Utterly disgusting

Fred Phelps is an asshole, no question, but he never ceases to amaze me with the level of his assholishness. Here's the Westboro Baptist statement on the recent earthquake and tsunami in southeast Asia.



Thanks to Raw Print for the story.

Monkey has gone home again



I took this at the airport before she left using my nifty camera phone. Technology is great. Living 3,000 miles from your daughter sucks.

Good grief

We, as a nation, have pledged $15 million to help with the relief efforts in southeast Asia to help recovery from one of the greatest natural disasters of recent history, and while that's the largest sum pledged by any nation, it's not the largest per capita.

Meanwhile, we're spending more than double that for Bush's crowning ceremony, I mean inauguration, before we even get to security costs. Gotta love our priorities.

Here's some places you (and I) can send your dough to help out.

Red Cross

OxFam

Medecins Sans Frontieres

India Relief

I get paid in two days, and some of it's going to these places. We as a nation just indulged in an orgy of commercialism, but there's still no reason that we can't as individuals can't shame our government into providing more to help people in dire circumstances than we do on the coronation of King George the Lesser.

UPDATE: The NY Times is reporting that the US has upped its contribution to $35 million, or roughly what we're spending on the coronation before security costs. It's better, but it's still not enough.

One more update: The new $20 million? It's a fucking line of credit. Jesus H. Christ.


Susan Sontag dies at 71

I tried reading Sontag about 5 years ago in the earliest part of my graduate studies and hated it. I realized a couple of years ago that I just wasn't ready for her yet. I'll be looking her up again, if for nothing more than the idea that critical analysis interferes with art's magical, incantatory power. Anyone got a copy of Against Interpretation that I can borrow?

My letter to my Representative

Rep. Pelosi,
I live in your district, and I happily cast my vote for you on Nov. 2, but your reacent actions in the selection of the new DNC chair are causing me to rethink that decision. In the short time I've lived in San Francisco, I've been more pleased than not about your actions as Minority Leader. You've called out the Republican leadership and the President and his administration on important issues, and you've done your best to block some heinous legislation while simultaneously keeping the disparate elements of the Democratic party focused on the necessity to be an opposition party.

But it's time to realize that some of the things that come out of Washington aren't doing us a lot of good as a national party, and the current battle over the DNC chairpersonship is one example of that. The last two times that you and Harry Reid have come out in support of a candidate, he's been a conservative who stands in opposition to many of the core values of the party. We seem to have forgotten who we are in this quest for short term electoral power. And I for one won't abide it.

I'm not a big contributor, either to candidates or to the party, because I don't have much money. I'm one of those twenty dollar donors, but in the last election cycle, between my girlfriend and me, we gave over $2,000 to ether the party or individual candidates, gave money to 527 groups, and raised money from friends and family members as well. And I will make you this promise--if the Democratic party selects a Washington insider for their chair, they'll not see a penny from me or my girlfriend in the next cycle. We'll give our money to 527 groups and progressive organizations and candidates instead.

I'm one of a large group of people who became financially active in the last campaign season, and who are disappointed to say the least in the returns we received. We want change, and we expect it from our leadership. Here's your chance to prove to us that you understand what we're after.

Sincerely,
Are you a reform Democrat? Write your own letter.

First Christmas Present of the year

Hell Yeah. Thanks, Matt.



Can't go wrong with Monty Python.

DC Caves

I spoke too soon.

Below, I praised the DC city council for refusing to cave in to the demands of Major League Baseball when it came to financing the new stadium that the Washington Nationals will play in. They backed down today in exchange for--get this--a nonbinding agreement that the Mayor will try to get private enterprise to help finance the stadium. In other words, the taxpayers of the city of DC are going to provide some future billionaire owner (along with the current billionaire owners of the other baseball teams) with land, a stadium, and the revenue that comes out of that stadium in exchange for the privilege of having the team that finished 29 games out of first in their division, second from the bottom in their league, and fourth from the bottom overall play in their city. What a bargain.

Let's play with our twangers

Go watch this. My jaw hit the floor when I saw it. Don't know if it really aired or not, but regardless, it's some seriously funny shit.

Just because



Saw this as a postcard while doing my Christmas shopping today and laughed out loud.

About that reading

I got an interesting email from someone who caught my C-SPAN appearance. He wrote:

I happened upon the last few minutes of your appearance on c span I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses and thru the words of your reading I could tell that you are as well, how heartfelt your words were, how true and telling they were as well, I'm sure any one who's heart was moved by your words will also be moved to listen when a Witness comes to their door or wherever the may meet.
I am glad I found a way to exspress my appreciation for your words.
Your Brother:

I can't tell you how surprised I was to hear this, and how pleased in a way. I haven't been a Witness in over ten years now, and I'll never go back, but when I first started writing about my experiences as a Witness, I found myself lapsing into diatribe more often than not, and while that can be cathartic, it doesn't generally make for good art. I've also long wondered how Jehovah's Witnesses would accept my work--if I would be labeled an apostate or something like that. This is an interesting development.

And in response to the comments a couple of posts down, here's one of the poems I read on that appearance.
Learning to Preach


It is my turn. Until now I have
only walked beside my father
on Saturday mornings while he brings
The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life
to those with ears to hear. But now
I have a truth to tell, a scripture to read:
They will have to know my name is Jehovah,
and I am wearing the special tie Mom bought
for the day I joined the ranks of the faithful.
Last night, I stood before the bedroom door,
knocked like a trembling drum roll—
Mom opened the door and Dad introduced us
and I read the words of Ezekiel the prophet
from a page grimed by sweat where my finger
had marked the page, but when I reached
for my Watchtower, Mom said
No thank you and closed the door.

Good for them.

Washington D.C. has given Bud Selig and Major League Baseball the big fat finger when it comes to their latest attempt to gouge the public for a new stadium. Special props to Council Chair Linda Cropp, who made partial private financing a requirement for her vote.

I don't like the idea of public financing for any ball stadium, no matter the sport. It's not like any of the team owners is going to miss a meal if they have to foot the bill for a new stadium. They may have to defer their second or third private jet, but they're not going to be in financial pain if they have to come up with the cash for a new joint to play in, no matter what they claim.

It's been said before by people far more experienced than me in this field, but it's worth repeating: baseball team owners didn't get rich enough to own teams by being idiots in business. These are smart people, and they know that every penny they don't have to put in the team is one more in their pockets. And when we're talking about publicly funded stadiums, it's coming out of our taxpayer pockets, both in cash form and in the sense that we're giving already rich people money that could be used on schools, on police, on homeland security, on virtually anything else. And for what? The pride that comes with having a home team thatcan be moved the minute the local government doesn't bend over and spread 'em? Give me a break.

And it's not like there's no precedent for a privately financed stadium. SBC Park in San Francisco is an absolutely gorgeous stadium, and it's got a pretty serious debt load (which we get to hear about every year when the Giants don't get a no. 1 pitcher for the stretch run). But the person servicing that debt load is the person who will reap the benefits in the future when every penny that puppy brings in is his.

Bud Selig wants any city who wants a baseball team to pay for the stadium and then give the team all the revenue that the stadium generates. That's a sucker's game, but unfortunately, all too many cities are willing to play it. D.C. is playing, but only partly for now. For a city with the social problems they have, something is better than nothing. Especially when we're talking about the Expos.

Buying Blue

A lot of blogs have been weighing in on this issue lately, and BuyBlue.org is a good resource if you're looking for a simple breakdown of which party some major companies sent their political lucre out in search of returns. It's a pretty simplistic way to look at it, which means it's got some potential (or real--I haven't done the research yet) flaws.

There are some no-brainers--I'm joining Costco this year, but for more than their political stance. I like the way they do business. I like the fact that their CEO gives stock analysts the fat middle finger when they suggest that he's fucking over stockholders by not treating his employees like serfs. I like the fact that he doesn't want a high employee turnover rate, even if it means his employees get a gasp! raise from time to time. I like that he's not union hostile. So I'd be joining Costco even if they didn't give the vast majority of their political contributions to the Democratic party.

Wal-Mart is another no-brainer. For the opposite of every reason I noted why I will go to Costco, I will never go into another Wal-Mart, even if they give Democrats huge campaign contributions, not unless they change their filthy business practices. They could personally finance the campaign of every single Democrat in 2006 and I wouldn't go in there unless they start treating their employees like they're more valuable than used disposable diapers.

I'll admit--in a pinch, looking at where a company puts its political capital is better than nothing, but it's hardly the entire answer. And I'm not asking for a boycott of any company that doesn't show overwhelming loyalty to the Democratic Party. Hell, I'd be satisfied if they split their donations equally, or even better, if they got out of the political donation game altogether. In fact, I'll swear undying loyalty to any company who does just that--stays the hell out of politics and leaves it to the individual citizens. Deal?

Doing unto the opposition

Atrios is suggesting that we on the left ought to do what Brent Bozell and the PTC has been doing to the FCC and is asking for suggestions about who to target. I've got a problem with that.

First off, filing FCC complaints won't hurt the PTC. In fact, I think it will only help them, both in the short and the long term, especially since the groups most of the people in the comments are suggesting targeting (Fox News, anything with Ann Coulter on it) aren't broadcast outlets, but cable outlets. Secondly, as this article from the Washington Post shows, we can't outstupid these people (and we shouldn't want to, either).

Besides, aren't we the side that favors the greatest amount of free expression? Aren't we the side that thinks hypocrisy is a bad thing? Wouldn't we be better off sending emails of support for shows the PTC has targeted to the FCC rather than trying to find our own people to persecute? Just a thought.

C-SPAN appearance update

Got an email from Stephen Elliott today and he told me the BookTV appearance has been scheduled for this Sunday morning at 7:00 EST. No guarantees that I made it past the cutting room, but if you want to tape it or TIVO it and I'm on there, you'll get to see me reading 4 of my poems.

Not that I'm surprised

There's a hell of a good article about fundamentalism around the world and throughout history over at UU World (not exactly on my daily reading list, admittedly--I got the link from Digby over at Hullaballoo). Very indepth, very detailed and very good. Go read it.

The Barry Bonds story

So Barry evidently used steroids over the past few seasons, and all the holier than thous out there are going spastic over it. Get a life, people.

In the seventies, when I was first coming to the game of baseball, everybody and their grandfather was using speed, if not cocaine, in an attempt not only to get high, but to get better, and I have no doubt in my mind that the great St. Babe Ruth would have (or may have, what the hell do I know?) have taken a swig of Highpoppalorum or Lopoppahirum before the game if he wanted a little extra pop in his bat that day.

Look--taking steroids is a stupid thing to do, no question about it. It fucks your internals up, damages your long term health, and may well shrink your cock to maraschino cherry stem proportions--you have to ask the Governator about that last one, since he's long been open about his past use of anabolic steroids. But in the end, it ought to be a personal choice what you do to or with your body. If you want to get a third arm grafted on so you can use two gloves, hey, it's your body and I don't have to deal with the consequences.

And John McCain? If you're going to pontificate on something, how about it pertain to something important, like the snafu in Iraq that the President you so avidly supported--to your eternal shame, I might add--has gotten us neck deep in. Otherwise, just shut the hell up and try to regain some of your "independence" in time to run for President in 2008.

And personally, I hope Barry smacks both number 715 and 756 next year, and I hope I get to see both of them, just like I saw 700.

Weighing in on the DNC chairmanship

Okay, so no one in the halls of power is waiting to hear what I have to say about this, but hey, I have a blog and I have an opinion, so why hold back?

Many people with a far larger readership than I have have already made far more eloquent cases for Howard Dean than I could hope to make, so let's just say I echo their sentiments and leave it at that.

Here's what I really wanted to say. Word is that the Clintons (no specifics on which one or whether they're doing this together) have said that they'll do whatever they can to ensure that Dean doesn't get the chairmanship. How true is it? No way of telling--after all, the conspiracy theory all during the Kerry campaign had Hillary trying to sabotage it so she could make her 2008 run. Who knew that Kerry would save her the trouble?

But whether they want their own guy (Ickes or now, Lockhart has been floated) because they want to be closer to being in charge or if they just don't like Dean or whatever the reason, here's all I have to say. Stay out of it.

Bill Clinton, I respect the job you did as President. Hillary Clinton, I respect the place you hold as Senator from New York, and I agree with you more often than not, but let's be frank here--your brand of New Democrat/Third Way politics hasn't yielded much electoral fruit outside your personal successes. That's great for you, but not so great for the rest of us. So if you're supporting the same people who have been making decisions for the party for the last few years, then thanks but no thanks.

I said it before and I meant it: if the Democrats pick a chairman from the old school, then they get nothing more from me. All the money I can put toward this sort of thing will go to places like Democracy for America, Moveon and the New Democratic Network. You guys can forget it.

Can You Say Escalation?

It's the top story on MSNBC.com, but it still bears discussing, I think. We're sending more troops to Iraq. We're also extending the tours of four units--over 10,000 soldiers, of whom 3,500 are being extended a second time. I thought we'd broken the back of the insurgency this time--it would be what, the tenth time or so that we've done this?

Yeah--I'm snarky about what the Bush administration calls progress in that unnecessary hellhole. Bite me if you don't like it.

So here's the deal, according to the above-linked article:

The increase of 12,000 troops, which is to last until March, reflects the strength and resiliency of an insurgency that U.S. military planners did not foresee when Baghdad was toppled in April 2003.

Much of the build-up will be accomplished by extending tours for more than 10,000 soldiers who had been due to leave Iraq in the coming months, Army Brig. Gen. David Rodriguez, deputy operations director of the Joint Staff, told reporters Wednesday. The extension means those troops will now serve an average of 14 months in Iraq, two to four months longer than originally expected, officials said.

The military generally is reluctant to extend soldiers’ combat tours because of the potential negative effect it could have on their families, and thus on their willingness to remain in the service. In this case, Gen. George Casey, the most senior U.S. commander in Iraq, decided it was necessary to keep up pressure on the insurgents while also providing security for the elections, Rodriguez said.
Just how many Bush voters--assuming they even read the article in the first place--will catch the bit that I bolded there? There's no excuse for this--the Bush administration was warned by more than one military person that we were getting into more than they thought they were, but they had to listen to their buddy Chalabi and the fucking neo-cons who were smarter than the rest of us.

As I said right after the election--every soldier and every Iraqi who dies after January 20, their blood is on the heads of not only the Bush administration, but also on the heads of every person who voted for their re-election. Don't like the taste of collective guilt? Tough shit. It's not like you didn't know what these assholes were all about. You'd had four years to figure it out.

The Electoral College

I've changed my mind on this--it's got to go.

I know the arguments in favor of it--without it, small states will be ignored in favor of large urban areas with easy access to advertising, blah blah blah. I don't care anymore. We need to go to a direct election of the President, complete with a runoff if no one gets 50%+1 of the vote. None of this tossing it to the House if we don't go for more than 50%. Sure, it will be a major overhaul of the Constitution to make it happen, but hell, the religious nutjobs in this country want to enshrine homophobia in the Constitution, so what's a little direct election among enemies?

So what's brought this on? After all, if we'd had a direct election system in place for the November election, all the Ohio recounts in the world wouldn't make a bit of difference, right?

But it would. First off--if we're talking about direct election of the President, then the ruckus over electronic voting would be a much larger issue. It wouldn't be dismissed as a Florida thing, or a conspiracy theory thing. Everyone with the slightest bit of distrust for the government--and that encompasses a large part of the voters on both sides--would be clamoring for transparency and an auditable paper trail. Go visit the Free Republic if you want to see government fueled paranoia run amok--they make the Black Box Voting people look like staid academics.

Secondly, the country has changed so much since the institution of the Electoral College in terms of communication technology that keeping with that antiquated system makes no sense whatsoever. I can read about politics--indepth--on my cell phone. I did it today while I was at work. I can keep up with current events in a way I couldn't have imagined ten years ago when I was selling cell phones at Sears--the kind with a bag and shoulder strap. Politicians who want to get me their message have more options and more avenues than I can even think of, and I'm a poor guy, financially speaking. So why should I take part in a system where my vote, because I live in a "safe state" (God, how I hate that term now) is symbolically valuable, but practically meaningless?

But here's the biggest reason I want to get rid of the electoral college. As long as the electoral college exists, political professionals will continue to divide up the country as though it's some oversized game of Risk, parceling out safe states to the two big players, and skirmishing over the swing states in order to control the country. Neither of the big parties wants to change the system, because they both know that if the dice roll comes out for them, they can win for a while. The Ed Gillespies and Bob Shrums of the world count on that for their electoral strategies--narrow the field and concentrate your forces on a precious few. Well fuck that.

I don't want forces concentrated on a narrow segment of the population--I want the largest possible population speaking out and being spoken to. I want the Republican candidate coming to California to rally the meager troops here and I want the Democratic candidate going to Texas and Alabama and Louisiana to let the progressives there know that they aren't forgotten. I'm tired of being taken for granted. I want to be fought over, damnit. I'm worth that much.

Okay, I'll admit it--there's one more reason. The fact is that if we have a direct election, more emphasis will be paid to urban areas because they're easiest to advertise to and they offer the most bang for the buck in terms of votes. But would that be a bad thing? Look at the studies about red states vs. blue states in terms of tax dollars paid in and received. The biggest welfare states are the red states with sparse populations. The biggest paying states are blue states with large urban populations. If the electoral system changed, and the cities were more important politically, then suddenly both parties would be more interested in social justice and the problems with crumbling infrastructure. It wouldn't matter which party did it, in my opinion--as long as it happens, I don't care if it comes from a person with an R or a D next to his or her name.

What the demolition of the Electoral College would primarily do is take power away from the political professionals and would transfer it to the people at the bottom, to the 50% of wage earners who make less than $30,000 a year, because suddenly their votes would matter a whole hell of a lot more than they do now.And that, my friends, is precisely why it'll never happen.

Still, a guy can dream, can't he?

The danger of Hostettler

In a column in yesterday's Palm Beach Post, George McEvoy wrote about what he calls the attempt by the right-wingers in Congress to denude the federal courts of their authority to determine what is Constitutional or not. These cases would, predictably, be largely about social issues--gay marriage, abortion, separation of church and state--and would then be decided by judges who, in many cases, are directly beholden to the electorate (and by extension, less independent as jurists). Say what you will about the ludicrous rhetorical gymnastics Antonin Scalia has to perform in order to get to some of the decisions he's authored over the years, his position as judge for life allows him the independence to make decisions that go against popular opinion. Sometimes this sucks, as in Bush v. Gore, but it also gave the Warren court the ability to make those landmark civil rights decisions that changed our country for the better in the sixties.

So here's what Hostettler said:

"When the courts make unconstitutional decisions, we should not enforce them. Federal courts have no army or navy... The court can opine, decide, talk about, sing, whatever it wants to do. We're not saying they can't do that. At the end of the day, we're saying the court can't enforce its opinions."

Lots of people over at the Daily Kos have gotten exercised about this, and have compared it to Andrew Jackson's alleged comment about Chief Justice John Marshall in Worcester v. Georgia: "George Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it." And much of the discussion over there has focused on this historical precedent.

But it seems to me that many of them are missing the larger point. Hostettler is trying to echo the argument of Thoreau's Civil Disobedience,
but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine.
but here's the problem: Thoreau was talking about acting as a private citizen standing in defiance to an unjust government. Hostettler is trying to use one branch of government to beat another branch into submission. He's actively working on legislation that would remove the federal judiciary from their Constitutionally mandated as overseers of what is and is not constitutional. He's not trying to stop the machine--he's trying to retune the machine to serve the whims of his constituency, a constituency that is trying to move us ever closer to theocracy.

I'm all for civil disobedience. It was the basis for those landmark Supreme Court rulings in the fifties and sixties. It raised public consciousness about issues that most people of the time would have been happier ignoring. But the people who defied the existing laws did so in the knowledge that they were risking jail time, the vengeful acts of a hostile populace, and quite often, retribution at the hands of local law enforcement groups. They knew going in that they might never have the backing of the government or of the courts, but they made their stand anyway.

Hostettler is talking about something different. He's suggesting that if a court makes a decision that the Congress disagrees with, the Congress can tell the court to go take a leap, that the Congress can assume the power of two of the three branches of government by fiat. That's what ought to scare Americans--the thought that a group of idealogues in Congress could conceivably turn the federal judiciary into a rubber-stamp for whatever they want to push through, simply by refusing to enforce the Court's decisions.

Had a great time

It was a good visit. Northern New Mexico is just gorgeous and relaxing--and cold. My B-I-L lives in a ski valley, and there was more than enough snow around to start the season while I was there. Es no bueno for a boy from the deep south. But that was the only downside, and it served as a wonderful reminder that I am for the tropical climes, so if things really go badly, I'll have to defect to somewhere like the British Virgin Islands instead of Saskatchewan.

And the high point of the vacation? Had to be the frozen turkey races--people of all ages and sizes sliding down a section of the bunny slope sitting on (or more often, falling off) a frozen turkey. Great and hilarious fun. And no, I didn't participate as anything more than a photographer.

Heading out

Going to New Mexico for the holidays--see you when I get back.

Kerry to give money to party

It's a little late, don't you think?

Fuck John Kerry

I want my money back.

Someone explain this to me--if Kerry really believed that this was the most important election of a generation, that there was no length to which he was not willing to go in order to beat George W. Bush, then why the fuck does he still have $15 million in campaign funds left over?

Here's my notice: I didn't give you much, John Fucking Kerry, but what I gave, I want back. And I want you to deliver it personally, so I can kick you in the balls--you owe me that much. I didn't like you in the primaries, and I didn't like defending your sorry ass in the whole general campaign, but I did it because I allowed myself to believe that you were serious about winning this thing. Obviously, I was wrong. You owe us that money, John Kerry, so pay up.

Gonna be on the tee vee

Want to see the man behind Incertus? The reading I did tonight with Stephen Elliott will be televised in about a week and a half on BookTV on C-SPAN (1 or 2 I have no idea). The rumors were true--the camera was there when I showed up to the Stanford Bookstore at 6:45 p.m. this evening, and everything went off without a hitch. I doubt the schedule is up on the C-SPAN website yet, but in a couple of days, you can go there and do a search for Stephen Elliott and it'll give you a broadcast date. I'm hoping it'll be archived online as well so I can get a copy--no cable for me, as you may remember.

I'm excited. I'm only on for a couple of minutes, and it is C-SPAN, but it's still national tv. Can I get a poem or two published now?

Poetry readings tonight and tomorrow.

I just got back from listening to and visiting with my friend Simone Di Piero. He read tonight at the Booksmith, a beautiful bookstore in the Haight. He read from his latest book, Brother Fire, a book I heartily recommend. Here's a sample.

Didn’t You Say Desire Is

like the elephant fog
shredded north
a white sun going down
Bessemers fired
through clouds horizoned
on my dog-eared stack
It feels good and right
to waste earnest hours
of an early evening’s
daylight saving time
in uncertainty and want
these cranky climates
changing in us while we
haven’t started dinner yet.


My reading with Stephen Elliott is tomorrow night. Stanford Bookstore, 7:00 p.m. After the reading tonight, the husband of one of my former classmates asked me whether or not I was excited about the C-SPAN cameras tomorrow. I started hyperventilating then and haven't really stopped. I don't know if it's true--Stephen didn't mention it and there's nothing about it on the C-SPAN website, so it could be just a rumor, but I'm slightly more stressed about it now than I was before. On the other hand, it could wind up being amazing.

Scott Peterson is guilty!

And the world released a collective yawn. At least, that's how it should have been--no disrespect to the family of Laci Peterson or those who are close to Scott. This was a murder trial, one that, for some reason, what passes for a news media in this country decided to pluck out of the thousands of murders committed and prosecuted every year and turn into a national event. Think I'm kidding? Think again.

What warranted this kind of news coverage? At least O.J. had celebrity driving the media frenzy. But who the hell were Scott and Laci? Read that article I linked and notice the paucity of anything spectacular--again, nothing personal to anyone who knew her--that warranted this kind of coverage. I mean, there's nothing overwhelming in even the nature of the crime. It wasn't substantially more horrific than anything you might read in a daily newspaper--it didn't involve cannibalism or necrophilia, for instance. It was just a sad story of a man who killed his wife and dumped her body in the Bay. Sad, certainly, but certainly not worthy of the insane attention it received over the last two years. Surely, the news media could have found something more pertinent (Hint--it involves soldiers dying needlessly).

That didn't take long.

Bush announced today that he was nominating White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to take the place of John Ashcroft. Is this an improvement? Well, Gonzales was the man who wrote the memo in which Bush claimed the right to waive anti-torture law and international treaties providing protections to prisoners of war. And if we go back a little farther in his relationship with Bush, we find that he's the guy who reviewed most of the death penalty clemency petitions during Bush's tenure as governor of Texas, and the person who Bush said he leaned on in making those decisions. Predictably, both the media and the Senate Democrats are rolling over for this guy, and I suppose, when compared to Ashcroft, Gonzales might be an upgrade, but that's like saying that Moloch is an upgrade from the Prince of Darkness. It's small comfort at best.


On a slightly more pleasant note, I got a call from the below-mentioned Stephen Elliott last night, and he asked me to do a reading with him at the Stanford Bookstore next Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Come by and check it out.

Ashcroft resigns

And the only thing I can think is to wonder how far into the pits of hell will Bush go to pick someone worse than Ashcroft. I have complete and utter confidence in his ability to do so, mind you. It's about the only thing I have confidence in his ability to do--to pick someone completely and utterly unfit for the job.

Crunch time

Not politically--that time has come and gone. Now it's professional crunch time. The deadlines for the Yale Younger Poets series and the Walt Whitman award are in a week, and I have yet to finalize a manuscript. Time to get to work.

So

It's my birthday tomorrow, and for the third time, I'll be dealing with a Bush presidency while thinking about my own mortality. To be fair to Poppy, I wasn't politically active when he was elected, nor did I have any real grasp of the issues involved, but there have been plenty of times in the last dozen years or so where the intersection of my birthday and election day has been a real kick in the balls.

Fortunately, some of the anger has passed, and I've become resigned to the idea that we'll have four more years of Bush and at least two more of a Republican congress. Unlike many other bloggers, I'm not as sanguine about the potential for a Republican Civil War anytime soon--power covereth a multitude of fiscal retardedness. It may take a Vietnam/Great Depression type disaster to swing the electorate back from where they are currently, and damn is that going to suck for the people on the bottom. But then again, it always sucks for the people on the bottom, that is, until they storm the castle and hang everyone in it from the ramparts.

Mainstream American Thought

Throughout the past two years, when I've gotten into online arguments with conservatives, invariably they've said that Democrats (by which they mean liberals) are out of touch with the mainstream of American thought. Ever since the election on Tuesday, I've been wondering about that, and I've come to the conclusion that they may well be right. Not because overall attitudes have changed, but because there's a different group of people making their presence felt these days.

We have to face it--the evangelical movement has made its mark in the political and social arenas, and as a result, the country has lurched rightward on significant issues like abortion rights and gay rights. And because their socially libertarian brethren in the Republican party haven't stood up to them, these evangelicals are now in a position to pull the country even farther to the right. Because of this, the mainstream, which was once moving toward greater social justice and overall equality, has now shifted back toward the Puritanical.

We're now looking at a group that is largely dictating morality in Biblical terms, even though you'd never know it from watching network or cable tv, but it is happening, and they've managed, with the help of their brethren in the Republican party, to fashion an electoral majority. By my lights, that makes them the mainstream, painful as that idea may be.

So what does that mean? It means that I'm damn glad I'm out of the mainstream. If being in the mainstream means that I have to be a gay-hater, that I have to believe that the Bible is absolute truth and the only moral guide to follow, and that it's my duty to legislate that morality on the infidels (read, liberals), then I'll stay over here on the left, well out of the mainstream, thanks just the same.

Is this where we're headed?

Post-election rant, Part the Second

There are some more people I want to address here, but I didn't want it to get lost in the rant below.

First--Bush voters. Every soldier who dies in Iraq, every civilian who dies in Iraq, every human being who dies as a result of terrorist action inspired by the war in Iraq, their blood is on your heads. We had a chance to repudiate the actions of Bush and his administration, and you decided not to do it. I didn't blame Bush 2000 supporters as a whole for this, because it would have been difficult to know that Bush wanted to wage this unnecessary and illegal war, but you have absolutely no excuse now. You voted for him knowing what he had already done, and what he has the potential to do in the future, now that he doesn't have to worry about re-election. If there's a God who actually cares about human beings, every single one of you must answer to him/her/it for the conscious choice you made this election day.

Second--voters between 18-24. If you voted for Bush or you didn't vote, then I hope you get drafted, because make no mistake, the draft is coming back. The military is in a shambles right now, and the Republicans have obviously decided to be constantly at war. That requires cannon fodder, and the best cannon fodder is between the ages of 18-24. We tried to tell you, but you wouldn't listen. And let me tell you something--if my 14 year old daughter is drafted in 2009, and something happens to her, you guys are in a world of shit. You don't want to tangle with me if that happens.

This experience has been freeing in a way. A Kerry election, even coupled with taking back one of the houses of Congress, would only have forestalled the coming implosion. Now that I know it's going to happen, I can try to relax and roll with it, trying not to be completely fucked by it all. Get ready for the next four years. It's gonna be ugly.

Post election rant--Part the First

If you're a Democrat above all else, you may want to get out of the way for this, because it ain't gonna be pretty.

But first things first. Iowa? Next time you decide who's electable and who isn't, do us all a big favor and shut up. At least New Hampshire had the decency to carry the state for the guy they decided was the most electable. (I know, the full results aren't in yet, and I'll change this if Kerry winds up taking those now meaningless electoral votes.)

Kerry? What happened to that courage under fire you bragged about in the primaries? Let me tell you something--you had people ready to go to war with you on the ground over Ohio, and you chickenshitted out. You could have at least given us a day or two. Same goes for you Edwards. Don't even think about making a run in 2008, either of you. I will personally find you and shit on your lawn if you try it. I need to change this second part. According to the stories I read later, Edwards wanted to fight for the votes and was overruled by Kerry and his senior strategists. Sorry--I won't shit on your lawn.

Now to the fun part. The first chance I get, I'm going to the voter registration office and changing my party affiliation from Democrat to either Independent or Green. I will not be a member of your party again until you show some spine when it counts. We were Horatio at the fucking bridge in this election, and the hordes came pouring through. We didn't close the deal in a single major race. Not one! Where's the party? Not agitating about voting irregularities like the folks at Verified Voting. They have, predictably, rolled over. In this election cycle, simply having a D by your name was good enough to get my support. Never again. I'll vote for Democrats if they earn it, but I will never again settle for a Democrat just because the Republican is loathesome.

And why am I so agitated about all this? Because we had a chance to forestall the coming doom--and it is certainly doom we're looking at--and we botched it completely.

Let me put this in perspective. Karl Rove has now proven definitively that you can take a substandard candidate, mix in evangelical Christianity, fear, and a few political dirty tricks, and you can win a clear majority nationwide. If that's not a fucking train in the tunnel, then I don't know what is. We're headed toward a theocracy, folks, a nation controlled by those faith-based, gay-hating, abortion-banning, rapture-awaiting psychos who live across the southern, central, and mountainous regions of the country. And god help us if they ever manage a filibuster proof Senate. Pat fucking Robertson could wind up on the Supreme Court.

We've been warned repeatedly. The Bush budget will require massive tax increases, huge slashes in services, or both by 2006. 2006! And we aren't going to have tax increases with this group, so here's what we're looking at. If you're poor and need help, you're fucked unless your individual state wants to give you a hand, and most states are so strapped right now, they couldn't do it if they wanted. If you're old and need help, then see the above scenario. And if you were planning on retiring on your Social Security, forget it--you'll be lucky if you receive reduced benefits by the time you're able to retire at 75. And you can forget about programs like Head Start. They're toast.

And what did the party give us? Electability. I swear, if I hear that word come up in the next primary season, somebody's getting hurt. Like baseball bat hurt.

So to the Democratic party I say, you had your chance with me, and now I'm gone. I'm a progressive, and if you field progressive candidates, I'll vote for them, and perhaps even toss them a buck or two. But don't ever count on me for anything again. I'm going to put my head down and hope the hurricane that's coming blows softly over me and wipes out the fuckers who like to think they're big and bad.

The intersection of evil and stupid.
Others have already blogged on this, but hey, I've bowled with Stephen Elliot and gotten drunk with him, so I'm gonna mention it here. He's down in Florida, raising hell and confronting Republicans, which is odd since, as he says here, he's a coward who was counting the black women from the Baptist church to protect him in case things got ugly. Having grown up around black Baptist women from the south, I can tell you that that was a pretty good idea.

Perhaps Stephen got some of his courage from the fact that these agitprop types were trying to convince Floridians that they were from San Francisco, which to Republicans must be the epicenter of all things gay and unholy. Stephen has spent a lot of time here ever since he was a Stegner Fellow (and perhaps before for all I know). I've only been here a year, and I could spot someone who was as obviously full of shit as these guys were, so Stephen must have sussed them out real quick like.

But whatever caused Stephen to confront them, I'm glad he did, and I'm proud to know the guy, and I'll buy him a beer or six next time I see him here in the city.

Landslide, bitch!

That's what I keep telling myself it's gonna be--a landslide--because if it ain't, then I'm getting a torch in one hand and a pitchfork in the other. A close election will be stolen by the current powers, I'm convinced, and it'll be time to storm the castle if that happens.

And you thought you were stressed about the election

From the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

WEST PALM BEACH – An 18-year-old Marine recruit remained in jail on Wednesday, charged with threatening to stab his girlfriend over her choice for president, news partner NewsChannel 5 reported in its noon broadcast.

The enlistee, Steven Scott Soper, of Lake Worth, became enraged Tuesday night when his 18-year-old girlfriend said she was leaving him -- and voting for John Kerry for president.

Soper, who will enter the Marines as soon as he passes the GED test, solidly supports Bush. He allegedly told girlfriend Stacey Silheira, "You'll never live to see the election."

There are so many things wrong with this situation that I won't even go into them. This is what we've come to, I suppose.

Voter Registration Fraud at Stanford

I hope that you've heard the stories about voter registration fraud in Nevada and Oregon. Former Republican Governor and Representative Bill Janklow has expressed his disgust with the tactics used by his own party as far as voter registration fraud is concerned, and Nathan Sproul's company may be facing criminal charges in the aforementioned states.

But lest you think that this is a random incident, let me forward an email from Rachel Kadish, a visiting writer at Stanford this quarter, forwarded to the entire Creative Writing Program.

Hi all. I don't know that many people at Stanford, but I wanted to get this message out to those I do.

As you know, we're visiting for the quarter from Massachusetts.
Bhavana, our daughter's babysitter, is living with us here. She decided to register to vote in California. On the first day of classes at Stanford, she was walking in the main square and saw a table with a sign that said "Register to Vote". She filled out a form. The two guys working the table told her that if she checked that she was a Republican, they'd each get a $30 break off their tuition. She declined, and marked herself as an Independent. She finished the registration process and turned in the form.

Today Bhavana decided to check to make sure she was registered. She wasn't -- her form had been discarded. Luckily she will be able to correct this by making a trip to a San Jose courthouse and having a judge authorize a 'compel to vote' form.

This is disturbing, to say the least. I have no idea how many Independent or Democratic Stanford undergrads registered to vote, only to have their forms discarded. I doubt many will think to do what Bhavana did: call in to check. We are going to try to get some mention of this in the local papers and the Stanford paper.

Meanwhile, I wanted to let all of you know about this, so that you can urge students, in whatever way you think appropriate, to confirm their registration. If they discover that they are not registered, please let them know there *is* something they can do, if they act on it quickly.

Here is what they have to do:

Call the Registrar of Voters at (408) 299-8683

If the student is not registered, he or she should ask for a "Compel to Vote" form. This can be mailed or faxed.

Then the student needs to take the form to the San Jose Court, at 191 N. 1st Street, San Jose. There a judge will read the form and take action. For help with this process, call the court at (408) 882-2100 x 2412 (Brian) or x 2435 (Katrina)

Thanks, everybody.
Rachel

The more I read about this, the more it sounds like a nationwide effort to suppress voter registration and turnout, instead of a few bad apples (bad apples who, in Sproul's case, have not been repudiated by the national Republican party, but who have rather been excused).

The Presidential Election

A blog named Abu Aardvark puts the election in the proper perspective. Go check it out.

Then go here, watch the ad, and send them some money to get it on the air.

Statewide Initiatives Part the Second

Proposition 67
This would be a phone tax that will be earmarked for emergency medical services, community clinics funding and reimbursement for uncompensated doctors and hospitals for emergency medical services. I'm actually a little hesitant on this one, but until we get a single payer system in this country that covers everyone, the fact is that the poorest are going to go to the emergency room for basic medical care, and they don't have the money to pay. I'd rather a little less of the money from this proposition was potentially going to private hospitals, but the fact is that private hospitals do much less emergency treatment to be reimbursed for than public ones do, and it's a good example of the power of shared expense. Leaning yes on this.

Proposition 68
This is the first of the Indian gaming propositions to come before the voters, and I'll be damned if I understand even who the players are, much less the issues at stake. I do know that the text of this one makes it sound like the card rooms are trying to move in on the casinos for a slice of the slot machine pie, but I'm not sure how bad a thing that would be. I'm also moved by the Governator's opposition of it to vote for it. But I really don't know. I'm thinking I may just sit this one out.

Proposition 69
Here's where I get all libertarian. This proposition would set up a felons DNA database--sounds good, right? Except that you're required to submit a sample even if you're only arrested and not convicted, and the removal of your DNA from the database would be tricky at best. No thanks.

Proposition 70
Another casino bill. Arnold doesn't like this one either, but I don't know if that's enough to get me to support it. Undecided--might leave it blank.

Proposition 71
Stem Cell Research Funding. A no-brainer. Voting yes.

Proposition 72
Health Care Coverage Requirements--a beautiful piece of legislation. Big companies have been cutting costs and raising profits by eliminating health coverage completely or increasing the employee contribution to the point where it's unaffordable for the average worker who, coincidentally, needs it the most. This referendum will force medium and large employers to provide health coverage and will cap the employee contribution at 20%. If we can't get a single payer system, then this is a good step. Voting yes.

I'll tackle the city initiatives soon.

On Jon Stewart and Crossfire

Today, Robert Novak called Stewart uninformed. He's right on at least one count--Stewart had absolutely no idea who Valerie Plame was until Novak informed all of us about her.

Can anyone tell me why his sorry ass isn't in jail?

Endorsements on California Propositions 59-66

Proposition 59
The title of this one is Public Records, Open Meetings, Legislative Constitutional Amendment. Basically, California state law is pretty good about openness in governance and being able to get to state documents. This puts the laws in the Constitution. Since I'm a fan of openness in government, I'm supporting it.

Proposition 60
This amendment would ensure that any candidate receiving the most votes from a party that holds a primary will be guaranteed a spot in the general election. Opposition to this is basically the big two parties further consolidating their hold on a two party system. I'm voting for this one.

Proposition 60A
This one will dedicate money from the sale of surplus state property purchased with General Fund revenue to the repayment of the bonds that Arnold suckered so many people into earlier this year. I voted against those bonds because I felt they only pushed off the problem to future taxpayers, so if there's a way to make up for that by paying them off early, I'm all for it. How about we sell off some of your Cohibas, Governor?

Proposition 61
This one will let bonds to pay for the construction, renovation and equipping of children's hospitals in the state. Easy yes vote on this one.

Proposition 62
This one was put on the ballot in response to Prop 60 (or vice versa, I don't really remember), but the end result is this--it would make the primaries open and would limit the choices on the general election ballot to two. No dice. I'm voting against.

Proposition 63
This proposition combines two of my favorite initiatives--funding health services for the least fortunate and popping people who make over a million a year to do it. I'm voting yes.

Proposition 64
This one is titled "Limits on Private Enforcement of Unfair Business Competition Laws." It's bullshit. California law allows for private people to bring suit against any company who is engaging in unfair business practices, even if they don't fit the qualifications for class action. The law may need remedying, but it doesn't need this. This is a giveaway for business--it denudes the private citizen of the chance to take action when law enforcement regimes won't. I'm voting no.

Proposition 65/1A
Proposition 65 has been abandoned by its supporters for Proposition 1A, and I can see why. 1A is better written. Basically, it allows local governments to hold on to the local tax money they collect, instead of turning it over to the state which then reimburses them, the way it's done now. As it stands, localities get screwed because the state basically say "we need the money worse than you" and local services get shut down as a result. If 1A passes, the state can still grab the money, but it has to be for a fiscal necessity and requires a two-thirds vote by the legislature. Sounds good to me.

Proposition 66
This one modifies the state's three strikes law to require that the third felony be a violent one to warrant life imprisonment. This is an easy one. Vote yes.

I'll hopefully be back tomorrow night with the rest of the statewide initiatives.

California Endorsements

Over the next week, I'm going to post my endorsements for the California elections I'll be voting on in roughly two weeks. I don't expect anyone to follow my suggestions--I'm doing this mainly to force myself to wade through the three voter information booklets I've gotten in the mail. Some of the initiatives and propositions I feel strongly about, many I don't understand or care about, and I reserve the right to use the "if Arnold likes it, I don't" logic in forming my opinion.

I'll take the easy ones first.

Barbara Boxer, Senate--I fell in love with this woman after I saw her give the Republican leadership all kinds of shit during the farce that was the debate over the approval of federal judgeships. She's as tough as Mary Landrieu, who I voted for in 1996, but she's more liberal.

Nancy Pelosi, House of Representatives--does she even have an opponent? I don't think so. She'll win in a walk regardless, but the election I really hope she wins is the one for Speaker of the House next January. It's about time we had a woman high up in the chain of accession to the Presidency.

Tomorrow, Statewide initiatives 59-66.

RNC link to voter fraud group.

The LA Times has hooked us up.

Here's the basics: a group named Sproul and Associates has a voter registration outfit. They've been working in Nevada and Oregon among other places, and now the Oregon Attorney General is investigating them for voter fraud. Who are Sproul and Associates?

The allegations involve a voter registration drive conducted by Sproul & Associates, a Phoenix-based consulting organization that was hired by the RNC earlier this year and is headed up by the former executive director of the Arizona Republican Committee, Nathan Sproul.

The article is full of other descriptions of shady activities by Sproul and his folks, but here's the real issue. Why won't the RNC just come out and condemn this guy and what he's been accused of doing? Why don't they just say "we don't believe in this kind of stuff, and we're suspending our contract with this guy until the investigation is complete"?

But they haven't done that--all they done is this.
RNC officials acknowledged Wednesday that Sproul was paid to conduct the registrations. But they characterized the controversy as a Democratic "ploy" and charged that supporters of Sen. John F. Kerry had engaged in rampant voter fraud that had gained less attention.

No condemnation of the actions, no repudiation of the man or his actions--just a "well, the other guys are doing it but you just don't know about it." What, are we back in third fucking grade? If they've got proof that the Democrats are doing the same thing, then bust them on it--with proof, not innuendo--and in the meantime, they ought to get their shit together and toss the guy out on his ass.

Unless, of course, they wanted him to do this all along.

Watching the debate

I'm watching a replay of the debate--managed to miss it the first time around--and let's see how succinctly I can put this.

George W. Bush is a fucking moron, and anyone who votes for him either doesn't care that he's a moron, is counting on the fact that he's a moron, or doesn't realize it and is a moron him or herself.

That is all.

The military and Fahrenheit 9/11

You know the line. The military loves Bush and the Republican party. They'll turn out 80% for Bush and will spit on that soldier hater Kerry. Forget the cognitive dissonance there for a second--that's the line, and at some point in late 2001, early 2002, it might have even been accurate.

But don't count on it happening this November. The military vote may still favor Bush (why is anyone's guess), but it won't be in droves, and it might be due partly to Michael Moore.

When Fahrenheit 9/11 came out, the claim from the right was that the only people going to see it were true believers, people who were already planning to vote for Kerry previously. The more shrill right-wing pundits warned their minions to stay away from the film, as though the price of admission included the installation of a mind-control device by the DNC. But if it's true that 70% of the people who went to see the film were Kerry supporters, 99% of them were Kerry supporters when they walked out.

One place the film didn't play was on military bases. This article from the notoriously liberal Stars and Stripes noted

In June, when the movie came out in theaters, AAFES, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, said it was pursuing prints, and that it eschewed politics when choosing movies, basing decisions only on profits and popularity.

“If ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ proves popular in the private sector and prints are available, the movie will be shown,” AAFES spokesman Judd Anstey said in June.

By the end of July, AAFES said it was trying to get the film for overseas bases but there weren’t enough prints to go around.

But a spokesman for the Fellowship Adventure Group, formed to distribute Moore’s film in conjunction with Lions Gate Films and IFC Films, said it told AAFES in mid-July that prints of “Fahrenheit 9/11” would be available, and that “from that point on, they were unresponsive.”

In August, AAFES said it was not going to show the film. Anstey said then that the movie’s Oct. 5 DVD release didn’t give AAFES enough time to draw sufficient audiences to the theaters.
That hasn't stopped the movie from getting out, however. The DVD was released on the 5th (we pre-ordered our copies from Amazon) and it's been flying out of the rental places on military bases.
But the DVD version of Michael Moore’s cinematic indictment of the current commander-in-chief and his administration came in the doors at the base video store this week — and went right out again.

Employees of the store, operated by Softland Video, said all 22 copies it received Tuesday were checked out that day, and when they came back, they went out again. The movie was available for home viewing last week at most overseas military bases.

Francis Anglada, a retired petty officer first class who now works for Morale, Welfare and Recreation, got the last one in stock on Thursday around 11:30 a.m. He’d been waiting a long time to see it, and said it was a “scandal” that it never showed in base theaters.

snip

“It almost made me want to throw my ID away,” said one petty officer third class who saw the movie while he was home on leave in Florida. “It shows how Bush reacted (when he was told about the 9/11 attacks). He just keeps reading. It shows how he tries to cut the veterans’ benefits. It shows they don’t care about us.”

The sailor’s words, spoken in the Yokosuka video store, got the attention of Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Dutton. Dutton had just said he didn’t know much about the movie and that he’d rather see “Van Helsing” or “Troy,” also new releases. But after hearing his fellow sailor’s recommendation, Dutton changed his mind.

“I want to see it now. In fact, I might buy it,” Dutton said. “Anything that makes the government look bad, they don’t want us to see.”

Capt. King Dietrich, the base commander, said he’d probably rent it too, even though he expects “parts of it” to irritate him.

Southland Video representative Merion Elliott said no renters so far had offered an opinion on the film, although when she asked one man what he thought, he called it “interesting.”

Elliott said Southland was interested to see how well the movie did as a DVD rental and thought it might be popular because so many on the bases had not seen it.
It seems you can only keep people in the dark for so long, and that's a good thing.

Could this be the year?

Once again, it's the Red Sox and the Yankees in the ALCS. Once again, it's the Curse versus the Boss. In a year where the National League playoffs are, well, boring as hell, I'm glad we've got the return of this series in the AL.

Now, I hate the Yankees. Always have. Always will. There's just something about the sense of entitlement that Yankees fans have, and especially that Steinbrenner has, as though there's really only one spot in the World Series up for grabs every year, because the other belongs to the Big Apple.

I've never had a home team in baseball. I grew up in Louisiana, and we didn't even have a minor league team until recently, so I've long adopted other teams to root for. I'm a Cubs fan, largely because they're baseball's version of the New Orleans Saints, and since I'm in San Francisco now, it's hard not to be a Giants fan, especially since I saw Barry hit number 700 in person.

But neither of those teams are in the playoffs this year, so it's time to pick someone else. Can't pick the Dodgers, because they're anathema to the Bay Area. Can't pick the Astros, because they nosed out both the Giants and the Cubs, and besides, they're from Texas. And I'm just tired of the Braves. I've got no real beef with St. Louis, but they don't inspire me either.

But the Red Sox. They feed into every passion I have. The underdogs. The downtrodden. The guys who for whatever reason have just been snakebitten for longer than most people have been alive. And I've got a shirt already.

Last year, my brother-in-law silk screened some t-shirts that say "F the Yanks. Boston 2003." I have a couple of them, and I've broken them out already. I hope I haven't jinxed them already.

Lies, petty and large

Last night, within minutes of the end of the Vice-Presidential debate, diarists on the Daily Kos and many many other bloggers were running down the many inaccuracies and blatant lies spouted off by Dick Cheney.

The lies were of varying degrees of importance--the claim that Cheney had never insinuated that Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks was a big one, while the claim that he'd never met John Edwards before that night was a small one, and both were debunked within minutes of the close of the debate. This picture started making the rounds this morning.


Now while the first set of lies--the ones dealing with Hussein and Iraq and al Qaeda, the whole foreign policy part of the debate--were larger and of far greater import to not only the debate, but to the future of the country at large, it's perfectly understandable why Cheney told them. He has to. His credibility and the credibility of Bush are inextricably bound to that segment of the population that somehow hasn't figured out that they're full of shit, and if they admit it now, they'll get about 17 votes nationwide in November. Cheney has to tell those lies.

But the lie about never meeting Edwards, while small, should prove far more damaging, because it was a useless, stupid lie. Cheney had a gutshot when he made a crack about Edwards' recent Senate attendance record--Edwards has missed a lot of Senate votes in the last two years while he ran for President and everyone knows it. It was a solid blow.

But adding in the crack about never having met Edwards before added nothing to the blow, and now that it's been proven to be untrue, undercuts and negates any power that the legitimate shot had, and also shows Cheney to be the kind of man--no surprise here--who will tell a lie even when the truth is better. That's the hallmark of this administration, for that matter. They lie even when it doesn't help, just because they've gotten so ingrained in the habit that they can't do anything else.

Everyone else and they grandmammas

are covering the VP debate, so I'll say this instead. I'll miss you, Rodney Dangerfield. You had one of the greatest explications ever of Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night." From the film Back to School.

"I ain't taking shit from nobody!"

Thanks for the triple lindy. He was 82.

Being a California voter

Being a California voter, a responsible one at least, is a plain bitch. No other way to describe it. I got my state voter guide a couple of days ago, and it was 166 pages. 166 pages! And that's just for the state-wide referenda and initiatives. We haven't even gotten to the city stuff yet, which includes instant runoff voting for the Supervisor races. I'm loving it. I'll start digging into the state wide initiatives next week, and keep you posted.

Before it disappears down the memory hole

Because it likely will, now that liberal bloggers have started up the meme that every time someone brings up John Kerry's $87 billion vote, we should remind them that the Bush White House threatened to veto it first.

The Bush administration threatened for the first time Tuesday to veto an $87 billion package for Iraq and Afghanistan if Congress converts any Iraqi rebuilding money into loans.

There it is, in all its glory.

Karma is a bitch

I'm never one to wish bad things to happen to a person, no matter how much of a scum-sucking piece of shit they happen to be--I believe in karmic retribution, after all--which is precisely why I note this article from Broadcasting and Cable that describes a particular form of karmic retribution visited upon a scum-sucking piece of shit.

Just when it’s getting fun, Robert Novak, 73, the veteran columnist and one of the hosts of CNN’s Crossfire is going to be hobbling.

Early Friday morning, the day after the first presidential debate in Coral Gables, Fla., Novak slipped in in his Miami hotel room shower and broke his hip, a source told B&C. Novak and his Crossfire counterpart Paul Begala were in Florida to fire at each other for Thursday's show and to help with CNN's coverage of the debate.

Hmmm.

Daily Show audience smarter than O'Reilley's

Okay, so this really isn't much of a surprise, but apparently, Jon Stewart was on "the Factor" a while back and O'Reilley said "You know what's really frightening? You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary, but it's true. You've got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night and they can vote."

Comedy Central wondered about the intelligence level of their audience, so they did a little research.

Viewers of Jon Stewart's show are more likely to have completed four years of college than people who watch "The O'Reilly Factor," according to Nielsen Media Research....

Comedy Central also touted a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey, which said young viewers of "The Daily Show" were more likely to answer questions about politics correctly than those who don't.

Comedy Central had no statistics on how many people watch "The Daily Show" stoned.


I know who I'd rather get my news from.

An open letter to CBS News

Hey CBS News folk,

You want to regain your reputation as journalists? Here's a hint--do the fucking work correctly and tell anyone who doesn't like your conclusions to go to hell, my side included.

Your journalistic integrity is in greater danger now than it ever has been before, not because you got suckered by someone with some phony documents--but because you didn't do your due diligence on those documents before you rushed to air. So learn from that mistake--get the story right next time and don't rush to judgment before you've got the facts straight. But don't start pulling your punches now.

You're screwed on the Killian story--no question. Hard line right-wingers who have been accusing you of bias for years now think they have their smoking gun, and they're brandishing it above what they believe is your bloody corpse. If you cave and stop doing your first job--reporting facts--then they really will have destroyed your reputation, and fair-minded people of all political persuasions will never trust you again.

But beyond your reputation, you have the entire journalistic community to think about as well. You can't think that NBC, ABC, CNN and MSNBC aren't watching this unfold with fear and trepidation. They know that they could easily be next if you guys fold under this pressure.

The press is supposed to be the fourth estate--the outside check on the power of the government. If you stop airing critical pieces about the people in power because you're afraid of the backlash in an election year, then you've abdicated your power and your responsibility to the people of this nation and to the people of the world. Don't fold. Don't let the ratfuckers win.

Shame

Ever just feel ashamed to be from the same place as someone who winds up in the press somehow? And I'm not talking about "share the same name with a sorry-ass celebrity" ashamed--I'm talking about "oh my God, that person has just defaced my entire state" ashamed.

I grew up in Louisiana, and when I was a kid, in 1982 to be exact, this happened. A plane taking off from New Orleans International Airport crashed into a neighborhood in the suburb of Kenner. My best friend's grandparents lived there, and we were all worried until we heard from them.

Too bad it didn't take out this one. From C-SPAN:

PETER SLEN, HOST: Kenner, Louisiana, good morning.

CALLER (in a very airy voice): Good morning. I’m going to vote for President Bush because, after all, you know, God made us there, you know, in His image, free from any black color and all [Host looks up, surprised]. The only church that Kerry can go to is where they say the Black Mass, and that is in the Merriam-Webster Pocket Book dictionary, where it says that that is the devil worshippers. [Host looks uncomfortably off-camera, at producer?] I would never vote for, you know, Senator Kerry.So, definitely, I would never vote for, you know, Senator Kerry.

And that isn’t the only reason. Also, in the Bible, God said … God … that, uh, also, like (unintelligible) and faggots, that he says, anybody that lays down with another man and has sex with his own sex, and any woman that lays down with another woman and has sex should be put to death and their (unintelligible) upon them. It also says that about interracial marriages and everything. So that’s the reason why I’m voting for my president, Bush.

SLEN: What do you do in, uh …

CALLER: And that isn’t the only reason. They also have other reasons also. The other reason is political, because like the political terrorists, they’ve been out there for eight months, and they’ve been out on the road, and they’ve been talking about … they’ve talked against our president. They put him down in every way. And God knows that that is wrong. He’s out there doing God’s work. He’s taking care of all our children.

Like when Clinton was in, he made – he tried to make whores and faggots out of our little girls – whores out of our little girls. He put the pornography in the schools. And God’s gonna condemn him for that.

SLEN: What do you do in Kenner?

CALLER (talking over question): And that’s the reason why … he even went to the hospital and everything.

SLEN: Caller, what do you do in Kenner, Louisiana?

CALLER: Pardon me?

SLEN: What do you do in Kenner? Do you have a job?

CALLER: I’m a housewife.

SLEN: A housewife? Where do you go to church?

CALLER: I go to different churches. I go to, sometimes, in New Orleans, I go to the Cathedral. And I believe in my God, and I know that God is here to protect everybody. And if Kerry comes in … God helped the whole world, because God loved … Kerry … oh, that’s another thing …

SLEN (cutting her off): Thanks, caller. I’m afraid – I’m afraid we’re out of time. I wish I could let you go on, but I’m afraid we’re out of time.


Ugh. I'm almost certain this attitude isn't typical of Bush supporters--I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt because I'd fear for my life if anywhere near half the country felt this way--but damn, people. We let people like this vote?

Finally! The L-word makes an appearance.

John Edwards made an appearance on Lou Dobbs today and he came loaded for bear.

DOBBS: Turning to the mess in Iraq. The -- you have been referred to by Vice President Cheney and Speaker of the House Hastert as basically soft on the war on terror. What's your reaction?

EDWARDS: My response is, it's a lie, and it's an outrageous thing to be said. I mean, the very idea that all of us don't want to do everything possible to keep this country safe -- to take one of the great tragedies in American history and try to use it as a cheap political trick is absolutely wrong. And they ought to be held accountable and responsible for the outrageous things that they're saying. And I believe the American people will hold them accountable. People aren't as foolish as they think they are. Voters in this country have good sense, and they will see this fear-mongering for exactly what it is.

I might add, since we're on the subject -- since you mentioned the subject of Iraq, you know, you think about what this administration -- I'm convinced George Bush and Dick Cheney are literally the last two people in America who believe they've made no mistakes in Iraq and everything's going well. I mean, you just watch what's happening there. They told us they had a plan for Iraq, Lou. Not true. They told us we had enough troops going in. Not true. They told us this war would pay for itself. Not true.

I mean, why in the world did George Bush and Dick Cheney have any credibility whatsoever? This gets to be a pretty simple thing. If the American voter wants four more years of the situation we have in Iraq and potentially getting much worse over time, then George Bush is their guy. If they believe we could do better than that -- and John Kerry laid out our plan yesterday in New York -- they need to put John Kerry in the White House.
It's about damn time that one of the big two said something like this. Cheney is a liar, plain and simple, and is never called on it by anyone near the top of the ticket, at least not till today. Here's how Edwards finished the interview off.

EDWARDS: I'm going to make sure that this administration is held accountable when they lie. I'm going to make sure that they're held accountable for their failures, both here and in Iraq and around the world. I want to make certain that when voters go to the poll in November that they know we have a president whose cost them millions of jobs, millions of people their health care, put millions of people into poverty. A typical family's income is down, not up. On top of the mess we have Iraq, I want to make certain that everybody knows that.

And when they say things that aren't true, we're going to call those things the lies that they are. And we're also going to make sure that people know that we can do better and what our plan to do is better. So the answer to your question is, I'm going to fight with absolutely everything I've got for my country.
Nice. Very very nice.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

If ever there were a movie where the previews absolutely turned me off beforehand, this was it. I'm glad I saw it anyway.

A lot of love went into this film. It's over the top silly, and Jude Law is the perfect leading man here. I've never been a big fan of Gwyneth Paltrow or Angelina Jolie, but they both do well in this film, perhaps because the characters are all caricatures--but in this film, any attempt at real depth in character would have rung false. It's just a rollicking good time, as long as you roll with the cheesiness, and the cheesiness is so infectious that it's hard not to.

The 700 Club (and not the crazy fundamentalist kind)

Short and sweet posting here. Barry got number 700 tonight, and I was there.



Jealous?

A post-election Iraq hypothetical.

Sid Blumenthal has the lead story today over at Salon, and it scared me to death.

From the article:

Gen. Hoare believes from the information he has received that "a decision has been made" to attack Fallujah "after the first Tuesday in November. That's the cynical part of it -- after the election.

This got me to thinking--we can all believe that Bush would do this, whether or not he won, maybe even more so if he lost. The real question for me is--if the neocons know they're going out, and that they're not likely to make a comeback, is there anything they wouldn't consider? Would they potentially lob a "fuck you" nuke into the Sunni Triangle on January 18th and leave a brand new Kerry administration to pick up the pieces?

The Killian Memos

Are they forgeries? I don't know. And I don't care, personally. But if it turns out that they are, I'm gonna be pissed at CBS for one simple reason. They'll have reopened the debate on whether or not the "liberal media" exists.

The "liberal media" doesn't exist, of course. It's been debunked by people far more informed than me and I'm not going to go into the details. Read the books on the subject and argue with the authors if you want.

But after making some real headway into the destruction of the "liberal media" meme over the last couple of years, suddenly CBS has reopened it, and because of the particular way it has been reopened--especially if the memos end up being forged--CBS is now going to be unable to criticize George W. Bush for the rest of this campaign without the wingnuts dismissing it as "liberal bias." And the other media outlets--who are already doing a weak job at best--will be worried about backlash as well. Our jobs just got harder.

I have one hope--well, two. Either the memos will be proven to be legitimate, or the forger will turn out to be a Republican operative in the pay of someone connected to Karl Rove. I'm not holding out much hope for either.

Results!

Yesterday, I posted the text of a diary I wrote over at the Daily Kos which generated a ton of attention in that net community. Well, it seems we had an effect.

Timothy Noah of Slate's Chatterbox column posts this beautiful story.

After summarizing Gobbel's situation, and quoting the original article (in much the same way I did), Noah adds this bit to the story.

The story was picked up by Daily Kos, a political Web log, and spread quickly around the Web. By this morning, Geddes, who has declined to comment publicly on the matter, had apparently had enough of the bad publicity. Through an intermediary, he offered Gobbell an apology and said she could have her old job back. But Gobbell said she wouldn't return without some written guarantee that Geddes wouldn't turn around and fire her once he was out of the spotlight. Then, late this afternoon, Kerry himself phoned Gobbell. "He was telling me how proud he was that I stood up," Gobbell told me. "He'd read the part where Phil said I could either work for him or work for John Kerry. He said, 'you let him know you're working for me as of today.' I was just so shocked."


I only just found out about this--I've been at work and at the dental school all day. There is no better way to come out of a root canal than to find out that you had a hand in correcting an injustice and helping a person in need.

I'm not taking any credit for this. Even if I had never written about this on the Daily Kos, someone else would have--I feel certain of that. It was the combined efforts of that community, as well as the other net people who got involved and gave these people hell that made the difference. I'm proud to be a part of that community.

Woman fired for Kerry bumpersticker
This story has been generating some buzz both at the Daily Kos (where this was originally posted as a diary) and at the Smirking Chimp (where a close friend started a thread), so I figured I'd post it here as well. Mega-props to the people at the Daily Rotten for posting this on their site, and bringing it to my friend's attention.

Here's my diary from the Daily Kos.

I wish to God I was making this up. Sorry.

Lynne Gobbell of Moulton, Alabama, was told by her boss that she had to remove her Kerry/Edwards bumpersticker from her car or she would lose her job.

Gobbell gave this account:

"We were going back to work from break, and my manager told me that Phil said to remove the sticker off my car or I was fired," she said. "I told him that Phil couldn't tell me who to vote for. He said, 'Go tell him.' "

She went to Gaddis' office, knocked on the door and entered on his orders.

"Phil and another man who works there were there," she said. "I asked him if he said to remove the sticker and he said, 'Yes, I did.' I told him he couldn't tell me who to vote for. When I told him that, he told me, 'I own this place.' I told him he still couldn't tell me who to vote for."

Gobbell said Gaddis told her to "get out of here."

"I asked him if I was fired and he told me he was thinking about it," she said. "I said, 'Well, am I fired?' He hollered and said, 'Get out of here and shut the door.' "

She said her manager was standing in another room and she asked him if that meant for her to go back to work or go home. The manager told her to go back to work, but he came back a few minutes later and said, " 'I reckon you're fired. You could either work for him or John Kerry,' " Gobbell said.

"I took off my gloves and threw them in the garbage and left," Gobbell said.

But wait--it gets worse.

Seems the owner, Phil Gaddis, had been placing this letter in his employees' paycheck each month.
"Just so you will know, because of the Bush tax (cut):
I was able to buy the new Hammer Mill
I was able to finance our receivables
I was able to get the new CAT skid steer
I was able to get the wire cutter
I was able to give you a job"
It further says:
"You got the benefit of the Bush tax cut. Everyone did."


So it's okay for the owner to push his politics on his employees, but not for them to express themselves on their private property? God, I wish Alabama were anything remotely resembling a swing state.

Anyway, does anyone know how to set up something to help this woman out? I get paid on Wednesday, and I'd kick in a couple of bucks to help her out until her unemployment starts. I've got no idea on how to contact her, but I'm glad to hear suggestions and recommendations.

Has Kerry grown a set?

Damn. If he makes statements like this the rest of the way in, I might not have to take a shower after voting for him in November.

In his statement Sunday, Kerry complained that Cheney "continues to intentionally mislead the American public by drawing a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 in an attempt to make the invasion of Iraq part of the global war on terror.

"The president needs to answer the question: Who do you think is right? Vice President Cheney or Secretary Powell? And if it's Secretary Powell, will you direct your vice president to stop misleading the American people?"

Cheney has been shamefully making the connection for years now--3 to be exact--and it's no truer now than it was in 2001.

Now if only Democrats in general would get past their abhorrence of the word "lying," we might get somewhere, because there's really no other way to describe what Cheney does every time he links Iraq and al Qaeda. It's not "misleading;" it's not "obfuscation;" it's lying, plain and simple, and it's past time that someone high up in the Democratic party called him on it. Preferably to his face.

Political dirty tricks and other bullshit

It looks like an innocuous story about people stealing Kerry/Edwards campaign signs from yards. It's bush-league, it's grade school, and according to a local Republican, it's not limited to Kerry/Edwards signs either.

But then there's this little nugget in the story:

Bryan Platt, chairman of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee, said he had heard of only one report of Bush/Cheney signs taken recently.

He pointed out that there aren’t many locally, however, because the Bush/Cheney campaign has selected Sept. 11 as the big day for putting up signs.

Remember back when the Republican party swore up and down that they would never, ever, ever try to use the 9/11 attacks for political purposes?

Time to take him down.

The original GW (George Washington) has apparently gotten a little too full of himself, so it's time for Rowboat Vets for Truth to swing into action. Check out the "Truth v. Myth" page--it's cute.

Classy folks, these Bush supporters

First it was this guy kicking a female protestor who was defenseless on the floor of the Republican National Convention, and now it's a group of rowdies at a Kerry campaign rally shouting down a 70 year old woman who'd had several throat surgeries.

This was the most polarized event I have seen on the trail with supporter of President Bush yelling throughout Senator Kerry's speech and the candidate's supporters shouting back and the candidate hitting back on the stump. There were approximately fifty Bush supporters, including a very vocal group of about ten who were drinking lots of Busch beer. Senator Kerry stayed on message and delivered a short and focused speech, taking questions instead of talking endlessly to the crowd.

Now of course, something like would never happen at a Bush event, mainly because you get whisked away by the Secrete Service if you're not a loyalty-oath signing, praise-Jesus Bushite. But Busch beer? Punny or not, how can you drink that shit?
The Bush supporters did not let up shouting while an elderly woman who had several throat surgeries tried to tell her tale, prompting Senator Kerry to say to the cameras and the crowd, "While the Bush people were rudely shouting...a 70-year old woman was trying to tell the story of how she has to go out and work because she needs to take pills."

Like I said--classy.

In many of the forums where I spend far too much time, people are constantly claiming that Kerry's too busy talking about Vietnam to talk about real issues. Maybe they're not hearing him talk about real issues because they're too busy shouting down 70 year old women with bad throats and kicking women while they're on the ground.

P.S. I know I'm painting with an awful broad brush here, and I'm not trying to imply that all Bush supporters are these kinds of goons--but I certainly haven't heard anyone stepping up and calling these assholes out so far.

Outraged yet?

You ought to be.

Bob Graham, former governor of Florida, current Senator, and keeper of excruciatingly detailed diaries (for which he was unfairly ridiculed during the primaries--largely by Republicans) is releasing a new book, and with Graham's penchant for detail, you know any charges it makes are going to be solidly backed up.

And what charges he makes.

WASHINGTON - Two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers had a support network in the United States that included agents of the Saudi government, and the Bush administration and FBI blocked a congressional investigation into that relationship, Sen. Bob Graham wrote in a book to be released Tuesday.

The discovery of the financial backing of the two hijackers "would draw a direct line between the terrorists and the government of Saudi Arabia, and trigger an attempted coverup by the Bush administration," the Florida Democrat wrote.

And in Graham's book, Intelligence Matters, obtained by The Herald Saturday, he makes clear that some details of that financial support from Saudi Arabia were in the 27 pages of the congressional inquiry's final report that were blocked from release by the administration, despite the pleas of leaders of both parties on the House and Senate intelligence committees.

It gets worse. Graham notes that General Tommy Franks was pulling resources out of Afghanistan--notably the Predator drone--for future use in Iraq in February of 2002, long before there was any public discussion, much less congressional approval for such action. And remember that "slam dunk case" that CIA chief George Tenet claimed existed for the WMD charge?
In October 2002, Tenet told Graham that "there were 550 sites where weapons of mass destruction were either produced or stored" in Iraq.

"It was, in short, a vivid and terrifying case for war. The problem was it did not accurately represent the classified estimate we had received just days earlier," Graham wrote. "It was two different messages, directed at two different audiences. I was outraged."

You know something Senator? You're not alone. Order the book.

Bush's speech tonight
Didn't see it. I was busy having a root canal done by a dental student at the University of the Pacific. I think I wound up in less pain than I would have otherwise.

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