Saturday, January 01, 2005

Fuck You, 2004; Hello 2005…

New Year’s Day.
Football on the television, a raging head cold…

Welcome, 2005.

2004 was a brutal year personally, politically, and in just about every way… It was a hard year. It was a year that ended with one of the worst disasters in history.

Never let it be said that this year did not kiss the Earth on its way out…

2005 can go either way.-

There are a lot of risks being taken as we go into the New Year on just about every level imaginable.

Fuck it.

Who knows what will happen? What do I know?

I do know this… This year will be hard.


Our government? Ack… I go all Bill the Cat and I will choke a hairball at the mention.

The Media? As a Blogger, I need them… PLEASE?!? Please do better. Please quit hurting us.

Bloggers? Just link me…

Hot single women in Portland, OR? Just date me… Or throw me a lay before I go really strange…

My Ex? Just stay sane…

My Children? Just do not hurt each other…

My websites? Just do better… Please quit hurting us… Just link me… Just date me… Fuck me… Just stay sane and let’s not hurt each other…

A couple of notes for the New Year…

I added the counter yesterday. Please do not think that the nearly forty visitors noted there represent all of my readers since November.

And thank you to the 40 or so visitors who have wandered by in the last 24 hours or so…

Continuing on… I do not have much time, but I would like to personalize this blog more… I am looking at some ideas on the coding, though I hate it. I am more of a writer than a developer. Eventually, though, I would like to combine my Democracy In Distress homepage with my blog page, if it is possible…

Also, I will fix the flags on the Café Press merchandise, and I will design better items to sell there.

In the beginning, I imagined this site as primarily being about promoting the upside-down flag in distress as a symbol of protest. Instead, it turned into a political blog…

I spin a little on each side of that… What I have always wanted to see here is a forum for discussion leading to real political action on these challenges to our democracy.

We need to empower the left…
We need to keep the right in check…

That is what it is called.

And it is in distress.
It is in danger.

It is the Bush Administration.
It is the opposition.

And most of the blame lies with the traditional media.

Working together, we can fix this.
Working together, we can restore the America that we were all bred to love.

2005: Why bother...

Here is why.

One of those clever "future-histories" that people find so amusing around this time of the year... Well, fine... My feeble little brain chuckles at them...

History. - 01/05/2005 - 06/29/2005
History II. - 07/01/2005 - 12/14/2005

A couple highlights...

January 20, 11:52 am – At Bush’s inauguration, a protester carrying a “Four More Wars” sign is shot dead by a Secret Service agent

January 20, 11:53 am – Leading bloggers run out of synonyms for “Yay!”

January 20, 11:54 am – Major networks cut away from footage of Bush’s motorcade to cover the shooting

January 20, 11:55 am – Leading bloggers run out of synonyms for “treason”

February 5 – Bill O’Reilly writes a syndicated column accusing the “liberal media élite” of drinking the blood of Christian and Jewish babies

February 6 – A small daily newspaper in New Mexico refuses to run O’Reilly’s column

March 12 – In Baghdad, a Syrian diplomat’s wife’s brother’s maid’s uncle is found with traces of C-4 on his shoes

March 17 – U.S. attacks Syria

April 25 – A German imam says something stupid about Israel

April 26 – Leading bloggers call for a U.S. boycott of V-E Day ceremonies

August 27 – Someone deposits a flaming bag of dog feces on Sean Hannity’s front doorstep; Hannity’s shoes are damaged beyond repair

And so on... Read it.

Silt 3.0

Friday, December 31, 2004

Bush Administration Labors for More Abortions

Okay, I admit it (and I admit it often), I am lazy. I am out of time. I have to put together a bike for my son and he is going nuts waiting while I write this. I need to sit down and come up with more excuses like this...

I have not read the source material on this one, but I did read Atrios.

The consequence of keeping raping[sic] victims from the [morning after] pill will inevitably be more actual abortions.

But, they don't really care...

Get the details here...

I recently wrote a long post in response to this column. The writer was claiming that the left was winning the culture war, and almost saying, "Ah, shucks... there is nothing to worry about."

One of the subjects was the morning after pill.

My take was that, "I believe that the availability of morning after pill is an essential element of women's health care, one that includes comprehensive sex education enabling people to make choices that lessen the need for the morning after pill and for abortions."

I felt that the "Ah, shucks... We'll win in the end" attitude was a good way for us to lose a lot of important ground in this country.

The Bush Administration knows how to fight its battles. They will not come out and make drastic changes all at once, but they will chisel away here and there at their issues, in ways like those described in Atrios' post, until America looks very different from the one most of us want to live in.

Sarcasm aside, it is important to remember that many in this Administration, beyond wanting to limit the morning after pill, also want to ban all abortions. Even in cases of rape.

Finally, I am going to say this again...

With the vast majority of the media's attention on the Indian Ocean, I hope someone has their eye on the White House.

If they want to slide a couple of zingers through, this is an opportune time to do it.

UPDATE: January 2, 2005 - 11:04 AM

I just had to add this...

The controversy has erupted just weeks before the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to reconsider whether to make it easier to get emergency contraception. A year ago, the FDA rejected non-prescription sales of Plan B, an emergency contraceptive. The ruling delighted conservative groups who had lobbied the Bush administration, but went against the FDA's own staff, advisory panels and major medical societies.

Assholes... (Registration Required)

Screw it, here...

Guidelines for treating rape victims omit emergency contraception BY MARIE MCCULLOUGHKnight Ridder NewspapersPHILADELPHIA - (KRT) - The U.S. Department of Justice has issued its first-ever medical guidelines for treating sexual assault victims - without any mention of emergency contraception, the standard precaution against pregnancy after rape.The omission of the so-called morning-after pill has frustrated and angered victims' advocates and medical professionals who have long worked to improve victims' care.Gail Burns-Smith, one of several dozen experts who vetted the protocol during its three-year development by Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, said emergency contraception was included in an early draft, and she does not know of anyone who opposed it."But in the climate in which we are currently operating, politically it's a hot potato," said Burns-Smith, retired director of Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services.For two weeks, Justice officials were unavailable to talk about the new 141-page protocol, published in September. But in an e-mail, department spokesman Eric Holland reiterrated points made in the document."The goals of the protocol are to ensure that all victims, regardless of differences in background or location of service, receive the same high quality medical and forensic exam, while being treated with respect and compassion, and to improve prosecution of sexual assault cases through the appropriate collection of evidence," he wrote. "The protocol is not intended to supercede the many state, local, and tribal protocols that are currently in practice."Lynn Schollet, a lawyer with the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said without emergency contraception, the trauma of rape could be compounded by an unplanned pregnancy."It is very unfortunate to set forth a model national standard that is not giving women the best care available," Schollet said.The controversy has erupted just weeks before the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to reconsider whether to make it easier to get emergency contraception. A year ago, the FDA rejected non-prescription sales of Plan B, an emergency contraceptive. The ruling delighted conservative groups who had lobbied the Bush administration, but went against the FDA's own staff, advisory panels and major medical societies.The manufacturer's latest application would make Plan B available without a doctor's orders only to women 16 and over.The Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is now collecting signatures on a petition urging the Justice Department to fix the "glaring omission in an otherwise thorough document."In the half-page on pregnancy "risk evaluation and care," the protocol says to take victims' pregnancy fears "seriously," give a pregnancy test, and "discuss treatment options, including reproductive health services."Advocates point out that emergency contraception, which is nothing more than high-dose birth control pills, reduces the chance of pregnancy 75 to 90 percent - but only if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex."This narrow window of effectiveness makes timely access to emergency contraception critical," declares the petition.Five states - New York, Illinois, California, Washington and New Mexico - have laws requiring hospitals to provide the contraception to victims, or at least tell them how to get the pills.The development of national guidelines was required under the 2000 renewal of the decade-old federal Violence Against Women Act to develop uniform, quality care for sexual assault victims."In too many hospitals, the nurses and doctors are still reading the rape kit directions while they're doing the exam," said Linda Ledray, a sexual assault exam trainer who directs the Sexual Assault Resource Service in Minneapolis.One of the most inconsistent aspects of care is the morning after pill. A 2002 analysis of national emergency room data by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found that only 21 percent of sexual assault victims received it. In a 1998 survey of urban Catholic hospitals, a University of Pennsylvania study found that 12 out of 27 centers had rules against informing rape victims about the method.The risk of pregnancy after rape is small - less than 5 percent - but the vulnerable group is large. Of 333,000 sexual assaults and rapes reported in 1998, about 25,000 resulted in pregnancies - of which 22,000 could have been prevented, estimated Princeton University population researcher James Trussell.Emergency contraception is controversial because, like stem cells and cloning, it has become tangled in the politics of abortion. The method usually works by keeping an egg from being released or being fertilized. However, it may sometimes prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus - equated with murder by some conservative groups and the Catholic Church (which opposes all forms of contraception)."I think it's very smart not to put that in the guidelines," said Dr. George Isajiw, a board member of Physicians for Life, a Philadelphia anti-abortion group.By giving emergency contraception, he said, "you're giving a dangerous drug that's not doing any good, or else you're causing an abortion. As a moral principle, a woman has the right to defend herself against an aggressor. But she doesn't have the right to kill the baby."Anne Liske, executive director of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault said the decision should be left to the woman. "The victim needs to be in charge of decisions about her care."New York State - which mandates that hospitals, regardless of religious affiliation, provide the contraception to rape victims - recently fined a Coney Island hospital $46,000 for not giving it correctly and mishandling forensic evidence needed for prosecution."We've just started to get successful lawsuits" against hospitals that don't provide emergency contraception, said Ledray in Minneapolis. "I'm afraid such lawsuits will fail if the national protocol doesn't treat emergency contraception as the standard of care."Some experts who reviewed the protocol think it is a huge step forward - just not the last step.Dr. Michael Weaver of a Kansas City, Mo., helped write the American College of Emergency Physicians' sexual assault response protocol, which prominently includes emergency contraception."If we can get this national protocol out there, we can gather evidence more appropriately and prosecute more cases, and it will be a much healthier society," he said.---© 2004, The Philadelphia Inquirer.Visit Philadelphia Online, the Inquirer's World Wide Web site, at http://www.philly.comDistributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

I am too lazy to go through and put the breaks in.

Final Washington State Post of the Year

Talking Points Memo covers today's developments well, so I'll link there.

A quote? Sure...

So now Rossi has a new angle. He says Gregoire should join him in calling for a whole new election to be held. You know, to ensure the integrity of the process.

Newsflash: she ain't interested.

Says Gregoire: "A do-over ... is only in golf. We call it a mulligan. This is not golf, and this is not practice. This is an election. It's had three counts."

Now some of the locals are putting together an email campaign to tell Rossi it's time to hang it up.

Blue Oregon has posted essentially the same information as Talking Points Memo. The mulligan quote is attributed to "Gregoire spokesman Morton Brilliant" on this site.

Is Gregoire's campaign saying that what happened a few days back in the Ukraine was democracy gone wrong? I support her, but Brilliant needs to pull away from the news coverage of his own canidate and glance at the world headlines time to time.

A note on the attribution, AP gives the quote to Gregoire, then the AP gives the quote to Brilliant.

There is one big difference between Washington and the Ukraine. The AP offers the following from Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed:

While there were mistakes, Reed told a news conference, "at this time there is nothing that appears fraudulent."

"I saw serious mistakes being made. I saw them being corrected," Reed said. "That's part of the process. The system itself has worked well."

Still, there is Republican talk of a "Smoking Gun" that may overturn the election... Again.

New Frames tosses this one out, and I agree. It is why I have given so much attention here to my northern neighbors:

The Dem lawyers in this case were the kind of junk-yard dogs we could have used in 2000, but of course that's the past. So let's use these guys in the future. They know how to fight to get every vote counted (note to DNC.)

Awhile back, blogs all over had their eye on this issue. Is it too early in the morning today or has the attention span waned? I will say, it makes me nervous how political blogs are hovering around the Tsunami issue.

I hope someone has their eye on the White House. If they want to slide a couple of zingers through, this is an opportune time to do it.

ABC People of the Year: Bloggers

I posted the following as a comment a few minutes ago on PoliPundit... I just wanted to add, ABC didn't mention our notorious typos and lack of editing. Shame on them. We are proud of our slacker approach to publishing...

I know that all of the hoopla about blogging this year is about the growing influence of “power” blogs on the political sphere, but it always seems strange to me that something I have been doing for over three years is suddenly “New” and “Exciting.”

To me is shows just how behind and out of step the traditional media is.

I suppose it also makes me feel appologetic… After the election I split my blog in two- one for the 13 year old girl within who wants to Journal, and another for irrelevant political ranting.
So, since I have a “new” blog for politics, I feel like I am just jumping on the bandwagon, though the reality is far from the truth.

My blog on 9/11 recieved hundreds of hits that day since I was providing up to the minute updates and many people who were stuck at work could not get information from the established media websites because they kept crashing from the volume.

But blogging was irrelevant until this year, I am told.

I also wonder, are any blogs started since the election going to be taken seriously because of all of this old media hype?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Engaging Red America

Alice at GOTV thinks that the Democrats can engage new communities in the suburbs by touching them first, before the Republicans move in.

I do not know if capturing these suburban voters is going to be as easy as slapping an “I’m first!” line on their hypothetical Commenting tool, but it is a start. Name recognition is huge, and the first name in the spotlight is always going to be harder to beat in many people minds.

I also very much agree with the idea that:

Human beings are social creatures, and the physical presence of a campaign, by itself, can sway voters our way. And physical presence must include personal contact with campaign volunteers.

Just from anecdotal evidence, I would guess that my little, recently developed valley about 40 minutes from downtown Portland, OR went about 2 to 1 for Bush over Kerry. I just moved out here last fall and it was shocking for this Urban Liberal Type to suddenly find myself back in the Republican dominated Suburbs for the first time since high school… But still, its not like we talk much with our neighbors out in these parts.

One other factor that plays where I live, I am in an “older” (built in the early 90s, I am guessing), apartment complex where there are also a high number of immigrants, many from Russia and the former Soviet states. I do not know how they went in the election, if they went at all, but as far as the established middle class goes, my guesstimate comes from the bumper sticker/yard sign counts.

Personally, I agree with Alice that discussions regarding party politics in these neighborhoods tend to stir up a lot of “clichés and stereotypes about suburban voters put forward by those who have never walked a precinct.”

Alice’s post seems to be inspired by an entry yesterday on Mercury Rising that concludes with the sentiment that, in order to engage these neighborhoods, in order to engage my neighborhood, well…

"Placating the exurbs" means placating racists who don't want their tax money going to help people whose skin tone is darker than theirs. Even if this really would get us votes, is this something we really want to do?

At least the Republicans sugar coat their insults with lies before they lay it on me.

Really, this is the sort of rhetoric that is making it difficult to engage with Red voters. In rural areas, it is my belief that there is a sense that Liberal Urban types mock their values. In suburban areas, stereotypes like the one above insult voters more directly. If you have just called someone a racist, they are not very likely to then listen to your ideas on Social Security. They are very likely to say, “Fuck you,” and then to pull the Elephant lever on Election Day.

Alice, in an earlier piece that she quotes on this recent post, writes, “Precinct operations are, by their nature, about treating people as individuals, not stereotypes.” This helps avoid making insulting assumptions about voters at the most grass roots level.

Unfortunately, it is not the precinct worker who is usually being quoted in the media. One insulting quote in the media can make it very difficult for a grass roots campaign volunteer to be given the time of day when approaching certain individuals.

The whole, “I know my party called you a racist asshole this morning on Good Morning America, but would you like to talk about the Democrat running for your State House against a man who just voted to knock 31 days off of your daughter’s school day?”

I suppose one good solution here is to get that insulted voter engaged by a friendly face, and that does depend on the precinct volunteers.

Alice’s “guide” for local campaign volunteers is a good, informative read on this subject.

My Assumptions about Winning Red Territories…

There are studies that contain a lot of useful data out there, but Democrats need to be very careful about how they interpret this data and about how they take the attack to the enemy.

Another belief I have is that the centrist swing is actually larger than many people give it credit for, even during these times, though I have not put together any data to support this. I feel the last two Presidential elections saw this swing split fairly evenly between the two candidates.

Now this would lead one to think that I would favor a DLC-style centrist Democratic Party, that Clintonesque (politically) candidates should be where the party focuses its efforts.

The problem is that this approach relies on strong candidates who can capture the center through the force of their personalities. Some years, the strongest just do not rise to the top. The party, by having a strong, clear platform, by delivering a strong message and by wrestling control of the debate away from the opposition, can win without having the Cult of Personality on their side.

When voters vote for a Republican, they know what they are getting. When voters look at Democrats, they are not always sure if they are getting a Dukakis or a Kerry. A Clinton or a Dean. There is no Democrat “Brand,” so to speak. It may seem distasteful to use advertising terms when referring to political issues, but trust me, the Republicans use these tools extensively and have been spanking the Democrats with them since 1992.

So, even by moving the party into the centrist, Republican-lite land, there is still no guarantee of victory since the other side will just brand the candidate as a liberal anyway, or a flip-flopper, or a… Many of the conversations I had with people who were not caught up in the partisan furor last fall tended to express the sentiment, “Bush is an idiot, but I don’t know what Kerry is all about.”

If the Democrats had a strong identity behind Kerry, it would have helped define him for the national audience and it would have helped to insulate him from extremist attacks on his personal credibility. It surely would have been enough to gain several hundred thousand votes in Ohio and Florida.

So, what should “Brand” Democrat look like?

There is a lot of emotion out there that the future DNC leadership will throw some of the core issues onto the bonfire of sacrifice for victories in 2006 and 2008. In fact, a lot of this debate may even be inspired by Rasputin-like Republican whisperers already drooling over their 2006 mid-term slogan, “The Democrats have no values, they will say anything to win!”

Most people are not one-issue voters. Those who are will not change parties because the platform is softened. The Democrats should absolutely not change their platform on the key issues in a vague attempt to reach voters who see devil horns on every donkey.

Still, I believe that could be tremendous value in expanding some of these debates within the party…

There could be value in the Democrats saying, “We will always defend a Woman’s right to choose, but we also want to start working with the opposition on programs that focus on preventing unwanted pregnancies.” And there could be value in building these programs around abstinence, though making sure that they are based on fact and that birth control methods are discussed, as well.

I do not believe that approaches such as these would mean that the Democrats are sacrificing their values. I do believe that it would make them play better among voters with conservative values who, for what ever reason, appear to vote against their economic interests.

I am not talking about running Pro-Life candidates in Republican strongholds; I am talking about running candidates who share the values surrounding the issue with their constituents.

While we will not win swing voters without a tightly controlled message from the Party, and while we will not win conservative values voters by sacrificing the core principals of the party, we will lose election after election if we continue to be defined by the same handful of social issues over and over again.

We cannot be the party of abortionists who want to put condoms into Kindergarten where we can teach them how to use them properly in different gay sex acts.

We can be the party that defends family values by protecting children from the dangers of irresponsible sexual behavior while protecting the rights of all Americans.

When it comes to these issues, it is really more a matter of controlling the message than it is a need to change the core issues themselves. But more than this, it may even be that the focus on these issues in the first place is what is turning off many Red voters.

I do not believe that many of the people who went Republican in November really understood that voting for Bush was voting against their economic interest. The social issues and, more importantly, the War on Terror and the old adage from 1864 about not changing horses in the middle of the stream tilted them over to Bush.

If the noise about the social issues is dampened, there would be more room for the Democrats to focus on what they used to do the best, representing the issues at the heart of blue collar and farming communities.

Okay, it is time to end the rambling attempt at armchair political science now. I will post this and I may review and revise this post in the future. Or, more likely, I will just continue on about these themes in a later post.

Just don’t call me a racist because of where I live and I am happy. And my vote is not at risk, even if you do call me a racist. But I will remember on the battlefield of internal party politics.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

100 Ideas to Fix the Democratic Party

Oh yeah... This is good. Now, do we actually have any new ideas?

As a first step, we are collecting ideas from December 14th through January 14th. We will take the best 100 ideas and submit it to the new Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman and to every Democratic U.S. Senator, Member of Congress and Governor.

If you have any ideas and are not already running for DNC Chair, please submit them here...

Sharing Christmas with our Muslim Brothers: Ann Coulter is Crazy... Part 1,472

My, oh my...

I saw this quote on Wonkette this morning and thought she was just taking a snarky, cheap shot at Ann. It's easy and it's a nice warm up exercise for anyone with a conscience and a brain.

To The People Of Islam:
Just think: If we'd invaded your countries, killed your leaders and converted you to Christianity YOU'D ALL BE OPENING CHRISTMAS PRESENTS RIGHT ABOUT NOW!
Merry Christmas

The Wonkette finishes up with...

We're thinking this is one reason to convert most Muslims' haven't thought of, but, ironically, "Because we want to give them Christmas gifts" was actually in the first draft of Colin Powell's UN presentation.

One of these quotes is a cheap shot by the Wonkette; the other is REAL...

Oh, Ann. Al Franken and all the others are right. There is something wrong with you, honey. Admitting that you need help is the first step.

Ann actually put this on her web site. Or whoever runs Ann's website put it on there. Either way, it is there.

We could actually solve this whole mid-east problem by slaughtering all the Jews in Israel and turning control over to the PLO, assassinating every leader in North America, Europe and the former Warsaw Pact and replacing their legislative bodies with Islamic mullahs, and converting the masses to Islam.

Actually, historically, this is not how Muslims operate. In the past, Islamic empires generally leave the local leadership structures in place and do not forcibly convert anyone, though they do levy additional taxes on the new non-Muslim populations.

This slaughter and convert practice more accurately reflects western imperial tactics.

Now, if I seriously suggested the above solution, I'd be labeled crazy. And if I was a Muslim who seriously suggested the above solution, the American government would probably find a way to incarcerate or kill me.

Ann, however, just gets more publicity and sells more books.

Ann is crazy, but she knows where her bread is buttered.

Maybe I am just bitter because my selfish inner child wanted more Christmas presents.

Christmas Cancelled?


How fun... According to Atrios, it is official: The Liberal Heathen War on Easter began yesterday! After the success we had ruining Christmas, I fear we may be the underdogs here, but let the effort begin anyway.

The War on Easter

Sunday, December 26, 2004

An Absolute, Fundamental Right of a Democratic Society

It is an absolute fundamental of a democratic society that everyone who has the right to vote and casts a ballot should have their vote counted.

So says the godofthebasement.

Someone did not give this god his requested burnt offering, and now he is pissed. In order to appease his vengeance, I will post his e-mail here and I will invite him to be a contributor to this blog.

Hopefully he will be appeased by this post. If not, duck...

He is currently suffering from the work-only web access but he is getting anxious. He may soon hook up from home where he will be free to unleash his wrath upon all of us...

As I said before... He must really hate America.

The Republicans do have an ongoing problem with allowing votes to be counted.

The ongoing trend among Republicans is to first try to stop as many people as they can from voting in the first place via fraudulent felons lists, not putting ballot machines in Democratic precincts, challenging anyone who is not white or has a non-Anglo name and then, among other tactics, by trying to stop votes from being counted.

I am explicitly saying they committed fraud: it is clear that Republicans share no interest in allowing people to vote in the first place or in counting the votes of all eligible voters. It is an absolute fundamental of a democratic society that everyone who has the right to vote and casts a ballot should have their vote counted.

The Republicans have consistently opposed this and have proven themselves to be fundamentally against democracy on both the state and national levels. They are dreaming of a fascist state where it would be illegal to vote against them.

Think that's an exaggeration?

Check out the books by Anne Coulter and Bill O'Reilly. It is terrifying shit.

Republican= Fascist. Period.

They are pure evil and they want to steal from the poor to give to the rich, to steal from the middle class to give to the corporations and to run the country for the benefit of the rich and the powerful...

Sorry about that. My pissedoffedness has no limit and I'm ranting again. Maybe I should start a website [ ?!?]!

Then I could express all of this without dumping it on my friends! is a good idea, and I need to get on it. One day I'll learn not to preach to the choir, but not today apparently.

Anyway, Christmas is going well here. This afternoon we went to this bar at this golf course where my sister's friend's husband works and we had a lot to drink. Nothing like getting fucked up with the family. For Christmas morning we're going to go to church to see my Dad play banjo. I guess that is what retired English professors do these days. I've never seen him perform and I'm looking forward to it.

Well that's all the news that is nowhere near fit to print, but clearly fit for a drunken rambling e-mail.

Let's just call it all a run up to a happy new year.

UPDATE: January 1, 2005 - 8:44 AM - A. F. Litt
I just wanted to quickly throw this link up...

It is a good rundown on what constitutes Election Fraud...

Major Tom on "Actionable Fraud" and More!


After much hemming and hawing, I decided to let it go up...

Count Every Vote Declares the NYT

Sure thing... We'll get right on that.

This article from December 20 has a few days worth of dust on it but I have to link to any editorial that beats my favorite drum.

From the piece:

Every vote is supposed to count in America, but candidates too often maneuver to disqualify votes that they think might go to the other side. A month and a half after Election Day, battles are still raging in Washington State and in San Diego over whether to count all of the votes that were cast. The answer to that question must be yes.


Clearly the American election system needs significant improvement, starting with voter-verified paper trails for every vote cast electronically. In the current flawed system, the best chance we have of producing accurate results is to be on guard for manipulation of electronic voting machines and tabulation software, and to conduct conscientious recounts when the outcome is at all in doubt.

Count Every Vote

Wherefore Art Thou, Ohio: Election Reform is the New Black

I spent my 37 seconds searching for news on the Ohio election activities today and found… Nothing.

I admit that I took my eye off of this ball, focusing more on Washington State, but still…

There should be something about Ohio out there, right?

Media bias = Silence.

Although I did find this interesting article on

Third World Democracy: The real problem with the American election system isn't fraud, it's good old-fashioned incompetence. And that's something we can fix -- if we have the will.

Big quote from the article:

But it can be fixed ... especially if activists take on the challenge. Before the election, many people -- people like Lockshin -- felt irrelevant with respect to politics in America. Now, after the election, many Americans are distressed by the results. Why not channel this despair into something productive for the future? ... Why not work to reform the abysmal American electoral system?


Unfortunately, in the past couple of weeks, while the Internet has been consumed by theories of a stolen election, the efforts of activists like Rodriguez-Taseff and of all the volunteers who manned the polls on Election Day have largely been overlooked. Focusing on the long-term reform of the system is not sexy, Rodriguez-Taseff concedes; it doesn't promise the kind of excitement you get from looking into ways that might overturn Nov. 2's results.


There should have been a big push for comprehensive election reform after the 2000 election in the United States, but that didn't happen. "Other things cut in line -- September 11, gay marriage, the war, you name it," Chapin says. Now, Chapin hopes, election reform will creep back onto the agenda.

Yet it's likely that the only way lawmakers will fix our elections is if citizens press for it -- and only if they press for it constantly, in a nonpartisan manner, as part of a broad effort to remake the way we vote rather than to reverse the results of the last election.

And for all the people who were so passionately involved in that election, what better way to spend the next four years than to dedicate your efforts to remaking our democracy? If you think the American system is broken, if you've felt alienated and abused by recent political affairs, doing the good, honest, hard work of fixing things may feel quite refreshing, activists say. Lockshin, the Berkeley student, offers this testimonial: "Now that I've worked on this with Election Protection, I'm sure I'll be doing it again. I'll be doing it every year, till they stop needing me."

I think I may have linked to this article before, but I am too lazy to review all of my posts this morning to check.

But I agree, election reform is the new black...

In the Salon article, I did find this link...

On this site, I found the following tidbit on Ohio...

The Ohio legislature passed a law that requires that ALL DREs in Ohio have a voter-verified paper audit trail (V-VPAT) by January 2006. Citizens' Alliance for Secure Elections is planning to file a lawsuit to stop the purchase of any DREs in 2004 that do not have a V-VPAT.

Sexy stuff, this election reform jihad... But necessary.

Faith and Reason: Another Look at Religion

It seems that the recent political debates on faith and the recent holiday has people all over looking at the politics of faith.

Mark Matson of The Moderate Liberal posted Faith Versus Reason for his Christmas entry:

Taking the Christian Fundamentalist argument that “evolutionists” have the same sort of belief in their science that “creationists” have in their faith that The Bible is the literal word of God, he responds:

I believe in reason and the scientific method not because I have some faith that cannot be confirmed but because reason has proven its worth. We see the success of the scientific method all around us and, as opposed to the natural world, we know where science came from.

He also adds that faith is important, writing, “I believe that other forms of faith also work, such as hope, optimism and confidence.”

It is a good post and you should read it.

Social (In)Security…

The Social Security issue has always been strange for me. As someone in their early thirties, it has always seemed like an issue outside of the scope of my concern. Sort of like rooting for a major league baseball team when you live in Butte, Montana: it can be a fun sport to watch, but without a hometown team, it remains a bit removed and there is no “personal stake.”

Social Security does not feel outside of my scope of concern because the benefits are, knock on wood, thirty years away. It feels irrelevant to me because every since I was a teenager, I have never expected Social Security to still be available for my generation when we reached retirement age.

Because of this, I have never really dug deeper into Social Security than the “headline” level… I pick up the gist of the debate from sound bites and headlines, but avoid participating in any in-depth discussions or debates.

So, pretty much my thoughts on this current round have been… Giving the public control over investing their “accounts” on the stock market is about as wise as loaning your I-Pod to a heroin junky who is desperate for their fix.

I also read, somewhere along the line, that privatizing Social Security would take billions off of the national debt, so there is the sly, machiavellian angle the Administration is approaching this issue from.

Details, though… Here I am weak.

Today, I saw a post by Atrios that inspires me to take a closer look at the Social Security debate.

He writes:

Look, this is our issue. This is one we should be confident about winning -- perhaps not the legislative battle, but the '06 election. Democrats shouldn't be running scared from this, they should be salivating at the prospect of being handed a gift on a silver platter. They just need to be a bit smart.

He provides a couple of links that look at Rep. Harold Ford’s probable jump to the Republican side of this debate.

If Atrios is right, than this issue moves from the periphery, from being political background noise, to being very close to the heart of my political interests.

It is time to take a closer look at the issues emerging in the Social Security debate.

Tone Deaf

Sammy Glick on the Hill

Dear Congressman Ford

It’s the Day After Christmas… Let’s Look at Religion

I wish I had seen this yesterday; it would have made a great post for Christmas.

Rev. Federici of the United Church of Christ in Vienna, Virginia wants his Jesus back.

This sermon was posted on his church’s web site (all lower case there, too):

i want my jesus back.
i want my radical jesus back.
i want my christianity back.
i want my radical christianity back.

i do not understand how jesus became the spokesperson for a christianity that is afraid.

i do not understand how jesus became the spokesperson for a christianity that honors judgement, condemnation and smallness of mind and heart.

i do not understand how jesus became so graceless, so heavy handed, so like an unpopular kid who suddenly becomes a classroom monitor, a tattle tale jesus telling his father god who is good, who is bad, who is fooling around, a wet blanket , blue chip, risk free jesus backed up with a secret swiss bank account.

how did jesus get so boring?

how did christianity get so embarassing?

I want Rev. Federici to have that Jesus back, too.

jesus and christianity need to be rescued from those who are using it in the service of fear, control, oppression, the keeping of the status quo.

jesus and christianity need to be rescued from being in service of the travesty of their counterfeit versions. those versions that pervert the heart of the gospel.

the wolf wearing sheep’s clothing.

underneath is simply an aberrant strain of hatred, cruelty and arrogance.

i want my jesus back.

i want my radical jesus and my radical christianity back.
right now.

Yes, this is the same UCC who’s ads were turned down by a couple of the broadcast networks recently because they were divisive (essentially chiding other churches for their hypocrisy on racial and sexual issues). That was the reason given for the ads being blocked, but really, the ads were pretty good and not the little Molotov Cocktails that they were described as.

It is unrealistic to ever expect faith and politics to truly be disconnected. This is why there is so much weight put on the Constitution’s First Amendment. Since faith and politics are so closely bound, it is important that the faith and politics of the minority is protected against repression by the political majority.

The separation of church and state also exists to keep the political majority from cramming their faith down the rest of the population's throat. The majority is allowed to be guided by their faith, but legislating it is strictly off limits, let alone using their political power to evangelize it.

Anyway, I found this link on the blog GOTV. It was the Christmas post there.

Glory to God

“the foyer of wickedness”

UPDATE: December 26, 2005 - 3:00 PM

Elsewhere on the web, I found a link to this site. According to the message board post that made me aware of this link, it "attempts to distinguish what Jesus actually taught from what the Church teaches."

I have not had a chance to review the site yet, but I wanted to post the link anyway because it sounds very interesting to me.

Jesus Seminar Fourm

Washingtion Election Highlights Need for Election Reform

As voters hit the polls for the do-over on the election in the Ukraine today, voters (well, the political wonks, at least) in Washington State are still dazed and confused from their 2004 gubernatorial race. Final, for now, result: Democrat Christine Gregoire by 130, with a “microscopic margin of 0.0047 percent.”

Though the law only allows for this third and final recount, the Republicans are expected to now continue the fight in the courts, unless they decide to take the high road and to concede, giving Republican Dino Rossi the pole position for a run against Maria Cantwell for the 2006 Senate race or for another face off with Gregoire in the 2008 race for the governor’s mansion.

From the AP:

The only sure winner so far is election reform. Proposals for reforming Washington's election system are going to be as common as umbrellas at the state Capitol this winter.

Secretary of State Sam Reed has suggested a package of changes, though he has said he believes the election went well, all things considered.

"We don't expect it to be perfect," Reed said. "But we do have a system set up to correct those imperfections when they surface, and we have done that."

Wise. Beyond a single state, though, we need national election reform.

As The Seattle Times points out:

The counting of nearly 3 million votes three times uncovered a series of mistakes, by both voters and ballot counters.

The final hand recount showed that 4,018 votes of validly registered state residents had been missed in the original tally from the Nov. 2 election.

A handful of ballots were found left in machines, hundreds more were discovered in misplaced trays, and many more didn't get counted for a variety of reasons. For example, an optical-scanning machine might have failed to read votes that weren't marked properly. Additional ballots were found in nearly all of the 39 counties during the final recount.

As for the candidates in this race, the AP goes on to say:

The two candidates predictably split over whether this election was free and fair.

"Like many people across Washington, I'm very concerned about the integrity of this election process, and I'm also very concerned that not all votes are being treated equally," Rossi said in an e-mailed statement Thursday. He said Washington has neither a clean election nor a legitimate governor.

Gregoire, on the other hand, brimmed with confidence in the Washington electoral system after the results were announced Thursday night.

"I think we have been a model to the rest of the nation and to the world at large," she said. "This is the biggest display of democracy I have ever seen, and I am proud of it."

The Seattle Times article from today has a question and answer section that covers the idea of setting aside the November 2 results and holding a new vote on this race.

Q: Haven't some people called for a new election?

A: Yes. Some Republican supporters of Rossi, notably former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, have called for a new election because the current results are so muddled. They worry that voters won't have confidence that a true winner was selected.

Q: Is a new election possible?

A: Republicans would have to go to court to contest the election. State law says a judge has the right to "set aside" an election because of "error, wrongful act, or neglect" in the conduct of the election.

Q: How would that be proven?

A: Essentially, a judge would put the election on trial. Republicans could present evidence and witnesses to make their case that the election was flawed.

The judge could confirm the election, make Rossi the winner instead, or annul the election.

Q: What happens if the election is nullified?

A: No one seems to know for sure. The law does not specifically say the judge can call for a new election, just that he or she could set aside the current one.

State Elections Director Nick Handy said his reading of the law is that a judge's action to set aside the Rossi-Gregoire election would create a vacancy in the governor's office. That would call for a special election, which would be open to any valid candidates, not necessarily just Rossi and Gregoire.

The state Supreme Court, which is likely to eventually rule on any contested-election case, could set a runoff election between Gregoire and Rossi.

The Seattle Times also points out that there is a precedent in Washington State for nullifying the November election:

Q: Has there ever been an election set aside under the contested-election law?

A: Yes, though not in a statewide race. In 1974 there was an Adams County Commission election nullified by a Superior Court judge, a decision later upheld by the state Supreme Court, over concerns about ballot security. The loser in the race argued that security was lax and presented evidence that ballots had been tampered with.

The Supreme Court ruled "that the irregularity was such that the actual result of the voting could not be ascertained and a new election should be held."

There is no mention of what happened after the results were set aside.

I don’t know if they need to re-do the whole election up there or not, but they definitely need to look at reform. The whole country needs to look at reform. Some would probably argue that the tight margin in races across the country reflects our current political climate, and that once that shifts, these problems will just go away on their own. To some extent, I believe that is why the reforms after the 2000 election were so lightweight.

Even if it is 50 years before the lines are drawn so tightly again, these are the times when the system needs to be at its best. To make it worse, it is hard to “steal” an election when one candidate has a 10% margin of victory and a clear majority. However, this year has shown that it is possible to steal an election when the race is as close as some we have seen this year. If an election is stolen when passions and politics are this heated, real, lasting damage can be done to the system. I am not saying that this actually has happened anywhere this year, but we need to be sure that it did not happen.

Looking to the future, we need to fix the system, regardless of how long it is before those changes prove their worth.

Votes tallied for governor, but what's next is unclear

Washington Governor's Race May Not Be Over
...and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the wind of God was moving over the face of the waters.