The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Seats of Easement

A little juvenile comedy for you to enjoy, courtesy of..... uhmmm, RoboDump. And give thanks that you're living in the digital age. so that we can all share this sort of thing.

Christians Against Hot Gay Baseball Action

From ABC News

Among some conservative Christians, there is a belief that President Bush received a "moral mandate" to win the recent presidential election-- and they are calling on him to act on their agenda now...

"Values" voters delivered for the president, and the president must now deliver for them-- especially in the courts, said Gary Cass, head of a grassroots political organization affiliated with Coral Ridge, called the Center for Reclaiming America...

Cass wants a U.S. Supreme Court that will outlaw abortion and gay marriage. "Do you want to take your children to a National League baseball game for instance and have homosexuals showing affection to one another? I don't want my kids to see that," he said.

Monday, November 29, 2004

National security is the name of the game.

Well, looks like Stal.... errr, Bush is preparing to make a trip to Canada, where he's sure to be a big hit. If they manage to keep thousands of protestors well out of camera range, that is. It worked in Chile, but how about with our neighbors to the north?

From the story:

"Protest organizers are pulling out all the stops as they try to gather crowds in time for a visit to Canada by U.S. President George W. Bush.

Mr. Bush comes Tuesday to a nation where many people are deeply unhappy about his policies. He can expect major protests in Ottawa and reportedly cancelled plans to address Parliament because of the likelihood of being heckled. . .

The U.S. President will travel Wednesday to Halifax, planning to thank residents of the East Coast for taking in air passengers stranded by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. [Awwww, that's sweet. I wonder if those clips will show up on the evening news here? I'm kidding. They will.]

At every stop, Mr. Bush can expect protesters. Although they concede the difficulty of raising a crowd in the middle of the week, with temperatures expected to remain locked in the single digits, protest organizers are predicting thousands of demonstrators. [Why, that's positively un-American! Anyone want to lay bets on those shots showing up? I'm kidding. They won't.]

I mentioned Chile because there were, unsurprisingly, thousands of protestors present for Bush's arrival. They did swell things like burn American flags and burn Bush in effigy. You wouldn't have known it from watching the pinko PBS NewsHour, though. They limited their coverage of Bush's arrival to a tight closeup of the smiling first couple waving from the plane's door. It might not have been accurate, but it sure was presidential. And the members of the press are uniters, not reporters.

America on Values: Eh.

No matter where you're getting your news, you've heard all about how 'moral values' defined the election. And unless you get your news from Fox, you're aware that the fundamentalist right has been proclaiming a new day for religious law. But as NYT columnist Frank Rich points out, it seems to have taken the British press (again!) to point out what a bunch of hooey this entire theory is:

"It's beginning to look a lot like "Groundhog Day." Ever since 22 percent of the country's voters said on Nov. 2 that they cared most about "moral values," opportunistic ayatollahs on the right have been working overtime to inflate this nonmandate into a landslide by ginning up cultural controversies that might induce censorship by a compliant F.C.C. and, failing that, self-censorship by TV networks. Seizing on a single overhyped poll result, they exaggerate their clout, hoping to grab power over the culture.

The mainstream press, itself in love with the "moral values" story line and traumatized by the visual exaggerations of the red-blue map, is too cowed to challenge the likes of the American Family Association. So are politicians of both parties. It took a British publication, The Economist, to point out that the percentage of American voters citing moral and ethical values as their prime concern is actually down from 2000 (35 percent) and 1996 (40 percent)."

All righty then, mainstream press. I suspect that in lihgt of this info, you'll drop the topic like a hot potato. Right?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Q: What's red, white & blue and has CCCP written all over it?

A: The Bush space program. Looks like he'll do anything to make it into the history books, a la Sputnik. You might remember him mentioning, way back when, a trip to Mars. In the face of scorn and derision from the public-- and more tellingly, from the scientific community-- it was dropped like a hot appetizer. Until the infamous 51% mandate came along. Now it's ahead Warp Factor 666. Screw science, screw the public, and screw the budget. This is about legacy!

This comes from a favorite weekly newsletter of mine by physicist Robert Park:


To reach a deficit of $7.5 TRILLION in this session, Congress had to get down to business and make a lot of really bad spending decisions. Take Moon-Mars, for example. I like the moon; it was beautiful this morning as I drove to the office. Scientifically however, it has to be the least interesting destination in the heavens. As a launch platform to get to Mars it's just nuts.
Mars is more interesting, but we have two robust geologists there already. If there's some reason to send frail humans, they sure haven't found it yet. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said the election was a clear mandate for the President's Moon-Mars thing, but WN could find no mention of it by Bush since January, and Congress has held virtually no hearings on it. The APS Panel on Public Affairs just issued a Discussion Paper on Moon-Mars. The URL would take up the entire page, so go to and click on Moon-Mars Program in the column on the left. It warns that Moon-Mars would far exceed budget projections and jeopardize real NASA science. The Discussion Paper also urges the government to pay attention to recommendations on priorities in space from the National Academy of Sciences. You wouldn't think you'd have to tell them that, but that's the way it is.

Mission Accomplished! Again!

The headline: Halliburton lost track of government property in Iraq

An understatement, to say the least. Here's a quote from the above AP story:

"A third or more of the government property Halliburton Co. was paid to manage for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq could not be located by auditors, investigative reports to Congress show.

Halliburton's KBR subsidiary ''did not effectively manage government property'' and auditors could not locate hundreds of CPA items worth millions of dollars in Iraq and Kuwait this summer and fall, Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen reported to Congress in two reports."

Now we can't even get the profiteering right?

Friday, November 26, 2004

The Big Time?

Wow. I feel like a star. Welcome to any and all Ed Shultz listeners who are checking out the site.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Kiss those GOP-funding companies goodbye...

What you have here is a list of corporations, followed by the percentage of their political donations that go to the GOP. Stop giving them your business. (The above link will take you to the site that compiled the list.)

Phillips Int'l. - 100%
Cooper Industries - 100%
Flowers Industries - 100%
Harris Corp. - 98%
Illinois Toolworks - 97%
Outback Steakhouse - 96%
ExxonMobil - 96%
National City Corp. - 95%
Wendy's Int' l. - 93%
Anadarko Petroleum - 92%
Timken Corp. - 91%
Halliburton - 91%
Meadwestvaco Corp - 90%
Darden Restaurants Inc. - 90%
Branch Banking & Trust Co - 90%
Int'l Paper - 90%
Caterpillar - 89%
J.C.Penney Corp. Inc. - 89%
Goodyear Tire - 89%
Conoco-Phillips Spirit 89% (Does this mean gas and cigarettes?)
Smithfield Foods Inc. - 88%
Chevron-Texaco - 87%
Ford Motor Company - 84%
Cigna Corporation - 83%
Owens Corning 83%
Conagra Foods 83%
Home Depot Inc. - 81%
Baxter Healthcare Corporation - 81%
3M Company - 80%

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

How to Avoid a Draft

Here's a lovely story from Reuters that shows how committed the administration is to ensuring that a draft isn't enacted. The headline?

Vietnam Vet, 53, Called for Duty in Iraq

It goes something like this:

"Dunlap, who has not been in combat since serving as a 19-year-old Marine in Vietnam, could not be reached for comment. He will leave behind his wife Mary, four children and three grandchildren."

34 years since he served? No problemo. It's like riding a bike. A few minutes under fire, and it'll all come back to him.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Quibbles (wobble, but they don't fall down)

I mentioned that I was going to write to the guy responsible for the weak-kneed attitude toward the admission of kooky voting machines in Texas. I wasn't surprised by the response, but I had hoped for something a little more 'adult.'

Here's how it went:


Well, I don't think most folks come to my site for in-depth news reporting. I hope not.

I suppose I might write a slightly different kind of commentary after the fact -- perhaps with more "gravity," even -- but this was very much an "of-the-moment" rumor and it seemed to me what recipients of the email most urgently needed to know right then was:

1) Is the implication that Democratic voters in Travis County are being targeted as victims of voter fraud justified?
2) Is there really a problem with the voting machines in Travis County? If so, what is it?
3) What steps can voters there take to avoid their vote being compromised?

Underneath my commentary I linked to four news articles plus a memo from the Travis County Dem Party headquarters that gave all the additional information you or anyone else may have been interested in. It seems to me my pages are more readable and useful when my own commentary is short and whatever in-depth coverage exists is made readilty available through external links.

Lastly, to be honest, I took a cue in my handling of the rumor from the official Democratic Party response, which was to the effect that the reported problem was not a machine malfunction, but rather voter error. "We thank everyone who has written or called in with their concerns," said the statement in closing. "We understand these concerns considering what happened in Florida in 2000. But here in Travis County, Texas in 2004 there is nothing to worry about."

Thanks very much for writing.

David Emery

Eh. I suppose that hearing him say that in retrospect he might have done it differently was something. I'm just going to take hold of the fact that he's having second thoughts and tell myself that it's making a bit of a difference. I'm not printing the text of the message that I sent, but it was very tempered and sensible-- and like my NewsHour encounter, I got a rationalization instead of an actual response to my letter. But again we see that these people are listening. So start writing letters. Things aren't going to change if we don't speak up. And it can be a very cathartic experience-- especially if you're as pissed off as I am.

Divine Right

You know those black helicopters that you've been seeing overhead lately? Well, it's time to kick those New World Order bastards to the curb!

By which I mean that the crackpot right has decided to do what they do best-- take a 51-49 electoral win and turn it into a license for..... errr, crackpotism.

Here's a quote from the story:

"A right-wing Republican group launched a television campaign calling for the United Nations to be kicked out of the United States, alleging the world body is a "safe harbor" for terrorism.

California-based Move America Forward wants the world body's New York headquarters shut down and its officials expelled from the country because it failed to support the US-led war on Iraq."

Does that name sound familiar? It would if you were following the right-wing attempts to prevent Fahrenheit 9/11 from being screened. They were the prime movers. Now they're moving on (pun intended) to bigger and more biblical things. Like condemning the international community for not going along with our cooked-up intelligence and suggesting alternatives to a pre-emptive war. Which is going really well.

Is the administration starting to scare the hell out of you yet? If not, they have more than one way of forcing the hell out you.

UPDATE: Oops. Looks like Move America Forward is actually proposing another war. From the UN's website:

"The United Nations Headquarters is in New York City but the land and buildings are international territory."

We're an occupied country! Let's rise up and take back our nation! I guess that holds true for embassies, too. After all, when you're an occupied nation, it's your duty to expel the oppressors, right? Especially when your case is built on the justice of the war in Iraq, where insurgents are fighting against a just government that is definitely NOT occupying your nation. That's totally not cool.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Daily Sandwich is on the money! Plus, Travis county officials admit to voting irregularities.

The above link will take you to a semi-debunking of the story that I mentioned recently about an FDA study on children's exposure to pesticides. In short, my skepticism about some of the more wild claims proved to be true. And so did my qualms with the apparent immorality of the study in the first place. The good news is that the study has been delayed, thanks to public outcry, pending a review.

Another update on the same site gives a disturbing take on the problems of electronic voting.
Here's a link:

Here's a quote:

"According to the Travis County Clerk's office, the glitch is the result of voters not scrolling down to catch the final referendum at the bottom of the ballot before hitting "Enter," which causes a switch — a "flip-flop," if you will — from their original presidential selection to its opposite, an error which is easy to correct so long as voters make sure to examine their ballot summary page carefully before making their final submission."

It acknowledges that the system had an inherent flaw without looking into the actual issue-- did it happen to people who voted either way? Just Dem voters? Apparently, whether the voters' initial votes were cast as they wished or not, they stood the chance of being misrepresented. That is inherently unfair. A voter isn't to blame for a "glitch," especially when it's been openly acknowledged by the county clerk's office... The site's host isn't a journalist (which doesn't count for much anyway), but this is an utterly irresponsible justification of an admitted flaw in the system. I'll write the guy and see if he has anything to say...

Of course, it's also shocking that an e-mail forward turned out to be true. That could be a first.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Dial W for Funny...

Time for another comedic interlude. I needed a laugh today, and this came through in a big way. A short film that asks the question "Who would play W in a movie?" And invests way too much time in providing an answer. Highly recommended viewing.

Seriously. An astonishing amount of work must have gone into this. You owe it to the maker(s) to watch it.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Every Child Protected Act

I like this. John Kerry has sent everyone on his e-mail list a request to sign a petition that will grant health care to the eight million children currently without any coverage.

From the letter:

"Normally, a member of the Senate will first approach other senators and ask them to co-sponsor a bill before it is introduced -- instead, I am turning to you. Imagine the power of a bill co-sponsored by hundreds of thousands of Americans being presented on the floor of the United States Senate. You can make it happen. Sign our "Every Child Protected" pledge today and forward it to your family, friends, and neighbors. . ."

Very cool. Even if it goes down to defeat, it will show how motivated the electorate is to fight for defenseless Americans, instead of the robber barons. Sign up, please.

On the downside, it looks like Kerry is planning another run. I wouldn't mind that too much, although the press (even a fair amount of the liberal press) is pretty down on the guy for that whole 'likability' thing. But hey, he got 49% of the vote against a wartime incumbent. Not too shabby.

Dollar Drop Accelerates

This is pretty troubling. There have been worried comments from some economists here and there, but this is the first time I've seen anything in print. The GOP just voted to expand the national debt ceiling, so that the government can increase the deficit. The world has the reaction you'd expect.

From the Financial Times:

"The US currency came under renewed selling pressure the moment it became clear George W. Bush had been re-elected president. In the two and a half weeks since then, the alue of the dollar has fallen 2.5 percent against the euro and 1.9 percent against the yen. The falls represent an acceleration of the dollar's steady decline since 2002. Since the start of that year, the greenback has fallen 32 percent against the euro and 21 percent against the yen. . . .

Darek Halpenny, currency analyst at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, points to a "very grim" outlook for the dollar in the near term. "With the foreign exchange market now focused entirely on the problem of the US budget deficit and current account deficits, there is a real risk that dollar selling becomes a crisis of confidence," he says. . . .

There is a fear in the currency markets that the dollar's decline, which has been gradual and orderly so far, will turn into a rout."

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Boston Green Tea Party

The above story will take you to a pretty silly bit of pontificating from CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley. To sum it up, Kerry lost because he ordered green tea in a Dubuque diner, providing just one more example of how Democrats are hopeless elitists who don't "get" real Americans. As you can see in the analysis, green tea can be purchased in Dubuque. And at K-Mart, no less. The way I see it, Kerry was just being himself-- it's the self-important media that sees Americans as hapless yokels.

I wrote to CNN, and I also wrote to the Palm Beach Post, where the article appeared. The author of the story, R. Hayes, wrote back and had this to say:

"Thanks for writing--and I agree. I wasn't given enough room to report Ms. Crowley's speech in more detail, but her underlying assumption seemed to be that positions mean nothing, perception is all. She mentioned, for example, Kerry's notorious windsurfing photo as another element in his failure to connect with the American people and win the presidency. This struck me at the time as a bit simplistic, but apparently TV news has no idea how to handle the concept of purple states."

Hear, hear! Folks, when you see something silly in the media take the time to write. The media playing field has to be leveled before we can take back the government.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

GOP Unveils New Pro-Crime Agenda

Here's a fun little piece that appeared in the Washington Post today.

First, a trip back in time...

House Republicans in 1993 -- trying to underscore the ethics problems of Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), then-chairman of the Ways and Means Committee -- adopted the rule that requires a party leader to surrender his or her post if indicted by any grand jury, federal or state.

Now back to the present....

House Republicans were contemplating changing their rules in order to allow members indicted by state prosecutors to remain in a leadership post, a move designed to benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, GOP leaders said today.

The rules change, which some leaders said is likely to be adopted Wednesday, comes as House Republicans return to Washington indebted to DeLay for the enhanced majority they won in this month's elections. DeLay led an aggressive redistricting effort in Texas last year that resulted in five Democratic House members retiring or losing reelection. It also triggered the grand jury inquiry into fundraising efforts related to the state legislature's redistricting actions.

Hey, Lieberman! Any thoughts on this admirable bipartisan spirit? You weenie...

Part 2

"GOP Lawmakers Alter Intelligence Reform Bill to Cloak Financial Ties"

John McCain Shoots for Credibility

After hearing Bush's speech on Rice today ("We're a nation at war, leading a large coalition against a determined enemy"), I wanted to vomit. Will ANYONE in the media mention that we're a nation that launched a war against a country that posed no threat, leading a small and ever-shrinking band of countries providing neither military or financial support, against an enemy that is outraged at our incompetent occupation? Naahhhh....

So I was ready for some good news. I guess this'll have to do. Now that the election is over, and McCain apparently chose wisely in supporting an administration he clearly loathes, he seems to be taking the first steps toward acting responsibly. Namely by trying to act against global warming. It'll be an uphill battle, to say the least. The House is already making a play to get ANWR drilling on the table again, and the White House is vehemently opposed to any measure that reduces energy consumption (remember that tax credit for buying SUVs?).

From the NYT story:

"Wasting no time distancing himself from President Bush on an issue that has long divided them, Senator John McCain yesterday called the White House stance on climate change "terribly disappointing" and said inaction in the face of mounting scientific data was unjustified."

America, Athens Style

Not too long ago, I mentioned the US-Iraq groundgame in the context of what little I know of military history. Someone else has made the same connection, drawn some pretty clear parallels, and done the hard work of spelling it all out. When you're done, you can go get yourself a copy of Kagan's book 'The Peloponnesian War.' Good stuff.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

In 431 BC, the Greek world went to war against Athens. Thucydides claims that the reason for war was the “growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused.” The Athenians were a proud people who had ultimate faith in their institutions. They saw themselves as a model upon which the whole Greek world should mold itself. “I would prefer ...that you fix your eyes every day on the greatness of Athens as she really is,” stated Pericles, “and you shall fall in love with her.”

The problem for Athens was that the majority of city-states in the Greek world did not share the Athenian vision. To most of the city states, especially those within the Delian League, Athens was an arrogant, power-hungry entity that would do anything to keep and maintain power. Athens bullied members of the Delian League into providing cash for security. Not trusting other member city-states, Athens moved the treasury to the mainland from the island of Delos. During the Peloponnesian War, the brutal actions of Athens toward the people of Lesbos and Melos sparked uprisings all over the empire. Although much of these were suppressed by Athens, this weakened the great democracy, eventually bringing a tragic defeat to the once mighty empire. Athens had to give up all colonies and the people were forced to stand by as the tattered remains of their glorious navy was put to the torch.

A Tiger By the Tail

This is one of the sights I've been looking for since the election. It wasn't any surprise that "Torture Memo" Gonzales was rewarded, nor that Condi "Historical Document" Rice managed to fail upward. (Connie, if YOU happen across this, my heart will always be yours...)

No, I've been holding our for signs that the party will begin to implode by going too far in too open a way. I just hope that we keep seeing more statements like this one from Jan LaRue, general counsel for the fundamentalist group Concerned Women for America (which is run by a man, as it happens):

"If [moderate Republicans] can't agree and support the president and the platform, then they ought to go over to the Democrats."

Yes, please. We'd be more than happy to have the left, the center AND the moderate right.

Monday, November 15, 2004

EPA Pesticide Study: 'Observing' Kids Who've Been Exposed

From what I've heard, this story doesn't quite have it right, but pretty much. The proposed study will gather a group of kids from low-income families who've been exposed to pesticides. Ostensibly some will be treated. Others will be observed. You know, just to see what pesticides do to kids.

I've heard this from multiple sources who agree on the main themes. This particulare link is also a petition. I love petitions like this-- unlike e-mail forward petitions, which are worthless.

Why is it that every damn thing this administration does hints at some hideous 20th century totalitarian disaster? Like Nazi medical experiments. Except they didn't offer their victims swell cash and prizes for participating. I freely admit that. We didn't offer prizes after the Tuskegee experiments, either.

Joe Lieberman, You're a Gutless Turd.

This is beyond belief. Joe Lieberman went on Fox News Sunday and made the case for approving all of Bush' judicial nominees. Incredible.

"During the Clinton years, as far as I can tell, more than 60...judicial nominations were blocked not by a filibuster but because the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee never even gave those nominees a hearing."

So far so good, right? Hang on to your hats...

"The point of fact here is that both of these, the filibuster [by the Dems] and the blocking of even a hearing under President Clinton, are signs of a government here in Washington that has grown too partisan."

Sooooo.... because the GOP mercilessly blocked moderate nominees, we should allow them to ram through reactionary nominees without a fight? It's pure genius!

Looks like all that post-election Democrat outrage might not mean a thing to the lily-livered on the Hill.

Welcome Back, Stalin!

Anyone familiar with 20th century history should tremble when they hear the word 'urge.' But here it is being discussed openly and without irony in reference to the United States government.

This story is about Powell's resignation. No surprise there. The one man with integrity in this administration went ahead and sold out-- thereby tarnishing his reputation (for being dishonest) and sinking his chances with W's cronies (for being honest). They're probably promoting Condie "historical document" Rice. She's obviously loyal and trustworthy.

Next is the scary tale of the purge at the CIA. No, not the folks who botched intelligence for the last four years-- the ones who tried to get the truth out. Yes, they're going to get the axe for being "disloyal" to the prez.,0,707331.story?coll=ny-top-headlines

Every reporter who expressed optimism that W would finally go centrist (in the words of Bullwinkle, "This time for sure!") should be given a serious noogie. And start doing their job, if it wouldn't be too much trouble. You've had a five-year vacation.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Red State GOP Creationism Advocate Indicted. Sandwich Amused.

Nothing brightens my day quite like hypocrisy exposed. Especially when it involves the dirty dealings of those same red-state moralists who claim that homosexuals are going to destroy civilization. In fact, they're doing quite well without any assistance from blue states.

So let's take a roll call. Gingrich. Bennett. DeLay. Thurmond. Thomas. Cheney. Their enforcers, Limbaugh and O'Reilly. I won't even get into the evangelists...

Ashcroft/Romney 2008! Bring real moral values to the White House! (shudder)

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The New Bulge Review

I, for one, am happy that this story refuses to die. Here's the text of a story that appeared on

Either it was a bulletproof vest, or "nothing"

Yeah, we know. Some of you are probably thinking, "Christ, not the bulge thing again. That is so election 2004." But just as there is a powerful and necessary call to further investigate whether widespread election fraud occured this year, we're still hearing from readers who want to get to the bottom of the mysterious little lump that appeared under President Bush's suit jacket during the debates.

So we thought we'd point out one intriguing discrepancy that's recently come to our attention (hat tip to War Room reader G.M. of Modesto).

On Nov. 4 we told you about a report in The Hill claiming to have the final word on the source of the Bush bulge:

"Sources in the Secret Service told The Hill that Bush was wearing a bulletproof vest, as he does most of the time when appearing in public. The president's handlers did not want to admit as much during the campaign, for fear of disclosing information related to his personal security while he was on the campaign trail."

But on Nov. 7, a report from the Associated Press had top Bush adviser Karl Rove floating a slightly different explanation:

"On one sideline row during the campaign, Rove said the president's tailor was devastated about a controversy over a box-shaped bulge in Bush's back that television cameras captured during the first debate. ... 'Nothing was under his jacket,' Rove said. 'The poor tailor ... he's an awfully nice fellow, he's a rather flamboyant dude,' Rove said. 'I'm not going to use his name, but he's just -- he's horrified. And, you know, it's -- there was nothing there.'"

So which is it, fellas? (And did Rove really call the White House tailor "a rather flamboyant dude"? Did the bulge somehow get folded into his anti-gay-marriage strategy?)

-- Mark Follman

NYT tries to improve its reputation.

This is a revealing article from Slate. The Times is hoping to improve "its accuracy and trustworthiness," by forming a committee on the problem (the article contains the complete text of an internal memo that was leaked this week). This could be a sign that the media is finally trying to re-establish its street cred. The Times is seen by the right as a liberal rag. But increasingly, it's seen by the left as a joke. That's true of CNN as well, but the cable networks still seem to be hewing to the right in order to woo Fox viewers.

Write letters. Cancel subscriptions. The Democrats aren't going to get anywhere if the press keeps dumping on our candidates in the name of 'objectivity,' which has become synonymous with pandering to the GOP.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Under the Radar...

...and in more ways than one. This is the first I've heard of the emerald ash borer. Six million trees? Maybe we'll find that their natural predator is the snakehead. Just kidding. We won't.

(USA Today)"The shiny green beetle, called the emerald ash borer, came to the USA up to 10 years ago, probably inside a wood packing crate from China.

Since it arrived near Detroit, the beetle has destroyed more than 6 million ash trees in 3,000 square miles of southeast Michigan, an area larger than Delaware. The U.S. Agriculture Department quarantined the area in October 2003, making it illegal to remove ash trees and firewood.

But the emerald ash borer flies up to a half-mile in the summer. It has been found in Ohio, Indiana and Ontario, plus in commercial nurseries in Maryland and Virginia.

Federal and state agriculture officials have launched a major effort to hunt down the beetle and destroy every ash tree within a half-mile of infested trees.

"If we don't stop this in northwest Ohio, it's a death sentence for the nation's ash trees," says Fred Daily, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. "

I remember a spate of bug-menace horror movies in the 70's. Tarantula. Ants. Earwig (I made that one up). Frogs (I didn't make that one up). Empire of the Ants. Kingdom of the Spiders. Food of the Gods (which doesn't really count). And don't forget: Them! More than one was about the nasties coming in packing crates from overseas.

Obviously 'homeland security' could use a tad more work. And it probably wouldn't even cost $250,000,000,000.

When Being Right Feels so Wrong....

But with this pack of idiots, you can't even appreciate the schadenfreude. I'm not a military historian. My experience is along the lines of reading the occasional military history book-- and even that's pretty random. The Taiping Rebellion, WWI, the Pelopennesian War, some Caesar. That's about it. Oh, except that I do like watching WWII documentaries on cable-- no shortage of those.

And even I could tell that an assault on Falluja would be FUBAR. We've been at the gates for months-- threatening, withdrawing, and listening to Rush Limbaugh (who's broadcast to the troops every day!) pontificate on how we should turn it into a parking lot (yes, he actually said that). But if anyone in Iraq had access to the US press, they would have known that there were rumors of an assault months ago-- and hints that it wouldn't happen 'till after the election. It doesn't take a genius to realize that what you do with your guerilla units is fall back in Falluja and start raising hell in other cities once the American forces are committed.

Bingo. I guess the valuable lesson the administration will again ignore is that we aren't dealing with morons. It was no way to spend Veteran's Day.

With Friends Like These...

Who likes W? Vladimir Putin, best known as the Russian autocrat who. . .

"has systematically undercut the freedom and independence of the press, destroyed the checks and balances in the Russian federal system, arbitrarily imprisoned both real and imagined political rivals, removed legitimate candidates from electoral ballots, harassed and arrested NGO leaders, and weakened Russia's political parties. In the wake of the horrific crime in Beslan, President Putin has announced plans to further centralize power and to push through measures that will take Russia a step closer to authoritarian regime." Excellent link:

Who likes W? Responsible Christian Bob Jones, who writes to Bush:

"In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate.

....Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

....Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years—a brief time only—to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God." Read the letter here:

Thursday, November 11, 2004 Investigate the Vote

I signed. So should you. I don't think we'll uncover a massive conspiracy, but it is an outrage that the evidence of voter fraud is being ignored.

You can also stop by to keep tabs on new developments.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Meet the Devil You Don't Know

Ashcroft's replacement has been named. The good news is that it isn't a fundamentalist crackpot. The bad news is that it's that other breed of Bushie-- the robber baron.

"(AP) WASHINGTON - President Bush nominated White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, who helped shape the administration's controversial legal strategy in the war on terror, to be attorney general Wednesday. He would be the first Hispanic ever to serve as the nation's top law enforcement officer. "

I'm sorry to say that I predicted this one, just like I called Ashcroft. The controversial legal strategy? Making sure that the White House wouldn't face any problems over Abu Ghraib. Other experience includes detaining suspects for years without charging them and serving as general counsel for Enron. Ahhhh, moral values.

Did I mention that he's Hispanic? What a vote-getter that'll be!

UPDATE (11/12): I concur with the view of my favorite bloggers-- the Dems should let this one slide. If they get "obstructionist" with this appointment, they will have lost a lot of press time* when the Supreme Court nominations roll around. What they need to do is not wuss out during the confirmations-- ask tough questions about his role in the infamous 'torture memos,' his actions in presenting then-governor Bush with misleading accounts of death-row prisoners (I don't have a handy link, but you need to check it out), and his role with Enron. It's all we have, but at least it'll be on the record. All appointments are going to be evil, and Ashcroft only hurt people of one skin tone (if that doesn't sound too cruelly pragmatic). Sadly, the non-fundamentalist in the mix has now been nominated. That means Ashcroft clones are going to be up for Supreme Court appointments. That's what the Dems have to fight. And they have to fight hard. Get ready to write nasty letters to media outlets that try to be "fair and balanced" about the fundies that we're certain to face. I can already see the articles: Acknowledged as a judge who is strict in a region where strictness is the norm, xxxxx State Supreme Court judge xxxxx has proven himself to be a staunch defender of state's rights when it comes to displaying the Confederate flag, but shows that he is more than willing to accept the rule of federal government in issues like the detention of suspects under the Patriot Act. As such, his bipartisanship can be expected to draw much controversy from both sides of the aisle." Expect lots of that nonsense.

*Sheesh. I don't even have the energy to collect links on the number of judicial appointments that were blocked by the GOP house during the Clinton years. Yet, when the Dems under Bush opposed just a handful, it became a tale of bloody murder (one parroted by the press, natch). Oy. Don't get me started. The facts are out there. Do your own research. It'll only take a few seconds.

UPDATE 2: Slate has an article that reminds me of another bit of Gonzales sleaze. This involves protecting W's DWI conviction from becoming public when he was running for governor.

The Persuaders

Another great episode of Frontline this week, and more timely than they could have hoped. Those of us keeping an eye on what the online politicos are saying after the election are seeing a lot about "framing the debate." Estate tax? Sounds good. Death tax? EVIL!!! Global-warming? Bad. Global climate change? So what!

This show is about modern marketing, and how marketing is used in politics. Particularly, how a political/corporate goal can be framed so that it appeals to people-- even when it isn't something they want.

Visit the site, watch the show, check out the interviews. The portrayal of Frank Luntz made my flesh crawl-- he's responsible for making regressive taxation and environmental damage sound great to ordinary folks, and for selling Gingrich's 'Contract With America.' Naturally, he has no regrets, although he never claims to support any of these positions.

Ironically, I saw this on the same day I received Lakoff's 'Don't Think of an Elephant.' But there's one thing that concerns me. Will the media buy it this time? Or will they start decrying it as hackery, in spite of the fact that they've been letting the GOP get off scot-free for years?

Here's one idea that I came up with:

The Gun Owners' Protection Act. The rights of gun owners, as expressed in the Second Amendment, are in danger of disappearing at the hands of a few activists. Why? Because a small percentage of the population has abused their Constitutional rights. Gun owners are responsible citizens. Sadly, they are put in danger by a few disreputable dealers and manufacturers who want to undermine the Constitution in the name of making a fast buck.

The longer this small group continues to knowingly arm dangerous criminals, the greater the risk that we'll ALL lose our rights. See to it that a few dishonest people aren't cheating the rest of us out of our rights as American citizens.

So that's my pitch. What is the bill? Requiring extended background checks and waiting periods. Would it fly? Doubtful, since the GOP has already managed to defuse this debate to a degree where showing a Democrat with a gun is like showing, say, a Frenchman with a Velveeta sandwich. And a fair number of Democrats would flip out as well, since we don't seem to have the party unity and discipline. I'm just trying to experiment with the idea a bit.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Ashcroft, Evans Resign!

You might have heard it here first!

(Associated Press)
WASHINGTON — Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans resigned today, the first members of President Bush's Cabinet to leave as he headed from re-election into his second term. . .
"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."Yet I believe that the Department of Justice would be well served by new leadership and fresh inspiration," said Ashcroft, whose health problems earlier this year resulted in removal of his gall bladder.

Gall is the word, all right. Unbelievable. Enjoy the feeling of euphoria while you can-- and brace yourself for whatever kooks are on the way.

Framing the Debates

Overheard on today's Morning Sedition (which is one of Air America's best offerings).

Some suggestions from a listener on beating the GOP at their own game.

Don't talk about gay marriage/civil unions-- it should be 'family rights.'

Talking about health care for the poor isn't going to ignite many voters: call it 'children's health' or the 'war on disease.'

Don't talk about creationism in the classroom-- say you support 'fact-based education.'

That's a good start.

And check out Lakoff's book "Don't Think of an Elephant," which is getting a whoooooole lot of attention after the election.

Much More Map Madness

Apparently the chuckleheads at Fox are using their usual technique of "accurate, but misleading" (or is that too charitable?) and waving big, red maps around, and predicting the demise of liberalism.

Naturally, there are two sides to every story. Things look red on the face of it, but the vote was pretty evenly split. So a couple of folks decided to present electoral maps that reflect population. Check out the site. It's a nice primer on the presentation of facts that you like, but ignoring the ones you don't.

Why Privatizing Social Security Stinks

This article from TNR takes a pretty serious look at what the Prez is proposing. And it isn't pretty.

". . .during his post-election press conference last week, Bush finally seemed to acknowledge what economists have known all along: With or without private accounts, preserving Social Security over the long term will involve raising taxes, cutting benefits, reducing spending on other government programs, or some combination thereof. The question is not whether to cause financial pain but how."

To sum up, it's all about ideology-- real world be damned!

Spooks Run Wild

This creepy story (courtesy of Randy Rooster) chronicles the discovery of a very disturbing looking creature killed in Texas. And other similar animals have been spotted before. Chupacabra? Elmendorf Beast? Or is somebody up there trying to teach the red states another lesson with a plague of beasts? I suppose it's a little better than hurricanes...

Being a skeptical sort myself, I'm inclined to think it's a diseased dog or coyote. But it certainly is gross.

Not Just for Barbarella Anymore, plus Operation: Bulge-B-Gone

I've about had it with the words 'soul-searching' and 'recrimination' in the news this week. Most of the blog still seems to be in navel-gazing mode. Except for those who are still crowing about last week's "landslide."

So the above link is to an oddity that has nothing to do with politics. Just a typical sort of story that might provide a chuckle or two. You can always count on the media to report this sort of item, although you apparently still won't catch them saying anything negative about the Prez:

I'd make some tacky joke about how that bunch of p******* doesn't deserve Orgasmatons, but that wouldn't be very classy.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Troops are Revolting

From the Honolulu Advertiser:

"David M. Miyasato enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1987, served three years of active duty during the first Gulf War and received an honorable discharge in 1991. He remained on inactive status for five more years, until 1996. Since then, the Kaua'i resident has married, started an auto window tinting business and this year, he and his wife had their first child.

But in September, Miyasato received a letter from the Army recalling him to active duty and directing him to report to a military facility in South Carolina on Tuesday."

Miyasato has decided to sue the Secretary of the Army.

Mandate, my foot.

As the media continues to claim that Bush won a huge victory, and that the public supports their policies, the White House is suddenly talking about 'priorities' that never came up during the campaign.

This is a great article from TNR that addresses the issue, and makes me glad that I've voiced my disappointment with at least one major news source (check out my exchange with Time below).

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Here's a map that shows a breakdown of how states went in 1860, when the primary issue was slavery. Creepy, no?

I think this is my first link to Kevin Drum's blog at the Washington Monthly, which is a good one.

Major League A-holes

This might help ease the pain of this week. And the lyrics are actually kinda clever.

Car 54 Where Are You?

This is troubling. Conveniently after the election, the aministration has admitted that it's revising some figures from Iraq. Specifically, the number of Stinger missiles that have gone missing.

From the NY Times:

"A new government estimate says a total of 6,000 of the weapons may be outside the control of any government, up from a previous estimate of 2,000, American officials said."

Well, hey. Compared to the number of weapons that WERE destroyed, as the White House likes to say, what's 6,000 missiles in insurgency hands? Peanuts, folks. No big deal.

For those who didn't grow up watching right-wing action flicks, the Stinger is a single use, shoulder-mounted surface-to-air rocket. IOW, a personal anti-aircraft missile.

The Shape of Things to Come

This may be the first article to give us a hint of the way things are going to go in the next few years.

From the Washington Post:

Darlene Salerno considers herself a loyal customer of the Express clothing chain, shelling out roughly $2,000 for its trendy outfits each year for the past decade. On a recent shopping trip, she bought a tank top, a button-down shirt and some khaki pants, but realized when she got home that she had similar items in her closet. So a few days later she took them back to the store. She presented the items, the receipt and waited for her money.

Instead, the saleswoman handed her a slip of paper that said "RETURN DECLINED" and told her to call the toll-free number at the bottom for more information. She phoned and was informed her account showed "excessive" returns.

Wha?!? Apparently the expanded ability of companies to maintain databaseson credit card purchases is what it boils down to. Could be time to start using more cash... And this is something that Dems could latch on to.

And the Blogosphere Says....

Pretty much every major blog I follow is citing this story (an analysis of the election and what the results mean) as a must-read. Now you kno0w.

Friday, November 05, 2004

The Power of Positive Thinking

The above link is to a very refreshing article by Michelle Cottle over at The New Republic. Recommended reading for those of us who felt crushed by our narrow loss this week.

TIME Responds

I've already received a response from the author of the piece. It made me feel a tiny bit better.

Here it is:

Hmmm. I see where the problem arises. If you read closely, I say Bush took the reins of power with the confidence of one elected by a landslide. In other words, what I'm trying bring across, is that despite the weakness of his mandate in 2000, he governed AS IF he'd been elected by a landslide. My point is that he ignored the question of mandate last time in his approach to governing, this time he has an incontrovertible mandate and the question is how will he govern. I guess I should have made more clear what I was trying to say apropos the "landslide" comment.

Thanks for writing


I expected the 'as if' defense, but that really wasn't my point. I'd hardly expect a journalist to say, "Gee, I'm sorry, that was a mistake." But at least they're listening.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A Letter to Time Magazine

Just a minute ago, I wrote a letter to Tony Karon on a piece he wrote for Time just yesterday. Above is the link to the article, following is the text of my letter:


Mr. Karon

In your piece for Time magazine dated Nov. 3, 2004, you stated that:

"George W. Bush took the reins of power with the confidence and certainty of one who had carried a landslide mandate to implement his own agenda. This time, of course, his claim of a popular mandate is incontrovertible."

This seems fundamentally at odds with a statement which appeared later in the same article:

"President George W. Bush beat Kerry by a margin of more than 3.5 million American voters, leaving only a mathematical possibility of Senator Kerry prevailing in the Electoral College on the basis of Ohio's uncounted provisional ballots."

Landslide, or contestible election? Both, perhaps?

And which of Bush's agendas are to be implemented? His proposal for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, or his statement that states should be permitted to allow gay civil unions?

This article represents the height of journalistic irresponsibility. Not only do you contradict yourself, but you ignore pertinent facts regarding Bush's agenda as he himself has stated it. The right wing has decried you for well over a decade. At this point, what reason would moderates or progressives have to rely on you for an objective view of the facts?

I found this story thanks to My second post-election recommendation is that you keep up with this site, and take the time to write letters like this one. The media trashed Gore in 2000, and didn't treat Kerry much better this year. And it doesn't take much to read an article and send an e-mail. As we saw with Sinclair Broadcasting, it makes a difference.

P.S.- Some of you are familiar with my encounter with The NewsHour. I sent a critical message, and received a response from a senior producer of the show within 24 hours. They really do read these messages. And the more of us who indicate our frustration, the more likely we are to turn the press away from their mindless parroting of GOP talking points. It could be the first step on a long road.

Lower Taxes! And keep sending our bailout checks!

I may not be Jewish, but in a word.... Oy!

New Jersey gets 57 cents in federal spending for every dollar of taxes.

Alaska get $1.89 for every tax dollar.

The biggest benefactors?

1. New Mexico
2. Alaska
3. Mississippi
4. West Virginia
5. North Dakota
6. Alabama
7. Montana
8. Virginia

In a word, red.

The biggest losers?

1. New Jersey
2. New Hampshire
3. Connecticut
4. Minnesota
5. Nevada
6. Illinois
7. Massachusetts
8. California

Blue, no? Sheesh.

That should eliminate any questions on why southern crackers (no, I'm not black either) are voting on morals rather than the economy.

Election Woes

No, I'm not going to contest the vote. But coming on the heels of the Carter Institute's declaration that the US doesn't meet their basic requirements for a fair election, and on the news that it cost us more than $5 billion (that's $5,000,000,000), this is less than comforting:

"The [international] observers [of the US election] said they had less access to polls than in Kazakhstan, that the electronic voting had fewer fail-safes than in Venezuela, that the ballots were not so simple as in the Republic of Georgia and that no other country had such a complex national election system.

"To be honest, monitoring elections in Serbia a few months ago was much simpler," said Konrad Olszewski, an election observer stationed in Miami by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

A New Hope

There seems to be some cause for hope. I was as crestfallen with the victory of the fundies as anyone, but some signs are creeping in that we came even closer than we might have thought. Take a look at this heartening electoral map of young voters, who-- as it turns out-- actually DID vote in high numbers (the highest percentage in more than thirty years):

And now that someone has done the work of charting a map based on the vote, rather than the rubbish that is the red/blue dichotomy of the nation, things are looking even better:

What I'd really like to see is an analysis of population centers overlaid by an electoral vote count. The 'sea of red' represents a pretty small segment of the population-- no matter what hacks like Hannity are crowing about. There's certainly a big fight ahead, but things are looking good for our future. Old-timers broke for Bush, but the young--even in red states-- went for the Democrat. They won by playing to crackpot Christians, but those folks could be a dying breed. 'So let it be.'

I'm thinking that if Howard Dean made a play to replace Terry McAuliffe, we should back him up. Visit his site and sign up for his mailing list at He proved to be a potent force for the Dems even after he lost the nomination, and he isn't giving up the fight. Neither should we. This is my first post-election recommendation.

UPDATE: I finally found a map of the red-blue breakdown that takes population density into account:

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

We Are Not Alone

The author George R. R. Martin said something today that expresses my opinion and frustration, now that the initial shock is wearing off:

"I am pretty good with words, usually, but no words can express how miserable, angry, and depressed I am feeling this morning over the results of yesterday's election. The exit polling makes it clear: this was a victory for bigotry and fear, a mandate bought with lies. . . [Winter] is already here in America."

He mentions something that frightens me a bit more than I'd care to admit. Some of my favorite blogs are suggesting the same. This, sadly, was a victory for religious fundamentalism. One telling fact is that the issue that won out as the biggest voter concern was 'moral values.' Not the economy, the war, or national security. Judging from BC's comments this morning, we're in for a hard time. They're talking about a broad national victory and a mandate, in spite of a vote that went 51-49.

My concern at this point is that what we're looking at a new fight not between two parties who have different ideas of how best to serve the American public. Instead, the next elections could come down to two sides: the Republicans, representing religious fundamentalism, and the rest of us, of all colors and orientations, who believe that the American experiment envisioned in the Constitution is worth fighting for. Archie Bunker versus the rest of us.

The good news is that, in spite of the lack of a youth turnout, black and Hispanic voter turnout was higher. The goal will be to stay united. Keep watching Howard Dean, who is set to keep active and doing a great job. Here is a quote from the message he sent out this morning:

". . . A record number of us voted to change course -- more Americans voted against George Bush than any sitting president in history.

Today is not an ending.

Regardless of the outcome yesterday, we have begun to revive our democracy. While we did not get the result we wanted in the presidential race, we laid the groundwork for a new generation of Democratic leaders."


Strange Times

The first thing I heard when I woke up this morning was "Kerry will be making his concession speech at one this afternoon." I wasn't expecting great news, and we didn't get it. I felt pretty stunned, and didn't even have Internet access until a few minutes ago. Thank you all, though, for the kind words and for showing that we're still united.

Columnist Joe Conason had some of the most comforting words today. He mentioned the Goldwater defeat to Johnson, which was, as we all know, a crushing defeat. However, the Republican party didn't give up that day. Instead, they went on to build the infrastructure of the party that has controlled several or all branches of government for nearly twenty-five years. The bad news is that the current incarnation of Goldwater's party is more reactionary than it was under his stewardship.

Kerry was the better man, and he didn't lose in a landslide. And that is in spite of the fact that this is the ugliest campaign that many of us can remember. Even up against the merciless tactics of Karl Rove, an utter lack of responsibility on the part of the media, and an endless torrent of lies and smear tactics, we almost had the White House back.

On the other hand, a Kerry administration would undoubtedly have met with ferocious resistance from Congress, especially in light of last night's GOP gains. In fact, a Kerry administration would have been hamstrung, and probably portrayed as weak and ineffectual in the media. I should add that we did extremely well in states such as Oklahoma and Kentucky, where it normally wouldn't even be a contest. We didn't win, but we put up a surprisingly good fight.

As I mentioned earlier, people on the ground were seeing an American left more united than ever before. Nader was a non-issue, and tens of thousands of volunteers got involved to restore the Democrats to power. Our goal now should be to stay involved, stay informed, and continue to do what we can to restore responsibility to the media, accountability to the government, and solidarity among Democrats.

The fight will continue here. With the election over, I'll be posting less frequently. But when I come across news that I feel is important, it will be here. And I'll try to do my part to continue the activism that came tantalizingly close to achieving success.

There have definitely been some small victories, and the continued presence of the Internet community, Air America radio, and a united base should set us on the course to greater victories in the future.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Barneycam. No, really. BARNEYCAM!

Have you been grinding your teeth with anxiety over the upcoming election? Is your jaw feeling a bit stiff and sore? Well give it a rest, folks. Just watch "Barney Reloaded," and let it sit there hanging in space for a few minutes. Oh, and wear safety goggles, in case your eyeballs actually fall out of your head.

You have to hand it to them for coming up with that hip Matrix reference. Yes, there are a group of people dedicated to putting a sunny face on the soulless trolls in the administration by making movies "directed by Barney." THRILL as Karl Rove, Scott McClellan, and Andy Card talk to a dog! SWOON as the prez and the missus.... talk to a dog! DELIGHT in endless scenes of Barney pushing a ball around! There's even a special cameo by veteran actor Ari Fleischer!

Thanks to the fine people at for cluing me in to this one.

Thugs Go Home!

This is great. A group of GOP staffers posed as homosexuals "from San Francisco" and went to a Florida polling place with signs that said things like "Support Gay Adoption-- Kerry-Edwards."

But the mostly black voters there weren't fooled. And when some people showed up with video cameras to capture the phony Democrats on tape, they quickly broke ranks and gave up. Ha!

However, this only earned a 5 on the Funny-Yet-Sad-O-Meter. High on funny, very low on sad.

UPDATE: Gee, what a surprise. They're using the same tactics in Michigan.

(AP) In a recording of a phone call played for The Associated Press, a young woman says: "When you vote this Tuesday remember to legalize gay marriage by supporting John Kerry. We need John Kerry in order to make gay marriage legal for our city. Gay marriage is a right we all want. It's a basic Democrat principle. It's time to move forward and be progressive. Without John Kerry, George Bush will stop gay marriage. That's why we need Kerry. So Tuesday, stand up for gay marriage by supporting John Kerry."
The calls began Sunday afternoon, according to Rodell Mollineau, spokesman for Kerry's Michigan campaign. The campaign said voters in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint and Pontiac received calls.