Sid's Fishbowl
A proud member of the reality-based community (aquatic division)
Monday, November 29, 2004

Rodger A. Payne passes the word that Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearing will take place in January:

"Along with other committee members, Senator John Kerry gets to quiz Condi."

That should be entertaining.

It is a remarkable day when I quote Bill O'Reilly, but today he wrote a remarkably fair and perceptive column. Dan got smeared:
Dan Rather is guilty of not being skeptical enough about a story that was politically loaded. I believe Rather, along with Andy Rooney, Walter Cronkite and other guardsmen of the old CBS News, is liberal in his thinking. That is certainly a legitimate debate - how for years CBS News has taken a rather progressive outlook. But holding a political point of view is the right of every American, and it does not entitle people to practice character assassination or deny the presumption of innocence. Dan Rather was slimed. It was disgraceful.

But you'll be seeing more of this kind of thing in the future. All famous and successful Americans are now targets. Unscrupulous people know that any accusation can be dumped on the Internet and within hours the mainstream media will pick it up. It will be printed in the papers, discussed on radio and TV and become part of the unfortunate person's r�sum� whether he or she is guilty or not. A click of the Internet mouse can wipe out a lifetime of honor and hard work. Just the accusation or allegation can be ruinous.

Let me ask you something: In the future, do you think potential public servants and social crusaders are going to risk being brutally attacked within this insane system? I don't. I think many good people are simply going to walk away from the public arena.

Dan Rather did not get what he deserved in this case. He made a mistake, as we all do, but he is not a dishonest man.

Unfair freedom of speech did him in. This is not your grandfather's country anymore.
When O'Reilly checks his ego at the door (which doesn't happen often), he can be a pretty smart guy. Also, he may have some sympathy for victims of smear attacks, having gone through the mill himself in recent months.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

A letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic:
News item (Nov. 18): "For the third time since President Bush's election in 2000, Congress has authorized raising the nation's debt limit because of unmanageable costs incurred during his administration. The limit is now $8 trillion."

News item (Nov. 18): "The government, having borrowed heavily from Social Security Administration funds, is now forced to borrow from government employee pension funds."

News item (Nov. 16): "The Teamsters pension fund is now struggling because it has been run by prominent Wall Street firms since 1982."

News item (Nov. 21): "More combat forces likely needed in Iraq."

A number of distinguished writers in our past history have made statements practically predicting our current political situation, for example:

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Those who cannot remember the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them."
George Santayana

"You can't make a head and brains out of a brass knob with nothing in it."
Charles Dickens

"He's a muddle-headed fool with frequent lucid intervals."
Miguel de Cervantes

"That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is a wrong one."
Samuel Johnson

"A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy."
Benjamin Disraeli

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents more and more closely the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
H.L. Mencken

Etc., etc., etc.
Robert Schoenfeld, Sun City West
Who says this is a red state?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Max explains:
The Puritan Christian fundamentalists, of whom the Pilgrims were a subgroup, were murderous, treacherous swine who made a treaty with the indigenous people around Plymouth until they had enough forces to wipe them out. This they later did with smallpox and guns, unless they were able to sell them into slavery, all of course for the greater glory of God.
Actually, it's slightly more complicated than that, as Max explains in the full post.

More gravy, anyone?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Jerome at MyDD:
From, here's a list of those corporations that exclusively, or nearly so, support only the Republican Party by 90-100% with their donations:

Phillips Int'l. (100%)
Cooper Industries (100%)
Flowers Industries (100%)
Harris Corp. (98%)
\Illinois Toolworks (97%)
Outback Steakhouse (96%)
ExxonMobil (96%)
National City Corp. (95%)
Wendy's Int' l. (93%)
Anadarko Petroleum (92%)
Timken Corp. (91%)
Halliburton (91%)
Meadwestvaco Corp (90%)
Darden Restaurants Inc. (90%)
Branch Banking & Trust Co (90%), and
Int'l Paper (90%).

Here's a few more in the 80-90% range:

None of these companies are getting a dime of mine, if I can help it.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Oliver Willis has some great ideas. This is just one example in the "Brand Democrat" campaign. Click the link for more.

I've mentioned before, but not often enough. Thanks to a three-corner bank shot that involved Riverbend and Seeing the Forest, I was reminded to make another visit and was rewarded with this gem
[A]pparently I can't criticize the Iraq war unless I have a plan for leaving it. That's rather like saying I can't criticize a bank robbery unless I can propose a get-away plan. In what other situation other than Bushistas defending their man, do people think one can't criticize a stupid, immoral and illegal act unless they have a way of getting out of it after the fact?
Read the rest. It's good stuff. The angry Reverend echoes many of my thoughts about how to deal with Bush voters in the aftermath of this horrible election and the dawn of the new era of American shame.
This past November 2nd, by a majority, America as a whole assumed responsibility for the unjustifiable mess that is Iraq and culpability for each innocent death. And the blood is so thick that it will hardly be attenuated spread out over 59 million hands.

I'm appalled by the callousness and self-righteous idiocy of my fellow Bush-voting Americans. I keep trying to see if there is anything these people can't rationalize, but as they hit the bottom of intellectual dishonesty, the bottom falls away a little more.

On one hand people are duped, on the other hand, they make it very easy for themselves to be duped. Americans will judge the rightness and wrongness of the Iraq war based on how many American casualties there are. The deaths of Iraqis hardly enters into that moral calculus. Knowing that, the administration has crafted an attack on Iraq that will minimize American casualties, mostly through air power, that also has the effect of maximizing civilian casualties. Smart bombs are only as smart of the people who set their targets. And if those people are indifferent to civilians then the bomb is neither smart nor dumb, but just as indifferent as they are.

Which is a way of saying that the Iraq war and the toll on innocent people isn't a cause of American immorality, it's an effect. For the war to have been maintained there needed to be a general indifference on the part of the American people towards innocent Iraqis getting killed. Iraqis are the other, killed out of sight and out of mind and barely given the consideration as American military casualties.

It's the same thing with the conservative coup of government in America. The conservatives couldn't have gotten a foothold unless there was a base of ignorance and bigotry for them to get a foothold. Dictators don't break in and seize power; they walk in when people leave the door wide open.

Now, America doesn't have much of a memory, so discussions move from insular event to insular event, to a large degree that's because the mainstream media doesn't deal in narrative continuity of events unless it's something trivial like the scandalous trial du jour. People can't remember what rationale Bush gave for attacking Iraq, but they have a handle on what string of lies Scott Peterson told Amber Frey.
I've made an early New Years resolution to spend as little time as possible with right-wing idiots who spout Fox News talking points, and I'm also making a concerted effort to do business only with people who support a progressive agenda. I promise to tolerate people who are simply deluded and who are victims of our miserable media, but those brainwashed fools who insist on repeating this drivel as if it were their own independent thought get a one-way ticket to Palookaville.

Forgive and forget? I think not. At least 57 million people voted against this moron and denied their stamp of approval to his idiot schemes and corrupt advisors. That's a good pool to draw from for my small circle of friends.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Down in Louisiana:
When Larry Chevalier took his son to get his first driver's license, he was floored to discover that to get it, the boy had to preregister for a nonexistent military draft.

''I just can't believe it,'' said Chevalier, whose 16-year-old son, Nathan, did fill out the form to register with the Selective Service so he could get his license.

''They wouldn't let him get it otherwise,'' Chevalier said Saturday.

Even a 15-year-old boy who wants a learner's permit in Louisiana must provide information to be forwarded, when he turns 18, to the Selective Service System, which would run a military draft if one is set up again.

The same goes for any 16- 17- or 18-year-old who wants his - the law applies only to males - first driver's license or state ID card.
Do they make you take the drivers' test in a humvee? And what are these folks going to think next year when they realize their President lied to them?

(Thanks to Rocky Mountain Progressive Network for the link.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

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

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

"I am sure that ... they will be put in service within the next few years and, what is more, they will be developments of the kind that other nuclear powers do not and will not have," Putin was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Putin reportedly said: "International terrorism is one of the major threats for Russia. We understand as soon as we ignore such components of our defense as a nuclear and missile shield, other threats may occur."
Well. So what I want to know is, when Bush says he "looked into Putin's soul," what exactly did he see besides several million souls in agony?

Political science, George Carlin-style.

If four-letter words offend you, don't click the link. Somehow, though, I think just about anyone reading this blog has heard these two specimens more than once.

Tom Tomorrow reports this doozy:
I didn't hear the story myself, so apologies if I get some small detail wrong--but apparently NPR had a bit this morning on a small town high school in Texas, which has apparently had a wacky tradition for Homecoming (or some similar Big Game) day, on which the boys dress as girls and girls dress as boys. Well, as you can imagine, this outraged the local conservative Christians, who saw it as promoting homosexuality. So after a hue and cry is raised, the tradition is scrapped and replaced with--

--wait for it--

--Camo Day, on which the boys and girls come to school dressed as soldiers.
Seems a little, I don't know, butch.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Family commitments, work, you know.

I'll be back soon enough...

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Jesusland T-shirt

(Thanks to Ken Layne for the pointer.)

A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt......If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.

-- Thomas Jefferson, from a letter he sent in 1798 after the passage of the Sedition Act
Thanks to John Perry Barlow for the reminder.

Update: Within seconds of when I posted this, the Wall Street Journal announced that Attorney General John Ashcroft had resigned. One witch gone. Too many more to go. But it restores my faith in synchronicity.

You want to debate issues like abortion and gay marriage with the radical Christian right wing of the Republican party? Shawn at the Liquid List has some words for you:
Up bup bup bup! ....don't even think it Mr. Liberal. Iraqi babies and civilians don't matter. All that matters is that Bush is a faithful Christian who will live by the Gospel to protect the unborn. Quite literally the two sides can shout at each other days without actually communicating, one cemented in faith hand the other caught up in facts.

I believe this conflict can't be solved through debate. It is nearly impossible to debate or deconstruct someone's faith. Indeed, to try is akin to throwing gas on fire. The only possible fix for this gross abrogation of civic duty on the part of the Christian Right is to show mainstream America what they really think. To take people like the foolish Christian that commented on my post, put them on a podium out in the bright light of day where millions of people can listen, and let them discuss their views and faith at great length. Only then, when the backwards theology is revealed to the mainstream, will its failings become so obvious that people will draw a sharp breath and gasp "woah, that's not right."

The right long ago learned to boil things down to simple slogans, and when they engage in a "debate" they ignore their opponent and yell those slogans at their audience. They aren't trying to change your mind, Mr. Liberal. They can't. Nor can you change their minds. So ignore them. Talk past them to the audience you really want to reach, which is the confused middle part of America. Give them a clear alternative, not just a denial. Make your position into a sound bite. And make sure they see that the leaders of the "moral values" movement are batshit crazy.

E. J. Dionne has an excellent analysis of the election results:
Rove and Bush won this election on decidedly old strategies that had nothing to do with ideas. These included the attacks on John Kerry for being weak and the claim that Bush would be tougher on the bad guys. That's familiar, Cold War-era stuff. Gay marriage was a new issue, but opposing gay marriage is an old idea. Social Security privatization and tax cuts are old ideas, too.

Yet the Bush campaign was innovative in its analysis of the electorate. Its effort to increase the overall Republican share of the vote by boosting turnout in the outer suburbs and rural areas was a big deal. Democrats need to chip away at those Republican margins.

It can be done...
And he goes on to explain how.

Look, those who are calling for the wholesale scrapping of the Democratic Party are falling for the Republican talking point that Bush somehow won a landslide, cleaned the Democrats' clocks, and so on. It was 51%, people, and many of the people who voted were doing so because of fear.

I am depressed that this idiot is still in office. But I see lots to be hopeful about for the future.

(Thanks to Ezra at Pandagon for the pointer.)

Monday, November 08, 2004

Fuck the South.

A bit shrill, but seems accurate enough.

(Hat tip to Michael.)

Digby delivers a history lesson:
I'm not going to take a stand against 'heartland values' or 'southern culture' whatever it's defined as this week. It seems to me that it would be worthless, because this battle is obviously tribal, not specific to any particular issue. Slavery and Jim Crow are long gone. Now it's religion and gays. The lines are drawn as they've always been and there will be no reconciliation through politics. Even a bloody civil war couldn't do that.

History suggests that the southern culture has always been as defined by it's resentment toward the rest of the country as much as anything else. The so-called bi-coastal liberal elites certainly don't think of themselves as having a lot in common with each other, other than being Americans. People from Los Angeles and Vermont call themselves Californians and New Englanders, respectively. I don't think they believe they share a 'culture.' People in Seattle call themselves pacific northwesterners. People in New York call themselves New Yorkers --- Chicagoans midwesterners. They identify themselves by their specific region and a broader identity as Americans, not by this alleged Bi-coastal cultural alliance. This notion of two easily identifiable cultures is only held by the people who used to call themselves the confederacy and now call themselves 'the heartland.' That alone should be reason to stop and question what is really going on here.
There's more, much more. If you want to know why this country has been divided for so long, read the rest.

In this week's Time, he says, "Let's Have a Truce:
I backed John Kerry on Nov. 2. I did so reluctantly but out of despair that the incompetence in Iraq was irreparable under President George W. Bush. At home, I was dismayed by the President's appalling fiscal record and by his catering to the most extreme elements of the religious right. I believed it was vital to hold him to account for his obvious failings. And the campaign helped do that. If it weren't for the last few months, Bush might still believe that he had conducted a flawless war and that the country was overwhelmingly behind him. After all, he gets all his information from his own hermetically sealed bank of advisers. But he surely understands now how divided the country has become under his presidency and how deeply flawed his war management has been.
It goes on with more of this bullshit, comparing Michael Moore to Mel Gibson and MoveOn to the Swift Boat Liars, and calling for us to all clap our hands and rally 'round the President as he orders American Marines to destroy the town of Fallujah in the name of the Great War on Terror. It made me practically want to puke.

Well, fuck you, Andrew Sullivan. George W. Bush is not my President. This election wasn't honest, and I couldn't even begin to smoke enough crack to share your sunny view that this campaign did anything except deepen the conviction of our "wartime President" that he's on a mission from God.

No, dear Andrew, the incompetence in Iraq, irresponsible fiscal policy, and pandering to the religious right that you saw in Bush's first term will continue in BushWorld 2.0, no matter how hard you clap your hands. It was wrong then, it was wrong during the campaign, and it's wrong now.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Running out of bodies:
David M. Miyasato enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1987, served three years of active duty during the first Gulf War and received an honorable discharge in 1991. He remained on inactive status for five more years, until 1996. Since then, the Kaua'i resident has married, started an auto window tinting business and this year, he and his wife had their first child.

David Miyasato is suing the Secretary of the Army for recalling him to active duty. He had been told to report to a South Carolina facility.

But in September, Miyasato received a letter from the Army recalling him to active duty and directing him to report to a military facility in South Carolina on Tuesday.

"I was shocked," Miyasato said yesterday. "I never expected to see something like that after being out of the service for 13 years."

Miyasato is now suing the Secretary of the Army, asking a court to prevent the Army from ordering him to active duty. He is also asking for a court judgment declaring that he fulfilled all his obligations to the military.

Miyasato's lawyer, Eric Seitz, said Miyasato earlier asked for an exemption, but never got a response.

But after the lawsuit was filed, Seitz said they received a faxed letter from the Army's Human Resources Command saying Miyasato's request for an exemption from active duty has not been finalized. It said his Tuesday report date has been delayed for up to 30 days, but warned new orders "reflecting your new report date" will be mailed and that he must comply with them or risk being declared Absent Without Leave or a deserter.
Kos says the draft is next. He's right.

Chin up.

It will make you feel better, honest. So click the damn link. And send it on to anyone who you know who has the right balance of humor and anger in their blood.

Is the world a safer place with Saddam Hussein in prison. No. It's much less safe. Ask Phil Carter, a very respected and highly non-partisan defense analyst. He says, "Uh oh... we lost some more weapons in Iraq":
Last month, much ado was made about the missing 380 tons of explosives from Al Qaqaa. And I still believe it should have been, given the extent to which the insurgent makes use of high explosives. Still, it's clear that those missing truckloads were a mere drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of thousands of explosives on the streets of Iraq — including thousands of missing artillery shells that have been quite readily converted into improvised explosive devices.

Enter this alarming story by Dana Priest and Bradley Graham of the ashington Post, which is inexplicably buried on A24 of the Sunday edition for some reason. (The NYT first reported this on Saturday; The Post editors probably don't want to overhype another Al Qaqaa-style story.) Apparently, the thousands of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles formerly owned by the Hussein regime's military have gone missing — and no one really knows where they are, whether they've been destroyed, whether they're on the global black market, or in use today by Iraqi insurgents looking to bag an American Blackhawk helicopter.

[excerpts from Post story and follow-up NY Times story snipped]

Analysis: There is insufficient evidence at this point to say these missiles were lost due to U.S. neglience or deliberate indifference. I could rehash all the arguments for not having enough boots on the ground, but that's not really the issue here. My bet is that control of these items was lost as a result of the Hussein regime's collapse — not the U.S. efforts to secure the peace. Once the Hussein regime lost its grip on Iraq, field commanders saw these missiles as a way to make some cold hard cash. And so they absconded with them. To date, there have been some efforts to find them, or buy them back, but if you're a former Iraqi military guy, and you have the choice between making a few hundred bucks from a legal turn-in versus thousands of dollars on the black market, what're you going to choose?

Ultimately, what this signifies is another example of the Iraq war contributing in negative terms to the global war on terrorism, and the global counter-proliferation efforts for conventional weapons. These missiles went missing because of our war in Iraq; the destruction of Iraqi accountability over these weapons was collateral damage of a sort. And in the future, we will likely see these missiles used against us, either in Iraq or abroad if we're unfortunate enough that these missiles make their way into the global black market.
Look, the triumphalists who scream that the war in Iraq is a Good Thing because Saddam Hussein is out of his palaces miss the point. The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. With Saddam in power, he could be watched like a hawk. He had every incentive to keep his weapons in his own hands for purposes of self-defense, but any attempt to use them would invite massive retaliation or preemptive attack.

Instead, our invasion created anarchy and dispersed those weapons to the four winds, where they can't be watched. Feel safer? I don't.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Ken Layne has some bitter, hilarious words on the subject.

Ha ha ha. Via AP :
A computer error with a voting machine cartridge gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in a Gahanna precinct.

Franklin County's unofficial results gave Bush 4,258 votes to Democratic challenger John Kerry's 260 votes in Precinct 1B. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.

Matthew Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, said Bush received 365 votes there. The other 13 voters who cast ballots either voted for other candidates or did not vote for president.

Damschroder said he received some calls Thursday from people who saw the error when reading the list of poll results on the election board's Web site.

He said the error would have been discovered when the official canvass for the election is performed later this month.
Well of course it would have. Don't be ridiculous.

I'm sure there are lots of counties where Senator Kerry got too many votes as well, right?

Over at Crooked Timber, you'll find an excellent collection of maps that establish just how flawed the whole red/blue thing is. I encourage you to click on the link and see for yourself.

This is my favorite:

Click the map to see a larger version put together by Robert J. Vanderbei of Princeton University.

His point, which is a good one, is that these red/blue maps fill in one color based on the plurality of votes in a state, regardless of whether the margin of victory in that state was one vote or a million. So yes, Utah deserves to be bright red and Massachusetts should be bright blue. But in most of the United States, the more accurate color is purple, reflecting the fairly even divisions between conflicting political views. Ohio? Purple? Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Mexico? Ditto.

Food for thought.

Anyone who thinks that the blame for our current polarization is equally share dby both sides needs to examine history. The indispensable Josh Marshall digs up this nugget from the Nixon era, when this crap began:
It all reminds me of a line from a famous, or rather infamous, memo Pat Buchanan, then a White House staffer, wrote for Richard Nixon in, I believe, 1972 when their idea of the moment was what they called 'positive polarization'.

At the end of this confidential strategy memo laying out various ideas about how to create social unrest over racial issues and confrontations with the judiciary, Buchanan wrote (and you can find this passage on p. 185 of Jonathan Schell's wonderful Time of Illusion): "In conclusion, this is a potential throw of the dice that could bring the media on our heads, and cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half."

And there you have it. Tear the country apart. And once it's broken, our chunk will be bigger.
Pat Buchanan, by the way, has steady work on CNN today. Ironic, isn't it?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

It's never too early to start thinking about Christmas gifts for your favorite pundit.

I approve of this message. In XL.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

This is good news:
Black Box Voting is conducting the largest Freedom of Information action in history. At 8:30 p.m. Election Night, Black Box Voting blanketed the U.S. with the first in a series of public records requests, to obtain internal computer logs and other documents from 3,000 individual counties and townships. Networks called the election before anyone bothered to perform even the most rudimentary audit.

America: We have permission to say No to unaudited voting. It is our right.

Among the first requests sent to counties (with all kinds of voting systems -- optical scan, touch-screen, and punch card) is a formal records request for internal audit logs, polling place results slips, modem transmission logs, and computer trouble slips.

An earlier FOIA is more sensitive, and has not been disclosed here. We will notify you as soon as we can go public with it.
The Kerry campaign has $50 million in the bank that it was ready to spend on election challenges. How about throwing some of it to this cause? And George Soros? How about kicking in?

Washington Post:
Voters nationwide reported some 1,100 problems with electronic voting machines on Tuesday, including trouble choosing their intended candidates.

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

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

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

Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way Foundation, which helped form the coalition, called the summary screen problem "troubling but anecdotal."

He and other voting rights advocates said the disproportionate number of Democrats reporting such problems was probably due to higher awareness of voter protection coalitions.

"Overall, the problems of outright voter intimidation and suppression have not been as great as in the past," Neas said.

But the reports did highlight computer scientists' concerns about touch screens, which they say are prone to tampering and unreliable unless they produce paper records for recounts.

Roberta Harvey, 57, of Clearwater, Fla., said she had tried at least a half dozen times to select Kerry-Edwards when she voted Tuesday at Northwood Presbyterian Church.

After 10 minutes trying to change her selection, the Pinellas County resident said she called a poll worker and got a wet-wipe napkin to clean the touch screen as well as a pencil so she could use its eraser-end instead of her finger. Harvey said it took about 10 attempts to select Kerry before and a summary screen confirmed her intended selection.
Electronic voting machines suck.

Mark Schmitt:
One important thing to remember: Now Bush is fully responsible for the consequences of his mistakes. He's responsible for Iraq, he's responsible for the budget, for Medicare, etc. What Colin Powell called the Pottery Barn Rule applies: He broke them, he owns them. That's not good news for the world, because Bush wasn't competent to deal with the situation of peace and prosperity handed to him in 2001; he certainly isn't be competent to handle a mess. The dangers are profound.

But politically, it at least avoids a situation where Kerry would have borne the responsibility and blame for Iraq or for raising taxes. All accountability now rests with Bush and his party. Everything that's been swept under the carpet until after the election will come creeping out. And the best use of all the resources of people, brains, money, and coordination that's been built this year, in addition to developing a stronger base of ideas, is to find ways to hold Bush, DeLay et. al. absolutely accountable for their choices. I really believe that this will be like Nixon's second term, and thus the seeds of a bigger long-term change than could have occurred just by Kerry winning the election.

This is not a look-at-the-bright-side comment. Just a thought about what comes next.
I had been trying to think of a good way to say this, but now I don't need to.

America voted to give George W. Bush four more years in office because not enough people have died in Iraq yet, the economy has not yet plunged into crisis, the environment has not been fully despoiled, and we still have a shred of respect in the world.

Steve Gilliard:
It's as simple as this: we have to continue to fight. If Bush wins, and they're starting to call it for him in Ohio, we do not walk away, we do not quit and we do not surrender.

Whether that's marching, or in court or in the next election cycle, we learn from our mistakes, and there is no Nader to blame this time, and move on.

And Kerry did his best, just like we all did. But sometimes your best will fall short. Remember, Nixon won in a landslide and he was was gone in two years.

I don't know what happened. Whether there was chicanery or not. I can't say. I watched it like you did. But we did our best.

Now, we build. When Goldwater lost, he didn't quit, he built a movement. And win or lose, that is what we will do. We will build and we will fight. If we win, we'd have to fight anyway. And if we lose, we have to fight.

Am I depressed? A little. But I am also encouraged. We had a lot of good, hard working, dedicated people who we will need to see again. We will need to stick together and hold these people accountable for what they have done.

When Jean Moulin was arrested by the Germans in 1940 for protesting a massacre of African troops, he slit his wrists and almost died. They let him go, and eventually became head of the French Resistance before he was betrayed and murdered. He gave his life for his country without hesitation.

George Bush may have gotten the better of us, he may have managed to win, but he did not break our spirit or change what we know is right.

In your despair, some of you may think of leaving, but you are who we need the most. We need people who care and think and feel. We need that in America, now more than before. Many of you thought Bush would steal the election. So what do you do now? Run, or stand up for the America you believe in? Because you will not find it in Canada or Holland or Australia. It is only to be found here, and where you make it here.

But this is a democracy. If they messed with the ballots, we will fight them, and if they won fairly, we will oppose them.

What would have happened if the people who fought Nixon left the US and went to Canada? Who would have stood up for us then?

Americans have survived a lot. We will survive Bush as well. And we will fight and we will win. We have tremendous tools at our disposal and we will use them.

Let us say something else. We will not do to John Kerry what we did to Al Gore. He ran a fine race, he is a fine man. We will stand by him and support him. We will not take out our disappointment on him as we did with Gore. He fought with us, and will fight with us again.

I was wrong. Kerry fell short. It looked good, but in the end, they may have won. We cannot always be right. But that is politics. There will be more elections and more court cases and a Supreme Court to fight and Congress in two years.

What do we do next? Where do we go from here?

To end that damn war in Iraq. We HAVE to end it. It is our moral imperative. They will not draft our kin to fight there. They will bring our troops home. They will care for our veterans.

We will build our movement and fight until we win. And that starts in the morning. And it would have no matter who won.

What we can do is what we have done, watch these people, expose their misdeeds and hope that we can regain the respect needed for this country to thrive. Do I agree with the choice Americans made? No. I think it is self-indulgent and will end badly for us. But it was a democratic choice, and we must live by those rules.

This wasn't the night I imagined, but there is always tomorrow.
The fight in Ohio is necessary, but this is the sequel to Florida 2000, and we already know how that movie ends.

Four more years. Ugh.

Meteor Blades at Daily Kos:
Why were we in this fight in the first place? Because terrible leaders are doing terrible things to our country and calling this wonderful. Because radical reactionaries are trying to impose their imperialist schemes on whoever they wish and calling this just. Because amoral oligarchs are determined to enhance their slice of the economic pie and calling this the natural order. Because flag-wrapped ideologues want to chop up civil liberties and call this security. Because myopians are in charge of America’s future.

We lost on 11/2. Came in second place in a crucial battle whose damage may still be felt decades from now. The despicable record of our foes makes our defeat good reason for disappointment and fear. Even without a mandate over the past four years, they have behaved ruthlessly at home and abroad, failing to listen to objections even from members of their own party. With the mandate of a 3.6-million vote margin, one can only imagine how far their arrogance will take them in their efforts to dismantle 70 years of social legislation and 50+ years of diplomacy.

Still, Tuesday was only one round in the struggle. It’s only the end if we let it be. I am not speaking solely of challenging the votes in Ohio or elsewhere – indeed, I think even successful challenges are unlikely to change the ultimate outcome, which is not to say I don’t think the Democrats should make the attempt. And I’m not just talking about evaluating in depth what went wrong, then building on what was started in the Dean campaign to reinvigorate the grassroots of the Democratic Party, although I also think we must do that. I’m talking about the broader political realm, the realm outside of electoral politics that has always pushed America to live up to its best ideals and overcome its most grotesque contradictions.

Not a few people have spoken in the past few hours about an Americanist authoritarianism emerging out of the country’s current leadership. I think that’s not far-fetched. Fighting this requires that we stick together, not bashing each other, not fleeing or hiding or yielding to the temptation of behaving as if “what’s the use?”

It’s tough on the psyche to be beaten.Throughout our country’s history, abolitionists, suffragists, union organizers, anti-racists, antiwarriors, civil libertarians, feminists and gay rights activists have challenged the majority of Americans to take off their blinders. Each succeeded one way or another, but not overnight, and certainly not without serious setbacks.

After a decent interval of licking our wounds and pondering what might have been and where we went wrong, we need to spit out our despair and return – united - to battling those who have for the moment outmaneuvered us. Otherwise, we might just as well lie down in the street and let them flatten us with their schemes.
More later.

Immigrating to Canada as a Skilled Worker.

It's too cold for me, but some of you might be curious.

(Hat tip to Backup Brain)

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

This man was a legend when I was in journalism school a million years ago. Here's why:
One day last May, I assigned the election to John Kerry. I said it early, and often. As I looked more, I saw that it shouldn't even be close. I said that in this space more than once. Now I am so sure that I am not even going to bother to watch the results tonight. I am going to bed early, for I must rise in the darkness and pursue immediately an exciting, overdue project.

Besides, if I was up, so many people, upon seeing every word I said of this election coming true on television in front of them, would be kissing my hands and embarrassing me with outlandish praise. So I go to bed with total confidence. I will get up and stroll to other meadows. I invented this column form. I now leave, but will return here for cameo appearances. And I leave today as the only one in America who from the start was sure John Kerry would win by a wide margin. Let me tell you why.
And he does. And it is a good read from a master.

Enjoy your retirement, Jimmy. You've earned it.

Should be a long day in Ohio.

GOP voter challengers get OK to monitor Ohio polling places:
In a day of see-sawing court rulings, a federal appeals court ruled early this morning that the Republican Party could place thousands of people inside polling places to challenge the eligibility of voters, a blow to Democrats who argued those challengers will intimidate minority voters.
I'm sure the Republican poll watchers will be reasonable and respectful. Yeah, I'm absolutely sure of that,

Mark A. R. Kleiman has the election results:
The first actual counted votes of the 2004 election are in, and John Kerry made some gains against George Bush compared to the Gore-Bush race.

In 2000, Hart's Location and Dixville Notch, NH, which traditionally vote at midnight and release their results immediately, went for Bush over Gore 38-15, with one stubborn fool voting for Nader. This year, the score was Bush 34, Kerry 19, with one stubborn fool -- perhaps the very same one -- still voting for Nader.

That's a swing of nearly eight percent away from Bush and toward the Democrat. Using a likely voter model I just pulled out of my hat, this station can now project a Kerry landslide, with the Massachusetts liberal carrying the popular vote by 58-42 and winning everything but Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, the Dakotas,Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina for a total of about 350 EV.

That, as Mark Twain once said, is the wonderful thing about calculation: you get reap such huge returns of speculation for such a trifling investment in fact.
Excellent! I was going to save the champagne for this evening, but I guess I can start pouring mimosas now.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Read Charles Pierce, who is quoted in full at the end of this story:
It occurred to me over the weekend that I haven't given a good reason why I will vote for John Kerry, and why I would vote for him even if he were running against, say, John McCain. (And even if McCain still had a political soul, which I've come to doubt.) Once, in Iowa, Kerry dropped in on a group of Vietnam veterans. Some of them liked him. Some of them didn't, largely because of the whole VVAW thing. (And, trust me, this was my first beat at the Boston Phoenix, and I discovered that the politics within the various Vietnam veteran's groups were desperate and bloody.) Kerry dismissed the staff, locked the door, blew off the rest of the schedule, and sat there and talked and argued with these guys until they were all exhausted. He wanted to talk to the people who disliked him more than he wanted to talk to anyone else. He gave them the respect of open debate.

Imagine the incumbent doing that. Imagine him sitting down in a room where half the people truly loathe him and everything he stands for, him and his ticket-only rallies, and his coddling staff, and his use of the Secret Service as cheap sidewalk bouncers. Imagine him hearing them out, debating them, giving them the respect of his knowledgeable disagreement. It is inconceivable. One can more easily imagine C-Plus Augustus's flapping his arms and flying to the top of the Washington Monument. Imagine that 'character' is even at issue between these two men.

Somebody who was there in Iowa told me that story, and told me I couldn't use it, but that's too damn bad today. I am voting for John Kerry because it is a time for serious people who are strong enough in their heart to listen to anger and slander and calumny and to respond to it, not with the tinny bombast of an unearned office, and not with the cheesy legerdemain of concocted eminence, but with the strength to stay long enough to try to redeem it.
I'm going to continue posting these little nuggets.

Look over there in the right-hand column.

See that list of links under the Essential heading? See the link for The Poor Man? This post, from January 9, 2003, is a great example of why I think Andrew is one of the great writers of our time:
I remember the election, and the thing that struck me, and most of the voting public, about Dubya, wasn't that he was a "masterful leader" so much as that he was an "embarrassing fool". A cartoonish, empty-headed serial idiot with a resume made up entirely of draft dodging, tequila shots, and gifts from daddy and a political platform composed entirely of lies, impossible promises, and stunningly, shockingly, record-breakingly empty rhetoric. And don't tell me that this is some liberal propaganda - I watched the debates, I watched every step of the way, I watched you babbling on with a smirk on your face like some 4th grader giving the class his book report on a book he didn't even read. Every time you spoke it was a breakthrough in the field of stupidity, opening up unexplored vistas of idiocy beyond anyone's wildest imaginings. You don't even read the paper, you don't even have a single clue what's going on in the world, and you don't even fucking care. Knowing who is in charge of Pakistan isn't like knowing the square root of pi - it's in the paper every day, it's not like some outrageously esoteric thing that only super big nerds know about. If you are going to be President, it’s something you might want to look in to.

And I know we were all supposed to be impressed with you after September 11th, and, yes, you did a good job of playing President. And everyone kind of forgot about all the dumb stuff for a little while, because we thought maybe we might all be dead tomorrow, so we'd better stick together, and if I say something mean about the President and then someone kills him I'll feel pretty bad. And in a lot of ways you were very good, looking very grim and determined looking in a situation that was difficult emotionally, but, let's face it, kind of a no-brainer policy-wise. "Kill the mutherfuckers" was, indeed, the correct response, and it was carried out with some efficacy, but it's not exactly rocket science.

But you know what? Stupid's not a passing thing. Stupid's not some phase in life, like when you were really into MC Hammer or when you abused alcohol and cocaine for twenty years, which you suddenly recover from and no one is supposed to talk about anymore. Stupid's forever, my friend, and you can't get away from it. Stupid sticks. Stupid shows.

Do you even know what your Iraq policy is? Do you even really have one? I know what I hope it is, but every time I hear you talk about Iraq it's something different. Sometimes it's nuclear weapons, sometimes it's terrorism, sometimes it's human rights. Aside from moments of (scripted) lucidity, such as the speech to the UN, it's all been very obscure. And what about North Korea? "I loathe Kim Jong Il!" What are you, two years old? Nobody likes Kim Jong Il, he's a fucking maniac, but what's your point? It is your job, as President, to do a little thinking about things beyond the level of 'starving people is wrong and I hate it,' beyond the level of being the national id. It's your job to actually figure out how to deal with this guy. The whole Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, or Mr. Smith Goes to the OK Corral, or whatever it is schtick is getting pretty stale. It worked when the problem was medieval religious fanatic douche bags in Afghanistan who thought that they could deflect bombs with old tires, but when dealing with the real problems of the world, your faux-regular guy bullshit act is not going to cut it. And you got a free ride for a while now because of extenuating circumstances, but if you think the Democrats are still going to be playing patty-cake with you in 2004 you're in for a surprise. If the war in Iraq doesn’t go like a picnic on a cloudless day (and it probably won’t, Sunshine), they’ll kill you with it. And it may not be fair at all, but that’s just too bad. And if you think that two years from now, when you have lowered taxes (on the rich), raised spending, the economy is going no where, and you’ve spent four years shitting on the environment, sucking up to the hard right wing, and embarrassing the country on the world stage, if you think that people are going to be satisfied with you gritting your teeth and telling people that you’re a man of conviction who says what he means or some John Wayne Hallmark card horseshit like that, well, you’ve got another thing coming. You are doomed in 2004, and I can’t wait until we dump your clueless ass.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

No retreat, baby, no surrender. No forgiveness. No forgetting.

One more day.

No challengers allowed at polls:
A federal judge issued an order early Monday barring political party challengers from polling places throughout Ohio during Tuesday's election. State Republicans planned to appeal.

U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott found that the application of Ohio's statute allowing challengers at polling places is unconstitutional.

She said the presence of challengers inexperienced in the electoral process questioning voters about their eligibility would impede voting.

Mark Weaver, lawyer for the Ohio Republican Party, called the ruling erroneous and said the party would ask the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to overturn it.

Dlott ruled on a lawsuit by a black Cincinnati couple who said Republican plans to deploy challengers to largely black precincts in Hamilton County was meant to intimidate and block black voters.

Republicans said they wanted to prevent voter fraud.

Dlott said in her order that the evidence "does not indicate that the presence of additional challengers would serve Ohio's interest in preventing voter fraud better than would the system of election judges."
Precisely. The purpose of this plan was to choke the voting booths, creating chaos and long lines and depressing turnout in predominantly Democratic precincts. Thanks to this "activist judge" for cutting to the heart of the matter.

(Thanks to Jesse Taylor for the pointer.)