Happy Holidays 

A postcard from the edge - Well, here we are, right in the middle of the holiday season, and there sure is a lot going on. Regardless, I promise to post more often. I've been lagging (enjoying my four-day weekend and doing Christmas stuff), but I'll get my nose back to the grindstone.

Also, please remember: George W. Bush is unelectable. He's pessimistic. And he's a miserable failure!


Thank God for Clean Air 

And thank God for this small victory for breathers, brought to you by the separation of powers, the letter "D," and the number "3."

The federal appeal court's decision blocks some of the Bush administration's changes to the Clean Air Act from going into effect until the court makes a final determination about the case. The rule that is blocked would make it easier for polluters to make repairs without having to install additional pollution controls.

But it wasn't total victory - the judges also refused to reconsider their decision not to block other changes to the Clean Air Act imposed by the Bush regime.

So Merry Christmas to all of you who must breathe air to live!


Capturing Bush 

Head on over to www.bushin30seconds.com to watch rate the commercials that have been submitted for Moveon.org's contest, which aims "..to find the most creative, clear and memorable ideas for ads that tell the truth about George Bush's policies."

The overall quality and professionalism of the submissions I've seen and rated thus far is both astonishing and heartening. The winning submission, which will be run as a commercial during the week of the president's State of the Union address, will undoubtedly be very powerful. Here is one riveting submission that serves as a good example of what I'm talking about.


A Little Note To Ralph. 

So I hear you're running for president in 2004. Ralph, I'm begging you, please don't do this again. I know you refuse to accept blame for Bush's reign of terror (2000-2004), and that's fine. And I guess you're right that Al Gore lost the election for Al Gore, and that any of the other minor parties could be blamed for the 537 votes in Florida that Gore "lacked," which lead to his electoral "defeat." And you're on target when you lay the blame at the feet of the Supreme Court, which just handed over the presidency like a door prize. Finally, I agree with you 100% that a strong, viable third party is vital for democracy to continue to thrive in the U.S.

With all this in mind, I just want to tell you one thing. I will not vote for you in 2004, because I refuse to split the progressive vote in this electoral cycle. Period. I don't care if that's craven politics, or cynically choosing the lesser of two evils, or whatever else you might say from the stump. For me, in 2004, the proposition really is this simple:

I. Will. Not. Accept. Another. Four. Years. Of. George. W. Bush.

"Not Dubya" is more important to me right now than "stronger third party."

Let Ralph know how you feel about his run for the presidency in 2004.


You Mean The Bush Administration Lies? 

Back in April, if you'll remember, USAID Director Andrew Natsios informed the nation via Nightline that "In terms of the American taxpayers contribution, [$1.7 billion] is it for the US. The American part of this will be $1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this."


So far the president has asked Congress for more than $166 billion. That's about 98 times the bill of goods we were sold by Bush and his buddies. But has the administration admitted its mistake?

Not a chance.

Instead, the Bush administration has erased all traces of Natsios's comments from the State Department's web site, claiming that "there was going to be a cost" charged by ABC (which produces and airs Nightline) to keep the transcript of the interview with Natsios on the government's site.

According to Dana Milbank's story in today's Washington Post, ABC denies that there would have been any cost to the government to keep the transcript online. But as Milbank writes, "other government Web sites, including the State and Defense departments, routinely post interview transcripts, even from 'Nightline.'" Furthermore, ABC News asserts that "there is no cost" to the government when it reproduces such transcripts.

Where's Kenneth Starr when you need him?


Yogi and Boo Boo Can Breathe Easily Now. 

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled yesterday (AP story) that the Bush administration should not have scrapped the Clinton-era bans on snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The Clinton-era bans are now enforceable.

(NPR has more on this story.)

Some snowmobiles will be allowed into the parks this year, but next year a complete ban on snowmobile activity will be enforced. Sorry for the tourism industry, but... beef up your advertising for Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee ski resorts. You've got a goldmine there. (I should know - I visit Jackson Hole for snowboarding whenever I can.)

I bet Dick Cheney is furious that he's not going to be able to ride his snowmobile back and forth from his Jackson Hole mansion to the ski resort, but I have only one thing to say to Dick right now...

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Have fun on the "tour bus from hell" (AKA "the snow coaches")!


New "Get Your War On" - Finally! 

Click here for a "heavy dose of fear and violence," as Colonel Sassaman would put it.


Nevada Will Require Voter-Verifiable Receipts For Touch-Screen Voting Machines 

Nevada is demanding that Sequoia Voting Systems add the receipt printers to all new machines purchased by the state for the 2004 elections. 3,000 machines already installed in Clark County will not have to have the printers added until 2006.

Some heart-warming excerpts from this article:

"A paper trail is an intrinsic component of voter confidence," [Nevada Secretary of State Dean] Heller said in explaining why he insisted that Sequoia -- which already has nearly 3,000 machines installed in Clark County -- include the receipt printers on new machines for the upcoming elections.

. . .

While the printers add to the cost of the voting systems, Heller said "money takes a back seat to accuracy, security and voter confidence."
Amen. Here's to the hope that the other states will make similar demands of voting machine companies like Diebold and Sequoia, so that the 2004 elections are free and fair. That's all we're asking for.

Stop Electronic Vote Theft 

Operation Enduring Vote: "[A] call to Americans. Not Republicans, not Democrats, not Greens, not Libertarians. Americans... to protect our country and to protect our most essential right - The right to cast our votes and to have those votes determine the future of our nation."

(Via BuzzFlash.)

Subverting Democracy Under the Cover of Darkness. 

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) recounts in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch how the conservative leadership in Congress has operated in the dark to subvert democracy. Brown's description of the strong-arm tactics used on Republicans who are not toeing the party line is horrifying. I hope we can get together to throw these bums out on their collective ear.

(via The Progress Report.)

"Blood Sugar" Bill Janklow's Seat Is Up For Grabs - Help Herseth Take It. 

Brookings, South Dakota (YP) -- As you know by now, Bill Janklow has announced that he will resign his congressional seat effective January 20th in the wake of his recent second-degree manslaughter conviction. You may not know about the superb Democratic candidate that is running for that seat in 2004. Stephanie Herseth ran against Janklow in the 2002 election, and she only lost by 27,000 votes. She was preparing for another run against Janklow anyway, but now she is in good position to take this congressional seat.

Republicans are definitely worried, and they'll undoubtedly try to bring in somebody strong to beat Herseth. She needs our support! You can read more about Herseth, contribute to her campaign (online or mail), or volunteer to help here. I've contributed $15, and I plan to do that once a month until the 2004 election.

(I pretty much stole this post from Hesiod. Thanks, Hes! My defense? Crank up the echo chamber!)


"They Call Me the Chocolate Lady..." 

I almost forgot about this. I got two email responses to my one-man mass-mail campaign against WGNU in St. Louis, where that racist guy Earl P. Holt III is a "radio personality."

If you haven't heard the story through the blogger grapevine, Mr. Holt (who serves on the national board of advisors of the latter-day KKK, the Council of Conservative Citizens) wrote an ultra-racist letter to ArchPundit, the contents of which are utterly beyond belief and defy description. (See my first post on this matter for further background and some fun action items!)

To make a long story short, I mass-mailed the radio station where Holt has a talk show, demanding that he lose his soapbox, and talking about organizing marches against the station, etc. I sent the full text of Holt's original letter to the programming director and all WGNU's other hosts. These are the two responses I got, which I have to say I appreciate immensely. One of the letters is sort of funny. I'll print that one first.

Letter #1 - sort of funny, but I'm not making fun - I think this lady is awesome! I especially like the part about Holt's comments being an insult to his family and his teachers. That's the greatest.

NOT ALL THE HOST AT WGNU ARE LIKE MR. HOLT..... I would like to invite you to listen to my show heard Thursdays noon- 1pm. They call me the CHOCOLATE LADY, I always do fun positive topics on places to go in the St. Louis area, women's issues, and CHOCOLATE...in fact this coming Thursday I will have a guest a Dr. who has FREE DAYS...He invites all in for a office visit for a donation to charity....there are alot of wonderful people in the St. Louis area and at WGNU and it is very very unfortunate that in our society the negetive always gets the attention,,,,I have DOUBLE DARED THE RIVERFRONT TIMES TO VISIT ME ON THE AIR or do a story about me, and many of the other host that are wonderful positive people, but I have not heard a word back from them. I am white, but I proudly live in a mixed neighborhood in Fairview Hts. Il...my neighbors on both sides are BLACK and the best neighbors. I am the mom of three teen aged sons...and my concerns are with teen issues and education... so please do not group all of us at WGNU IN THE SAME CATEGORY...I HAVE NEVER MET MR. holt....the station as a whole is a wonderful postive place open to discussion and freedom of speech. The letter he wrote was beyond a racial insult it was an insult to all of his teachers, his family and himself. [Word. - ed.] How scary to think we live in a community with people who are just plainly NOT NICE NOR POSITIVE. When I meet someone I look at their inner soul and never the color of their skin. I wish the same for others. .
Letter #2 - A lot more "professional," a lot shorter, and a whole lot less heart.

Thank you for your comments. I assure you I find the remarks as disturbing as you do. I am not part of the WGNU Programming Department, but I have forwarded your comments on to our Station Manager, Esther Wright. I would suggest you direct your concerns to her. Her email address is gm@wgnu.net .

Susan Smith-Harmon
DriveTime Live
It's nice to know that the whole world isn't totally insane. (Yeah, I know - that's a stretch. But still. These letters make me feel just a little better about things.)

Out of the Woodwork. 

What is it with the librul media this week? First, we had the AP's Nedra Pickle repeating the GOP talking points while pretending to report on the Dem debate last night. Today, NPR's Guy Raz (who I have never known to be a Rethug tool, or a dick) totally snarks out while filing a report on the motivations of "100 self-consciously radical students..." who are protesting Tony Blair's proposal to end free education in Britain and force students to pay for attending university. Here is a small taste of Raz's bizarre behavior (emphasis added)...

In a country where a packet of cigarettes now costs nearly $9, many of the students demonstrating against paying for university happily puffed away. Hannah Essex, a national student leader wearing a fashionable suit, was there to highlight the plight of Britain's students....
In this segment, Raz is apparently pointing out inconsistencies in the student protesters' position on the issue. Like, you know, if you are protesting the imposition of student fees on what has been a high-quality, completely costless system of education, you mustn't purchase prohibitively expensive luxury items, such as cigarettes. Or wear "fashionable suits." Doing so just proves that you are a selfish communist bastard. Or something like that.

At the end of this segment, you could hear Snarky Guy putting the fearsome "air quotes" around the word "plight."

More snark?

Next to Hannah, Joe Ruken, another leader on the National Union of Students, expressed outrage at the idea that the government could somehow ask students to help pay for higher education....
Here, Guy doesn't even bother to hide his disdain. He is apparently incredulous that Joe Ruken could be outraged at an idea that we in America find so commonplace, even though it is a total sea change for the British, and a major entitlement that is being stripped away from students by people who have already gotten theirs.

So what's with all the lame muscle-flexing by the American press this week?


Bad. Very Bad. 

Rallying behind Our Fearless Leader®, the good folks at the Pentagon have decided to bar French, Russian, and German companies from bidding on Iraq reconstruction contracts.

They knew there'd be hell to pay. They just didn't expect us to start an all-out trade war.

*Note to Bar: Your son is a jackass. Seriously.

Grover Norquist + Osama bin Laden Forever! 

What the ef? This is turning into an interesting week. First George Will writes something halfway decent (see this entry) and now David Horowitz's Frontpage Magazine exposes Grover Norquist's terrorist ties in an article written by "former Reagan Defense official" Frank Gaffney? Damn, it must be Christmas! Horowitz even writes an intro for the piece, in which he talks a lot about the so-called "Fifth Column." I guess the circular firing squad isn't a phenomenon that's exclusive to the left, after all.

I won't give away the best parts of Gaffney's article, but Horowitz's intro is a doozy. Take this passage, for example:

What is particularly disturbing about the information in this article by former Reagan Defense official, Frank Gaffney, is that it concerns an individual who loves this country and would be the last person to wish it harm, and the first one would expect to defend it. I have known Grover Norquist for almost twenty years as a political ally. Long before I myself was cognizant of the Communist threat... Grover Norquist was mobilizing his countrymen to combat it. In the early 1980s, Grover was in the forefront of conservative efforts to get the Reagan Administration to support the liberation struggles of anti-Communists in Central America, Africa and Afghanistan.

It is with a heavy heart therefore, that I am posting this article, which is the most complete documentation extant of Grover Norquist’s activities in behalf of the Islamist Fifth Column.
Wow. I'm sad that we have a traitor in our midst, but I'm glad that Horowitz isn't snowblind on this issue.

And if the allegations are true? Hang his ass. (Norquist, of course, not Horowitz.)

(via Atrios.)


George Will (*gasp*) Gets It Right. 

In the new issue of Newsweek (December 8, 2003), George Will correctly identifies a miscalculation in current GOP policy regarding congressional procedural rules. Here are some choice excerpts from his piece.

Conservatives correctly fault liberals for being too result-oriented, for bending rules and cutting procedural corners to achieve their goals - often by means of injudicious... uses of judicial power. But some Republican senators, frustrated by Democratic filibusters against the president's judicial nominees... are thinking of asking the Supreme Court to discover that such filibusters are unconstitutional. Their theory? The Constitution's provision that the Senate must consent before judicial nominees can take office supposedly requires that all nominations be brought to a vote.

Even more recklessly, some Republicans... want Vice President Cheney... to rule that the Senate is not a continuing body, and that therefore a simple majority can rewrite Senate rules...

...[A]n awful precedent would be set: Senate rules would be permanently in play, tinkered with for partisan advantage by the majority every two years...

House and Senate Republicans must assume they will never again be in the minority and vulnerable to payback. They are mistaken.



Here are some disturbing excerpts from this New York Times piece on the U.S. military's changing tactics in Iraq (emphasis added):

"This fence is here for your protection," reads the sign posted in front of the barbed-wire fence. "Do not approach or try to cross, or you will be shot."


"With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them," Colonel Sassaman said.
I thought increasing attacks on our troops meant that the terrorists were getting desperate?

New Kucinich Ad Kicks Ass. 

This new ad for Kucinich is without question the most powerful campaign ad I've ever seen. In fact, it's one of the most powerful ads (campaign or otherwise) I've ever seen. I recommend checking it out.

Atrios has more on this.


Jokes for a Humorless World. 

In an attempt to answer questions about the ultimate motivation for the Bush administration's frequent and flagrant perfidy and prevarications, commenter Salvage posts this quirky jewel:

McClellan: Today the President had scrambled dodo eggs for breakfast.

Press: Haven’t they been extinct for years?

McClellan: After some checking, we were wrong, it was in fact scrambled unicorn horn.

Press: Aren’t those mythical animals?

McClellan: Upon further investigation the President had an anti-matter omelette with a cup of Jesus’ blood served in the Holy Grail.
Yeah, that's it... that's the ticket!


Accurate Dramatizations! Just Like "America's Most Wanted"! 

Here's an interesting aside in an otherwise dull story in today's Seattle Times about W's turkey shenanigans (emphasis added):

White House officials do not deny that they craft elaborate events to showcase Bush, but they maintain that these events are designed to accurately dramatize his policies and to convey qualities about him that are real.

"This was effective, because it captured something about the president that people know is true, that he really cares about the soldiers and gets emotional when he sees them," Mary Matalin, a former administration official, said about the trip to Baghdad. "You have to figure out how to capture the Bush we know, even if it doesn't come through in a speech situation or a press conference. He regularly rejects anything that is not him."
Essentially, they make stuff up to get across the president's TRUE qualities. Why they would need to resort to these convoluted measures is beyond me - it's not as if Dubya is extraordinarily complex or anything. You don't really need to reduce him to a sound byte in order for the average citizen to grasp the "essence of Bush." He's a very, very simple man.

Moreover: is it even possible to convey truth using lies as a vehicle? I guess once everyone just takes it for granted that you're lying, they just start believing the opposite of what you say, and I guess you could conceivably convey truth that way, but it's certainly not the easiest way to do it. But I don't think that's what Matalin was talking about. This is another example of the presidency understood as a brand and marketed accordingly.

Often in the business world, you come up with these fundamental "truths" - which, once they're formulated, will be "conveyed" repeatedly to increase sales of the product - through the use of focus groups. Whether or not the White House uses focus groups (which, of course, GWB does not rely on in order to make decisions).

An old saw comes to mind, though, and I think it applies here. "Actions speak louder than words." REAL actions, not stage-managed bullcrap. For example, it would have played much better across America if, while on his super-secret visit to the troops in Iraq, Bush had carved up a REAL turkey and eaten it with them, rather than the photogenic fowl we saw on TV. Sure, it might not have glistened as much, and it wouldn't have evoked Norman Rockwell in quite the same way, but the fake bird only did that for a few moments, until the lie came shining through. Then, the turkey becomes a prop, the president becomes an actor, and the event becomes reality television. Viewers are relatively sophisticated. They can pick up on what's an infomercial and what's not.

Slot Machines vs. Voting Machines: Ka-Ching! 

This piece was sent to me by a colleague, from somewhere on Slashdot:

dmh20002 writes "Being a Nevada resident and knowing people who write code for slot machines, I was aware of the stringent measures the state of Nevada uses to vet the security of slot machines. The Nevada Gaming Control Board audits everything about them, both physical and soft, for unintentional and intentional security holes. Hearing the hoopla on voting machines, the contrast was obvious. Slot machines are about money, which is more important than votes, apparently. Now the state of Nevada is looking at electronic voting machines and plan to apply some of the same safeguards. Just applying the Nevada technical standards for gaming machines and vendors to voting machines would be a start, since there don't seem to be any standards for voting machines. A funny/sad sideline is that in Nevada, every year or two a programmer or engineer goes to jail for exploiting slot machines."