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

Sunday, October 31, 2004
      ( 3:15 PM )
Sigh...it's always worse than they tell us...

So, the World Health Organization is calling an uprecedented summit this week of flu vaccine makers to discuss the coming flu pandemic.

With increasing signs that bird flu is becoming established in Asia and several worrisome human cases that can't be linked directly to exposure to infected poultry, it's only a matter of time until such a virus adapts itself to spread more easily from person to person and cause a severe worldwide outbreak, he said.

"We believe that we are closer to the next pandemic than we ever were," Stohr said Sunday in an interview before a speech at an American Society for Microbiology meeting in Washington, D.C.


Flu kills about 36,000 people in the United States and a million worldwide each year by conservative estimates, Stohr said. But tens of millions die in a pandemic, which occurs every 20 to 30 years, when a flu strain changes so dramatically that people have little immunity from previous flu bouts.

There were three pandemics in the 20th century; all spread worldwide within a year of being detected.

So, instead of having competition between many flu vaccine manufacturers, we have a monopoly that has failed us. Instead of having a national health system to handle national health emergencies, we have a system based solely on what you can pay and how much influence you have. Instead of being prepared to deal with something that kills 12 times as many people a year than were killed in 9/11, our leadership was more concerned with granting favors to pharmaceutical companies.

Please cough into your sleeve this season.

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Friday, October 29, 2004
      ( 9:28 AM )
Not What You Thought

It turns out that the October Surprise is .... (drumroll)...

The Truth.

We were all worried that Rove would pull something out of his hat so horrendous that we would be sucked into the vortex of evil that would predict some inevitable win for Bush.


Instead, the last two weeks have brought little relevations and mounting evidence that the Truth is the surprise and the Truth will win the day. Just a taste of how this October Surprise is working out: It has been revealed that the Administration did not secure massive amounts of explosives when we invaded - explosives which were looted and are now being used to kill our troops. It has been revealed that Bush planned to go to war in Iraq even before he became president - he wanted his very own Grendada, evidently. And, at least ONE MONTH before he invaded Iraq, Halliburton was in on meetings about awarding post-war contracts...BEFORE the war, Cheney's company was planning with the administration to steal money from taxpayers.

Oh, and by the way -- the courts are wise to the Republicans' suppression efforts. We're ready for you this year.


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      ( 9:09 AM )
Can't Argue with the Numbers...

100,000 in Madison. And WI is still a contested state? One interesting note - not only were there 100,000 there, but there were people there with Bush signs and they were let in, and no one bothered them! Shocking, I know. Sometimes it's hard to look real democracy in the face because it's so uncommon these days.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2004
      ( 9:09 AM )
It's More Nasty than I Expected

Of course, the only people reporting on the realities of this coming election are media outlets in other countries. God forbid we'd actually have investigative reporting or actual attention paid to the truth by our own media. Greg Palast leads the way, as usual, with a front page story on the BBC today.

A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan - possibly in violation of US law - to disrupt voting in the state's African-American voting districts, a BBC Newsnight investigation reveals.

Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington DC, contain a 15-page so-called "caging list".

It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.

An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day."

Ion Sancho, a Democrat, noted that Florida law allows political party operatives inside polling stations to stop voters from obtaining a ballot. (Mama's emphasis)


Purging soldiers

At least 50 persons on the list are in the military, most stationed at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville. They now face challenge because some, like Randall Prausa of Atlantic Beach, have been shipped overseas.

Private detective

In Jacksonville, to determine if Republicans were using the lists or other means of intimidating voters, we filmed a private detective filming every "early voter" - the majority of whom are black - from behind a vehicle with blacked-out windows.

The private detective claimed not to know who was paying for his all-day services.

On the scene, Democratic Congresswoman Corinne Brown said the surveillance operation was part of a campaign of intimidation tactics used by the Republican Party to intimate and scare off African American voters, almost all of whom are registered Democrats.

Here is what else has happened JUST THIS WEEK:

Ohio – a court ruled on Monday that people have to vote in their exact precinct. That means if you work far from your precinct, you can’t vote by provisional ballot if you’re still within your county lines.

Florida – a court ruled on Monday that the electronic voting machines did not have to be fitted with paper printouts of people’s votes. This means that there is no verifiable way to conduct a recount if one is called for in Florida.

Colorado – Boulder voters no longer have the guarantee of an anonymous vote. A court ruled that it's a-okay for their ballots to be bar coded and for those ballots to correspond with lists of names checked off at precincts.

New Mexico - Early voting started last weekend. Of course the polling places were all open in the posh malls that the white folks use. But over in the Latino neighborhoods? Polling places closed and locked.

Pennsylvania - Pitt students have found that their voter precincts and even their party registrations have been switched after they signed various petitions offered by volunteers.

Around the country will be international election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, invited by the State Department, and the human rights group Global Exchange. It is the first time either group – with experience in strife-torn countries such as Serbia, Haiti and Venezuela – has observed a presidential election in the United States.

Both [groups] have already raised concerns about the integrity of electronic voting equipment, particularly the lack of paper trails; management of elections by partisan secretaries of state; the potential for voter coercion; and widely varying balloting and vote-counting procedures across the country.

Worries about a repeat of "voter suppression" efforts that surfaced in 2000, including fliers circulated in minority neighborhoods that falsely informed voters they could still cast ballots after Election Day or could be barred for voting for minor legal infractions. Michigan state Rep. John Pappageorge, a Republican, caused a stir last summer when he said, "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election."

International - Overseas registration for both parties is up by 400 percent over 2000; estimates put the tally of possible civilian votes as high as 2 million. Then the panicked e-mails start flooding in. [L]ess than two weeks before the tightest presidential race in memory, untold thousands of overseas voters still have not received their ballots -- and clearly won't be able to get them back in time.

Should this be happening in a real democracy? Oh wait, I've forgotten...are we a democracy anymore?

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      ( 9:04 AM )

It matters where we come from. Don't betray the legacy of the ones who went before us by not taking action on Tuesday to protect the democracy they worked for.

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Thursday, October 21, 2004
      ( 9:41 AM )
Turning Tide

If you're into the horse race, Dad let me know today that for the first time, according to polls, Kerry has more electoral votes. Of course we all know that these polls are skewed because they can't take into account all the tons of new and young voters that will turn out this year. So it may be even better than we think. Kossaks are buzzing about it as well. But sssshhhh... don't anyone tell Karl Rove...

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      ( 9:13 AM )
International Man of Democracy

Markos Moulitsas, the blogosphere's own Daily Kos, has his first Guardian column published. In it, he explains to the international masses the intricacies of how deeply we could get screwed in this election. After listing the numerous accounts of fraud done on the American voter, he concludes:

These efforts are not isolated incidents, but part of the Republican Party's "Victory" programme. While ostensibly a voter registration and "get out the vote" operation, the programme includes a concerted nationwide effort by Republicans to lock in their electoral gains by any and all means necessary. Sounds like partisan rhetoric, sure, until you hear it from the source. Alluding to the fraud committed by his party in his home state of South Dakota, former Republican governor and congressman Bill Janklow told the Associated Press last week that the entire Victory programme is rife with electoral fraud: "These people are cheating. When you tamper with it, you cheat the system. And cheating in elections is the worst form of cancer because it's uncontrollable."

Victory indeed. At the cost of our very democracy. Well, these people want a God-ordained sovreign, so why not demolish the Republic in the process? It's only gotten in their way thus far. If you are able to take Election Day off work, show up and volunteer to help at the polls. No matter how people vote, it's their right to cast that vote. Democrats and Progressives aren't afraid of people voting for whomever they want - that's what makes the system work. The only way Bush can win is if the system fails. That's what we must now defend.

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      ( 9:08 AM )
Need a Job?

The recruiters were walking the halls of my high school yesterday. My students are encouraged at every turn, because this school is the poorest in the entire area, that the Army is a good option for them. I doubt we'll be seeing this poster up on the walls of the school.

1249 Coalition casualties. 15,000+ civilian casualties. So far.

(thanks to Atrios for the picture).

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      ( 8:24 AM )
Damn these Terrorists!!

Here in Oregon last week, George Bush made another appearance to a rural area, were most his supporters in this state reside (I don't know why, since he's all about ruining the very earth they depend upon). Three teachers got valid tickets to the event and went, hoping to hear from their President. They wore t-shirts that weren't offensive or anti-Bush in anyway, but they did make a statement. A statement that any American citizen should be able to make and should be able to question their President about. The shirts said

Protect Our Civil Liberties

The shirts even had American flags on them. But even these teachers weren't allowed the right to hear their President.

"We chose this phrase specifically because we didn't think it would be offensive or degrading or obscene," said Tania Tong, 34, a special education teacher.

The women got past the first and second checkpoints and were allowed into the Jackson County fairgrounds, but were asked to leave and then escorted out of the event by campaign officials who allegedly told them their T-shirts were "obscene."

Obscene? If this president can't even have women with inoffensive slogans on their t-shirts in his presence, then how can he even purport to represent us? He is the one who convinces us that he is not our president. He is only the president of those who worship at his altar of instinct. I simply cannot understand how any American can accept a president that excludes people from his presence.

Good for these teachers for testing the truth of the Constitution. Unfortunately, this administration doesn't really worry much about the Constitution. Time for them to go.

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Sunday, October 17, 2004
      ( 2:34 PM )
My Vote has ALREADY Counted.

Here in Oregon, we have vote by mail (fill-in the bubble,scan type ballots). So not only do we have guaranteed paper ballots for recounts, but we have already received our ballots and we can turn them in now. In fact, Oregon keeps track of who has already voted so that GOTV efforts can focus themselves. For example, by voting early, Democrats can help GOTV groups like the DNC, Planned Parenthood and others to narrow their efforts because they won't have to waste a call or canvassing visit on the Dems who have already voted.

More than anything, I felt this ballot was the most crucial I have ever filled out. I actually felt my vote would count, and virtually every bubble I filled in was terribly important. On my ballot, I voted for my President, my Vice President, my Senator, my US Congressman, my Mayor, my City Council representative, and my State Senator and my Secretary of State (second most powerful position in Oregon). I voted against changing the state Constitution to ban gay marriage, I voted for a local tax that will prevent Portland schools from closing 6 weeks early and the laying off of 700 teachers next spring, and I told corporate insurance companies to go screw themselves and not me.

See that little boy over there in the picture at the top of the sidebar? I voted for him. For his future. For the survival of his generation. That's our job this election - to save the world for them. Too hyperbolic? I used to think so. Not anymore.

It matters. Vote. If you can, VOTE EARLY. And once you vote early, get every single person you know to vote. Your citizenship has never been more important than now. VOTE!!

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      ( 1:53 PM )
Into the Mouth of the Beast

Last week, 18 soldiers of the 343rd Quartermaster Company declined to report to duty. The reason they took this chance with their careers and disobeyed orders? The duty they were being sent on was to drive a convoy of unarmored vehicles through some of the most dangerous territory of Iraq. Not to mention, they were to carry helicopter fuel which they believed to be contaminated and they refused to give it to helicopter crews, because they felt the fuel would cause the helicopters to crash.

Now the soldiers, after being detained and held for questioning, are now being investigated. But their commanding general now reveals that indeed, not all their vehicles are armored, and in fact, they arrived in Iraq with none of them armored. Indeed, it was almost a death sentence to have driven that route with unarmored trucks.

"Not all of their trucks are completely armored. In their case, they haven't had the chance to get armored," said Brig. Gen. James E. Chambers, commanding general of 13th Corps Support Command, which sends some 250 convoys ferrying Army fuel, food and ammunition across Iraq each day.


Chambers said 80 percent of the 13th Coscom's 4,000 trucks have been fitted with custom steel plate, but some of those in the unit that balked, the 343rd Quartermaster Company, were among the last left unarmored, because the unit's mission normally confines it to a less dangerous part of Iraq.

None of the 13th Coscom's trucks arrived in Iraq with armor. Since February, the unit's engineers and private contractors have been working in impromptu maintenance yards to weld heavy metal "boxes" over truck cabs.

Chambers said the 18 soldiers who refused the mission on Wednesday morning — driving seven fuel tankers from Tallil air base near Nasiriyah to Taji north of Baghdad — also appeared to have also balked at their mission because of the trucks' bad condition.


But Chambers did not downplay the danger of driving Iraq's roads, a job that has become the equivalent of front-line combat with Iraq's insurgency, whose deadliest weapon is the hidden roadside bomb.

"In Jim Chambers' opinion, the most dangerous job in Iraq is driving a truck," he said. Soldiers take their missions realizing "it's not if, but when, they will be attacked."

Yes, this administration has exhibited so much concern for our troops.

Oh, and if you hadn't noticed, 42 of ours have been killed this month (that's about 2 1/2 a day)... making the devastating total US troops killed an even 1100 as of today. Not that anyone would mention it, but at least 15,000 Iraqis have been killed. Have we gotten enough revenge yet?

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Saturday, October 16, 2004
      ( 3:39 PM )

Now, THIS is what I call free speech.

(this is a sticker on an ATM):

Seeing these pictures makes this one Proud Mama.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004
      ( 8:51 AM )

From a Kossack right here in Oregon:

Bush is coming to Medford, Oregon Thursday. John Edwards is here Wednesday morning. Edwards' visit is already sold out. There are tickets available for Bush, even though his visit was planned in advance. This is in republican-leaning rural southern Oregon.

I tried to get tickets to both events. Edwards was sold out, but I could still get them for Bush, provided I:

1. was a registered republican

2. wrote an essay about why he should be president

3. promise to support him

Write an essay? Is the Bush machine so hard up for material that they're asking for submissions now? And like it wasn't hard enough to get into their campaign "rallies" - now you have to actually do schoolwork to get in. No idiot left behind.

In other rally news, John Edwards will be in Portland's Living Room (Pioneer Courthouse Square - the central gathering place in our little downtown) this evening at 5:00 p.m. for a huge rally and then everyone there will watch the debate together. Sometimes (often) I love this city.

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      ( 8:24 AM )
Dirty Tricks

If you registered to vote here in Oregon via a kind "volunteer" who was working with a group called "Voters Outreach of America" and you registered as a Democrat, you better call the elections office and make sure your registration was processed. KGW reported this morning that people working for this "outreach" group were being paid to register only republicans. Bill Bradbury, intrepid Secretary of State here in Oregon, is checking into it.

Bradbury learned of the conduct from KGW-TV, which interviewed Mike Johnson, 20, a canvasser who said he was instructed to only accept Republican registration forms. He told the TV reporter that he "might" destroy forms turned in by Democrats.


In Nevada earlier Tuesday, KLAS-TV, a CBS affiliate, interviewed an employee of a private voter registration organization who said hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of Democratic registration forms had been destroyed.

Eric Russell, a former Voters Outreach of America employee, told the TV station he had personally witnessed his supervisor take out Democratic registration forms from the pile and shred them.

The company has been largely funded by the Republican National Committee, the station reported.

Of course, the bad news is that yesterday was Oregon's deadline for voter registrations, so this news is late for people who might have had to re-register to vote. This is so disgusting. The RNC disowns these actions, but it is more and more obvious that any hope for a fair election (even in this state, where we don't have to worry about the electronic voting because of our vote-by-mail system) is a longshot.

Kos has more details of the Nevada situation, and hundreds of comments... of course.

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Monday, October 11, 2004
      ( 7:33 AM )
RIP Superman

It's always those mild-mannered folks who end up with the superpowers. Christopher Reeve died this morning - suddenly and unexpectedly. His years since his accident have been nothing short of heroic in his advocacy for spinal cord and stem cell research on behalf of para-and quadrapaligics. His passing reminds us all that even Superman could use some help from advancing science and research.

From the first Superman (catching Lois as she falls from the top of a building):

Superman: Don't worry, Lois, I've got you.
Lois Lane: I know you've got me, but who's got you!?

Wish we all could have got your back sooner, Superman.

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Saturday, October 09, 2004
      ( 9:22 AM )
In the Bag

Well, of course I didn't need to be convinced, but if anyone else did need to be convinced, I don't see why last night didn't do it for them. If you didn't see the debate, please watch a repeat on CSPAN - it's worth seeing the candidates interact in the town hall format. Bush seemed barely able to contain his anger and disdain. Kerry managed to remember the name of a questioner and refer to her personally more than half an hour after she'd asked her question. Bush didn't know his armpit from his shoe tassle when it came to the domestic issues. Kerry tried to explain that things aren't simply black and white, but Bush just didn't get it. I especially appreciated Kerry's answer about abortion and his clarifcation of the "partial birth" abortion vote. I also appreciated his comfort with answering all styles of questions, even when they appeared to be attack questions. Bush on the other hand looked about ready to batter the head of that poor fellow who asked why we can't get good drugs imported from Canada.

Look to Kos for great post-debate figures, discussions and even a link to Keith Obermann's scoring debut. But for the funniest play-by-play, check out the effervescent Wonkette.

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Friday, October 08, 2004
      ( 11:06 AM )
Doing Right Wrong by Afghanistan

Yesterday marked the third anniversary of the beginning of American bombing of Afghanistan (not that we heard anything about that). We struck out a little less than a month after 9/11, ostensibly to punish those who gave haven to Osama bin Laden, and to catch Osama bin Laden himself. Of course, 15 out of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia, and the rest were from other countries (not Afghanistan). So our massive bombs fell all over a country that has been brutalized for 30 years already. Now, the fact that we left the effort midstream in order to invade Iraq, that of course Osama bin Laden is free as a bird, that we put in power an American puppet who only years before had been lobbying the White House to work with the Taliban, that the Taliban are in fact back in power in several parts of the country, that our "ambassador" (previous Unocal partner of Karzai) has been assisting in the effort to buy votes, and that this election will not only not be fair, but the sham of what we have done to Afghanistan has made it virtually impossible for it to become a democracy any time soon ... these are all issues worth discussing, remembering and taking action on as we observe this somber anniversary.

But what I really want to talk about is one of the least reported stories of the last year - that now, three years after we bombed and killed thousands of innocent Afghani villagers - they and our troops who served there are dying of poisoning from depleted uranium - what we pack into our bombs.

At the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan in Tokyo last December, a team of attorneys from Japan, the United States and Germany indicted Bush on a number of war-crimes charges--among them the use of depleted uranium in armor-piercing weapons. Leuren Moret, president of Scientists for Indigenous People, testified at the trial and later reported that a U.S. government study conducted on the babies of Gulf War veterans conceived after the soldiers returned home found that a full two-thirds suffered from serious birth defects or illnesses, including being born without eyes or ears, or with missing or malformed organs or limbs. In Iraq, Moret said, the defects are even worse. But those are just some of the images of war we never see on the evening news.

More recently, the Uranium Medical Research Center, an independent group of U.S. and Canadian scientists that has conducted studies of Afghan civilians, found evidence that the United States is also using nondepleted uranium in its weapons, which is far more radioactive than depleted uranium. (Mama's emphasis)

So here we have another lie this administration is telling us - or rather, hiding from us. Not only have we not helped mankind in any conceivable way in the last four years, we have harmed them in immeasurable amounts, and that harm will last for generations.

What possible reason could anyone have for voting for four more years of this?

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Monday, October 04, 2004
      ( 8:41 AM )
America The Beautiful

Nobody in this election is going to talk about the issues that really matter for this country - for our future as a community, a functioning democracy and a society that values human life. Of course not - that's not where the money is. And so far, campaigns and elections are all about where the money is. But I sense that there is a movement afoot - even when Democrats are in the white house again, this movement will need to grow. It's the progressives of this country starting at the grassroots and changing their communities from the bottom up. Our nation won't survive unless we start fixing it for REAL and stop putting on the bandaids that have held us together so far. The first step in making us truly beautiful again is to educate ourselves. So let's start with some reality checks.

Poverty line = $15,670/year for a family of three or $18,850/year for a family of four in 2004. The reality is that this figure hasn't changed in decades - so for instance, a more realistic figure of what a family of four needs just to get by and have adequate housing here in Portland, Oregon is closer $28,000.

- Every 44 seconds a baby is born into poverty.
- In 2002, 12.1 million children (16.7%) of all children under age 18, were poor - a larger percentage than any other age group.
- 4.1 million children experiencing poverty lived in families with at least one full-time, working adult.
- 6% of children live in extreme poverty with household incomes below 50% of the poverty level ($9425 for a family of 4 in 2004).

- Every fourth person standing in a soup kitchen line is a child.
- Children are twice as likely as adults to live in households where someone experiences hunger.
- More than 40% of low-income children live in households that are hungry or at risk of hunger.
- Out of 23 industrialized countries, the U.S. was the only country with children under 5 suffering from underweight, wasting, and stunting in 2000.
- Hungry children suffer two to four times as many health problems as those who are not and are more likely to be ill or absent from school.
- Hungry children are less likely to interact with other people or explore or learn from their surroundings. Hunger interferes with their ability to learn from an early age.
- Chronic hunger causes anxiety, low self-esteem and hostility in children.

- More than half of all Food Stamp recipients are children.
- Low-income children depend on the School Lunch Program for one-third to one-half of their daily nutrition.
- 40% of all clients using food banks or pantries are children.

- 40% of homeless people in the U.S. are children. About 1.35 million children, most pre-school and elementary age, will experience homelessness over the course of a year.
- Children without a home are in fair or poor health twice as often as other children, and have higher rates of asthma, ear infections, stomach problems, and speech problems.

- More than 9 million children in the U.S. do not have health insurance.
- In 2002, Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) provided health insurance coverage for 47.6% of all low-income children (children living in families with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty line).
- 1 in 5 children have an untreated dental cavity. Children in low-income families are more than twice as likely to have untreated dental cavities and 20% more likely not to have had a dental visit in the past year.
- Poor children are twice as likely as non-poor children to suffer stunted growth or lead poisoning or be kept back in school.

The high school I'm working in right now has started the year with 61% of its students on free or reduced lunch. This is up from 28% in 1998. Up from 54% last year. These meals are often the only full meals these kids get in a day. The fact that they're not even nutritious is another issue altogether.

The only way for this country to survive is for us to realize that corporations now have more rights than people in this country, and that children, on whom this country's future rests, are the least cared for in any industrialized country. There must be the moral and political will to change these things. This election isn't the end of the work, it's not even the beginning - it's merely the first tool we must use to keep people awake and invested in change.

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