steinberg for the first time and seeing their interaction. It's obvious that they love each other very much and have a very strong marriage. I think it was a great chance for people to see some straight-talking, upfront and strong character that the media tries to distort. The viewership wasn't huge, according to ratings, but it did follow the debate on the same ABC channel in NH, so for that audience, anyway, hopefully a lot of voters saw it.

Kos makes a very good point that the media will probably stop the massive bashing in the next couple of days because they don't WANT Dean out of the race altogether - he is the biggest ratings draw they've ever had for a political candidate, he keeps the race interesting and he adds the touch of humanity that is so often absent - and that plays well on tv. If they kill him now, their ratings will go way down and no one will be interested in all their fancy political reports with the zippy headlines. I'm looking for a comeback in the polls over the weekend.

But, should you miss the zest with which Dean spoke to his troops on Monday night - you can replay it all you want, or listen to the hundreds of dance remixes of it!

Suburban Guerilla has the last word.

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Thursday, January 22, 2004
      ( 1:42 PM )
Watergate Redux

This story is only barely starting to get legs. But I thought I would get in on the first wave. Already Kos, Atrios and Josh Marshall have put it front and center today. Evidently, Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee have been stealing computer files from Democrats for over a year.

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003,
members of the GOP committee staff exploited a
computer glitch that allowed them to access
restricted Democratic communications without a
password. Trolling through hundreds of memos,
they were able to read talking points and accounts
of private meetings discussing which judicial
nominees Democrats would fight -- and with
what tactics.

The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William
Pickle has already launched an investigation
into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos
showed up in the pages of the conservative-
leaning newspapers and were posted to a
website last November.

And guess who the stolen files were leaked to?

Democrats now claim their private memos formed
the basis for a February 2003 column by
conservative pundit Robert Novak that
revealed plans pushed by Senator Edward M.
Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, to
filibuster certain judicial nominees. Novak is
also at the center of an investigation into who
leaked the identity of a CIA agent whose
husband contradicted a Bush administration
claim about Iraqi nuclear programs.

Citing "internal Senate sources," Novak's
column described closed-door Democratic
meetings about how to handle nominees.

A quick check of the major news outlets tells me that no one is yet paying attention to this beyond the Globe. But it should get legs pretty soon, with the major blots repeating it and more coming out of this initial report. Of course the massive theft of computer files in the Senate can't be as important as Dean yelling at a pep talk to his supporters in Iowa.

In response to the Globe's investigation, Republicans are scrambling to come up with explanations for what has been going on since Jim Jeffords turned the tide of the Senate in 2001. The memos and papers that Republicans stole included inside strategies by Democrats on how they were going to try and block judicial appointments of judges they did not approve of. The Republicans used this material to publicly attack Democrats. The problem here is not that the Dems are doing this - Republicans do the same thing, but that Republicans knew this theft of internal documents was going on and instead of stopping it, leaked them to Novak.

I have nothing but disdain for Novak at this point, so there's not much more I have to say about his role in these recent political leaks. To call him a reporter or journalist is just flat out mislabeling.

Speaking of which, a group of former CIA officers is now calling for a Congressional look into the leaking of Valerie Plame's name.

In a letter to U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert
dated Jan. 20 and obtained by Reuters on
Wednesday, 10 former CIA analysts and
operatives called the disclosure of Plame's identity
a "shameful event in American history" that
had damaged national security.

Yeah, well... good luck on that one.

more on this at Maru, BlahBlahBlah, Suburban Guerilla, and of course the diagram of it all by Uggabugga.

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      ( 10:27 AM )
Let's Talk Marriage

Ever since I heard about Bush's new $1.5 billion plan to help "strengthen marriage," I have been thinking about this issue. I don't really know why the conservative right has chosen this subject as its new divisive theme, but it's set to displace abortion as the one issue that will emotionally divide this country in the coming years. They sure can pick 'em.

I've only been married 4 1/2 years, so I'm no decades-long expert, like my folks are (going on 37 years of marriage). But I chose to enter into marriage, and I didn't make that choice lightly. I intend to see it through for the rest of my life. It helps to be married to someone who also has the same intention. I have many friends who are not married, some who have domestic partners of many years, and some who have gay partners of many years. Some of those folks have children, some don't. Not one of these relationships, no matter how different from my own, threatens my marriage. The health and state of my marriage is up to me and my partner, and other people's choices of how they will live does not put either the future of my marriage or the prospects of anyone else who might ever get married in the future in jeopardy.

The conservative right and the Bush administration are using code words like "strengthen marriage" and "marriage protection" as thinly veild disguises for their intention to discriminate and deny equal rights and access to couples who also choose, just like I did, to be committed to one person for the rest of their lives - except they are not heterosexual. I understand people's fear and dislike of homosexuality comes out of a belief that the Bible condemns it (that is another subject to deconstruct at another time) - but years ago, many people believe the Bible supported slavery, and later, folks even used religious beliefs to lobby against interracial marriage. Whether people like homosexuality or not, the fact of the matter is that there are homosexual couples that are committed to living their lives together until they die. That they should be denied the basic civil rights of union that I receive automatically when I sign my marriage certificate is a crime. That is my own opinion.

I am going to take the Bush administration to task right now for its false claim of wanting to "protect" and "strengthen" marriage, and for alluding to the idea that it supports a constitutional amendment sealing heterosexual marriage as the only option for Americans who want to live committed lives with another person. But the reason this new policy is so false and unsubstantiated is because it does not address at all the true reasons why marriage, as an institution, could be in danger.

The widely agreed upon and researched top reasons for divorce among American couples are, in order of frequency:

Poor communication
Financial problems
A lack of commitment to the marriage
A dramatic change in priorities

Nowhere in the Family Research Council's "Marriage Protection Pledge" are any of these issues raised. This so-called pledge was drafted for political candidates to sign - it says they are for the "protection of marriage," yet nowhere in the document does it mention that they are going to work towards eliminating the top causes of divorce in this country.... or that if they have been divorced, they should not seek higher office because they are a bad example of "healthy marriage" in action.

The divorce rate in this country has hovered around 50% for years. Many researchers have found that amongst practicing religious people, it is very near that same average.

I can't criticize without offering solutions. How can we actually help marriage succeed and be healthy in this country? How can we truly defend the institution as one that is not only healthy, but desirous for young couples? Why not eliminate some of the top causes of divorce? If the government is so intent on "protecting marriage," then shouldn't most of that $1.5 billion go into programs that, for instance, require at least two sessions of couple's counseling before a marriage certificate can be signed? In this counseling, issues like communication, children, goals and finances can be thoroughly explored by the couple before they make the committment.

Instead of using money to promote marriage in communities where the welfare moms are most populous, as Bush's plan proposes, why not use that money to provide child care and education assistance to those same mothers? Insisting that their lives are better by being married doesn't solve the basic problems they face on a daily basis. Couples split up more frequently because of financial disputes and strains that almost any other reason. Teaching financial skills is nice. Providing a way for the women who are struggling as working mothers to be lifted out of their poverty is an entirely NEW way to not only make this country better and stronger, but it even might give the women a chance to have time to meet someone they could marry! Right now, all they're trying to do is get by.

I find the claim to want to "protect marriage" a hollow one by this administration. If it truly cared about marriages, sustaining them, making them more appealing for younger folks, then it would be working on the root problems that cause people in this country to despair and break up their marriages. Sure, it sounds good to tromp around the inner cities promoting marriage. But does it truly solve the root issues in this country? Maybe a program to help find jobs, provide child care or health care for our children, or even provide food for our most poverty-stricken families might be a wiser use for that money.

But let's be serious. This program and this issue isn't truly about marriage, nor is it about us as citizens, our welfare, our children's future, or even about the rights of couples who aren't heterosexual to be able to chose the stabilizing lifestyle of marriage - it's about political power. And to this administration, no one's marriage is more important than that.

(Sorry this was so long - I just had to get my thoughts out.)

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      ( 10:00 AM )

Still. Two more fatalities of American troops today, and more Iraqis killed as well. Lunaville is still keeping track and the numbers are haunting. Lest we get swept away in election year frivolities - I hope we won't forget that our own family members, friends and fellow citizens are dying and being killed, being permanently disfigured and injured and even getting debilitatingly sick and psychologically devastated every day in a country we invaded on false pretenses, and the fall of that country to which we cannot attribute one more minute of safety for any one of us. They're still dying. And he is still lying.

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      ( 9:28 AM )
Happy Tet!

It's the Lunar New Year and I just wanted to wish everyone a year of prosperity and well-being for you and all your loved ones - and may your kumquat tree be full of luscious fruit throughout the entire year of the Monkey.

p.s. Even Google has its monkey on!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2004
      ( 4:44 PM )
Laugh Along

Max says it with poetry.

(thanks to Atrios for the link.)

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      ( 1:20 PM )
Post SOTU Blues

If you want really good post-State of the Union speech reviews, check out Maru. Let's just review a few of Bush's glowing comments last night.

First of all, I note that the transcript inserts "(Applause)" lines, and it actually inserted the spontaneous applause that followed this line:

Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to
expire next year. (Applause.)

He clearly didn't mean to get claps for that one, but it sure as heck was funny! Meanwhile, he spent a good 45 minutes trying to scare us about all the dangers we face and why we must preemptively strike out at all costs, no matter what.

We're seeking all the facts. Already, the Kay Report
identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-
related program activities
and significant
amounts of equipment

Woohoo! We've invaded a sovereign nation and killed thousands of our own soldiers, but we're in the right, because we've found weapons of mass destruction-related program activities! And it all makes sense too, because we're still saying we went into Iraq because of 9/11:

After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th,
it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal
papers. The terrorists and their supporters declared
war on the United States, and war is what they got.

In fact, he invoked 9/11 four times and said "terror" or "terrorist" 21 times in the course of an hour. He tried to pretend that making tax cuts permanent wouldn't put us into a cripling deflation and balloon our deficits. He seemed to think that making us put away "medical savings accounts" (presumably out of the vast savings we have left over after trying to live paycheck to paycheck) was a good way to provide us health care. And he really did seem convinced that legislating No Child Left Behind and then bankrupting it really is good for our children.

Any way you slice it, this president is ready for retirement. If this country is dumb enough to allow him an election where he actually wins, based only on the stirring images of his "leadership" after 9/11, then it gets the president it deserves. Hopefully, we will be able to stir enough voters out of their stupor to make sure this doesn't happen. In fact, if you haven't done so this week, go and make sure everyone you know is registered and committed to voting this year. It actually DOES matter.

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      ( 1:00 PM )
Finding Out

What People Powered means. Citizens of this country are tired of being pushed around. Bush had a mantra of "terra" and "fear" in his speech - the entire tactic of this administration has been to try and scare the beejeebies out of us and put us in our place. The media has gone right along with it, because what's better for ratings than people fearfully watching the television to see if anything new and horrible happens? So the last weeks of battering Howard Dean culminated in the "speech" on Tuesday night, which is fueling the media's desire to be the power broker in this election.

So you'd think, that with the scare tactics, the dirty politics, the terrible image of the "speech" being replayed and replayed, that Howard Dean's campaign might be falling by the wayside just about now.

Interestingly, in just the last week, 25,000 people have signed up to actively support the campaign, bringing the total to over 600,000 committed supporters. Funny how people just aren't willing to be told what to do anymore and want to decide for themselves, isn't it?

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Tuesday, January 20, 2004
      ( 4:46 PM )
Holding off the Barbarian Hordes

The Dems in the Senate (along with a few stalwart Republicans) held off passing the massive spending bill that the White House has been forcing through Congress since last month. The House passed it in December, but Senate Dems are trying with their last breath to at least delay it. Most think it will pass anyway because they don't have the power to force new votes to change it. This spending bill is far and away the hugest piece of pork this administration has attempted (the energy bill hasn't been put up for vote yet, though). At least it was delayed today so Bush can't flaunt it in his speech tonight. CNN's report on it lists several of the controversian parts of the spending package:

- Language to delay country-of-origin labeling on
meat -- an issue that gained attention after mad cow
disease was recently discovered in the United States.

- New overtime pay provisions that critics charge will
strip millions of white-collar workers of extra money
for their overtime hours.

- Language to let new Federal Communications Commission
rules go into effect that allow media companies to
increase the number of television stations they own
despite broad congressional opposition to the policy.

Some senators, including Republicans, don't like the
thousands of home-state earmarks in the bill. Republican
Sen. John McCain of Arizona called the bill a "disgrace"
and an "outrage to the American people."

Americans who think this President has done us good with his tax cuts and the "jobless growth" in the economy are complete idiots. I'm sorry, but it's true. This administration has forced more reckless spending through than we've seen since Reagan. I don't know how Republicans can keep up the meme that Democrats are the ones who spend more and create bigger government, when it's been Republicans doing this very thing in the last half century. It's ridiculous. The last bit of the article tells all:

Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, who chairs
the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the bill
must be dispensed with quickly so lawmakers can
start writing spending bills for next year

These people must be stopped.

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      ( 1:21 PM )
Unions Blog!

Welcome the SEIU to the blogosphere - great first post from President Stern himself. The comments are also very insightful and interesting. It will be good to read some things from a union point of view. Thanks to Atrios for the link.

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      ( 9:21 AM )
Tuesday Morning Quarterbacking

Everyone is probably already sick and tired of the Iowa Deconstruction, but I have to get my thoughts down and then I'll leave it alone. It seems that most observers are in agreement that the Dean Campaign's decision to go negative on Gephardt was a bad mistake. Gephardt could have gone on swinging at the wind and Dean could have pulled out much more positive ads and sound bites anyway. Edwards has shown what positive vibes can do - not to mention that Edwards is a fantastic campaigner, amazing speaker and actually talks about things like poor people. The last few months of big political endorsements and being beaten down by the press I think made Dean's message of being an outsider ready to change Washington disappear. People are going to warm to that if they see it, but if the message is lost, so is the candidate.

Kerry's win in Iowa, while surprising, I don't think will launch him into more wins. He doesn't have the money to go past NH, and in truth, though Iowans may have dubbed him more "electable," on a national basis, he truly is probably too liberal to go up against Bush. I also find his emphasis on being a veteran and war hero a little disingenuous when he voted to send our troops to Iraq to be killed in just as senseless a fight as Vietnam was. He touts his young hero-ness in his ads, which is attractive, but doesn't truly say much about his governing. The other thing, which I have seen mentioned by a Veteran who observes the campaigns, is that while Kerry (and other candidates) talk a big game about veterans and service people, Dean is the only candidate with an actually thought-out policy about veterans and a plan for helping them. In the end, Kerry's record as a veteran will be matched up against Clark's.

The other thing that I noted the media made a huge deal about was Judy Steinberg-Dean's absence from the campaign trail. Kerry made a very pointed jab at Dean several times, hinting that Dean's wife didn't support him. The cable news media seemed to go after this meme with gusto last night after the results came in. But in Dean's interview on MSNBC, he said very forthrightly that his wife is a practicing doctor with patients, and children at home and that most women in America are like her, working hard and don't have time to sit around with a smile plastered on their faces sitting behind their husbands. Our local commentator, David Sarasohn had a great commentary on this subject last week:

"She sets into play a dynamic that goes right
to the heart of professional women," says Allen,
currently involved in advising women candidates
in Jordan, Qatar and Morocco. "Not only does
she have a good job that she wants to do,
she's helping others."

A description hardly ever applied to shaking
hands at the Davenport, Iowa, hog exposition.

I think the big winner was Edwards. He has been underexposed this entire campaign, and I think it will do good for voters to see him more often. He was my first choice before I got to know Dean's campaign and before he (Edwards) voted for the war. I would LOVE to see Bush have to face Edwards in a debate. One thing is clear, Edwards comes from humble background, has overcome terrible tragedy in his life (loss of a child), is young and eager and hopeful and is from the south. On the other hand, he is a first-term senator with not much experience or leadership role in governing, and even in his home state he isn't leading in the polls (so far). He also came straight out of the DLC camp and I fear that his susceptibility to strong-arming by Clintonistas and special interests could be a big detriment. He needs money and that is a handicap as well.

One thing I would hate to see is the process that Dean has put into action defeated. The network of people that have come into political activism for the first time, motivated by Dean's message, are a phenomenon that this country can only benefit from. I also would hate to see the DLC triumph again - their message of being baby Republicans, their record of not creating any sort of coattails for Democrats in lower offices trying to get elected, and their disenfranchising of the normal, everyday people in the party should not have a chance to go any further than this election year, in my opinion.

This week until NH should be interesting. Watching Clark come into the mix and how Kerry deals with that will be one aspect. Seeing how Edwards will use his Iowa bump in NH, considering he doesn't have much of a network set up there, or much money (though that could change now), is another. And we'll see if Dean will begin to get back to the roots of his campaign and winning the hearts and minds of voters in NH with the message that still rings true: it's time to do something different, it's time for the people to take charge of this country. One thing is certain, it's definitely not a boring race anymore, and Bush has to fear any one of these candidates come March, when the winner is decided. Any one of them will not only be a formidable opponent for him, but will also give him the electoral slap down in November. Here comes the roller coaster.

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      ( 8:54 AM )
Keep Score

You may not want to watch the smug face of Bush speaking his State of the Union tonight or have to endure his lies or double talk - or inevitable butchery of the English Language. But you should. He is only held accountable if WE hold him accountable. Tom Paine has set up a scorecard you can use tonight, which might make it easier to get through the speech. Print it out and keep score. It's up to us.

Thanks to Dad for the link.

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Thursday, January 15, 2004
      ( 1:14 PM )
Do Something

On January 4, 2004 an Israeli military court sentenced five refuseniks to one year in jail for refusing to serve in the military. "The judges declared that the five conscientious objectors deserved to be harshly punished, since they questioned the morality of the miliary's actions and challenged the legitimacy of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip."

There is now a petition , sponsored by the parents of refuseniks, that you can sign to support these men and their stand against a brutal and illegal occupation.

Our children - Adam, Hagai, Matan, Noam and Shimri
- have been sentenced to repeated, and practically
unlimited, periods in military jails until they surrender.
Their "crime" is that they refuse to serve the Israeli
Army in order to enforce the occupation - they have
chosen to be prisoners rather than jailers.

We believe that our children have been so severely
punished because of their opinions. We believe that
the severity of the punishment reflects the Israel
Government's fear of those opinions. It is the
Government's policy to suppress those ideas by
intimidating our children.

The Israeli refusenik community is calling for international help. You can send faxes to Brig. Gen. Gil Regev (972-3-569-2933), who can revoke the sentences. You can also sign the petition. Make a difference. It's a small thing to you. It's a huge thing for humanity.

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      ( 10:20 AM )
Kinder, Gentler... and Stupider

In an effort to appear much more compassionate and in touch with his citizens' needs, the president has launched several new ideas for programs recently. The White House seems to feel that these things will move Americans to realize that Bush isn't all about WAR and DESTRUCTION, but more about waste, discrimination and destruction. It's an election year after all!

Of course, we know that the administration has introduced a bold, new plan to conquer space. The president intends to "extend a human presence across our solar system." Poor solar system. But of course, it took the president's unique syntax to really get the point across:

I want to thank the astronauts who are with us, the
courageous spacial entrepreneurs who set such a
wonderful example for the young of our country.

Spacial entrepreneurs? What are those? People who start small businesses about geometry? Have we completely given up on the English language? Is it really in our best interest to have a man who allows a phrase like this to come out of his mouth in a policy speech (let's not even get into the fact that his speechwriters appear to be 10 years old) to lead the country into a new era of space exploration? Of course, we could always ask him to lead by example...

In another major White House initiative this week, the President has announced (again) how much he LOVES MARRIAGE!! He proposes to spend $1.5 billion on a new Promotion of Marriage drive. With this $1.5 billion that is not being used to educate our children, help poor working mothers with childcare, feed our hungry, homeless vets, or even upgrade our electrical system, Bush plans to encourage the promotion of "healthy marriages."

It also plays to Mr. Bush's desire to be viewed as
a "compassionate conservative," an image he
sought to cultivate in his 2000 campaign. This year,
administration officials said, Mr. Bush will probably
visit programs trying to raise marriage rates in
poor neighborhoods.

"The president loves to do that sort of thing in
the inner city with black churches, and he's very
good at it," a White House aide said.

He's very good at what? Exploiting poor black people? Travelling around to inner cities telling people that their biggest problem is that they're not married? Of course, "promoting healthy marriage" is another codeword for discriminating against same-sex couples who are just as committed as heterosexual couples, but cannot enjoy any of the rights the latter claim, even visiting a spouse in the hospital. One thing this initiative doesn't discuss is whether, in order to set a good example, the administration will fire everyone in its employ who has been or who intends to in the future, get a divorce. This would probably do more for marriages, and the American people in general, than the so-called "plan." Tom Burka sees a more sinister plan at work.

Meanwhile, Cheney made a dip through the Pacific Northwest this week, trailing $1,000 dollar bills out his pocket as he grabbed them up. Here in Portland, he met with 65 people near the airport - and managed to raise $400,000 from those 65 people. Nice gig if you can get it, I suppose. Oregon is set to be a "Battleground State" in the coming election - that is, according to the White House. It's not necessarily a done deal, based on my unscientific observation of the multitude of bumper stickers and buttons throughout the area declaring that four more years of Bush would mean destruction of life as we know it. Of course that is only Portland, and everyone knows we are the granola munching, tree hugging, Little Beirut of America. The GOP is organizing hard in this state, so in a burst of goodness from my heart: good luck, Mr. Moneypants Cheney!

So, indeed, the White House has got big plans for this year. Good thing they don't have to worry about an invasion of a couple of countries and rebuilding them, losing hundreds of killed and injured soldiers, millions of jobs that don't exist anymore, schools failing because of unreachable standards and no money, or little old things like trillion dollar deficits. Why should they worry? It's a compassionate year!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2004
      ( 1:51 PM )
Ya Gotta Have Standards

It has been revealed that even though MoveOn.Org put in a request to have its new ad aired during the Super Bowl, CBS says it may not run the ad because of standards and practices. The ad, in case you hadn't yet heard of it, shows various scenes of little children doing "difficult service and manufacturing jobs -- washing dishes, hauling trash, repairing tires, cleaning offices, assembly-line processing and grocery checking -- followed by the line: "Guess who's going to pay off President Bush's $1 trillion deficit?"

A spokesman for CBS said the Viacom-owned
network has received the request from MoveOn
to run the ad in the Super Bowl, but added that
the ad has to go through standards and practices
before CBS will say if it can run an advocacy ad
during the game. The spokesman said he didn't
think it was likely that the spot would pass
standards and practices.

Of course, this from the network that is fine with airing Super Bowl commercials about boozing with scantily clad women - oh, not to mention a full airing of the Victoria Secret Soft Porn Underwear Show and two hours of fawning documentary on Michael Jackson after his arrest for child molestation. But it's important to set limits.

Daily Kos has all the commentary.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2004
      ( 5:44 PM )

I realize predictions are a tricky business, but I thought since this is my first New Year's with a blog, I'd try my hand at it and see how it turns out. If any of them pan out - maybe I can go into business with The Enquirer. Here's my best shot. Check back with me next year to see how I did.

January 2004: Dean wins the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary. Gephardt, Kerry and Lieberman suddenly morph into one person and declare in a very deep voice that they are the Anti-Dean and they are NOT angry. Meanwhile, the white house, via the Treasury Department, tears apart Paul O'Neill's life, ruins his career and his family and just for good measure, leaks more names of CIA officers to the press.

February 2004: Bitter weather across the nation brings down the voting numbers in the major February primaries. But enough people snowshoe to their voting booths in order to cast their votes for Dean, Edwards and Clark. Unfortunately, they might as well have stayed home, since the Diebold machines they voted on decided instead that Joe Lieberman (or was that Gephardt?) won in every state that held a primary. Meanwhile, broken, rotting 30-year old cans of chemicals are found buried in the desert in Iraq and Sean Hannity almost has a heart attack rejoicing over found WMDs. More soldiers die.

March 2004: Now that Joe Lieberman has taken the lead, Diebold mechanics get lazy, thus Dean wins all the primaries in March. It's too bad he's so ANGRY. Greece announces it won't be ready for the Olympics in August, and could they please have an extension until October - or maybe 2007? The Supreme Court decides, sure, it's fine and dandy to imprison American Citizens without charges for however long John Ashcroft wants. More soldiers die.

April 2004: The Ninth Circuit Court socks it to the Justice Department and declares that Oregonians can have death with dignity if they damned well want it. John Ashcroft cries out that Oregonians are killing old people willy nilly, and there may need to be some martial law considered. Meanwhile, Dean wins other primaries that no one cares about, and democrats start considering how to bus people to the polls in November after hearing the news that Dick Cheney has formed a committee to study how to put multiple roadblocks around voting districts in November. Mama turns 33 and thinks that perhaps the mid-30s aren't so bad. But still, more soldiers die.

May 2004: Oregon holds its Primary. Kucinich wins because Dean has already picked his running mate and Oregonians are nothing if not empathetic for the underdog. Too bad Kucinich dropped out back in March. Paul O'Neill, fresh from 3 months in solitary confinement decides to go on tour with Bono across Europe spouting nonesense about the fascist state that the US has become. Europeans believe him - but who cares? More soldiers die.

June 2004: Oregon schools had to close down early for lack of funds and the Oregon Health Plan has imploded. Mama's little baby turns 2 years old. Pro-Bush ads start running during primetime showing George Bush in a flight suit landing on Mars with the voice over: "Isn't it time we had a president who ruled the universe?" Iraqis elect a Muslim government and decide they really don't care for democracy or the occupying invaders. The troops decide en mass to just get the hell out of there.

July 2004: A new plan is hatched to get the state back on its feet. On June 4, Oregon announces that it controls Weapons of Mass Destruction (in the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Depot) and declares war on the U.S. The white house orders an invasion and troops invade and occupy Oregon, setting up temporary headquarters in Eugene (Because Rumsfeld couldn't figure out where the old capital was). This proves dangerous for occupying troops when the Eugene anarchists organize small, separate attacks on barracks after dark. To calm the situation down, Bush orders up $67 billion dollars to rebuild Oregon, and the federal government gets rid of our chemical weapons, rebuilds our schools and health system and gives all of us jobs. Now THAT'S what I call a sound fiscal plan. More troops arrive home after hitchiking from Iraq.

August 2004: Lots of people go to Greece for the Olympics anyway. It's hot and the gypsies steal everything. Tony Blair is suddenly ousted from office when the Labor Party sees the light and actually uses its power for good. The European Union take a page from England's book and actually pass a Constitution and form a combined military power. NATO is abolished - for lack of good secretarial help. Ariel Sharon decides to drop all pretenses, invades the West Bank and Gaza, makes all Palestinians wear red crescent moons on their jackets and begins to ship them to Africa. Bush recommends that Sharon be nicer.

September 2004: Labor Day sees millions of Americans who have been out of work for upwards of three years decide to just forget trying to find a job and squat on the steps of the Capital in Washington, DC. Unfortuately, Congress is still out on its extended summer vacation doing world tours and can't be there to pay attention. Oregonians excitedly start the school year with new federally-funded textbooks that declare "Lewis and Clark stopped in Oregon, but just long enough to declare that it was stupid and rained too much." Michael Jackson's trial is moved up to the temporary quarters of the new Moon Base so that the jury pool won't be tainted.

October 2004: As the election looms closer, voters begin to feel some apprehension about the threats they are receiving in the mail that tell them that not only will the Diebold voting machine record their vote, but it will record THEM and they better not vote the wrong way. Novak declares on Crossfire that Dean was a CIA officer - but that just makes Dean ANGRY and Novak actually gets the smack down - literally. The first ever Annual Liberal Blogger Convention takes place in the Shasta Mountains of California. So far, the governor has not paved that part of the state yet to make it more accessible for his Hummer. The conventioneers vow to continue to speak out and speak the truth. They are promptly imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay as soon as they leave the building.

November 2004: Dean wins the national election by a very respectable margin. Bush cries but Cheney gets ANGRY and demands a recount. There can't be a recount though, because the Diebold machines didn't produce paper receipts of the votes, so there's no way to go back and count them again. The entire administration suddenly disappears into the secret caves they built after 9/11 and the SHADOW GOVERNMENT emerges. Dean's transition team can't even step into the DC area because of a forcefield that has been set up. Dean decides to govern from Baltimore (it's close to the original capital and has a great baseball stadium).

December 2004: Rumsfeld comes out of hiding and demands a military coup. The military has already packed up and gone home - so no help there. Rumsfeld mutters something about France and goes back into hiding. The Christmas season approaches and people suddenly start realizing that 2005 might be a very good year. Bush decides that he's tired of hiding and goes back to Kennebunkport - he's done with Crawford, too many bugs. Cheney won't give up, but no one can find him, so the story dies a slow death. It wasn't all that bad of a year - at the end of December the WB announces that due to its complete annoyance with the daily letters and phone calls from ANGRY fans, Buffy will return to the airwaves in January.

So we'll see what happens. Meanwhile - Happy (belated) New Year and may this one bring peace to our world, joy to you and yours and brotherhood for all mankind. (It doesn't hurt to hope!).

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      ( 5:07 PM )
Hey, I Was Only Joking

When I said a month ago about President Bush's intention to go to the Moon:

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....

But Billmon found that it's not so funny anymore:

Dr. Geoffrey Briggs, director, Center for Mars
Exploration at the NASA Ames Center, told ?Meet
Alaska? that NASA is looking at ways to drill on
Mars to look for water - and the life it might

Briggs said NASA has been working with Halliburton,
Shell, Baker-Hughes and the Los Alamos National
Laboratory to identify drilling technologies that might
work on Mars.

And you thought that this administration couldn't get more fictional than it already has. If we have to live through four more years of these people, we may very well find ourselves wearing tan colored jumpsuits, using the scan code tattoos on our hands to purchase food, and watching the news for the latest updates on the invasion of North Korea. Maybe I shouldn't joke anymore.

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Monday, January 12, 2004
      ( 2:41 PM )

A quick snapshot of Mama's life today:

The BAD NEWS: My brother was notified on Friday that he must return to the Middle East this week. No warning. No explanation as to why it must be him, as there are many others who can do the job and aren't instructers (as he is). But the generals decide. I am angry and do not understand. But I am thankful that he's returned safely from the last 3 warzones he's been in, so I pray the trend will hold.

The GOOD NEWS: The 19-month old pointed to his diaper and announced "poop!" for the first time ever today. And it turned out to be a viable claim! This is a huge deal for those of you who don't deal with poop on a daily basis. This is the first major step from diapers to toilets. I am now wondering if the baby can be trained so that everytime he sees words coming out of Bush's mouth, he can exclaim, "poop!" But that might confuse the poor boy.

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      ( 2:30 PM )
New Year Summary

Okay, so just in review, here's how we're starting out 2004:

Unemployment is even worse that previously thought because thousands of people simply didn't feel like trudging around looking for work during the holidays - oh, and thousands more fell off the rolls because the White House and Republican controlled Congress refused to extend benefits. So, where there are no claims, there are no unemployed people -right!?

The war in Iraq remains incredibly dangerous, with 10 soldiers dying in just the last 3 days - along with hundreds being injured (some maimed for life) weekly. Oh, and not to forget, people are being killed and maimed in Afghanistan too - yep, that one's not over either. This whole Iraq thing was envisioned by this administration from the first moments it took office. Too bad they didn't envision some sort of REALISTIC post-invasion scenario. The conservative pundits continue to harp that the capture of Saddam proves Bush is in the right and that will put him in the victory slot in November. Whether people remember Saddam was captured come November, is another question.

The Primary Season begins next week, but according to Fox News, everyone might as well just bow out and let Joe Liberman take the nomination. Meanwhile, the other candidates don't understand how Dean can continue to inspire new activists and voters and continue to stay up in the polls when they throw every dirty trick at him that they can. Oh, except for John Edwards. Who is a very nice fellow. He'd make a mighty nice Attorney General...

The No Child Left Behind Act celebrated it's 2nd Anniversary last week - to the loud cheers jeers of teachers and administrators everywhere who continue to struggle under the mammoth weight of this unfunded mandate. In celebration of this law's 2nd year in action, children are being left behind at even greater rates. Yay for Education Reform!

The President has proposed a quasi-amnesty program for illegal immigrants. Great idea. Now if we can get around the bits about how it only benefits employers and slave masters, kicks the workers out on their asses after three years, and does not guarantee that they might have a chance at citizenship after doing the dirty work the rest of us citizens won't touch, it might actually be a great idea!

Unbenouced to most of America (and Congress), while the airwaves were full of pictures of Saddam being checked for lice, one of the huge appropriations bills slipped through (the one for intelligence) containing a line in it that was originally part of Patriot Act II. Since Patriot Act II will be harder to get through as one big law, the administration has decided to divide it up and put lines from it in other unsuspecting bills. Of course, we can't count on our Congresspeople who vote for these bills to know EVERYTHING that is in them! By the way, this one makes it legal for the FBI to get any personal or corporate financial records from any financial institution, bank or agency without a judge's approval or even needing probable cause. This was secretly passed - but it's in addition to the lovely proposition made this week that all airlines and travel reservation companies should have to hand over all information on travelers so that we can all be categorized accordingly. Oh, were you under the impression that they had given up on the whole fascism idea? Sorry to disappoint you.

But forget all that stuff - we're going to the Moon (daring to go where 12 men have gone before....)!!!

Man, what a great country!

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      ( 1:16 PM )
Still Alive

Well that was an interesting week. We ended up being literally encased in snow and ice here in Portland last week. I couldn't even walk out of my house without risking broken limbs from slipping on the ice. After a storm that left about six inches of snow, the ice came and left a layer about 2 inches thick on top of that. Businesses, government and transportation were closed for two days. Our office opened Thursday afternoon, but I couldn't get downtown until Friday, but which time the back up of work was a huge mound on my desk. At home, we just happened to have a houseguest come the first of the week, and of course she is in the room with the computer. So, in short, I did not see a computer for most of last week. Thus, no blogging.

There is still snow and ice everywhere, especially in my neighborhood (we have surmised, looking at the news reports of other locations around the city, that we must not collectively pay enough taxes because we got no plows or help with the deep freeze conditions). But production must go on! We must get back to work! Luckily for me, work means a computer - and computer means reconnecting with my beloved blogosphere. Yay!

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Tuesday, January 06, 2004
      ( 2:57 PM )
Snowed In

Literally. The wind has blown the snow so much, there are 3 foot snow drifts up against the house. Let me just mention that this is far beyond RARE for Portland. My office even closed - for probably the first and only time. Huge blizzard, ice is now falling from the sky. Can't even play in it. But we're all cozy at home, and I get to listen to Al Franken on Fresh Air, so that's a plus. Back to the grindstone tomorrow.

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Monday, January 05, 2004
      ( 10:32 AM )
Reason #572 Why I Love Portland

Well, it happened. Standing at the bus stop on Friday evening on my way home. We were all a bit disheveled and cold, standing there pretty much like normal. Then this elderly gentlement (probably in about his late 60's) turns to face everyone and holds up an almanac and says very loudly, "did you know that if you carry one of these around that the FBI will spy on you and think you are a terrorist?!" Everyone looked at him, most of us knew this already and were pretty pleased someone was mad enough to yell about it.

Then, from somewhere in the small crowd a little voice yells, "Hey, do you have any more of those?" And suddenly two older ladies, who looked in their 70s or more tottered up to the fellow as he smiled and said, "I just happen to have a few copies of the Farmers Almanac here!" and he gave them each one and a few other people grabbed one from him. And as the bus pulled up, about six people were standing at the bus stop proudly displaying their new almanacs for the world to see. I'm not kidding - it really happened.

I love this city.

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      ( 10:29 AM )
Snow! ?

We're supposed to have some sort of arctic blast blow in today. The the weather system is already holding us in the below freezing temperatures, which is very unusual for us. I am secretly hoping the snow storm comes soon and I can go home early! I'm such a slacker.

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Friday, January 02, 2004
      ( 12:36 PM )
The Universe Strikes Back - Again

I'm sure you've heard the recent reports about Dark Energy. I first heard about it on a BBC report sometime in the late hours about three weeks ago. It sounded like a huge story to me: the universe is actually expanding at an increased rate and this dark energy is gobbling stuff up... but no one seemed to pay much attention. But I've heard two or three reports on NPR since then (I think they're talking a little bit about it on Science Friday today). I have to confess that I'm very intrigued. That 2/3 of the universe could be completely unidentifiable to scientists and that the calculations of physicists so far are concluding that not only is there Dark Matter, but there is Dark Energy out there - further solidifies my theory that the more we mess with stuff, the more the universe is going to be reminding us who is Boss.

I think it's a fitting way to start the new year: being very aware that the universe has got us in its sights... puts things in the right perspective, I'd say.

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      ( 11:57 AM )
NeoCon Manifesto for the New Year

I haven't seen any blogging on this article that appeared in the London Telegraph two days ago - since blogspot went bonko and yesterday was a holiday, I'm just now getting to it. But I thought it deserved some airing as it is quite unbelievable...well, not really.

President George W Bush was sent a public
manifesto yesterday by Washington's hawks,
demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and
a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea
backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on
its nuclear sites.


The manifesto is contained in a new book by
Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser and "intellectual
guru" of the hardline neo-conservative movement,
and David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter. They
give warning of a faltering of the "will to win" in

I'm not sure how Perle got tagged as an "intellectual guru," but it wasn't by anyone I've ever heard of. So it appears that Perle and Frum are disgruntled by the slow pace of empire-building and the quagmire their most recent plot has ended up in. So in order to jump-start the new year, they've come up with some brilliant ideas on how we can really get this world moving towards a new horizon of wonderfulness!

The book demands that any talks with North
Korea require the complete and immediate
abandonment of its nuclear programme.

As North Korea will probably refuse such terms,
the book urges a Cuba-style military blockade
and overt preparations for war, including the rapid
pullback of US forces from the inter-Korean border
so that they move out of range of North Korean

Such steps, with luck, will prompt China to oust its
nominal ally, Kim Jong-il, and install a saner regime
in North Korea, the authors write.

Not only is this an insane idea, it's stupid. What makes them think that China will or can do anything about Kim Jong-il - not to mention that said Kim Jong-il is a lunatic and has nuclear weapons. I'm sure blockading them will do a whole hell of a lot of good too, since their population is already starving to death because we already refuse to send supplies there. I especially liked the "such steps, with luck..." part of the plan.

But wait, that's not all! We have all kinds of pre-emptive goodies in this manifesto!

The authoritarian rule of Syria's leader, Bashar
Assad, should also be ended, encouraged by
shutting oil supplies from Iraq, seizing arms he
buys from Iran, and raids into Syria to hunt


The book calls for tough action against France
and its dreams of offsetting US power. "We should
force European governments to choose between
Paris and Washington," it states. Britain's
independence from Europe should be preserved...

So, presumably after we oust Syria's leader and install another occupation force there (or maybe just install Ariel Sharon), we are then turning our sights on Europe. Because obviously Britain's "independence from Europe" is in question - I just know all those brits are quaking in their boots over the invasion from France that is all-too-imminent.

All mocking aside, the scary thing about this is that this manifesto is serious. Perle and his kind actually believe these things, and these people are actually in positions of authority. Ten or twenty years ago, when they floated the idea that we should use any excuse possible to invade Iraq and establish an occupied country there to try and influence the balance of middle east politics, most people laughed and thought "well, no one will ever go along with that silly idea!" And here we are, with a puppet president that gives not only his ear to people like Perle, but hands over his foreign policy plans to them.

Can we truly afford to laugh at these ideas any more? I am afraid we can't. This is where our country will be headed if we cannot remove Bush from office this year. Colin Powell has already declared he is out of there if there is a second term, which means that the last moderate voice in the administration will be silenced. I don't think we can be to serious about doing everything we can to get these people out of power.

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