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

Friday, February 27, 2004
      ( 10:19 AM )

Someone decided my last two days of work this week should be horribly torturous and rate at Defcon 5 for "the boss is freaking out so we have to compensate for all his stress!!" level of work enjoyment atmosphere. Back to the blog asap.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2004
      ( 1:46 PM )
News You Can Use

Maru gives us a wealth of news about our esteemed leader's wavering grasp on reality.

Start here with Fact vs. Claim - a run down of facts as opposed to what Bush claimed in his speech to the governors this week.

And, while the president, his supporters and the media are screaming "Gay Marriage! Aaaaah!", two more US solders were killed in Iraq today.

And in the scary column: Republican legislators are introducing a bill to change the presidential succession rules:

Cornyn and other lawmakers, along with a number
of scholars and researchers, think the law is outdated
and may be unconstitutional.

The bill he introduced with Republican Sen. Trent Lott
of Mississippi would remove members of Congress
from the line of succession. Instead, Cabinet members,
beginning with the secretary of state and followed by
the treasury secretary, defense secretary, attorney
general and the homeland security director, would
form the line behind the president and vice president.

Part of the argument against the current law is that
the country could be left with a president who holds
views far different from those of the person elected
by the American people.

So in other words, if the President and Vice President die, then wholly non-elected people would take over the government and appoint even more non-elected people into power.

In other news, Body and Soul has a link to an article that explains a story my husband heard on NPR last week and couldn't believe: The Bush is CREATING MANUFACTURING JOBS! But wait...

In a speech to Washington economists Tuesday,
N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the president's
Council of Economic Advisers, said that properly
classifying such workers was "an important
consideration" in setting economic policy.

Counting jobs at McDonald's, Burger King and
other fast-food enterprises alongside those at
industrial companies like General Motors and
Eastman Kodak might seem like a stretch, akin
to classifying ketchup in school lunches as a
vegetable, as was briefly the case in a 1981
federal regulatory proposal.


David Huether, chief economist for the National
Association of Manufacturers, said he had heard
that some economists wanted to count hamburger
flipping as manufacturing, which he noted would
produce statistics showing more jobs in what
has been a declining sector of the economy.

See? There's always a way around the rules! So if you see manufacturing jobs increase later this year, you can be confident that while more middle class income families are falling into poverty, more teenagers than ever are working happily part time at McDonalds.

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      ( 10:36 AM )
Action Alert!!!

I just got a notice from MoveOn that the Energy Bill could come up for a vote in the Senate at any time. The Repubs have said they'll give as little as 24 hours' notice. This bill is HORRIFIC. Call, email and fax your Senators now about this. If you're in Oregon: here are your targets:

Senator Ron Wyden
Washington, DC: 202-224-5244

Senator Gordon H. Smith
Washington, DC: 202-224-3753

If you need to find your Senators: GO HERE.

Your message: (To Dems:) Fillibuster the Bill! (To Both Parties:)VOTE NO!!

The energy bill is still terrible. Here's what it does:

1. Delays clean-up in smoggy cities, which would increase asthma
attacks and other health problems, especially among children and elderly people.

2. Pollutes rivers and coastal waters by exempting oil and gas drilling
from clean-up safeguards

3. Allows energy companies to rip off consumers by repealing the
Public Utility Holding Company Act.

4. Includes billions in subsidies for big oil, nuclear, timber, and
coal companies.

5. Increases air pollution and global warming with new incentives to
burn coal for electricity without adequate pollution controls.

6. Threatens drinking water by allowing the underground injection of
diesel fuel and other chemicals during oil and gas development.

7. Weakens environmental safeguards to pave the way for more oil and
gas drilling on sensitive public lands in the Rocky Mountain West.
At least sixteen national hunting and fishing organizations oppose
these provisions.

8. Locks in American dependence on foreign oil by adding new
roadblocks to better fuel economy.

9. Tramples on states' abilities to protect their coasts from harmful
oil and gas exploration by weakening their input on federal
coastal projects.

10. Promotes nuclear proliferation by reversing long-standing U.S.
policy against reprocessing waste from commercial nuclear
reactors, and using plutonium to generate commercial energy.

Okay - GO!

UPDATE: By the way, if you hadn't heard, the Pentagon itself is warning that Global Warming could bring earthly destruction a lot sooner than we'd like to think. This energy bill is just the thing to hurry that along. Thanks to Tom Burka for reminding us what we're not being reminded of.

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      ( 10:24 AM )

Katharine Gun has been cleared of all charges. If you remember, last winter while the US was trying to get its war on, the London Observer printed an article that revealed that the US was spying and tapping its "allies" in the UN to try to find ways to manipulate them into supporting the Iraq War. Gun leaked an email to the Observer that proved this was happening. She couldn't stand by and let the war happen when she knew it was being forced on the UN. Of course she was sacked from her job. But the prosecution decided to drop the charges today because there was no way they could try her without jeopardizing the secrets of the US and the UK - and revealing that what she leaked was absolutely true, and because no jury would convict her:

But BBC political correspondent Guto Harri said a
government spokesperson insisted the decision
to drop the case was taken before the demand
for documents was made.

The same spokesperson suggested the case might
have been dropped as Mrs Gun planned to argue
she leaked the e-mail to save lives from being lost
in a war, something that could persuade a jury and
would lead to the reputation of the Official Secrets
Act being damaged.

Our correspondent said this suggested the
government had made a political calculation that a
random selection of a dozen jurors would be likely
to be so instinctively anti-war than an acquittal
would be likely.

Ms. Gun has been through a year of hell while the British government decided what they were going to do with her. They can't just have government employees thinking they can blow the whistle when they see dirty tricks being conducted. Otherwise the whole Official Secrets Act would be in jeopardy (along with the basic operations of the governments both in the UK and the US).

Dan Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, had a thoughtful commentary on NPR this morning commending Ms. Gun for acting quickly. He said that had he not waited 6 years to reveal what he knew, thousands of lives would have been saved. He has been told that the Congress would never have passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution had they known the content of the Pentagon Papers when Ellsberg first found them in 1968. He believes Ms. Gun did what she had to do, and he urged other whistleblowers not to be afraid to come forward, especially if it could mean saving lives.

Of course, the underlying issue of this entire story, the fact that the US was playing dirty tricks on its allies in the UN, has never been investigated, pursued or prosecuted in the United States. In fact, this story got little to no play at all in the states. So on top of lying outright to us about the weapons and nuclear materials in Iraq, our government was also spying on our allies to find ways to coerce them into supporting this illegal and immoral war.

But don't pay attention to that: Gays are getting married everywhere! Aaaahh!!

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      ( 9:59 AM )
Bush/Cheney Campaign Slogans

Of course they're going to try and steal Bob Roberts' steam with the basic "don't switch horses midstream" and keep pounding that they are a "wartime" administration. Atrios mentions that he's seen a different take on this one around the internet lately:

Don't Switch Horsemen Mid-Apocalypse.

Atrios commenters have some good ones to add:

Bush-Cheney: If you ain't broke, they'll fix it.

Bush/Cheney '04: The last vote you'll ever have to cast.

Bush/Cheney '04: You don't ask, we don't tell.

Bush/Cheney '04: We break thumbs.

Bush/Cheney '04: Because you CAN fool most of the people all of the time

Bush/Cheney '04: The Final Solution to Peace and Prosperity

And my favorite comment of them all:

I think all of Bush and Cheney's official slogans
sound better in the original German.

Nice one. TBogg has some suggestions for the incumbent team as well:

"America! It's not just for heterosexuals any more...Okay. Actually it is..."

"I lead. You follow. Why think?"

"America: It's SuperHalliburtonExxonDOMAdocious!"

That last one is my favorite. Looks like it may be a very creative election campaign this year.

Here are a few of my meager contributions:

Bush/Cheney '04: Leave No Corporation Behind

Bush/Cheney '04: Resistance is Futile

Bush/Cheney '04: Worth Electing for the First Time!

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      ( 8:33 AM )
Our Esteemed Leader

Before you do anything today, take a look over at Voice of a Veteran for some of the newest, latest and greatest from our President. Some of my favorites:

On Why There is Illiteracy

"Then you wake up at the high school level and
find out that the illiteracy level of our children are
appalling." —George W. Bush,
Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2004

On Why Having More Than One Continent
Creates Problems

This very week in 1989, there were protests in
East Berlin and in Leipzig. By the end of that year,
every communist dictatorship in Central America
had collapsed." —George W. Bush,
Washington, D.C., Nov. 6, 2003

...Why Mr. Rumsfeld was Standing Behind Mr. Bush
at a Recent Speech, Whispering in His Ear, “Um
Mr. President, um, Mr. President…”

"See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations
don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop
weapons of mass destruction."
—George W. Bush, Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 3, 2003

There's more. Aren't these reasons enough why this man does not deserve a second term (nor a first one, for that matter)? I have the resolvitude to make sure that's the case.

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      ( 8:28 AM )
Jesus' True Passion

I don't often resort to Bible lessons on my blog. Well, actually, I never resort to Bible lessons on my blog. But today's your lucky day, and just in time for Lent. Because I spent the first 24 years of my life immersed in the Bible, being raised in a fairly fundamental, evangelical environment, I feel I have some (well-memorized) qualifications for speaking out on the latest Issue of Import: Jesus. And His Passion.

I listened with some amount of horrified awe the other day to an NPR story about Mel Gibson's new hot hot HOT movie, The Passion of the Christ. A devout Christian mother was talking about how this movie moved her so spiritually that she planned to take her junior-high-aged children to see it. Christians across the land are declaring this film a powerful message which will profoundly change people. They're also really glad that there is a movie out that they can go to that isn't filled with all that nasty Hollywood corruption:

Go and see this film. It might change your life.
It could change Hollywood if it is willing to receive
the message that if you make good movies with
good messages, those who now feel excluded
and despised will pay money to see the films. The
debate is about to end. As the angel said to the
incredulous followers of Jesus at the empty tomb
in Jerusalem: "Come and see.." It's showtime!

That was from conservative columnist Cal Thomas, who preceeded this final paragraph with a diatribe about how ungodly hollywood actors are. I've seen promotion after promotion by the Christian community about this film. Yet, this movie isn't even about the life of Jesus or even what he taught. It's about the last 12 hours of his life, shown in horrific, glorified and graphic violence. As one blogger puts it, it's basically a snuff film about Jesus.

I'm not arguing that Jesus' last day was horribly violent and terribly cruel and evil. I'm not arguing that He suffered. But what I don't understand is all this glorification of the suffering itself and no attention paid to WHY He suffered - or more specifically, why these folks believe He suffered.

Two issues rile me about this. ONE: the double standard of decency. The conservative pundits, leaders and spokespeople are all urging us to go and see this film, despite its "R" rating and the already explained graphic violent content. These very same people go on and on about Janet Jackson's nipple flashing for 3 seconds on tv during the most holy of holies, the Super Bowl, and rant endlessly about the sex and bad language that comes out of Hollywood. Yet they are perfectly willing to allow their children to see violent scenes over and over again (let's not even get into the violence and sex, drugs and crime that goes along with the holy sport of football). I just don't get this. So I'm supposed to sheild my child from exposure to body parts, but go with him to a 3 hour long flaying of Jesus?

TWO: These very same people that are urging us to sit witness to this incredibly violent depiction of the last 12 hours of Jesus' life seem to conveniently forget the very things this same Jesus taught and what he stood for. Let's just review a few of his words:

Blessed are those acquainted with sorrow, for they will be appointed great comfort and courage.

Blessed are those who are merciful. They will receive mercy in return.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

There is no generosity in giving to those who can easily repay. Even misers lend money when they are certain of being repaid in full. Give to those who appear before you in need, to the destitute with no hope of repaying your gift. Practice forgiveness, even if such persons take advantage of your kind acts.

The poor, when they give, contribute more than the wealthy, who give from their abundance. The poor contribute from their need, and with great love often give what they cannot spare.

Make peace, even with you enemies. Constant striving will lead only to greater trouble: lawsuits, courtrooms, even prison, with no way of undoing the penalty except by completing your sentence.

Do you remember the saying: an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth? I tell you the opposite. If somebody strikes you on the right cheek, offer him your left; or if someone sues you and takes your coat, offer the shirt off your back as well. If someone compels you to walk one mile, be willing to walk two. Give freely to those who ask of you, and never turn a deaf ear to those in need.

You have seen how the earthly rulers exercise their authority, inconsiderate of the poor. This is not how it is to those in the kingdom of God. Whoever would be great among you, must first become your servant. And whoever of you would be the greatest, must first be servant of all. Even so, I have come, not to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.

You call me master and teacher. If I, then, am willing to be your most humble servant, should not you be willing to serve one another as well? I have lived my life as an example before you. Imitate me, and do the same to others as I have done for you.

It seems to me that so many people who are complaining that this country is not focused enough on Jesus or that christians are discriminated against, or that there is simply no decency anymore are the very same who are trying to amass political power, influence presidents and kings and store up wealth for themselves on this earth. I don't doubt the true faith of believers in Christ. That is not what I'm saying. What I'm questioning is the loud wailing and nashing of teeth that comes from the mouths of those who have yet to demonstrate one principal of human kindness that Jesus taught and acted out with his life. Jesus' true passion was the souls of humanity. His teaching was humility and servanthood. He demonstrated mercy and kindness. Where are these qualities in all these so-called representatives of Christ in this country? Where are these qualities when they call for the end to abortions yet provide no prominent alternatives for women, or care for the health, welfare or education of those children that DO get born? Where are these qualities when they call for the outright discrimination against people and defend those who would force their beliefs on others? Where are these qualities when they insist on a leader that would divide this country over ideological grounds instead of unite us for our very economic survival?

But then again, nothin' like a gory movie to bring the country together.

(I credit my Krazy Kamikaze Kumquat pal for inspiring this post)

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Tuesday, February 24, 2004
      ( 1:15 PM )
Calendar Girl

Why does everyone keep reminding me that today is Tuesday
AND that I'm fat?

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      ( 12:58 PM )
Let's be Clear

The Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) that is being proposed is now being fully supported by George Bush. But while conservative religious groups and the amendment's proponents would like the public to believe it is very straightforward and does not deny civil privileges to couples, the amendment's language is much more convoluted. Jack Balkin explains it very clearly.

It looks like the media is not going to truly investigate either. Most stories are describing the amendment as the moderate position, but I beg to differ. This isn't about marriage, it's about the idea that the leaders of our country are willing to push a process that would codify within our Constitution a legalized discrimination of part of our population. Tim explains it better:

I'll say it again: The pursuit of happiness is different
for everybody. Think twice before you support attempts
to limit the freedoms of others - because the freedoms
you value may be next on the chopping block.


I guess it's just a line I believe in. There's a line you
crossover from defending something you value, into
attacking what is valued by another. I happen to believe
that we can ALL enjoy our particular cultural beliefs and
leanings under the banner of this one nation. And that is
a striking difference between "liberal" thought and "conservative"
thought. Liberals are inclusive - they believe we can all
pursue our different dreams and goals - and in our own
unique ways. Conservatives narrow what those "goals" should
be - and of course, how we go about attaining them (lying
and thievery is apparently "in" these days). They're kind
of like "the Borg". They want everyone to assimilate. That's
not MY American Dream. Thanks, but no thanks.


P.S. Of course, it could be that Bush doesn't care a whit one way or another about this issue, but seeing how fired up the dems are for November, has decided that he needs to "get out the vote" and the only way to do that is to rile up his religious right supporters, and this is just the way to do it. Would he be that poltically crass? Umm... duhhh.

UPDATE: Maru has the perfect summary of today's news:

Bush to back same-sex marriage-ban amendment
"Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass and
to send to the states for ratification an amendment to
our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as
the union of a man and woman as husband and wife,"
Bush righteously intoned.

"The president believes it is important to have clarity,"
WH spokes-hamster Scott McClellan said. "He's
confused enough as it is."

He said pReznit Poopypants wants to end "growing
confusion" over the latest court decisions in
Massachusetts and San Francisco.

"We need to act now," he said. "Before those icky
homos multiply and take over the Earth."

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      ( 12:27 PM )
"Are Now Or Have You Ever Been, a Teacher?"

Will it come to this? Membership in a teacher's union that fights the government's "education" policies may be hazardous to your health and career.

I want to expound a little on the previous post. I don't watch the news during the day, so I'm not sure how much play Paige's comments are getting. I hope a lot. I'm sure it's not enough to get him fired (does ANYONE get fired in this administration for screwing up?). I punctuate this commentary with the disclaimer that I hope to be a teacher one of these days (am accepted to a masters program in teaching, but not sure if I can afford it yet). It took me a while to reach the place where I realized what I truly would like to do and now teaching is what I am really looking forward to. In my previous encounters with kids, tutoring them in regular and alternative school settings, working with them to teach them activist techniques, and basically hanging out with them, I have observed that a desire to go to school and learn is the root of any kid truly succeeding. I had a few teachers that made that possible for me. But teachers nowadays, no matter how wonderful they are, are strapped down by the NCLB and the government's continuing insistence that education means "corporate accountability" and not "teaching children."

I found the following comment on one of Kos's posts really telling. It's from a principal, responding to someone who was asking why teachers are now only teaching to the test:

...as a school principal in a district where six out of
our seven schools failed to make "adequate yearly
progress" as defined by NCLB, I can tell you in one
word why everybody is suddenly "teaching to the
test": fear.

The consequences of having even one subgroup
fail to meet the standards at a sufficiently high
passing rate are enormous. After just the second
year, the district must withhold 20% of its Title I
dollars in reserve to pay for parents who want
their kids to be transported to a "not failing"
school elsewhere in the district. After the third year,
schools must set aside Title I $$ for transportation
and for private tutoring for any parents who want
it for their kids (such tutoring to be provided by
anybody on the state's approved list, including
private and religious groups).

The consequences get progressively worse as
the standards get impossibly higher and higher.
Schools will be told to fire the teachers "responsible"
for the failure (whoever the hell that is). Schools
will be required to let EVERYbody go. Schools will
be required to be taken over by the state, or close
down and re-open as, you guessed it, charter or
private schools.

It's really, REALLY bad.

So lots of folks who got into education for all of
the right reasons are terribly, terribly afraid of the
consequences of failure and will do just about
ANYTHING legal to meet the AYP requirements,
including teaching to the test and drill-and-kill
practice sheets. As a principal, I am horrified.
I refuse to knuckle under and let this happen on
my watch; but my school is 97.8% high poverty
(read: qualifies for free/reduced lunch rates), and
over 70% English language learner, so I fully expect
to go down in flames in a few short years unless
the regulations for implementing NCLB are changed.

But these teachers, trying to fight this incredibly unfair and wrong system (that was passed wholeheartedly with Democrats' help, remember), now find that the administration blithely labels their union as a "terrorist organization." Well, maybe the teachers should organize and take up arms. I'm not kidding. What has our country come to when the government finds more value in stripping schools of their funding and labeling teachers as failures than it does in investing in the future of our children?

Jamie McKenzie, founder of "No Child Left," a protest publication against NCLB, has noted that NCLB doesn't create accountability for schools, it creates poverty for an entire generation of American children:

Given the huge number of students who never
graduated from their Texas high schools during
the past decade (thank you, Rod Paige - mama
), it is likely that NCLB, (which is
based on many of the same mistaken strategies)
will provide a supply of cheap labor for the next
decade as school dropouts and pushouts pour
out of classrooms before their time, taking up their
spots in the fast food restaurants and low paid
service jobs of this nation.

As Wal-Mart and other low-paying retailers battle
it out to lower prices, cheap labor and poor wages
with minimal benefits are prime weapons in the
competition for shoppers.

Combining high stakes testing with punishment
and public humiliation is a sure fire way to fail our
children, leaving millions behind so they can be
"nickel and dimed" - condemned to fill the burgeoning
ranks of the marginally employed.

So what this policy is creating is a society where the only jobs available in this country are low-paying, non-benefit, and nowhere-leading jobs in the McWalMarts that are taking over everywhere. Long term, schools will cease to exist. Teachers will join the ranks of the unemployed. Skilled workers? Educated professionals? They will belong only to the upper class, the elitists who get tax breaks and are able to shop their kids around to universities that will be charging such exorbidant rates that regular citizens will no longer be able to afford college.

You think I'm being a little fatalistic? Being a bit reactionary? Project this policy forward 20 years. Where will our schools be if this policy remains in place? Where will the teachers be? Twenty years from now, when children are being automaticaly sent into burger-flipping training instead of 7th grade, will I be teaching in an underground school, using books that have long been banned, risking my life and the lives of my students and their parents, just so they can have a chance to be truly educated? If I am, then your kids are gladly welcomed to my school, and I'll save a copy of Farenheit 451 just for them.

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Monday, February 23, 2004
      ( 4:18 PM )
The Teachers are the Terrorists

If you had any doubts about the low-life-ness (if that's a word) of our Secretary of Education Rod Paige, put them to rest with this story of how he characterizes the union that a majority of our teachers belong to:

Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's
largest teachers union a "terrorist organization"
Monday, taking on the 2.7-million-member National
Education Association early in the presidential
election year.

Paige's comments, made to the nation's
governors at a private White House meeting,
were denounced by union president Reg
Weaver as well as prominent Democrats.

The education secretary's words were "pathetic
and they are not a laughing matter," said Weaver,
whose union has said it plans to sue the Bush
administration over lack of funding for demands
included in the "No Child Left Behind" schools law.

Yep, we knew it would happen. But it's now proof positive: anyone who is against a Bush administration policy is a terrorist. Not only does this diminish the word "terrorist" in the context of the world we are now living in, but it is one more step on the ladder being built towards the ultimate time when anyone who dissents is classified "terrorist" and punished accordingly. Not that we didn't see it coming after Richard Perle called Sy Hersch a terrorist on the Wolf Blitzer show last year. (oh, and it's only democrats who use political hate language!!)

It is not only the NEA's right, but their responsibility to advocate for teachers and their students by protesting the No Child Left Behind act that is debilitating school districts, schools and teachers across the country. For Paige to denounce this as, at best, unpatriotic, and at worst, a terrorist act, is unconscionable.

Of course he tried to laugh it off as a joke the next day. And Bush continues to defend him as the best Education Secretary ever (despite everyone now knowing the truth about how Paige fudged numbers in the Houston school district while he was head to show false levels of dropouts). In fact, when Bush came in to talk with that same group of governors, he answered only two questions and didn't leave any time for real discussion of the issues:

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, chairman of the
Democratic Governors Association, said that
during the private meeting, Bush took only
two questions, leaving little time for a full
exploration of issues.

"It would have been helpful for him to have
heard the discussions about 'No Child Left
Behind' because there may be a disconnect
between what he thinks and what we know,"
Vilsack said.

Oh there's a disconnect alright. With reality. One more reason on top of the thousands before it why this president is not only a horrible leader, but surrounds himself with the worst of advisors. Nice way to court the teacher vote too.

Teachers: pack your bags for Gitmo.

thanks to Atrios for the link - the comments are worth a read too

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      ( 1:14 PM )
Best Bumper Sticker Prize of the Week

Love the one I saw at the grocery store parking lot yesterday:

"[Circle w/"W" and slash through it] - Let's not elect Bush AGAIN in 2004!"

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      ( 11:41 AM )
The Dems Go All Drama-Queen

Calm. Down.

From the way the "Yikes!" gang has responded to Nader's announcement yesterday, you'd think that the Second Coming was upon us and Jesus had "GOP" on his t-shirt. I think people need to take a step back and see that Nader's run as an independent neither threatens the Dems, nor is it wrong for him to do it. I remain unapologetic for voting for Nader in 2000 - the Dems DID look like the Republicans, and they were trying to look like the Republicans. In 2002, they tried the same thing again. Now, we're faced with a Dem party that is going back to the same old, tired and LOSER plan for running against the GOP. Nader is right the Democratic party has once again failed to show any creativity, courageousness or desire for risking change. I don't think it's a coincidence that he waited until Dean dropped out to make his announcement. If the Dems were going to actually embrace a truly new path, then the party wouldn't have done everything it could to get rid of Dean.

Here are a few reasons why I think it is good for the country for Ralph Nader to run for president:

He is an American Citizen and has the right to run. If nothing else, Ralph Nader shows us over and over again how one person can make a difference in this country if they just have the courage to speak out. His long career of public service shows that. But more than that, the juggernaut the two main parties have on the political process is not what was intended by our system's founders. Nader has a right to run for President, and if we deny him such, then we are committing fraud upon ourselves as citizens.

Why shouldn't voters have more than two choices? They should. Yes, we all want to beat Bush, and I have no doubt that we will. But people who will vote for Nader wouldn't have voted the main parties anyway, and why shouldn't those voters have a truly genuine third choice on their ballot?

Ralph Nader tells the truth. What Ralph Nader says about corporate control of basically everything in this country is important, and everyone needs to hear it. It is a very serious issue, and the Dems, while their candidates are addressing it more than they ever have (thanks to Dean), do not go far enough. Of course they can't - they have to stay within the mainstream of their base. But Ralph can, and that is why him running is a good thing - he will say the things that must be said. An independant voice will keep the other candidates sharp, just as Dean's voice did for the other dems.

He won't take votes from the Dems. It is pretty obvious the massive amount of ABB support there is across the country. The Dems don't need to worry about Nader and should simply let him run his campaign. They will be faced soon enough with trying to fight the Bush machine and need to focus on making their campaign the best it can be. That is what will keep all the ABB supporters in the fold. Gore ran a trash campaign. He knew it then and he knows it now - look how much more progressive his rhetoric has become. He didn't remain true to his beliefs or the promises of his party and that's what lost in 2000, not the independent voice of Ralph Nader. The Dems shouldn't make that mistake again, and I don't think they will (Especially if they choose Edwards). Ralph running doesn't endanger the ABB vote, so that excuse should be put to bed.

He is not a "spoiler." He is a citizen and he has the right to run for president. People need to get off their high horses and have a little more confidence in the electorate and in their own messages if they are afraid that Nader will take votes from them. Treating us like we're stupid and we can't tell the difference is what ended us up with a pansy-assed party like we have now. If we keep along the path of reform that Dean has inspired and that Edwards is now following, then that is all the power we need to win voters.

He will make local elections come alive and be fair. The two parties have divied up local electorates so that those in power can keep their power. Basically, they've done a deal so that once you're in Congress you can stay in Congress. That is why so many seats go completely uncontested. The entry of Green and Independant candidates into races will be healthy for our country and will shake up the status quo in Congress. It's time to start at the local level and make changes, and Ralph Nader inspires and helps people to do that. This is a truly valuable contribution to our electoral and representative process.

Last week, The Nation published an open letter to Nader asking him not to run. Nader has replied in kind. Those who would profess to speak out for the progressive causes of this nation and for those citizens who are left behind by the corporate powers that be cannot demand that those who dare to continue to fight the machine and a system that cripples us all should stand down. Nader's concluding remarks say it all to those who would tell him "Don't Run":

The Nation has rarely been a hostage
to prevailing dogma and electoral straitjackets. Its
pages have articulated many "minorities of one"
over its wondrous tenure and has watched many
of its viewpoints today become the commonplace
of tomorrow.

I have not known The Nation to so walk away
from those engaging in a difficult struggle it
champions on the merits, in a climate of conventional
groupthink--much less with a precipitous prognosis
of a distant outcome governed by a multitude of
variables. Discussions and critiques from a distance,
after all, are a dime a dozen in an election year.
O apotheosis of the exercise of dissent inside
and outside the electoral commons since 1865:

"Don't walk."


I will support Ralph Nader's right to run as long as he chooses to do so.

All that being said, I will be supporting John Edwards for the nomination and hopefully for president. Kos lays out some good reasons why he is doing the same. I believe that the way forward is to look to the future for the party, and if that means incremental steps, then Edwards is the way. If the party and the voters want everything to stay in the same old patterns and maintain the status quo, then Kerry is their choice. For now, with the choices I have, I believe that John Edwards will continue to be the best choice for us as a party and a country.

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      ( 9:53 AM )

Just wanted to point out a few new links I have up. Some of my new favorite blogs include:

Public Domain Progress - a blog by Michael Miller that really speaks out on the issues that are close to my heart. I also like that PDP is an unapologetic Kucinich supporter. I felt that way about Nader in 2000 (and still do, but more on that later). It is important that we not only vote our consciences but that we work to wake up more people to the truth, and I find that a very valuable quality in an activist. If Kucinich is on my primary ballot, I may very well vote for him (Dean won't be on it, and my primary, in May, is likely not even going to hit the media radar anyway) - he represents and stands up for the truth - even when he wasn't running for president. I hope he stays in the race to the end and that he is given a prominent speaking place at the convention.

I've got a new Iraq blog up - Iraq News Online. It gives reports from inside Iraq and what is still going on there. This is crucial information - if people begin to forget about Iraq, then it's not only that country that will falter, but our own. We did what we did and we damned well better see it through. We only learn from our mistakes if we actually pay attention to their consequences.

Not in My America is another great blog. I like it because Steve, the author, really contemplates issues and writes really well-written commentary. I truly enjoy reading good writing and am inspired by great thought processes. I recommend this one.

And my new favorite Southern Belle - Collective Sigh. She combines a great sense of humor with commentary that I love from women - the biting kind! Besides, she's 33% evil, and I'm only 24%, so I have something to work towards.

And, like many Dean supporting blogs, Veterans for Dean has transitioned into its own independent vehicle: Voice of a Veteran. Even if you are not personally involved in military issues, I encourage you to read this blog often - the independent blogging of a veteran that doesn't agree with the administration is a valuable voice in our day and age, and issues that affect the military and veterans always ultimately affect us as citizens. It is a great blog.

Finally on News gathering, I've got a new link up to Int'l News - it's a smorgasboard of news from around the world. If you're looking for international perspective, or even articles from around the nation from papers not often accessed, this is the place to easily collect it.

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Friday, February 20, 2004
      ( 1:57 PM )

I've updated my links on the right side of your screen there - also updated my Election Helper box. I've decided to go a little more on the offense, so I've been looking around for good websites that argue the case against Bush. Not that we need more than our own common sense not to vote for him. I'm not full of any sort of enlightened ideas today, but have made some rounds and found some good reading if you're looking for it:

Body and Soul: interesting discussion today on Tony Blair's backbone (or lack thereof) and whether or not another president would have gone into Iraq as Bush did.

Maru, of course, has brilliant commentary on everything from the gutter to the college republicans (scary).

TBogg has a new look and breaks the story on Bush's intention today to install William Pryor onto the Circuit Court of Appeals without Senate approval.

Billmon's also got a great new look.

and World O'Crap (scroll down) takes on Ann Coulter for her disgusting column about Max Cleland. It's not just that she can't say she's sorry, she can't even find a drop of human kindness at all in her blood.

All in all, the gang is doing good work.

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Thursday, February 19, 2004
      ( 3:16 PM )
Please Don't Make Me

vote for Kerry. Please.

It hurt to have to change my Election Helper today. It was not the way I ever thought it would go. But I refuse to stand down and I refuse to give in AGAIN to the bland, status quo, big money democrats who want to keep running this party. Their time is over, and we have to find a way to show them the door.

All you folks who are going to vote on Super Tuesday and the Tuesday After Super Tuesday, please, PLEASE think about voting for John Edwards. This race is still on, and while we don't have the best choices left for our candidate against Bush, there is definitely a difference between the two. Kerry is not the inspiring candidate this party needs and longs for. He may be crowned by the insiders and the media, but we need to prove that we still have the power to change this country through our votes. Don't give into the "electibility" farce. John Edwards can beat Bush by just as much as Kerry can. Electibility isn't the issue anymore in this primary race. Don't go with the same old status quo. Though Edwards isn't a true outsider, he's much less of an insider than Kerry is.

Before I'd heard about Dean, I'd read that Ralph Nader had made a speech recommending John Edwards as the Democratic candidate for president. That perked up my ears and I became very interested in Edwards, especially based on his voting record - at that point. Then came Patriot Act and the Iraq war vote. But we can't choose between a candidate who did and who didn't anymore, so we need to take the whole package. I'd much rather cast my vote for a man who worked his way up from blue collar upbringings to fight corporate interests in the courtroom and who has a strong message of change and pro-working people plans.

My first choice was the truest choice we could have had. Howard Dean brought together not only the young and first-time participants in politics, but the moderate conservatives, the libertarians and the greens who were looking for a candidate who would be accountable only to us, and who would take true change into the White House. I hope that Dean will continue to have a loud voice that cannot be ignored in this party. I know that in every state, the Dean supporters are working to transform their groups into political action committees for their local politics. This can begin to change things from the inside - so that true change can really be seen soon.

But as for this November. As it stands now, I don't know how I will force myself to vote for Kerry if he is the candidate. If it is close and there is a question whether Bush will win, I am ABB all the way. But if I actually have room to choose, it will be very hard for me to pull that lever (or fill in that circle) for Kerry. He's not what this country or the party needs.

If you have a say in the big primaries coming up, please vote Edwards. Show that we have a say still, no matter what the media, the party leaders or the big money says. Edwards may not be our first choice, but by going out for him, we can influence him to carry the torch we lit - at least he gives credit where it's due:

"Howard Dean has brought so much to this
race-not just his ideas and passion for change,
but hundreds of thousands of Americans who
had never participated in a campaign before.
Howard has been a powerful voice for change,
and I share his belief that special interests and
Washington lobbyists have taken over our
government. This is the year for Democrats to
take it back-not for our Party, but for our country.

"Howard Dean has energized and revolutionized
this race, and excited a whole new generation of
young Americans. He deserves our thanks and so
much credit for what he has accomplished. I hope
he continues to offer his ideas, and encourages
millions more to participate in this democracy so
we win back the White House in November."

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      ( 1:59 PM )
The Mayors Step Up

A push for a constitutional amendment codifying discrimination against gay couples may well find its waterloo at the steps of city halls across the country. The president and his conservative agenda makers are pushing the issue this election year thinking that the division it will create in the country will go their way. They didn't count on citizens of the country taking the issue into their own hands to prove that not only was gay marriage not a "threat" to marriage, but it is an act that after taken has no further horrific repurcussions than so many more couples dealing with the ups and downs of marriage. The fabric of the social construct of Northern California is not being ripped apart this week, as we all are witnessing. In fact, what we keep seeing are grateful couples who are celebrating even the briefest chance to have a taste of equality that they are not allowed under federal law.

Now Chicago Mayor Daley has said that he would not object to a San Francisco-style protest allowing marriages between gay couples to go forward at the County Clerk's office.

"They're your doctors, your lawyers, your journalists,
your politicians," the mayor said. "They're someone's
son or daughter. They're someone's mother or father
. . . . I've seen people of the same sex adopt children,
have families. [They're] great parents.


A devout Catholic, Daley scoffed at the suggestion
that gay marriage would somehow undermine
the institution of marriage between a man and
a woman.

"Marriage has been undermined by divorce, so
don't tell me about marriage. You're not going
to lecture me about marriage. People should
look at their own life and look in their own
mirror. Marriage has been undermined for a
number of years if you look at the facts and
figures on it. Don't blame the gay and lesbian,
transgender and transsexual community.
Please don't blame them for it," he said.

Daley said he has no control over marriage
licenses in Cook County. But if Orr wants to take
that bold step, the mayor has no problem with it.

This issue is about equality, it's not about a threat to marriage. The amount of gay couples that want to marry in this country is so small that how they can be a threat to the enormous number of heterosexual couples who marry and then throw their marriages away of their own accord is a mystery to me. I hope more mayors and more city halls and county clerks will take up the call for equality. It's a good sign that freedom, dissent and democracy truly are still alive in this country.

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      ( 1:28 PM )
Requiem in Haiku

There was hope for us
Dean brought change anew for Dems
But status quo wins


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Wednesday, February 18, 2004
      ( 1:12 PM )

Nope, not barfing about politics. Barfing for real. The homestead is shrouded in stomach flu this week and I am laid low for a couple of days. Not to worry, I shall be back on my feet and blogging soon. I have turned a new corner in Mamahood this week, the first time my child has been extremely ill - it's scary and frustrating. He lays there like a limp noodle moaning and crying and can't tell me what hurts. I wish only that I could speak baby talk for once! He seems to be coming out of it, thank goodness (though he generously passed it on to me in the process). It's sobering to be a parent for so many reasons. Have to work twice as hard to make it worthwhile, both for the kid and for us. Back soon.

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Friday, February 13, 2004
      ( 4:24 PM )
Happy Holidays

May your Valentines Day be full of kisses and hugs and cuddles and smiles and happiness and lovies. And may you not have to work on Monday (like me! - yay!!). Have a great weekend. Think not of politics or duties, but of love and possibilities.

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      ( 1:46 PM )
One More Off the List

My Election Helper is getting smaller and smaller over there to the right of your screen. Well, Clark endorsed Kerry today.

"I want to say, sir, request permission to come
aboard; the Army's here," a smiling Clark told
Kerry, a decorated former Navy officer.

Oh gag me. Could this election please be about something more than the military? Please????

Why do I feel like the winds of "inevitability" are blowing us towards a candidate that will make us all feel nauseous when we vote for him in November?

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      ( 1:34 PM )
Budgeting Us Out of Existence

There have been many stories in the last weeks about Bush's proposed budget. Most of them surround the fact that he entirely left out the money it will cost to pay for Iraq and his other "war" missions. It also failed to correctly predict what the tax cuts will do to the deficit. On top of that, they are now readjusting their figures on the new Medicare Theft Bill that Congress passed in December.

But there are other parts of the 2005 Budget that are even more distressing to me. Slowly and almost imperceptibly, the Bush administration is whittling away help for working parents, child care, our children's education and even food for hungry children. Capitalists like to pretend that our country will rise up to the level of it's richest consumers if only the market can take control, if only services are privatized and the government stops regulating. But history and our current society are proving just the opposite. Our society and culture will collapse if we do not care for the most vulnerable among us. Some examples.

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a national organization working to improve public policies to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States, says that Bush's 2005 budget:

fails to provide new investments to increase
access to the federal Child Nutrition Programs
....The President's budget anticipates that the
child nutrition programs will be reauthorized
in 2004, but contains no funds to expand
program access.

How about federal funding to help low income families have homes? The National League of Cities breaks down the HUD money for Section 8 housing:

While overall funding for the program increases
in FY 2005, upon closer analysis, the budget
actually proposes to cut funding to programs
and hurt local PHAs [Public Housing Authorities]
For example, the budget would cut Section 8
Contract Renewals funds from $17.53 billion in
FY 2004 to $16.92 billion in FY 2005. ...While on
its face the proposal looks promising, in reality
these changes translate into a new block grant
scheme to PHAs.

How about our children's education? This was supposed to get lots of help under the No Child Left Behind (NCL) Act. The 2005 budget seems to forget about those children its leaving behind.

The President proposed funding for Title I grants
to disadvantaged school districts at $13.4 billion.
This is still $7.1 billion below the amount authorized
by law, and would leave roughly 2.4 million
students behind.


The Administration proposes level funding of
$999 million for afterschool programs -- the
21st Century Community Learning Centers --
for the third straight year. This amount is less
than half of the $2 billion authorized by law.
If enacted, this level of funding would deprive
1.3 million children of afterschool services.

The buget will also cut child care assistance to poor families. This was a major part of the "welfare reform" act signed into law by Clinton. By taking away even more assistance for working parents to get child care for their children, that many more people will end up on welfare because they cannot work and leave their children alone. Remember, child care costs the same no matter how rich or poor you are - another inequity in our society. While child care may be only 5-10% of wealthy people's income, it is upwards of 30-50% of others (like me).

Why is it my child's responsibility to pay off this incredible deficit Bush has created? Why is it my child's fate to go to schools that can't pay their teachers or fun full-length years in the classroom? Why is it my child's future to inherit a police state where he has no rights? Why must my child face a society that actually proposes to Constitutionally cut certain of its members out of equal rights? There is something wrong with the way we are allowing our country to go. How we spend our money tells a lot about us.

The administration of George W. Bush has ballooned federal government beaurocracy and spending while significantly cutting revenue through its tax cuts for the rich. None of it can be fixed in a blink of an eye. But the last 3 years have started us down the wrong road. We need to begin correcting it now, or it may go beyond where we can fix it enough for our society to survive - at least in any recognizably equitable way.

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      ( 12:47 PM )
Alrighty Then

Worried that there might be a problem with electronic voting? Hoping that there will be paper printouts of your vote so that it can be used in a recount if needed? Well, if you're in Florida, stop worrying!!

Florida has come up with an ingenious way to deal with ballot recounts after electronic voting is in place: Not have recounts!

The Department of State has notified
elections supervisors that touchscreen
ballots don't have to be included during
manual recounts because there is no
question about how voters intended
to vote.

While touchscreen ballot images can
be printed, there is no need and
elections supervisors aren't authorized
to do so, Division of Elections Director Ed
Kast wrote in a letter to Pasco County
Supervisor of Elections Kurt Browning.


Browning asked for the opinion after a
Broward County Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff
won a seat in the state House by 12 votes,
a margin that triggered an automatic recount.

He said the election raised the question
of whether paper images needed to be
produced for the 134 undervotes in that
race. He also said he supports Kast's

"There are no ballots to count, there
are no ballots to recount," Browning

Well, that takes care of that.

(thanks to DailyKos for the link)

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004
      ( 1:31 PM )
What We Don't Know... Killed Us

Atrios links to a spectacular and at the same time dismal report by Gail Sheehy in the New York Observer today about what the 9/11 Commission is ignoring. Like Atrios, I'm stunned at the information in this article, and wonder why reporters are so uncurious - more so, I'm concerned that we as citizens have become uncurious and in fact uncaring about what really happened. The president's entire platform at this point is based on September 12, 2001 and forward. What happened before that is erased, as far as he's concerned. He is a war president and that's that. But 9/11 is so much more than a place-holder in history. It's about this country and what our government is doing or not doing to prevent it from happening again.

One thing Sheehy emphasizes is the 9/11 Commission's error in not reviewing the phone call from Amy Sweeney, a flight attendant on Flight 11. Because of her call to American Airlines, it was known well before the second plane crashed that this was Al Qaida at work. She gave seat locations and described everything that was happening until the last moments to American Airlines service employee Michael Woodward who took detailed notes of the entire episode.

At 8:46 a.m., Mr. Woodward lost contact with
Amy Sweeney—the moment of metamorphosis,
when her plane became a missile guided into
the tower holding thousands of unsuspecting
civilians. "So sometime between 8:30 and 8:46,
American must have known that the hijacking
was connected to Al Qaeda," said Mike Sweeney.
That would be 16 to 32 minutes before the second
plane perforated the south tower.

Because of the information Ms. Sweeney gave American, customs officials were able to identify the hijackers almost immediately.

Robert Bonner, the head of Customs and Border
Protection, finally shot back at the panel with a
startling boast.

"We ran passenger manifests through the
system used by Customs—two were hits on our
watch list of August 2001," Mr. Bonner testified.
"And by looking at the Arab names and their
seat locations, ticket purchases and other
passenger information, it didn’t take a lot to
do a rudimentary link analysis. Customs officers
were able to ID 19 probable hijackers within
45 minutes."

He meant 45 minutes after four planes had
been hijacked and turned into missiles. "I saw
the sheet by 11 a.m.," he said, adding proudly,
"And that analysis did indeed correctly identify
the terrorists."

How has American Airlines responded? According
to the widower Mike Sweeney, "Ever since Sept. 11,
AMR [the parent company of American Airlines] just
wants to forget this whole thing happened. They
wouldn’t allow me to talk to Michael Woodward,
and five months or so: they let him go." The
Families Steering Committee urged the commission
to interview Michael Woodward about the Sweeney
information, as did Ms. Ong’s brother, Harry Ong.
A couple of days before the hearing on aviation
security, a staffer did call Mr. Woodward and ask
a few questions. But the explosive narrative
offered by Amy Sweeney in her last 23 minutes of
life was not included in the 9/11 commission’s
hearing on aviation security.

This is only one of the disturbing elements of this non-investigation. Sheehy goes on to discuss the mystery of the 49 minutes between the time NORAD was informed of the hijacking to when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. F-16's were already airborne and only 129 miles from where the flight eventually crashed. But what disturbs me most of all is the behavior of the president during this entire situation. These days, he is a man convinced that he is a "wartime president" and that he had and has the decision making abilities to lead this country through these fearful times. Yet no one questions the fact that he didn't really MAKE any effective decisions that morning, when he could have.

"Whether or not my husband’s plane was shot
down," the widowed Mrs. Homer [husband was the
pilot]said, "the most angering part is reading
about how the President handled this."

Mr. Bush was notified 14 minutes after the first
attack, at 9 a.m., when he arrived at an elementary
school in Sarasota, Fla. He went into a private
room and spoke by phone with his national security
advisor, Condoleezza Rice, and glanced at a TV in
the room. Mrs. Homer’s soft voice curdles when she
describes his reaction: "I can’t get over what Bush
said when he was called about the first plane
hitting the tower: ‘That’s some bad pilot.’ Why did
people on the street assume right away it was a
terrorist hijacking, but our President didn’t know?
Why did it take so long to ground all civilian aircraft?
In the time between when my husband’s plane
took off [at 8:41 a.m.] and when the second plane hit
in New York [9:02 a.m.], they could have turned
back to airfield."

This behavior is still incomprehensible to me. I don't have words to describe my disgust at his response to this situation, or if he IS an idiot, the people around him not making better decisions at the time. Either way, he and his administration continue to be the cog in the wheel when it comes to investigating what truly happened. Tim Russert asked him on Sunday about appointing yet another commission to investigate these issues that all intertwine (though the president, nor Tim Russert wants to mention that). He clearly refused to testify before the 9/11 commission and he says this new commission will give a "big picture" look at what has gone on.

Congress has already given him a big-picture look
—in a scathing 900-page report by the joint House
and Senate inquiry into the intelligence failures
pre-9/11. But the Bush administration doesn’t look
at what it doesn’t want to see.

"It is incomprehensible why this administration
has refused to aggressively pursue the leads that
our inquiry developed," fumes Senator Bob Graham,
the former co-chairman of the inquiry, which ended
in 2003. The Bush White House has ignored all
but one or two of the joint inquiry’s 19 urgent
recommendations to make the nation safer against
the next attempted terrorist attack. The White
House also allowed large portions of the inquiry’s
final report to be censored (redacted), claiming
national security, so that even some members of
the current 9/11 commission—whose mandate was
to build on the work of the congressional panel—
cannot read the evidence.

The citizens of this nation cannot expect to ever hear the truth come out while this administration is in office. I would hope that a new administration would not be afraid of finding the truth and acting upon realistic recommendations for change. So far, all we have is a new mammoth beaurocracy (Homeland Security), a horrifyingly uneccessary war, and a bunch of liars and criminals running things, and no answers. This is not right. Why isn't anyone pointing this out?

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Tuesday, February 10, 2004
      ( 5:21 PM )
Plea to the Candidates

[An Open Letter from the Mama]

Dear Gen. Clark, Sen. Edwards and Gov. Dean:

Please, please, PLEASE do not drop out of the race after this week or next week! No matter how you do in the primaries these two weeks, please do not drop out, no matter what the "conventional wisdom" or the pundits on tv say. Well, Gen. Clark, you can drop out if you feel you have to, but don't feel pressured. You should work together to burn up delegate votes from Kerry. Dean supporters, vote for Edwards in the south. Edwards supporters, vote for Dean in Wisconsin. Don't let Kerry walk away with massive leads in all these primaries because you had to split the leftovers. Split the leftovers later. Your voices will be stronger towards the end of the process if you can stay in this race. And this race NEEDS your voices. Don't let this be decided for Kerry before 75% of the voters in the party have even had a chance to cast their vote.

Last week in Washington, we know from personal experience that in the caucuses we attended in support, 7 out of 8 precincts in one and 8 out of 10 in another all said they preferred Dean but felt they should go with Kerry because the party had already chosen him. This is no way to vote!! The primary season is where you're SUPPOSED to vote your first choice! We can't allow the problematic scheduling of the primaries or the fact that the media has already crowned Kerry to get in the way of the better candidates (you three).

I confess to preferring Gov. Dean over all, but would happily vote for any of you before I'd vote for Kerry. I know that most of the democratic party in their hearts feel this way, but yet they feel pressured to vote because they see the media portraying Kerry as the only one who can beat Bush. Any ONE of you can beat Bush! Please stay in the race. Make this a contest worth winning. Challenge Kerry to the end and keep your voices in the process until and through the convention.

Just one voter's plea for a contest that actually means something. Do what you came to do. Stay in the race. Please.

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      ( 11:40 AM )
Media Intimidation

I have been asking myself for ages now why the media is so compliant and agreeable with everything coming out of the Bush white house. Why do they simply print up WH press reports instead of really reporting on their own? Why don't they confront obvious lies, misleadings and inconsistencies in the administration? Why don't they pursue scandals like leaks and political pressure and policy questions? The general consensus seems to be that if you don't go along, then they'll hurt you. Look what they did to Helen Thomas! Look what they have done to journalists, ex-administration members, intelligence officials and even members of Congress who have dared to oppose them. Everything from smearing them with false claims about their private lives, to denying them access, to risking their very lives by revealing undercover identities.

But I would like to propose this idea: if the media actually INVESTIGATED and REPORTED, it would not be so vulnerable to these attacks. By only using information generated by the great wurlitzer of GOP talking points, the media sets itself up as only a front-man for the administration. If their only sources are press releases and public statements, then they are very obligated to those sources. But if they actually broke away from that system and made their own sources, investigated new leads and were unafraid to ask hard questions, then they would be much more impervious to the administration's attacks. I would venture to guess that more people would be willing to speak out if there was some reporter willing to seek them out and report what they say.

I'd like to use the example of Christiane Amanpour. A true reporter - a courageous war correspondent and investigative journalist. She cowers before no one. Her report on 60 Minutes on Sunday was an example of just that. She was investigating an American attack on Iraqi civilians in the Sunni Triangle, which included the killing and injuring to two boys. She didn't just take the offical story and repeat it, she actually asked really tough questions and had already investigated enough to know when the answers were crap. Only a few months ago, after she'd said publicly that CNN had censored its reporters' stories on the war because it was intimidated by the administration, she was put on the administration hit list. Fox News ran several stories and days of flashy headlines declaring her a traitor and spokeswoman for Al Qaida. (No Comment on the fact that Fox News "reporter" Geraldo Rivera actually did commit treacherous acts against the military by publicly revealing their positions during the war, but that seemed to be okay with Fox).

Yet, here she is, continuing to report her hard-hitting stories. She is unafraid - she knows that the quality of her work is what keeps her working. For most of the rest of the media, they don't pay so much attention to the quality of their work as to how they are falling in line. It's a sad day that our country displays more sheep-to-the-slaughter group behavior than independent spirit in everything from news stories to voters on election day. This administration wouldn't have half the power or half the voice it does if the media would actually do its job. I don't think it's too much to ask. They don't even have to go to a war zone.

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Monday, February 09, 2004
      ( 11:09 AM )
Okay, Then, Let's See Those Military Records, Mr. President

If you're following the AWOL story - it's got legs, big, fat hairy ones that the mainstream media hasn't noticed yet. Bloggers, of course, are waaaay ahead of the game. CalPundit, resident expert on the Torn Document, gives us a major revelation - the original version has been found!

thanks to Blah3 for the link.

Footnote: I am looking forward to the day when Vietnam service is not a major issue in a presidential campaign. I don't mean to demean it, and I know that war and its effects are going to be around a long time. It will be a while until the Vietnam generation isn't in political leadership anymore - but as a precursor to how a person will behave as president, service in the military is probably one of the least reliable indicators. Just look at Bob Kerrey. He was an excellent political leader - but then it came out that his service in Vietnam was punctuated by some horrible actions. Sure, John Kerry won medals (as did many thousands just as courageous fighters), but then he threw them away and made a political career out of that - a not-very-noticeable political career at that. Both Reagan and George Bush Sr served in WWII, but their presidencies didn't exactly make history as ones that did most for Americans or the world. Clinton's being at Oxford got him called a "draft dodger" his entire presidency, yet he was a skilled politician when it came to brokering compromises and making new law (not that I agree with the laws he made). And all W's "military service" did was give him an excuse to put on a flight suit and land on an aircraft carrier in one of the most embarrassing displays ever. Anyway, being in the military may show that you've served your country honorably, but there are other ways to serve the country and its citizens that should carry as much weight as military service for indicating potential presidential skill, including teaching, doctoring, and volunteering in various capacities. We're all different, and if our presidents are always held up to the same old measurements, the increasing diversity in our country will never be truly represented by the choices we have for president.

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      ( 10:34 AM )
More WMDs Found

But not by us.

Today Haaretz is reporting that Al Qaida has tactical nuclear weapons - and has had them for a while. Supposedly, they haven't used them because of the damage they could cause, but now they are holding them out as a threat if the US pushes them too far. Though it's scary to hear such a report, the more interesting part of it is the following:

Several reports of the nuclear arsenal in the
former Soviet Union in the 1990s indicated
that a few dozen nuclear explosive devices
had disappeared.

Instead of using our power (and money) to help Russia locate these weapons and to make sure that this sort of thing couldn't happen, Bush actually withdrew most of our support and participation in the programs that were doing that. He instead, as we all know, risked the U.S.'s power, money and goodwill to go into Iraq. Even a few weeks ago, Cheney was still insisting in an inteview on NPR that there was a connection between Iraq and Al Qaida - continuing to declare that attacking and invading Iraq was part of our "war on terror" following 9/11. Meanwhile, Al Qaida has been quietly reforming, building its strength and obviously testing the waters, since we have had several recent incidents where flights from Europe have been cancelled. Oh, and did I forget to mention Osama Bin Laden?

This is the same old double-talk from the administration. While they try to change history and insist that it was worth going to war over the knowledge that Saddam "might" build a weapon - they try to get us to forget that they were scaring us with threats of imminent destruction from Saddam. In his interview on Sunday, Bush said that he just couldn't leave a madman in power. Well, what about North Korea? That place is definitely ruled by a madman, who really DOES threaten us and the world. The double standard is obvious, except that the entire "standard" was completely fabricated upon Bush's cronies' desire to get Iraq. It had nothing to do with a policy that would apply to the rest of the world.

So, in a nutshell - while our troops are being killed at a rate of 1 per day and thousands are severely wounded, and those over there are getting more and more bogged down in Iraq with no end in sight, tactical nukes have been trading hands around the former Soviet republics, North Korea continues to not only starve its own people to death, but threaten us and its neighbors with nuclear weapons, Pakistan takes no action upon the news that its top scientist sold and tried to sell nuclear secrets to all sorts of nefarious folks, and Pakistan and India, two nations that are not in the business of really helping their own citizens, have weapons pointed at each other that could go off in the blink of an eye. We have squandered our goodwill collateral with the rest of the world, and we are no safer (in fact, possibly less) than we were before 9/11.

Oh, and did I mention that John Kerry was okay with all of this until a few months ago?

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Friday, February 06, 2004
      ( 4:55 PM )
Not that the Truth Matters Anyway

Well, the word is out on the so-called "independent commission" to study "what went wrong with the intelligence about WMDs. Bush has appointed a nice little crowd. Already bloggers are running up info on its various members. Here's a little insight from Ornicus, and yet some more from Dan Conley. John McCain has finally put the "sell" stamp on his soul as well.

This whole exercise is totally ridiculous. Not only is this "commission" not independent - every member handpicked by Karl Rove - but it's useless. It won't accomplish anything because while it's charged with investigating the intelligence about WMDs, it's not charged with looking how that intelligence was used by the administration or what decisions were made based on it. Already we know that the intelligence was misrepresented and manipulated. Not to mention the fact that it doesn't even have to produce any results until 2005.

Time for the Democrats in Congress to get some kahones and do some investigating. May I remind them of how quickly the Republicans swung into action when they smelled a lie on Clinton's lips? ... sigh... but I'm not holding my breath, consider our Dems' record so far.

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      ( 2:03 PM )
Grand Ol' FOIA

If you are interested in anything having to do with the AWOL investigation of Bush and the infamous "torn document" - it's all at Calpundit.

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      ( 1:57 PM )
Pure Genius

Tom Burka's got it today.

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      ( 10:10 AM )
Going Over to the Dark Side?

This is the best vent I've read lately that expresses a little of how I've been feeling the last few weeks, but with much more eloquent use of expletives than I could have managed. If you look past the expletives, what this commentor on Daily Kos today is saying (in response to new, discouraging poll results) really resonated with me. He is in my demographic and is an activist who has spent most of his adult life trying to make that as full-time a vocation as possible. But the discouragment and frustration is palpable:

So this it it? I joined up for Brown when I was 18.
I voted for Clinton in 1992, and was betrayed.
Now, 12 years, a lost congress and a slew of lost
legislatures and statehouses later, and we get
Kerry? This is it?

I feel the need to vomit. 12 years wasted. When
will there be another chance? For twelve years all
we get is an Iowa caucus that determines everything?

From one CNYer to another, let me offer a
profound f$*! you to T-Mac for setting up this
horrible primary schedule. I wasted twelve years
hoping for a new chance to define the party, and
now for another twelve I'll probably have to hear
Dems bitching at me because I don't support the
party line without thinking while the country is
sold down the river.

Unlike this person, I didn't commit to the democratic party early on because I wasn't inspired by what it had to offer. I instead put my energies in other causes. I too feel that Clinton, who despite his political prowess, had absolutely NO coattails his entire 2 terms in office, did NOTHING to enhance the party's power at local levels, betrayed his constituents by going along with DOMA, don't ask-don't tell, NAFTA, "welfare reform" and a slew of other neo-democrat (read: moderate republican) policies, not to mention the crippling effect of bringing in and emphasizing big business and corporate power in the party in a faint and weak echo of the GOP. I'm sorry, but in terms of making this party an effective tool for change, Clinton didn't do it. I was sick and tired in 2000 of hearing democrats who insisted that if we didn't vote for Gore we were disloyal progressives - and yet, what was in the offer for this country then? Don't give me the hindsight of Bush's last 3 years in office either.

Frankly, without major change in the Democratic party, the GOP will be in power a long, long time (even if it isn't the presidency, congress is still no challenge for them yet). Twenty years ago, the GOP started a movement. They looked at the state of their party and decided they needed a long term plan. So they started in the school boards, the district elections, the state races. They built foundations and "research groups" and built core members who fought hard for issues they embraced. And look what they've built. Not to mention their lack of hesitation in using any tactic necessary to win their races. They've coopted issues and policies from democrats, they've coopted voting blocs and demographics from Democrats. Do you think that the Texas redistricting debacle last year could have happened if they hadn't worked long and hard to get it to the place they could manipulate that into happening?

The Democrats, on the other hand, have been jumping from one short term vision to the next for the last 20 years. They've been grasping at straws, and for the last 10 years, they've been trying to be mini-republicans. But aping the GOP without doing the work the GOP did has ended up with us where we are today. This has got to change. The current leadership of the DNC has manipulated things to once again hand us a milktoast candidate, though far better than Bush, doesn't have a solid record of any accomplishment, any executive experience or even original ideas that inspire change. Whether he has coattails won't even depend on him anymore, thank god - hundreds of thousands of people who were motivated to join politics last year because of another candidate have already parlayed that activism into changing their local elections. When offered a chance at revitalization, true change and an actual chance to step up and really transform not only the party but the country, the DNC has once again backed down and taken a compromise candidate.

It's the job of the current people in office and the media to try and maintain the status quo. I don't fault them for doing their best to accomplish this (though I do fault some of their incredibly dirty tactics) - if they didn't, they would become extinct. But why don't we fight just as hard to change the status quo? Why do we always fall in line and go with the status quo? I realize that the vast majority of voters out there, democrat and republican, are just dumb. I am sorry if that offends you. But consider the polls that show that people STILL believe Saddam had something to do with 9/11. Consider the fact that Bush will most likely be extremely successful in convincing everyone that everything he said last year actually didn't come out of his mouth. Most voters don't think, don't analyze the information. Most of them are spoonfed by those very institution that are working every day to maintain the status quo. The only way to fight that is to make the inspiration for change more powerful and more eye-catching for them. But the party doesn't want that. Because of course, the party is run by the very same people who want the status quo. The GOP changed that for themselves starting 20 years ago. Are democrats going to step up to the plate and do the same thing? I know individuals will try, but without the party being behind true change, there's only so far we activists can go.

Most of you who read my blog know what a fan I am of Buffy and Angel. I find a very big parallel with what has happened to the Democratic party and the current plot of Angel. To be brief, Angel became head of the very evil corporation he'd been fighting for years. He thought he could use it for good. But in the process he lost his calling as a champion. He was reminded of that by a visit from an old friend this week, but it took a resurrection from the dead to accomplish it. I see the party as falling into this same trap. Having compromised and tried to become the enemy it fought for so long, it's lost track of its championing of the things that really mattered. And the process, it's also lost its power and effectiveness.

I have to admit that I am tempted to withdraw my newly minted registration as a democrat. I only did it because i thought the party was truly going to change, going to take on the challenge of rising above the echos, the mediocrity, the compromise. But it looks like I was wrong. I'm not losing all my hope, and I'm definitely not giving up on fighting until there's no fight left to participate in, but I sure as hell am not going to support a party that continues to roll over and play dead when it's obvious that its time has come and gone if something doesn't change soon.

Damn it. We could have had something here. It's a damn shame. And it will be an even worse shame if next November, this same old tired tactic proves to have the same old tired results it's had for the last 10 years. [/vent]

UPDATE: (more thoughts) In case the "electability" argument is swaying you. I have an example for you: Florida 2002. The dems in Florida had a fantastic candidate to take on Jeb Bush, Janet Reno. She scored high in all the major polls, there was great groundwork and it looked like she was the one. Then just before the primaries, the lawyer, Bill McBride got the backhand backing of Bush because Bush ran ads that made Reno look "not electable." Everyone fled, not looking at the truth but falling for the electability line - "anyone but Bush!" they cried! And then in the general, Jeb Bush beat McBride in a massive smackdown. The formidable candidate is the one who is the real thing, the true challenger, the true policy maker and record of change holder - "electability" is a red herring, a distraction, and one that I fear Bush and Rove will use handily against us once we have our milktoast nominee.

UPDATE 2: Oh, and another thing. Even worse than losing progressive voters and activists like myself, what about all the conservatives and republicans that Dean brought into the fold. Folks like my dad: a veteran who sees the hollow aspect of Kerry's claims regarding being a vet in that besides fighting in a war 20 years ago, what has he done in his entire political career to lead the way in helping veterans? What has he proposed in terms of concise policy for veterans and service members? Dean was the first one to combine anti-war beliefs with solid policies on how to make life better for vets, not to mention fiscally conservative economic policies. My dad, a lifelong republican, not only decided to vote democrat, but actually became a political activist. Are these moderate/conservative voters going to stay in the fold with Kerry? I have my doubts about that too. One more thing the Dem party has let slip through its fingers.

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Thursday, February 05, 2004
      ( 2:48 PM )
Not Electable...

as if.

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      ( 2:44 PM )

I applaud the Massachussetts Supreme Judicial Court for concluding yesterday that

"The Massachusetts Constitution," the court said,
"does not permit such invidious discrimination, no
matter how well intentioned."

(I don't understand why John Kerry feels he must distinguish between "civil unions" and "marriage" when they are the same thing - his waffling and lack of conviction (that other candidates have no problem showing) is starting to show - but that's another post)

I am disgusted by states' rush to change their constitutions to imbed discrimination in them, and the fact that the president's campaign now has a new call to arms for those who would only care to divide our country over another issue that, while it should be legal for ethics' sake, certain individuals' sense of "morality" will be offended.

But even more than that I'm worried about THIS happening this election year:

Investigation into Valerie Plame leak... Look! Gay Marriage!!

Investigation into Energy Company kick backs by Cheney... Look! Gay Marriage!!

Investigation into lies about leading us into war with Iraq... Look! Gay Marriage!!

Investigation into corporate kickbacks ... Look! Gay Marriage!!

Investigation into 9/11... Look! Gay Marriage!!

Investigation into AWOL status of the president... Look! Gay Marriage!!

Investigation into Texas redistricting... Look! Gay Marriage!!

Investigation into GOP computer hackers in the Senate who stole Dem documents... Look! Gay Marriage!!

Discussion of a fake budget and burgeoning deficit... Look! Gay Marriage!!

Discussion of a failing economy and more jobs being lost... Look! Gay Marriage!!

It's a sucker punch, and trust me, Karl Rove will use it till he can't swing no more and our noses are good and bloody.

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      ( 9:08 AM )
Judy Judy Judy

Katha Pollit has a fabulous article in this week's Nation about Dr. Judith Steinberg (Howard Dean's wife). It is fabulous because for all us women who are moms and wives but also find that we have goals and dreams to fulfill our own career destinies, she is someone we can truly look up to. But the media can't help but tear her down because she doesn't fit into their neat little pigeonholes - see, in media world, women are still stuck in the 50's - their only appropriate role being loving servant of husband and home. Not Judy Steinberg. Read Pollit's whole article, it will make you laugh out loud and also really think about the upside down world women have to contend with these days.

I used to think we should get rid of First Ladies. Plenty
of countries manage without a national wife: Cherie Blair
aside (and how long would Britain's answer to Hillary
have lasted over here?), can you name the spouse of
the man who leads France, Germany, China, Canada
or Russia? And no, "Mrs. Putin" doesn't count as a
correct answer. Is Lula married? What about Ariel Sharon?
Is there a Mrs. General Musharraf ready with a nice
cup of tea when her man comes home after walking the
nuclear weapons? Do you care? The ongoing public
inquest into Dr. Judith Steinberg makes me see, however,
that we need First Ladies: Without them, American
women might actually believe that they are liberated,
that modern marriage is an equal partnership, that the
work they are trained for and paid to do is important
whether or not they are married, and that it is socially
acceptable for adult women in the year 2004 to possess
distinct personalities
--even quirks!


The attack on Dr. Judy began on the front page of
the New York Times (you know, the ultraliberal paper)
with a January 13 feature by Jodi Wilgoren, full of
catty remarks about her "sensible slipper flats and
no makeup or earrings" and fatuous observations
from such academic eminences as Myra Gutin, "who
has taught a course on first ladies at Rider University
in New Jersey for 20 years." It seems that Dr.
Steinberg "fits nowhere" in Professor Gutin's
categorizations. Given that she counts Pat Nixon as
an "emerging spokeswoman," maybe that's not such
a bad thing. "The doctors Dean seem to be in need
of some tips on togetherness and building a healthy
political marriage," opined Maureen Dowd, a single
woman who, even if she weds tomorrow, will be in
a nursing home by the time she's been married for
twenty-three years like the Deans.

Beautiful. Pollit then goes into discussing the Diane Sawyer interview where, out of 96 questions asked, 90 of them were negatively aimed at their marriage and Dean's supposed "anger." Sawyer just couldn't seem to grasp a woman who was neither tied up with consumerism or who didn't find it necessary to exploit her husband's political position or make herself out to be any more than she feels she is.

Blinking and nodding like a kindly nurse coaxing a
lunatic off a window ledge, Sawyer acted as if she
wanted to understand Dr. Judy's bizarre behavior:
She keeps her maiden name professionally (just
like, um, Diane Sawyer, a k a Mrs. Mike Nichols); she
doesn't follow the day-to-day of politics (like, what,
90 percent of Americans?); she enjoyed getting a
rhododendron from Howard for her birthday.
Throughout this sexist inquisition, Dr. Steinberg
remained as gentle as a fawn, polite and unassuming
--herself. "I'm not a very 'thing' person," she said
when Sawyer pressed too close on that all-important
rhododendron. She allowed as how she was not
too interested in clothes--whereupon Sawyer cut
to a photo of Laura Bush, smiling placidly in a red
ball gown.

I don't think Dr. Judy is weird at all. She's leading a
normal, modern, middle-class-professional life. She
has been married forever. She has two children. She
likes camping and bike riding and picnics. She
volunteers. She has work she loves, as a community
physician--not, you'll note, as a cold-hearted status-
obsessed selfish careerist user, as professional
women are always accused of being.

And it's such a double standard too. As Pollit points out, much is made of Dr. Steinberg not slogging through the mud and snow to stand by her man and gaze at him lovingly at 100s of stump speeches - yet when Elizabeth Dole ran for president, no one critizized Bob Dole for giving money to her rival, John McCain, or for not knocking himself out to stand by her side as she did when he campaigned four years earlier. What a shocker - a candidate has a wife who is independent and he supports her as equally as she supports him! And as Dr. Steinberg pointed out to Diane Sawyer, she can't just leave her patients to trot off for a month. As Pollit puts it: "Imagine that, Tina [Brown], Diane [Sawyer], Maureen [Dowd]--a job where if you don't show up, it matters!"

Here's a shocking idea:

What if the media tried on for size the notion
that having an independent wife says something
good about a candidate? For example, maybe,
if his wife is not at his beck and call, he won't
assume the sun rises because he wants to get
up; maybe, if his wife has her own goals in life,
her own path to tread, he won't think women
were put on earth to further his ambitions;
maybe, if he and his wife are true partners--
which is not the same as her pouring herself
into his career and his being genuinely grateful,
the best-case scenario of the traditional political
marriage--he may even see women as equals.

One thing is clear this election cycle. The media, more than ever, is trying to prove (to whom, I don't know) that IT is the political power broker in this nation. They've proved they can make or break candidates with their coverage (compare the soft, contemplative picture of Kerry on Time this week and the picture of Dean when he was on the cover), and they've manipulated stories to their own advantages (ratings). The spin on Dr. Steinberg is only one example. So far, the voting public seems to be falling for it. I'm not surprised, it fell for Shock and Awe. In these times of media saturation, it's a wonder at all that there is a chance for a grassroots movement of change to even get legs in this country. Or that women like Dr. Steinberg, or even ones of humbler station, like myself, are able to continue to believe that we have just as much right to be the complete human beings we were meant to be and do the things we want to do with our lives as do men. Funny that we should even have to wonder at that anymore. But we do.

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