Sandy Berger cleared on all charges

But is it on any of the major news sites? Noooooooooo. I found a brief mention of it here. Nothing on Nothing on Nothing on, although the Asman Observer at the bottom of the page still suggests that the elite media are allowing Berger to get away with something.

So again I ask--what liberal media? When the Berger story hit, it did so despite the fact that the investigation had been ongoing for almost a year and that Ashcroft's justice department had said no charges were even likely. It was all over the place. So now that Berger has been cleared, where the hell is the media coverage?

Ron Jr. tears Dubya a new asshole--in print

It is in next month's issue of Esquire, a magazine I generally consider useless after I bought a six month subscription to support my daughter's school band and read exactly one article (and it pissed me off because it was so freaking retarded).

But Ron Reagan Jr is pissed, and Esquire is letting him vent and I say, more power to him. Here's the link and here's a couple of paragraphs from it. Enjoy.

Politicians will stretch the truth. They'll exaggerate their accomplishments, paper over their gaffes. Spin has long been the lingua franca of the political realm. But George W. Bush and his administration have taken "normal" mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. On top of the usual massaging of public perception, they traffic in big lies, indulge in any number of symptomatic small lies, and, ultimately, have come to embody dishonesty itself. They are a lie. And people, finally, have started catching on.

None of this, needless to say, guarantees Bush a one-term presidency. The far-right wing of the country—nearly one third of us by some estimates—continues to regard all who refuse to drink the Kool-Aid (liberals, rationalists, Europeans, et cetera) as agents of Satan. Bush could show up on video canoodling with Paris Hilton and still bank their vote. Right-wing talking heads continue painting anyone who fails to genuflect deeply enough as a "hater," and therefore a nut job, probably a crypto-Islamist car bomber. But these protestations have taken on a hysterical, almost comically desperate tone. It's one thing to get trashed by Michael Moore. But when Nobel laureates, a vast majority of the scientific community, and a host of current and former diplomats, intelligence operatives, and military officials line up against you, it becomes increasingly difficult to characterize the opposition as fringe wackos.

And it gets better the longer you read. Go Ronnie!


That's Michael Moore's new word. I heard him unveil it today on Majority Report with Janeane Garofalo (okay, he may have used it elsewhere, but I heard it for the first time tonight). It's a great word--refers to those people who accuse others of being insufficiently patriotic and do it with a sense of hatred. I plan on using it regularly.

Amy Sullivan got it too.

When the Big Dog howled last night, he did reached out to religious people as well. It must have been deliberate. After all, Clinton spoke on the same night as Reverend Alston, a former shipmate of John Kerry, quoted Psalm 27 by saying "Though an army beseige me, my heart shall not fear."

You expect preaching from someone like Reverend Alston, but the rap on Democrats has long been that we're, well, too secular and don't care enough about God and church and faith. That's simply not true--it's more that the Christians among us aren't generally of the "if you don't believe my way you're going straight to hell" variety. We tend to focus on the loving God part of Christianity.

So it was with a certain amount of pride that I recognized the same spiritual themes that Amy Sullivan did in Bill Clinton's speech last night. Sullivan has already broken them down so I'll just quote her here.

"Send Me" Clinton began with this passage -- "During the Vietnam War, many young men--including the current president, the vice president, and me--could have gone to Vietnam but didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background and could have avoided it, too. Instead, he said, 'send me.'" He continued on, outlining Kerry's lifetime of public service by noting that everytime his country has asked something of him, John Kerry has replied, "Send me." It was a nice little phrase for the audience to yell back at Clinton, but it comes from the prophet Isaiah (6:8) -- "Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Using the Talents In a short section promoting John Edwards, Clinton described the vice presidential nominee as a man "who has used his talents to improve the lives of people." That's a reference to the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25) and a subtle dig at Bush, a man who has been given much and of whom nothing much has been expected. In the parable, the servant who uses his talents is praised by God ("Well done, my good and faithful servant"), but the one who hides his talents away for himself is shamed.

A Time to Choose This last was Clinton's most subtle use of religious rhetoric, echoing Ecclesiastes 3, which begins "There is a time for everything" and then lists choices in pairs. For the most part, the poet begins with more destructive choices -- "a time to tear" or "a time for war" -- and ends with hopeful ones -- "a time to mend" or "a time for peace". There is time to disagree, Clinton said, and we've tried it your way, but now it's time to come together.

In the end, it was a brilliant speech. The cadence of his voice, the way he used his own example about the tax cuts and how they affected him, the way he set up the coming election as a set of choices and not an us v. them dichotomy--all of that showed why he was and remains the best political campaigner of the last 50 years. Is there any doubt in anyone's mind that Clinton, even with all the impeachment baggage, wouldn't have wiped the floor with Dubya if he'd been able to run again? It wouldn't have even been close.

Open your email accounts, folks.

It's time to slap the media around again.

From this thread over at the Smirking Chimp, we learn that CBS is not going to air Ron Reagan Jr.'s speech at all and that NBC and ABC won't carry it live. So its time to send letters, let them know how you feel about their editorial choices. Here's mine.

I just read that CBS news is not planning on airing Ron Reagan Jr.'s speech at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, either live or in later coverage. I'm more than a little disappointed about this, for a couple of reasons.

First off, it's a momentous occasion--the son of a Republican president speaking at the Democratic National convention. The excuse given was weak--that the producers didn't want to give an hour to an 8 minute speech. Sorry, but no one is buying that excuse, not when you give unending coverage to Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson and Martha Stewart's legal travails, none of which affect the average American to the extent that the subject of Reagan's speech does, which brings me to my second point.

As I am sure you're aware, Reagan plans to speak on the subject of stem cell research, a subject near and dear to my heart since the potential for medical breakthroughs seems, for now, to be limitless.

My dad has Alzheimers, just like President Reagan had. My nephew suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a genetic disease that has destroyed everything but his mind. Both of these diseases are the subjects of research done with stem cells, so this subject and the actions of the Bush administration in this matter have angered me to no end. When I see ideologues opposing research that could result in medical treatment for my father and/or my nephew, I get upset. When I see a major television network aiding and abetting that opposition for no apparent reason, I get incensed.

Have some decency. Show the speech, and give it the respect it deserves.

The latest on same-sex marriage.

Lots of people are getting twisted over the the House vote today on the Federal Marriage Act that purports to strip the federal courts--including the Supreme Court--of any oversight on the act. In other words, they're bypassing the courts in order to preempt any claims of un-Constitutionality.

Here's my take. I'm no lawyer, but I am a student of the human psyche, and I'll bet that the Supreme Court will find a way--convoluted or not--to call this act unconstitutional, assuming it doesn't die in the Senate. People in power guard their turf jealously, and the Congress is certainly encroaching onto the Court's turf. Even Scalia has to realize that if they let Congress get away with this, that they'll legislate their way around the Court whenever they wish. They have to take a stand here, or they'll be irrelevant, and no one on his court wants to go down as the guy who gave it all away. Hell, I'm halfway convinced that Kennedy and O'Connor are feeling some regret over Bush v. Gore and that that guilt is affecting some of their recent rulings.

So I'm cautiously optimistic. I don't think this will go anywhere in either the short or the long term, but even if it somehow makes it into the law, I have confidence in the egos of the 9 justices to find a way to toss it on its ear.

Howard Dean--Republican

Thanks to ECH at the Daily Kos for this. From the Washington Post.

Dean for Bush? That's a Scream

Former Vermont governor Howard Dean learned something new yesterday: He's a member of the Republican National Committee's Victory 2004 club. Even has the membership card to prove it. It arrived in the mail with a striking picture of President and Laura Bush, and a typed note: "To: Howard Dean, thank you for your loyal commitment, I'm looking forward to working with you for a great Republican victory in Vermont this year. Warmest regards, George Bush." (And the onetime Democratic presidential contender thought his loss in Iowa was a good reason to shriek.)

Too funny.

Words of wisdom from Molly Ivins

Got her new book today, along with my copy of Outfoxed (which I just finished watching). I'll write a review of that a little later, probably after I watch it a second time--there's so much to digest.

Anyway, Ivins' new book is titled Who Let the Dogs In? Incredible Political Animals I Have Known. While I have yet to even start the first chapter, I came across this section in the foreword and was so inspired by it that I wanted to post it here. This is only a small excerpt, by the way. Enjoy.

Because I have been writing about politics for forty years, I know where the cynicism comes from, and I would not presume to tell you it is misplaced. The system is so screwed up, if you think it's not worth participating in, then give yourself credit for being alert. But not for being smart. How smart is it to throw away power? How smart is it to throw away the most magnificent political legacy any people has ever received? This is our birthright; we are the heirs; we get it all just for being born here. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [and women!] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pusruit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it." More than two hundred years later, people all over the world are willing to die for a chance to live by those ideals. They dies in South Africa, they died at Tiananmen Square, they're dying today in Myanmar.

Don't throw that legacy out the window out of cynicism or boredom or inanition: "I'm just not interested in politics." "There's nothing I can do."

You have more political power than 99% of all the people who have ever lived on this planet. You can not only vote, you can register other people to vote, round up your friends, get out and do political education, talk to people, laugh with people, call the radio, write the paper, write your elected representative, use your e-mail list, put up signs, march, volunteer, and raise hell. All your life, no matter what else you do--butcher, baker, beggarman, thief/doctor, lawyer, Indian chief--you have another job, another responsibility: You are a citizen. It is an obligation that requires attention and effort. And on top of that, you should make it a hell of a lot of fun.

Having fun while fighting for freedom is, as you will see from this book, my major life cause. I see no reason why we should not laugh, and in fact I think we should insist upon it.

You're damn right, Molly.

Why do they do it?

It never ceases to amaze me how some folks who take themselves so seriously allow themselves to be mocked by people like Michael Moore or the folks from the greatest show on television--The Daily Show.

I've just finished rewatching the Rob Corrdry piece on John LeBoutellier and the anti-Clinton library, and I can't help but think that LeBoutellier has to be either the most oblivious or most desperate person on earth. I laughed of course, both because LeBoutellier's anti-Clintonism is so simultaneously ridiculous and insane, but shouldn't someone connected to his program have warned him that Corrdry was going to mock him unmercifully and make him look like a moron? I'm glad that these people haven't caught on yet, because it makes for great entertainment.

On a side note, the much blogged about Jon Stewart interview with Wolf Blitzer is finally available on the site, and it's worth watching.

More from Playboy

In the marginalia, there's this tiny little article about the Committee on Government Reform Minority Office--that's Henry Waxman's (D-CA) group, and a damn fine job he does on any number of issues. He's the ultimate gadfly in the House, and I wonder what he could get done if his party were in charge.

So Playboy points up Waxman's committee's website, found here, and looky at the top story:
Iraq on the Record: The Bush Administration's Public Statements on Iraq.

The Committee has documented 273 statements made by one of the five following people: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice--that were misleading at the time they were said. Look at the methodology:

The statements in the database are drawn from 125 public statements or appearances in which the five officials discussed the threat posed by Iraq. The sources of the statements are 40 speeches, 26 press conferences and briefings, 53 interviews, 4 written statements or articles, and 2 appearances before congressional committees. Quotes from the officials in newspaper articles or other similar secondary sources were not included in the database because of the difficulty of discerning the context of such quotes and ensuring their accuracy. Statements made by the officials before March 2002, one year before the commencement of hostilities in Iraq, were also not included.

The database contains statements about Iraq from the five officials that were misleading based on what was known to the Administration at the time the statements were made. In compiling the database, the Special Investigations Division did not assess whether “subjectively” the officials believed a specific statement to be misleading. Instead, the investigators used an “objective” standard. For purposes of the database, a statement is considered “misleading” if it conflicted with what intelligence officials knew at the time or involved the selective use of intelligence or the failure to include essential qualifiers or caveats.

The database does not include statements that appear mistaken only in hindsight. If a statement was an accurate reflection of U.S. intelligence at the time it was made, the statement is excluded from the database even if it now appears erroneous.

Italics mine, bolding from the original.

That's a hell of a standard, far stricter than most groups of any ilk would use. Yet they still came up with 273 examples, even though they cut themselves off at March 2002. It includes old favorites like Cheney's "We know they have biological and chemical weapons" and "There's overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi government." The whole list is in a pdf file available here. It's 36 pages long, so it'll be a nice long read, but it should prove to be informative.

Because sometimes it's just too funny
I got this in my Playboy today and laughed out loud.
Edited because I'm unsure of blogger's policy on nudity:

If that won't make you read...

It's official--Bush has broken the Army

Story is here.

Any time you're having to call up a 68 year old doctor for service in a war zone, you've screwed up the situation beyond repair. We can't get rid of this guy fast enough.

The Arabian Candidate

Today's Krugman is a takeoff on the Manchurian Candidate, appropriate considering not only the times we live in, especially considering the fact that there is a remake about to hit theaters (a remake I am eyeing warily, considering how much I love the original).

Krugman's point is this--hell, let him tell you.

In the original version of "The Manchurian Candidate," Senator John Iselin, whom Chinese agents are plotting to put in the White House, is a right-wing demagogue modeled on Senator Joseph McCarthy. As Roger Ebert wrote, the plan is to "use anticommunist hysteria as a cover for a communist takeover."

The movie doesn't say what Iselin would have done if the plot had succeeded. Presumably, however, he wouldn't have openly turned traitor. Instead, he would have used his position to undermine national security, while posing as America's staunchest defender against communist evil.

He then goes into how President Bush has played the part of Bin Laden's patsy to a tee--Iselin were he president today.

I'd give you the rest, but then you wouldn't have to click here. Copyright laws and all, you know.

Two pieces of interesting news
The first is from the Guardian. That 400K in the mass graves in Iraq we keep hearing about? So far it's closer to 5,000 after searching about a fifth of the sites. Extrapolate that out over the total number of sites, and it looks like Hussein may be responsible for about 25,000 murders, certainly enough to put him on the all-time asshole list.
I've always been of the mind that there was a legitimate humanitarian case to be made for removing Hussein--this administration obviously didn't give enough of a shit about the Iraqis to even attempt making that case, and now it looks like they'd have exaggerated that case if they'd even tried.
Part two is truly good news. The Ohio Secretary of State has halted deployment of the Diebold electronic voting machines for the 2004 elections because they failed to meet security standards. That's a victory for open elections.

Carrying Weapons
Ezra over at
Pandagon makes the point I've been making for years to my friends about concealed carry laws.
I was a bartender in Louisiana when we passed our concealed-carry law, and even though it mandated gun-safety courses and background checks and still restricted guns from places like anywhere that served alcohol or schools, I still never bought into the main argument for them, namely, crime prevention.
The standard line goes something like this: some punk ass perp is going to think twice about robbing Grandma Millie (who's still limping from being Enroned) if there's a chance she's packing and she might blow his sorry ass away.
My argument was always that the perp is going to take his chances 1) because odds are that Grandma Millie isn't packing and 2) even if she is, there's still a good chance the perp can snatch the gun before she can fire it.
I always figured that if you're looking for a way to use a gun as a deterrent, as the ultimate "fuck-off" lever, then you wear it on your hip, out in the open where everyone can see it. While you may still be a target for the occasional perp who figures he can get to your gun before you can, a larger number of perps are going to look for people who aren't packing.
Me? I decided long ago that if someone wants something I'm carrying bad enough to express himself violently, he can have it.

The Federal Marriage Amendment Debate
If there's a funnier deconstruction of the moronic brouhaha that took place in the Senate yesterday than the one Jon Stewart did on the Daily Show last night, I've not seen it or heard of it. Follow the link to your left there, and click on the piece titled The Boys in the Ban.
It's hard to say what my favorite part was--the Wonder Twins/Sodomy crack or the wrapup that included John Cornyn's box turtle analogy--but the whole thing is hysterical.

My monkey has gone home
My daughter, who my girlfriend and I affectionately call Monkey, has been visiting with me for almost the last month. She flew home today, and of course, I am sad, since I won't see her again until her Christmas vacation. So here's a picture of us at the airport:

and here's a poem I wrote about her some years ago that I dusted off and prettied up for a reading in June.

Sonnet for my daughter, age eight.

The high swings, Dad; she said. The short ones
are muddy.
Three pushes and she swung alone,
shrugging off help. She bet she could go
higher; I made a face. She snorted her reply

so I bent myself with memory, pulled
chains, stretched legs, climbed heavenward
and we reached a symmetry of swinging motion,
for a moment even gained perfection

of movement, arms and legs and I would
swear heartbeats in agreement with the laws
of astronomy, with the progress
of the afternoon, mud-blotched moon.

I slowed and she giggled aloud. She rose,
surpassing me, going as she chose.

Credit where due

I give the Republican party a lot of grief here and elsewhere on the internet. But I feel it's important to give those individual members of the party credit when they do something honorable. I applauded Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina when he said in reference to the Abu Ghraib scandal "If we're going to say we're the good guys, we have to act like the good guys."

Today's applause goes out to Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. In this article for The American Prospect (one of the best progressive sources of news on the web), Robert Reich notes that Senator Shelby is taking a stand against corporate America.

He writes:

Ten years ago, the Financial Accounting Standards Board proposed that stock options granted to executives and employees be treated just like any other form of compensation and therefore counted as an expense on corporate balance sheets. The proposal was entirely logical. Compensation is compensation. A company gives stock options as a form of payment in return for services. So, of course, it's a business expense.

But the corporate reaction to this modest proposal 10 years ago was so hostile, you'd have thought the Standards Board had declared war on capitalism. Corporate America furiously lobbied Congress and the Board to back down....

The hero of this deja vu drama is likely to be Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby who, as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, says he is determined to let the Standards Board do its thing, even if he has to hold up the entire federal budget.

Good luck to Senator Shelby. I hope you get it done.

Strange thing is, the more I read about this sort of issue--especially the part where corporate execs are pumping up profits to give themselves higher value stock options, the more I'm reminded of the S&L scandal during the Reagan administration. I didn't really understand it when it happened--I was a teenager at the time--but I read an interesting book in my twenties about a little Texas company named Vernon Savings and Loan entitled The Daisy Chain. I don't remember many of the specifics, but the one thing that I remember clearly was the way the owner of the S&L made sure that on every loan he made to a friend or business partner--no matter how ill-advised the loan was--he got a bonus. And as his bonuses were also tied to profitability, he always made sure the company looked way more profitable than it actually was, even once it became clear that the company was losing money.

Any of this sound familiar?

More news you didn't hear about
While scanning through Alternet earlier today, I came across a stroy by Jim Hightower that I couldn't believe I hadn't heard even a glimmer of before. He didn't link to any other story, so I googled the details myself and up popped this link from The Guardian from April 30. It's horrific.

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) - Macedonian police gunned down seven innocent immigrants, then claimed they were terrorists, in a killing staged to impress the United States, authorities said Friday.
The killing took place back in March 2002, and the details are incredible.
The so-called ``Rastanski Lozja'' action was carried out in March 2002 by special Macedonian police who claimed to have eliminated a terrorist group allegedly plotting to attack embassies and diplomats in Macedonia.

Senior police officials said at the time that the seven men were killed as they tried to ambush a police patrol and that the police fired in response to their attack. The police also claimed that AK47 assault rifles, hand grenades and ammunition were found near the van that the man were using.

But Konteska said that the seven Pakistani men were in fact illegal immigrants who were lured into Macedonia by promises that they would be transferred to Western Europe.

She said that the plan to set them up and kill them was made by top police officials in February 2002, after which the victims were brought in from neighboring Bulgaria and initially kept for days in an apartment in the capital, Skopje.

On March 3, 2002 they were transported by police to the Rastanski Lozja area, about three miles northeast of Skopje, where they were encircled and gunned down by special police using automatic weapons, Konteska said.
What kind of sick madmen come up with this sort of idea? And why would they think that US officials would look kindly on this sort of thing? You know, in the past I would have automatically discounted the claims made by the defendants that they'd gotten their information from US intelligence officers, but after Gitmo, after Abu Ghraib, after the psycho in Afghanistan who was running his own private prison, I'm starting to have my doubts.

It's been said before, but it bears repeating. The thing that I hate most about the Bush administration is the way it turned me from a slight cynic into a tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist.

Senator Boxer replies

Here's the text of her reply to the letter I sent her last night. I'll be honored to vote for her in November, assuming we still have elections.

Thank you for contacting me regarding recent reports about the possibility of postponing this year's federal elections.

To even consider postponing our elections, the most ardent symbol of American democracy, because of threats made by terrorists would be nothing short of allowing fear to rule our country. America is too great and too strong and too brave for that.

If this Administration is so concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks disrupting U.S. elections, the priority should be how to best defend against those attacks, not how to close polling places.

We need to pass the Rail Security and Port Security bills, both of which passed unanimously out of the Senate Commerce Committee in April. We need to pass my Homeland Defense Act, legislation authorizing grants for our local first responders so they can purchase interoperable communications systems that will allow them to talk to one another in the event of a terrorist attack. And we need to put more federal dollars toward funding these Homeland Security initiatives, including our local first responders.

We are focusing far too many of our resources abroad trying to bring democracy to others while this Administration seems completely at a loss on how to protect us here at home. All we hear about is fear from them and no plan. It is time to stop the fear-mongering and start protecting our people, our homeland, and our democracy here at home.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other issue that is of concern to you.

No squirming around, no bullshit hemming and hawing on an important issue. Barbara Boxer's an example of a Democrat with some spine and some backbone.

Update: you can also see this statement on Senator Boxer's website.

Write your congresscritter

Here's the letter I sent to Dianne Feinstein, and similar versions are going to Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi:

Dear Senator Feinstein,
I'm writing this note because I'm concerned about the recent reports from Newsweek among others that the Bush administration is considering the potential for postponing the election in November if the US were to be attacked again like we were on 9/11/2001. I cannot stress enough how important it is that this not be allowed to happen, and how much I am depending on you, Senator Boxer and Rep. Pelosi to stand firm against these plans.

After the 9/11 attacks, the terrorist card was played time and again to push through controversial legislation, to round up innocent people and deny them due process, and to push the country into an unnecessary war. Now the potential for future attacks threatens the very fabric of our democratic society. In the past, we were told that if we changed our way of life, then al Qaeda would have won--that truly is the case now. If we allow al Qaeda to dictate when we--the most powerful nation on earth--hold our elections, then we truly will have knuckled under to them.

We've gotten through worse than this in the past, Senator. President Bush and his administration have preyed upon our national fear for the last 3 years, and it is beyond time we called him on it. Thank you for your time and service.

I stand corrected

In a blog entry below, I tried to give Scott McClellan the benefit of the doubt when it came to the potential for cancelling the November elections. I was wrong, as this article from Newsweek points out. Now realize this--Isikoff is a tool for the Bushies and is trying to make the possibility of cancelling the elections palatable (the bullshit phrase used is "the success of March's Madrid railway bombings in influencing the Spanish elections"), but the underlying premise is damn disturbing.

American counterterrorism officials, citing what they call "alarming" intelligence about a possible Qaeda strike inside the United States this fall, are reviewing a proposal that could allow for the postponement of the November presidential election in the event of such an attack, NEWSWEEK has learned.

Get on the horn to your congresspersons now--no postponement under any circumstances. Nuclear missiles can be flying overhead and no postponement. Anthrax in the streets and no postponement. Britney Spears, Madonna, and the Queen of England having lesbian sex on pay-per-view and no postponement. Under no circumstances can we allow these people to postpone the November election--if they do, we may never have another chance to vote again.

Oh Cheney you, Jeb Bush

It's a mixed bag in this article from the NY Times. Yes, it's good news that Florida has decided to ditch its much derided (and rightly so) voter scrub list Vol. 2. This one, like the now infamous 2000 list, was full of errors that took away the voting rights of tens of thousands of Florida voters almost 4 years ago and made the Florida election close enough and contentious enough that 5 folks in black robes in Washington were able to give us King George the Lesser. From the article:

The purge of felons from voter rolls has been a thorny issue since the 2000 presidential election. A private company hired to identify ineligible voters before the election produced a list with scores of errors, and elections supervisors used it to remove voters without verifying its accuracy. A federal lawsuit led to an agreement to restore rights to thousands of voters.

The new list was released July 1, with officials saying Gov. Bush's administration was simply complying with federal election law. Problems with the list were quickly detected.

State officials have said there are people on the list who are not felons, and elections workers have flagged more than 300 people listed who might have received clemency.

Another problem was that about 2,700 people who had received clemency were still on the list. That was because they had registered to vote before they received clemency. The state initially required them to register again, but later backed off.
Notice that the article doesn't mention how many people on the list weren't felons. Last time around, Greg Palast argued that there were close to a hundred thousand incorrect names on the list.

But even if we assume that the state of Florida completely fixed that problem--even though they've admitted they didn't, just play along with me--there's still the matter of those 3,000 people we know about who were going to be stripped of their right to vote in the election had this list not been pulled.

Too bad that's not the reason they pulled the list.
Florida elections officials said Saturday they will not use a disputed list that was designed to keep felons from voting, acknowledging a flaw that could have allowed convicted Hispanic felons to cast ballots in November.
They pulled the list because it didn't kick enough people off the rolls. They never acknowledged that the list itself was flawed in such a way that it caught people with names similar to those of felons, but they pull the list because it might not catch enough Hispanics.

The state of Florida has the right to keep felons that they convict from voting if they wish. I disagree with them, but it's their right. But any system that deals with the most sacred of any right that Americans hold has to err on the side of the voter's ability to cast his or her vote. To rip off another old saw, it's better that ten felons be allowed to vote than one innocent person be denied his or her vote. Florida ought to be looking for ways to get voter interest up rather than looking for ways to keep participation down.

Can you give a straight answer Scott McClellan?

From today's press briefing:

Q On Ridge's security warnings, can the President today guarantee Americans that no terrorist attack can upset the U.S. elections this November, that they will go ahead as planned?

What's the smart answer to give here--the politically smart, straightforward answer? How about "Yes--no matter what the terrorists try, we'll have the elections on time and in the manner to which we're accustomed to having them because we're the United States of America by God and that's the best way to prove that we're morally superior to those bastards."

McClellan's answer?
MR. McCLELLAN: Ann, I don't think anyone can make guarantees. But the full intention is to move forward and hold those elections. I don't know specific information related to election day or any other of the high profile events that we have coming up. What we can guarantee to the American people is that we will continue to take strong steps to make sure that we are doing a better job every day of protecting the homeland and enhancing protective measures in certain areas of the country. And we will.

Can't make guarantees? Full intention is to move forward and have those elections?

Look--the question posed to McClellan was a softball right down the middle. It was in the wheelhouse. It was a perfect opportunity to smack one deep into the patriotic heartland and McClellan not only whiffed on it, he missed when it looked like he was trying to bunt his way on (if I may continue to torture the softball metaphor).

I'm not suggesting any conspiracy theory here. I'm personally of the notion that if there's anything that will convince my fellow liberals to drop their gun control stance even temporarily, it will be an attempt to postpone or cancel the November elections. I'm just pointing out that for all the talk by the pundits in December of 2000 when they had the temerity to say that the adults were back in charge, this administration seems to be filled with incompetents from top to bottom.

SBC Park

Formerly known as Pac Bell Park, is a beautiful baseball stadium. I took my daughter there tonight to see the Giants play. Unfortunately, they went down to an ignominious defeat at the hands of the woeful Arizona Diamondbacks, scoring only four runs despite getting twelve hits. The D-backs managed eight on only one more hit.

That's all for now, but I took a couple of pictures and I'll post them tomorrow.

For once, The New Republic

I don't like the New Republic. They demonstrated their distance from mainstream liberal thought when they endorsed Joe "for those voters who like Bush but think he's not Jewish enough" Lieberman.

But a couple of months ago, offered a free subscription to the digital version because I was a premium subscriber, and I signed up. What the hell--it's not like I was going to have to throw the thing away every month (like I did when I bought a subscription to Esquire from my daughter's band fundraiser) and maybe, just maybe, they'll print something interesting. Like my daddy used to say, even a dog's ass gets lucky once in its life.

And now they've gone and done it. Here it is, a story that quotes Pakistani officials as having said the White House has told them that they need to capture or kill some HVTs (High Value Targets) before the November election, and if they can manage it, during the last week of July.

Why then? Why, the last week of July is the week of the Democratic National Convention.

Don't believe me?

A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Now I'm a firm believer in the cynicism of the American public when it comes to last minute surprises--maybe I'm the naive one here--but I don't see how there could be any reaction to the capture or killing of Bin Laden between now and November other than "What took you so damn long?" This whole misnamed "war on terror" has been a fiasco from the very beginning, so the idea that the White House would try to spin it at the last minute is no surprise. My only surprise is that anyone still buys into anything these clowns have to say.

Taking back the House

Kos started an interesting discussion earlier today asking for reasons why it's important for the Democratic party to retake the Congress in general, the House in particular.

I've wondered recently--if I knew I could be guaranteed one but only one specific outcome in November, the Democrats would win back the House, the Senate, or the Presidency, (might take back more than one, but guaranteed this one), which one would I choose?

Each have their positives. The President sets the overall tone, has the power to appoint judges, has the bully pulpit and is the Commander in Chief. The House controls the budget process. The Senate confirms judges and has the awesome power of the filibuster. Taken on their own, the House seems to be the section that can at least be worked around, finessed perhaps--after all, they have to agree with the Senate when it comes to legislation.

But this House has Tom DeLay, and I've got to admit that if I were guaranteed that one election would toss him out of the Majority Leader slot and perhaps out of the leadership of his party, I would be tempted to take it, all other things being equal.

Of course, they aren't equal, and the ability to confirm judges and/or nominate them is one of many ways in which I think either the Senate or the Presidency is more powerful than the House, so my dreams of ousting the exterminator from Sugarland would have to be deferred (perhaps--remember, there's nothing in my scenario that says that the Democratic party can't hit the trifecta this November) in favor of one of the other two.

It's early yet, but I like our chances at getting two of the three. Then the question will be--can we use the power to make some substantive change in the way this country treats its own citizens and those we share the planet with?

The last medical update

My sister's stepdaughter died last night. It's been a rough week for my sister, and for me simply because I'm so far away from her.

On a happier note, I'm having some friends over tomorrow for a Fourth of July celebration of sorts. I say "of sorts" because I won't be shooting off any fireworks, and it seems a little odd to celebrate the Fourth without blowing shit up. It's just as well--the grass around here is so dry I'd likely start a blaze and be consumed in it.

Anyway, Yay America. Or something. Spend time with your family and those you love.

Krugman write

You read.

There has been much tut-tutting by pundits who complain that the movie, though it has yet to be caught in any major factual errors, uses association and innuendo to create false impressions. Many of these same pundits consider it bad form to make a big fuss about the Bush administration's use of association and innuendo to link the Iraq war to 9/11. Why hold a self-proclaimed polemicist to a higher standard than you hold the president of the United States?

Why indeed?

You'd think that the person with his finger on the nuclear trigger, with the power to instigate military action unilaterally (thanks, War Powers Act) and who recently argued (unsuccessfully, thank goodness) before the Supreme Court that his power during wartime should be virtually limitless would be held to a slightly higher standard of accuracy than a guy who makes movies for a living.

Well, you'd think that if we didn't live in the world of the compliant corporate media.

We're living in a golden age of documentary right now. Fahrenheit 9/11 is getting the most press and the greatest accolades, but Errol Morris's The Fog of War is brilliant, Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me was well on its way to breaking Moore's Bowling for Columbine for highest grossing documentary ever until F9/11 opened, and I really want to see The Corporation, Control Room and The Hunting of the President as well.

And then there's this one. Outfoxed is a new documentary that details not only the bias in Fox News, but the damage they've done to journalistic integrity in general. I can't wait to see it.

Medical update

My sister's stepdaughter is still alive and the prospects still aren't good, but some interesting facts have come to light.

Turns out she was neither drunk nor was she using crystal meth. The doctors and the cops were working with bad information from one of her friends, and misread the blood alcohol test results. There's a very real possibility she was doped with GHB, a date rape drug.

From what my sister tells me, iodine is a main component of GHB, and her stepdaughter has a horrific allergy to iodine, which may, and I emphasize the may here, have been a cause for the reaction she's had.

She has survived the dialysis thus far, but the doctors say that if her liver doesn't begin regeneration in the next 5 days, then it will literally be a matter of time, since even if she could get a liver, she couldn't survive the transplant operation.

The worst part of this is that according to the brain scans, there's little or no damage to her brain function. She has some minor swelling, but that's it. If she pulls through, she'll be physically damaged for life, but reasonably sound mentally. If she pulls through.

What pisses me off most is this. If the doctors are right, and she had a horrible reaction to the GHB, then she's facing--best case scenario--lifelong disability all because some fuckhead decided he wanted to get his rocks off on a helpless woman.

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