Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Kerry Team Seeks to Join Fight To Get Ohio County to Recount
Wednesday, December 1, 2004; Page A08
Lawyers for the Kerry campaign asked to join Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb, Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik and the National Voting Rights Institute in the fight to force the county to participate in the recount. "If there's going to be a recount in Ohio, we don't want it to exclude Delaware County or any other county that might decide to follow Delaware County's lead," Kerry lawyer Dan Hoffheimer said. "It should be a full, fair and accurate recount."
Statement From the Green Party Presidential Campaign Concerning John Kerry's Intervention in Ohio Recount Court Case
Something's fishy in Ohio
November 30, 2004
In the Ukraine, citizens are in the streets protesting what they charge is a fixed election. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell expresses this nation's concern about apparent voting irregularities. The media give the dispute around-the-clock coverage. But in the United States, massive and systemic voter irregularities go unreported and unnoticed.
Ohio is this election year's Florida. The vote in Ohio decided the presidential race, but it was marred by intolerable, and often partisan, irregularities and discrepancies. U.S. citizens have as much reason as those in Kiev to be concerned that the fix was in. Consider:
In Ohio, a court just ruled there can't be a recount yet, because the vote is not yet counted. It's three weeks after the election, and Ohio still hasn't counted the votes and certified the election. Some 93,000 overvotes and undervotes are not counted; 155,000 provisional ballots are only now being counted. Absentee ballots cast in the two days prior to the election haven't been counted.
Monday, November 29, 2004
Bush High Court Choice Should Back Abortion Rights, Poll Shows
Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. President George W. Bush's nominee for the next Supreme Court vacancy should be willing to uphold the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed abortion rights, according to a majority of Americans in an Ipsos-Public Affairs poll for the Associated Press.
Fifty-nine percent said Bush should choose a supporter of Roe v. Wade, while 31 percent said they want a nominee who will try to overturn the decision, according to the poll. Support for Roe v. Wade was seen among both men and women, across most age and income groups, and in urban, suburban and rural areas, AP said.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Chipping Away at Roe vs. Wade
With no hearings or debate, the Republican majority this month grafted the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act onto the $388-billion appropriations bill, approved last week. Although the name implies it protects women who are seeking abortions from discrimination, the reverse is true. The act legalizes discrimination, allowing any physician, hospital or health insurer to refuse to perform or pay for abortions and even to tell pregnant women that the option exists. That new right will extend, in practice, to employers, who get to pick which health plans a company will offer.
The amendment is only one brick in a wall, part of a deliberate strategy to shut off access to abortion services, clothe fertilized eggs with the legal rights of a child and discourage, even humiliate, pregnant women who cannot or do not want to raise a child. The obvious aim is to shrink the landmark abortion-rights decision Roe vs. Wade to the point where there is no need for judges to formally overturn it.
In April, President Bush signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, letting federal prosecutors bring separate homicide charges if a pregnant woman and her fetus are killed. Murder is usually a state crime, and if there have been federal murder cases involving pregnant women no one seems to know about them. But this bill was not about punishing murderers; it was drafted specifically to grant a fertilized egg legal rights.
The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act was the first federal law to forbid an abortion procedure since the 1973 Roe decision established a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy. The ban, which Bush signed last year, has been ruled unconstitutional by three federal judges, but appeals are pending. The law bars a rarely used technique for second-trimester abortions, which are themselves rare. Later-stage abortions most often result from fears for the woman's health or fetal anomalies.
The gag order Bush imposed through executive order on his third day in office remains in effect, withholding U.S. aid from foreign health clinics if a worker in such places as India or Africa even mentions the abortion option. The spending-bill amendment allows health corporations to slap that same gag order on U.S. doctors and nurses. Physicians who oppose abortion already are not compelled by law to perform one. But now a hospital chief who opposes abortion could silence every doctor and nurse in his or her employ. In rural communities with few hospitals and health-plan choices, the measure could effectively end legal abortions. And that's the point.
The act overrides laws in California and other states explicitly guaranteeing the right to choose. States insisting that hospitals with a no-abortion policy offer that service to women covered by Med-Cal risk losing millions in federal Medicaid dollars.
With dozens more bills in the congressional hopper, with titles such as the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act or the Post-Abortion Depression Research and Care Act, reproductive choice is fading fast.
Kerry supporters can be the loyal opposition
November 28, 2004
WITH ALL the talk of reuniting the country, it is important for those who supported Jerry Kerry to not mindlessly comply. Democrats must not forget the hopes that were invested in John Kerry, and they cannot let those hopes die after a disappointing election. If the Bush administration fails to address Democratic concerns, it is vital that the party stand its ground, and vocalize the beliefs of nearly half of America. Better is a divided country with a questioning populace than a united country where the government faces no opposition from the people.
Here's a few more LTE's worth reading...
Our children will pay for this election
Politics and religion: more divisiveness
Excuse me, I have no moral values?
Election results will have a huge impact on Supreme Court
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Democrats Make Appeal for Hungry on Radio
DES MOINES, Iowa - Growing numbers of Americans were hungry this Thanksgiving, and the nation should do more to help them enjoy its bounty, the Democrats said Saturday in their weekly radio address.
"Unfortunately, the blessing of abundant food is not shared by all Americans," Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said. "A recent report from our Department of Agriculture documented an increase in hunger in America, particularly among our children."
Vilsack, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said sharing is an American value rooted in the country's origins when American Indians helped the Pilgrims four centuries ago.
"On that day, sharing became an American value," Vilsack said. "Living up to that value requires us to do what we can, and what we must, to stop hunger in America."
November 27, 2004
THE DIRTY big secret about US energy production is that coal is about to play an even larger role. Already more than 50 percent of US electricity comes from plants burning coal, the fossil fuel that emits the greatest amount of the most common greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. Coal's share in the power picture is projected to spike upward in coming years as utilities turn to coal as an alternative to increasingly scarce natural gas.
The more than 100 new coal plants that, according to a New York Times survey, are up for approval nationwide will be expected to meet up-to-date federal requirements on such pollutants as nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. But unless Congress passes the bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman that curbs global warming by regulating carbon emissions, there is nothing in federal law to force the power companies to limit the carbon dioxide they will pump into the atmosphere.
Lamentably, the United States is further isolating itself on this issue from the rest of the world. With Russia's recent ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the treaty will go into effect in less than three months. Nations will begin taking steps to cut back greenhouse gas emissions and trading credits for doing so while the United States goes on a spree of new coal plant production. In the past year, US companies have planned more new coal plants than they did in the previous 12 years.
One organization that is leading a campaign to rally support for the McCain-Lieberman bill -- whose limits on carbon emissions are much milder than Kyoto's -- is Environmental Defense. Its director, Peter Goldmark, spoke convincingly to leaders of Boston's business and investment community last Monday on the scientific consensus behind global warming and the role that carbon dioxide is playing in it. Just one of the effects he cited is reduced grain production in three of the world's breadbasket areas, including the North American plains region.
Goldmark said that if he were speaking anywhere except the United States he would not have to explain the science behind climate change, so universal is acceptance elsewhere of the role of man-made gases. But there continue to be skeptics in the United States, especially in the Bush administration, who believe that action to curb carbon emissions is either unnecessary or unaffordable.
There are also more than 50 global-warming ostriches in the Senate. The last time that body voted on McCain-Lieberman, just 43 senators backed it. Environmental Defense and other backers of carbon limits have their work cut out for them. If they fail and 100 coal plants bloom, the planet's attempt to stop its uncontrolled experiment in climate change will suffer a severe setback.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
November 25, 2004
John F. Kerry plans to set up a federal campaign committee as early as this week, which would allow him to seek a fifth term in the US Senate in 2008 while not precluding another run for president that year. The Massachusetts Democrat will call the committee Friends of John Kerry, spokesman David Wade said, and stock it with money from fund-raisers that have yet to be scheduled. Kerry transferred all the money from his previous committee to his presidential campaign committee after retaining his Senate seat in 2002. He could do the same should he decide against seeking reelection in favor of a second bid for the presidency.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. It's been a tough year for so many, but there is still much to be thankful for.
By Arlo Guthrie
This song is called Alice's Restaurant, and it's about Alice, and the
restaurant, but Alice's Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant,
that's just the name of the song, and that's why I called the song Alice's
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on
Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the
restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the
church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and
Fasha the dog. And livin' in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of
room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Havin' all that room,
seein' as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn't
have to take out their garbage for a long time.
We got up there, we found all the garbage in there, and we decided it'd be
a friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump. So
we took the half a ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW
microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed
on toward the city dump.
Well we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across across the
dump saying, "Closed on Thanksgiving." And we had never heard of a dump
closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes we drove off
into the sunset looking for another place to put the garbage.
We didn't find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the
side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the
cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile
is better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we
decided to throw our's down.
That's what we did, and drove back to the church, had a thanksgiving
dinner that couldn't be beat, went to sleep and didn't get up until the
next morning, when we got a phone call from officer Obie. He said, "Kid,
we found your name on an envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of
garbage, and just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And
I said, "Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope
under that garbage."
After speaking to Obie for about fourty-five minutes on the telephone we
finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down
and pick up the garbage, and also had to go down and speak to him at the
police officer's station. So we got in the red VW microbus with the
shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the
police officer's station.
Now friends, there was only one or two things that Obie coulda done at
the police station, and the first was he could have given us a medal for
being so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn't very likely, and
we didn't expect it, and the other thing was he could have bawled us out
and told us never to be see driving garbage around the vicinity again,
which is what we expected, but when we got to the police officer's station
there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon, and we was
both immediately arrested. Handcuffed. And I said "Obie, I don't think I
can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on." He said, "Shut up, kid.
Get in the back of the patrol car."
And that's what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to the
quote Scene of the Crime unquote. I want tell you about the town of
Stockbridge, Massachusets, where this happened here, they got three stop
signs, two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the
Scene of the Crime there was five police officers and three police cars,
being the biggest crime of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted to
get in the newspaper story about it. And they was using up all kinds of
cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer's station.
They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and
they took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles
and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each
one was to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of the approach,
the getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that's not to
mention the aerial photography.
After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was going to put
us in the cell. Said, "Kid, I'm going to put you in the cell, I want your
wallet and your belt." And I said, "Obie, I can understand you wanting my
wallet so I don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you
want my belt for?" And he said, "Kid, we don't want any hangings." I
said, "Obie, did you think I was going to hang myself for littering?"
Obie said he was making sure, and friends Obie was, cause he took out the
toilet seat so I couldn't hit myself over the head and drown, and he took
out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars roll out the - roll the
toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape. Obie
was making sure, and it was about four or five hours later that Alice
(remember Alice? It's a song about Alice), Alice came by and with a few
nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail, and we went back
to the church, had a another thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat,
and didn't get up until the next morning, when we all had to go to court.
We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty seven eight-by-ten
colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back
of each one, sat down. Man came in said, "All rise." We all stood up,
and Obie stood up with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
pictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog, and he
sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at the
twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows
and a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog.
And then at twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles
and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry,
'cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American
blind justice, and there wasn't nothing he could do about it, and the
judge wasn't going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each
one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. And
we was fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow, but thats not
what I came to tell you about.
Came to talk about the draft.
They got a building down New York City, it's called Whitehall Street,
where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected,
neglected and selected. I went down to get my physical examination one
day, and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so
I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning. `Cause I wanted to
look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted
to feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York,
and I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all
kinds o' mean nasty ugly things. And I waked in and sat down and they gave
me a piece of paper, said, "Kid, see the phsychiatrist, room 604."
And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I
wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and
guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill,
KILL, KILL." And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and
he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down
yelling, "KILL, KILL." And the sargent came over, pinned a medal on me,
sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."
Didn't feel too good about it.
Proceeded on down the hall gettin more injections, inspections,
detections, neglections and all kinds of stuff that they was doin' to me
at the thing there, and I was there for two hours, three hours, four
hours, I was there for a long time going through all kinds of mean nasty
ugly things and I was just having a tough time there, and they was
inspecting, injecting every single part of me, and they was leaving no
part untouched. Proceeded through, and when I finally came to the see the
last man, I walked in, walked in sat down after a whole big thing there,
and I walked up and said, "What do you want?" He said, "Kid, we only got
one question. Have you ever been arrested?"
And I proceeded to tell him the story of the Alice's Restaurant Massacre,
with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that and all
the phenome... - and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, did you ever
go to court?"
And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten
colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on
the back of each one, and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, I want
you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W .... NOW kid!!"
And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W's
where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after
committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly
looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father
rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me! And
they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the
bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest
father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean 'n' ugly
'n' nasty 'n' horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me
and said, "Kid, whad'ya get?" I said, "I didn't get nothing, I had to pay
$50 and pick up the garbage." He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?"
And I said, "Littering." And they all moved away from me on the bench
there, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I
said, "And creating a nuisance." And they all came back, shook my hand,
and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing,
father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the
bench. And everything was fine, we was smoking cigarettes and all kinds of
things, until the Sargeant came over, had some paper in his hand, held it
up and said.
officer's-name-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say", and talked for
forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he said, but we had
fun filling out the forms and playing with the pencils on the bench there,
and I filled out the massacre with the four part harmony, and wrote it
down there, just like it was, and everything was fine and I put down the
pencil, and I turned over the piece of paper, and there, there on the
other side, in the middle of the other side, away from everything else on
the other side, in parentheses, capital letters, quotated, read the
("KID, HAVE YOU REHABILITATED YOURSELF?")
I went over to the sargent, said, "Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to
ask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'm
sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Group W bench
'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women,
kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug." He looked at me and
said, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send you fingerprints
off to Washington."
And friends, somewhere in Washington enshrined in some little folder, is a
study in black and white of my fingerprints. And the only reason I'm
singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar
situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a
situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into
the shrink wherever you are ,just walk in say "Shrink, You can get
anything you want, at Alice's restaurant.". And walk out. You know, if
one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and
they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony,
they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them.
And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in
singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an
organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said
fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and
walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.
And that's what it is , the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and
all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it come's around on the
With feeling. So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar, here and
sing it when it does. Here it comes.
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
That was horrible. If you want to end war and stuff you got to sing loud.
I've been singing this song now for twenty five minutes. I could sing it
for another twenty five minutes. I'm not proud... or tired.
So we'll wait till it comes around again, and this time with four part
harmony and feeling.
We're just waitin' for it to come around is what we're doing.
All right now.
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Da da da da da da da dum
At Alice's Restaurant
©1966,1967 (Renewed) by Appleseed Music Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Read "The Thanks We Give".
Undermining the Pell Grants
Published: November 25, 2004
Daunted by soaring costs, as many as a quarter of low-income students with grades and test scores that make them prime college material no longer even apply to college. This is bad news at a time when skilled jobs are moving abroad and a college diploma has become the minimum price of admission to the new economy. The Bush administration, however, has actually made this problem worse by cutting the federal Pell grant program, which was developed to encourage poor and working-class students to pursue higher education.
The cut could cause as many as 1.2 million low-income students to have their grants reduced - and as many as 100,000 could lose their grants altogether. That inevitably means that students will either drop out or take longer to finish their degrees.
The Pell program, which is meant to help students pay for tuition and other expenses, like books and housing, has been gravely underfinanced for a long time. Congress has tried to mask the problem by tricky bookkeeping. In particular, Congress failed to revise the maximum grant to keep pace with rising costs. Left untouched for a decade, the aid formula is still capped at around $4,000 a year - far less than what it takes to support a college student.
The Republican leadership tried to cut the Pell program by changing the formula for distributing the money in a way that would cut out students who had higher - although still inadequate - family incomes. The leaders backed off when middle-income families protested and student aid threatened to become an issue in the presidential campaign.
Back then, Congress agreed to hold off on any changes until it could look at the student aid problem as a whole during reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which is due to come before the body next year. But with the election behind it, the administration slashed the program anyway, by roughly $300 million. Eliminating the resources to help needy and qualified students go to college will not even put a dent in the nation's growing deficit, but it will greatly diminish opportunities for upward mobility for the nation's youth.
Published: November 25, 2004
n my next life, I want to be Tom DeLay, the House majority leader
Yes, I want to get almost the entire Republican side of the House of Representatives to bend its ethics rules just for me. I want to be able to twist the arms of House Republicans to repeal a rule that automatically requires party leaders to step down if they are indicted on a felony charge - something a Texas prosecutor is considering doing to DeLay because of corruption allegations.
But most of all, I want to have the gall to sully American democracy at a time when young American soldiers are fighting in Iraq so we can enjoy a law-based society here and, maybe, extend it to others. Yes, I want to be Tom DeLay. I want to wear a little American flag on my lapel in solidarity with the troops, while I besmirch every value they are dying for.
If I can't be Tom DeLay, then I want to be one of the gutless Republican House members who voted to twist the rules for DeLay out of fear that "the Hammer," as they call him, might retaliate by taking away a coveted committee position or maybe a parking place.
Yes, I want to be a Republican House member. At a time when 180 of the 211 members of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Iraq who have been wounded in combat have insisted on returning to duty, I want to look my constituents and my kids in the eye and tell them that I voted to empty the House ethics rules because I was afraid of Tom DeLay.
by Adam Stone
A White House spokeswoman told North County News last Friday that citizens should embrace the Election Day results and dismiss recount efforts in Ohio that could hand Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts the presidency.
"The election has ended, and now is the time for the country to come together to address the challenges our nation faces," the spokeswoman, Suzy DeFrancis, remarked.
Bush won Ohio by a vote of 2,796,147 to John Kerry's 2,659,664, according to the official tally.
In a series of e-mail interviews with North County News two weeks ago, Kerry spokesman David Wade spoke about recount efforts led by a team of 17,000 lawyers that could trigger the removal of President George W. Bush from office.
Since then, under mounting pressure from alternative media outlets as well as progressive voices outside the Democratic Party, Kerry issued a statement to his supporters that left open the possibility that he could obtain--through a recount--the requisite electoral votes to seize the White House.
"Regardless of the outcome of this election, once all the votes are counted--and they will be counted--we will continue to challenge this administration," Kerry said through a web-exclusive statement and video Friday, which, curiously, was not distributed to the press.
The usage of the word 'regardless' in the carefully parsed statement was the first indication Kerry has offered that, in his mind, the official election results might be inaccurate enough to tilt the election in his favor.
Wade was e-mailed the remarks from the White House spokeswoman.
"Any president of the United States should make it a priority to count every vote in our country because every citizen's full faith in the democratic process is critical," Wade responded yesterday (Tuesday). "That's why John Kerry and John Edwards built a voter protection team of lawyers around the country, lawyers who are today monitoring recounts and the counting of provisional ballots including Ohio and New Mexico. Every vote will be counted, and we Democrats aren't afraid to fight to protect voters' rights."
A Kerry victory in Ohio would give the senator enough electoral votes to seize the White House.
In another signal the Kerry/Edwards team is increasing its involvement in the recount effort, a note was posted on the campaign website yesterday that called on supporters to contribute to the Kerry-Edwards 2004 General Election Legal and Accounting Compliance Fund.
"The Federal Election Commission has just granted our request to raise funds now to cover recount expenses," the website states. "Your contribution to Kerry-Edwards 2004 GELAC will provide the resources to make sure we are prepared to win the post election day battles."
Other than alleged voting irregularities, some have called into question the reversal of the exit polls (surveys of individuals who have just cast ballots), which early on predicted a Kerry victory.
Based on the full set of the 4 p.m. Election Day exit poll data Dr. Stephen F. Freeman from the University of Pennsylvania calculated that "the odds of just three of the major swing states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania all swinging as far as they did against their respective exit polls were 250 million to one."
The Ohio Election Protection Coalition's public hearings have documented insufficient voting machines in black Democratic precincts resulting in five-to-seven hour waits, voter intimidation, machine malfunctions and other irregularities.
Another significant development this week was the Democratic Party breaking its silence on the matter.
Ohio Chairman Dennis White distributed a press release on Monday afternoon that ran the headline: "Kerry/Edwards Campaign Joins Ohio Recount."
It stated "assuring Ohioans receive an accurate count of all votes cast for president has prompted the Democratic Party to join the initiative to recount the results of the November 2 presidential election."
The White House was asked to respond specifically to Wade's statements in last week's North County News article and also address the Ohio recount and reports of voting irregularities.
DeFrancis declined to comment on the particulars.
The article sparked dozens of impassioned e-mail responses from readers outside of North County News' northern Westchester coverage area, with the piece being picked up by assorted alternative media news outlets.
With the recount controversy spreading through the Web universe at a feverish pace, the article ranked as the top hit on the Yahoo search engine for basic research entries about what is being dubbed as "Votergate."
The article buoyed the spirits of a New York-based activist group that was formed to pressure the mainstream media into covering the stories chronicling voting irregularities and the Ohio recount effort commissioned by the Libertarian and Green parties.
"Democracy is at stake and this needs major media attention," remarked Ellen Frank, an East Hampton, New York resident.
"There is an unofficial lockdown by the mainstream press," said Frank, whose brother, Dr. Justin Frank, published a book in June named "Bush on the Couch: Inside the mind of the president."
"When I read the article, I said: '17,000 lawyers. Is this really true? Are they really working on this?,'" remembered Frank, who distributed the article at a MoveOn.org party.
"We're trying to get enough major media attention to challenge the election," said Frank, who filed a complaint with the U.S. Supreme Court during the 2000 election, citing herself as a disenfranchised voter.
Two minor-party presidential candidates raised enough money to file for an official recount of the vote in Ohio.
The Green Party has been working with the Libertarian Party--both parties were on the ballot in Ohio--in securing a recount. Green Party candidate David Cobb and Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik say they've demanded that Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican who co-chaired this year's Bush campaign in Ohio, recuse himself from the recount process.
Cobb Media Director Blair Bobier said, "The Ohio presidential election was marred by numerous press and independent reports of mismarked and discarded ballots, problems with electronic voting machines and the targeted disenfranchisement of African-American voters."
"Due to widespread reports of irregularities in Ohio's voting process, we are compelled to demand a recount of the Ohio presidential vote," Badnarik and Cobb said in a joint statement. "Voting is at the heart of the American political process and its integrity must be preserved. When Americans stand in line for hours to exercise their right to vote, they need to know that their votes will be counted fairly and accurately..."
The Ohio vote will be certified on December 3 at the latest, Bobier said. The Electoral College votes on December 13, so it is unclear whether or not a recount would be completed by then.
The minor-party presidential candidates filed a federal lawsuit Monday to force a recount of Ohio ballots, and a spokesman for the state Democratic Party said it intended to join the suit.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo, Bobier said.
Dan Trevas, spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, said the party would join the recount request after the secretary of state certified the results, or sooner if an early recount is ordered by a court.
"Counties are very upset," said Keith Cunningham, director of the Allen County Board of Elections and incoming president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, who called the lawsuit "frivolous."
"Commissioners are beginning to understand--and if they don't, will understand soon--what kind of financial impact this is going to have on them, in a year when elections already cost a great deal more than expected," Cunningham told the Associated Press.
Badnarik and Cobb have raised $235,000 as of Monday morning, an amount which covers the $113,600 bond they had to provide as demanded by Ohio election law, plus some of their own organizational expenses.
Ohio law requires payment of $10 per precinct, or $113,600 statewide, but election officials say the true expense would be far greater. "It's going to crush county governments," Cunningham said.
Carlo LoParo, a spokesman for Blackwell, has estimated the actual cost at $1.5 million.
Dr. Frank, whose book explores Bush's "psychological limitations," believes the Ohio recount will hand Kerry the presidency.
"I think that a recount in Ohio, if done properly, will show a narrow Kerry victory and he should be inaugurated hopefully by January 20, 2005," the Washington D.C.-based, clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center said.
"The disruption and cries of foul will be huge," the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst said. "But I think Bush lost. Kerry people are finally joining in, though I think they have been active all along, just quietly."
Pursuant to a request by independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, votes in some New Hampshire towns are being recounted. An analysis showed wide differences in voting trends between the 2000 and 2004 elections: about three quarters of precincts with severe changes used Diebold optical scanning machines.
Last week, Diebold agreed to pay $2.6 million to settle a lawsuit with the state of California. Diebold officials misled state leaders about the security and certification of its products to get payments from the state, according to California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
Diebold is headed by Republican Wally O'Dell. Last year, O'Dell wrote to Ohio Republican donors, saying he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year."
Nader doesn't expect to change the outcome: In New Hampshire, Kerry defeated Bush, 50 percent to 49 percent, while Nader got less than one percent from the state's 301 precincts.
Don DeBar, an Ossining resident and Nader campaign worker in San Antonio, Texas this year, is trying to stitch together the fragmented left and have progressive activists unite on the recount issue.
Liberals, he said, need to "get past political antagonisms," for the time being.
"One thing that I've done is bring this to the airwaves in NYC," the area activist said. "As a reporter on the drive-time morning program Wake Up Call on WBAI-FM, I provided some detailed coverage of the issue, from the many reports of intimidation, error and fraud to the failure of the Kerry campaign to act to protect the voting rights of his own voters..."
The University of California's Berkeley Quantitative Methods Research Team released a statistical study - the sole method available to monitor the accuracy of e-voting -reporting irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000 to 260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004 presidential election. The official tally in Florida shows Bush with 380,978 more votes than Kerry. The three counties where the voting anomalies were most prevalent were also the most heavily Democratic: Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, respectively.
CNN reported a 377,000-vote margin between Bush and Kerry. The study shows an unexplained discrepancy between votes for President Bush in counties where electronic voting machines were used versus counties using traditional voting methods, what the team says can be deemed a "smoke alarm."
The probability of this arising by chance, they say, is less than 0.1 percent. The research team formally called on Florida voting officials to investigate.
Kathryn Levy was a volunteer coordinator in the Kerry headquarters in Broward County, Florida and said yesterday she received "innumerable complaints."
She was the supervisor of a hotline in Broward that handled the complaints.
Levy believes "there was a systematic effort to disenfranchise thousands of citizens in that heavily Democratic county."
"Many newly registered voters were told that they needed to present multiple IDs at polling places, when in fact only one is required," Levy wrote for an intended op-ed piece that was truncated into a letter to the editor published last Tuesday in Long Island's Newsday. "Others were informed that they had already voted and were turned away although they had not yet cast their vote. Many of those requesting provisional ballots were denied even that recourse."
"Perhaps the most chilling complaints concerned the electronic voting machines," Levy continued. "We received several reports of voters who repeatedly pressed the name Kerry on their voting screen only to have Bush appear. In other cases, voters pressed Kerry and were later asked to confirm their Bush vote."
John Zogby, president of the polling firm Zogby International, is concerned about the difference between some of the exit polls and the official vote counts.
"We're talking about the Free World here," he told the Inter Press Service News Agency.
"Something is definitely wrong," Zogby also told the news agency.
Bush now leads Kerry by about 136,000 votes in Ohio. A battle is looming over nearly 155,000 provisional ballots. The Ohio Democratic Party has joined a lawsuit by elector Audrey J. Schering, which asks United States District Judge Michael H. Watson to order Blackwell to impose uniform standards for counting provisional ballots in all 88 counties.
The lawsuit cites the United States Supreme Court's opinion in Bush v. Gore, which "held that the failure to provide specific standards for counting of ballots that are sufficient to assure a uniform count statewide violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution."
Of 11 counties that had completed checking provisional ballots, 81 percent have been ruled valid.
On Saturday, November 13, the Ohio Election Protection Coalition's public hearings in Columbus solicited extensive sworn first-person testimony from 32 Ohio voters, precinct judges, poll workers, legal observers and party challengers. An additional 66 people provided written affidavits of election irregularities.
The testimony, according to Harvey Wasserman, a senior editor at the Columbus Free Press, revealed an effort on the part of Blackwell to deny primarily African-American and young voters the right to cast their ballots within a reasonable time.
On November 17, Blackwell wrote an op-ed piece for Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times, stating "every eligible voter who wanted to vote had the opportunity to vote. There was no widespread fraud, and there was no disenfranchisement. A half-million more Ohioans voted than ever before with fewer errors than four years ago, a sure sign of success by any measure."
Additional testimony also called into question the validity of the actual vote counts. There are doubts that the final official tally in Ohio, due December 1 to Blackwell's office, will have any validity.
At the Columbus hearings, witnesses testified under oath that the election was riddled with discrimination and disarray.
"In precincts 1 A and 5 G, voting (at) Hillman Elementary School, which is a predominantly African-American community, there were woefully insufficient number of voting machines in three precincts," Werner Lange, a pastor from Youngstown, Ohio, said in his testimony.
"I was told that the standard was to have one voting machine per 100 registered voters," he continued. "Precinct A had 750 registered voters. Precinct G had 690. There should have been 14 voting machines at this site. There were only 6, three per precinct, less than 50 percent of the standard. This caused an enormous bottleneck among voters who had to wait a very, very long time to vote, many of them giving up in frustration and leaving...I estimate, by the way, that an estimated loss of over 8,000 votes from the African American community in the City of Youngstown alone, with its 84 precincts, were lost due to insufficient voting machines, and that would translate to some 7,000 votes lost for John Kerry for president in Youngstown alone. . . ."
According to a November 5 article by the Associated Press, election officials in Ohio admitted that an error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in a Gahanna precinct. Franklin County reported Bush with 4,258 votes and John Kerry with 260, even though only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.
Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting, along with people from Florida Fair Elections, showed up at Florida's Volusia County Elections Office on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 16 and asked to see, under a public records request, each of the poll tapes for the 100-plus optical scanners in the precincts in that county. The election workers, having been notified in advance of her request, handed her a set of printouts dated November 15 and lacking signatures.
Harris pointed out that the printouts given to her were not the original poll tapes and had no signatures, and thus were not what she had requested.
Reportedly, they told her that the originals were held in another location, the election office's warehouse, and that, since it was the end of the day, they should meet her the following morning to show them to her. The next day she started searching the garbage bags outside, finding public record tapes in the trash. Disparities between the November 15 tape and November 2 tape emerged--all reportedly favoring President Bush.
Harris could not be reached for comment by press time.
The mainstream media, which has suffered increasingly in recent years by charges of liberal bias and Democratic partisanship, has largely taken a pass on the recount story. In fact, The New York Times, the symbol and primary target of conservative media critics, published a front-page article two weeks ago that portrayed the recount effort as a campaign being waged by partisan, conspiratorial and error-happy bloggers with a liberal agenda.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has tracked the story aggressively on both his "BLOGGERMANN" msnbc.com web log and "Countdown," a television news analysis program he hosts for the cable network, which is home to commentators of all political stripes, from Pat Buchanan to Ron Reagan.
In fact, Olbermann referenced the North County News article in a Sunday blog entry. He borrowed a quote from the article that triggered perhaps the most attention from activists: "We have 17,000 lawyers working on this, and the grassroots accountability couldn't be any higher -no (irregularity) will go unchecked. Period," Wade had told North County News.
Kerry conceded the 2004 presidential contest on November 3, the day after the election, a decision that carries no concrete legal standing. That day, he and his running mate, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, pledged to ensure every vote is counted, although they said at the time there was no chance a voting tally update would result in swinging the result in their favor.
Former Vice President Al Gore conceded in his 2000 battle with Bush for the White House before demanding a recount, which was ultimately halted by the U.S. Supreme Court, ending the debacle in Florida.
Howard Fineman, chief political correspondent for Newsweek, appeared on Countdown on Monday night.
"They keep saying these little things designed to make clear, at least to their supporters and the whole blogosphere out there, that they take the possibility (of a Kerry victory) and the need for a recount seriously," Fineman said of Kerry and his surrogates during an interview with Olbermann.
Fineman said he talked to Blackwell earlier in the evening.
"There in fact will be a recount," Fineman remarked. "We will be talking about chads once again."
Olbermann posted an entry on his blog on Monday evening, after that night's Countdown telecast.
"As Kerry himself calculated early on November 3, the provisional ballots alone obviously could not provide anything close to enough bona fide Democratic votes to overcome President Bush's 135,000 vote plurality in the Ohio election night tally," he wrote. "But as Howard also pointed out - and my colleague David Shuster so thoroughly extrapolated in a previous post on Hardblogger - the provisionals plus the 'undercount' could make things very close indeed. The punch-card ballots 'where it looks like nobody marked anything' when read by an optical scanning machine, might produce thousands of legitimate votes if hand-counted and judged by Ohio's strict laws defining how many corners of the proverbial chads have to be detached to make a vote valid."
Fineman's analysis, Olbermann writes, "(puts) it in terms that the mainstream can't ignore."
That's heartening to the likes of Ellen Frank.
"There is something very wrong here with the press," said Frank, who suspects, like other recount activists, that top level producers and editors in the mainstream press have barred their talent from covering the story extensively, as to avoid the appearance of partisanship.
"We believe democracy itself is at risk," said Frank, whose ad hoc group of philanthropists, writers and other activists are, among other things, mounting letter-writing campaigns about the recount to newspapers across the nation.
"We believe this was a fraudulent election," she said. "...We are fearful that 'major' media is intimidated. We are fearful we are abandoned by our own Democratic Party. We are working to hold the administration and our party accountable."
Strap-On Veterans for Truth
An organization dedicating to exposing the truth about the former drag queen now known as Ann Coulter
Ms. Coulter today, with vestigal Adam's apple clearly visible.
We are a coalition of former friends and co-workers of Ann Coulter who are upset by her vicious anti-gay, anti-muslim, anti-feminist rhetoric and feel the truth should be told. Our organization, Strap-On Veterans For Truth, is dedicated to exposing the true past of America’s number one hatemonger.
Ann Coulter is actually a former drag queen from Key West named Pudenda Shenanigans. Ms. Shenanigans was famous for her renditions of “Dude Looks Like a Lady” “I will Survive” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” as well as an extensive Barbara Streisand repertoire. We who used to work with her are concerned for her as well as upset by the vile hatred she has spewed towards her former friends in the gay community. We feel that by bringing the truth to light perhaps Ann will come to grips with her past and change her wicked ways.
As Pudenda Shenanigans, she was well known on the drag circuit in Key West. Whether she actually had a full sex change or not is a matter of debate, although her adam’s apple is still visible in photos, under the appropriate light. We who laughed, cried, worked and danced with her feel her story should be told. We are not out to punish her, but feel it’s time she owned up to what she really is.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Tying Things Together
CANADA BUSY SENDING BACK BUSH-DODGERS
CANADA BUSY SENDING BACK BUSH-DODGERS
by Joe Blundo The Columbus Dispatch 11/16/04
The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration. The re-election of President Bush is prompting the exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray and agree with Bill O'Reilly.
Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night. "I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota.
The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry. "He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left. Didn't even get a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?"
In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences,but the liberals scaled them. So he tried installing speakers that blare Rush Limbaugh across the fields. "Not real effective," he said. "The liberals still got through, and Rush annoyed the cows so much they wouldn't give milk."
Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, drive them cross the border and leave them to fend for themselves. "A lot of these people are not prepared for rugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a drop of drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though."
When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about the Bush administration establishing re-education camps in which liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR.
In the days since the election, liberals have turned to sometimes-ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have taken to posing as senior citizens on bus trips to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans disguised in powdered wigs,Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizen passengers. "If they can't identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we get suspicious about their age," an official said.
Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and renting all the good Susan Sarandon movies. "I feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can't support them," an Ottawa resident said. "How many art-history majors does one country need?"
In an effort to ease tensions between the United States and Canada, Vice President Dick Cheney met with the Canadian ambassador and pledged that the administration would take steps to reassure liberals, a source close to Cheney said. "We're going to have some Peter, Paul & Mary concerts. And we might put some endangered species on postage stamps. The president is determined to reach out."
By Russ Baker, The Nation
The early results are trickling in on the nation's first ballot recount of the 2004 presidential election, which commenced November 18 in New Hampshire. John Kerry, for one, probably won't sit bolt upright at the news that three extra votes were found for him thus far in a state he won anyway. But if nothing else, the process confirms that in an age of technological overkill, old-fashioned paper ballots are still the best guarantee of the integrity of the democratic process.
The focus in New Hampshire is on precincts where results went strikingly against current statewide trends and past localized ones: a kind of under-the-hood check of the controversial private-sector machinery that increasingly drives the ballot- counting process and has drawn the skeptical scrutiny of activists throughout the country.
Final results won't be known until those stolid-paced Granite State folks complete their task sometime after Thanksgiving.
But so far, in the two precincts, or "wards," where official recounts were posted, the vote totals hardly changed at all. In the town of Litchfield, both Bush and Kerry gained three votes-- precious little out of more than 5,000 ballots cast. In Manchester's Ward 7, with a similar number of voters, Bush's total remained the same, while Kerry picked up three.
Clearly, New Hampshire plays no role in the crucial Electoral College (news - web sites) math in which we're all interested. Hence, verifying the integrity of the mechanism is the entire game here. The recount came about at the behest of Ida Briggs, a Michigan computer programmer and database designer whose number-crunching led her to doubt the trustworthiness of new voting and counting technologies. She zeroed in on bite-sized New Hampshire, and principally on certain Democratic-inclined precincts that trended more conservative while a conservative state trended more liberal. The suspect precincts, she noted, overwhelmingly relied on ballot-reading technology from Diebold Inc. -- the GOP- friendly Ohio company and ten-ton gorilla of the elections business. Her analysis convinced the Nader campaign to call for a recount, a purely civic-minded venture since the quixotic Nader, of course, would not benefit.
If the results from the two completed precincts are mirrored in the remaining targeted ones (another nine out of 126 total statewide), it may reassure the most skeptical among us that Diebold's much-criticized optical-scanning machines (35 percent of votes nationally are now opscan-counted) do a surprisingly good job of reading hand-marked ballots.
But even if Diebold receives a passing mark, the Concord recount, perhaps the first of several in statehouses nationwide (all-important election-decider Ohio may be reviewed in December), could by no means be considered a waste of time and resources. Irrespective of the outcome, the exercise itself teaches us important things about the benefits of openness in the pursuit of functioning democracy. It reveals a lot about what's good about our voting system -- and offers hints of what needs to be fixed, which is plenty. (continued.)
Full Text can be found at http://www.thenation.com.
"You can probably call the result of this ... two years in advance," said Kevin Spillane, a GOP consultant. "There would have to be an event of 9/11 proportions to make her vulnerable.''
"She's going to be heavily favored," agreed Allen Hoffenblum, a Republican consultant whose California Target Book analyzes political races in the state. "I doubt if you'll see any heavyweights running against her."
Feinstein is known as someone who is willing to work behind the scenes with politicians of both parties to get things done. Her ability to find common ground with the majority party will be more important beginning in January when the GOP increases its advantage over the Democrats to 55-44, with one independent. Feinstein's bipartisan reputation has eluded California's other senator, Barbara Boxer, who's seen as more liberal and more partisan.
"If you've got a serious problem, you go to Dianne Feinstein," said Hoffenblum. "If you want a rally in front of the Capitol steps, you go to Barbara Boxer."
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
The Gay Marriage Myth
Terrorism, not values, drove Bush's re-election.
By Paul Freedman
Posted Friday, Nov. 5, 2004, at 1:16 PM PT
Did "moral values"—in particular, the anti-gay marriage measures on ballots in 11 states this week—drive President Bush's re-election? That's the early conventional wisdom as Democrats begin soul-searching and finger-pointing. These measures are alleged to have drawn Christian conservatives to the polls, many of whom failed to vote last time. The theory is intriguing, but the data don't support it. Gay marriage and values didn't decide this election. Terrorism did.
Click Here For Some Great Examples of "Disclaimer Stickers for Science Textbooks"
(Washington, DC) Reps. John Conyers, Jr., Jerrold Nadler, Robert Wexler, Robert Scott, and Rush Holt announced today that, in response to their November 5 and 8 letters to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the GAO has decided to move forward with an investigation of election irregularities in the 2004 election. The five Members issued the following statement:
"We are pleased that the GAO has reviewed the concerns expressed in our letters and has found them of sufficient merit to warrant further investigation. On its own authority, the GAO will examine the security and accuracy of voting technologies, distribution and allocation of voting machines, and counting of provisional ballots. We are hopeful that GAO's non-partisan and expert analysis will get to the bottom of the flaws uncovered in the 2004 election. As part of this inquiry, we will provide copies of specific incident reports received in our offices, including more than 57,000 such complaints provided to the House Judiciary Committee.
"The core principle of any democracy is the consent of the governed. All Americans, no matter how they voted, need to have confidence that when they cast their ballot, their voice is heard."
The Members listed above were joined in requesting the non-partisan GAO investigation by Reps. Melvin Watt, John Olver, Bob Filner, Gregory Meeks, Barbara Lee, Tammy Baldwin, Louise Slaughter and George Miller.
Former Kerry-Edwards Staffer Still Isn't Getting Any - m4 - 29
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2004-11-23, 9:02AM EST
I'm a SWM who worked on the Kerry campaign and I wasn't getting any then... now that I've entered the deepest levels of depression after working 18 hour-days I'd like to feel better if only for a little while. If you're a woman and you're willing to just spoon with me naked for a night you'd make me feel a lot better. Sex would be great too but its been so long and I put on weight during the campaign I don't feel like I could ask for it. No Republicans need apply. You guys already screwed me over once. George Bush is responsible for my job loss too.
this is in or around Adams Morgan, DC
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
(I knew I'd find something quotable if I kept reading Wonkette)
Bush Joke of the Week
When they get to the first room Lucifer opens the door. Inside is a large swimming pool with Tricky Dick Nixon in it, desparately trying to stay afloat, but submerging and nearly drowning over and over again. Dubya says: "No way, I can't swim!"
Room number two holds Ronald Reagan swinging a huge sledgehammer blasting tons of rock into gravel. Dubya again declines: "I got a bad shoulder, and that looks like hard work."
He arrives at the third room, where Lucifer tells him "You must take this one, or you will burn in the hottest fire for all eternity!"
He opens that door and sees a large bed with Bill Clinton naked on his back. Monica is kneeling between his legs doing what she became famous for. Dubya starts smirking and says, "I think I could live with that!"
Lucifer leads Bush into the room and says, "OK Monica, you may go now."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush is moving to concentrate power as he begins his second term, placing trusted members of his inner circle in key positions, but some analysts believe he risks stifling healthy debate within his administration.
"It is understandable that this president, like any president, wants his decisions to be taken as writ," said William Galston, a government professor at the University of Maryland, who served as a domestic policy adviser to former President Bill Clinton.
"However this president is running the risk of restricting the range of debate within the administration very seriously," Galston said.
Alarm bells rang in Washington's political circles last week when the new CIA director, Porter Goss, sent a memo to agency employees telling them their job was to "support the administration and its policies."
"As agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies," Goss said in the memorandum, which came after several top officers resigned.
Even Republicans criticized that choice of words, saying it was crucial for the CIA to retain its objectivity and ability to "speak truth to power." Democrats, noting that Goss until recently was a highly partisan Republican member of the House of Representatives, saw it as part of a disturbing pattern.
Bush moved swiftly after his Nov. 2 election victory to consolidate power. He installed trusted White House counsel Alberto Gonzales as attorney general and nominated national security adviser Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, while elevating her deputy, Stephen Hadley, to replace her. Loyalists from the inner circle will also take over as White House counsel and at the Education Department.
Some historians believe that with Republicans securely controlling both houses of Congress, Bush will begin his second term with more power and fewer constraints than any president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
DANGER OF HUBRIS
David Gergen, who served as White House adviser to four presidents, said the two dangers facing Bush were hubris and group-think, the tendency for everyone in an organization to adopt the prevailing view.
"By closing down dissent and centralizing power in a few hands, he is acting as if he truly believes that he and his teams have a perfect track record, that they know best and that they don't need any infusion of new heavyweights," Gergen wrote last week in The New York Times.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan last week denied that Bush was surrounding himself with "yes" men and women.
"Once a decision is made, the president expects the administration to work together," he said. "But he's always welcomed a wide diversity of views from members of his team."
Gary Schmitt of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, who served in the White House under President Ronald Reagan, dismissed the idea that alternative views would not be heard in inner circles as absurd.
"There's a massive amount of commentary, both inside and outside of government. You can't live in Washington, D.C., and not be exposed to all kinds of views," he said.
But political scientist Dean Spiliotes of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics said history taught that second term presidents often became increasingly impatient with and intolerant of dissenting views.
"Bush seems particularly susceptible to this because of his personal style. He doesn't like people in there playing devil's advocate. The result has been a higher risk of mistakes when you're all staffed with like-minded people," he said.Full Article
Dan Rather Stepping Down as Anchor
Rather has recently been the topic of controversy after both criticizing the right wing attack machine and after apparently being misled to use forged documents in a story on George Bush's National Guard record. The details of the alleged forgery remain under investigation, with the information provided by Rather (beyond the validity of the controversial memos) being verified as accurate. Following this incident he became a target of the right wing's attempts at suppressing free speech and free flow of information.
There is no word yet on his successor as anchor. He will continue working full time at CBS as a correspondent for 60 Minutes and on other assignments. I am hoping that no longer being tied down by the duties of the anchor position will allow him to spend more time on investigative journalism.
Monday, November 22, 2004
At a time when the White House has portrayed Mr. Bush's 3.5-million-vote victory as a mandate, the poll found that Americans are at best ambivalent about Mr. Bush's plans to reshape Social Security, rewrite the tax code, cut taxes and appoint conservative judges to the bench. There is continuing disapproval of Mr. Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, with a plurality now saying it was a mistake to invade in the first place.
While Democrats, not surprisingly, were the staunchest opponents of many elements of Mr. Bush's second-term agenda, the concerns extended across party lines in some cases. Nearly two-thirds of all respondents - including 51 percent of Republicans - said it was more important to reduce deficits than to cut taxes, a central element of Mr. Bush's economic agenda.
The poll reflected the electoral feat of the Bush campaign this year. He won despite the fact that Americans disapproved of his handling of the economy, foreign affairs and the war in Iraq. There has been a slight increase in the number of Americans who believe the nation should never have gone into Iraq. A majority of Americans continue to believe the country is going in the wrong direction, traditionally a warning sign for an incumbent.
Even as two-thirds of respondents said they expected Mr. Bush to appoint judges who would vote to outlaw abortion, a majority continue to say they want the practice to remain either legal as it is now, which was Mr. Kerry's position, or to be legal but under stricter limits.
Americans said they opposed changing the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, which Mr. Bush campaigned on in the final weeks of his campaign. A majority continue to support allowing either same-sex marriages or legally recognized domestic partnerships for gay people.
The public appears ambivalent about the two proposals that Mr. Bush has identified as his major domestic initiatives for a second term: rewriting the Social Security system and reshaping the tax code, including more tax cuts.
On the tax code, administration officials are discussing plans that would, among other things, lower the tax rate on higher-income Americans and eliminate some deductions. In the poll, more than 6 in 10 of the respondents said people with higher incomes should pay a greater proportion of their income in taxes; 3 in 10 said all income groups should pay the same proportion.
About one-third of the respondents said the tax cuts passed in Mr. Bush's first term had been good for the economy; but nearly a fifth said they had done more harm, and just under half said the tax cuts had made little difference.
On Social Security, 45 percent said a proposal to permit people to invest their Social Security withholding money in private accounts was a bad idea; 49 percent said it was a good idea. The poll also found little confidence among Americans that Mr. Bush would assure the future solvency of the program: 51 percent said that Mr. Bush was unlikely to "make sure Social Security benefits are there for people like me."
In this poll, when allowed freely to name the issue that was most important in their vote, 6 percent chose moral values, although smaller numbers named issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. On a separate question in which voters were given a choice of nine issues, 5 percent chose abortion, 4 percent chose stem cell research and 2 percent chose same-sex marriage.
The top issue was the economy and jobs, which was cited by 29 percent of respondents.
By 48 percent to 40 percent, respondents said they believed four more years of a Bush presidency would divide the nation more than it would unite it.
Finally, in one bit of presumably good news for a party that is looking for it, Americans now have a better opinion of the Democratic Party than of the Republican Party: 54 percent said they had a favorable view of Democrats, compared with 39 percent with an unfavorable view. By contrast, 49 percent have a favorable view of Republicans, compared with 46 percent holding an unfavorable one.
Saying the city had created its "own little Guantanamo on the Hudson" during the Republican National Convention, a lawyer Monday filed a lawsuit on behalf of nearly 2,000 people arrested at demonstrations.
The federal lawsuit claims protesters and bystanders alike were rounded up in mass arrests without cause; were kept without access to their lawyers or families at an old bus depot used as a temporary detention center; and were exposed for days to cruel and inhuman conditions.
The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages.
"All that was missing were the orange jumpsuits," lawyer Jonathan C. Moore said. "Under the guise of terrorism and the fear of terrorism, we are all losing our rights."
Deputy Police Commissioner Paul J. Browne said the allegations were false and denied conditions were hazardous, noting police installed lights, ventilation, sanitary facilities and other amenities.
Among bystanders arrested were a 15-year-old diabetic girl on her way to a movie and a former vice president of Morgan Stanley who was riding her bicycle.
Barbara Friedman, who had encouraged her 16-year-old daughter's participation in a peaceful protest, said she could not locate her for two days. "I just see all our civil liberties slipping away," Friedman said. "It's very, very frightening."
Moore said the treatment of those arrested violated "a bedrock principle of our democracy that the police cannot simply sweep the streets because they find protest inconvenient or embarrassing."
"They created their own little `Guantanamo on the Hudson' equipped with chain-link fences and razor wire and guards armed with machine guns escorting prisoners everywhere," he said.
Brown contended that all weapons were banned. "In fact, the police commissioner surrendered his own gun before visiting the facility," Browne said in a statement.
Ammending the Constitution
I doubt that many Republicans will really go for this. First of all, do they really want a socially moderate candidate, considering how they have been ostracizing moderateRepublicans recently? Secondly, if they think about it, they might realize that this could be used to make them face a difficult to beat politician nationally, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who was born in Canada and is currently unable to run for President.
(The picture below is from when I met Governor Granholm at the pool of Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in September. While I had Kerry gear on most days, I happened to see her after having left a hotel bar where I was watching the Michigan football game. Note that at least I watched the game wearing my Michigan for Kerry badge. This is actually part of my plan to be photographed with as many Democratic women as possible--see previous picture of me with Teresa Heinz Kerry.)
Lastest GOP act to put more government on our backs might be to make it illegal to fast forward through commercials:
How can this be possible? Because language that makes fast-forwarding through commercials illegal—no doubt inserted at the behest of lobbyists for the advertising industry—was inserted into a bill that would allow people to fast forward past objectionable sections of a recorded movie (and I bet you already thought that was OK). And that’s but one, albeit scary, scenario that may come to pass if the Intellectual Property Protection Act is enacted into law. Deliberations on this legislation will be one of the tasks for the lame-duck Congress that commenced this week.
In a statement last month, Senator John McCain stated his opposition to this bill, and specifically cited the anti-commercial skipping feature: “Americans have been recording TV shows and fast-forwarding through commercials for 30 years,” he said. “Do we really expect to throw people in jail in 2004 for behavior they’ve been engaged in for more than a quarter century?”
Identify Today's Mystery Country
*** was thrown into turmoil Monday by nearly-complete election results from *** presidential election, which gave *** an insurmountable three point lead but raised the threat of unrest because of angry charges by the opposition and *** observers that the vote was tainted by widespread fraud.
Tens of thousands of people flooded *** in the capital Monday amid calls for a general strike or even the kind of revolution that toppled regimes in Serbia and Georgia after suspect elections.
In strikingly frank language, election monitors laid out a litany of election day abuses that they said called into question the validity of the vote, as well as the future legitimacy of any *** presidency. One British member of a European Parliament observer group, using language rarely heard in election missions in Europe, said the turnout and results from certain districts favorable to *** could best be compared with elections in North Korea or in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
"It is now apparent that there was a concerted and forceful program of election day fraud and abuse enacted with the leadership or cooperation of authorities," said *** of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "In my judgment President ***, even at this late stage, has the opportunity and responsibility to review all of this."
Western monitors cited among a long list of complaints unusually heavy turnouts in districts favorable to ***.
Observers also said that *** were forced to apply for absentee ballot certificates by their managers, and the filled-in ballots were collected at their places of work. Students were similarly coerced by professors and deans, according to the OSCE at a press conference in which officials said there were simply too many violations to enumerate them all.
"*** did not meet a considerable number of standards of the OSCE and the European Council for democratic elections," said George of the OSCE. The organization called for an almost complete review of the vote by the *** authorities.
The answer to our Mystery Country quiz is in the Comments section.
Welcome to the Democracy Cell Project
Welcome to the opening of the Democracy Cell Project, a new blog and website intended to encourage people across this country to use all the tools at our disposal, online and off, to build the institutions from the grassroots up that we must have to take our country back from the radical forces that have seized power in Washington. The image of “democracy cells” is an image for us of any group of people who come together to work for a better country, whether they’re members of an existing organization or are just taking the first steps in founding something entirely new.
The people who have come together to share this site with you have been through a unique experience in American politics: they were moderators and volunteers of John Kerry’s blog, the first presidential general election campaign blog that was open for comment from the public (the Bush campaign blog was closed to the public). I was the blogmaster for the Kerry blog, and together the moderators and I plunged headfirst into a sea of comments, complaints, and suggestions, seeing over and over again how blog-mediated interactions transformed people from a state of being simply curious to a state of deepening activism, from working in their local communities, to donating funds, and to traveling thousands of miles to volunteer for days or weeks in other states.
More in comments and at http://www.democracycellproject.net/democracy_cell_project/