As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

off to Michigan

Won't be blogging for the next few days, in all likelihood. Have a good one.


American Taliban, Part MCMXXXIX

Movies are bad. Movies hate God! Movies cause bad, bad things. Bad.

A number of ABC affiliates have scrapped tonight's Veterans Day broadcast of Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning film Saving Private Ryan out of concern that the unedited movie could leave them open to fines by the FederalCommunications Commission.

While the stations have already aired the World War II drama twice before, they decided to preempt this year's run after deciding Ryan's graphic depiction of the D-Day invasion and use of profanity (the film contains upwards of three dozen F-bombs) was not appropriate for prime-time in the wake of the recent FCC crackdown on CBS over Jackson's Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction.

So it's against the law now (at least as decided by these broadcasters) to show a World War II film on Veteran's Day. But also, you can't show a movie about sex:

NEW YORK -- Indignant conservative groups are protesting this week's opening of the film "Kinsey," denouncing it as propaganda seeking to glorify the researcher they blame for inspiring the sexual revolution.

"Alfred Kinsey is responsible in part for my generation being forced to deal face-to-face with the devastating consequences of sexually transmitted diseases, pornography and abortion," said Brandi Swindell, head of a college-oriented group called Generation Life that plans to picket theaters showing the film.

"Instead of being lionized, Kinsey's proper place is with Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele or your average Hollywood horror flick mad scientist," said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women of America's Culture & Family Institute.

(Director Bill) Condon, in a telephone interview Wednesday, said Kinsey's research is open to legitimate criticism, but suggested that those denouncing his film were "confusing discussion with endorsement."

Meanwhile, recently released on video was the most violent film in decades, The Passion of the Christ, which happened to receive nary a protest from these conservative "family" groups (in fact, families were encouraged to go see it). I guess if it's Jesus being beat to within an inch of his life, that's OK. That's why I'm designing a new video game called Shoot the Pope. I figure he's an authority figure, so it's fair game. And it's perfect, because when you reach the final level and actually bust a cap in the Pope's ass, you realize that he's dying for your sin.

(Sorry if I o-fend, but bullshit censorship and rank hypocrisy like this pisses me off).


Arafat's Legacy

The late Yasser Arafat invented terror as a tactic. Whatever you think of Palestinian oppression or Israeli militancy, or vice-versa, this is incontrovertible. He was duplicitous, fomented rebellion, and was never truly interested in peace in the Middle East, unless by peace you mean the annihilation of all Jews. The biggest problem with the Arab-Israeli conflict is that BOTH SIDES ARE WRONG. It makes it kind of hard to take up sides on the issue, even for a Jewish man such as myself. The death of Arafat will help move the goalposts toward peace, but until Sharon exits the power stage, I don't think anything will get done. What is needed is a new generation of leadership.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Speedy Gonzalez

Well that was quick.

WASHINGTON - President Bush has chosen White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, a Texas confidant and the most prominent Hispanic in the administration, to succeed Attorney General John Ashcroft, sources close to the White House said Wednesday.

I don't want to call this a mistake, but this does put Abu Ghraib right back on the table. I maintain that not talking about the prison abuse scandal was the biggest mistake of the election, and now the AG nominee is the guy who wrote the infamous "torture memo," which gave the President an out to claim indemnity over national and international treaties providing anti-torture and POW protections. Specifically, the memo wrote, "In my judgment, this new paradigm [the war on terror] renders obsolete Geneva's [i.e., the Geneva Convention's] strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."

The document was a marvel of twisted logic, asserting executive powers not given by the Constitution, and is the most obvious application of the last four years of Presidential arrogance. If the Democrats in the Senate had the spine for it, Gonzalez could (and should) be tarred with the Abu Ghraib brush.

Never mind that Gonzalez was also the chief lawyer for Enron, too.


Crushing Dissent

There were tanks in the streets of Los Angeles yesterday. You probably didn't hear about it. I passed by this rally about 5 minutes before the tanks arrived, and I didn't hear about it until this morning. Tanks.

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. Uploaded here is video from the event.

This was a peaceful rally, from everything I saw. People were simply letting their voices be hears. Not allowed, I guess, in the New Republican Order(TM).


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Bye bye Ashcroft

Well, I hope you go back to a long and fulfilling career of losing elections to dead people.

By the way, we no longer have anything to worry about from terror:

“The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved,” Ashcroft wrote in a five-page handwritten letter to Bush, adding that he believed that the Justice Department “would be well served by new leadership and fresh inspiration” and that “my energies and talents should be directed toward other challenging horizons.”

Mission Accomplished!


Moral Values? Let's Examine...

Ah, Christian tolerance. "Do unto others" and all that. What a sight to behold.

A lot of people out there are praising President Bush's victory as a triumph for "moral values," which exit polls listed as the number one issue at the ballot box. There's only one thing. Those people talking about "moral values" aren't all that moral.

The FBI has noted that southern states (or "Bushistan") have the highest murder rates in the country. They also have the highest divorce rates. By contrast, "Taxachusetts" has the lowest divorce rates. Not that there's anything wrong with divorce, by the way, but it's the hypocrisy of the moral values crowd I'm trying to show.

What are these values? Do they include yet another in a long series of sex scandals in the Catholic Church? Do they include the Reverend Fred Phelps? Do they include these lovely thoughts from the Free Republic (good conservative Christians all, I assume) upon learning about Elizabeth Edwards' breast cancer?

Elizabutt has breast cancer

If I were a doctor, I'd be frightened to treat the wife of a guy who sues doctors for a living.

a pity for sure, but good luck finding a doctor to treat the wife of the most vicious medical malpractice attorney in the nation...what goes around comes around I guess.

she could always go to canada or cuber to get the very best treatment possible.

I want her well, but NOT treated here.

any doctor here who treats her should have his head examined.

It's also a shame because, if it wasn't for her bottom-feeding trial lawyer husband, doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies probably would have found a cure for breast cancer by now...

would you bet YOUR house, your kids college on Edwards wife?

Send her to cuber. Libs say their system is better than ours.

....revenge is mine sayeth the LORD!!!!!!!!!

God is not mocked, you reap what you sow. I'm sorry folks but we all have to learn that you cannot go around spewing hatred and leave the door wide open to satan.

"God dont like ugly" (behavior)

This "moral values" thing is a sham. People like to think of themselves in an idyllic way, as "good Christians" who just mind their own business. They are apparently oblivious to the teen pregnancy, child neglect, domestic abuse, pornographic hero-worship, etc. going on in their own backyards. Tell you what, before you lecture me on moralism, take a look at yourself. It's not for nothing that every single evangelist for "Christian values" in the media, every single commentator that clucks smugly "You liberal elitists don't know what's going on in the heartland," doesn't live within 300 miles of said heartland.

And it's a sham on another level. Because, as the great Thomas Frank book What's the Matter With Kansas makes plain, the actual Republican leadership uses the values argument to push forward their economic agenda. The Heartland votes on "values," and then in Bush's first press conference, he lists at the top of his agenda Social Security privatization and a national flat tax. The poorest counties in America are often in the Heartland, the poorest states in the Union (almost all in the South and Plains) take billions in corporate welfare from the government, and its citizens continue to vote to undercut their own economic interests. Why? Because of the values they like to think they have, but don't.

If George W. Bush were a Democrat, he would've been seen as an amoral carpetbagging elitist who went to Andover and Yale, who's "claiming he's Christian" even though he doesn't belong to any church, and who doesn't represent "heartland" values. Hell, that's how, in many respects, he lost his first election, for Congress in 1978.



This latest rumor, flogged by the National Review Online (no way I give them a link) and David Frum, that the comatose Yassir Arafat probably has AIDS because there are unconfirmed rumors that he's gay, are the worst kind of racism and bigotry. I'm no fan of Arafat, the man who's singularly responsible for terror as a tactic. But simply to tar him with a gay brush (a sign of dishonor in the patriarchal Muslim world) based on nothing (well, we can't pinpoint what's wrong with him, so it must be AIDS, right?) is sickening. It also assumes, 20 years after the spread of AIDS, that's it's still merely a gay disease.

The "intellectual" conservatives pushing this story can combine all of their hatreds into one; gay Islamic terrorists are trying to kill us! Arafat must also believe in abortions and amnesty for illegal immigrants, too.

This is shameful.


Monday, November 08, 2004

Out From Under

This is a list of vote tabulations in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio, precinct by precinct. There are 30 precincts in which the number of votes is higher than the number of registered voters. The total overages are about 93,000 votes. That's one county in Ohio. Now, that's ballot stuffing, folks, and whether it's Democratic or Republican, it needs to be addressed. But you know, given Ohio's result, given the disparity between exit polling and "official" results in the state, given Diebold's CEO's "commitment to securing Ohio's electoral votes for George Bush," I'm going to bet on the fraud coming from the Republican side of the ledger.

The reporting doesn't stop there. Keith Olbermann on MSNBC tonight mentioned that a county in Ohio locked out the press from monitoring vote counting due to a "Homeland Security" directive. Because we all know that the middle of Ohio is a top al Qaeda target. And in addition, an Omaha, Nebraska news channel is reporting that 10,000 more votes than voters were counted in their state. Now when you have to steal Nebraska, that's really covering your bases.

Here's another one:

SANFORD, Fla. -- Several hundred ballots in Seminole County, Fla., mysteriously got wet and were rejected by voting machines Tuesday, according to Local 6 News. The wet ballots were apparently discovered unmarked Tuesday at the Community United Methodist Church in Casselberry, Fla.

Sanford is heavily black, by the way. I guess it's not so implausible that ballots would mysteriously get wet, right? I mean, Florida's near the ocean, right?

So this story is getting out somewhat, in a few media outlets. The goal is to get ALL media outlets to cover it. Otherwise, they won't.

p.s. Kos lays out a very compelling set of policies that could be bundled into a "Voter Protection Act," one which could even be bipartisan if there were such a thing anymore. It's a good read. He includes a national standard for voting machines, a standardized machine-per-voter ratio in every precinct (so people aren't waiting 5 hours to vote in one place, and 3 minutes in another), expanded vote-by-mail and early voting, same-day registration, a centralized voter-registration database for all states, and picture ID required (I've been voting for 12 years, in 4 different states, and have never once been asked to show ID at the polls). This last suggestion is brilliant:

Kerry should make this his Big Cause. He's got a 2-million-strong email list that will likely be put to work. If Ohio becomes a battleground, then great. If it doesn't, Kerry should devote the next four years to proposing and pushing voter reform initiatives, both at the federal and state levels.



California is ungovernable in its current form. The legislature is safe, and severely term-limited, so that once anybody gets to know how things work in Sacramento, they have to leave. Plus they're from the extremes of both parties. The initiative system is so easy to use, with virtually no barrier to entry, that legislation is permanently under review, since if something fails in the legislature it can go on the ballot without delay. Budgets require a super-majority, which forces the legislature to actually work together, but because they are not pressured by their constituents to do so, they don't. Thanks to selfish ballot measures like Prop. 13 (which forces property taxes to be exceedingly low), the government is incapable of raising enough money to pay for services unless there is an extreme boom like the tech sector gold rush. The special interests, mindful of California's status as a bellweather state for the nation in terms of policy, put things on the ballot they know sensible citizens will pass (greenhouse gas emissions, stem cell research) when in fact there's no money to pay for them unless you borrow up to your eyeballs. Therefore, services get hacked, deficits go up anyway, everybody yells at everybody, and the state looks more and more like Arkansas every day.

At least a sensible redistricting plan will alleviate a little of the ungovernable nature of things. However, I for one don't trust Ahnold to get it done sensibly (i.e. nonpartisan). Also, he couldn't wait for it until 2010, when the next census comes out, because he'll be out of office by then. So he'll try to ram it through early, which doesn't bode well, since that in itself is in violation of the state constitution.


Ugh, Rumsfeld's Back

Freed from the surgical muzzle placed on him after he said that if 3/4 of Iraq voted in elections, then "so be it," Donald "Grumpy Old Man" Rumsfeld is back, giving press conferences.  Remember when, during the invasion phase, the press corps swooned to hear this guy bloviate on about things like "We know where the WMD are, it's in the area around Tikrit, somewhere to the north, south, east or west"?

Well, here's something just as dumb.

A reporter asked, "Do you think this incursion into Falluja will be the tipping point for the insurgency, or do you think there will be many other incursions as the insurgents move from place to place."  And with a straight face, Rummy said, "We've already answered that question.  First, we don't know the answer..."

The answer is that there's no answer.  And that should be good enough for you.  Welcome to the brave new world, cats and kitties.  Welcome to the end of accountability.


The Case for Movement Liberalism

OK, so we lost. So 3% more of the country likes fighting unnecessary wars than us. 3% more likes ensuring their economic ruin than us (that is, unless they're filthy rich). 3% more can't stand the thought of gay guys kissing than us. And so on and so on and so on. If you accept the premise that the vote was fair (which is quite an if, the more you read), then you have to look at the results and try to figure out how the Democratic Party can turn it around. Let's just list them, in no particular order:

1) I don't blame Kerry. The guy ran a decent enough campaign. He won the debates, found his voice, and attacked on Iraq for about a month straight, and he ran this campaign without selling out his own values, like most candidates do. A Newsweek article that goes "inside the campaign" reports that Clinton advised Kerry to come out in favor of the anti-gay marriage amendments in the states. Kerry replied, "I would never do that." That, in many ways, proves that he would have been a far better President than politician. He didn't have a Ricky Ray Rector moment, and even when he tried, like with the duck hunting episode in Ohio, it appeared than even he wasn't buying it.

Kerry's big mistake, IMO, was not mentioning Abu Ghraib. For a country apparently obsessed with moral values, this grave immorality was the perfect example of how Bush and the Republicans were committing a snow job of the highest order. Plus, it's not just a "gotcha" moment, but one with real import; nothing has radicalized the world (and particularly the Muslim world) more than Abu Ghraib, with has directly contributed to a decrease in security. In addition, Kerry was too busy articulating why Bush was wrong, and never got around to articulating why he was right, and what he stood for. In the "post-thinking" universe in which we live, that's crucial. You can almost say that Bush was happy to be wrong about nearly every policy, because it proved he wouldn't change course.

2) Because a good percentage is off the table. The main organizational structure in America is the church. The brutal forced decline of the union movement in America had a political cost as well, because that was once the support structure for the Democratic Party. Now that it's severely diminished, all we have left is the church. And the church has become increasingly partisan at the same rate as the Republican Party has become increasingly religious. In fact, the party is a religion at this point. And that means a wide swath of the country is beyond the reach of reason, no matter how much economic populism you give them. They can return to the fold, but it's going to take several cycles and a lot of personal heartache before they drop the ridiculous notion that "God is just testing me" and realize that change can actually happen in this life too.

The labor movement needs to strike back (although the deck is stacked heavily against them), but in addition other structures need to be built. Some of them are already happening online. Sites like the Daily Kos and others are organizing people across the country. This, in effect, needs to be localized; Kos chapters, if you will, that can meet in real life and organize around quality candidates.

3) But all is not lost. The Republican Party has a big Northeast, Upper Midwest, and Pacific problem. Sure, you'll never hear that, but with the lost of New Hampshire, New England and the Mid-Atlantic are solid blue, as is the Upper Midwest (Iowa is extremely close and may yet go to Kerry once all the votes are counted) and the Pacific Coast. That eliminates any hopes for an electoral landslide from the Republicans.

In other words, we're not that far away. It's not about "We can only run a Southern Democrat." Is the other side thinking "We have to run a Northern Republican"? Hell no. The Mountain West is trending our way, too, although it's yet to be reflected in the Presidential vote. Montana has a Dem governor now. So does Wyoming. Colorado has a Dem state House. Nevada's electoral majority tightened. Core Democratic values like the environment, along with a reaction against fiscal insanity (who would've thought fiscal conservatism would be the Democrat's issue?), is what will move the Mountain West. Well before the South.

4) You have to take a stand. Or, at least, you have to take up a position opposite your opponent, and forcefully defend it. Republican-lite doesn't work. "I'm not Bush" doesn't work. If the choice offered to the voters includes one guy with his flag planted in the ground, and the other guy pointing at the flag and saying "That's not what you want," there isn't really a choice. At least the flag is tangible. And in a society which is incresingly distilled to soundbites, that's all anybody gets to see: the flag. The Democrats are the opposition party in a government wholly owned by Republicans. They should not be the loyal opposition. Language that puts yourself in "the party of reform" works. The saddest thing about government is that everybody wants its power, but nobody wants to associate themselves with it. We've had something like 6 or 7 straight "outsiders" win elections. Miraculously, in this race Kerry was seen as the Washington insider over a sitting President! By taking up the opposite position, we put ourselves outside of government, which is really where the nation approves of its leaders being, strangely enough.

5) Build the movement. That is, continue building the movement. We're two years into what was, for conservatives, a 40-year movement of building infrastructure. We have a long way to go, but the movement is starting to happen. We have media outlets like Air America (true liberal media, not just "objective" SCLM), we have think tanks like the Center for American Progress and Media Matters, we have ACT, we havbe MoveOn, we have the online blogosphere. It's a good place to start, and it must be supplemented and allowed to grow. The worst thing that could be done would be to drop everything and try a different tactic. The Democrats are by their very diverse nature a loose coalition. That doesn't work anymore; the message has to be tight every single day for four years.

I'll post tomorrow on what that message should be.


Sunday, November 07, 2004

Flying Around the Web

And there really is no consensus about this election. Some people are screaming voting fraud, some people say that overlooks the real issue; some people say we have to reach out to rural conservative Christians, otehrs say the gap wasn't as "values"-based as the media thinks; some people believe we have to go leftward, others think we should stay right where we are, and just change the language we use. It's not surprising, this multiplicity of opinions; in fact, it's good for the process. Most of all, it means nobody is willing to give up.

I just haven't been able to find the time to post a far-reaching post-mortem type commentary. I promise to have it up tomorrow.