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February 29, 2004
I Hate The Oscars, and So Do You

I'm not saying I'm not going to watch it, I'm just saying I hate it. It's times like these when I'm really glad I have a Tivo. I'll be able to compress this 3 hour crap heap into about 15 minutes, which is 10 minutes longer than it should be.

I love movies, don't get me wrong. I'll see just about any movie, and often do. I love the experience of going to the movies, the dark theater, the big screen, the great sound, the popcorn, the obnoxious fellow theater goers. Scratch that last one.

But I hate the Oscars, and awards shows in general. It's all so egotistical and self-congratulatory. They spend three hours telling each other inside jokes and laughing about how rich they are and what a great job they have.


And did you see what Dianne Keaton was wearing? Is anyone sure that there's an actual person under all of that?

Move Over L. Ron

There's another science fiction writer vying for your spot as Most Nuttiest, and it's Orson Scott Card.

I don't know anything about the guy's writings, other than that Luke, among other friends, reads his books. Luke points to this interesting analysis of an essay of Card's about gay marriage.

I point it out because it 1) shows the astounding mental and logical gymnastics those who would deny a large number of Americans their rights will employ to give their position a veneer of sense and 2) the point-by-point debunking of Card's arguments is very good, showing the lack of need for those same kinds of gymnastics when arguing the side of truth, compassion and reason.

February 27, 2004
Finally, The Consequences

Here it is. Someone came out and said what the consequences of allowing gay marriage will be.

And it was none other than the emminently sober and thoughtful -- no, sorry, I mean crazy as a shithouse rat -- Rick Santorum.

[T]he consequence is very clear. Marriage loses its significance. People will stop getting married. Homosexuals will not get married; heterosexuals will stop getting married. And that to me is the real threat to the American family and to the culture generally.


Now, I ask you, how nuts is this guy? And I'm sure he's not the only one who thinks this way. He's just the only one so completely out of touch with reality that he'll say it publicly.

February 25, 2004


Ick ick ick ick ick.

So, if that guy Jesus were alive today, does anyone really think he would support this kind of thinking?. Again, I'm not a theologian, quite far from it, but it is my understanding that Jesus had this whole, "love and peace" thing going on. Isn't that right? Didn't he wash the feet of beggars and give away all of his worldly possessions to help others? Didn't he even forgive those who betrayed him, even unto his death?

My favorite part of that psychotic editorial is when she says, referring to those dangerously affectionate people in San Francisco, "My first question is, do these people not read the Bible?"

Oh yeah, the Bible... I remember that.. Isn't that the text we base our system of government on? Oh no no, wait, I'm confused... that's THE CONSTITUTION. Strict and oppressive interpretations of the Bible was what this country was founded to get away from. Well, that and taxes. Serious. Look it up.

What do you think? Too angry?

February 24, 2004
No Fair

Remember that woman who made a website to beg people to pay off her credit card debt? Well, now she has a book out about her experience.

How depressing.

I like the idea of micropayments on the internet, but I also like the idea of getting a little something -- an informative blog, funny cartoons, some useful software thingie -- in return for the payments. This thing was just out-and-out begging, and it worked.

Go ahead and say it, I'm just mad I didn't think of it first. It's true. I have a mountain of debt too, ya know.

We put a "donate" link on Travelin' Van and all we got is compared to terrorists. Sheesh.

When's the Last Train to Canada, Eh?

I'm thinking of booking a ticket now, for say... mid November. You know, just in case.

So today President Lying Lying Bad Bad Man announced his support for a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriages.

I'm not going to rehash the arguments I've already made against this. Suffice it to say that I see absolutely no difference between this and any other kind of discrimination.

The president cited a need to "prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever." Here's where I don't get it. The meaning of marriage, I thought, was a public declaration of love and commitment. Right? Is it really fundamental to this idea what gender the two people are? Of course not.

Bush went on to say, "Decisive and democratic action is needed because attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country." See, I just don't get it. What serious consequences? Will someone on that side of the argument please explain to me WHAT SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES?!?! They keep talking about the consequences, but I haven't heard any of them.

Oh, there was that one woman on Nightline who said that if gay marriage is allowed, eventually the discussion of straight marriage will be akin to "hate speech." That's credible.

February 23, 2004
Hang Up, Turn Off the Porn, and Drive

It's dangerous out there..

February 19, 2004
Iran and the CIA

I just finished reading All the Shah's Men, a short but detailed account of the CIA-staged coup in Iran in 1953.

A fascinating chronology:

  • early 1900s - British find biggest oil field in the world beneath Iran, establish refinery and start pumping it out, granting the Iranians a pittance in return and the right to work for them in slave conditions.

  • 1940s - Iranian oil largely responsible for Allied victory in WWII.

  • 1951 - Mohammad Mossadegh democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, begins sweeping reforms. Demands that the British improve working conditions, share profits with Iran 50-50 as other industrialized nations do with other oil rich lands, and open company's books for audits to ensure fair accounting. British flatly refuse.

  • 1951-52 - Truman tries to convince the Brits to be nice. They're not. Tensions rise.

  • fall 1952 - Eisenhower elected, Dulles brothers head State Department and CIA, plans to overthrow Mossadegh begin.

  • 1953 - Democratically elected government of Iran is overthrown by the CIA, Mohammad Reza Shah is reinstalled and rules for 25 years as a brutal dictator.

  • 1979 - Finally fed up, Iranians have an Islamic Revolution, kick the Shah out and Ayatollah Khomeini takes over, pretends to be democratic for a few years. President Carter invites ousted Shah to the U.S. Iranians, aware that it was the U.S. that installed the asshole last time, worry that we'll do it again and storm the embassy, taking 52 Americans hostage for 14 months. U.S. - Iran relations not so good after that.

  • 1980 - 1988 - U.S. supports Saddam Hussein and Iraq in war with Iran, providing money and weapons, ignoring and/or tolerating his use of weapons of mass destruction.

  • 1980 - 2001 - Extreme Anti-Western, Anti-U.S. Muslim Fundamentalism grows in Iran, spreads to Afghanistan, among other places.

  • Sept 11, 2001 - We all know what happened with that.

  • Feb 12, 2004 - Department of Defense issues Talking Points justifying war against Iraq by citing his "launch of missiles against Iran."

Pretty freaky, huh? The details are even more amazing; I highly recommend the book. An amazing perspective on our current situation.

February 18, 2004
Sound Familiar?

People who argue that so-called "activist" judges (I'm looking at you, Mr. President) are forcing their own liberal definition of marriage on the people, in opposition to the people's wishes, often cite polls showing majorities disapproving of homosexual unions.

Try this one out, ya bastards:
In 1958, nine years before the Supreme Court ruled miscegenation laws unconstitutional, a Gallup poll showed that 94% of whites opposed marriages between blacks and whites. Nine years later, more than 15 states still had laws outlawing mixed race marriages. Alabama just took its off the books in the past year (though it was unenforceable since the 1967 ruling).

The point is, public opinion is not the key here. If the public opinion is that homosexuals should be discriminated against, then the public is wrong. If we had to wait for the dominant opinion to catch up, we wouldn't get very far. In cases like this, it is perfectly appropriate, and necessary, for our courts to show the people what is right.

(source of miscegenation law info: http://www.pbs.org/weblab/lovestories/digdeeper/pressinfo6.shtml)

Altercation in Seattle

Liz and I went downtown last night to see Eric Alterman (his blog, his Nation column, his CAP column) speak and answer questions. He wrote last year's
What Liberal Media, and has a new book out, The Book on Bush.

The event was mostly a book promotion, and it worked on me: I bought the book and fully intend to read it one of these days.

One thing that struck me at the event was the audience. Many of them seemed to be of a particularly activist stripe, and that worries me. Hard-core activists often strike me as being just as radical as the far-right, even if I agree with their positions. I honestly don't think that radicalism works very well. Person after person stood up and asked Alterman questions about piddling details of domestic or foreign policy, while he, to his great credit, maintained that the current goal was to get Bush out of office, and that we can worry about these other issues later.

For example, one woman asked about NAFTA, WTO, and free trade issues. She prefaced it by explaining that this is Seattle, this is what we care about, which is weird: Seattle has become tied up with anti-globalization sentiments despite being a very globalized city. Alterman explained, 1) globalization is not going away, and 2) it's not the point. Focus.

These issues -- globalization, gay marriage, allathat -- they're not unimportant; they're wedge issues and will and should be used to separate candidates of different ideologies. But the main mission has to remain beating Bush. This is a message to Dean supporters. It's not over. If you stop working now, you haven't done anything.

Another guy worried that when and if we do win the White House, the new wave of Democrats will consider the job finished and disengage. Alterman correctly responded, "Let's hope we're lucky enough to have that problem!"

He also made the point that I made at the caucus and I think needs to be made over and over again: The people we need to convince are not the lifelong Democrats. We have to have a message that can appeal to Independents and moderate Republicans, as well as fence-sitting Democrats. When I hear activists talk, I often feel like they're only interested in their own people and their own issues; that it's all or nothing. It's a losing strategy. It just marginalizes them even more.

I would never want to diminish the issues they fight for, and I respect them for fighting, but it's just like Ralph Nader; sometimes you have to pick your battles. Kerry might not be openly pro - insert your issue here - , but he's a lot closer to it than George.

Bye Bye Deanie

Well, it looks like Howard Dean is out of the race. Not surprising. I'm a bit surprised that Edwards is still considered viable, after winning only one state, but I think that's because I don't fully understand the process. Edwards still has lots of delegates, and there are some big states still to come, some in "his backyard". notably Florida and Texas.

My sincere hope is that all of the admirably dedicated followers of Dean don't give up. I have a bad feeling that many of the more activist types who have been supporting and working for him will now go back home. I'm sure they'll vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is, I'm not worried about that, but I'm afraid they won't put as much effort into the campaign.

That would be a shame, and I think a big mistake. I understand that Dean embodied a lot of people's hopes for the future of the country, and he came to stand for progressive change, but we should be careful not to lose sight of the immediate goal: To get George Bush out of office. Whether you think the eventual nominee is the best choice or not, we have to keep our eyes on the prize.

Dean has had a huge impact and it's a great thing. He showed the other candidates that they could really go after Bush, even that they had to. He showed them that manhy people in this country were just waiting for someone to stand up to the thugs currently running the country. Dean's supporters shouldn't feel bad that people like Kerry and Edwards are now echoing many of Dean's positions; they should be proud. And they should take the energy they applied to Dean's campaign and apply it, and more, to the campaign of the nominee.

I personally haven't done very much, except blather on and on in this blog, but I intend to. I never had a clear favorite for the nomination (and I still don't), so I wasn't comfortable directly supporting any one candidate. Once it becomes clear who the nominee is, however, I will give him my full support and try to find ways in which I can help. Obviously I have the time.

February 16, 2004
Jenny I Got Your Number

Or, I could get it, if I had $200,000 $80,000.


Outsourcing Can Be Fun

Outsourcing, outsourcing, outsourcing. It's all about outsourcing these days. Pissed off computer geeks screaming and yelling because they're getting fired when their jobs move to India.

"Outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade," said N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, which prepared the report. "More things are tradable than were tradable in the past. And that's a good thing."


You know what? He's right. Of course he and the rest of the administration are now backing off of this statement, because, you know, it's unpopular. Unpopular or not, though, it's the way the world economy works.

Of course it's a hot-button issue now because it's suddenly started to affect middle class jobs. These people vote, they pay more taxes, they have a greater sense of entitlement, so there's more attention. You don't see this kind of heat when shit jobs get moved overseas. "Americans" -- relatively privileged, relatively wealthy, relatively white Americans -- don't want those jobs anyway.

We've been taking advantage of the bargain prices of foreign labor forever but now, suddenly, it's gone too far. I know it sucks to lose your job and not be able to find a new one, it hurts, and we should do something to relieve the strain. But that doesn't mean we should suddenly say to the rest of the world, "Hey, sorry, only WE can take advantage of this system. Now that you people have figured it out and are using it to your advantage, we want out."

Another point: If it wasn't for outsourcing, none of these computer people would have an industry to overpay them. Do you think the "Internet Revolution" would have happened if we were making microprocessors in Kansas City? No way. If we made all of this technology in the U.S., your cell phone would have cost $1000, and, you wouldn't have a cell phone. No digital camera, either. Certainly no cell phone with a digital camera built in.

It strikes me as really low when we suddenly start complaining only when it starts to affect people we know. It doesn't diminish the difficulties that come with losing jobs, but it doesn't change the ethics of it either. Ethics require consistency.

So what do we do, then? Just stop working? Let countries like India take over the technology sector?

No. It won't happen. We're still inventing most of the software concepts and designs here in the "first world." We have the motivation because we use these tools for everything. We come up with new ways to integrate technology into our lives at an astounding rate. In India and China, they don't. What they do, and do very well, is produce the products of these innovations. They also make them more efficient and often improve on them.

It's perhaps shocking because this time it happened so fast. As 60 Minutes pointed out a few weeks ago, this has happened within the careers of individual people, while in the past the shift to foreign labor has taken at least a generation or two. Historically, we, the "developed" world, have invented the technology, worked it for a generation or two, then discovered it could be done much more cheaply overseas and moved on to something else. There is always resistance, nobody likes to get fired, but it's a deeper issue than just "he got fired, that's bad."

It's a complex issue. I'm no economist. But it often just strikes me as sour grapes.

No Ralphie No!

The Seattle Times reported Saturday that Ralph Nader is expected to announce his candidacy for president this week. That stupid ass bastard.

I voted for Nader in 2000. I was wrong. It was a different time, and I was trying to make a point about the two party system. I also voted for him in a state (Washington) where Gore had no chance of losing, so it wasn't too bad. I'd like to think that if I had lived in Florida at the time, besides planning to move, I would have voted for Gore.

Gore lost Florida by 537 votes (not counting Antonin Scalia's). Nader got over 97,000 votes in Florida. I'm sure some of the Nader votes would have gone to Bush (libertarians and such) if Nader hadn't been in it, but most would have gone to Gore, certainly enough to tip the scales.

So, whether you like it or not Ralph, you WERE a spoiler. Maybe it's not the way our elections should work, but they do. A close race, potentially one of the closest and most important presidential races in recent history, is not the time to make a point.

And that's all it is; making a point. The fact that he won't admit this just further shows that he's a nutty egomaniac.

February 14, 2004
Happy Valentine's

This would be more appropriate if I didn't have a girlfriend, so I'm sending this one out to all my single friends out there, so they can send it back to me, because I do have a date.

(images from we love you, yes you, via Laurel, and Left Pedal before her.)

Et Tu, Brian Williams?

I know I lose some amount of liberal blogger cred by admitting that I regularly watch NBC Nightly News, but it's true. I know, I know.. big conservative media conspiracy, not to be trusted, mouthpiece for the administration. I got it.

I do, however, enojy watching NBC News every night. It's half an hour long, covers a good swath of major issues of the day, and there's not too much car accident, celebrities, and missing children. I can't stand that stuff.

Anyway, this is what Americans watch. They don't read The Nation, watch CSPAN (who does?) or even read The Daily News. They watch Tom Brokaw or one of them other guys.

Sometimes, though, they really can piss you off. The journalistic integrity, while maybe not as lacking as it is in some others (Ann Coulter, I'm looking at your evil ass), is still pretty thin. They'll run with pretty much anything if it'll make a good promo.

For instance, tonight they jumped on the bandwagon trying to circulate this photo of John Kerry and Jane Fonda at a Vietnam protest in 1970.

If this is all that Karl Rove's sleaze machine can come up with, things are looking pretty good for November.

What Jane Fonda did in Hanoi was probably pretty shitty; I don't know all that much about it, but from what I've heard, it sounds lame. Still, she was free to do it. People can be lame, if they want. They can be stupid and irresponsible. I mean, fighting for people a country we're currently at war with, probably not so good, but I don't think she did anything like that.

The real problem with this photo is that it was taken BEFORE Jane Fonda went to Hanoi. She wasn't known as Hanoi Jane when this photo was taken, she was just another -- albeit very vocal and visible -- celebrity protesting against Vietnam. Everybody who was anybody protested against Veitnam in 1970. It was totally the thing to do.

Look at me, writing about it as if I was there. "Oh yeah, I totally remember. It wasn't like they're saying. It was different, man."

Regardless, it's a bullshit smeary thing to do; to put this photo out there and say, "Look! Kerry's crazy! He's a radical! See who he sat 3 rows behind 25 years ago?! Remember what she did a few months later?!? See?!?!"

So shame on NBC News. And all the other news organizations that have no doubt done the same thing. It's just a picture -- among thousands -- of Kerry when he was active in the antiwar movement. We know he was active in the antiwar movement. It's not a secret. Throwing out this picture, and implying some sort of a connection between him and the future activities of someone else in the photo is just ridiculously low.

The photo's currency might make it news, but 5 minutes of investigation would have led them to at least say, "We should note, however, that this photo was taken before Jane Fonda took her now infamous trip to North Vietnam." That's all they had to say. It's the truth. Is that so hard?

February 12, 2004
And On and On...

It bothers me that I feel compelled to write about the gay marriage more than anything else, but it's obviously a big issue right now, and will be a big issue in this election. It bothers me because I truly wish that it wasn't necessary. I wish people were more enlightened, more tolerant, more loving of one another. I find it pretty sad that I have to watch people argue (and argue myself) over whether our government should engage in discrimination.

The biggest fallacy I see in the anti position is that gay marriage will produce some kind of harm. If they are to be believed, then on the day when gay couples can legally marry -- that is, the day that their loving, committed relationships are recognized by the government as being worthy of protection -- some irreparable harm will befall the "American Family."

Now I know they're not saying that all of a sudden marriage will come crashing down. They're saying that it is a step in a process that will proceed to systematically dismantle their value system and the beliefs that they hold. Like it's some kind of big conspiracy to dismantle "marriage."

The problem with this argument is simple: Gay marriages have NO EFFECT on any other marriages. Easy. Any marriages that now exist between men and women, or come into being in the future, will enjoy the EXACT SAME protections and benefits under the law that they have always enjoyed. And that's the key point: If our government, and by extension we as a society, chooses to bestow any benefits and protections to marriage, then under our brilliant constitution they must be extended equally to everyone. Separate is not equal.

I hear a lot from the president and the others about "activist judges" imposing their liberal agenda on the American people. This is just wrong. The rulings in Massachusetts do not take a stance on homosexuality; they take a stance on equality. The rulings are about equal protection. They are saying that the lawmakers must show some real cause to deny rights to certain citizens, and they have not done that. It is the role of our courts to do exactly what they're doing: To interpret our laws and constitution and to ensure that some people's view of morality does not get translated into codified discrimination.

The woman representing "families" on Nightline tonight asserted that if gay people are allowed to marry, if the definition of marriage is broadened to include same-sex couples, then the "defense of the idea that children need a mother and a father will be eventually viewed as hate speech." She appeared to be serious. Someday, if these crazy homos are allowed to visit each other in emergency rooms and collect social security benefits, the very mention of a marriage between a man and woman will be outlawed. We'll all be forced into homosexuality, most likely in dark, wood-paneled rooms with black light posters and mustachioed oily men. Our whole society will be on a direct path toward a giant gay orgy, with your kids right in the middle.

As I said at the beginning, I feel stupid for even discussing it. It seems so painfully obvious how nuts these people are.

February 11, 2004
Gettin' Kinda Warm in this Handbasket

Does it ever seem to you like we, as a country, are just FUCKING INSANE? Seriously. I'm not just saying that to curse.

A brief (okay, not brief) rundown:
Republicans, many of the same ones who gleefully went after Clinton -- and impeached him -- for lying about blowjobs, are now crying "dirty politics" over questions concerning whether Bush lied about his military service during the Vietnam War.

A simple question: If it's all so clear and he served honorably as he has said, why isn't there a single person anywhere in the world other than George W. Bush who can corroborate his story? I guess he was assigned to that super-secret "all by yourself with nobody watching" detail the National Guard is known for.

I particularly loved it when he responded to Tim Russert on this issue by saying that those asking these questions should, "be careful not to denigrate the Guard." Very nice. How transparent could he possibly be? "I know, I'll divert attention by accusing the questioners of having no respect for service in the National Guard, even though no one has remotely mentioned anything like that. There. Did that work? Are we talking about something else yet?"

Okay, so that's Exhibit A.

Exhibit B would be our congresspeople chewing out the head of Viacom because of a mother-lovin' BOOB on television. One congresswoman was actually visibly shaken. She was screaming at him! "You sir! You KNEW what would happen during that halftime show! And you did it knowingly, to LINE YOUR POCKETS!" (I'm paraphrasing, but it was pretty close to that.)

Call me crazy, but I dare say that there may be larger and more dastardly instances of corporate greed and corruption going on than this Giant Conspiracy to Titillate. Maybe Congresswoman Soccer Mom should look into some of that. I'm sure her constituency is very proud of her. "We're sure glad we sent so-and-so to Congress to clean up them Super Bowls. I'll be damned if I'll stand for my kids seeing any black titties on teevee." Bone crushing injuries, shooting deaths, fires, wars, bikini-clad mud wrestling women in beer commercials, sure. But no boobs. You have to draw the line somewhere.

Isn't it a little bit odd that everyone screams about our morality going all to hell when we see a naked breast on TV while the average kid sees thousands upon thousands of murders on television? And when you really examine the statistics, it's clear that we have a bigger problem with murder in this country than we do with boobs. It so obvious I'm embarrassed to even bring it up, but apparently it needs bringing up.

Exhibit C is the gay marriage thing, which I've written about several times before. Let me reiterate a few key points:

  1. I don't care what the bible says; this country's government was SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED to not be based on what the bible says. If you want a country whose laws come directly from the bible, start your own.

  2. It's REALLY scary when we contemplate changing our constitution to deny certain people the rights that others enjoy. I hope that if this ever comes to a vote, sensible people will see this and prevail. It's simple discrimination, that's all it is.

That's enough about that one.

Exhibit D... Oh, we could go on forever.

We've got the president of Pakistan pardoning a guy who admits that he sold nuclear technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea for 20 years. And our government seems to think this is okay, despite furious rhetoric about Iraq's mystery weapons. Aw, hell, we all make mistakes, right? Let's let bygones be bygones. The guy said he was sorry.

We have Comcast offering to buy Disney for something like 60 BILLION DOLLARS while 25% of children in Afghanistan die before they turn 4 for lack of decent health care. Not to mention the state of health care in this country, or schools without books or globes or teachers who make more than fry cooks. Nothing against fry cooks.

I'm no communist, but still, it seems a bit off. Maybe Comcast could take, like 5% of that and give it to someone. Or we could use that Mars money. Something.

This is depressing. Let's see what the good news is...

Ummm... Oh! ... No... Ummmm...

Oh, here we go: Gourmet Marshmallows.


February 10, 2004

Ever since my whirlwind victory for Alternate from Precinct 36-1766, I've been unable to find the time to blog. I suppose I'll have to hire a manager and perhaps a web-guy to take care of these things now. It's just been too crazy.

The TiVo is really getting full, so I've been trying to make a dent in that. I try to dedicate at least a few hours a day, often in the middle of the night, to getting through the backlog.

On top of that, I had to spend three hours wandering the aisles at Michael's Arts & Crafts store yesterday, and I didn't even get anything. I got a new phone, though. Not a cellular, but one of the regular kind.

I say "regular" but they really aren't. These days buying a cordless phone is just as complicated as buying anything else. They have at least 3 competing standards, with several varieties of each. I suppose I could have just gotten a regular old corded phone, which are good in power outages and in case of terror, but I don't like to be tethered to a wall. I pace when I'm on the phone. A lot.

Work on Roo's water fountain has pretty much stopped, but I'm still working on it *up here* (points to head).

I've been mostly busy building a web site, and this time it's for money! Hooray! A paying thingie! A waddayacallit... job! How exciting.

I did get a chance to catch some of the president's appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday, and man, what a sad sad performance. My favorite line was, "...free societies don't produce weapons of mass terror." Now, I'm not 100% sure, but I believe that "free societies" in fact invented pretty much every form of mass killing machine now known. These "madmen" we're fighting, I don't think they were really on the path to having nuclear weapons until we invented them. Just a thought.

It was truly amazing how many times he said "terror," "terrorism," "danger," "dangerous man," "madman," "dangerous part of the world," "protecting America," and things like that. It would have been funny if I wasn't fairly convinced that that rap works on so very many people.

On the Democrats side, Kerry is sweeping everything and we'll stop talking about the primaries very soon. The New York Times has a nice little map.

February 7, 2004
We Are Elected.. err.. Sort Of!!!


anthony elected alternate delegate

My first official elected office, of sorts! Sure, I'm only an alternate. Sure I was the only other person who volunteered to be a delegate. Still, one person besides myself voted for me!! And it wasn't Liz!

The caucus was very interesting. Here's how it went down:

We arrived at the church just before 10, and the place was packed. By all accounts, even those of the veterans, it was a huge turnout. Seeing that alone was worth going. It really felt like people cared about something.

We sorted ourselves into precincts and started talking. Our precinct was fairly split between Dean and Kerry, with several undecideds. I started out as a Kerry man, but in the process of debate changed my own mind to undecided. I was never really behind Kerry so much as an individual candidate, and I wanted to make a point concerning electability.

The Dean supporters were well-informed, well-spoken, and passionate. I liked to see that. The problem I had was that to a person they downplayed, if not completely ignored, the issue of electability. Many of them made points about "the horse race," "the junior high school idea of electability," etc. I think this is very wrong, and very dangerous.

The problem, as I see it, is that the people who attend caucuses are not the people we need to be concerned with. Everyone in that room this morning will vote for whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being, we can count on that. Because of this, they feel that they can and should be passionately supportive of their candidate of conscience. They ignore, though, that this election will be decided largely by people who weren't there today. Many of them aren't Democrats, and it is our job as Democrats to nominate someone who has enough broad appeal to get the votes of those people.

Of course we shouldn't only nominate someone based on their media-sponsored image, or their current standing in the polls, or their joementum, but we also cannot just ignore these things. It IS VERY important to find a candidate who can appeal to the middle, to the average, non-activist voter whose choice comes down to Bush vs Whoever We Nominate. I find it troubling that so many people seem to not get this basic point.

Dean is a great man, it seems, and people who follow him more closely than I do articulated many reasons why. Unfortunately, that alone is not enough to make him president. This is obvious. When have we ever, as a country, elected exactly the best person? It has always been a popularity contest to some extent, and it always will be. I think Dean has helped this campaign, and the Democratic party, enormously. He has made hopefully lasting changes in the party. Whoever is nominated will absolutely have to pay attention to the Dean supporters and their issues. He has shifted the party back to the left, when it had been moving right for several years. Still, he is not our next president.

Anyway, I tried to make my argument. I didn't argue strictly in favor of Kerry, but in favor of a well-rounded and complete look at what it takes to elect a president. At this point Kerry is the man, and it's ever more certain that he will be nominated. I think he has a chance to win. I think Edwards would also have a chance, and possibly Clark, if his campaign was being run better. I sincerely don't think that Dean can attract broad enough support. It's not because the media told me so, it's because I live and breathe.

So I changed my affiliation from Kerry to Undecided and offered myself as the delegate for that contingent. I lost to a woman who seemed to think that I wasn't undecided enough, whatever that means. It is true, I secretly harbor an opinion. It's a strange thing to represent people who don't know what they think. Anyway, I became the alternate, largely by default.

Frankly I don't know why the others didn't vote for me. Maybe I should have brushed my hair. Oops, there I go with that electability thing again.

Regardless, I'm proud to have participated, and happy to have spoken my mind. I can see now why the caucus system is popular, though I stand by my position that it's less than ideal. It is a lot of fun and gave me a much greater feeling of participation in our democracy than I've had before.

More pictures here.

Anthony in 2012! Woo!

My First Caucus

Tomorrow is Washington's Democratic Caucus. It's my first. I grew up in primary-land, never really thought much about a caucus. To be perfectly honest, I didn't really know what it was until a couple of months ago. I knew it had something to do with meetings.

So it'll be interesting to see how it goes. We're not even sure we'll be allowed to vote, Liz and I. We sent in our new voter registration forms about a month ago, but we haven't gotten anything back, so I don't think we're technically registered yet. They say you don't have to prove anything, or even show any ID, to participate in the caucus, just sign a form "identifying yourself as a Democrat." That's kind of weird.

Anyway, we'll see. If we can't vote, we can still watch. If we can participate, I'm thinking of running for delegate. Maybe I should make some pins.

Fun as they may be, I don't think I like the idea of a caucus versus a straight-up vote. I don't understand what the advantage is, and I can see several serious flaws.

First, the whole idea of declaring which candidate you support publicly is fucked up. It's great if you're proud of your choice, but it shouldn't be required. Peer pressure should not enter into the process for choosing a president. It may never happen, but it still opens the door for intimidation, however subtle.

Second, the caucus process disenfranchises some people just by virtue of it being held at a very specific time. What if you have to work? There's no such thing as an absentee caucus, as far as I know. I personally think even regular elections should be held over multiple days, to give as many people as possible a chance to get to the polls, but as it stands now, at least they have an entire day.

I think that's it. Two pretty big reasons if you ask me. As we try to spread democracy around the world -- sometimes via the "you'll be democratic or we'll kill you" technique -- I think we should promote the basic "one person, one vote" style. Even in Iraq some folks were up in arms when we suggested , forcefully I'm sure, that they use caucuses for their elections. They want to have a voice, give them a voice. All of them.

This is all your fault, Iowa. You and your strangely influential politics.

I kid, I kid. Go Hawkeyes!

February 6, 2004

I can't believe I've never done this before, but I just happened to do a Google search for "slapnose."

Besides wondering if I "meant to search for slantnose," which returns 872 hits while mine returns only 490, there were some surprising references. I guess I have seen it before, but I always just assumed it was all internal links, links from my other sites and sites I've built, and links from my friends. Not so.

It seems some people have linked to my post from 9/11/01. The first one I came across was this, which is in Japanese. I plugged it into some translator thingie, thinking the person said something about my post, but alas it was just a quote. Still, I'm big in Japan. Just like Tom Waits.

Onward, I found this, which appears to be a pretty legitimate site in, let's say Portuguese. I think it's from Brazil. This one says something like, "Fear of the reaction and the nationalistic fervor is in www.slapnose.com/coredump/

Well, that's it. That's my big global reach. Unfortunately, at some point Movable Type renumbered my posts or something and the links are wrong. Still, pretty exciting.

The Marriage of Gays

Judging from the response to my open letter to anti-gay-marriage people (no response), and the latest news out of Massachusetts, this is going to be a big issue in this election.

The Bush people will surely paint Kerry -- if he is the nominee -- as the Senator from the Gay-Lovin' State up north, while Kerry will likely hedge a bit and try to take some kind of middle ground. He's for civil unions, but against gay marriage. Civil rights to all, marriage rights to some. And also, he believes that this is a state issue, not a federal one, neatly sidestepping the task of dealing with it.

I don't completely disagree with him, and I certainly understand why he's taking this position. I also think it's awesome that he's pointing out DICK Cheney's past stance on the issue, though I don't think it'll work, because Cheney will just flip-flop.

I personally don't think it's a state issue, or a federal issue. I think it's a personal and/or religious issue, and the government -- state, local, school board, whatever -- has no business in it at all.

The current debate, though, is a national issue, and to my mind, a civil rights issue. It strikes me as absolutely no different from arguments made to defend restricting rights to blacks, women, or any other minority. It "preserves our cultural values," it "protects the basis of our society," etc. These are the same arguments used after the Civil War to roll back the reforms of Reconstruction and institute Jim Crow. All you have to do is substitute one group for another. It's sick.

If I were the Democratic nominee, here's what I would say:

"The Republicans -- the so-called "Party of Lincoln" -- favor an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. This would be the first time the Constitution has been amended to DENY a certain group of people the same rights that others freely enjoy. We've amended this document -- one of the greatest documents of freedom ever written -- several times to GUARANTEE rights for the previously disenfranchised or enslaved, but never to restrict people's rights selectively. The Party of Lincoln, indeed. Lincoln is rolling in his grave.

I say let them have this position. I will not fight it, except to say that I am for the rights of every American, regardless of their personal lives, regardless of with whom they choose to share their love. A majority of Americans may not feel that homosexuality is right, many of us may even believe that it is a sin, but who among us is without sin? Certainly not me, and certainly not you. Would we want the U.S. Government to come into our bedrooms and decide whether our behavior their was in keeping with "traditional values?"

And even if it is a sin, what is the greater sin? To allow people whose lifestyle you disagree with to happily marry and share their lives together in peace? Or to deny these people their rights, subjecting them to a second-class status?

So I say let the Republicans have their position. History will surely show, as it always has, that the side of equality is the side of righteousness, and those who seek to oppress others will spend many generations apologizing for it."

That's what I'd say.

February 4, 2004
Ya Big Idiot

That would be me.

About half an hour ago I was spying on the neighbor through the peephole while he sorted some mail. I thought maybe I'd catch him stealing our NetFlix or something. Growing bored of that, I went out to get the mail and say hi.

It seems to me that they shouldn't make doors that lock when you pull them closed. Houses, cars, whatever. The Badunkadunk, for example, can only be locked from the inside or from the outside with the key. There is no way to lock your keys in the car; can't be done. It takes a little longer to get out of the car and run into 7-11 for a Squishy, sure, but it's worth it. One of those remote controls would work too.

Our apartment, on the other hand, has a door handle that locks on it's own. And the worst part is that it turns and opens from the inside, even when it's locked from the outside, so you can easily walk outside, feeling like you're opening an unlocked door, only to find yourself locked out. If you can't see where this is going, that's exactly what just happened to me. I was too occupied with trying to catch the neighbor in the act of mail thievery, and I pulled the door too briskly, realizing the instant it clicked that I was locked out.

I considered asking the guy if he had a phone I could use, but decided not to. Too embarrassing. It's my mess, I have to get out of it. Even if my feet are freezing.

Our back deck door was open, but our balcony is about 20 feet off the ground and inaccesible from the outside. I stood and pondered, making occassional trips to the laundry room to warm my tootsies. I tried our other neighbor, who shares access to the balcony, but he wasn't home.

I was about to clamber onto the roof and risk certain death climbing down to the balcony when I realized that our bedroom window was a little bit ajar. Hooray! I slid the window open, dove through the blinds, bruised both knees and an elbow, and I'm safe.

Stupid, but safe.

Son of a Bitch!

Hey, remember how CBS doesn't air advocacy ads? You know, they have a policy...

The policy is decades old. It is designed to prevent those with means to produce and purchase network advertising from having undue influence on "controversial issues of public importance." From the Network's perspective, we believe our viewers are better served by the balance and perspective such issues can be afforded within our news programming.


Well it seems that they are going to air this ad (see part of it here), which promotes the president's new medicare bullshit. Not only is CBS going to air the ad, but the ad, and the accompanying print and radio campaign, is being paid for with $9.5 million of taxpayer money.

I could have sworn he said something recently about requiring Congress to be wise with the taxpayer's money. I guess by wise he means using it to fund what is blatantly a Republican political ad.

An excerpt from the commercial: Man: "So my Medicare isn't different, it's just more." Voiceover: "Right."

The Center for American Progress explains the ads distortions:

The new Medicare ads urge citizens to call 1-800-MEDICARE to hear more about the new law. And in "Big Brother" style, when you call that number you have to actually say out loud "Medicare improvement" in order to get information. The information you then receive is filled with distortions. The hotline claims the new Medicare "is the same Medicare you have always counted on" ? failing to disclose that the law includes provisions which try to force more seniors into private HMOs. The hotline claims that seniors will be able to find "immediate savings between 10% to 15% from a new drug discount card program." But the cards, which were written into the bill by one of President Bush's closest business associates, actually do not guarantee any savings at all. The hotline also says the new prescription drug program under Medicare "will provide significant savings for seniors." But as the Center for Economic and Policy Research notes, "seniors in the middle income quintile will pay an average of $1,650 a year in out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs in 2006 - a figure nearly 60% more than they paid in 2000."


Excuse me while I go throw up.

Going Joeverboard

Joe to the World.

February 3, 2004
Brother, Can You Spare Half a Trillion Dollars?

How about that new federal budget? Pretty sweet, huh? Pual Krugman had a good column explaining why the whole thing will bring our society to a crushing end.

Of particular note is that this year's budget shortfall is projected to be $521 billion. They promise lower deficits in the future, but two years ago, after 9/11 mind you, the same people projected a deficit of $14 billion for this year. Oh well, cut 'em some slack, they were only off by $506 billion.

If you're not into sentences like, "2000 to 2004 security-related discretionary spending rose to 4.7 percent of G.D.P. from 3.4 percent, while nonsecurity spending rose to only 3.4 percent from 3.1 percent," then watch this neat-o cartoon from True Majority. Sums it up nicely, and with cookies.

February 2, 2004

Justin Timberlake: "I'm sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance of the Super Bowl. It was not intentional and is regrettable."

The wardrobe malfunction? Ha ha ha ha ha. I've been wearing clothes for a long time, and I've never, ever had a malfunction. They tend to stay right on my body, unless someone rips them off. Even when someone tries to rip my bodice off, it won't come off unless it's designed to come off.

Oh, and so I guess we're to assume that Janet Jackson wears nipple caps under her clothes just for fun. She never intended anyone to see that.

Well, frankly I'm outraged. Right in the middle of this beautiful, wholesome, family-themed orgy of concussions, beer commericals about igniting farts and aggressive mucho macho millionaires, we're forced to see a partially bared breast for a millisecond!! Won't someone please think of the children?!?! Oh MTV and CBS and Viacom, you used to be so good. For shame... for shame.

Now, THAT's sarcasm.

February 1, 2004
The Big Game

Yeah! Super Bowl!

super bowl