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November 30, 2004
Hey, Good Idea!

Via Atrios.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the incoming Senate minority leader, said Monday he is forming a communications "war room" to promote Democrats' messages and respond to Republican criticism.

Reid continued to put his stamp on the Senate leadership when he announced creation of a Senate Democratic Communications Center that will aim to keep the party in the public eye. The center will be launched Jan. 4, when the Senate convenes for its 2005 session.

Las Vegas Review Journal

My god, are the Democrats really just figuring out that they should have someone try to get their message out in the media? It's truly a wonder they only lost by 3 million votes.

Black Bush

In case you weren't aware, Dave Chappelle is a genius. This isn't really his finest work, but it's still a damn sight funnier than Saturday Night Live.

black bush

Black Bush (wmv).

Pentagon Report Criticizes War on Terror

Via Political Wire.

The Christian Science Monitor reports on a report quietly released by the Pentagon's Defence Science Board that strongly criticizes the war on terror and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report directly contradicts many constant assertions by the President and others in the administration, specifically that Muslim extremists "hate our freedom" and that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not united once divided factions among extremists.

Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies [the report says]. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.

Curious how this doesn't seem to be such a big story, ain't it?

The Next Einstein

... is not likely to be an American.

While increasing funding for abstinence education and funding such vital resources as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the unxsutawney Weather Museum in Pennsylvania, Congress is also cutting the funding of the National Science Foundation.

Who needs science anyway? In a generation or two, we'll all be Bible-quoting, evolution-denying, STD-infected, pregnant and vastly knowledgeable about the history of rock 'n roll and groundhogs, and the Nobel Prizes will just start rolling in.

The rest of the world is laughing as we plunge our great country right back into the dark ages.

And The Oscar Goes To...

Whoever made this. I laughed, I cried, simply brilliant.

I'm gonna watch it again.

Ridge Resigns

tom ridge

Tom Ridge becomes the latest in a long line of Bush cabinet members who suddenly feel a great need to spend more time with their families, thus leaving room for Bush to install even closer advisors in their place.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who headed President Bush's efforts to build up domestic security following the Sept. 11 attacks, resigned on Tuesday.

In the latest shake-up of Bush's second-term Cabinet, Ridge, known for his color-coded security alerts and suggesting the use of duct tape in home security kits in case of attack, announced his decision at a news conference after submitting his resignation letter to the president.

"The president has given me an extraordinary opportunity to serve my country in this incredible period since Sept. 11, 2001," said Ridge, the first head of the newly created department.

"I just want to step back and pay a little more attention to some other personal matters."

Ridge told Bush he would stay in his position until February or until his successor is confirmed.

"After more than 22 consecutive years of public service, it is time to give personal and family matters a higher priority," Ridge said in his resignation letter.


Dear President Bush

UPDATE :: From Kristof in comments, the history of this letter. It was originally addressed to Dr. Laura and was first seen in May 2000.

**** Original Post Follows ****

Forwarded to me, and so probably to you too:

Dear President Bush,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.

As you said "in the eyes of God marriage is based between a man a woman." I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her? (I'm pretty sure she's a virgin).

3. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

4. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it? How can I help you here?

5. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Aren't there 'degrees' of abomination?

6. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

7. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

8. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

9. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.

Verizon vs. You

Why can't I seem to find one company that I deal with has any honor, integrity or class? Worse, they're actually trying to hurt me, and you, for their profits. I switched to Verizon for my cell phone last year, and had been pretty happy with their service. Now I hate them and may have to find another provider, which will, of course, be just as bad.

Philadelphia's plan to offer inexpensive wireless Internet as a municipal service -- the most ambitious yet by a major U.S. city -- has collided with commercial interests including the local phone company, Verizon Communications Inc.

In fact, a bill on Gov. Ed Rendell's desk that could humble Philadelphia's ambitions began 19 months ago as a proposal drafted by lobbyists for telecommunications companies.

Regional and long-distance phone companies, who sell broadband Internet to consumers and businesses, have in recent months intensified a national campaign to quash municipal wireless initiatives like Philadelphia's as dozens of cities and towns have either begun or announced such plans -- from San Francisco to Chaska, Minn., to St. Cloud, Fla.


A few days after this story came out, the press started reporting that Verizon had "backed down" in response to public outrage over their jackass ways.

As it happens, that's a big fat lie too. The language of the bill in question was changed to allow Philadelphia to go ahead with their wireless plan, but only if they complete the system by a certain date, six months sooner than they had planned. Also, the bill still makes it illegal for other cities in PA to build their own wireless systems. Don't be fooled.

The Internet is fast becoming a vital part of this country's infrastructure and it's extremely important that we fight to make it affordable and accessible to as many people as possible, not controlled by a few giant media companies that charge exorbitant rates.

These companies are being allowed to write our laws, strictly for their own maximum profits and with no consideration of the public good.

Read much more about this issue at Freepress and American Progress, and then ask Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell to veto the bill. He has until midnight tonight to decide.

November 29, 2004
Oh Save Me Jeebus

... from your followers.

In case your kids haven't quite gotten the message that America is the center of the universe, there's this Christmas ornament.

patriot santa

Please, don't buy one.

They also have a George W. Bush ornament, in which he looks strong, resolute, determined, and gay as hell, all covered with sparkles.

Where's My Check?

Everything you need to know about Social Security reform.

Okay, not everything, but a decent bit, a good start, the basics, something, probably more than you know now.

Most importantly, the study questions the assumption, taken as a matter of faith by most people, that Social Security is broken and needs massive reform.

A Disturbing Tale

Atrios posts a (rather long) letter from a member of a group arrested in a Delaware mall for promoting "Buy Nothing Day last week.

While it does seem to be the case that, in Delaware at least, malls are not considered public spaces for the purposes of free speech protection, as they have been ruled in other states, this still doesn't sit right. If the group had been advocating a different message -- "Support Our Troops" or "Up With Shopping" -- do you think they would have been arrested?

Alabama Votes, Wishes It Were 1860 Again

File this under "OMG, WTF?!?!"

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Election officials began a statewide recount Monday after a measure to remove segregation-era language from the Alabama Constitution was apparently rejected narrowly by the voters Nov. 2.

The proposed amendment would delete unenforced sections of the constitution that mandate racially segregated schools and allow poll taxes, once used to discourage blacks from voting.

USA Today

The amendment was opposed by, you'll never believe this, ousted Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, better known for putting monuments to the Ten Commandments in the state courthouse and generally being batshit insane.

And, while some (like Charles Steele Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) are worried that this kind of thing sets back perceptions of Alabama 40 or 50 years (you're right Chuck, we think y'all are fucking nuts), the opposition claims that their stance has nothing to do with racism, it's more about -- wait for it -- not wanting to fund education.

... [opponents] said they feared the possibility of a constitutionally guaranteed public education would prompt judges to mandate increased spending for schools.

Oh! Well, damn, we wouldn't want to go around increasing spending on schools! That would just be silly.

It seems the amendment would also remove language stating that there is no right to a free education in Alabama, language that was added to the Alabama constitution after the Supreme Court declared segregation illegal in 1954.

So what Alabama voters were really voting for wasn't absurdly and embarrassingly preserving relics of their racist past, it was sensibly perpetuating their ignorant present, thus insuring a dumbass future.

Well done, 'Bama, you make us all very proud. Oh, and if you feel like seceding or something, you go right ahead.

Web Keeps Eyes on Government
Given the government keeps tabs on the world using armies of agents, algorithms and wiretaps, how can a citizen compete? Try a browser.

Wired News

While I find the blithely stated premise in the first sentence of this article to be profoundly disturbing, it has some good info on web resources for keeping tabs on that bastard stepchild of a government we find ourselves looking after these days.

The Morality of The Chronic

The Supreme Court today heard arguments in a medical marijuana case. The suit is being presented as a state's rights issue, as some voters in some states have passed laws allowing the medical use of marijuana, which is against federal law.

I'm no Constitutional lawyer, but if you ask me, this is an easy one. State's rights win in my opinion, the federal government having no legitimate power to interfere with the peoples' right to enact these kinds of laws.

But, as Dave Pell points out, this issue is being framed by the right as a morality issue, and we should really let them frame it that way. The issue here is compassion for the sick and dying, not drugs. They propose that because of some silly across-the-board federal ban, people with debilitating illness should not be allowed access to a substance that makes their lives more bearable. Is that the morality they're talking about? Is that what they're trying to teach their children? That it's okay to sit by and let someone suffer if the easing of their suffering would involve them using a substance that has been deemed ""immoral"?

In the final analysis, the restriction of certain types of drugs is completely arbitrary and idiotic, particularly in as prescription drug-addicted a country as this one. Pell puts it simply and perfectly, "if Pfizer had invented pot, we'd never have this debate."

Mine Detecting Plants

mine detecting plant

Vai Core77, the story of a Danish company that has developed a genetically modified plant that turns red when planted over buried land mines.

Decaying mines leach Nitrogen Oxide into the soil as they age, and the plant grows red in the presence of NO2. Cool.

I have mixed and relatively uninformed opinions on GMO, but this seems like a good use to me. I'm sure there's a down side, like the genetically modified gene in the plant will make its way into another plant, and then some Cambodian farmer will eat that plant and grow 9 testicles, but in the end, is that such a bad thing? I know I could use an extra set or two from time to time.

Seriously, I have no information on what the down sides of this application may be, but certainly reducing the death toll from the 100 million land mines in the world is a noble goal.

November 26, 2004

The AP reports on Bush's push for more funding (Congress just allocated $131 million) for abstinence education.

President Bush's re-election insures that more federal money will flow to abstinence education that precludes discussion of birth control, even as the administration awaits evidence that the approach gets kids to refrain from sex.

Congress last weekend included more than $131 million for abstinence programs in a $388 billion spending bill, an increase of $30 million but about $100 million less than Bush requested. Meanwhile, a national evaluation of abstinence programs has been delayed, with a final report not expected until 2006.

Now I wonder why that report keeps getting delayed? Maybe because it shows that abstinence only education has no effect on teen behavior. Could that be it?

But hell, who needs studies and all that "science" and crap, when we have common sense like this...

"We don't need a study, if I remember my biology correctly, to show us that those people who are sexually abstinent have a zero chance of becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease,'' said Wade Horn, the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services in charge of federal abstinence funding.

Oh, brilliant! By gum he's right!

The perfectly rational assumption behind this line of reasoning is, of course, that if kids are taught abstinence, they will practice abstinence. And I'll tell you something, Wade: I don't need no damn studies to tell me that's completely moronic.

It's all just another example of our new fantasy-based country. In the end, it's very simple. One side advocates arming teens with knowledge of the risks and realities of sex, thus enabling them to make informed choices. The other side advocates a very tightly controlled stream of information, telling children only what they would need to know if they lived in an ideal world, thus leaving them dangerously unprepared for the real one.

As James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth points out, "The only 100 percent way to avoid a car collision is not to drive, but the federal government sure does a lot of advocacy for safety belts."

Bottom line: If you think you can stop people from doing something by simply not telling them how to do it safely, you're an idiot. Information is not necessarily advocacy. Maybe we could give the kids a little credit, tell them the truth or something. I know it's a radical idea.

November 24, 2004
Comity and Grace
In the Senate, the Democratic leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who lost his re-election bid, delivered a poignant farewell speech that brought him a standing ovation.

"It's had its challenges, its triumphs, its disappointments," Mr. Daschle said of his 26-year career in Congress, which included a decade as the Democratic leader. "But everything was worth doing."

Mr. Daschle is the first Senate party leader in more than half a century to lose a re-election campaign. His emotional talk, in which he also urged his colleagues to find "common ground," was attended by nearly all of the Senate's Democrats, who gathered him in their arms and hugged him afterward.

But only a few Republicans showed up, and Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, who broke with Senate tradition to campaign against Mr. Daschle in his home state, South Dakota, did not appear until after Mr. Daschle finished speaking. The scant Republican showing provoked Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, to speak out. "I don't know why, why in the closing days, some element of comity, some element of grace, some element of respect for a human being, could not have gotten some of our friends out of their offices," Mr. Lautenberg said.

New York Times

I'll tell you why, Frank. It's very simple. Because they are assholes.


Let There Be Karate Chimps

karate chimp

Via electablog*

Falwell Spews Christly Compassion

I've said it before and I'll say it again, it is simply astounding how many people fundamentally misunderstand their own religions. And this from one of the leaders of this religion.

falwellFrom Falwell's November 21 televised service, broadcast from his Thomas Road Baptist Church:

"And we're going to invite PETA [to "Wild Game Night"] as our special guest, P-E-T-A -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. We want you to come, we're going to give you a top seat there, so you can sit there and suffer. This is one of my special groups, another one's the ACLU, another is the NOW -- the National Order of Witches [sic]. We've got -- I've got a lot of special groups."

From the November 22 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes:

FALWELL: Up until this generation with the influence of the American Civil Liberties Union and anti-Christ groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State --

Media Matters for America

Now I'm not a religious person in any normal way, but sometimes I really wish Jesus would come back, because it would be hilarious to see him tell these people off.

What Deficit?

Say you're a Republican lawmaker, and you have this problem. Your wars and tax cuts have created massive, record-shattering budget deficits, but you still have all these crrrrrazy plans -- like privatizing Social Security -- that you really want to push through, and these plans are going to cost billions and billions of dollars, plunging the country into even bigger deficits for, like, ever.

What do you do?

Easy! You just don't count the Social Security costs when you're calculating the budget deficit. See, since you control the offices that are in charge of producing those figures, you can really calculate them any old way you want! Math, after all, is just a theory, like evolution. It's all part of the big liberal elite conspiracy to fuck over Middle America.

Republican budget writers say they may have found a way to cut the federal deficit even if they borrow hundreds of billions more to overhaul the Social Security system: Don't count all that new borrowing.

As they lay the groundwork for what will probably be a controversial fight over Social Security, Republican lawmakers and the Bush administration are examining a number of accounting strategies that would allow the expensive transition to a partially privatized Social Security system without -- at least on paper -- expanding the country's record annual budget deficits. The strategies include, for example, moving the costs of Social Security reform "off-budget" so they are not counted against the government's yearly shortfall.

Washington Post

This is basically like buying a brand new Mercedes, but deciding that you don't have to pay for it because you have this great plan to make some money in 2047. There's really no way your plan could fail to work, so it's cool to just pretend the money is already in the bank.

November 22, 2004
So They Say

You know what I don't get? I don't get the inclusion of the song "Money" on Dark Side of the Moon. Why is that in there? It sucks.

Maybe I'll burn myself a copy of the album without Money. Personally, I think The Great Gig in the Sky would go right into Us & Them very nicely.

dark side

Loews Responds
Dear Mr. Hecht:

Thank you for your recent e-mail and for taking the time to share your comments with us concerning on-screen advertising.

I am sorry that you did not enjoy the advertising program that runs on our screens prior to the previews. Nearly all the major exhibition movie chains have been showing them for several years now. Due to the rising cost of operating our theatres, we have had no alternative other than to enter this commercial avenue or the price of tickets and concessions would have risen further.

One must acknowledge the fact that screen actors are now receiving upwards to twenty million dollar salaries per movie and the films themselves are costing over one hundred million dollars to produce. These astronomical amounts are passed on to the movie exhibition industry in the form of higher percentages of the box office going to the motion picture/distribution companies. Unfortunately, the general public is unaware of these facts and does not correspond with the motion picture companies and distributors to express their opinions.

Please be assured that we make every possible effort to provide the best customer experience in our theatres. In acknowledgment to concerns such as yours, we do our best to carefully select and limit the number of advertisements that run on our screens, paying extra attention to quality and content. We do not show more than four minutes of commercials. However, the motion picture companies/distributors would like us to show as many trailers to promote their films as possible.

I do understand your frustration with this issue and your opinion is very important to us. Therefore, it will be forwarded to the appropriate officers within our organization.

Once again, thank you for contacting us. We truly value your patronage and I hope you will reconsider a visit to a Loews Cineplex Entertainment theatre soon.

Arthur Luiz
Guest Services Manager

First, I'm quite impressed that I received a semi-personal email response less than 24 hours from sending a complaint via their web form, and from a real person's email address. These days, that's almost astounding.

As for Mr. Luiz's specific responses, I'm sure he's right that the costs associated with running that business have increased, and certainly actors' paychecks are insane, but I suspect there's a bit more of a profit motive going on here than the "we're just trying to survive" attitude he portrays. Loews is the third largest theater chain in the world, they're not struggling. Cutting out commercials before the feature is not going to make or break this company.

Oh, and they showed commercials for well over four minutes.

If you need a more serious and topical reason not to patronize Loews Theaters, how about this: They're partially owned by The Carlyle Group, war profiteers extraordinaire. That does it for me.

Support your local independent movie house! Even if they do show advertising.

Hunting Turns Violent

I guess we can file this under Heartland Values..

A deer hunter shot and killed five people and injured three others in northwestern Wisconsin following a dispute about a tree stand during the hunt's opening weekend, authorities said.


"When you're hunting you don't expect somebody to try to shoot you and murder you,'' he [uninvolved Hunter Bill Wagner, 72] said.


That's true, Bill, unless of course you're the deer.

What kind of a world do we live in when a nice family sport like hunting turns to bloodshed? How could this have happened?

November 21, 2004
Pop Goes the Populism

More good reading from Digby.


This is the world in which we live whether we like it or not. The Republicans are selling a vision and a sense of belonging to a certain tribe. We are selling an argument and a program. They are using 21st century tools to manipulate primal human needs and simplify the world. We are using 20th century methods to appeal to reason in a complicated way. They have the better hand.
After These Messages... We Won't Be Right Back

Last night Liz and I went to see Sideways at the Uptown Theater in Seattle, which is a Loews theater.

The movie was great, but that's not the point.

Showtime was 7 p.m. We were in our seats at about 6:50, and right on time, the commercials started. Commercials before the feature aren't anything new, they've been creeping in for the past few years, but this was by far the most ridiculous instance I've ever seen. The commercials went on for -- I'm not kidding -- over 10 minutes. There was a Coke commercial, a Samsung commercial, a Fandango commercial (at least that one had something to do with the movies), a Dove soap commercial, a L'Oreal cosmetics commercial, and at least one or two others that I can't remember.

I personally was pissed off from the very start, but only good-naturedly so at first. The Coke commercial was for "C2," their new "low-carb" soda, and it was tragically accompanied by the Queen song "I Want to Break Free," implying that one could express one's freedom and individuality by drinking low-carb soda. Lame to be sure, and the Queen song was an added insult, but I'm used to it.

As the ads went on, though, my good-naturedness faded rapidly and the theater became increasingly restless. People started yelling "Boo!" and "Enough!" as each ad ended and another began. I audibly suggested that we start a riot. I was about to throw the popcorn at the screen, but then I remembered that it cost $5.

Finally, the previews started, which seemed like a relief. Of course, previews are just commercials for movies, but I like previews, and they're an accepted part of the movie going experience. The movie started at about 7:20.

What really bothered me, though, was that by the end of the picture, I'm sure nearly everyone had forgotten about the insult we had suffered at the beginning, and even if they remembered, as I did, I doubt even one person did much about it.

Further, even if people did complain, it's pretty empty as they've already seen the movie, paid the ticket price, and they will surely come and see a movie again. The theater companies know this. They know that the ads will piss a certain percentage of people off, but that only a very small percentage of those people will even complain, let alone actually follow through on any threats not to patronize the theater again. In the end, they got the ads in front of you with a minimal cost, so any complaints, emails, letters, etc. have no teeth. It's all a cost-benefit analysis, and in every case the benefit outweighs the cost.

So what to do? Paying $20 to go see a film and being subjected to ten minutes of completely unrelated advertising is patently offensive to me, but I really like the movies and want to see them in a theater. (DVDs often have non-skippable ads at the front now, too). Clearly this bothers many people as some theaters have taken to specifically advertising that they do not show ads before their features.

We need a way to let these theaters and the multi-million dollar companies that own them know that this is unacceptable, but a way that will matter to them.

So we came up with a little plan. Sort of a reverse guerilla marketing effort.

Here's what we do: In the normal course of going to the movies, we're all bound to come across theaters that show ads, and some, like the Uptown, that take this practice to absurd and insulting extremes. While it never hurts to complain to the management, as long as you stay and watch the film, there's no real impact. So what Liz and I are planning to do is buy tickets at these theaters for movies we've already seen or have no interest in seeing, sit through the commercials, and then walk out and demand a refund. The seat will almost certainly go unsold, and if this starts happening often enough, theater managers, owners, and chains will start to notice.

As any individual or couple isn't going to be able to pull it off all that many times before they run out of offending theaters in their city or town, we'd be very interested if anyone else would be willing to do this with us. Let me know what happens, what the theater staff say, if you have to argue for a refund or if they give it up easily, etc.

Let's see how this goes.

The FCC Won't Let Me Be Or Let Me Be Me So Let Me See

Achtung! This is getting serious.

The FCC is poised to expand their scope to include regulating satellite radio, cable, and possibly even the Internet for "indecent content."

The FCC's role in watching over-the-air radio and television makes some small amount of sense. These airwaves are indeed public and can be accessed by anyone with a receiver, and the spectrum is limited, so it's important to ensure, in theory anyway, that any one voice isn't dominating. I still think it's puritanical, ineffective, and stupid, but at least the reasoning behind it makes some logical sense.

Regulating paid services like cable and satellite radio, however, is a completely different thing. These media are not limited in bandwidth and are not accessible to the general public except by paid subscription. The government has absolutely no business regulating the content on these services.

As the government attempts to gain more and more control over "objectionable" content, what they're really restricting is not nipples and the f-bomb, but freedom of thought and expression itself and we can't allow them to go down this slippery slope.

Even WNET, PBS affiliate in New York City of all places, has refused to air an ad for the current film Kinsey, not because of the content of the ad, but because of the content of the film, and fear of the controversy that the far-right has whipped up around it. (Contact WNET)

This only a week or so after many ABC affiliates refused to air Saving Private Ryan on Veteran's Day for fear of FCC fines.

It shouldn't be necessary to point out how incredibly dangerous this kind of censorship is. Fight it.


Included in the $388 billion dollar Omnibus (Latin meaning "for all") spending bill passed by the Congress yesterday were such crucial provisions as $2 million for the government to buy back the Presidential yacht.

"I'm very proud of the fact that we held the line and made Congress make choices and set priorities, because it follows our philosophy," Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said in House debate.


It's really not worth commenting on this, it's simply indefensible.

But that's not even the worst of it. And in the end, we don't even know what the worst of it is.

Also included in the bill is a provision which allows Congressional Appropriations Committees to review the tax return of any American with absolutely no restrictions.

"Hereinafter, notwithstanding any other provision of law governing the disclosure of income tax returns or return information, upon written request of the Chairman of the House or Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service shall allow agents designated by such Chairman access to Internal Revenue Service facilities and any tax returns or return information contained therein."

The Republicans are calling this a "mistake" and blaming it on some random staffer.

John McCain explained to Tim Russert this morning how these things happen. It's because no one gets to read to legislation they're passing.

MR. RUSSERT: In the House version of this spending bill, there was a provision which said that the Appropriations Committee should have access to taxpayers' tax returns. How did that happen?

SEN. McCAIN: What happens here is that they slap these omnibus bills together--as you mentioned, this one's nine bills that we should have passed separately--nobody sees them or reads them. It was a 1,630- page document yesterday that was presented to us sometime in the morning, and we voted on it in the evening. The system is broken, and everybody, of course, wanted to get out of town, understandably.

MR. RUSSERT: Why should Congress have access to citizens' tax returns?

SEN. McCAIN: According to--Senator Stevens' explanation on the floor last night was that two staffers put in this provision and no one knew about it until another Senator Conrad staffer discovered it.

MR. RUSSERT: What was their motive?

SEN. McCAIN: That should--you know, I don't know. I can't imagine. But the fact that our system is such that that would ever be inserted and passed by the House of Representatives--if there's ever a graphic example of the broken system that we now have, that certainly has to be it.

MR. RUSSERT: House...

SEN. McCAIN: How many other provisions didn't we find in that 1,600-page bill?

MR. RUSSERT: That provision won't become law ever.

SEN. McCAIN: No. No. No. We worked out a procedure where the House--it doesn't matter but it'll be fixed, but the fact that it got in there in the first place is chilling.


Chilling indeed.

Washington Post Prints Homphobic Magazine Supplement

It's really shocking that a major paper would accept this kind of advertisiing. While freedom of speech issues may have some relevance here, the author of the Americablog post on this correctly points out that there is little doubt that the Post would have refused to publish this garbage if the minority group targeted was any but homosexuals. Consider, for example, if some white supremacist group had sponsored a similar pullout targeting blacks and citing completely discredited "science" claiming that blacks are inferior to whites. (The ad in question claims that monogamous, non-AIDS infected gay men have a median life expectancy of 41 years.)

Download a 1.2MB PDF of the entire "magazine" here.

Then email the Post's ombudsman, Mike Getler, here.

November 20, 2004
Republicans Slip Anti-Abortion Language into Appropriations Bill

Taking advantage of the pressure on lawmakers to pass the $388 billion dollar spending bill, which, if not passed, would cause a partial government shutdown, Republicans have managed to work some anti-abortion language into the bill, basically writing laws with spending bills.

The abortion language would bar federal, state and local agencies from withholding taxpayer money from health care providers that refuse to provide or pay for abortions or refuse to offer abortion counseling or referrals. Current federal law, aimed at protecting Roman Catholic doctors, provides such "conscience protection'' to doctors who do not want to undergo abortion training. The new language would expand that protection to all health care providers, including hospitals, doctors, clinics and insurers.

"It's something we've had a longstanding interest in," said Douglas Johnson, a spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee. He added, "This is in response to an orchestrated campaign by pro-abortion groups across the country to use government agencies to coerce health care providers to participate in abortions."

The provision could affect millions of American women, according to Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, who warned Friday that she would use procedural tactics to slow Senate business to a crawl if the language was not altered.

"I am willing to stand on my feet and slow this thing down," Ms. Boxer said. "Everyone wants to go home, I know that, and I know I will not win a popularity contest in the Senate. But they should not be doing this. On a huge spending bill they're writing law, and they're taking away rights from women."

The New York Times

It's probably too late, as the Senate is going to vote on this bill today, but it couldn't hurt to send Senator Boxer an email or call her office at (202) 224-3553 and tell her you support her in any attempts to block this provision.

Find your own member of Congress and let them know how you feel about this, too.

November 19, 2004
A Message From John Kerry

john kerry

John Kerry is talking tough, which I like. He's not talking about cooperation and "reaching across the aisle," he's talking about fighting back.

Despite the words of cooperation and moderate sounding promises, this administration is planning a right wing assault on values and ideals we hold most deeply. Healthy debate and diverse opinion are being eliminated from the State Department and CIA, and the cabinet is being remade to rubber stamp policies that will undermine Social Security, balloon the deficit, avoid real reforms in health care and education, weaken homeland security, and walk away from critical allies around the world.

Video of this message here.

Good boy, John.

He is also promising to introduce a bill to provide health care for "every child in America" and instead of cosponsoring the bill with other Senators, he is inviting the public to sign a petition and to sponsor the bill with him. Gimmicky? Sure. Maybe just gimmicky enough to work. If he presents this bill with the signatures of millions and millions of regular Americans, it could be pretty powerful.

Sign up to cosponsor the Protect Every Child Bill.

November 18, 2004
Microsoft to World: Screw You

Yet another reason to move away from Microsoft products...

They're threatening foreign governments who have moved their systems to Linux or other open-source software, saying that Linux violates intellectual property.

I don't know too much about the various lawsuits that claim that Linux violates patents, but I do know that I trust the worldwide developers of Linux to be on my side a hell of a lot more than I trust Microsoft.

CEO Steve Ballmer also offered this little bit of absurdity..

"We think our software is far more secure than open-source software. It is more secure because we stand behind it, we fixed it, because we built it. Nobody ever knows who built open-source software," he added.


This from the company that just released XP Service Pack 2, an update intended to address hundreds of security holes in Windows, and which has already been found to have serious security flaws of its own.

November 17, 2004
Accountability Update

Behind closed doors and by voice vote, They did it.

Spurred by an investigation connected to the majority leader, House Republicans voted Wednesday to abandon an 11-year-old party rule that required a member of their leadership to step aside temporarily if indicted.

Meeting behind closed doors, the lawmakers agreed that a party steering committee would review any indictments handed up against the majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, or any other members of the leadership team or committee chairmen, to determine if giving up a post was warranted. The revision does not change the requirement that leaders step down if convicted.

The new rule was adopted by voice vote. Its chief author, Representative Henry Bonilla of Texas, said later that only a handful of members had opposed it.

The Republicans' old rule was adopted in August 1993 to put a spotlight on the legal troubles of prominent Democrats. Mr. Bonilla said revising it had been necessary to prevent politically inspired criminal investigations by "crackpot" prosecutors from determining the fate of top Republicans.

"Attorneys tell me you can be indicted for just about anything in this country, in any county or community," said Mr. Bonilla, an ally of Mr. DeLay. "Sometimes district attorneys who might have partisan agendas or want to read their name in the paper could make a name for themselves by indicting a member of the leadership, regardless of who it may be, and therefore determine their future. And that's not right."

New York Times



Remember how the Republicans were always talking about restoring things like "honor" and "credibility" and "accountability" to Washington?

Well, check out the bastards now...

The House GOP caucus is likely to vote today to end its rule requiring leaders to step down if indicted, thus shielding Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) in the event that criminal charges are brought against him in a highly controversial case in Texas.

The effort to change the decade-old rule is being led by Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) to head off the threat posed by what Republicans say is a Democratic political witch hunt against DeLay after his success in redistricting Texas in the GOP's favor.

Austin's district attorney, Ronnie Earle, has indicted two of DeLay's closest fundraisers for their role in that effort and could indict DeLay himself.

The Hill

Their justification for this crap is that they want to shield DeLay from "a political witch-hunt," which is what a grand jury indictment is called if it's a Republican politician being indicted. If it's a Democrat, it's called "justice."

It's taking me a while to get the hang of the NewSpeak, but I'm learning.

The rule requiring leaders to step down if indicted was originally pushed by Republicans in 1993 when several Democrats were indicted.

Russian Nukes

This kind of thing really makes me sick. While we start wars over low-grade, made-up weapons of mass destruction, we and our allies are publicly, unabashedly and seemingly without irony going about developing new and more efficient ways of destroying all life on earth.

MOSCOW (AP) - President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia is developing a new form of nuclear missile unlike those held by other countries, news agencies reported.

Speaking at a meeting of the Armed Forces' leadership, Putin reportedly said that Russia is researching and successfully testing new nuclear missile systems.


Earlier this year, a senior Defense Ministry official was quoted as telling news agencies that Russia had developed a weapon that could make the United States' proposed missile-defense system useless. Details were not given, but military analysts said the claimed new weapon could be a hypersonic cruise missile or maneuverable ballistic missile warheads.

Associated Press

It literally makes me ill. How can we expect to be credible in our bloody crusade to rid the world of weapons of mass murder when we operate under such incredible double standards? I'm not suggesting that we are credible -- we're not -- but anyone who is surprised that "our enemies" and the majority of the population of the world don't quite believe that our talk of freedom, democracy and peace is anything but self-serving, hypocritical nonsense can be added to the nuts list.

(Naturally, this story is about Russia's weapons, not ours. Rest assured, though, that we have and are still developing equally apocalyptic systems.)

November 16, 2004
Ashcroft: Judicial System "Intrusive"

From our outgoing Attorney General. The head of the Justice Department.

WASHINGTON - Federal judges are jeopardizing national security by issuing rulings contradictory to President Bush's decisions on America's obligations under international treaties and agreements, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Friday.

In his first remarks since his resignation was announced Tuesday, Ashcroft forcefully denounced what he called "a profoundly disturbing trend" among some judges to interfere in the president's constitutional authority to make decisions during war.

"The danger I see here is that intrusive judicial oversight and second-guessing of presidential determinations in these critical areas can put at risk the very security of our nation in a time of war," Ashcroft said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative lawyers group.

Associated Press

Oh yeah, we wouldn't want our judiciary to go around "second-guessing" presidential fiats. That would be such an intrusion...

Remember, you 51 percenters, you voted for these nutballs.

Condi The Liar

Well, it's official... Bush has nominated Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State.

The reasons I detest Rice are many, but the biggest one is that she's a bald-faced liar. I know that's not uncommon in government, but she's particularly egregious in my opinion. In short, she sucks.

According to the Washington Post. "many experts consider her one of the weakest national security advisers in recent history in terms of managing interagency conflicts." Sweet!

For a good rundown of exactly why she sucks, see the American Progress's report.

CIA Purges The Disloyal
WASHINGTON -- The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.

"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."


Because, really, what could possibly be the benefit of having people with different perspectives and who may question assumptions in our intelligence community? Clearly, we'll get much more reliable intelligence if everybody has the same political ideology. Duh.

If this doesn't scare the hell out of you, you're nuts.

November 12, 2004
Greetings From Red America

It's 5:45 a.m. (Seattle time) and I'm being forced to spend several hours in George Bush Intercontinental Airport, which I'm totally psyched about. I have a "No Dubya" pin displayed rather prominently on my backpack (get your very own!), so I'm hoping people notice that. I'm anti this airport's namesake's son, and I want everybody to know it.

It's decidedly strange to be here. I feel like I landed in a different country, a place in which I could never imagine living. I'm sure there's a Democrat somewhere between here and Austin, but I bet he won't admit it.

When we were waiting in the Jetway™ to board the plane in Seattle, two guys behind us noticed my button and started talking to each other about Bush. The first said that he was, "a huge fan of George W" and had recently met a couple of people in Alaska who completely stopped talking to him when they found out he was a Bush supporter. He and his friend seemed pretty incredulous that people felt that strongly about Bush. The first guy said, "I guess I just like him 'cuz he's from Texas." His friend said, "I feel protected." They then both agreed that it really doesn't make any difference to them who the president is, one even going so far as to say that, "they don't have any real power anyway. Congress has to approve everything they do." His friend agreed.

The exchange really worked on my last nerve, as you can imagine. And for so many different reasons! First, they're mere status as Bush fans was enough to get my bile rising. Their surprise at people having strong feelings about the election fits perfectly with their complete ignorance of the importance and power of the office of president and how much direct influence that one man has on the lives of millions, even billions of people for years well beyond his time in office. It's hard to imagine how someone could seriously think that the direction the country is headed hasn't changed significantly over the past four years. I suppose if people look at only their own lives, it's possible that not much has changed for them, but what an unimaginably self-centered little world they must live in.

Off to Mexico.

November 11, 2004

Though it is sadly not one of my t-shirt designs, this one's too good not to mention.


You can buy them here.

In other t-shirt news, I'm going to Mexico tonight, to return, if I return, late Monday.

It's possible that I'll be able to blog from Mexico, but that would be kind of sad.


U.S. officials are openly admitting that the ongoing assault on Fallujah will probably have little effect on the insurgency in Iraq.

The U.S. military said on Thursday this week's Falluja offensive would not shatter Iraq's insurgency, while analysts argued merely seizing real estate does little to stop rebels able to relocate and keep fighting.

U.S. officials have said Iraqi rebel leaders and foreigners, including al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, used the Sunni Muslim city west of Baghdad as a safe haven from which to direct a campaign of bombings, killings and kidnappings.

But U.S. commanders have acknowledged Zarqawi and other senior insurgents probably left Falluja before Monday's launch of the long-expected offensive to take control of the city.

"For Falluja to be a success from the U.S. perspective, we would have to achieve something pretty close to total victory -- not just retaking real estate but accomplishing real strategic objectives," said defense analyst Charles Pena of the Cato Institute

"That could be capturing al-Zarqawi or being able to say we've destroyed his network, and that the net result is a reduction in the violence in Iraq and an increase in security," Pena added.

"What do the bad guys have to do? They've got to not lose. And not lose just simply means surviving to fight another day. And that's exactly what they've done," Pena said.


And what is the cost of this little "Get Your Mind Off the Election and Whip Up Some Patriotic Fervor" adventure, besides the 18 U.S. soldiers killed so far?

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Fighting in Fallujah has created a humanitarian disaster in which innocent people are dying because medical help can't reach them, aid workers in Iraq said on Wednesday.

In one case, a pregnant woman and her child died in a refugee camp west of the city after the mother unexpectedly aborted and no doctors were on hand, Firdoos al-Ubadi, an official from the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, told Reuters.

In another case, a young boy died from a snake bite that would normally have been easily treatable, she said.

"From a humanitarian point of view it's a disaster, there's no other way to describe it. And if we don't do something about it soon, it's going to spread to other cities," she said.


You Owe The Liberals Nothing

Congratulatory letter to President George W. Bush from Dr. Bob Jones III

President George W. Bush The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The media tells us that you have received the largest number of popular votes of any president in America's history. Congratulations!

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America--though she doesn't deserve it--a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

Had your opponent won, I would have still given thanks, because the Bible says I must (I Thessalonians 5:18). It would have been hard, but because the Lord lifts up whom He will and pulls down whom He will, I would have done it. It is easy to rejoice today, because Christ has allowed you to be His servant in this nation for another presidential term. Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years--a brief time only--to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God.

Christ said, "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my father honour" (John 12:26).

The student body, faculty, and staff at Bob Jones University commit ourselves to pray for you--that you would do right and honor the Savior. Pull out all the stops and make a difference. If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them. Conservative Americans would love to see one president who doesn't care whether he is liked, but cares infinitely that he does right.

Best wishes.

Sincerely your friend,

Bob Jones III


What Harm Did a Couple of Tanks Ever Do to Anyone?

This was posted and is viewable in my comments, but it's so unbelievable that I thought I'd share it with the class.

Posted in comments to this post below about two tanks confronting anti-war protesters in Los Angeles.

"Did the tanks shoot anyone? Did they run over anyone head? Were the protestors repressed in any way?"

Fritz of "Cinerati"

That's right, there are actually people in this country -- people with access to computers -- who think that as long as tanks don't "run over anyone head," it's perfectly acceptable to have them hang around peaceful protesters.

If anyone knows this person, maybe they should follow him around one day with a gun to his head. Just as a precaution in case he steps out of line. I mean, as long as they don't shoot, what's the problem?

Yes, I've Seen fuckthesouth.com

In the interest of stemming the tide of people recommending this to me-- not that I don't appreciate it, I do most heartily appreciate it-- here go a link to Fuckthesouth.com, the ravings of a pissed off Massachusetts liberal.

It's pretty damn funny, and features a whole hell of a lot of cursing.

Fuckin' A.

Tanks Confront Protestors in LA

Yes, you read that right. Tanks. Two of them.

tanks in la

LOS ANGELES, November 9, 2004 - At 7:50 PM two armored tanks showed up at an anti-war protest in front of the federal building in Westwood. The tanks circled the block twice, the second time parking themselves in the street and directly in front of the area where most of the protesters were gathered. Enraged, some of the people attempted to block the tanks, but police quickly cleared the street. The people continued to protest the presence of the tanks, but about ten minutes the tanks drove off. It is unclear as to why the tanks were deployed to this location.


Watch the video.

November 10, 2004
Alberto Gonzales

As many have pointed out, Alberto Gonzales is a scary man by many measures, and not only for his infamous "torture memo."

The Center for American Progress has an excellent and well-documented summary of all the reasons he's a dangerous and evil bastard who thinks it's in the public interest to execute the severely mentally retarded.

The New Face of Justice

alberto gonzales

President Bush has selected Alberto "The Geneva Conventions are Obsolete" Gonzales to replace John Ashcroft as Attorney General.

I don't care if he is Hispanic, he sucks.

Story - New York Times

November 9, 2004
AP Punks Ashcroft One Last Time

In a beautiful little jab, the Associated Press accompanied the announcement of John Ashcroft's resignation with this photo, taken in 2001, before he had a chance to cover up Justice's titties.


I love it.


Yasser Arafat has died.

Then again, he hasn't died.

He may be just resting.

Can't we just assume, for all practical purposes, that he's dead already? It's not like he's going to recover and do something. What are they expecting to happen? "No, no, we can't decide on a transition of power yet, the Chairman may yet convulse us a message.."


Ashcroft, Evans Resign

John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans resigned from Bush's cabinet today, according to the AP.

I don't know if this is good news or bad news, as I'm sure Bush will appoint someone largely as vile, though Ashcroft does have some pretty vile shoes to fill.

To wit, an excerpt from his five-page, handwritten resignation to the president:

"The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."


WHAT?!?! Are you fucking insane man? Oh yeah, you are.

He went on to say that he believes "that the Department of Justice would be well served by new leadership and fresh inspiration."

I don't get it. If the American people are secure and safe from crime and terror, why don't we just dissolve the Justice Department? I mean, these Republicans are for small government, right? Now that the mission has been accomplished, we could save billions by just eliminating the entire department. Pity the poor soul who takes over such a suddenly useless organization. What will they do all day?

Lions For Jesus?

A Taiwanese Christian man is single-handedly trying to revive an ancient tradition by feeding himself to the lions...

lions for jesus

A man leaped into a lion's den at the Taipei Zoo on Wednesday to try to convert the king of beasts to Christianity, but was bitten in the leg for his efforts.

"Jesus will save you!" shouted the 46-year-old man at two African lions lounging under a tree a few meters away.

"Come bite me!" he said with both hands raised, television footage showed.

One of the lions, a large male with a shaggy mane, bit the man in his right leg before zoo workers drove it off with water hoses and tranquilizer guns.


November 8, 2004

The ever-entertaining and brilliant Digby has a must-read this week on the nature and history of the Southern grudge against the North, or what has lately become the "Heartland" grudge against the "Liberal Elite."

I won't try to sum it up or add anything, I'll just encourage you to read it.

Go read it.


Bush Advisor: The Sky Isn't Falling

Believe it or not, this isn't a joke. The man quoted in this article is an advisor to the president.

An advisor to President George W Bush has reportedly claimed that global warming is a fallacy created to disrupt the American economy, in an interview on Radio 4. Myron Ebell, from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), claimed that the notion of climate change through man-made emissions was "ridiculous and unrealistic".

The views of the UK's chief scientist Sir David King - who stated that global warming posed a bigger threat to the planet than terrorism - were dismissed by Ebell as 'a ridiculous claim', and Sir David an 'alarmist'. The European Commission was also accused by Ebell of targeting the American economy through efforts to develop an international climate change strategy.

Green Consumer Guide

And have you heard? There's this great new thing called "eugenics" that can tell how worthwhile people are simply by examining their physical characteristics. Science marches... back.

Deficits Schmeficits

Don't forget, deficits don't matter. Unless, you know, you're interested in, what's it called... reality.

The dollar hit a fresh record low against the euro and a nine-year low on a trade-weighted index on Monday as investors continued to shun the greenback on worries over the United States' bloated deficits.


American Values

I'm not saying they're representative, but I got $100 that say these guys were not Kerry supporters. I'd make it $1000, but I don't have that much.

SAN DIEGO -- A man was beaten just outside his University City apartment by a group of five men who believed he was from the Middle East, San Diego police said Thursday.

The victim was trying to park when the assailants, all white men, threw a beer bottle and shattered his car window just after 11 p.m. Wednesday, Sgt. Rich Nemetz said.

The assailants then knocked down the victim as he got out of his car, kicking him, yelling racial slurs and telling him to go back to Iraq, Nemetz said. The victim is of Portuguese descent.

The men took the victim's shoes and fled in a black SUV, threatening to return and kill him, Nemetz said.

The attackers remained at large Thursday, Nemetz said.


Evidence Mounts

But since when does "evidence" matter around here?

Maybe this time it will. The bastard hasn't been sworn in yet...

The State of Florida, for example, publishes a county-by-county record of votes cast and people registered to vote by party affiliation. Net denizen Kathy Dopp compiled the official state information into a table, available at http://ustogether.org/Florida_Election.htm, and noticed something startling.

While the heavily scrutinized touch-screen voting machines seemed to produce results in which the registered Democrat/Republican ratios largely matched the Kerry/Bush vote, in Florida's counties using results from optically scanned paper ballots - fed into a central tabulator PC and thus vulnerable to hacking - the results seem to contain substantial anomalies.

In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.

In Dixie County, with 9,676 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush.

The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the counties where optical scanners were used. Franklin County, 77.3% registered Democrats, went 58.5% for Bush. Holmes County, 72.7% registered Democrats, went 77.25% for Bush.

Common Dreams

This all gets back to the anomalies in the exit polls on Election Day. Conservatives and the media have been quick to declare that the exit polls were wrong or rigged.

Now, is it more likely that someone would rig exit polls, which have no power to elect or defeat, or that they would rig actual votes? Seems pretty obvious to me.

The article above goes on to describe a segment on CNBC in which Howard Dean and Bev Harris of Blackboxvoting.org demonstrate how election results can be altered in about 90 seconds. (video clip here)

I highly recommend taking a look at the chart of Florida election results here. Look at the optical-scan counties, in the percent change column. This is the percentage change in reported votes for each candidate from what is statistically expected from registration data.

In other words, say there are 1000 voters in County A, 70% registered Democrats and 30% registered Republicans. In this, one of the most divisive and partisan elections in some time, voters overwhelmingly split along party lines. If anything, more moderate Republicans split for Senator Kerry than the reverse. What this table shows is that in our hypothetical County A, Bush may have received 850 votes to Kerry's 150. Does that seem plausible?

In county after county -- but only significantly in the optical-scan counties, the percentage change for the Republicans is in the hundreds of percent. In only 2 out of the 52 counties that used optical scan machines did the Democrats' percentage change exceed the Republicans', and in those two only by a small margin.

There is still time. Send this link to your Senators and Congress-peoples. Demand an investigation. Fucking DEMAND it.

Allawi Ain't Shit

Dear News Media,

Can you please stop saying that Iyad Allawi is authorizing or approving any of our military's actions in Iraq? It's clearly bullshit, he obviously has absolutely no authority over any of this, and it's pissing me off that you keep saying it.

Examples: Reuters | New York Times | Reuters again.

Knock it off.


November 7, 2004

This picture really frightens me.

christian bush supporters

From The Washington Post.

Evil Ideology

Former major league pitcher, and current Christian talk-radio host Frank Pastore writes some commentary in the L.A. Times...

On Tuesday, this nation rejected liberalism, primarily because liberalism has been taken captive by the left. Since 1968, the left has taken millions captive, and we must help those Democrats who truly want to be free to actually break free of this evil ideology.

In the weeks and months to come, we will hear the voices of well-meaning people beseeching the victor to compromise with the vanquished. This would be a mistake. Conservatives must not compromise with the left. Good people holding false ideas are won over only if we defeat what is false with the truth.

The left must be defeated in the realm of ideas, just as it was on Tuesday at the ballot box. The left hates the ballot box and loves its courtrooms, which is why it hopes to continue to advance its agenda through the courts. This must end.

The left bewitches with its potions and elixirs, served daily in its strongholds of academe, Hollywood and old media. It vomits upon the morals, values and traditions we hold sacred: God, family and country. As we learned Tuesday, it is clear the left holds the majority of Americans, the majority of us, in contempt.


We are exceptional. We are unique. And we are the greatest force for good in the world, despite what the left, the terrorists or the United Nations may claim. It is for these reasons that we remain the last great hope in the world for freedom.

We continue to be that shining city set on a hill. And we fully accept the responsibility; we are proud to be the envy of the world.

L.A. Times

I can't really put into words how afraid I am of these people. These ideas, this religious and nationalistic exceptionalism, have likely caused more death and strife throughout history than any others. All we need to do is substitute any other religion or ideology for the "acceptable" Christianity in his tirade to see how truly vile and dangerous this kind of talk is.

Jesse at Pandagon argues that this kind of thing is ultimately good for our side, because this kind of radicalism will surely alienate the majority of American Christians who do not see things nearly this starkly. I really hope he's right. I honestly can't imagine living in a country where the kinds of ideas expressed in Pastore's piece are considered mainstream.

What I've been fearful of this past week is that I might already live in such a country.

It also should be noted that the left, myself included, uses similar language to some of what Pastore writes, but with what I think are very important differences. We do believe, some of us, that the right has a somewhat "bewitching" power to influence people to vote against their rational interests and that the [far] right must be defeated in the "realm of ideas."

What we - or at least I - do not believe, though, is that we are "unique, exceptional.. the greatest force for good in the world." This smacks of hubris. We believe we're doing the best we can for the world and for ourselves through reasoned discourse and thoughtful policy, not by force of faith that we are good and right alone. The basic struggle is between a basic belief in the primacy of facts, evidence and real-world experience versus the belief in one side's infallibility and "chosen" status. The latter, it seems to me, is on it's face the more dangerous and less effective. From what I know of history, it has never, ever been the greatest force for good in the world. That honor, in my opinion, goes to basic humanism - the simple idea that all humans are worthy of equal respect.

Except Frank Pastore.

November 5, 2004

A little payback for Jersey going to Kerry, I guess...

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A National Guard F-16 fighter plane mistakenly fired off 25 rounds of ammunition at the Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School in South New Jersey on Wednesday night.

The pilot was meant to fire the rounds some 3 1/2 miles away at a military target range, Lt. Col. Roberta Niedt of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs told reporters in the Jersey shore township's police headquarters.

No one was injured as school was out and a lone custodian was inside the building when the bullets hit.


Sorry Everybody

Dear World,

We're really sorry.

A LOT of Us.


This is one story being reported, which probably translates to many others not being reported, and many that will never be discovered.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - An error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in suburban Columbus, elections officials said.

Franklin County's unofficial results had Bush receiving 4,258 votes to Democrat John Kerry's 260 votes in a precinct in Gahanna. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.

Bush actually received 365 votes in the precinct, Matthew Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, told The Columbus Dispatch.

State and county election officials did not immediately respond to requests by The Associated Press for more details about the voting system and its vendor, and whether the error, if repeated elsewhere in Ohio, could have affected the outcome


In one North Carolina county, more than 4,500 votes were lost because officials mistakenly believed a computer that stored ballots electronically could hold more data than it did. And in San Francisco, a malfunction with custom voting software could delay efforts to declare the winners of four races for county supervisor.

In the Ohio precinct in question, the votes are recorded onto a cartridge. On one of the three machines at that precinct, a malfunction occurred in the recording process, Damschroder said. He could not explain how the malfunction occurred.


Mark Crispin Miller is a media critic, professor of communications at New York University, and author, most recently, of "Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order."

First of all, this election was definitely rigged. I have no doubt about it. It's a statistical impossibility that Bush got 8 million more votes than he got last time. In 2000, he got 15 million votes from right-wing Christians, and there are approximately 19 million of them in the country. They were eager to get the other 4 million. That was pretty much Karl Rove's strategy to get Bush elected.

But given Bush's low popularity ratings and the enormous number of new voters - who skewed Democratic - there is no way in the world that Bush got 8 million more votes this time. I think it had a lot to do with the electronic voting machines. Those machines are completely untrustworthy, and that's why the Republicans use them. Then there's the fact that the immediate claim of Ohio was not contested by the news media - when Andrew Card came out and claimed the state, not only were the votes in Ohio not counted, they weren't even all cast.

Salon (via truthout.com)

November 4, 2004
Reach Out To This, Bastards

I'm also (along with Josh Marshall) not often a huge fan of Maureen Dowd, but this one, I like.

Does anyone seriously expect us to try to come together with people like these?

Tom Coburn, the new senator from Oklahoma, has advocated the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions and warned that "the gay agenda" would undermine the country. He also characterized his race as a choice between "good and evil" and said he had heard there was "rampant lesbianism" in Oklahoma schools.

Jim DeMint, the new senator from South Carolina, said during his campaign that he supported a state G.O.P. platform plank banning gays from teaching in public schools. He explained, "I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend should be hired to teach my third-grade children."

John Thune, who toppled Tom Daschle, is an anti-abortion Christian conservative - or "servant leader," as he was hailed in a campaign ad - who supports constitutional amendments banning flag burning and gay marriage.

Don't kid yourselves. These people mean to completely remake America as a conservative , even fundamentalist, Christian state.

You've Come A Long Way, Slavey

slave states

Now, before anyone goes flying off the handle, I'm well aware that there are lots and lots of Democrats in the red states and lots and lots of Republicans in the blue. And yes, you could pull up an election map from a few or twenty years ago that completely screws this comparison.

But this comparison is only about this year. And for this year, this does mean something. The attitudes that are prevalent among many Bush supporters are, in my opinion, not far off from the attitudes of pro-slavery people back then. The same arguments pop up all the time, when it comes to gay marriage in particular.

And as for the little voices of Democrats crying out from down there, yearning to be heard. I hear ya. But you're way outnumbered.

Stand and Fight..?

** Welcome to Slapnose.com Blog Entry #1000! Hooray! **

Via Luke, the wise words of Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the Nation.

But this morning, we woke to a country at war with itself--as well as Al Qaeda. As America fights Islamic fundamentalism abroad, progressives are re-fighting the Enlightenment here at home. (The two new Senators from Oklahoma and South Carolina are leaders of our homegrown Taliban.)


And we should be thinking about the indispensable work of resistance. We need to identify legislative and administrative choke points where Bush's initiatives can be blocked, and make clear to both legislators and their constituents that the days of go-along in the interest of non-partisan comity have to stop.

The Nation

Honestly, I'm still feeling pretty low, but I truly do hope that we can do this. As Luke points out, while the Republicans are crowing that more votes were cast for George Bush than any president in our history, it's useful to keep in mind that more votes were cast against than anyone else in history as well. For every American who thinks George Bush is an infallible walking god, there is one who wants to retch at the very sight of him.

Take a look at this county-by-county map of the election, from USA Today.

county election map

Rather than encouraging, I find this map pretty depressing. I agree with Luke that this shows that the war at home is "about enlightment and education, about tolerance and exposure." What I'm profoundly bothered by is that the unenlightened, uneducated, intolerant and insulated side is winning that war. They've been gaining ground for some time, and they're viewing this election as a grand mandate to spread the tenets of closed-mindedness and bigotry far and wide.

I will never give up on my ideals of justice, peace and enlightened discourse, or my belief that, ultimately, good and right wins over loud and wrong. But, honestly, with two days under my belt, I'm feeling a twinge of a desire to give up on those things here in America, right now.

It's the fanaticism that I can't take. You can't argue with a fanatic, and you can't convince them of anything. It's a matter of faith, not a matter of rational thought. They believe in George Bush, regardless of the facts. How do you fight that? Ironically, our solution to those who behave that way anywhere else is to kill them.

This is the picture on the front page of CNN.com right now..

bush as jesus

You'd think they could wait at least a couple of weeks to resurrect (ha!) the Bush as Jesus photos. This isn't the first time.

This is a rambling post. I started with Stand and Fight and now I just want to crawl in to a hole.

Somebody say something funny.

Kerry Won: Here's The Facts

Of course no one wants to hear this. The Democrats gave up this time, knowing that fighting for every last vote would not only fail to get every vote counted, but would cost the party politically and in the public's eye. Once again, we'd be the "sore loser" demanding a recount. Since the people in charge of deciding how that recount works are all staunch Republicans, there's virtually a 100% chance that the recount would not be honest or fair. So in the end, the result would be the same - George W. Bush would be Emperor for 4 more years - and we'd look like fools.

It's really a very clever thing they've done.

I know you don't want to hear it. You can't face one more hung chad.  But I don't have a choice. As a journalist examining that messy sausage called American democracy, it's my job to tell you who got the most votes in the deciding states. Tuesday, in Ohio and New Mexico, it was John Kerry.

Most voters in Ohio thought they were voting for Kerry. CNN's exit poll showed Kerry beating Bush among Ohio women by 53 percent to 47 percent.  Kerry also defeated Bush among Ohio's male voters 51 percent to 49 percent. Unless a third gender voted in Ohio, Kerry took the state.

So what's going on here? Answer: the exit polls are accurate. Pollsters ask, "Who did you vote for?" Unfortunately, they don't ask the crucial, question, "Was your vote counted?" The voters don't know.

Here's why. Although the exit polls show that most voters in Ohio punched cards for Kerry-Edwards, thousands of these votes were simply not recorded. This was predictable and it was predicted.


The rest of the article describes in some detail how this all happened. Go ahead, read it.

November 3, 2004
We're Broad, We're Nationwide

"The result is now clear -- a record voter turnout and a broad, nationwide victory"

--Dick Cheney, today, introducing the President's victory speech.

Via Pandagon, a visual representation of this broad, nationwide victory...

election pie

Don't Mourn, Organize.. Or Mourn

An uplifting message from Meteor Blades.

I'm not really ready to feel uplifted, but he's right.

Me, I'm fucking terrified of stuff like the following, from Bill Bennett...

Having restored decency to the White House, President Bush now has a mandate to affect policy that will promote a more decent society, through both politics and law. His supporters want that, and have given him a mandate in their popular and electoral votes to see to it. Now is the time to begin our long, national cultural renewal ("The Great Relearning," as novelist Tom Wolfe calls it) — no less in legislation than in federal court appointments. It is, after all, the main reason George W. Bush was reelected.

National Review

E-Voting Glitches
ORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (AP) -- Voters nationwide reported some 1,100 problems with electronic voting machines on Tuesday, including trouble choosing their intended candidates.

The e-voting glitches reported to the Election Protection Coalition, an umbrella group of volunteer poll monitors that set up a telephone hotline, included malfunctions blamed on everything from power outages to incompetent poll workers.

But there were also several dozen voters in six states -- particularly Democrats in Florida -- who said the wrong candidates appeared on their touchscreen machine's checkout screen, the coalition said.

In many cases, voters said they intended to select John Kerry but when the computer asked them to verify the choice it showed them instead opting for President Bush, the group said.


United States of Canada v. Jesusland

united states of canada

Voters Are Liars

Exit polls have always been nearly perfectly accurate. In fact, most projections of winners in elections are based almost entirely on exit polls. This time, though, in the two states that decided the election, they were way off. In every other state, polls being conducted by the same organizations in the same way were exactly right. This means that people coming out of the polls in Ohio and Florida lied in massive numbers to pollsters. They voted for one guy, walked outside and told the exit pollers that they had voted for the other guy. Weird, huh?

More on Kos.

I have no doubt in my mind that this election was stolen, or at the very least highly manipulated. All of the overt dirty tricks were likely just a distraction while much more subtle and effective tactics were being employed to ensure that Bush would win. Never before have professional pollsters been so wrong.

We'll also almost certainly be told that all of the fears about electronic voting machines were unfounded, but there's no way to prove this, and that's the point. Just because the machines didn't go crazy and start spewing smoke doesn't mean they counted the votes accurately. We'll never know.

No one is going to provide an explanation for any of this, because they don't have to. They'll say we have to move forward. The time for partisan bickering is over, now we're all Americans.

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that label anymore.

Kerry Concedes, Anthony Vomits

NPR and now others are now reporting that John Kerry has called Bush and conceded the race.

I think I might throw up.


I don't know what to say.

It's not over, I know. All the votes should absolutely be counted, and the networks suck for acting like it's over when it isn't.

Still, it's not looking good.

I'm really depressed about this.

It looks like the youth vote didn't really turn out in the numbers that they should have or could have, and that's really sad. Maybe if they all get their asses drafted they'll start to realize what's important.

Anyway, I'm going to bed. I haven't completely given up, but I have to admit, I'm fucking depressed. How can that man be our leader? He's so, so bad and wrong.

November 2, 2004
Off To Watch The Results

Unfortunately, I may be offline for much of this, watching the results come in at a bar, surrounded by coworkers and well-wishers (and alcohol), instead of huddled in front of the computer, frantically refreshing 8 different web sites.

Good luck to us all. With any luck when next I post John Kerry will be the president-elect and I'll be roaring drunk.

Currently: Kerry 77, Bush 66. Waiting on Ohio....

I'm Freaking Out

I can barely stand it. Come on, come on, come on, come on.

Whatever happens, though, it is truly amazing to see all the photos of people standing in long lines, in bad weather, camping out overnight, actually giving a shit. It warms the cockles. It's about time we started acting like citizens of a democracy. I know some people who can't wait to go back to a time when nobody talked about politics, but I have no such feelings. Even when it makes me sick to my stomach, it beats the hell out of talking about J. Lo.

Some nice slideshows at nytimes.com.

That being said, if Bush wins my cockles are going to ice up, but quick.

Zogby Calls Kerry

Zogby International has released their official prediction.

Bush - 213
Kerry - 311

They also predict a Bush win in the popular vote, by a slim .3%.

If this bears out.... wow. A decisive electoral victory for one side (the good side) and a tiny popular victory for the other (the evil side). Naturally, as long as Kerry assumes office in January, I don't give a shit how it gets done, but that scenario wouldn't be pretty. All the Republicans who were such big damn fans of the electoral college last time will be singing a different tune.

November 1, 2004
This Is It


I implore you.

Jon Stewart:

"... There will be long lines.. I suggest to you this: Be ready to waste a day for Democracy. If the line is long, stay there. If you are hungry, eat someone in line with you. Do not leave until you get your vote counted. I urge you to do that civic duty tomorrow.

On a personal note, I am a comedian who makes fun of what I believe to be the absurdities of our government... Make my life difficult, Make these next four years reeaaally shitty for me."

As for me, I'm a blogger. Make my blog boring. Please. Give me nothing to go completely nuts about every day. Hell, I'd settle for only one or two things a day, but none would be great. I'll go back to talking about volleyball and how people act weird on mass transit. I'll gladly hold forth at length about the health of the cat and the funny things homeless people say.

Just please, America, give me that chance. Let's be boring again.

Federal Judges Bar Voter Challenges In Ohio

This is very good news.

United States District Judge Susan J. Dlott in Cincinnati, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, found that the application of Ohio's statute allowing challengers at polling places was unconstitutional and that allowing any challengers other than election judges and other electors into the polling place would place "an undue burden upon voters" and impede their right to vote.

In a similar case, United States District Judge John R. Adams of Akron, who was appointed by the current President Bush, said poll workers should be the ones who determine if voters are eligible.

The rulings apply to all Ohio's 88 counties, a spokesman for Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, Carlo LoParo, told The Associated Press. Republicans promptly filed an appealed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which includes all of Ohio.

With the rulings, the two district-level judges made clear that they did not want partisan ballot challengers inside polling places, and that they believed that the disruption that such challenges would create outweighed any potential voting fraud, which Republicans have cited as the reason for the challengers.

New York Times

The Conservative Case For Kerry

Thomas Friedman, piping up a little late, makes a conservative case for electing John Kerry, who he sees as a truer heir to the legacy of George H. W. Bush than Bush's own son.

So as we approach this critical election of 2004, my advice, dear readers, is this: Vote for the candidate who embodies the ethos of George H. W. Bush - the old guy. Vote for the man who you think would have the same gut feel for nurturing allies and restoring bipartisanship to foreign policy as him. Vote for the man you think understands the importance of facing up to our fiscal responsibilities for the sake of our children. And vote for the man who has the best instincts for balancing realism and idealism and the man who understands the necessity of using energetic U.S. diplomacy to make Israel more secure - by helping to bring it peace with its Arab neighbors, not just more tours from American Christian fundamentalists.

Yes, next Tuesday, vote for the real political heir to George H. W. Bush. I'm sure you know who that is.

New York Times

The Stranger Riles 'Em Up

The Stranger is getting floods of traffic and nasty emails (and many admiring ones) over our cover and "Scariest Halloween Costumes" feature this week.

The most popular thing to complain about it making fun of Nancy Reagan, because, you know, once someone's husband dies, it is no longer appropriate to utter their name in anything but hushed and reverent tones.

The other popular criticism is the use of children in our parody. Yawn. It really amazes me how people will fly off the handle for something like this involving children and then gleefully sit their kids down in front of a television to watch countless depictions of murder. Or dress their kids up as dead people or murderers and send them off trick-or-treating. Clearly, these things are fine, while reminding people of the horrors of Abu Ghraib is somehow out of bounds.

We have even been told we should be charged with child abuse.

This just in: apparently some group of "concerned" puritans is actually filing a lawsuit against us, claiming the children in those photos are being abused.

In other news, Vice-President Dick Cheney trotted his granddaughter out on stage at a recent rally dressed in a skeleton costume (PAGAN!). His wife Lynne quipped, "This is John Kerry's health plan." (L.A. Times)

I can't believe they would exploit an innocent child like that. I think I'll sue them.

cheney halloween granddaughter

A final point: the emails we're getting from people who are upset about the costumes are invariably some of the most hate-filled screeds I've ever read.