Monday, November 29, 2004

Who are "we"
After the election, I planned to write a rousing manifesto about what we needed to recover and take back the country. However, I was too burned out to do much more than scribble disjointed notes to myself and procrastinate. Weeks have passed now and many of my blogging betters have poured out page after page of good recommendations. At this point, rather than try to say something original, I think my best course would be look over the many good recommendations out there and lend my support to those I think are best and most likely to produce results.

Before I go into the specific proposals out there I'd like to point a potential source of confusion and unnecessary conflict. When we say "we" must do this or "we" must do that, there are at least four different we's involved in this discussion. The four groups are not identical, although here is considerable overlap between them. In addition, good objectives for one group might be terrible, even repugnant, for one or more of the others. The main belief we all share is the feeling that the Bush revolution and the style of politics that accompany it must be stopped.

Picture a Venn diagram, one of those figures of overlapping circles on a graph used to represent the intersections of sets. The background graph is the traditional left-right or liberal-conservative scale of American politics.

The first group fills an oval (red outline) that extends from somewhat right of center well to the left. This is the Democratic Party.

The second oval (green outline) extends from dead center almost to the left edge of the chart. This oval is wider than the Democratic Party oval as includes some people who don't fit well on the single axis liberal-conservative scale (I'll say more about them in a minute). This oval represents Liberals and Progressives.

The third oval (black outline) very closely matches the overlap between Liberals and Democrats. This is Left Blogistan. Left Blogistan is closer to the center than Right Blogistan, which starts about half way to the right wall and presses hard against the wall forming a vertical oval (they're not part of this discussion and therefore not on the chart).

The fourth group involved in our "what is to be done" discussion fills an oval (big friendly pink outline) that goes a bit further left that the Democrats and almost equally far to the right and above and below the traditional scale. This represents people of good will who want to end the dangerous level of confrontation in politics and fix the system. They can be found all across the traditional spectrum, except at the extremes, and in many areas of politics that don't easily fit on the scale, such a Libertarianism, some strains of Populism, and among many single issue constituencies like free speech advocates.

Naturally, reality will be messier than this. In reality each group will have empty spots, outliers, and very ragged borders (especially Left Blogistan). The actual overlap would be patchier, too. But you get the idea.

We're just not going to come up with one neat manifesto-like program that will suit all the constituencies. We shouldn't try. Anything that only contains what we all agree on would be so vague and wish-washy as to be meaningless. What we really need are four manifesti. We need the maturity to accept that our closest allies will disagree on some things and even work against us on some things. We need to the maturity to live with that and make clear-sighted distinctions between good, though temporary, alliances and bad, but attractive, access to power with a price.

Even within a single group we're likely to find strong disagreements over ultimate goals, preferred tactics, desirable alliances, and acceptable sacrifices. Between groups, the differences will run deeper and be more frequent. Each grouping has a different set of goals. The Democrats want to revitalize their party and return it to majority status. To do that, they are willing to make compromises and alliances that could shove some progressives out the door. The progressives want to advance certain issues that are close to their hearts. To do that they would like to take over the Democratic Party, but they will abandon it in droves if they feel too many important issues have been sold out. The sane government people want to end the dangerous confrontation in society and bring our legislatures back to honest problem solving. They have a temporary interest in helping Democrats disarm the amuck running New Republicans, but many would rather belong to a non-insane Republican Party. The Left bloggers just want high-paying political or journalistic jobs where they can tell everybody what's wrong with them.

As a good government advocate, I want to take redistricting out of the hands of partisan legislatures. As a Democrat, I plan to work to take over as many legislatures as possible and use that power for all it's worth after the 2010 census. I'd like to get rid of the Electoral College, but I'm planning an Electoral College strategy for 2008. I'm from the left side of the Democratic Party, but I do want to bring in more moderates (or convince more moderates that they should be Liberals).

The point of this pedantic exercise is to say that we need to sort out our objectives and not unnecessarily complicate things combining issues that don't need to be combined. The next time you hear a leftie shouting, "you're either with us or against us" and drawing a line in the sand, try to figure out which goal they are really pursuing at the moment. Then bludgeon them into silence and go find someone less silly to hang out with. Only spoiled rich idiots say things like "you're either with us or against us."

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Obligatory guilt-inducing holiday post
On my way to work the other day, I heard a local news story on the radio. I'm working from memory here, so I may have lost some of the details that would add versimilitude and flavor to the post. What can you do? That's how these things work sometimes.

It seems that one of the cable teevee home remodeling shows is doing a house in Tacoma. The family has been sent away on a vacation while the show's hosts and a bunch of volunteers blitz through the house giving it complete makeover. The point of the news tory was the chaos of the first day of work. Seven hundred people showed up to volunteer to work on this house.

Think about that for a moment. Seven hundred people showed up to work unpaid on a stranger's house. Is the world full of frustrated carpenters who sit at home with all of their home improvement projects completed, sighing over House Beautiful magazine, looking lovingly at their cleaned and oiled powertools, and wishing they could work on someone's house? Are they really unable to find anyone who will let them replace their kitchen cabinets? I don't think so.

Most of these people were brought out by the prospect of rubbing shoulders with celebrity teevee hosts and seeing their own faces on the tube. Imagine if seven hundred people showed up clamoring to be put to work on a Habitat for Humanity project or if the various churches, civic, and Masonic groups that remodel homes for the aged and handicapped had so many volunteers that they had to turn them away. Those groups can't guarentee that your face will end up on teevee, but they can guarentee that your work will make a significant improvement in someone's life.

Wouldn't it be nice if people fought as hard for the opportunity to make the world a better place as they do for the opportunity to be seen? I'm done being self-righteous; I'm going to go back to insulting the rich and over-privileged now.
Odd admissions
Oklahoma just passed a law that allows employees to keep guns in their locked cars on company property. The law was supposed to take affect on Nov. 1, but has been suspended while a judge considers challenges by some large employers.

It's a classic case of conflicting rights. In a state where hunting is a religion and guns are as common in trucks as spare tires, many people take exception to being told they have to remove their guns each day before going to work. On the other hand, the employers want to have the authority to ban guns on company property. They don't want firearms to be too easily available when workplace conflicts break out.

This would be a fairly unremarkable news story in about three-quarters of the country, but in the AP story I found this interesting quote:
Democratic state Sen. Frank Shurden, a co-author the law, said Oklahomans need guns for protection. "You get out in the dark in rural Oklahoma, you better be armed and ready for action," he said. "There's no telling what's going to happen."

This is deepest red-state America, the heartland, God's country, the real America where "values" voters live, real salt of the earth folks who would give you the shirt off their back. And their own elected representative finds them so scary that he can't conceive of going out among them unarmed.
Urban legend or sinister propaganda?
OH MY GOD!! THOSE EVIL LIBERALS ARE AT IT AGAIN! The highly reputable news source, Reuters, alerts us that "A California teacher has been barred by his school from giving students documents from American history that refer to God -- including the Declaration of Independence." That's right, the liberals have managed to ban the Declaration of Independence! The only way to stop their evil is to send all your loose cash to archy Ministries. Really! Don't stop to think about it; do it now!!*

Does anyone think this is true? Reuters really has an article that makes that claim. Which do you think is correct:
  • A) It's true. It's really true. If you have a copy of the Declaration of Independence, blue-helmeted Canadian storm-troopers will arrive by black helicopter and take it, and you, away.
  • B) It's an urban legend, a practical joke. Reuters fell for someone's Thanksgiving Eve Fool's Day joke.
  • C) Don't be a git, there is no such thing as Thanksgiving Eve Fool's Day. Reuters is either a willing or an unwilling shill for some idiotic religious right persecution narrative.

If you answered "C," you're correct. Dave Johnson over at Seeing the Forest has the straight poop on this story.

Reading a little between the lines, it appears that the teacher, Steven Williams, a fifth-grade teacher at Stevens Creek School in Cupertino, was giving his students a collection of out of context founding-father quotes to support a Christian Nation viewpoint. This technique, called quote mining, is a common strategy used by the religious right. If you follow creationism battles, you'll be very familiar with the technique. It also appears that Williams had had some run-ins with his principal over this. He was required to get her approval on his lesson plans. He claims he was singled out for discrimination because he is a Christian.

Notice the unqualified use of the word "Christian." I've talked about this before. This is how the right appropriates a word for their own use. It implies many things. By making it sound like he is the only Christian in the school, he claims the privileged position of a beleaguered minority. It also implies that only his variety of Christianity is the only authentic variety, the only one allowed to be simply "Christian." Authenticity is a powerful quality in the American value system.

It's all about manipulating public perceptions. Williams is being represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization that sees itself as a sort of anti-ACLU for the right. ADF was founded by a number of familiar right-wing, political/ religious figures including Rev. James Dobson, rev. James Kennedy, and Bill Bright, who also founded the Campus Crusade for Christ. It is the position of ADF that Christians have a right "to 'share the gospel' in workplaces and public schools, claiming that any efforts to curb proselytizing at work and school are anti-Christian." They have been involved in many high profile cases over religion in public life.

Here's Dave's analysis of how this plays as a propaganda project:
This is the BIG STORY today, on Rush, and Drudge, and the rest of the Usual Suspects. And it is a carefully planned and carefully timed lie.

The story is timed for this afternoon [Wednesday] so that it cannot be refuted until Monday.

It is timed to cause fights and hatred at family Thanksgiving dinners across the country.

It is part of a strategy to reinforce a "conventional wisdom" notion that "liberals" are "going too far" with their demands of separation of church and state.

So far the School District has remained quiet about the case giving Williams and the ADF free reign to frame the issue in the public consciousness. So far about twenty news outlets have picked up the story. They are all repeating Williams version with no attempt to dig deeper. They have Williams version and the School District won't comment, so they can't even do he said/she said coverage.

* Okay. Reuters didn't have that last part. But if you want to send all your loose cash to archy, I won't try to talk you out of it. But if you do so, be sure to roll your really loose cash first. The lady at the credit union gets really grumpy when I fill the drive through drawer with unrolled pennies.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Educational standards
PZ at Pharangula and Chris Mooney have the latest on the Dover, PA school district creationism brou-ha-ha.

At its root, the story is a fairly typical public school creationism story. When the Dover Area School Board met last summer to choose a new high school biology text, the board was deadlocked and one fundamentalist member offered to break the deadlock if the board would adopt a creationist textbook along with the biology textbook. In October, the board agreed, becoming the first school board to officially require the teaching of intelligent design creationism. This brought national attention on tiny Dover. All the usual suspects took sides. Lawsuits were threatened. Teachers and board members quit in protest.

This week, a "compromise" was made. The school district would accept a donation of fifty copies of the creationist text to be kept as a resource for students that might want to study creationism. The science teachers will be required to read a statement offering the books to the students.
"The state standards require students to learn about Darwin's Theory of Evolution and to eventually take a standardized test of which evolution is a part. Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

"Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book 'Of Pandas and People,' is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves. As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind.

"The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life up to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses on the standards and preparing students to be successful on standards-based assessments."

PZ and Chris demolish the bad science in the first two paragraphs. Basically, it's a muddled rewrite of the Discovery Institute's warning label used in parts of the South. I can add nothing that would improve on what PZ and Chris say.

But, I find the last paragraph and it's admission that the school district is a "standards-driven district, [where] class instruction focuses on the standards and preparing students to be successful on standards-based assessments" to be interesting. There is no mention of teaching critical thinking or useful skills. There is no mention of making better citizens or more productive workers.

The honesty of the admission is refreshing; the content of the admission is revolting. The stated goal of the school district is to get the students to pass an official test. This is education in the era of "No Child Left Behind." This is a national embarrassment.
The neighbors are going to be insufferable
Dan Rather just announced that he will be retiring as the anchor on the CBS News next March. He's 73 years old and has been a network anchor longer than anyone else in teevee history. All in all it's probably a fairly neutral development as far as the quality of the news is concerned. That is, unless the network decides to take advantage of the change to undertake a really stupid rebranding effort. Such behavior is not unknown in teevee news. The worst thing about his leaving will be the triumphal gloating from Right Blogistan, who, I'm sure, will interpret this as a personal victory over the liberal media.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

More on tax returns
The Republican story is changing fast. The first story was that the provision was inserted into the tax bill by an unknown staffer. This was then amended to, it was a mistake. After keeping silent for most of a day and allowing the buck to be passed around, a congressman admitted that the provision was inserted at his direct request, but tried to minimize the implications of the provision.
Representative Ernest Istook, Republican of Oklahoma, who was responsible for the insertion of the tax provision..., issued a statement on Sunday saying that the language had actually been drafted by the Internal Revenue Service and that "nobody's privacy was ever jeopardized." Mr. Istook is chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that has authority over the I.R.S. budget.

John D. Scofield, the spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, said that the purpose of the provision was to allow investigators for the top lawmakers responsible for financing the I.R.S. to have access to that agency's offices around the country and tax records so they could examine how the money was being spent. There was never any desire to look at anyone's tax returns, he said.

Is that what the provision says? Let's take a look at the exact wording of the provision:
Hereinafter, notwithstanding any other provision of law governing the disclosure of income tax returns or return information, upon written request of the Chairman of the House or Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service shall allow agents designated by such Chairman access to Internal Revenue Service facilities and any tax returns or return information contained therein.

Istook's spokesman claims the provision allows them access to IRS offices to audit the books. The text of the provision allows them access to IRS offices "and any tax returns or return information contained therein." I am neither a lawyer nor a tax expert, but this sure looks to me like they can look at anybody's tax returns for any purpose they want. Today they are claiming it's just for clean government and tomorrow I'm sure they'll claim it's to fight terrorism, because, you know, congressional staffers are our first line of defense in the war to defend freedom.

Istook was caught with his fingers in the constitutional cookie jar and if we let this one die just because it's almost a holiday, we deserve whatever happens to us.
We don't need no stinkin' privacy
Something really needs to be done about the way budgets are written and passed in congress. At present, each house writes and passes a multi-billion dollar plan. Along the way they pack in hundreds of porkbarrel projects in order to buy enough votes to pass the bill. The majority party gives themselves far more pork than they allow the minority party. There are usually enough good and necessary, or at least popular, things in among the pork that the vote can be used to bludgeon anyone who votes against the bill. "Senator John voted against candy for children. Write to Senator John and ask him why he hates your kids."

Then the two houses get together in conference to hammer out a compromise bill. While in conference, the majority throws in some more pork for their own districts and slips in a few pet projects that aren't exactly pork.

In the latter category:
This weekend Congress was working on a massive $388 billion omnibus spending bill that will cover all manner of federal spending. But at the request of Rep. Ernest Istook of Oklahoma, chairman of the House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee, a special provision was inserted into the bill which allows the Chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees or their "agents" to review any American's tax return with no restrictions whatsoever.

Specifically, none of the privacy law restrictions -- or the criminal and civil penalties tied to them -- would apply when the Chair or anybody he or she designates as his or her "agent" looked at your tax return.

Remember when some Clinton aids requested the FBI files of prominent Republicans? That was stupid and wrong and the aids in question were rightly fired. This is about a thousand times worse than that. This is not politicians playing dirty tricks on each other. This is the people at the top collecting blackmail material on every adult in the country (except, of course, the tax evaders).

When someone actually read the compromise bill (over 3000 pages long) and noticed the provision, a poopstorm erupted in the conference committee. At first, the Republican leadership denied knowing anything about it and blamed it on an unnamed staffer. They said it was a mistake. We weren't buying:
"We weren't born yesterday, we didn't come down with the first snow," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California. "This isn't poorly thought out, this was very deliberately thought out and it was done in the dead of night."

Then they passed the bill. I did mention that the process stinks, didn't I? Ted Stevens, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, promised, scouts honor, that won't use his now power before congress gets around to repealing it later this month.

The questions remains at this point, what was Istook trying to pull, will he face any consequences, and, most importantly, will the Democrats let this pass?

At the very least, Istook should not be allowed to show his face in public for the next two years without being met by a hailstorm of wadded tax forms. When he shows up back at the House this week every Democrat should walk up to him and hand him a tax form. Then they should pull down his pants and take his lunch money. After this week, every day Istook shows up in the House, at least one Democrat should go on the record offering to show him their tax return.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Pain and loss
Each night before I go to bed, I read a few somewhat less political blogs to cool down. One of my favorites is The Dark Window. Pete at Dark Window is one of the witty and intelligent crowd that has gathered around World 'o Crap and Sadly No! to form a very refreshing and irreverent community.

Pete just lost someone very special to him. There is really no way that anyone can say anything that will cure that pain. It's incurable. Yet we all feel compelled to say something. I suppose it's because this, the most honest of pains, has the ability to bring out the nurturing instinct in even the most hard-boiled among us. Whether or not it can help, we want to say something, to say we care, to say we, too, are human. Or maybe we just need to make noise to fill the uncomfortable silence.

I'm pushing fifty, so I have a fairly healthy collection of losses. The accumulated numbers of past losses don't help ease the pain of the next loss. Each pain is unique. In college one of my first loves died in a plane crash. A few years later a new friend, one of those people who seem like a perfect match five minutes into the first conversation, was murdered in a holdup. At thirty my best friend died after fighting organ transplant failure for a year. My mentor to adulthood had a fatal heart attack at 44. My dad died just before 9/11. There were others along the way. Most of my older relatives are gone. Every time another special person goes, it hurts just as bad and is just as confusing as the first one was so amny years ago. You don't get any better at this with age.

After the first death, several people tried to say, "you'll get over it" and I knew that was wrong. If you love someone in any way, you don't "get over it" when they're gone. The people who said that meant well, and I don't mean to insult them, but they were wrong. You do not get over it. The pain of loss is born of the same fire as the love you felt when they were alive. If you can get over it, there never was a fire. What you do is get used to it. The pain and the loss stay, but you work around them and make them part of you. They stop being barriers to life and become part of the memory of the people you loved. The fire keeps them alive in your memory.

If you have a chance, go over to Pete's and read his memorial to Sunny. Say a kind word and let him know we care.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Another linguistic quibble
Back in the sixties liberals, and by extension Democrats, ceded the flag and patriotism to the Republican party and rabid conservative nut cases. Of course, it's easy for forces of the status quo to claim the symbols of society and portray the forces of change as the other. What's unforgivable is that we on the left and in the Democratic Party let them get away with it. Almost two generations, we still have to establish our credentials as patriotic Americans before we can get a serious hearing on anything.

As long as that worked so well, the same conservative/Republican alliance has now spent almost three decades trying to take possession of religion, morality, Christianity, and even God. We, as always, are falling right into their trap. Ever notice how often politically-active, fundamentalist Protestants refer to themselves as simply "Christians." The implication, which we fail to challenge, is that we are, what -- Antichrist-ians? Merely pointing out the hypocrisy of their Christianity is not enough; we need a new vocabulary that will simultaneously support the religious left and deny the religious right the ownership of the vocabulary of religion and morality.

I'm not saying we need to sprinkle our language with Biblical allusions and frequent Praise the Lords. If it doesn't come natural to you, it's just insulting to try. What I am saying is that we need to refuse to use their vocabulary. The politically-active, fundamentalist religious right does not own the name Christian. When you go after bigots, do not call them Christians. Don't even call them evangelicals; they a minority even there. We are fighting a political battle; call them by a political name. We need to call Reed, Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson extremist Republicans.

We are not concerned with them because of their religious credentials or position. We are concerned with them because of their partisan, political activities. We should frame the issue to be not one of religion entering politics, but one of politics entering religion. We welcome people of faith who want to become involved in politics, but we object to political operatives who want to make certain churches an extension of the Republican party. If you are comfortable with religious language, this the point to insert "rendering unto Caesar" language. If you are more comfortable with historical language, this is the point to bring in secular founding fathers language I suggest Franklin, Jefferson, and Madison. Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a good source for talking points.

My High School debate teacher taught me that defining the question was the first step toward winning a debate. It's an obvious lesson, but it's one we lefties need to work on.
I want one
Trent McBride at Catallarchy points us to THE cool gift for that biology nerd on your holiday gift giving list: Giant Plush Microbes. Who wouldn't want to cuddle up for a nap with a soft, loveable Ebola virus? What better friend to greet you after a hard day of work that our old friend athlete's foot fungus (Saccharomyces cerevisiae)? And is there any microbe more deserving of plush immortality than the mighty , yet humble, brewer's yeast (Trichophyton

Thursday, November 18, 2004

No fair, man
This is good, but...
The Campus Progress Network is looking for talented students to contribute to the website - writers, satirists, essayists, flash animators, cartoonists, campus radio personalities, crafty communicators, etc. is part of the Center for American Progress' Campus Progress Network - a brand-new effort to counter the growing strength and influence of national right-wing groups on college and university campuses, and to identify, assist, and empower new generations of progressive leaders.

...when are they going to create the Old Poop's Progress Network and create a venue to counter the growing strength and influence of national right-wing groups among us old poops? What about talented old poops who are gumming at the bit to contribute to the battle? You kids today got no respect...mutter, my day...mutter, mutter...six miles up hill...mutter, it easy...mutter, mutter...I ain't dead yet.
Going up the country
My friend David Neiwert over at Orcinus has been talking about making the Democrats competitive in rural areas again. The gang over at Corrente have been inspired to start their own running discussion of the issue. We need to be clear what we mean when we talk about this.

When some Democrats talk about reaching out to rural America, they mean bringing back the DLC silliness about making the party more conservative. Trying to act like Republicans Lite would be a disaster. First, it's not going to fool anybody, not even people who live in small towns or on farms. Why should they accept the fake Republicans when they can have the real ones? Second, it would actually lose the Democratic Party some of its current voters. Me, for instance. I believe most of what the Democratic Party stands for. I oppose most of what the Republican Party stands for. When the Democratic Party starts standing for the same thing as the Republicans, I'll vote for the Greens or one of the fifty of so tiny Socialist factions.

What David and the Corrente kids are talking about is fashioning a coherent rural policy based on Democratic principles. The Republicans base most of their rural appeal on culture war issues and demonizing the Democratic Party as a group of country-hating city snobs. The Republican Party doesn't actually deliver that much to rural areas, often directly harms them, but can still count on their votes as long as they can make the Democrats look worse.

There are plenty of ways that the Democrats can help rural America without compromising our principles. We just need to identify the issues that we can help, actually do something, and make sure we get credit for what we do. It's up to the party to formulate some policies and introduce some bills. They also need to practice some more political theater by not being afraid to introduce doomed bills so they can be seen trying to help rural constituencies and the Republicans can be forced to go on record opposing or blocking those bills. This is the same strategy that the Republicans use against us with things like "protecting" marriage in an election year. It wouldn't hurt for Democrats to get some face time by launching rural initiatives in rural locations where the news starved local media love to host an event.

Just so we don't hurt ourselves through over-exertion without properly warming up, the Republicans have been kind enough to give us a free shot at making them look bad in rural America.
Telling consumers where their meat, fruit and vegetables came from seemed such a good idea to U.S. ranchers and farmers in competition with imports that Congress two years ago ordered the food industry to do it. But meatpackers and food processors fought the law from the start, and newly emboldened Republicans now plan to repeal it before Thanksgiving.

As part of the 2002 farm bill, country-of-origin labeling was supposed to have gone into effect this fall. Congress last year postponed it until 2006. Now, House Republicans are trying to wipe it off the books as part of a spending bill they plan to finish this month.

Got that? This one is even easier than spinning the tax bill. All our Democratic elected representatives need to do is make some noise about this and send press releases to rural papers.

Issue One. Even though most Americans would buy American if they could, the Republicans want to hide that information from American consumers. Good talking points are: "don't they trust Americans to make up their own minds?" and "what are they trying to hide?"

Issue Two. This is a clear case of siding with multinational corporations against American farmers. The talking points on this one practically write themselves. Although I don't recommend taking an anti-foreigner angle on this (I personally prefer the anti-corporate angle), I would like to see Bush's stand on drug re-importation thrown in their faces, "how do we know that foreign food is safe." If pursued properly we can also make a point about how this administration has been stealthily dismantling the regulatory framework that protects us all equally.

If that isn't easy enough, the Republicans were good enough to throw a free arrogance of power quote into the mix for us.
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said he expected the Senate to agree to repealing the measure, whose main champion two years ago was Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

"I can't find any real opposition to doing exactly what we want to do here," Blunt said.

I love it. "[We'll do] exactly what we want to do."

In case anyone thinks it's that bad congress acting without the knowledge of our godly president.
President Bush never supported mandatory labeling. Chances for repealing the law improved when Daschle, still his party's leader in the Senate, was defeated for re-election Nov. 2.

Finally, we even have a soon-to-be-unemployed Democrat leading off for us.
"For Republicans to deny Americans the opportunity to `buy American' at the grocery store is anti-consumer, anti-farmer and anti-rancher," Daschle said Wednesday.

Get out and write those letters. If you have friends or relatives in rural areas, make sure they write to their rural papers. The more counties that have Democrats pointing out how the Republicans are hurting farmers, the better.

Time to start yelling
It's nice that some people are still looking into election shenanigans. But let's be clear about where this fits into the grander scheme of things; it's unlikely that anyone is going to find evidence to over turn the election. The election system has some serious problems. People of good will on both sides of the aisle need to push for an overhaul and standardization of many parts of the system. This is a long-term legislative goal. If that's your top issue*, get to work on it, just don't expect to accomplish anything overnight. If the election overhaul is not your top issue, there are some very pressing issues coming up that we need to get to work on.

I think that there is a strong consensus in these parts that one of the most valuable things the bloggers of Left Blogistan can do is to help build a Democratic/progressive information system to counter the mighty Wurlitzer of the right. I'm sure we will talk about how best to do this, but, in short, we need to work on framing our messages and we need to crank up the volume to get those messages out. Here's an easy issue to practice on.

When Bush declared victory after the election and claimed that he had a bucket-load of political capital, he listed tax "reform" as one of his top issues for the coming term. He promised to name a bipartisan panel to draft a fundamental tax reform proposal. This week, even before the panel was named, some details of that proposal began to trickle out.

Issue One. Without even looking at the proposed changes, what's wrong with this picture? We know the results of the commission even before we have the commission. I hope we're not paying these people anything. This is a very revealing and unflattering glimpse into Bush's management style and idea of what "bipartisanship" means. When naming an "independent**" commission to look into something of national concern, he already has the results in hand that he wants them to "discover." "Independent" commission is just a fig leaf to get the results he wants. And bipartisan? He made that clear the day after the election. Bipartisan means he's willing to let us help push his agenda. That's awfully damn white of him, don't you think?

Now, let’s look at the specifics that the commission is going to recommend after they are appointed and have a chance to meet.
[T]he administration plans to push major amendments that would shield interest, dividends and capitals gains from taxation, expand tax breaks for business investment and take other steps intended to simplify the system and encourage economic growth, according to several people who are advising the White House or are familiar with the deliberations.

Issue Two. More tax breaks for Bush's rich friends. We can expect the administration to make a big deal of how most middle-class people now own some stocks and will therefore benefit from cuts in interest, dividends, and capitals gains taxes. They will avoid mentioning the fact that most people own less than a thousand dollars in stocks, and very few people make a significant portion of their income from interest, dividends, or capitals gains. Can anyone tell me which end of the financial spectrum holds those people that do make most of their income from interest, dividends, and capitals gains? If you answered "the top end," give yourself a gold star.
The changes are meant to be revenue-neutral. To pay for them, the administration is considering eliminating the deduction of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns...

Issue Three. If you live in a place with deductible state and local taxes--the entire state of Oregon, for example--your taxes will go up.
...and scrapping the business tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance, the advisers said.

Issue Four. If you're not in a union, say bye-bye to any part of your health insurance that your employer provides. If you are in a union, expect to have to strike to keep your insurance, next your contract comes up for renewal.

This is an easy set of messages to work with. George Bush is a control freak. Bipartisanship with the New Republicans is a sham. Bush wants to give yet another round of tax breaks to his millionaire friends. Bush wants to raise the taxes of people who actually work for a living. Bush wants to get rid of your insurance. Bush hid these plans until after the election.

See. It's easy and fun. Tell your neighbors. Tell your Mom. Write a letter and make copies. Send a copy to each of your congressfolks. Send a copy to Your local paper. Send a copy to a national paper. Send a copy to each of your teevee stations. Be polite, but firm.

* In fact, it is a big issue for my wife and me. I'll have some words to say about it later.

** Irony quotes are going to be one of the most thoroughly worked out pieces of punctuation in the old typesetting box over the next four years.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I'm not dead yet
The burnout finally caught up with me. For the last few days I've barely been able to look at the news. I tried starting a half-dozen posts and couldn't finish any of them. Yesterday I didn't even turn on the computer. At about 8:30 on of the cats told me to go to bed. It was the first full night's sleep I've had in two weeks. Today, I'm marginally alive again and ready to insult the leaders of the free world again.

Starting about a month before the election, there was a lot of talk around the blogosphere--both online and off--about what would happen after the election. Not what would happen politically to America and the world, but what would happen to the Blogistans, to individual blogs, bloggers, and groups.

It appears that political Blogistan is here to stay; we are not just an election or war generated fad, as many in the professional news media seem to hope. Sure, some bloggers have become discouraged or burned out and quit, but a regular reinfusion of new blood has arrived in the form of new bloggers inspired by the dreary prospect of four more years of right-wing triumphalism. Watch the blog roll on the left, over the next few weeks I'll be cleaning it up, removing some of our tragically fallen comrades and adding some interesting new friends.

As for myself... Look at the logo up top. When I created the archy,I defined my mandate as "politics, fringe watching, and stuff." For most the life of the blog I've had lots of politics, some stuff, and very little fringe watching. I had hoped that the election would allow me to bring that a little more into balance. I still plan to do that to a degree, but expect politics to hog a disproportionate amount of space for the foreseeable future. My other post election hope was to work on some collaborative projects with the other fine bloggers I've come to know. I don't contribute nearly as much to From the Trenches or Liberal Coalition as I should. That will change.

Stick around. In politics, the struggle never ends. In blogging, the adventure has just begun. It should be interesting, maybe even fun.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Hometown stupidity
This might not be the stupidest policy I've ever run across, but it is definitely in the running.
Democratic Party volunteers are frantically calling voters whose provisional ballots are in dispute, urging them to make sure their vote is counted in the state's still-undecided governor's race.

The volunteers went to work Friday night, after party officials successfully sued to get access to the names of 929 voters -- all in heavily Democratic King County -- whose ballots were questionable. They planned to keep working through the weekend.

Elections officials said there was no reason to release the names, because voters who cast provisional ballots know those ballots may need to be verified, and it's up to each voter to contact the county and make sure the vote was counted. Provisional ballots are used primarily when a voter is not at his home precinct or if registration is in question. [My emphasis - John]

Leaving aside all issues specific to this election--which party is ahead, which party is challenging--has any one ever heard of anything so stupid? Has it ever occurred to any reader that, after casting their vote, they have a responsibility to call the county and ask them if they counted it? Has it ever occurred to any reader that they have to remind the county to count their vote before the county will do so?

Keep in mind that this is not happening in Flaming Cross, Alabama where the last Democrat left in 1989. This is King County, Washington. This is Seattle!!! In some districts of Seattle the Republican Party hasn't bothered to put forth a serious candidate in decades. In some precincts, if we get to two Republican votes, we throw them both out because it means the bastard voted twice. These are Democratic officials making the Democratic candidate jump through small, flaming hoops held high above the ground. This is not a state policy. In the rest of the state, Republican county officials have cheerfully handed the lists of provisional voters over to the Republican Party for them to prepare their challenges to the vote total.

This is one more example of why we need to clean up the thicket of contradictory election laws in this country.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Tianenman Square?
This story has been floating around the neighborhood all day. It appears to have first appeared on IndyMedia last night.
LOS ANGELES, November 9, 2004 - At 7:50 PM two armored tanks showed up at an anti-war protest in front of the federal building in Westwood. The tanks circled the block twice, the second time parking themselves in the street and directly in front of the area where most of the protesters were gathered. Enraged, some of the people attempted to block the tanks, but police quickly cleared the street. The people continued to protest the presence of the tanks, but about ten minutes the tanks drove off. It is unclear as to why the tanks were deployed to this location.

Tanks? People who viewed the video identified them as Marine Corps LAV-25 armored personnel vehicles, or, as we civilians call them "tanks." One commenter at IndyMedia claims they were from Camp Pendleton coming into town for a Veteran's Day Parade. They got lost getting off the freeway, saw a crowd, and stopped to ask for directions. That's plausible, but still a very unlikely coincidence. So far, no mainstream media has looked into it, so we just have blogger speculation.

The paranoid on the left--and we have reason to be paranoid after this election--see another Tianenman Square in the making, or at least a return to the late sixties and the use of massive force by the authorities to squelch any dissent. Whether or not it was a mere coincidence that tanks showed up at an anti-war protest a week after Bush's re-election, this has had a bad effect on the level of trust between the authorities and the opposition. It would be in the interests of the LA authorities if they would look into this and issue a statement. Silence is threatening.

On a side note, it's interesting to see how the wingers reacted to this. Along with the usual accusations of fraud and conspiracy-mongering and the creepy eliminationist sentiment, there was this odd comment at IndyMedia:
Looks to me like somebody decided to buzz the sheep to see what the 'brave' ones like you would do.

Apparently it's okay for members of the military to help themselves to highly destructive and very expensive equipment and use it for practical jokes and to press forward their personal political agenda. Perhaps Tianenman Square isn't the name that should be springing to mind, but perhaps Freikorps is.
Today is Veteran's Day...
...or Armistice Day, as some us still like to call it. Didn't we used to get today off from work and/or school? When did we lose this one? How are we supposed to take our veteran friends out to long boozy lunch if we have to show up for work in the afternoon? If we are veterans, how are our friends supposed to take us out to long boozy lunch if they have to show up for work in the afternoon? Not that I'm a veteran, unless you count the Cub Scouts. But you know what they say, "they also serve who write and gripe."

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Southern charm
National Review Online contributing editor Michael Ledeen has published a list of candidates for his dream second term cabinet. Since he feel we will soon need to bring regime change to "Tehran, Riyadh, and Damascus" he focuses on Secretaries of State and Defense, the National Security Adviser, and the heads of the FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency. His ideal of Secretary of State, America's chief diplomat? Zell Miller.

Yesterday, Zell was on Imus in the Morning demonstrating his diplomatic skills as well as his red state superior manners and respect for women.
"The more Maureen Loud [sic] gets on 'Meet the Press' and writes those columns, the redder these states get. I mean, they don't want some highbrow hussy from New York City explaining to them that they're idiots and telling them that they're stupid." Miller also suggested "that red-headed woman at the New York Times" should not mock anyone's religion: "You can see horns just sprouting up through that Technicolor hair."
I gotta get quicker at this
Hecate, filling in for Atrios, has performed a great service for us all by republishing Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, and in doing so has cheated me out of a column I was planning to write. Pooh.
A very short celebration
For the last four years, I thought that Ashcroft's departure would be cause for riotous celebration. Of course, I also though Ashcroft would be driven from office in disgrace. Yesterday, faced with the reality of Ashcroft leaving on Bush's terms at a time when Bush's "political capital" is high, I experienced the same discomfort that many on the left did. What, we all thought, if they replace him with someone just as bad on civil liberties and rights but less abrasive and more competent.

The AP assures us that this is exactly what the administration has in mind:
President Bush has chosen White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, a Texas confidant and one of the most prominent Hispanics in the administration, to succeed Attorney General John Ashcroft, sources close to the White House said Wednesday.

Gonzales is probably not as well known as some others in the administration, so this would be a good time to review his resume (The following is cribbed from Steve Soto at Left Coaster and Lambert at Corrente).

In his private practice, Gonzales was counsel for Enron. We all know how ethical and legally sound the advice they received was.

While serving as a justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Gonzales accepted campaign contributions from companies with litigation pending before his court. Among those companies was our old friend Halliburton.

During his time Gonzales working for Governor Bush in Texas, Gonzales was the author of the infamous clemency memos.
During Bush's six years as governor 150 men and two women were executed in Texas—a record unmatched by any other governor in modern American history. Each time a person was sentenced to death, Bush received from his legal counsel a document summarizing the facts of the case, usually on the morning of the day scheduled for the execution, and was then briefed on those facts by his counsel; based on this information Bush allowed the execution to proceed in all cases but one. The first fifty-seven of these summaries were prepared by Gonzales, a Harvard-educated lawyer who went on to become the Texas secretary of state and a justice on the Texas supreme court. He is now the White House counsel.

Gonzales's summaries were Bush's primary source of information in deciding whether someone would live or die.

A close examination of the Gonzales memoranda suggests that Governor Bush frequently approved executions based on only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute. In fact, in these documents Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence.

During his time at the White House, Gonzales has been the author of some of the most lawless opinions that have put the country well on the path to becoming a pariah state.
They (the Administration) began with the plausible argument that the Geneva Conventions were anachronistic in an age of asymmetrical, non-state warfare. Al Qaeda didn't wear uniforms or fight according to the laws of war, they reasoned, and so they were not necessarily entitled to the conventions' protections. But the lawyers—including White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, Defense Department general counsel William Haynes II, Vice President Cheney's counsel David Addington, and Jay Bybee of the Justice Department (who now sits on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals)—went further. They advised the president to sign a blanket statement of policy that the men captured in Afghanistan would not be subject to the Geneva Conventions, and that by executive fiat, they would all be declared “unlawful enemy combatants,” a category that does not exist in international law. White House, Justice Department and Pentagon lawyers also pushed President Bush to sign a secret finding on Feb. 7, 2002, that would have far-reaching consequences for the nation and the world. “I… determine that none of the provisions of Geneva apply to our conflict with al Qaeda in Afghanistan or elsewhere throughout the world,” ...

This set of opinions and memos led directly to the creation of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp as a justice system where neither US nor international law apply. This same set of opinions also led to the hard interrogation practices that were exposed at Abu Graib prison.

Finally, Gonzales is involved in a number of other shady White House operations already being investigated (or that are likely to be investigated) by the Justice Department, including the Plame investigation.

The one silver lining to sending a Gonzales nomination to the Senate for consideration is that it would indicate that the administration is not planning to use him for a surprise recess appointment to replace Rhenquist on the Supreme Court.
A quick question
In his letter of resignation, John Ashcroft says, "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved." Leaving aside the obvious fact that Ashcroft has never been a member of the reality based community, can he really be saying what this looks like he's saying: The war on terror is over and we won? Wasn't one of their main arguments for returning Ashcroft's boss to the White House that it would be a disaster to change Commanders in Chief in mid war? Didn't Cheney tell us that only Bush could keep our children safe for the next four years? Now, a mere week after the election, in a letter written on election day, Ashcroft tells us that the war is over and we're all safe. We was robbed!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Quiz time
This is an easy one.

  • Yasser Arafat just had a stroke and has hours to live.

  • One of the jurors in the Scott Peterson murder trial was replaced by and alternate.

Which story is the main story at CNN?
He reaches out
In the months before the election, one of the most annoying bits of common wisdom was that one of the reasons Bush's approval rating stays so much higher than is justified by his performance is that he was just so darned likable. That Bush charm was on display last week when he reached out to Democrats to let them know he is willing to allow them to help advance his agenda. That's awfully damned white of him, I say.

Now he's turning on the charm to make the same irresistible offer to our oldest allies and most important trading partners in Europe. I'm sure they'll be as receptive to his kind offer as I am to his domestic offer.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Colin Powell said President George Bush would not alter or curtail his policies abroad in his second term.

"The president is not going to trim his sails or pull back," Mr Powell said in his first interview since the election.


After disagreements with European leaders over US policy, Mr Bush was "anxious to reach out" to them.

Mr Powell explained to reporters on Monday that he would be "spending a lot of time in Europe in the weeks coming up" in an effort to heal divisions.

"Our European friends have no illusion that the president wants to have a strong relationship with all of our European friends and allies, notwithstanding any disagreements we have had in the past," he said.

However Mr Powell's interview, published on Tuesday, puts a stop to any thoughts that a second Bush term might have heralded a change in US foreign policy, says the BBC's Ian Pannell in Washington.

I probably will not live long enough to see the day when we have repaired the damage this callow frat boy is doing to our standing in the world.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The New Republican Party
Before the election took over my life and this blog, I periodically used this space to meditate on the nature of the American Political spectrum. Chris Bowers over at MyDD gives me a good opening to continue that train of thought by taking a shot a defining what constitutes conservativism in the new century. Bowers uses the simple logic of noting that 84% of those people who identify as conservatives voted for George Bush, therefore they must feel that his policies qualify as "conservative." On that basis, "Real conservatives are bloodthirsty, reckless with our tax money, and want to tell you how to live your life. They are intolerant, warmongering and irresponsible."

More specifically:
  • Real conservatives value fiscal insolvency, including irresponsible tax cuts, corporate giveaways, massive spending increases, huge undisclosed pork-barrel spending projects hammered out during congressional conference, rather than actual budget legislation on the Congressional floor that is open to the public and recorded in the public record. You know that conservatives value these things, because these are the things the vast majority of self-proclaimed conservatives do.

  • Real conservatives do not value your personal liberties. They like disenfranchising voters, challenging voters, and making it more difficult to vote. They like it when the government is in your bedroom. They want to be able to spy on your personal files. They do not respect your right to privacy. They like to tell you who you can and cannot love, and what you can and cannot do to your own body. You know these are conservative values, because conservatives regularly pass laws of this nature.

  • Real conservatives like to recklessly use the military They love war, and regularly resort to it as one of their first choices. They have no respect for the lives their policies destroy, as long as they have more bases overseas. They derive their values from violence, and detest peace. They will come up with any excuse possible, and cynically invent several more, to use force whenever possible, wherever possible. You know these are conservative values, because these are the actions conservatives take.

Certainly, no one who calls themselves a conservative is going to admit that this is their program, even though this is the clear result of their program. I'm not sure how those self-identified conservatives reconcile the difference. Massive corruption on their side? gross incompetence?

Okay, I'm kidding. We do know how they reconcile it. Anything that goes wrong in this world is the fault of the Clintons, Hollywood, Eastern liberal elites, and Islamofascists. Bowers should have added "passing the buck" to his list, because twenty-first century conservatives never take responsibility for anything they do.

Whether or not he meant it facetiously, I think Bowers is on to something here, but I disagree with his framing. For the past forty years, the Republican Party and conservativism in general have been under assault by a diverse group of radicals bent on making the party their tool. They have succeeded and are now consolidating their hold on the party and purging the last few moderates. This is the meaning of Arlen Spector's recent submission to party discipline. The people now in control of the party are a minority within the party.

Many people who vote Republican formed their attachment to an earlier version of the party. They continue to vote for it out of habit or out of an inability to violate years of practice by voting for a Democrat. A well publicized poll for the non-partisan Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) released last month showed that most Bush supporters not only were unaware of their candidate's positions, but actually attributed positions to him that were the opposite of his true positions. These voters still think of the party as a fiscally responsible, laissez-faire in economic regulation, a friend of the small businessman, libertarian in social matters, and a bit isolationist in foreign affairs. The party never exactly lived up this description, but it has never been as far from it as it is now.

Many politicians who run and hold office as Republicans are also more attuned to the older party. But these office holders are not the ones running the party or setting its agenda.

The current Republican Party is dominated by the agendas of the religious far right, neo-conservative intellectuals, and a few large industries, particularly energy, pharmaceuticals, resource extraction, and insurance. Lacking a generally accepted collective noun for them, I’ve begun calling them the New Republicans. Calling the enemy simply conservative or Republican without some kind of modifier unfairly alienates those conservatives and Republicans who could be won over to our side or engaged as allies in the fight. Merely calling them any of the names already in circulation—Religious Right, Neo-cons, or corporate lackeys—misleads and minimizes the size of the task we’ve taken on in fighting them.

By calling them simply conservative, without a modifier, Bowers obscures the point that this coalition is something new. It's goals are not the same as those who in the past called themselves conservative. One of our tasks in the left side information machine will be to expose the real goals of New Republicans to the majority of Americans who whould not support those goals if they clearly understood them.
So far, so good
We're almost a week into the mighty mandate. Martial law has not been declared yet, nor have we liberal bloggers been sent to Guantanamo. Now, that might just be because it's taking longer than expected to get our rooms ready, but I prefer to see it in a positive light. We're still here. Let's make some noise.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Sacrifices must be made
The Ashcroft "Justice" Department shows its usual concern for the pain, stigma, and humiliation that it causes innocent citizens.
SEATTLE, Washington (AP) -- A Justice Department lawyer on Thursday asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges the government's handling of its "no-fly" list violates air travelers' rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit says the government has put in place insufficient safeguards to ensure that people with names similar to those on the list aren't treated with suspicion because of mistaken identity.

The seven plaintiffs say they have been repeatedly stopped at airports and questioned for as long as an hour before being allowed to board flights.

Joseph W. LoBue, representing the government, told U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly that airport searches were necessitated by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


LoBue noted that the TSA allows those who believe they are being confused with people on either list to provide information to the government to help security screeners identify them in the future.

Three of the plaintiffs have gone through the notification process but are still being targeted for special security attention, according to ACLU attorney Reginald T. Shuford.

It stikes me that there is a simple compromise* available here that would go miles toward bridging the gap of distrust that has sprung up between the Ashcroft "Justice" Department and a large portion of the American population. If every political appointee and management level employee at Justice put their name on the watch list, they could take part in the sacrifices that we all must share in order to make America safer. It would be a public relations bonanza for the administration.

* I know this word is unknown in this administration, but some one there must own a dictionary or know a smart person who could explain it to them.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Starting the war for language
I'm encouraged by the numbers in Left Blogistan who are announcing their intention to stay in the fight. I'm even more encouraged by the amount of consensus I see on the larger strategy. We will keep our election year organizations intact. We will build a message machine to counter the Scaife/Murdoch/talk radio/conservative church Wurlitzer. The battle starts today. No surrender! No compromise!

Of course, at that point we revert to our liberal/Democratic heritage and agree on nothing. What message are we going to spread. We all agree that the movement conservative/Republican machine has outclassed us on message and framing for decades. They didn't create their message overnight. Neither will we. Some of their messages were genuine grassroots affairs. The Republican National Committee didn't make up the message, they adopted the messages that the movement conservatives were using successfully in small local battles or among niche groups. We must do the same.

But while we bang together a big message for the future, let me suggest one small immediate message. Bush is basing his claim of a mandate on the fact that he received more votes than any president in history. Like most Bush/Rove messages it is true but misleading. Our clumsy response is usually to try and add nuance to their bold claim. We say, "well that's technically true, but..." His reelection numbers were quite low as a percentage, or as an Electoral College count, or Kerry had more votes than any loser in history. He throws out a timber wolf; we try to bring it down with a bunch of yorkies. And even if the yorkies win, which one made a better impression?

Nuance is for nerds. Nuance makes crappy propaganda. Nuance is for intelligent discussions between people of good will. Nuance is useless for posturing before a rowdy audience. To counter a bold claim, we need an even bolder counter-claim or a sneering put down. Preferably both.

Bush does not have a mandate. More people voted against Bush than any candidate in history (this is true). Bush's "mandate" is a legalistic technicality. The party of law and order made law and the defenders of legality dirty words. Throw it back in their face every chance you get. Call their careful parsings of technical truth "lawyer-like," "boardroom language," or "suitable for an oil company contract."

You get the idea. I'm sure you can improve on my late night suggestions. Get to work.
Original intent
I applaud the profound wisdom of our founding fathers for putting election day right after Halloween so the stores would have plenty of discounted chocolate just when we need it most.
Spoken like a true alchoholic
Paul Waldman at Gadflyer found this set quotes. I'm sure with a little Googling we can all find our own hilarious sets.
I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation. The President of the United States is the President of every single American, of every race and every background. Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests and I will work to earn your respect.
- George W. Bush, December 14, 2000

So today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent: To make this nation stronger and better I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust.
- George W. Bush, November 3, 2004

Aww, come on baby. You gotta believe me. I really mean it this time.

Do not trust the drunk on the porch promising that this is the last time for his bad behavior. He'll say all those pretty words that make us so weak: unity, tolerance, bipartisan spirit, compassion, respect for others, fair play. He'll say anything to get in, but we know, as soon we turn our back, he'll be back to his old triumphalist and unilateralist tricks.

Deadbolt the door. Turn off the porch light. Turn on the radio and turn it up till we can't hear his pretty words. Tomorrow we're calling the locksmith and starting a new life.
The stages of election loss
The late Elisabeth Kubler-Ross gave a generation of essayists a great tool when she described her morphology of loss as a convenient list in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. For the last thirty-five years, stages of loss have been parodied, expanded, and applied in the most improbable ways. For our side and this election, I think the emerging pattern looks something like this:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Hangover
  • Stiff upper lip
  • More anger
  • Crying
  • Comfort food
  • Pretending to ignore it
  • Fear
  • Still more anger
  • The depths of despair
  • Another hangover
  • Apathy
  • Yet more anger
  • Bitter resolve

There will be no acceptance phase for this loss.

I've reached the comfort food stage. Fortuanately, we have lots of Halloween candy here at work. Over the next few days, I'll be blogging my way through fear, anger, and despair hoping to reach bitter resolve before I get fired for biting a co-worker (I don't have anyone in mind; I just need to bite some one). This might make the tone of archy a little schitzoid at times. You have been warned.
All the news I need
I think this week I'll get all my news from The Onion.
God Puts His Tool Back Into Office

Kerry Takes Frustration Out On Lobster

America Comes Out Agin The Gay Marryin'

Bush Does Victory Lap Around World Trade Center Site

MoveOn CurlsUp InCorner

Poll: Youth Totally Meant To Vote In Record Numbers

Despite Republican Victory, Bush Supporter Has Tiny, Tiny Penis

U.S. Inspires World With Attempt At Democratic Election

Next week (technically, at brunch on Sunday), when the battle begins anew, I'll start reading other news. Until then, this all I can handle.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

No escape
I would rather have stayed home and sulked with my wife and cats, but I had to go to a meeting tonight. So I got dressed and went. Afterwards, I couldn't find the car. I had parked next to a fire hydrant hidden in the bushes and managed to get myself towed. Wandering around in the cold and the dark and paying 200 dollars to ransom back the car was not what my mood needed. I hate Bushes today.
It's over; it's just started
The people have spoken -- the bastards!

Kerry has conceded. No need to apply a link to this; where isn't it posted?

There are too many questions to ask and not enough time to ask them.

We can't waste time debating minor tactical niggles or spilling our own blood. Kerry ran a good campaign with no more mistakes than are to be expected in an operation that large. He was a very good candidate who deserves our respect and thanks. He's going to be one of our primary senate warriors in the coming battles.

We can't waste time despairing over the size of the enemy or obsessing on the wrong enemy. The Bush campaign wasn't that good. Karl Rove isn't that smart. But the larger conservative information machine apparently is that good.

We can't waste time demonizing the American people. It won't help; you don't win elections by telling the voters that they are stupid and evil. Something is very clearly wrong with the American people, but it is not yet a terminal illness. We must must work, with a proper sense of urgency to diagnose that illness and heal the country we love.

We can't run away. As tempting as it is to view the most important question of the moment as "Vancouver or Dublin?" face it, if America continues to go bad, there will be no safe places on the planet. We have no choice but to fight to restore what was best about the America we once knew. We have to fight to keep that America from fading away.

I'm too angry to think right now. I need to get past the blinding white flame of fury and into the cold revealing light of dispassionate analysis. I don't think I'll get there today, but I'll be there soon and I'll share what I find.

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

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


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

This is not good.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

First impressions
As soon as the first alarm My wife and I arrived at the polling place just as the doors opened. It was pouring raing and there were about sixty people waiting to vote. Ours is a strongly Democratic district, but I brought my camera, just in case. I didn't need it. Everything was nice and orderly. Later as we drove to work we waved at the brave souls on overpasses and busy intersections waving signs for their candidates. A lone Department of Transportation truck crept along the side of the highway plucking illegal signs from the shoulder. It looks pretty good.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Short story
This weekend, as we were driving out to visit Mom, I saw a bumper sticker on a Prius. It read "I vote for the Kids." "What a nice idea," I thought. "How enpowering that must be for the kids. But won't the driver be disappointed when she finds out kids can't hold office?" And then she drove away and I never saw her again.
Some advice
I'm voting on election day. My state allows early voting, but I like election days so I'm going in tomorrow. Here are some tips on how to make the best of election day.

  • Protect your rights. Bring your voter registration card. Bring a picture ID; a driver's license, state ID, or US Passport is best. Bring something that will confirm your address; a utility bill with an address that confirms your registration is best.

  • Help others vote. If you drive, volunteer to give others a ride. Volunteer to cover your co-workers so they can leave early or come in late. If you plan to take the day off, go to a senior center or campaign headquarters and offer to give rides. Be an information center. Debunk the rumors about who can and cannot vote.

  • Improve the atmosphere. No matter how long the lines are, don't bitch. Smile. Make jokes. Talk to the other people in line. Be sure to thank the poll workers and treat them like human beings, especially if it's miserable experience. In my neighborhood they usually have a table of cookies and coffee. I'm planning to bring a bag of cookies to contribute.

  • Don't let the bastards get away with anything. Bring a camera. If you see poll challengers, take their pictures. Demand to see their ID. Take notes. If you see fake protestors of the "Communists for Kerry" sort, take their pictures. Even if there is no film or memory in the camera, pop the flash in their face. Most dirty tricksters want to remain anonymous. Don't start a fight. Don't give them any ammunition to use against us. Just let them know we're watching.

Have fun.