Napalm redux

The United States is the only country in the world that continues to keep Napalm in its arsenal. Reports are that we are using it in civilian populations.

Falluja Napalmed


What do you want to see in the next DNC chair?

Normally, I don't crosspost much between the DFL blog and the New Patriot, but this is really cool and deserves wider exposure. The DFL and the Progressive Caucus are sponosoring a series of four meetings throughout Minnesota where rank-and-file DFLers can talk with Minnesota's DNC delegates (list) about what they want to see in the next DNC chair and where the party should be going following our defeat in the 2004 presidential election.

This is a great opportunity to influence a decision that will have massive repercussions for the future of the Democratic party.


Congressman Kline stands with Tom Delay

Who is Minnesota 2nd District Congressman John Kline trying to kid? In Sunday's Star Tribune he defends the recent house vote to allow Tom Delay to retain his position as Majority Leader if he is indicted for a crime. Congressman Kline expects us to believe in the purity of their actions. Kline drinks ultra-partisan kool-aid and asks us if we want a sip. But we know it's poison.

First he minces words:

First and foremost, the House Republican Caucus ethics rule to which you refer was not repealed, it was revised.

Repealed, revised. I see. Thank you for clarifying, Congressman Kline. But not to worry. Repeal is to revise as mince is to outright Lie:

When the original rule was passed, requiring any member under indictment to step down from a position in party leadership, no one considered the possibility of a rogue district attorney bent on partisan political persecution. Unfortunately, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has demonstrated his commitment to doing just that by adding Majority Leader Tom DeLay to the long list of Republican lawmakers he has targeted throughout his career.

Texan Ronnie Earle has been the District Attorney for Travis County for thirty years. In that time, he has prosecuted 12 Democrats and 3 Republicans. Isn't that a hilariously long list of Republicans?

Kline thinks we will gobble up this spin-soaked slop. He has no respect for any of his constituents. But it get's worse:

Sadly, it has become necessary to take steps to address the reality of political manipulation of the process and the constitutional right of every American to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Tom DeLay has not, in fact, been indicted. Does he not deserve the same basic rights afforded the rest of us?

As the Congressman notes, Delay has not been charged with anything. So in answer to his asinine rhetorical question: Yes, Tom Delay deserves exactly the same basic rights as the rest of us who haven't been charged with anything. Our not so rhetorical question to the Congressman is this: Why does Tom Delay deserve more? But maybe I've got Congressman Kline all wrong. Maybe he is saying we all deserve to operate under the Delay Ethical Model. Maybe Kline supports letting indicted pedophiles continuing to work in daycare centers. Maybe he supports letting indicted embezzlers continuing to work as accountants. Maybe he supports letting indicted drunken drivers continuing to drive. What do you think, Congressman? Maybe you could author additional legislation to preemptively soften the blow of breaking the law for all of us? It'd be especially helpful in setting an example for our kids.

Congressman Kline, you are the company you keep. Delay is the rogue. Let your editorial stand as a testament to your character when Tom Delay goes down in flames. You have shown your love of money and your contempt for the decency and intelligence of the Minnesotans you represent.


Blogging Lakoff

Some lucky students at Berkely are blogging Lakoff. Makes me want to take a semester off just to take one of his classes!


Dear President, I place my faith in thee

On one hand we must curb our urges. Our President expects it. He would do no different. We must never swear. We must never hear a swear word. Watch what you hear. Watch what you think. Unnatural thoughts are unAmerican. Freedom of speech is dangerous. It will hurt me and my children if we hear a bad word. I will not be able to explain it. I do not want the ability to say anything I want to because I might hear something bad. Other people might say something bad. I do not like it when bad things come out of the TV or out of the radio. It scares me. Michael Powell should stop it. It would be better. Michael Powell agrees with Dear President.

On the other hand we must support Dear President and the lucky chosen few that advise him. They know best. He is guided by prayer and Dear President guides them and they guide us. We should not question them. God has spoken through the election. Each ballot for Dear President was cast by the divine guidance of God. No blame can be laid at Dear President's feet for the tragedies that have befallen our country. Liberals are to blame. Only liberals break the law. Only people that are not members of Dear President's party do bad things. Because liberals are the only ones that break the law, they are the only ones affected by the law. The law only applies to liberals.

Liberals will say anything. They will even say that members of Dear President's party or people whom Dear President trusts are breaking the law. But, we cannot break the law. We can only accomplish our goals.

Remember that Dear President needs people by his side that agree with him. That is the most important thing. People who disagree with Dear President are bad people. Dear President is so kind that he allows people who disagree with him to live in our country. But he will not work with them. I do not like people who disagree with Dear President. They scare me. Sometimes you will hear or read something "bad" about one of the lucky chosen few who advise Dear President. These are lies. Dear President always tells the truth. The lucky chosen few who advise Dear President always tell the truth. They are always competent. They are always the best choice for the job because they are always the most loyal. Be loyal.


Kerry to propose universal health care for children

Senator Kerry is going to propose universal health insurance for kids.

This has been a favorite policy/wedge issue of mine since Howard Dean proposed it in the primaries. Dean accomplished this in Vermont and the program has been a great success that deserves to be replicated nation-wide.

Here's some of the reasons I like this idea:

1. It's the right thing to do. All kids deserve health insurance. It will help level the playing field between the working class and the middle class. And you can't argue that the choices or life situation a parent makes should affect whether or not their kids should be insured. Kids aren't responsible for their lot in life.
2. As Dean pointed out in the primaries, insuring kids is cheap. They rarely get chronicle ill, unlike older people. If it's cheap, why not do it?
3. It will reduce health care costs by encouraging preventive medicine and eliminating the free rider problem of the rest of us paying for the emergency room health care of the poorest children.
4. It's a middle class entitlement that will bind a large swath of voters into our agenda and pave the way for comprehensive national health insurance. Just try to take away kid's health insurance once (if) this passes. It'll become a third-rail issue, like Medicare.
5. How can you be against health insurance for kids? It makes a great wedge issue for Democrats. Republicans know that if any kind of national health insurance gets passed in this country, they won't be able to stop it and their buddies in the insurance industry will be screwed. They'll stop at nothing to kill this plan...and make themselves look like the heartless monsters they are.

Watch the video and sign the petition to "co-sponsor" Kerry's legislation.


Something Smells Funky in Volusia County, Florida

...From Daily Kos via DU...

Volusia County election records just got put on lockdown Dueling lawyers, election officials gnashing teeth, Votergate.tv film crew catching it all. Here's what happened so far: Friday Black Box Voting investigators Andy Stephenson and Kathleen Wynne popped in to ask for some records. They were rebuffed by an elections official named Denise. Bev Harris called on the cell phone from investigations in downstate Florida, and told Volusia County Elections Supervisor Deanie Lowe that Black Box Voting would be in to pick up our Nov. 2 Freedom of Information request, or would file for a hand recount. "No, Bev, please don't do that!" she exclaimed. But this is the way it has to be, folks. We didn't back down.

Monday Bev, Andy and Kathleen came in with a film crew and asked for the FOIA request. Deanie Lowe gave it to us with a smile, but I noticed that one item, the polling place tapes, were not copies of the real ones, but instead were new printouts, done on Nov. 15, and not signed by anyone.

I asked to see the real ones, and they told us for "privacy" reasons we can't have copies of the signed ones. I insisted on at least viewing them (although refusing to give us copies of the signatures is not legally defensible, according to our attorney). They said the real ones were in the County Elections warehouse. It was quittin' time and we arranged to come back this morning to review them.

Lana Hires, an employee who gained some notoriety in a Diebold memo, where she asked for an explanation of minus 16,022 votes for Gore, so she wouldn't have to stand there "looking dumb" when the auditor came in, was particularly unhappy about seeing us in the office. She vigorously shook her head when Deanie Lowe suggested we go to the warehouse.

Kathleen Wynne and I showed up at the warehouse at 8:15 this morning. There was Lana Hires looking especially gruff, yet surprised. She ordered us out. Well, we couldn't see why because there she was, with a couple other people, handling the original poll tapes. You know, the ones with the signatures on them. We stepped out and they promptly shut the door behind us.

There was a trash bag on the porch outside the door. I looked into it and what do you know, but there were poll tapes in there. They came out and glared at us. We drove away a small bit, and then videotaped the license plates of the two vehicles marked 'City Council' member. Others came out to glare and soon all doors were slammed.

So, we went and parked behind a bus to see what they would do next. They pulled out some large pylons, which blocked the door. I decided to go look at the garbage some more. Kathleen videotaped this. A man came out and I immediately wrote a public records request for the contents of the garbage bag, which also contained ballots -- real ones, but not filled out.

A brief tug of war occurred, tearing the garbage bag open. We then looked through it, as Pete looked on. He was quite friendly.

We collected various poll tapes and other information and asked if they could copy it for us, for our public records request. "You won't be going anywhere," said Pete. "The deputy is on his way."

Yes, not one but two police cars came up and then two county elections officials, and we all stood around discussing the merits of my public records request.

They finally let us go, about the time our film crew arrived, and we all trooped off to the elections office. There, the plot thickened.

We began to compare the special printouts given to us with the signed polling tapes from election night. Lo and behold, some were missing. We also found some that didn't match. In fact, in one location, precinct 215, an African-American precinct, the votes were off by hundreds, in favor of George W. Bush and other Republicans.

Hmm. Which was right? Our polling tape, specially printed on Nov. 15, without signatures, or theirs, printed on Nov. 2, with up to 8 signatures per tape?

Well, then it became even more interesting. Lana Hires took it upon herself to box up some items from an office, which appeared to contain -- you guessed it -- polling place tapes. She took them to the back of the building and disappeared.

Then, voting integrity advocates from Volusia and Broward, decided now would be a good time to go through the trash at the elections office. Lo and behold, they found all kinds of memos and some polling place tapes, fresh from Volusia elections office.

So, we compared these with the Nov. 2 signed ones and the "special' ones from Nov. 15 given to us, unsigned, and we found several of the MISSING poll tapes. There they were: In the garbage.

So, Kathleen went to the car and got the polling place tapes we had pulled from the warehouse garbage. My my my. There were not only discrepancies, but a polling place tape that was signed by six officials.

This was a bit disturbing, since the employees there told us that bag was destined for the shredder.

By now, a county lawyer had appeared on the scene, suddenly threatening to charge us extra for the time we took looking at the real stuff they had withheld from us in our FOIA. Other lawyers appeared, phoned, people had meetings, Lana glowered at everyone, and someone shut the door in the office holding the GEMS server.

Andy then went to get the GEMS server locked down. He also got the memory cards locked down and secured, much to the dismay of Lana. They were scattered around unsecured in any way before that.

We then all agreed to convene tomorrow morning, to further audit, discuss the hand count that Black Box Voting will require of Volusia County, and of course, it is time to talk about contesting the election in Volusia.

Bev Harris Executive Director Black Box Voting

Together with Andy, and Kathleen. xxxooo

We're half the country

...and we're not going away.


Mr. President: You pulled the trigger

The slaying of a wounded Iraqi insurgent fighter is playing big in Arab news. It's not good for the United States. I suspect mostly on my side of the street, Democrats and liberals, will decry the act of the killing itself. The killing is nasty business, that's for sure, ugly and brutal as it gets.

Yet I think it's wrong to blame the soldier that pulled the trigger. At the bottom of my pool of conflicting feelings is the idea that I want our soldiers to come back alive. They need to do what they need to do in order to return. In a comment to an earlier post, I said that "We are all the troops, everyone of us." I was roundly criticized by the right wingers that read this blog for comparing myself to a soldier. But I stand by it. Though there is enormous honor and bravery in their actions, I refuse to separate and romanticize the military from us. They are us and we are them. There is far less than six degrees of separation for all of us to anyone in Iraq. We all have family and friends there; Or have friends with family and friends there. None of us wish the death of our soldiers over the death of those we are fighting.

The soldiers in Iraq are out doing the business of our country. In their actions they embody one of the reasons why the USA has endured as the longest standing democratic republic on earth: The military is in the hands of the civilians. That soldier pointing his gun at the wounded man just saw his comrade blown to bits in a similar situation not ten minutes before he pulled the trigger. It is not for me to judge if he was right or wrong from my easy chair. I am sure there were hundreds of equally grevious decisions that were made during the assualt on Falluja. What is hidden from the camera will haunt the soldiers of this nation for decades to come. What appears on camera will haunt the entire nation for decades to come. For that, the civilan leaders of this nation must bear full responsibilty.

It is the President, Ms. Rice, Vice President Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld and their entire cadre of group thinkers who must be held accountable. For sure they are guilty of the big crimes. It was them who ordered the military to invade Iraq to punish a despot for a crime he didn't commit. They engineered the death of between 30,000 and 100,000 civilians. They are the authors of the book of evil that is Abu Ghraib. It is them who ordered the entire city of Falluja razed to the ground, it's population brutalized, it's women and children cast into a humanitarian crisis the size of which is still unclear. There is more. The truly disasterous mistakes by our national leaders with regards to Iraq can barely be numbered. But first on the list is the mistake of placing our sons and daughters, friends and families, in morally precarious situations in support of a morally wrong war.


House Republican's thank you note to the values voter

Tom Delay and Republicans in congress are about to issue an object lesson in situational ethics. If the rules get in the way of what a republican wants to do, then change the rules. Got it? Tom Delay certainly gets it.
House GOP May Change Leadership Rules

House Republicans were contemplating changing their rules in order to allow members indicted by state prosecutors to remain in a leadership post, a move designed to benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, GOP leaders said today.

Mr Delay has been rebuked by the House Ethics Committee three times this year. His alleged offenses range from vote selling to money laundering. Republican leadership is well aware of the criminal conduct of Delay and his cronies. Yet they look the other way. They are too occupied sucking wealth out of Delay-created PACs to pull their vaunted values out of the closet and take down their disgraceful leader.

Holiday Benefit Sale for NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota

Thursday from 5-9pm NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota will be having its annual holiday sale at Amazon Bookstore Cooperative in Minneapolis, the oldest independent feminist bookstore in North America. 10% of the proceeds will go toward NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota's organizing and lobbying efforts. The event will include live music and free back massages (with purchase). Come on down and support reproductive choice in Minnesota!

Amazon Bookstore Cooperative, 4755 Chicago Ave S., Minneapolis.


It looks like there will be a recount in Ohio, thanks to the Green Party Candidate, David Cobb, and the Libertarian Party candidate, Michael Badnarik.

I do not expect the election results to change, but any exploration of voting irregularities is a good thing - at least if the Republicans can stop playing with the rules. Now, on to Florida...


Government Preacher

The radical cleric, Dr. Bob Jones III, President of Bob Jones University, Gave President bush a rousing call to arms last week.

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism.


Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.


Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years—a brief time only—to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God.

In a similar vein, another radical cleric, James Dobson, of Focus on the Family has been making the media rounds offering his own interpretation of God's Design for the US of A:

Dr. Dobson said he told the caller that many Christians believed the country "on the verge of self-destruction" as it abandoned traditional family roles. He argued that "through prayer and the involvement of millions of evangelicals, and mainline Protestants and Catholics, God has given us a reprieve.

But I believe it is a short reprieve," he continued, adding that conservatives now had four years to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage, to stop abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, and most of all to remake the Supreme Court. "I believe that the Bush administration now needs to be more aggressive in pursuing those values, and if they don't do it I believe they will pay a price in four years," he said.

Apocalypitic hyperbole is nothing new. But do Democrats really hate Christ? Has God really given us a "reprieve" from "self-destruction" or a "pagan agenda." Whether or not the average Republican believes it, the notion that Democrats are anti-religion is now a central propaganda point for the Republican party. It is a media narrative, particularly now that "values" are supposedly so important to the average voter.

They do this for a reason. In order to advance some of their most radical ideas - using biblical arguments to support amending the US constitution to ban gay marriage, for example - they must first sell the idea that society is under attack. Under attack from whom? The liberals. Mangy haired, heathen Democrats looking to slice the baby right out of your womb because they are pro-abortion. Godless, soul-sucking pariahs who literally spit on the baby jesus as they get undressed for their orgies. Men and women and their children who live in sin, watch nothing but the trash produced by the Hollywood elite, whose lives are living apostasies.

Ultra-Religious Republicans first create the false aura of a nation under siege by the lawless and godless, then respond to it by placing stalwartChristians at every available post. This is done, not as a matter of faith, but as a way to consolidate power. These people believe the separation of Church and State is a myth. As Dr. Jones states above, their goal is to govern by biblical law. Their reach is enormous and real.

There is only one proper Democratic response to this kind of aggressive effort to transform the United States from a liberal, secular republic to a conservative, theocratic republic. That response is to begin to discuss measures ensuring the separation of church and state in terms of full Faith Protection.

The day some government preacher walks into your kid's classroom is the day religious liberty is dead in this country.


Who is Alberto Gonzales?

You may be wondering, "Who is this Alberto Gonzales that Bush has picked to be the next Attorney General?"

Just follow my handy chart:

From Almanac's Mary Lahammer

Thought I'd repost her thoughts here:

Today I got to see a remarkable thing, 26 new members of the House filing into the Capitol just days after being elected. Now 26 isn't an unprecidented number, what is unusual is that half of them are Democrats who took seats away from Republicans. Republicans lost in nearly every area of the state. Democrats' case is bouyed by the fact this wasn't trend in one area of the state. The most surprising seems to be the losses in Rochester. I've been told that Rochester hasn't sent Democrats to the Capitol since Watergate. It's interesting that if voters' message was for moderation they kicked out some of the most moderate Republicans. Jim Rhodes and Lynne Osterman often spoke up for compromise and common ground. I think they will be missed. And if Republicans miss the message from the electorate they could see further losses in 2006. Our electorate never ceases to amaze me. Just when we thought we figured out that Minnesota was increasingly Republican and conservative they turn things around. This is legislative equivalent to Jesse Ventura's election. Voters seemed to have had enough of the status quo--bickering, partisanship, gridlock. What we'll have to see is if the same four leaders can put the past behind them and get along and agree this session. I hope they surprise me.

Tell Congress to Investigate the 2004 Election

This is a matter that has been weighing me down for a few days now and I'm glad to see that MoveOn.org is joining the fight. It's not so much about overturning the election (though that would be okay with me) as it is about protecting the sanctity of our vote. I hesitate to say "fraud" though I won't dismiss it. It may be nothing... it may be something as innocent as a software error... It may be fraud, too... Regardless, I think that we need to demand an investigation into these problems so that they do not persist.

From MoveOn:

"Questions are swirling around whether the election was conducted honestly or not. We need to know -- was it or wasn't it?

If people were wrongly prevented from voting, or if legitimate votes were mis-counted or not counted at all, we need to know so the wrongdoers can be held accountable, and to help prevent this from happening again.

Members of Congress are demanding an investigation to answer this question. Join us in supporting their call, at:


A few related articles and sites for you to dig through:

Daily Kos

Keith Olbermann - MSNBC

Dick Morris - The Hill

Palm Beach County Logs 88,000 More Votes Than Voters - Washington Dispatch

Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked

An Examination of the 2004 Elections"

Voting Fraud in the 2004 Presidential Election

Every Vote Will Be Counted! - Dan Trevas, Ohio Democratic Party Communications Director


A Question from Senator Norm Coleman

Senator Coleman wants to know: Do you support extending the President’s tax relief, which has helped create almost 1.7 million new jobs this past year and has reduced the tax burden on nearly 1.9 million Minnesota taxpayers?

Go to his website and take the poll.

Police state or honest mistake?

Chris posted about the unnerving incident Tuesday when armored vehicles showed up at an anti-war rally.

Striker in LA

Contrary to what one of our dim-bulb commentors said, it really did happen. However, it sounds more like an honest mistake than a prelude to the police state. Politics in the Zeros reports (from IndyMedia) that the APCs were lost:

I talked to one Marine with one of the "Striker" vehicles. He told me they had driven the vehicles up from Camp Pendleton the night before (Tuesday) on the freeway. Getting off the 405 Freeway going north, they would have passed Wilshire and Veteran where ANSWER had called a rally to protest the attack on Fallujah in Iraq.

I asked him if he was "rolling around Westwood" Tuesday night. He said, "Yeah, and we drove past that anti-war demonstration. We was lost. We're not from L.A. We didn't know where this place (WLA VA) was. We were trying to find it."

"Did you drive around the block twice?" I asked.

"Yeah, we did. We stopped to ask them (the protestors) directions, but they weren't very nice."

Veterans Day

Today, we honor the living. We've all got friends and kin who've served bravely in war and peace, but today I'm thinking especially of my old pal Shawn, who hit the silk over Panama in '89, and then ran like hell across the Iraqi desert in '91. We're worlds apart on politics, but he's still with us, and a Red Sox fan to boot. I ain't seen him since -- what? 1993? -- but hell if this annual commemoration doesn't make me full of gladness that he's still alive and ready for a spirited debate at all hours. He's one of many, but not all have been as lucky or successful. And so, for Veterans Day, here are some links:

Medal of Honor Citations
List of Minnesota Veterans Day events
Minnesota Veterans Homes
Minnesotans who made it back from Bataan
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
Heather French Henry Homeless Veterans' Assistance Act
American Veterans for Equal Rights
American Muslim Armed Forces and Veteran Affairs Council
Jewish War Veterans
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Veterans for Peace
Ruptured Duck
WWII Memorial
The Wall


"I've never been served papers in my life"

Companies Sue Union Retirees to Cut Promised Health Benefits.
I get the sneaking suspicion that all this Republican talk about tort reform and bloodsucking trial lawyers doesn't apply to situations when companies file frivolous suits in order to improve earnings and screw their retirees.

When a deputy sheriff came to his door with a court summons, George Kneifel, a retiree in Union Mills, Ind., was mystified. His former employer was suing him.

The employer, beverage-can maker Rexam Inc., had agreed in labor contracts to provide retirees with health-care coverage. But now the company was asking a federal judge to rule that it could reduce or eliminate the benefit.

Many companies have already cut back company-paid health-care coverage for retirees from their salaried staffs. But until recently, employers generally were barred from touching unionized retirees' benefits because they are spelled out in labor contracts. Now, some are taking aggressive steps to pare those benefits as well, including going to court.


They have little to lose by trying. Typically, as such legal cases drag on, the employers save money as some of the retirees, who have to pay growing portions of their health-care costs, forgo costly care, drop out of the plans or die. If companies lose in court, the worst that happens is they have to resume paying benefits. They don't face punitive damages or penalties. And they may not have to resume benefits for those retirees who dropped out of the health plans.

What's more, their earnings get a pop. That's because at the same time as they sue, employers typically announce reductions in the retirees' benefits. Doing so entitles them to lessen the liabilities carried on their books. Lower liabilities translate to higher earnings.

The retirees, by contrast, often find themselves in a bind -- unsure of their recourse and facing, as they age, the court system's typical long waits for legal resolution. The U.S. Labor Department is of little help. Retired workers "aren't our constituents anymore," says a spokeswoman for the department.

The article goes on to detail these companies' jurisdiction-shopping, and you'll notice that Minneapolis appears prominently as such a business-friendly legal environment, which actually surprised me for about 5 seconds. What a squalid mess. I have nothing but contempt for these executive fatcats, who seem to be able to discard every last shred of decency (not to mention dignity) in order to wantonly sue retirees who have not only bargained a contract in good faith, but given their lives and blood to the company. What we are seeing here is bad-faith litigious greed (cloaked, as usual, in rationality), and if Republicans support this behavior then they are amoral hypocrites of the first order.

Aside: how did the Wall Street Journal suddenly become the most entertaining lefty rag among major dailies?

[link via Triptych Cryptic]

Send in the tanks

Tanks interrupt LA anti-war protest

In post-election rhetorical limbo, it's how low can you go

Powerline notes that one or two Democracts have secession fever in the wake of Bush's win. Naturally, they and the rest of the GOP noise machine are making hay over the suggestion. Frankly, it bothers me that Democrats are wasting their breath buying into the Republican version of a divided America - that Bush's victory was achieved via the inexorable march of the red-state values voter and that the mandate is clear. It also bothers me that even a small Democratic reaction is to do something we all supposedly hate - lump everybody into a big red ball and set about kicking cliche after cliche around the echo chamber as an expression of our anger and frustration. It's so counterproductive and only makes the republicans stronger. The truth is there are plenty of good Democrats in those states. We ought not to alienate them. We will need them in the near future.

On the other hand, I hope lots and lots of Republicans continue being the most ungracious winners in history. It will help our cause in 2006 and beyond. Right wing voices like Powerline conveniently ignore the even lower standard set by one or two Republicans who want to kick Kerry voters out of the country. Mike Thompson writing in Human Events Online contends that It's Time to Reconfigure the United States by kicking out the undesirables. Here's who he wants to keep:

BUSH USA is predominantly white; devoutly Christian (mostly Protestant); openly, vigorously heterosexual; an open land of single-family homes and ranches; economically sound (except for a few farms), but not drunk with cyberworld business development, and mainly English-speaking, with a predilection for respectfully uttering "yes, ma'am" and "yes, sir."

And here's who he wants to kick out:

GORE/KERRY USA is ethnically diverse; multi-religious, irreligious or nastily antireligious; more sexually liberated (if not in actual practice, certainly in attitude); awash with condo canyons and other high-end real estate bordered by sprawling, squalid public housing or neglected private homes, decidedly short of middle-class neighborhoods; both high tech and oddly primitive in its commerce; very artsy, and Babelesque, with abnormally loud speakers.

Wonderful. Every time I think public discourse in this country could not possibly sink lower, some brave soul steps forward to take us to new depths. It's as if you're walking down the street and some random stranger barfs on your shoes. Thank you, Mr. Thompson. Here's your vomit back.

Good riddance

CBS News: Ashcroft's Mixed Legacy
ACLU: President Must Appoint Fair-Minded Replacement for Ashcroft
Transcript: State Secrets: 9/11 and Civil Liberties

Let's hope the next guy at least respects the American Consitution and the Bill of Rights.

On the lighter side...

Ohio Democratic Party: Every Vote Will Be Counted

The Ohio Democratic Party isn't quite ready to pass the mic to the fat lady, citing Kerry's insistence that every vote be counted. Taking into account problemswithcomputerizedvoting, it probably isn't a bad idea.


So they won...


P.S. On a more serious note, as Josh Marshall and Chris note, there are good reasons not to be bitter, at least not against the "red states" ("red people", maybe). Even in Texas, 38% of the people voted for Kerry. Add seven points that that and Texas is looking like a swing state! I'll have more later this week about what I think the Democrats need to do to remain competitive in the Electoral College.

P.P.S. I love how the Republicans gave us the respectable color, blue. In every other country the liberal/left party is represented by the color red, and the conservative/right party by blue. Blue: stodgy, rational. Red: radical, crazy. And if you think about it, that fits the American scene pretty well right now!

Onward towards the light

Keith Olberman ran the story about Florida election weirdness tonight on Countdown.

In the meantime...

Congressman John Conyer among others has asked the GAO to launch and investigation of Florida and Ohio vote totals and practices.

This is beginning.

Shunning customers can be a delicate business

In case you were wondering whether our new rich-get-richer culture will have an effect on morals and values, check this out: Analyzing Customers, Best Buy Decides Not All Are Welcome.

Who are the unwelcome customers? Coupon-clippers, bargain-hunters, rebate-scroungers. Some of them are misers; some of them look for loss-leaders because they have a (now entirely justified) vendetta against Best Buy; but I bet most of these "devil" customers just can't afford all that pricey merchandise, yet they want to keep up with the Joneses. In other words, Best Buy now officially wants to shun poor people, while targeting the new legions of moneybags:

Store clerks receive hours of training in identifying desirable customers according to their shopping preferences and behavior. High-income men, referred to internally as Barrys, tend to be enthusiasts of action movies and cameras. Suburban moms, called Jills, are busy but usually willing to talk about helping their families. Male technology enthusiasts, nicknamed Buzzes, are early adopters, interested in buying and showing off the latest gadgets.

Staffers use quick interviews to pigeonhole shoppers. A customer who says his family has a regular "movie night," for example, is pegged a prime candidate for home-theater equipment. Shoppers with large families are steered toward larger appliances and time-saving products.

The company hopes to lure the Barrys and Jills by helping them save time with services like a "personal shopper" to help them hunt for unusual items, alert them to sales on preferred items, and coordinate service calls.

Meanwhile, "To deter the undesirables, it is cutting back on promotions and sales tactics that tend to draw them, and culling them from marketing lists." In other words, shunning them. It's a cutthroat world, but not since the Jim Crow days have I heard of a company actually attempting to shun customers as a business strategy. Really, what's going on here?

I remember my last trip to Best Buy, coupla years ago, to buy a new CD player. I am not a "Barry", so needless to say I bought the cheapest one of the lot, and was thereupon practically thrown to the ground and kicked about by the well-trained employee because I didn't want to join in their warranty scam. I suspect you all have had similar experiences. It's a creepy operation, now getting creepier.

Need I add that this newly upscale operation is still called "Best Buy", and their logo is still a yellow bargain price-tag?


Was the election hacked?

As I noted below there are substantial anomalies in this year's election results.

Dick Morris notes in that exit polls are almost never wrong. For six of them to be wrong releases a foul odor. I'll say. It is now a national priority that the discrepancy between the exit polls and the final results, as well as the extremely suspect results coming in from Florida be investigated, particularly because there seems to be a one to one match between a Diebold Optical Scanner and a suspect vote tally.

Morris condludes that the exit polls were fixed. But that is a crock. As far as conspiracies go, simple explanations are usually correct. It would be extremely difficult to organize an airtight effort to conduct six separate exit polls that produce false results in total secrecy. As it can be shown, it is much easier to tamper with the vote totals. And let's do a risk/reward analysis: What is the benefit of doing either? One leaves much to chance with devastating consequences. The other leaves nothing to chance with equally devastating consequences. If you are going to risk it all, are you going to risk it all for a chance or a certainty?

But there are less speculative arguments. Read, Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked, or An Examination of the Florida Elections. The vote totals from Florida counties using Diebold optical scanners are wildly off and also - miracle of miracles - wildly favor Bush. There are about 12 counties where more people supposedly "voted" than actually turned out.

We should not ignore the obivious. Support the efforts to get to the bottom of this. It isn't about Kerry winning anymore. It's about our country being the victim of the crime of the century.

You are either with us or against us, Part II

The GOP National Party is busy having a heart attack over Arlen Specter, out of Pennsylvania. He's in line to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee. He's also a social moderate who supports women's reproductive rights. He is avowedly against appointing supreme court justices who will overturn Roe vs. Wade. Unless he comes to heel, he'll never chair that committee. Dobson, Robertson, Falwell will want their comeuppance.

In October, Ron Suskind published Without a Doubt, in which former Reagan advisor Bruce Bartlett predicted a Republican Civil War if Bush won.

I don't think it will be a civil war. It will be more like an old-school purging without, one would presume, the killing. Nonetheless, Bush, Rove, Hastert, Frist, Delay are simply setting about the business of kicking fence-sitters out of the party and into political Siberia. It's the way they interpret their "Mandate." This will result in a short term consolidation of power. Long term, it will result in larger Independent and Democratic minorities. As they are marginalized and persecuted for the moderation and discipline that used to be hallmarks of the Republican Party, GOP moderates will jump ship.

When this happens, Democrats should welcome them without a single second thought. No recriminations, no questions, no "we told you so" - just a simple, "Welcome, neighbor." Afterall, we are in this together.


A Winning Strategy

The fallout continues...

Our new Democratic Party strategy? Well, first off, we need to find a way to become more homophobic than our opponents. Maybe make sodomy a felony... just to show the rednecks how tough we are now. Then we need to start blaming more of our economic problems on immigrants and other non-light-skinned foreigners. We need to cut more taxes, that's for sure, care less about the impoverished because why the fuck should we care about them? They're lazy assholes. Then we need to spend more money on useless Cold War-era military projects. Like a trillion dollar GOP masturbation fantasy of a missle system that doesn't work (and even if it did, it would still be useless). We need to invade other countries without provokation, and do it all while telling the rest of the world to go fuck themselves. If anyone questions us, we'll just say something about 9/11... or maybe rape rooms or something... and then we'll tell them to go fuck themselves, too. We need to divide Christians against other Christians, family member against family member. We need to bring prayer into schools, hang the Ten Commandments in every classroom. Turn this godless state into a budding theocracy of obedience and discipline.

If we can do all this -- all while saving a few fetuses, murdering a Planned Parenthood doctor or two in the process, maybe -- then we will win. And then we will have accomplished all that we have ever wanted: to be winners. That's what this is all about, right? Winning? Not trying to make this country better, standing on principle, standing up for what we believe... believing what we believe because we know in our hearts it's right. It has nothing to do with that. Right?



Voting integrity an imperative for both parties

A very intriguing diary entry from Kos explores the issues of voter fraud.

Let's explain what these "central vote-counting" machines are. Basically, it's a machine running Microsoft Windows with a Microsoft Access database attached. (Note to the computer-savvy among you: Yes, I shit you not. MS Access. Jeez.) The database keeps track of the votes in each precinct, county, etc., much like an Excel spreadsheet. The software is deemed secret and proprietary; previous lawsuits to examine the code that tabulates the votes have been denied.

I have no hope and basically no interest in attempting to overturn this election. I think that is a fruitless task. However, it can't be denied that there are some incredibly suspect vote totals coming out of Ohio and Flordia. Note the discrepancy between the total number of ballots cast and Bush votes in this Ohio county:

Franklin County, OH: Gahanna 1-B Precinct

US Senator:
Fingerhut (D) - 167 votes
Voinovich (R) - 300 votes

US President:
Kerry (D) - 260 votes
Bush (R) - 4,258 votes

Because these machines are made on really bad technology and are proven to be fundamentally unsecure, resolving the technical issues with them is a democracy issue, not a partisan issue.


I should make myself slighty more clear:

I do not have an interest in starting an investigation of electronic voting from the assumption that it is corrupt. However, I fully support the efforts of Bev Harris at Black Box Voting to use the Freedom of Information Act to examine the Hard Drives and the security protocols of the enterprise-wide architecture for Ohio and Florida. This should be done as a way to test the system. American's have nothing to fear in this process. We are all interested in the truth, right?


Winning the propaganda wars

Last night the American people re-elected President Bush.

His job approval ratings hovered somewhere under 50% for much of the campaign. He launched an unpopular war for, to be kind, questionable reasons. There is a strong case supporting the idea that the way the President has conducted the war on terrorism has, in fact, produced more and better armed terrorists. The President and his direct reports set in motion the chain of decisions that resulted in the single most devastating public relations disaster for the United States since the invasion of Iraq itself - Abu Ghraib. While the President pilloried Kerry for failing to support the troops, he simultaneously sluiced the torture-buck down the chain of command until it landed on the lowest links.

The "culture of life" the President is supposedly fostering has resulted in the deaths of between 15,000 and 100,000 in Iraq at the hands of the US military - most of whom are women and children. Abortions have risen under the President's direction. Information about women's reproductive health has been slowly removed from view. There are more poor people than ever before. Again women and children seem to bear the burden of the President's "compassionate" policies. The President played the economy game for short term gain. His tax cuts were popular even though most never felt the effects in their wallets. In Bush's America, you don't actually have to be relieved to feel "relief." But the deficit grew larger. Warning bells sounded from around the world. They tolled for the impending decline of the dollar. Our debt will catch up with us, they said. It will, too, but the President soldiers on cutting revenues and increasing spending while flagrantly calling Kerry a "Tax and Spend Liberal."

The President has played us all against each other. Christians against non-believer, pro-choice against pro-life, anti-war against pro-war, heck, Christian against Christian. Even though he ran as a uniter, he divided. It has become almost passé to look across this ideological divide and blame the people on the other side for not changing their minds. For his part, the President gave no quarter. He never admitted a single mistake. Legislation was written in secret by Republicans and presented to the floor for voting with no review. Tom Delay consolidated power in the House by squeezing off the PAC contributions to Democrats. He traded power for money; he denied power for money. He played one against the other as the spearhead of the GOP's relentless, ruthless quest for power. Relations among our legislators dissolved into a domestic disturbance. All it would have taken is a phone call from the President telling Delay to cool things down. But none came. All it would have taken was one single concession, one single lifted finger, one single raised eyebrow, one single expression that would say to all of us: "Enough is enough."

But that is not the President’s way. The President's way is to let his followers flay the flesh from the body politic while he looks on smirking. Once we are down to the bone, he steps in with kind words and a question: "Are you ready to say uncle?"

The President and his direct reports have dropped a veil of secrecy over our government. They classified more documents than any administration in history. He spoke directly with the press fewer times than any president in recent history. John Ashcroft initiated measures to purge from public view information on how the public may retrieve information about the government from the government. The environmental impact of 9.11 was hidden from New Yorkers. The cost of the Iraq War was hidden from lawmakers. The cost of the Medicare bill was hidden until after it was approved. The status of 540 detainees at Guantanamo Bay is not only kept from the country, but from the detainees themselves. This has resulted in the first forced detentions since Japanese-Americans were interned during WW II. The Vice President's energy policy was made in utter secrecy and we still don't know what is in it or who contributed to it.

At every turn, the President has resisted the scrutiny of the country. Similar radical changes have been wrought to the environment and education. The President has promised truly radical "reform" to one of America's sacred cows - social security - at a cost of three trillion dollars and the prospect of bankrupting current and future generations. The American people knew full well that President Bush would get to select up to four Supreme Court Justices who would, in all probability, seek to restrict abortions and narrow the separation of church and state.

Time and time again, the President and his direct reports and their direct reports and their direct reports appeared on the media telling us one thing even as the events the described unfolded before our eyes in direct contradiction to their words. Sometimes, they even produced the media themselves, advertisements that looked like news telling us one thing as the reality of their story depicted an entirely different thing. Some people within President Bush's administration had the temerity to call these things lies. Those people are gone.

On the campaign trail George W. Bush required rally attendees to sign a loyalty oath and sometimes recite the George Bush Pledge.

On each of these subjects, there has been a distinct move away from any past we have known in America - traditionally liberal or traditionally conservative - and towards something radically different. And 51% of the voter's didn't blink. 51% of the voter's pulled the lever, made their mark, touched the screen, punched the card for George W. Bush. And so he was elected. Again.

Oh, America. I guess I hardly knew ye.

I can trace my lineage back to the Declaration of Independence. Samuel Huntington, whose signature is tightly scrawled in the sixth column between those of Roger Sherman and William Williams, is my distant ancestor. I was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, then moved to Seattle, and finally to Boulder, Colorado. My father used to say, "I might not agree with what you think, but I'll fight and die for your right to think it. That's America."

I read Johnny Tremain. I remember watching the pictures of soldiers firing guns in Vietnam on our black and white television. My little league games were postponed because the police used tear gas to break up student protests and it was still wafting over our field. In the ninth grade, I visited many of the battle fields of the Civil War. I toured Colonial Williamsburg, and wound up at the Nation's Capital, where I traipsed through the monuments, the Smithsonians, read the words of Lincoln and stood for an hour in the rain to tour the Whitehouse. I have hiked through Yellowstone and picked raspberries in Washington. I sat and stared at the enormous crater at Ground Zero for an hour with lump in my throat. One of my clients in New York lost 72 people on 9.11. Another client was the triage site a block from the Javits Center that day.

I've lived in other countries. I have visited the community of people that make their living mining gigantic mountains of trash for valuables on the outskirts of Mexico City. I have consulted with businesses in Moscow, Amsterdam, London, Hamburg and Paris. I walked through the temples of Angkor Watt. I spent a summer in Medellin, Colombia living with a Colombian family. I studied American Foreign Policy in Central America in Nicaragua during the Contra War. I talked to some of the Sandinistas and some of the Contras and to the US Ambassador. I studied America from abroad. At times there was much to dislike - and much to love - about her actions, but there was
never anything but love for America the idea- ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. I loved that America then and do to this day.

Oh yes, America is an idea. It's a radical, unruly, revolutionary, bracing, evolving idea. It's the idea that all people are created equal. That since they are created equal the law should treat them equally. It's the idea that leaders rule with the consent of the governed. It is the idea that the governed have a right to know exactly what the actions of their leaders are. It's the idea the separation of church and state results in stronger churches and a more just state. It's the idea that a corrupt government cannot live under the scrutiny of an independent press. It's the idea that people should be free to speak their minds without fear. It is the idea that people can gather together in support of common causes without government intervention. It is the idea that people have a right to privacy in their personal affairs. It is the idea that the government cannot lock up its people without cause and that a person has a right to confront his accusers and defend himself before a jury of his peers. It is the idea that there is recourse for the common man in the law. It is the idea that each and every citizen has the right to determine his or her own moral code and live in accordance thereby as long as in so doing he or she does not materially impact the physical person, property, livleyhood or reputation of another. It's the idea of checks and balances within Government so that the power of each branch is limited by the other branches.

America means freedom, by God. But that's just my idea of America. The day after the election of George W. Bush to his second term, that idea seems quaint. America the idea might mean freedom to me, but it is perfectly obvious to me that 51% of America has a substantially different view of America. Why is that? When the vision for America is laid out so clearly in our founding documents, has been developed over 224 years of history prior to the Bush Presidency, has been codified in 224 years of judicial decisions, why have an electoral majority of people in this country suddenly veered to the right and up the authoritarian scale? Two words:

Propaganda Machine.

In order to re-define America as a tax-free, liberal hating, Christian-Capitalist theme park in which it is perfectly acceptable to use biblical arguments in support of public policy, arrest suspects and hold them indefinitely without charging them, limit speech, control the media through the FCC, wage indefinite war (badly) against undetermined enemies, attempt to constitutionally limit the rights of millions of citizens, disenfranchise a growing class of have-nots, re-write legislative processes to favor the controlling party with the idea that the controlling party will not relinquish power, alienate nearly all of the world and generally shield the activities of the government from the scrutiny of the press and the people - in order for this agenda to be approved by the people these ideas had to be sold.

Now, that represents a real challenge. In their raw form, these ideas are generally unattractive to most Americans. So they have to be gussied up. The dress of thought, so to speak, comes in the form of packaging. Radical Legislation is gilded with emotional titles, such as "Patriot Act" for example, or "Clear Skies." The justification for war is simplified and reduced to words a child would understand and repeat. Why do they hate us? "They hate us for our freedom."

A common, tested vocabulary is established and relentlessly used by everyone on the team. Positive, sunny words related to the lives of voters are used to communicate vision when speaking about initiatives. All negative consequences are stripped from all conversation when referring to yourself, your initiatives and your party. Can you say, "Tax Relief?" Just feel the stress ease out of your body. Go ahead, say it again, "Tax Relief." There you go. Now say, "Culture of Life." Ahhhh. "Culture of Life." On the other hand, all positive references to your opponent, his initiatives, his party are removed. How about "flip-flopper" or "Liberals in Congress" or "Tax and spend Liberal" Or Big Government Program" or "Pro-Abortion" or "Activist Judges." Newt Gingrich first codified this concept (at least in US politics) in his 1994 Magnum Opus: "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control"

The reality of the initiative or action does not have to match the language used to sell the initiative or action. The most important aspect of the effort is to create a sense of emotional bonding with the voter. This bond must be strong enough so that his desire to support your position is stronger than his desire to examine the details of your actions. His desire to support you must remain strong even if the public evidence of the effects of the initiative or action are entirely negative or directly contradict how they were publicly framed. This is done through strong emotional appeals to faith, country and family. The ugly truth that the US air force has killed up to 100,000 Iraqi civilians, mostly women and children, is neatly concealed by the fact that we are "Liberating" them. The fact that Saddam was no threat, had no WMD and no operational ties with Al Qaeda is addressed by the canard that we are "Fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here." Fear trumps facts.

Perhaps, the most important thing is to keep the message simple, clear and consistent across the entire party. Everybody in the GOP, from the grass roots door knockers all the way up to the talking heads recite the same talking points. They call it message discipline. It is the distillation of the party's message down to its purest essence.

This is going to require us to think in ways we do not normally think. We must use Rove Rules.

For beginners, Democrats need to realize that in order to win future elections, they will have to figure out how to hold a conversation with Republicans on social issues, in particular Religion, Abortion and Gay Marriage. Democrats must begin to use the language of faith. Even if our intent is secular, i.e. the separation of church and state, prayer in schools, etc. it must framed as a way to support faith. In other words, strong legislation prohibiting prayer in schools must be called the: Faith Protection Act. The argument would be that limiting prayer in schools protects all faiths from government control. We must proactively identify a progressive legislative agenda (separation of church and state) then sell it by framing it as a way to protect something conservatives cherish (faith) from something conservatives fear (government control).

This model could extend to all sorts of things - Consider the idea for a democratically sponsored Anti-Abortion Act. The entire thing could be written using Republican metaphors. 100 talking heads could be released to frame the action with the words Anti-Abortion, Culture of Life, Pro-life etc. And what would the bill address? The conditions under which abortions increase - poverty and ignorance. In this case by proactively framing the argument for eliminating abortions using the Republican lexicon they will have a very hard time separating and refuting the message in the media. By co-opting their language it may be possible to sell the idea that the "culture of life" means making a reality that supports the already living, makes it possible for the unborn to come to term in a hospitable world, results in a reduction of abortions and fewer unplanned pregnancies instead of simply making abortions illegal.

In the aftermath of this election, Democrats need to realize that the war for hearts and minds will be waged with propaganda. George Bush and Karl Rove and their minions have succeeded in selling a vision of America that conceals an agenda that fundamentally violates what I think America is. Now, Democrats must repackage the kernel of the American ideal and sell it back to its citizens. If we don't do it, nobody will.

Dystopian catharsis


Not where we'd hoped to be


Do You Feel A Draft?

Atrios posted the text of RNC-Paid "Robocalls" pointing the finger at Democrats on the draft issue (audio link here):

The draft. The Democrats haven't pledged a thing. What are the Democrats hiding? Is the draft really their secret plan. Only the Democrats have proposed the possibility of a draft in this campaign. On Election Day vote republican and say no to the draft. Paid for by the Republican National Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee. On the web at www.gop.com.

...and the G.O.P. talks about "Desperate Dems Draft Scare"?

Vote Buhs!

How's Da Voting?

Lori and I voted between 10 and 11am, which was prime - hardly any lines in NE Minneapolis. Unless I was dreaming, Lori had to take down an anti-Kerry flyer posted high above the door to our polling place early this morning. Otherwise things have been going smooth for the MoveOnPac outpost, 100 feet from the polling doors. One guy even gave them a hug.

City Pages Election 2004 Blog is keeping abreast of things.

Well, I spoke too soon. Some guy challenged the presence our MoveOnPac voter check-in. The community center said it was okay for us to be there, but this guy said "I don't care" and called the police. Lesson learned - you have to be 100 feet from the building, not just the building's entrance. So the police made her take the stuff down. We rushed right over and I brought my camera, but it was all over. Keep in mind the MoveOn presense there is non-partisan - there are no campaign materials, not telling people who to vote for - it's simply a followup to the canvassing.

This is happening all over town. A cop at the U of MN told a volunteer, "This is private property." Umm, it's a public university. Other police officers have been equally confused, saying you need to be 200 feet from the building, 100 yards from the building, and so on. Hopefully these efforts will be better informed next time around, and everyone will have a copy of the law should disputes arise.

I was already suspecting Kiffmeyer's election posse being responsible for shutting down the MoveOn voter check-ins, now there's little question. She was on CNN saying "MoveOn is engaging in questionable practices at the polls."

Am I, like, liveblogging? Lori has a MoveOn volunteer itchin' to get back to the poll. So Lori is printing out the law and heading back with the measuring tape to make sure we're there within our legal rights. Meanwhile, early exit poll numbers are promising.


Power Line on Democrats: "Betrayal of America"

I've been sitting on this Blogumentary interview clip with the Power Line guys for awhile now. I treat them fairly, I think, in the film. But this clip has always bugged me, for obvious reasons. I tossed out the observation that what side you're on in this country depends on whether you think we're at war with Islamofascism or George W. Bush. John Hinderaker took that and ran to a very divisive place.

QUICKTIME CLIP:What Power Line Thinks of Democrats [4 MB]

An excerpt: As far as I can tell the Left doesn't care about terrorism, doesn't care about the Islamofascists, doesn't care about hundreds of thousands of people being murdered. All they care about is their own power. [...] The whole mainstream of the Democratic Party, I would say, is engaged in an effort that really is a betrayal of America.

Terribly disheartening words. Not only because they aren't true, but they reveal a lack of respect for people like me and half of this country. I don't think he means it to be. For militaristic neoconservatives like Power Line, protecting America from terrorism is exponentially more important than anything else. They take this to the extreme - whatever it takes, to Islam's last breath, and our children's last dime. If you have any less fervor on this point, you are a "betrayal of America."

This is not the way to start healing America. We need more understanding and less demonizing. More balanced views, less extremism. Let's hope a Kerry presidency is up to the challenge. More importantly, let's hope we are up to the challenge.

ABC News inflitrates Kerry, Bush rallies

Remember the women wearing the Bush/Cheney gear who attended the Kerry rally in Minneapolis?

No Loyalty Oath

Turns out it was a setup by ABC News. They attended two Bush rallies and two Kerry rallies to see what would happen. While they buried the lede with "false equivalence", the piece does accurately reflect what happens to Kerry supporters at Bush rallies: they get kicked out. Meanwhile, Bush supporters at Kerry rallies are allowed to stay, but were warned not to cause trouble.

The rules were to behave exactly the same at each rally, to be polite participants and to leave when asked. The ABC News team obtained tickets for all of the events attended — tickets for Kerry events can be attained from the official campaign Web site and tickets for Bush events from local Republican party or campaign offices.

At an Oct. 21 Kerry rally in Minneapolis, ABC news producers were surrounded and followed by a team of dancing Kerry campaign workers with large signs, effectively obstructing the Bush-Cheney T-shirts from the view of the national press.

"My job tonight was to run interference so that we didn't have any negative situation on our hands," said a female Kerry campaign volunteer. "Our job was to stand in front of them and make sure that, number one, that press had access to Kerry stuff and not necessarily Bush."

The Bush campaign was even more aggressive in its response to the opposing party's T-shirts.

When ABC News volunteers Matt Walter and Sherrie Varpula tried to attend an Oct. 23 Bush rally at Space Coast Stadium in Melbourne, Fla., they were told by event volunteers the Kerry-Edwards T-shirts they were wearing would cause them not to be admitted.

"I'm sorry, but they're Kerry shirts," a female Bush volunteer said. "We were told not to let people with Kerry shirts into the rally."

And as they approached the gates of the stadium, Lance "Chip" Borman, a Bush campaign worker and attorney who worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, directed them toward the Brevard County sheriff's deputies waiting at the exit.

"Hey folks, it's a private event," he said. "Can you find your way to the nearest exit? Maybe some law enforcement can help?"

"Why this soldier is voting for Kerry"

Why This Soldier Is Voting for Kerry: A story about a heart-breaking choice for an Army Reserve officer, who wants to do right by his soldiers.

Vote Kerry for a better future. For us. For our children. For our troops. For the world.

A cynic votes for Kerry

Here's Charles Pierce:

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.

Face it folks, in all of American history, we've never known such a cowardly, pampered, irrational, and deeply flawed President. If you can't find it in yourself to vote on ideology, then vote on character. [link via Ethel the Blog]