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.

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.


“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.


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