Friday, November 04, 2005

Bush Poll Numbers (Something Stinks in DC)

I should be taking a nap. But I just ate and I thought I would write for a moment as I digest...

Watching the poll numbers this morning, I am finding myself actually starting to believe that the other 51% is figuring out what our 49% feared all along... It is impossible to know for sure, but some part of me is remembering promises made about the leak investigation many moons ago and is wondering if Bush's numbers can go up while his brain still has a job?

In the modern age of telephones and e-mail, just kicking Rove out would not lessen his influence. Still it would be a sign that Bush even notices the desires of the general public these days, not just the ultra-conservatives who seem to have mostly disliked Meyer's gender, who disliked the number of poor that managed to survive the recent disasters and then to have the audacity to expect help from the government, and who only blame the administration for getting caught in the leak investigation.

Bush won't shitcan Rove, though. Not without an indictment. And he'll ride the stinking carcass of his non-existent political capital all the way down into complete uselessness.

I can hope at least. I can also hope that the Democrats and moderate Republicans can use this opportunity to fix much of what is going wrong in America right now... But they, and the American people, have let me down so many times before that I fear one halfway decent event turning in the Administration's direction will erase the last two months of clarity.

Still, Brown, Meyers, and Scooter all coming together at once is a pretty difficult revelation into the current nature of the Executive Branch to ignore.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Alito early for slugging metaphors (and for bad puns)

So sick of it. Not awake yet, coffee pot still brewing, and Gary Bauer is weaseling on the phone on CNN talking about Grand Slam Home Runs. No wonder this country is going to shit, no one has enough imagination anymore. People yakking on and on about he hit a home run here, I don’t think he’ll claim to hit a home run with this, and so forth… Speeches, nominations, morning constitutionals...

It is time for a new metaphor, people. A friend of mine declared 1992, if I remember right, the year of the over-extended metaphor. That was 13 years ago, people. It's over. Done.

Samuel Alito. Blah. Bauer said that this is a man who, like most Americans, won’t care if there is a Christmas Tree on public property.

Maybe baseball is a good metaphor after all. It could be that Skippy the Wonder-preddident just hit the separation of Church and State out of the park… Put some mustard on it, it’s out of here. Gone.

And I knew the nomination had to come through today, but before the sun is even up over most of the country, come on. Not quite as desperate looking as if the announcement had been made on Scooter day, but pretty damn close.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Speaking of economics...

This law just went into effect this week. I thought that I would bump this.

Fun with the Bush Administration.
How come I have a feeling that when they are discussing tort reform they are not discussing the suit filed against me over one of my son’s medical bills? They are discussing this issue in Congress. They are making it harder for people like me to file for bankruptcy. Most bankruptcies result either from divorce, family illness or job loss. I’ve got something in common with Bush. “Little did I realize we’d get the trifecta.”

Oy yeah...

My blog is worth $564.54.
How much is your blog worth?

A major show on politics...

As I was logging in to post this, Larry King on my tv just mentioned that tomorrow night he will have a major show on politics. That is how I feel right now. Tonight, let's dick around with Prince Albert of Monaco. Tomorrow, we'll see if there is any meat on these bones.

I've been playing with some interesting ideas in my mind about our government right now, the scandals and disappointments and the failure over the last few months for it to essentially do its damn job.

No indictments today, either.

Three more years. Will anything be left by then? Will anyone even care?

We'll meet in five years at Judith Miller's beachfront mansion, waiting her return from the secret cave where she stashes her winnings, I mean earnings, after her martyrdom, and we'll pour some into the earth for our dead and dying... Freedom of speech, abortion rights, democracy, and hope...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Mid-East/Africa Travelblog

This is a very interesting look at life in Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, and various other locations. The two recently crossed over into Africa, but the earlier stuff on the Mid-East is very interesting.

CharlesFred: Trip to Middle East and Africa 2005-2006

Their Photos

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rehnquist Dead


My car died. I lost my Debit card. Finally, after phoning the bank, I get my very late dinner started and now, while I am boiling my noodles, I turn on the TV and find out that W gets two.

At least Rehnquist was not a liberal justice. But I am so scared of the Scalia court.

Sleep will be fretful tonight.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

“Pilgrims, Martyrs and Saints”: The Death of New Orleans

I’ve been locked into this for days. On break, my boys with their mother this week, I can’t turn it off.

To me, it seems like everyone is in denial. The Mayor of New Orleans was quoted a couple hours ago saying that hundreds or thousands are probably dead in the city, and Wolf Blitzer said that this idea shocked him. How can it shock him? Seeing the pictures, listening to the reports, understanding the numbers of people who did not evacuate, how can anyone not expect thousands dead?

It seems almost certain that there are more dead than on 9/11. Will it reach Galveston numbers, 6,000 to 10,000? That seems to me to be the real question. And it seems very possible.

Imagine if there had been a direct hit. Actually, it may not be possible to imagine this. I suspect that instead of rooftops poking out of vast lakes we would just see the unbroken, still surfaces of vast lakes.

And I do not want to hear anymore about how oil prices will make us all victims of the hurricane. Paying an extra buck at the pump compares in no way to death, the death of loved ones, or the loss of everything that makes life worth living.

A million plus refugees, most likely. Not waiting to be allowed to go home, but with no home, no job, no nothing… just memories of what has been lost.

Everyone acts like this will be over when the water is drained. It took hundreds of years to build this city. It took hours to destroy it. Does anyone expect a New Year’s Eve broadcast from partiers on Bourbon Street this year? Next year? The year after?

Say a prayer for the survivors. Say a prayer for the dead.

Though such a political statement my not be appropriate here, remember… if we spend $100 Billion rebuilding the Gulf Coast, it is less than we spend in one year on our military activities in Iraq.

If any good comes out of this, than it should be a new perspective on our priorities as a nation.

Say a prayer for America.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Insert pithy title here...

Focus on school for a few months and I miss so much...

The Roberts nomination, Rove's armor of shit cracked, London terrorist attacks, attacks in Egypt... Fourteen other important things that I cannot remember on my first cup of coffee.

One thing I noticed, London gets hit and we have endless hours of cable news navel gazing for days on end. Egypt gets hit, it is the top story, but no breaking reports when a Scotland Yard detective emerges from the john, potentially with new ideas on the case.

I do not lessen the trauma experienced in Britain, and I can understand why a country that we sometimes consider our 51st state may be of more interest, but somehow I feel that imbalance in coverage reflects less our special relationship with London than it does our general lack of concern with the Arab world.

Which is disturbing and has lethal consequences for Americans. It's not like we have any commitments or interests in being well liked in the Mid East...

Oh wait. Even I can remember the war on my first cuppa.

Maybe it is that the Mid East all blurs together? Maybe it is that we are so used to seeing 50 Iraqis blown up at once that we confused the Egyptians with Mesopotamians?

84 dead in Egypt as of this morning, about thirty more than London. And Bush is visiting the ambassador this morning. Good for him.

Well, time to start the day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Random notes...

Busy with school, taxes and life, I have been away from this blog for a while. I am heading into midterms, but I will try to take a few now and then to update here.

I have been wanting to drift away from the snarky comment links log and to actually post some decent writing on this site, but that does take more time than just taking cheap swings at the daily headlines.

But I think it will be a better, though less frequently updated, blog if I follow this route.

Cardinals Take a "Deep Breath:" Pope Benedict XVI

Saw an interesting quote in last week's Time Magazine:

...the Cardinals, in reaction to John Paul's long tenure, could simply
decide not to decide and name either Ratzinger, who is 77, or Ruini, 74, as
Pope. There is scuttlebutt in Rome of this happening: the ascension of
what is, in effect, an interim Pontiff who would for a few years carry out John
Paul II's mandate while the church takes a deep breath and decides where it
really wants to head next.

Friday, April 01, 2005

And be gathered to your family… John Paul II and Terri Schiavo

Death is the theme of the week.

Terri Schiavo died. John Paul II is dying. I hope he lives. I am not a Catholic but he is still my Pope. Maybe the only Pope I will ever be able to say that about. I pray for him.

Death is a messy thing. We are usually able to close our eyes to the end of life, pretending it is in the far future for ourselves and for others we care about, but for the last few weeks all of the dirty details of death have been paraded in our daily headlines. First in the endless hand wringing over the issues surrounding a poor woman who will only be remembered for how she died and then in the final illness and long remembrances of one of the few humans of the 20th Century that will still be talked about in the 22nd Century by school children, not just history majors.

I have been meaning to write something about Terri Schiavo’s slow death for some time, about the process of death, not the process of politics, but I cringe, like most people, at the thought of looking death in the face so I have been conveniently finding reasons to put off writing these words.

I have been lucky in life for nearly a decade. I have not had to bury anyone. But before this period, I had a season of death come to pass where in a matter of months I buried both of my maternal grandparents, my maternal great-grandmother and I almost had to bury my father due to cancer. In the latter case, I had the gut-churning, cross country flight where my father had been given 36 hours to live and my plane was not scheduled to land until the 40th hour of this countdown.

So it has been some time since I have had to deal with death, but with all of the media coverage of these two's emotionally charged last days, we all have been, to varying degrees, dealing with these difficult emotions. Picturing ourselves as Terri’s parents, picturing ourselves as Terri’s husband…

I can imagine the unbearable pain of watching my wife laying in bed, dead to the world for years, decades, and just wanting to find a way to end the suffering for the both of us, freeing each of us to continue on the next steps of the journey. I can also imagine my child laying there in that condition and I can imagine finding comfort for myself, every day, in being able to feel the warmth of my child's living skin. Being able to hold him and to care for him, doing all of the little things that matter for him, loving him and making sure that in every way possible he knew he was loved, even if it was just in my imagination, even if his consciousness was gone forever from the world. Could I replace this warm embrace this with the hard, damp stone of a marble monument drying its dew in the pale light of a cold spring morning?

I do not think I could choose the latter. I can say with certainty, that if I was in Terri’s position, let me go… Let me go… Once all hope has faded, let me go. But could I, with the same prognosis, let my child go? I do not think I could.

And that is why, when my sons come of age, I do not want to be the one to make this decision. And if they have someone in their life willing to take charge of this, out of love, out of hope, I hope they can and I hope I will let them do it. Because I am biased. Because I am too weak.

Because we are not supposed to bury our children, because they are supposed to bury us, I should not be the one in charge of choosing the date of the funeral.

For you shall see the land before you; but you shall not go there...

"This evening or this night, Christ opens the door to the pope"
-Angelo Comastri, the pope's vicar general for Vatican City

There is a lot of brutality in Catholic history but Karol Wojtyla was not afraid to confront it. The brutality Pope John Paul II saw in Poland during the Second World War was even more horrifying, and he was not afraid to confront it. I heard something on the radio today where someone told him that the Soviet/Western cold war would last for 400 years, and he said no. And he put his faith into action and he did everything in his considerable power to stop it. He put his faith into action and used the church, as he could, to stop war, period, as he could. But he couldn’t, and he will surely die before we figure it out as a species and end this madness forever.

He was the first Pope to attempt to reconcile the emotional politics and grievances separating and polarizing the three great monotheistic faiths. For this, even more than his role in ending my childhood nightmares of a Soviet/Western Armageddon, he is my Pope.

Today he accepted the end. He decided to stay in his home, his apartment overlooking the vigil for him in St Peter's Square, instead of being returned to the hospital. Before he fell asleep tonight, he listened to a reading of Jesus’ final days. Once saved by Mary, he turns to the Son at the end.

A gentle morning, God willing, or a peaceful journey… The prayers of the world, reaching far beyond the Church, are with you. And that is why you will always matter.

I can only hope that the Cardinals, when the time comes, look more for a leader who will follow the path blazed by John Paul II and not pander to the politics of demographics. The Catholic Church needs a leader with the vision of the current Pope. Unfortunately, most of the talk has been about Italians and Latin Americans. To me, this debate tarnishes the legacy of John Paul II before he is even buried. Before he has even passed on and before he has even lost his final consciousness. Be sure, he is aware of this debate and this is a shame.

The succession should be based on vision and faith. It needs to be. The work has only started, the path ahead is a long one and the world needs all of the help it can get navigating the ethics of these optimistic, but dangerous, times.

As of now, the shutters are still open... Rest well, Karol Wojtyla, tonight and forever.

UPDATE: April 6, 2005 - 5:17 AM

Signs and portents

This is a little creepy, I just saw it this morning.

Boost for superstitious: Sun to darken on day of Pope's funeral

Almost as creepy as the fact that I was shooting pictures of graves in a Catholic Cemetary when the Pope died.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Republicans move heaven and earth to fail

I've been avoiding writing about this. It is just too... Just too much, I guess. How many months did it take for Congress to pass any legislation following the 9/11 report? One of the major delays was their long recess/vacation that occured a couple weeks after the report was released. (Forgive any timeline errors on my behalf, it is early and I haven't got the research muscles warmed up yet.)

But the conservatives are willing to hold a nearly unheard of special session to trample state and individual rights to keep a woman in Florida alive, in a vegetative state, because they love life, passing an emergency law in the middle of the night alowing the supposedly more conservative federal courts to review the case.

And the result, the courts continue to side with the Florida courts and with her husband, who wants the travesty to end and for his lost wife to finally rest in peace.

Now, it may be on to the Supreme Court. At least the courts appear to be showing some solidarity on this issue. Perhaps, beyond the legal issues, they are a little annoyed by the breakdown of the seperation of powers in this case.

When my two year old acts like this Congress, I give him a short time out. When my kindergartener acts like this, he gets sent to his room. These are the same life lovers who have no problem with torture in Iraq or electrocuting retarted minors in Texas.

But at least we can rest assured that politics did not play a factor. DeLay was on my television a minute ago saying that he would immediately fire any one on his staff if the memo talking about this issue being a political coup for the Republicans was traced back to his office.

Would he fire them for writing the memo, or would he fire them for letting the memo leak? Your guess is as good as mine.

I am making little sense here, but this issue is so perverted and the actions of the Republicans so creepy that I can do little but sit here, sputtering and choking on my bile.

At least there are some decent conservatives and moderate Republicans who find this whole issue distasteful as well. Steve Gilliard explains this train wreck much better than I can.

As I said earlier, I've been avoiding this issue, but seeing the results rolling in from the federal courts on this case, I was inspired to sputter and drool about the issue. My bile rose.

After writing this, I took a long neglected blog tour this morning and learned about Hudson and Nikolouzos in Texas. While the Republicans fight to save Schiavo's life, Texas has a law where "people will have their plugs pulled not because their families want them to die sooner but because their health-care providers don't want to run up a bill for unpaid care."

This seems to be just fine and dandy to the maggots howling about murdering Schiavo.

Schiavo, Hudson, and Nikolouzos

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Bush using bigger words

It’s a lazy morning, half way through my Spring Break time with my boys. After beating myself worthless on the rock of last quarter, I am slowly returning to life. Slowly. I’ve been trying to sleep in, but the boys keep getting up at their normal time. This is fine, but I have a feeling the Kindergartener will not be getting up on his own at 6 AM as soon as school starts up again. Usually at that time in the morning, I have to carry him out of his bedroom.

Anyway, I haven’t been getting my wake up hour in the morning to organize my thoughts or to do any writing. This week, I’d rather sleep. But I do want to make at least one entry this week. So, with a jumbled brain and many (fun) distractions, it has taken me about a half an hour to write these few sentences.

So, today I am just going to throw down a couple of random, ill thought out notes:

Fun with the Bush Administration. How come I have a feeling that when they are discussing tort reform they are not discussing the suit filed against me over one of my son’s medical bills? They are discussing this issue in Congress. They are making it harder for people like me to file for bankruptcy. Most bankruptcies result either from divorce, family illness or job loss. I’ve got something in common with Bush. “Little did I realize we’d get the trifecta.”

Fun with Bush. I have been too scattered this morning to read the article, but supposedly second term Bush is dropping the “ah, shucks, I just be a guy… A regular… Someone just like you who are misunderestimated often, and don’t ‘y’all hate it when people talk down to you, so vote for me” shtick. I am not surprised.

Though I do not believe that Bush is necessarily bright enough for the job, I’ve never quite seen him as being the drooling village idiot (Ok, sometimes for my own amusement, but not in reality). I believe his intellectual issues stem more from his rigidness, his over dependence on his close advisers and his reluctance to seek or consider information or counsel from beyond these tight spheres. Even though this Administration, beyond its last election, is conducting a permanent campaign on behalf of their issues, there are some areas where they are now free to change their image without repercussions from their constituents.

One area where he can help his image is by appearing more intelligent. This will help him politically around the world and with those of us at home who have worried about his intellectual capacity in the past. There is also probably some consideration of his historical legacy at work here. They are probably looking for better quotes for the walls of the library than "Bring 'em on."

This can backfire. People who dislike Bush are not likely to change their opinions because he suddenly seems less oafish, and he could lose some of his support from people who think that he has turned into just another Washington politician, disconnected from the people.

Then again, who knows?

Okay, I read the article. Same conclusions as mine, pretty much. Guess my brain isn't too addled by the break.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The first and last musical?

I turn my head. I do not take the early rounds seriously enough. I have obligations that keep me away from the television, but I console myself knowing that I will start watching the games in the regional semifinals… And, for the second year in a row, I have missed my opportunity to see Gonzaga play in the tournament. Somehow losing to a Bob Knight coached team does not feel as bad as the loss last year to Nevada felt, or it feels worse. I am not sure yet.

Maybe the Bulldogs are catching up on the karma they spent in their NCAA appearances several years ago. Then they were low ranking early round fodder who made it deep into the tournament two years in a row. Maybe they are just being made hungry enough to make it to the Final Four in the next year or two. In any case, the school is being taught humility. I always worry that sudden organization success like the ‘Zags have experienced leaves the team taking their success for granted, and making it dificult for them to push through to the end.

It’s always a bit strange to me, but I feel more affinity for Gonzaga in Spokane than I do with the University of Washington Huskies in Seattle. Even though I only spent two and a half quarters at Seattle University, it will always be my school in my heart and it was a Jesuit school, just like Gonzaga. Though we really didn’t think of ourselves as sister schools or anything like that, I still feel something of a connection when Gonzaga plays. Probably because Seattle University’s basketball program was something of an afterthought in the general scheme of the school.

So, I suppose I can get behind the Huskies if they continue deep into the tournament, they are from my hometown after all, but my team is out. Too early, too early…

Anyway, this is a double post for both the Rubble and the Democracy blogs. Mostly just an update on my recent silence. Came out of the six weeks of illness and injury to dive into the two weeks of frantically getting caught up in my schoolwork. I think I did well. If anything, I may have overcompensated and babbled on for too long in my history and lit essays, but we’ll see. I feel that I did my best, though, so that is what counts. I am confident that I would have pulled a four point if it was not the quarter of constant illness and injury, but I will be happy with whatever grades I receive this quarter.

The world still moves on. My son’s school musical was last week, and they put on a show much more impressive that anything I can remember from my elementary school days. My aunt was there, who is a recently retired elementary school teacher herself, and she was very impressed with the scale of the show.

This week we received a letter essentially asking us to vote on which school program to eliminate next year. Music, PE, or the Librarian.

Can we have a tax revolt where we force them to take more of our money? Or at least to spend more of the money they take on schools? Coupled with this, it was either Intel or Nike, the Tweedle Dee and Dum of the local economy, who was whining about needing more tax breaks last week, too.

I tell them what. If they donate money to my son’s music program, I will lobby for their tax cuts.


That is enough for now.

Monday, February 28, 2005

A new morning in America

The sun nears the horizon. The sky lightens and the yard outside my window takes on the pale glow of the arriving dawn. I sit with my coffee and it is time to write. I need to come up with a piece of a certain manner, of a certain length, and I do not have one ready. The sun is rising, not only on myself, but also on a new morning for all of America, if I am to believe a man who pictures himself as a Ronald Reagan for the new century. And, as morning approaches this shining city on a hill, I look to the day that lies ahead, to digging up an old piece of paper or to filling a fresh one with a new slate of words...

I am a father, a student and a skilled worker laid off from a decent job. So my day? Today it is trying to write that piece of a certain manner, of a certain length, so I do well in my class, so I can achieve more with all the new mornings that America has blessed me with. Today it is books and words and trying to remember where I left the pictures of a lost year’s memories.

And just in case I forgot something, I shuffle through old boxes full of paper... Stories, poems and articles; written, submitted and posted... But none of them fit. I pretend that these old thoughts do not fit for length. Rubble is an old site; there is much refuse left in those bins and much of it is dust. It blows away in the wind. The Democracy site doesn’t do much better, its words are more current, but they age faster and last month’s scribbles fade in the morning’s light.

I am tired so the obvious topics seem too obvious. I have been sick without adequate health coverage while my son goes to school in a district with the shortest academic calendar in the nation. In such a space, there might be grounds for new, fresh words.

I could write about walking this difficult line between corporate greed and state financial shortfalls. Unfortunately, my Mark Twain impression fails me this morning.

Most mornings, I like to scan through a handful of news articles and then to tie them together into a chorus of discontent on the state of the day. I suppose that I could still do this, but while I was ill, I lost the thread of the days. The President was in Europe, mending fences and recruiting cowboys, the Pope was having a hole carved into his neck; these are the stories of the day.

And I am sure that a stranger died in a desert land today. And I am sure that someone saw fear in a handful of dust today. I am sure that someone lonely found love today, too. That someone hungry ate a bite and that someone lost prayed to a new god today, finding the will to continue through one more night towards dawn, towards home...

But it was not me. And I am tired. I am still sick too.

Today, I do not have the strength to dream up the good and I do not have the will to suffer through such random imaginings of pain. Both are out there. Both happened today. But I will not write of them. Maybe tomorrow, but not today.

Instead, I will imagine how to pay the light bill and then I will imagine how to pay the rent. And then, before imagining how to be a wonderful father, I will imagine how I can buy food for my boys.

And then I will write something witty about this new morning in America. Then I will imagine my boys safe from darkness, hunger and fear as they carelessly play in a day-glo plastic playground high on a shining hill, so far above the base realities of the approaching day.

But it is still early and I have not figured out how to write about that vision yet.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A month from hell…

I’ve been “neglecting” these blogs for a month. Not so much neglecting, but I just have not had the time to work on them. It has been a month of sickness and injury. Once my little one was out of the hospital, I got the bug that was triggering his asthma. Then my grandmother, in town to be with her friend while he was having surgery, fell and shattered her wrist, requiring surgery and constant care for several days. Then both boys had ear infections, the big one’s so bad that for one day, he was constantly crying from the pain… And then… And then…

I just nursed the boys through another virus. The big one down hard for about four days, the little one slowed by it.

By last week, all of our schedules were so shattered that the little one would wake up in the middle of the night not knowing where he was, and I was aching to return to our normal routines. Maybe today we can start getting back to normal.

I missed so much school that I am afraid of getting totally buried as we head into the home stretch of the quarter, and any hopes of pulling a 4.0 this quarter are fading fast. Hard study binges during lulls in the illnesses have kept me afloat so far, and I managed to pull Bs and As on my mid-terms (taken with no preparation on three hours sleep; all of them).

This last week, though, I fear that I am severely losing control of my Literature class. Missed two days of class, and two days of catching up on reading, let alone staying current with the new readings… I can pull it off. But it is going to be a crazy, hectic few weeks. Missing the lectures and discussions may be the straw, though, breaking me from a low A or high B down to a low B or even a C.

So, such is life. At least I should be able to finish the classes this quarter. Though there is another aspect to my plan that is damaged now. If I find a job, I was relying on doing really well in all my classes at that point, giving me some grounds to ask my professors to work with me if I needed to miss the end of the quarter. Unfortunately, in my Lit class and in my Desktop Publishing class, I do not believe that my performance is giving me a strong foundation for such special requests.

Blah. This is a double post on both my Democracy and Rubble blogs, most of this is irrelevant for the former. I just wanted to leave a quick note…

Busy Backson.
(Busy, Back soon!)

Monday, February 21, 2005

Rest in peace (If you can...): Hunter S. Thompson

Not a surprise I suppose. Probably more of a surprise that he made it into the new century without chewing on the end of a gun. I remember a Time Magazine article on HST from about ten, fifteen years ago where he set his Christmas tree on fire. I cannot remember if it was intentional or not (but it was surely done for the benefit of the poor writer there to interview him). One has to work hard to keep the myths alive.

I forgot to mention; the tree was still in his living room.

Once drug out into the snow, the tree was also shot several times for good measure.

That was a long time ago and I may be remembering it wrong, but it dosen’t matter. I like the way I remember it. I think, to HST, that would mean more than the reality behind the memory.

Years ago, before it died and was resurrected, the babble below used to live on my old Rubble web site.

I thought it would be a nice thing to repost.

Election 2000: Excerpts From My Journal
By A. F. Litt

November 10, 2000

There was a finally a lull this afternoon, the first one since the shit geared up on Tuesday afternoon, somewhere around 71 hours ago. Along with the lull, I’m having a serious internet outage at home. These two things together allow me to sit here at the neighborhood coffee house and to write this. Not necessarily an opportunity to change the subject in my mind, or to relax much, but at least it is a chance to catch my breath, to step away from my primary feed into the political junkie’s main vein- the raw AP news wire. That was when it was all over for me, finding a link into that damn wire. It was something like 36 hours ago, about five in the morning, eastern time. Suddenly, no more waiting for techies to cut and paste the latest numbers and stories onto their templates, no more waiting for someone to whisper the facts into a frazzled television anchor’s ear… Just the raw wire straight through my eye, straight into my brain. It was beautiful at first, but it became scary fast.

During an event like this election, the internet, to a politics junkie, is like locking a binging addict into a room filled with a year’s supply of booze and drugs and then telling them to go at it. And we’re not going anyplace for a while, not until Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest… Maybe not for weeks, maybe not for months… And the longer it goes, the heavier the trip will be, the harder the actual comedown.

And I represent the worst of the bunch. I am a partisan political junkie. I’m the one who’s gone from straws to needles. I have a side, I have a stake, and I can loose. I’ve been here at the coffee house for about two hours now, and I’m already starting to get the shakes… What’s going on? What’s happening? What if I turned my back and my man went down while I wasn’t looking?

Almost caved a second ago. Almost called a friend to see if anything changed. I have my cell out on the table, just in case… Sometimes I don’t hear it ring when it is in my pocket.

Jesus. I’m a wreck. Sunken eyes from a three day life of short naps and a diet of junk food and coffee. I smell and the flies in this place keep buzzing me, but I’m sure that I look worse. No shower or shave since Tuesday morning… Still wearing the same clothes. Can’t even remember the last time I brushed my teeth or changed my socks. When that internet connection went down, I had no time for hygiene. If I did not escape before it came back on, I would have been trapped.

All I know is welcome to Italy, welcome to Yugoslavia, welcome to 1876… Politically, this country has been vivisected. For the first time in decades, we’ve seen where the lines are really drawn, and they are drawn 50/50 right down the middle. We now know for sure that there are equal numbers of “them” as there are of “us.” All it took was one election that lacked a truly compelling candidate to reveal where the party lines are drawn.

Ah. Just got the call… New numbers for the Washington State Senate race will be in soon. I must go.
-3:15 PM

No call on the Senate, but it closed to 3,000 votes from 14,000 or more. Went out with a friend. Been talking politics the whole time, but I have been so overloaded that it is hard for me to make sense of anything anymore. I’ll know what I’m trying to say, but it is difficult getting the meaning of what I’m trying to say across. I find it difficult caring about any conversation that is not political in nature.

There is an on again, off again lover of mine in the next room, but the mood, or the energy, is not there tonight. I’ve only slept for four hours in the last 36, and about the same goes for the previous 36. I’m running out of gas. I should be going home soon, but I suspect that I may not be.
-8:30 PM

Where did Gore think he was -- in some friendly Civics class? Hell no, he
was in Florida,
arguably the most Vicious & Corrupt state in the
Union. ... Not only that, but he was brazenly invading Florida, trying to steal
it from right under the noses of the whole Bush family. It was a bold move &
brilliantly done, in some ways -- but then so was Lee's decision to invade the
North & attack Gettysburg.

Gore was Doomed in Florida, and he knew it about halfway through Election night. The TV wizards had already given the state & its 25 precious Electoral Votes to Gore, which gave him an early lead and caused wild rejoicing in Democratic headquarters all over the country.

My own immediate reaction was bafflement & surprise, and I think I
almost believed it. ... But not really. The more I brooded on it, the more I was
troubled by waves of Queasiness & shudders of Gnawing Doubt. I felt nervous
& vaguely confused, as if I had just heard a dog speak perfect English for
30 or 40 seconds. That will get your attention, for sure. ... Some people get
permanently de-stabilized by it: Nothing they see with their own eyes will ever
look quite the same to them again. As in ‘I know that the object I'm looking at
is an Egg -- but I also know that if it talks to me like a person, it is not an

-Hunter S. Thompson
Hey, Rube! Page 2

November 14, 2000

Once again it is afternoon at the coffee house. Once again the Senate numbers coming in this afternoon may be definitive. Since the last time I wrote, my internet connection has remained down, but that’s fine. I’ve reached burn out. I’m sick of it. But I am fascinated by the process, the two lawsuits so far, the four or five vote sway in New Mexico… Four or five votes! I am sick of the pundits. The Republicans appealing to their convenient definitions of common sense, the Democrats with their sound arguments that, I admit, do make them sound like they’re whining…

Having the internet down has been a good thing. It made me realize that it has become my primary form of escapism. The election is dominating, but the internet captures me in other ways as well. It is just so compelling to an information junkie like myself. If I want information, I have it in seconds. From election results to sports statistics to an actress’ age. Last night, I really missed it. Nothing exciting on television, and no net to geek out on. No wonder I’ve been reading so little since I had my high-speed connection installed. It wasn’t that I was burned out on reading, or that I was more into writing my own novel instead of reading someone else’s, it was that my attention span was short.

Anyway, some wild swings through Decision 2000…

Friday: So jazzed up that I can’t talk about anything other than the election. The constitution is pulled out twice… Once, early on, by a friend of mine who’s currently studying to be a paralegal, and then again, much later, at a party, the hostess digs her old copy from college out…

Saturday: Burned out as all hell. Sleep most of the day. I decline an invitation to go out that evening, happy to just sit at home, alone, watching bad TV. Notice that there were lawsuits filed, but happy that there is nothing new expected until Monday.

Sunday: Afternoon at the symphony. The Seahawks win their second in a row. Life feels vaguely optimistic. Later on, I have a couple of beers with an old friend of mine who grew up in East Africa. He points out that the election reminds him of the politics back where he came from, before he escaped the revolution. We speak at length about the nature of happiness, my friend doing most of the talking, probably sensing that it is a topic I needed to meditate on that evening.

Monday: Up early to see the results of the hand counting lawsuit. It is thrown out of court, mostly over jurisdictional issues. I spend the day in a deep funk, having much to do with myself, little to do with the election. Sleep a lot. Spend the night watching TV shows that I used to like but that I don’t enjoy anymore. Re-read articles in an 18 month old magazine. Fall asleep around 6:30 AM.

Tuesday: Up occasionally to see the results of the second lawsuit. Both sides make offers to stop the suits, but much more negotiation is necessary. The ruling opens the door for some high nastiness, essentially putting control of the Presidency in the hands of Bush minions. Despite that, I feel better, over all… Wander out for coffee, escaping my room for a bit.

I think I am catching a cold. Once again, the flies are buzzing me. Perhaps it is not a hygiene issue.

November 15, 2000

The headline on today’s paper says Bush by 300, but there is also the phrase I am sick of, “It’s still just too close to call.” Along with that, we still don’t know who our Senator is. I’m hungry and I’m sick. Having a drink, numbing up a bit, wanting to be out of my apartment, but not wanting to be here.

Some woman just screamed out, “I want the president who’s going to bring back drinks for under three dollars! I’m voting for David Letterman.” I should never have left my room tonight.
The Republicans are appealing the decision on the hand counts. The Democrats are trying to get all of their lawsuits (12 or so, counting their own and those filed by Democratic voters) sent straight through to the Florida Supreme Court.

Just a memory. The morning after election day, NBC changed their election logo from Decision 2000 to Indecision 2000. By noon, their sleep deprivation must have worn off, their professionalism kicked back in, and they switched back. Perhaps they realized that Comedy Central’s coverage operates under the Indecision 2000 flag? Who knows?

That’s all for now.

November 16, 2000

Sick. Duh. Volumes of bloody snot.

Kathleen Harris, the republican Secretary of State in Florida, is refusing to accept any election totals not turned in by Tuesday, and the lawsuits are flying. People seem to be polarizing. An interesting poll – If the election were held today, who would you vote for now? The results: 47% Bush, 47% Gore. The people who voted for one are demonizing the others.

Another split is there too. Those who still care and those who just hope that someone tells them who won when it is over so they don’t look silly if the subject comes up. Those of us in the first group, 10 years from now, we’ll still remember the details about Kathleen Harris, Jeb Bush, butterfly ballots, and dimpled, pregnant chads. The others, they’ll need to be reminded that the 2000 election was the wiggy one.

I don’t know which side I’d rather be on at this point. I know more about Florida politics now than I’ve ever wanted to know. But now I’m hooked, and it is too late for me to turn back.

My sinuses feel like one of those overfilled water balloons that explode before you ever get within reach of your target, but that can’t be the only source of my headaches.

It is no accident that this vicious mess has come to a head in Florida. I
know the state well. Florida has been very good to me in many wild &
beautiful ways that still make my whole body hum when I think about them. ... I
know Tallahassee & I know Palm Beach. I have run amok in Naples &
suffered terrible boat crashes in the waters off Miami & the treacherous
channels of Key West. ... I have run aground at midnight on sandbars far out in
the ocean; I have lost control of my boat in many posh marinas & been
rescued at sea by the Coast Guard so often that they came to recognize my voice
on the short-wave radio. I have known great happiness in Florida & I still
have a certain love for it.

But I also know it to be the most corrupt & profoundly degenerate state in the Union. So many of its elected officials are so openly For Sale that politics in Florida is more like an auction than a democratic process. Its Congressmen have been jailed for Felony Fraud & its Senators have routinely committed more heinous crimes than Richard Nixon was ever accused of. ... More murders & rapes go unreported in Florida each year than in Corsica & Sicily combined. The state has no Income Tax & essentially no Law. Its cities are ruled by Depraved sots & its Universities are snake-pits of cheating & random sex in Public. The libraries are filled with Beer-Drunkards looking for Skull sessions & beautiful girls who are
proud & Eager to oblige them. Oral sex is more common on the streets of Miami in the daylight hours than anywhere else in America.

-Hunter S. Thompson
Hey, Rube! Page 2

November 19, 2000

Been bad sick the last few days. Laid in bed whimpering and moaning all day Saturday, then blew a slug sized mass out of my sinuses and felt a little better. The Florida State Supremes will be making their ruling on the recounts tomorrow, I believe… We’ll know a little more then.

As far as the news goes at this point, I hate to admit that I am much more interested in the comedy of the situation now than I am in the moment by moment facts. Half skipped a friend’s show at the bar down stairs from my place last night so I could watch Saturday Night Live. Mostly skipped because I am still too sick to move.

There is little decent and nothing good in the world right now… My life has been nothing if not a reflection of this over the last few weeks.

By all accounts, Al and Joe have won the popular vote at this point, but if they win the Presidency, there will be no electoral reform, and of course the same goes for Dubbya and Dick. If it goes to the Democrats, abolishing the Electoral College would play about as well as Ford’s pardon of Nixon, and if the Republicans win they are not going to abolish the check and balance that got them into the office in the first place. That would be admitting that the job actually belonged to Gore. There will be no new constitutional amendments going through Congress in 2001.

Balances and checks… Checks and balances… This last month has put a lot in perspective for me. All the clutter is starting to make sense. Personally, I’ve been through some up times, been through some down times, looking at my own strengths and weaknesses, trying to develop a solid course of action… I’ve been through these cycles before, and it’s productive to recognize these things, but not to dwell on them… But like always, when one’s sense of perspective returns, you are always left wondering “Why was I worried about that?”

November 21, 2000

Strange, strange day.

And let’s be grateful that there’s no Presidential recount in the State of Washington, which appears to bring the ballots in by Pony Express and then let
them age in oak casks for a month or two before they’re ready to be sampled.

-Gail Colins
New York Times Op-Ed Columnist
November 21, 2000

November 28, 2000

Last Wednesday was an odd one. I just returned from the trip that was supposed to begin that day, but did not commence until Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, instead. I have much to write about, but I am almost too tired to write now. Long day ahead tomorrow, so I’ll throw down a random jumble of thoughts and hope that they make some sort of sense…

Last Wednesday, I was supposed to take a bus from Seattle to Moses Lake, Washington, about 200 miles east of here, so I could spend the holiday with my Grandmother and other family members in a small town of 150 people called Hartline. This town is about an hour’s drive north of where the bus was supposed to let me off. Not to be redundant, just to be clear… The plan was to ride the ‘hound 200 miles into the middle of nowhere, turn left, and then go an hour beyond nowhere.

Unfortunately the only bus I could catch would drop me off in Moses Lake around 11 PM. The thought of my Grandmother driving for an hour through the wintery night on those icy roads did not sound good, plus I was still getting over my illness and wasn’t sure if I’d be up for driving the midnight drive back to Hartline myself. All in all, it sounded like way to much opportunity for my Grandmother to lose control of the car, skid into the sagebrush, and to not be found until the morning.

So I changed my travel plans.

Skip to Friday when, after sitting in a truck stop in the middle of nowhere for several hours, I got a call from a sheriff’s deputy informing me that my Grandmother, in the middle of the afternoon, lost control of her car and skidded off the road into the sagebrush. She was all right, the car is still being diagnosed… What I learned later is that while the back country roads were clear and dry that wintery Wednesday night, they were sacked in by eight inches of snow by Friday afternoon.

Just because a plan looks good on paper, it doesn’t mean a damn thing when confronted with reality. At least it was in the afternoon and she wasn’t stranded out there in the middle of the night.

Politically it’s strange country out there. It’s God-fearing and conservative. For the younger voters, it’s solid Bush (Shrub) Country. On the flip side, Hartline is about 20 miles south of the Grand Coulee Dam. This small town of wheat farmers was pretty much saved back in the day by the Dam and the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project. My Grandmother is about as rabid of a Roosevelt/New Deal Democrat as you’ll ever find. I’m sure she’s not the only one around there.

About the last thing I expected to find out there, considering these things, was a Nader voter, but there he was… My Grandmother’s friend and his son, both Nader voters. He chuckled and said that in his town, Almira, about 10 miles away, a whisker’s length larger than Hartline, there were three Nader votes published in the precinct’s results. They couldn’t figure out who the third vote came from. Still, the news channel of choice was Fox News Channel, and The O’Reilly Factor was watched too often for my comfort. Balanced coverage my ass.

Still, if it weren’t for the deadlocked numbers going into November 7th, I might have voted for Ralph myself. Where Grandma’s friend had the wherewithal to say, essentially, “they both suck, I’m going over here,” my concerns about an election just like this one led me to vote for Gore. Not only to vote for Gore, but to convince several Naderites to pull the donkey lever as well. In the end, in Washington State, the margin of victory was enough than we all should have voted for Nader. Still, despite my current doubts, I have to remember that Gore was my man in the race, and he has been since 1992 when, after Bill’s victory speech, I got half a Seattle University dorm chanting "Gore 2000, Gore 2000…"

Quite different from the first few days, weeks even, of this thing, there is no longer the constant stream of new news and information to be had. Now there is the semi-daily kernel of new information that is manipulated, twisted, pressurized, carbonated, dosed with artificial colors and flavors, and then sprayed, through the media, out over the public. The news these days might as well be covering Coke and Pepsi’s most recent feints and dodges in the cola wars as they are politics. You know who is going to say what about what. I was sick of it a while back, I’m nauseated by it now. But I’m a junkie. I still watch. Even if it’s O’Reilly.

The most interesting news I heard over there, I must admit, is that the Seattle Sonics finally dumped Paul Westphal as their coach. Better than that, even, they replaced him with Nate Mc Millan. Got rid of the loser, put in the guy who has been the real leader of the team for years, while in uniform, long before the Sonics management and owner ever decided to drop a consistently winning, though flawed, coach for Mr. Skippy the bootlicker.

God. I can’t even write about sports without it reminding me of the current political situation. Still, it makes me wonder if maybe we, as a nation, should have given Nader, the cool but unproven new face, a closer look. Nate came out and led the Sonics to some immediate, impressive victories. Mr. Sonic, in his new role, in charge of the whole show, is kicking some ass.

December 4, 2000

The last month, or the last month of the first year? Really, how can we be expected to choose a President when we can’t even tell time?

Three dreams of the mountain. Reading too much Dante here recently. Watch where you are going. Look out! Look out! There may be dragons ahead. The boat with wings for a sail is pushed on towards some distant, impossible shore, carrying its cargo of the near damned…

I quit smoking last Friday. Or, I started the quitting process. Forgive my babbling, my head is not so clear.

Long scribbles of half lies and nearly full truths, but how do dreams end? Perhaps all dreams are but one dream, a single other place of existence that we spend a few hours in each night, whether we remember our time there or not.

There is a girl sitting behind me obsessing on coasts. “I’m so west coast. Every bone in me is west coast. And when I go back east, I try to pretend that I am from the east coast, but it doesn’t work, and that’s why I want to move to L.A.” She has a high, chirpy, barky voice and resembles a character out of my book, which I must say is not a flattering comparison for her. She’s probably 22 or so, and is very liquored up, whining about a meeting she has tomorrow morning at a quarter to eight. It is nearly midnight now.

I think that there may be some truth in the thought that we get the government that we deserve.

December 7, 2000

Bored, but not… Stuff to do, but time for slack… It is good.

Just got a call from a woman I had a fling with a couple years ago. Odd. We’ve been seeing each other around here and there recently, and I’m starting to think that whole thing might gear up into another swing through old times, so to speak, but who knows? My life seems to be crawling with former lovers and other old faces and names from the past here recently. Seems like a theme for the times.

I’ve been feeling pretty good about things the last few days. An interesting note… The better I feel about my own life, the less I care about the still unresolved election. It’s a good day, a good week. Last week, there was tear gas in the streets, but that is becoming a common occurrence here in Seattle. Hell, pretty soon we’ll all be immune to that crap anyway, and they’ll have to develop stronger, more effective crowd control agents. Or maybe the mayor and the police will learn how not to do things like turning a peaceful celebration of the WTO anniversary into another excuse for a “riot.” I guess we all celebrate things in our own ways.

But it’s a good day. A good week, I think. Tired today. Been running around downtown and back all day, and used up all my energy. Maybe it’s a good day because I quit quitting smoking today. Maybe I’m tired because I lost that battle yet again.

December 8, 2000

Ack… It looked like it would be over this weekend. Now it is wide open again. The Florida Supremes, in a four to three vote, have ordered a recount of the “undervote” ballots for the entire state… It looks like there will be no resolution by Dec. 12, so the Legislature will vote in their own electors. Gore will probably have his own slate by then, saying he only needs something like 164 votes to win now.

A month ago, I just wanted it over on election day, no matter who won. Then I wanted it to keep going…

Now I just want a nap.

There was one exact moment, in fact, when I knew for sure that Al Gore would
Never be President of the United States, no matter what the experts were saying
-- and that was when the whole Bush family suddenly appeared on TV and openly
scoffed at the idea of Gore winning Florida. It was Nonsense, said the Candidate, Utter nonsense. ... Anybody who believed Bush had lost Florida was a Fool. The Media, all of them, were Liars & Dunces or treacherous whores trying to sabotage his victory.

They were strong words and people said he was Bluffing. But I knew better. Of course Bush would win Florida. Losing was out of the question. Here was the whole bloody Family laughing & hooting & sneering at the dumbness of the whole world on National TV.

The old man was the real tip-off. The leer on his face was almost frightening. It
was like looking into the eyes of a tall hyena with a living sheep in its mouth. The sheep's fate was sealed, and so was Al Gore's. ... Everything since then has been political flotsam & Gibberish…

There are rumors in Washington that Gore's most trusted advisors have sealed him off so completely that he still firmly believes he Won. ... Which is True, on some scorecards, but so what? Those cards don't count... George W. Bush is our President now, and you better start getting used to it. He didn't actually steal the White House from Al Gore, he just brutally wrestled it away from him in the darkness of one swampy Florida night. He got mugged, and the local Cops don't give a damn...

Bush is an Unhappy winner. He will be beaten like a rat in a waste-basket & he will age 14 years in the next Four.

The Bush family has already Corrupted the Presidency & the U.S. Supreme Court.
Millions of Americans will never again be Confident that their vote will be
counted in any election. All we need now is the squalid Spectacle of Jeb Bush on
TV, saying ‘I am Not a Crook.’

-Hunter S. Thompson
Hey, Rube! Page 2

December 13, 2000

The end? Tonight’s probably the night. It’s cold and it’s been snowing off and on all day. Gore’s speech is at six, Bush’s at seven. Not completely unexpected, but it is still shitty.

Personally, I think Gore should formally suspend all of his campaign activities but not formerly withdraw until after the electoral college has had it’s say. There is, with having won the popular vote, a chance that the college will have the three unloyal electors he needs to win. It would be a fine line, though. He should not appear to be lobbying them. He has the rest of us for that.

Still, a full concession at this point is understandable. Who really would want the job any more? A one term lame duck outing at the best. More important to the history books than to the people. I still think Gore would be more effective, and I doubt that Bush has the character to look anything but a fool in the job. I’m betting he gets straight out of the gate whimpering and whining tonight. Or even worse. We’ll see.

Soon I can go home. I need a good night’s sleep.

Damn, I knew this would happen. Someone just turned the channel. Only the politics junkies here are still interested. Most people, now that they know the winner, are more interested in the basketball game than they are in seeing either one of these faces any more. Not for another four years at least. That could be scary. No one keeping an eye on Dubbya and Dick? I just got a chill.

Gore’s Speech… A full concession. Expects the Electoral College to ratify Bush on the 18th. All but declared his candidacy for 2004.

Bush’s Speech… Pulled out some notes from an old campaign stump speech. Way to be one of them there good doing uniters…

Jesus, I’m going home to bed. Wake me in four years. Until then, slap a sticker on my forehead that reads, “Don’t blame America, we voted for Gore.”

In light of these events… America is canceled.

-Weekend Update,
Saturday Night Live

OK. That horrible farce is Over now. Everybody can Relax and get back to
sports ... unless you happen to live in Tennessee. Because when Al Gore says he
"will spend some time in Tennessee, mending fences" ... well, ho ho. I would
feel very nervous if I lived down the road from the Ol' Gore place in Carthage
right now.

When hill people start talking about ‘mending fences’ just after suffering a brutal public beating, they are not thinking about pounding nails into wooden posts. They are already cooking up a punishment down there tonight.

It will be more savage than the Hatfields & McCoys when the Boss gets home for the holidays. Some of his neighbors are already Doomed, and others will flee the state in a long caravan going south to Florida for Xmas. Many will have dead animals stuffed down their chimneys, or get burned out by mysterious fires. Thousands of government jobs will be terminated and fancy farms will go on the block for a dime on the dollar. That is how big-time Politics works, in the South or anywhere else. When you Cross a still-powerful Loser, you'd better leave town when you can see him coming.

-Hunter S. Thompson
Hey, Rube! Page 2

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Abuse by Iraqi Security Forces

If anyone has had a chance to check out any of the Iraqi bloggers, this item should come as no surprise.

Iraqi forces 'committing abuse'

Torture Still Routine in Iraqi Jails, Report Says

At least it is being reported by a legitimate news outlet, since no one wants to believe the bloggers.

Now I want someone to report on the abuse committed against me and millions of Americans this morning, a several minute debate on CNN over the admissibility of Michael Jackson's "erotic" material in his upcoming trial.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A call to arms...

Thursdays are busy for me, so I have only had a chance to scan the speach...

Is this a call for the US to launch WWIII?


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Howard Dean for DNC Chair

I am still not sure if I think Dean is the one for this position or not, but I do admit that I am leaning in this direction. I really appreciated the perspective he had on issues challenging the Democratic Party presented in his announcment e-mail and in his television appearances on the day he went public with his decision.

If Dean is your pony, the following e-mail from Democracy for America explains the process and what comes next...

I know this post is a couple days behind, but sometimes a body needs a break.

Since Governor Dean has entered the race for DNC Chair, thousands of you have been asking in email and on the blog: what comes next? I wanted to write to you about how the process works, how we can win and -- most importantly -- how you can help.

Here's how the process works: less than a month from today, on February 12, the 447 members of the Democratic National Committee (made up of leaders from across the country) will meet to select a new chairman. Between now and their vote, DNC members from various states will be holding a series of forums and listening sessions to hear from candidates and grassroots Democrats -- these events have already begun.

As Governor Dean crisscrosses the country, he will try to meet face-to-face with as many DNC members as possible. He has a strategy for this race not unlike his strategy for our party's future -- stand up for what you believe, make a clear case for reform, and fight for every single vote.

Other candidates for DNC Chair have put together high-powered slates of wealthy fundraisers to support their campaigns. That's not how we do things. By relying on financial support from small donors, Governor Dean will be accountable only to you. Make a contribution now to support his candidacy -- and to show that we really mean it when we say we want a Democratic Party accountable to the people:

The plan for nonstop person-to-person outreach to DNC members requires relentless travel, staff resources, and materials to inform voting members about Governor Dean, his record, and his plan to rebuild a lasting Democratic majority.

Governor Dean wants a Democratic Party that competes in all 50 states every single year -- not just 18 states every four years. He wants a Democratic Party that thrives on grassroots energy and stops putting our fate in the hands of consultants who lose elections over and over again. He wants a party that stands for reform.

We can't afford to let superficial pundits, the Republican spin machine, or insiders addicted to the status quo define this race -- the stakes are too high. Governor Dean needs your help to put his record of leadership and his plan for fundamental change in front of DNC members.

Please contribute whatever you can to help:

You can also help support the campaign by doing what you do best -- organizing in your local community. On January 20, George Bush will spend tens of millions of dollars celebrating with his richest supporters. That same night you can host your friends for your own party -- celebrating the victories of progressive candidates up and down the ballot.

You helped elect Dean Dozen candidates across the country -- a Governor in Montana, a Mayor in Utah, and an African-American woman to the bench in Alabama -- along with dozens of other fiscally responsible, socially progressive candidates at every level of office. And your hard work helped more people vote to replace George Bush than any other sitting president in history. Democracy for America has a lot to celebrate.

Most of all your parties will support Governor Dean's campaign for DNC Chair in the crucial weeks before the vote. We've launched brand new tools to make it easier than ever to invite your friends over and plan your party -- get started right now:

This race will be tough. Some people would rather have a position of influence in a losing party than make the reforms necessary to build a lasting majority. We may not win this race, but we can only achieve change if we step into the fray and fight for it. Together we could shape not only the future of the Democratic Party but the future of our country -- so let's get to work.

Thank you.

Tom McMahon
Executive Director
Democracy for America

Here is a good article on Dean...
The Assassination of Howard Dean

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Technical Notes...

I've been stuck on an ancient computer for a while, but tonight I finally had a chance to view some of my websites on some other browsers...

Apparently I owe an apology to people using Mac OS X with Internet Explorer. I do not know if it was the computer I was on or the combination, but I got the good old drop the articles below the Archives/Links column trick...

Forgive me, it is late and my jargon is dead.

Anyway, sooner or later (probably the latter), I will try to get away from using the lousy Blogger template anyway.

Until then...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Howard Dean Makes Run for DNC Chair Official

Almost simultaneously this morning I saw the broadcast e-mail from Democracy for America and had the Doctor himself pop-up on my TV.

I have very mixed feelings about this. I fear that, for the first time in my memory, the national committee chairman may be an issue in the campaigns of the actual candidates, but then again, that may not be bad.

Yes, I do fear the whole… “Look, the party of liberals run by liberals” rhetoric rolling out of the Republican machine, but if Dean can help the Democrats get control of the message first and hang on to it, this should be countered. A Republican talking head (one of the less rabid ones) on CNN is already beating the Dean will make the Democrats the party of Bed and Jerry’s and Michael Moore drum.

Besides, as so many others point out, centrist Democrat presidential candidates are running at .500 and are in danger of not making the playoffs.

Maybe we need to define a brand of “New Liberalism” for the future.

As for Dean, on his CNN appearance, his words sounded good. His message was mine. Everything I have talked about on this site (though admittedly, not as often as I would like…)

Primarily, he wants to…
Ramp up the grassroots efforts, such as precinct workers and get out the vote efforts, saying that the Democrats are “twenty years behind the Republicans” in this area.

Define the Party: In words I used here some time ago, when you think of Republicans, two or three words immediately come to mind (politics, not obscenities, people…), but when you think of Democrats, it is difficult to do this. We need to build an identity for this party.

Tighten up the message control. The Republicans and their conservative spin army own our asses when it comes to this. We are their bitches. This can and needs to be fixed.

If Dean can do these things, while building party unity, then he is my man. I will need to take a look at the other candidates before I really get behind Dean, but it is probably time to get off the fence.

Here is the broadcast e-mail I received:

As I have traveled across our country, I have talked to thousands of people who are working for change in their own communities about the power of politics to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. Every group I have spoken to, I encouraged them to stand up for what they believe and to get involved in the electoral process -- because the only sure way to make difference is to step up and run for office yourself.

Today, I'm announcing my candidacy for the Chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee.

The Democratic Party needs a vibrant, forward-thinking, long-term presence in every single state and we must be willing to contest every race at every level. We will only win when we show up and fight for the issues important to all of us.

Another integral part of our strategy must be cultivating the party's grassroots. Our long term success depends on all of us taking an active role in our party and in the political process, by volunteering, going door to door and taking the Democratic message into every community, and by organizing at the local level. After all, new ideas and new leaders don't come from consultants; they come from communities.

As important as organization is, it alone can no longer win us elections. Offering a new choice means making Democrats the party of reform -- reforming America's financial situation, reforming our electoral process, reforming health care, reforming education and putting morality back in our foreign policy. The Democratic Party will not win elections or build a lasting majority solely by changing its rhetoric, nor will we win by adopting the other side's positions. We must say what we mean -- and mean real change when we say it.

But most of all, together, we have to rebuild the American community. We will never succeed by treating our nation as a collection of separate regions or separate groups. There are no red states or blues states, only American states. And we must talk to the people in all of these states as members of one community.

That word -- 'values' -- has lately become a codeword for appeasement of the right-wing fringe. But when political calculations make us soften our opposition to bigotry, or sign on to policies that add to the burden of ordinary Americans, we have abandoned our true values.

We cannot let that happen. And we cannot just mouth the words. Our party must speak plainly and our agenda must clearly reflect the socially progressive, fiscally responsible values that bring our party -- and the vast majority of Americans -- together.

All of this will require both national perspective and local experience. I know what it's like to lead hands-on at the state level and I know what it's like to run for national office.

With your help, this past election season, Democracy for America, already started creating the kind of organization the Democratic Party can be. This past election cycle, we endorsed over 100 candidates at all levels of government -- from school board to U.S. Senate. We contributed almost a million dollars to nearly 750 candidates around the country and raised millions of dollars for many more candidates.

Together, we helped elect a Democratic governor in Montana, a Democratic mayor of Salt Lake County, Utah and an African American woman to the bench in Alabama. Fifteen of the candidates we endorsed had never run for office before -- and won.

I also have experience building and managing a local party organization. My career started as Democratic Party chair in Chittenden County, Vermont. I then ran successful campaigns: for state legislature, lieutenant governor and then governor. In my 11-year tenure as governor, I balanced the state's budget every year.

I served as chair of both the National Governors' Association and the Democratic Governors' Association (DGA). And as chair of the DGA, I helped recruit nearly 20 governors that won -- even in states like Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi.
All of these experiences have only reaffirmed what I know to be true. There is only one party that speaks to the hopes and dreams of all Americans. It is the party you have already given so much to. It is the Democratic Party.

We can win elections only by standing up for what we believe.

Thank you and I look forward to listening to your concerns in the weeks ahead.
Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

Dean to Seek Democratic Chairmanship

An interesting look at Howard Dean

Monday, January 10, 2005

Quick, random note on the traditional media (It Sucks...)

I think about this a lot.

The Righties hate the evil Mainstream Media, the Lefties hate the evil Mainstream Media. The Righties call it Liberal, the Lefties notice that the supposedly liberal media hasn't done them any favors recently...

So which is it? Left or Right? And I am not talking about Rush, Fox, Air America, or anyone's Editorial/Opinion Page.

No, it is not politically slanted. It is just bad. That is all.

Not bad as in evil, but bad as in incompetent. As in bad journalists, bad editors, bad producers... Even some of the old pros have fallen into the cess pool of weak attribution and a complete avoidance of in-depth reporting on difficult, complex issues; even experienced people who know better (Yes, Danny, I'm squinting at you now).

We, the consumers of the media, are slanted. So when we see bad journalism, we think it is slanted towards the other side. But in the end, there is no slant, just inane coverage of complex issues that pisses everyone off.

Back in 1991, I was a Senior in high school looking at a career in journalism. I attended at National Press Club conference for the supposed best and brightest student journalists in the country. I took a look at the people at that conference, imagined what the media would look like in 10 years with these people in it, and found a new career goal.

Over 10 years later, the media looks even worse than I imagined.

And I held out for awhile, I didn't stick my fork into the "MSM" until the 2004 Campaigns. And this antipathy is still reserved, mostly, for broadcast news.

But in the end, my TV is still on CNN as I write this. What's a body to do?

UPDATE: January 11, 2005
I was in a mood yesterday morning when I wrote this. I hand't heard about the CBS report yet...

So, double everything I said above.

Atrios runs down some examples of bad journalism over the last few years in his post What Liberal Media

No Blood Feud Between Clinton and W

I wrote the following this morning as a comment on a conservative blog that was using this article to bash the Liberal Media (unfortunately, he didn't tell me where to find the Liberal Media...)

He is one of the few conservative bloggers I've seen that doesn't actually hate Clinton. Actually called him "a very good president."


Anyway, I though my comment would make a decent post here...

Well, if we hold W to the same standards as some of the above comments hold Clinton to, then it would be fair to say that no President has any influence, except as a political spokesperson and in the area of foreign policy. There is probably quite a bit of truth there.

And Clinton did do more to get OBL than Bush did before 9/11, though I can allow that this might have changed if W had more time to get settled into the office before the attacks.

I know that there are Clinton people and there are W people and that we may be able to find common ground on our politics, but not with these two personalities.

As far as the MSNBC article, you are right and that it does not mention any time that Clinton reached out to W. This doesn't mean it didn't happen, just that it was not reported here.

Still, I would guess that it was W reaching out to Clinton though. W was rough on the man during the 2000 campaign, and I would be surprised if Clinton had a lot of warmth for his successor initially.

To me, it seems to be one of those "only Nixon could go to China" situations.

Finally, the ex-presidents club is a tiny one. For W it is even smaller, since I have the sense that his father tries to stay out of the way, so he is not the greatest resource for counsel and guidence.

Anyone who has held the office is going to have value as an advisor to the current occupant of the office. This is probably true for every job imaginable, from corner store clerk to Leader of the Free World. I'd say that W does have something to gain from a friendly relationship with Clinton, but I also believe that the warmth is valid and honest.

It just took awhile after the 2000 campaign for the dust to settle and clear and for a warm relationship between these two to become possible.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

What Iraq Really Needs: American Trained Death Squads

Coming Soon to a Quagmire Near You...

‘The Salvador Option’: The Pentagon may put Special-Forces-led assassination or kidnapping teams in Iraq

I saw this after I spent some time reading Iraqi bloggers. They are already done with us. They already think we are as bad or worse than Saddam was.

They are also convinced that the US used (and is still using) chemical weapons. They have pictures, though the images are inconclusive to me.

You know what will really win their hearts and minds?

How about some fucking death squads?

It makes me ill.

U.S. Considers Elite Hit-Squads for Iraq -Report

UPDATE: January 11, 2005

The problem with death squads, besides, you know, their whole raison d'etre, is that when they're comprised of local citizens, they bear their local grudges with them. Imagine if your neighbor who thinks your dog shits on his lawn everyday was all of a sudden given the power to determine whether or not you were an enemy sympathizer. How fast would your ass be Gitmo-ized? You get it, kids?

from The Horror of History by the rude pundit.

A non-violent citizen siege to greet the President at his inauguration

My line is that Bush won. Doesn't mean I like it...

Rapid Refund...

I usually avoid photos. I am lazy and they require 13 seconds of work. But I couldn't resist this one.

Since I haven't said anything about the whole Armstrong Williams thing, I'll just post this instead. See, I am still lazy like that...

Patridiots told me to do this. Post This Everywhere, they say, so who am I to argue?

Open War in Iraq...

While the world's attention has been on the disaster in Asia, the situation in Iraq has deteriorated so much that the insurgency has developed into near-open warfare.

The head of Iraq's intelligence service Gen Muhammad Shahwani now puts the number of insurgents at 200,000, of which 40,000 are said to be the hard core and the rest active supporters.

These figures do not represent an insurgency. They represent a war.

Blistering attacks threaten Iraq election

Until recently, the US military has talked of there being about 25,000 fighters in Iraq.

Gen Shahwani has not just upped the estimate, but has put it into the wider context of the active guerrilla support which perhaps gives a truer picture. There are 150,000 US troops.


The level of attacks is now so intense and sophisticated that it is not surprising that the former British representative to the former Coalition Authority, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, said recently that the insurgency was "irremediable" and "ineradicable" by US and other foreign troops alone.

"It depends on the Iraqis. We have lost the primary control," he said.

Recent events indicate that Iraqis have lost the primary control as well.

This is not good... The following might be...

US reviews Iraq military strategy

The Pentagon is sending a retired senior general to Iraq to review overall military operations there.

A spokesman said Gen Gary Luck would mainly assess progress in training Iraqis to take over security - a key exit strategy for US forces.


As well as assessing Iraqi forces, he will also look at overall US operations against insurgents, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

A surprising development... not.

...and far from being able to cut US troop numbers as it had hoped, the Pentagon now has more personnel in Iraq than ever - more than 150,000.

As a result, a senior US army official has also said the army is likely to ask for a permanent increase of 30,000 in its strength.

And some validation for Rumsfeld...

The seven soldiers killed on Friday were travelling in a Bradley armoured fighting vehicle.

The Bradley is the most heavily-protected US vehicle after the Abrams tank.

Who needs armor in an open war? If your card is drawn, you are still going to die.

At a time like this, we really need some good news...

Army Reserve Is 'Hamstrung' by Its Policies, General Warns

Ah, man... I guess not today...

The Army Reserve is unable to meet its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan because of "dysfunctional" personnel policies that senior Army and Pentagon officials have refused to change, its top general has told senior Army leaders.

Today in Iraq refers to this article:

“The Army Reserve is unable to meet its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan because of ‘dysfunctional’ personnel policies that senior Army and Pentagon officials have refused to change, its top general has told senior Army leaders. The officer, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, said in a memorandum that the demands of overseas commitments combined with restrictive mobilization policies were hampering the Reserve's ability to fill such essential jobs as engineers, truck drivers and civil affairs specialists….The Reserves, General Helmly said, are ‘rapidly degenerating into a “broken” force.’”

A Lower Standard for the Attorney General...

"There's a lower standard, frankly, for attorney general than for judge, because you give the president who he wants," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, ... appearing on "Today."

Specter: Gonzales confirmation likely

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Friday he feels certain that Alberto Gonzales will be confirmed as attorney general despite concerns about his role in a Bush administration legal doctrine that critics said undermined prisoner-of-war protections and a law against torture.

From the BBC:

A senior senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrat Patrick Leahy, said the Bush administration in its first four years had set out to "minimise, distort and even ignore our laws, our policies and international agreements on torture and treatment of prisoners".

"America's troops and citizens are at greater risk because of those actions," he said.

Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy said: "The issue of your commitment to the rule of law is what most concerns us."

I never really thought that the hearings would lead to Gonzales removing his name from consideration, or to the Senate flat out telling the Administration no.

I was looking forward to the hearings, though, figuring that it would be good for the public to be exposed to the details on the Administration's approach to the Geneva Convention and to torture.

Originally, I expected the Administration's image to be damaged by the hearings, even if Gonzales was confimed.

Unfortunately, there is this other big story that is eclipsing the hearings...

Note to the media: I understand that the survival stories are compelling, but you are hurting America, not helping disaster victims, by giving events in our own country such a low profile at this time.

"Would you not concede that your decision and the decision of the president to call into question the definition of torture, the need to comply with the Geneva Conventions, at least opened up a permissive environment of conduct?" asked Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat.

Gonzales said he was sickened and outraged by photos of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. He described the U.S. troops in those photos as "people who were morally bankrupt having fun." Other abuses of foreign detainees probably occurred because "there wasn't adequate training, there wasn't adequate supervision," he said.


"Torture and abuse will not be tolerated by this administration," Gonzales assured senators. "I will ensure the Department of Justice aggressively pursues those responsible for such abhorrent actions."

Low ranking soldiers, watch out and play it straight, the gloves are off and there could be the need for many of you to take the fall, ensuring that high ranking officers and civilians in the Administration are not held accountable for "such abhorrent actions."

Well, maybe not...

Soldier cleared in drowning case

A US military court has cleared an army sergeant of killing an Iraqi civilian by ordering him into the River Tigris.

But Sgt Tracy Perkins was found guilty of assault on the man, Zaidoun Hassoun, who the prosecution say was drowned.

He was accused of ordering Mr Hassoun and his cousin into the river at gunpoint in the Iraqi city of Samarra, north of Baghdad, a year ago.

Okay, this is a complicated case... There is no proof that there was actually a death, but it is still a shining example of America's successful campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

Mind you, these men were not forced to go stand in water, they were thrown off of a bridge.

Perkins was accused of killing Zaidun Hassun, 19, by having soldiers force him and a cousin off a ledge above the Tigris river in Samarra, Iraq in January 2004.

The cousin, Marwan Fadil, testified on Wednesday that the soldiers tossed the two at gunpoint into the water after they begged for mercy and then laughed as Hassun drowned.

Maybe there should be an investigation into this seemingly systemic culture of abusive behavior?

There have been eight major official investigations into allegations of prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

A further three are outstanding.

US to hold new Guantanamo inquiry

Meanwhile, back at the hearings...

Mr Gonzales told the Senate: "I am deeply committed to ensuring that the US government complies with all its legal obligations... [including] of course the Geneva Conventions whenever they apply."

Gonzales Hands Dems Some Rope: Will They Use It?

I doubt it. I had to dig deep to find this exchange in the first place...

LEAHY: The Bybee memo concludes that a president has authority as commander in chief to override domestic and international law as prohibiting torture and can immunize from prosecution anyone -- anyone -- who commits torture under his act.

Whether legal or not, he can immunize them.

Now, as attorney general, would you believe the president has the authority to exercise a commander-in-chief override and immunize acts of torture?

GONZALES: First of all, sir, the president has said we're not going to engage in torture under any circumstances.

And so you're asking me to answer a hypothetical that is never going to occur.

This president has said we're not going to engage in torture under any circumstances.

And therefore, that portion of the opinion was unnecessary and was the reason that we asked that that portion be withdrawn.

LEAHY: But I'm trying to think what type of opinions you might give as attorney general. Do you agree with that conclusion?

GONZALES: Sir, again --

LEAHY: You're a lawyer, and you've held a position as a justice of the Texas Supreme Court, you've been the president's counsel, you've studied this issue deeply.

Do you agree with that conclusion?

GONZALES: Senator, I do believe there may come an occasion when the Congress might pass a statute that the president may view as unconstitutional.

And that is a position and a view not just of this president, but many, many presidents from both sides of the aisle.

Obviously, a decision as to whether or not to ignore a statute passed by Congress is a very, very serious one.

And it would be one that I would spend a great deal of time and attention before arriving at a conclusion that in fact a president had the authority under the Constitution to --

LEAHY: Mr. Gonzales, I'd almost think that you'd served in the Senate, you've learned how to filibuster so well, because I asked a specific question:

Does the president have the authority, in your judgment, to exercise a commander-in-chief override and immunize acts of torture?

GONZALES: With all due respect, Senator, the president has said we're not going to engage in torture.

That is a hypothetical question that would involve an analysis of a great number of factors.


That is an indisputably unacceptable response.

His evasiveness is unacceptable, and his implied answer -- that the president can give immunity to torturers -- is unacceptable.

Of course, the conservative response to this hearing is that the Democrats do not take the Global War on Terror seriously. They may even, maybe, hate America.

Powerline adds this to the conversation:

The first day of the Senate hearings seemed to confirm that the key Senators opposing Gonzales don't take the war on terrorism very seriously. Democratic Senators (along, unfortunately, with Republican Lindsay Graham) kept arguing that our use of debatable interrogation tactics puts our soldiers in harm's way because it means that when they are captured they are more likely to be tortured. There is some truth to this argument, but it would have been nice if one of these Senators had acknowledged that our actual enemies will behead any American (soldier or not) that they capture regardless of what interrogations tactics we use. It would also have been edifying if Gonzales' opponents had recognized the possibility that information obtained through aggressive interrogation can save lives. But, again, if you don't think the war on terror is real, this point is easier to lose sight of.

deacon is actually saying that the issue is not that Gonzales was involved in creating an atmosphere where torture was acceptable, but that torture is just fine with him.

This quote from New Frames seems like a good response:

What difference does it make if they cut heads off and we shove fluorescent light tubes up detainees' asses and beat them to death. When we torture, we no longer have any kind of moral ground to stand on. Fidel Castro can now put up billboards of Abu Ghraib, after we've demanded that he release 75 dissidents. It makes it possible for any government we critcize for violating human rights to tell us to shove it out loud.

Have we become like them?

98-pound weaklings