Thursday, November 25, 2004

Open thread.

Been busy lately, sorry about that. What's on your mind? Anything in particular that needs savaging? More shortly.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Can the Democrats please learn some snappy comebacks and putdowns?

Lame. Really lame.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last night: "If they make this rules change, Republicans will confirm yet again that they simply do not care if their leaders are ethical. If Republicans believe that an indicted member should be allowed to hold a top leadership position in the House of Representatives, their arrogance is astonishing."

How about:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last night: "So the Republicans are changing the rules again to protect yet another ethically corrupt GOP member? Gosh, what a surprise. Which one is it this time?"
Not really the way you want to start out.

Sept 15, 2004:

"The President's agenda that he has outlined for America is affordable, it's responsible and it's focused on meeting our highest priorities while reducing the deficit in half over the next five years."

Nov 18, 2004:

"The US Senate voted to raise the debt ceiling by 800 billion dollars to nearly 8.2 trillion dollars, allowing the US government to avoid the unwelcome prospect of running short of operating funds."

Not what you would call an auspicious beginning.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Republican position: rules are for losers.

A number of people have commented on the Republican proposal to reverse a House rule that says members indicted by state prosecutors can't remain in positions of leadership. Extracted from this piece over at DailyKos , the proposal is "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".

Of course, the unintentional hilarity is where the rule came from in the first place:

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.

Yes, the Repubs introduced the rule and forced it through when it benefited them. And now, not surprisingly, they're going to get rid of it when it doesn't work in their favour. But rather than be offended by this single example of Republican hypocrisy, you have to see it as part of the bigger picture, in which Republicans have simply decided that rules just don't apply to them, and any rules or laws that get in the way of their absolute and unopposable power have to be discarded.

  • Don't like the current elected distribution in your state, such as Texas or Colorado? Don't bother trying harder to win elections, like normal people would. Fuck, no, just unconstitutionally redistrict to wipe the opposition off the electoral map.
  • Don't like the fact that it takes a majority of 60 in the Senate to block a filibuster? No problem. Piss on historical precedent by proposing a rule change that allows a simple majority to shut one down.
  • Finally, don't like having to win elections the fair and honest way? Screw that, too. Just disenfrachise voters and rig voting machines.
Simply, the Republicans have finally decided that it's just too much work playing by the rules and following the laws. Why bother, when there's easier ways to get all this done?
The difference between red and blue.

There have been a lot of chuckles lately inspired by the red/blue maps of the United States, but we all know that these maps can't be taken seriously. Obviously, it makes no sense to colour a state red or blue when many of them were won by razor-thin margins in some cases, so the concept or a red or blue state (in most cases, at least) is clearly absurd.

Not so the concept of a red or blue person.

All you need to understand that is to read some of the coverage -- this article, for example -- of the apparent execution of a wounded Iraqi by a U.S. Marine:

... The first marine is heard repeating the same allegation that the wounded man, who lies motionless on the floor, is pretending.

The footage then shows the marine raising his rifle at one of the prisoners. The video provided to the networks then is blacked out, but a shot can be heard.

"He's dead now," one of the marine declares.

Numerous international commentators and human rights advocates are understandably offended and horrified by the apparent summary execution of a wounded man lying motionless on the ground. But it's the reaction of the right-wing media circus and its attack poodles that's truly stunning. From that same article:

In the United States, right-wing talk shows hailed the marines as heroes who were simply defending themselves against dangerous Iraqis.

"Our guys have been blown up by booby-trapped bodies," talk-show host Rush Limbaugh said.

"These are people who have been taking shots at American soldiers since we got there. These are the people that have links and ties to people who blew up 3,000 innocent Americans on Sept. 11."

Ignore, of course, drug addict Limbaugh's tired defense that Iraq had something to do with the attacks of 9/11. Limbaugh has been a serial, pathological liar for years so there's not much point even replying to that idiocy.

Just absorb the idea that there are people who actually walk among you, who look like regular human beings, who think it's a terrific idea to kill, in cold blood, a wounded, motionless person lying on the ground. And appreciate that there is a gulf between red and blue people that will never, ever, ever be bridged. There is no possibility for dialogue between these two groups, one a group of regular, caring individuals, the other a collection of -- what other way to describe them -- completely soulless monsters. What can one say to them that would have any meaning whatsoever?

I'm not sure what more can be said here. I'm only reminded of something Erich Hoffer once wrote:

"What monstrosities would walk the streets, were some peoples' faces as unfinished as their minds."

These are the red people. And they are a frightening group.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Just another revised map of post-election U.S.

OK, now we're getting somewhere.
Outrage overload.

Well, there's this. Then there's this. Now do you understand how I feel?
What this last election was really all about.

(Paraphrased, from a friend.)

The main mistake of the Democrats was to think that a disastrous war and an ailing economy would be the major concern of the electorate.

The Republicans, on the other hand, correctly saw that the voters' chief issue was to keep gay couples from having an abortion.
The Democratic Party -- slip-sliding into complete irrelevancy

John over at AmericaBlog has this choice piece, in which he describes a political up-and-comer:

...a teetotaling Mormon (one of the most anti-gay groups in the country). A former Capitol Hill cop. A staunch opponent of abortion. A co-sponsor of the constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning

And just who is this fundamentalist, right-wing zealot, who would probably enjoy overturning Roe v. Wade and criminalizing flag burning? Why, bless my soul, it's none other than Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, the new Senate minority leader. Of the Democrats. Yeah, those Democrats.

So horrifically sad, it's actually funny.

"CIA plans to purge its agency". "
Sources say White House has ordered new chief to eliminate officers who were disloyal to Bush"

And did anyone not see this coming?

"WASHINGTON -- The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources."

Yes, when you're in a life-and-death, good-versus-evil, end-times, apocalyptic battle against the unspeakable evil and terror that is fundamentalism Islam, there's nothing that beats ... summarily dismissing numerous experienced intelligence experts and analysts who might actually be, you know, useful in some way.

ADDENDUM: Oh, yeah, this is going to work out really well.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Previously-legal provisional ballots now being rejected in Ohio.

This is great:

Are the provisional ballots in Ohio being thrown out? A new rule for counting provisional ballots in Cuyahoga County, Ohio was implemented on Tuesday, November 9 at approximately 2:30 in the afternoon, according to election observer Victoria Lovegren.

The new ruling in Cuyahoga County mandates that provisional ballots in yellow packets must be “Rejected” if there is no “date of birth” on the packet. The Free Press obtained copies of the original “Provisional Verification Procedure” from Cuyahoga County which stated “Date of birth is not mandatory and should not reject a provisional ballot.” The original procedure required the voter’s name, address and a signature that matched the signature in the county’s database.

Got that? A provisional ballot that was perfectly acceptable at the time it was filled out by a voter is now, retroactively, unacceptable. If you live in Ohio, there has got to be a way to use that kind of precedent elsewhere, to really screw someone over. Come on, use your imagination.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Just more damn animal blogging

In the beginning, there was cat blogging. Which begat more cat blogging. Which, somehow, inspired pudu blogging. Which, weirdly enough, veered off into orchid blogging. So, what the hell, one can rage against the machine for only so long before succumbing.

Yes, it's Friday badger blogging.

It would be funny if it weren't so disturbingly accurate.

Democrats, gearing up for 2008.
You want dissent? We got your dissent right here, buddy.

This is great. Those of you who remember Kent State might want to start feeling a bit nervous. The best part is the official excuse that the tanks were there because they got "stuck at a traffic light." It's not like this administration even tries to come up with believable lies anymore:

AP - Responding to criticism of two tanks firing indiscriminately and repeatedly on peaceful anti-war protestors, killing 137 and wounding over 500 more, the tank's commander said, "Well, uh, we were cleaning it, and it went off."

UPDATE: It's been mentioned to me that the vehicles in the pics aren't actually tanks, but armored personnel carriers. You can tell because tanks would be larger, with a bigger main gun, and would have been driven by Clint Eastwood or Donald Sutherland, demanding to know where the German gold was.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

What I think of compromise.

No obvious reason for this post, it's just something I felt like writing about. For years, I've been really irked by folks who try to defend a typically stupid point of view by suggesting that, you know, if I really wanted to be fair and reasonable and open-minded, I should be prepared to "compromise". Meet them halfway, as it were, be a nice guy, be a sport. And bullshit like that.

The best example I have is when fundamentalist Christians (a.k.a. "morons") press for the inclusion of creation science or intelligent design in the public school system. When they run into the inevitable protests, they like to come off as the voices of reason, suggesting that it would be only fair to present both sides, to let students hear other alternatives. To compromise. All that time, I wished I had a snappy, devastating comeback, and a while back, I think I came up with one.

The next time someone suggests I should compromise on something as idiotic as, say, creation science, I'm just going to ask him to take out his wallet. Puzzled look, almost certainly. I'll ask him to remove all of the money, and count it. And after he does, I'll ask him to give all of it to me.

Needless to say, I don't expect to get it. I'll get an argument, why should he give me his money? He earned it, it's his, what makes me think I have any right to it? OK, I suggest, that's fair. In that case (you guessed it), let's compromise. Just give me half. That's fair, it's equal, I'm being open-minded in sharing, no? I'm compromising, damn it. What more can he ask for?

Of course, he'll still complain that that's ridiculous, that I don't deserve any of his money. Exactly. The notion of compromise in this situation is absurd, simply because my opponent has no obligation to accommodate me in any way. In short, there are situations where compromise is just foolish since one of the parties happens to be 100% in the right, and compromise just isn't warranted, even a little bit.

And that's the point you have to get across. One wonders how many people will be smart enough to appreciate it.
Hello, right wing government. Goodbye, womens' rights.

(I'll admit that this post will seem kind of hurried since, well, it was. Sometimes, good grammar takes a back seat to expediency.)

Just in case you had any thoughts of having a good day, you should check out this article over at DailyKos (and, of course, the original yahoo article over here):

For a year, Julee Lacey stopped in a CVS pharmacy near her home in a Fort Worth suburb to get refills of her birth-control pills. Then one day last March, the pharmacist refused to fill Lacey's prescription because she did not believe in birth control.

"I was shocked," says Lacey, 33, who was not able to get her prescription until the next day and missed taking one of her pills. "Their job is not to regulate what people take or do. It's just to fill the prescription that was ordered by my physician."

Some pharmacists, however, disagree and refuse on moral grounds to fill prescriptions for contraceptives. And states from Rhode Island to Washington have proposed laws that would protect such decisions.

Man, there is so much wrong with this story, it's hard to know where to start. First, the Yahoo article writes that:

"Mississippi enacted a sweeping statute that went into effect in July that allows health care providers, including pharmacists, to not participate in procedures that go against their conscience."

Now, that phrasing is wonderfully generic and all-encompassing, when we all know that it refers to one thing and one thing only: prescriptions for birth control or those related in any way to family planning. To talk about it as if it's just there to protect the delicate sensibilities of pharmacists from any of a myriad of potential scrips they might have to fill is rubbish -- this sort of thing is targeted at birth control and only birth control. It's just being gussied up to sound more universal, but no one should be fooled. I mean, do you really think any of these folks are going to balk at filling scrips for painkillers? Or erectile dysfunction drugs? I didn't think so. This kind of behaviour is aimed squarely at womens' rights, and no one should be allowed to tap dance around that.

The next issue is whether the pharmacist in question is taking a personal stand, or whether this is now store policy, or even nationwide chain policy. After all, in 1999, Wal-Mart stores simply decided not to carry the emergency contraceptive drug Preven. If that's what you're up against, well, you're pretty well shit out of luck. But, hey. It just gets worse.

A number of comments at DailyKos suggest that outraged consumers boycott such stores. Man, that is a bad idea at a number of different levels. In some cases, you can't just take your prescription to another pharmacy. In some cases, this may be the only convenient pharmacy within miles, and it's just not realistic to say, hey, vote with your wallet, go elsewhere.

The bigger problem with the idea of a boycott is that, philosophically, a boycott is used to focus attention on someone who is doing something within their rights, but it's such odious or unfair behaviour that you want to do something about it. To boycott such stores is to implicitly accept that they have the right to do this, and that's exactly what you shouldn't be doing. The consumer's position should be, instead, to demand that the store fulfill its moral, ethical (and legal?) obligation to fill any prescriptions that come its way, as members of the medical profession. A boycott is just enabling them to keep doing what they're doing, and that's not the way to deal with this. But there's a couple more things in that article that are intensely disturbing.

From the Yahoo article:

In the Madison case, pharmacist Neil Noesen, 30, after refusing to refill a birth-control prescription, did not transfer it to another pharmacist or return it to the woman. She was able to get her prescription refilled two days later at the same pharmacy, but she missed a pill because of the delay.

Now, pardon my French but, what the fucking hell?!?! The pharmacist took the scrip, refused to fill it, refused to give it to someone else to fill, and refused to give it back? That's not an act of conscience -- that's theft. Rather than complain, the consumer should have quietly walked out of the store, pulled out her cell phone, called the police and told them that someone had just stolen her prescription and she wanted to lay charges. And if she was still thinking clearly through the rage, she should have called the local media to tell them that there was going to be some good shit going down at the local drug store in about 20 minutes, and they might want to get a crew there tout de suite (that's French for "right fucking now").

But the biggest assholes in all of this are the folks in charge at the American Pharmacists Association:

The American Pharmacists Association, with 50,000 members, has a policy that says druggists can refuse to fill prescriptions if they object on moral grounds, but they must make arrangements so a patient can still get the pills. Yet some pharmacists have refused to hand the prescription to another druggist to fill.

Now, you have to wonder, what complete dickheads at the APA decided that it would be a good idea to let its members opt out of filling prescriptions that are placed in front of them? When did this happen? And how did they justify it? Not to make this an overly black and white situation but, really, what's the problem with the APA having taken a stand and said, "If you're a licensed pharmacist, you fill the scrip. Period. Or you find a new job. End of discussion."
To have accepted this opt-out idea is the height of idiocy. What the hell were they thinking?

And, in the end, what can the consumer do? A good question. I've always been a big fan of fighting fire with fire, so here's my suitably demented suggestion. If a local pharmacist makes it a statement of conscience that she can't fill certain scrips, then it's only fair that outraged consumers make it a similar statement of conscience that they can no longer deal with that pharmacist. If you run a service station, well, gosh, it's just against your conscience to sell her gas. Or service her car. You run a grocery store? Darn, but you just can't see your way clear to selling her any groceries. Bummer but, you know, you gotta follow your conscience. You a teacher? Well, crap, but your conscience just won't allow you to teach her kid any more.

You want mean, nasty and vindictive? I gotcher mean, nasty and vindictive right here. It's long past time to play nice when this kind of shit happens. Like the saying goes, when you're going to a knife fight, you take a knife. And if you want to get even nastier, I can do that too.

Bloggers and webmasters can start a local, statewide or even national "hit list" of offending pharmacists, so that everyone knows who they can, well, shun. (By "hit list", I of course don't mean hit as in actual physical violence. I just mean a list of jerks whose lives you can make thoroughly miserable totally within the bounds of the law. Oh, yes, I can be a real asshole at times. It's part of my charm.)

Anyway, that's my $0.02. Your turn.

ADDENDUM: As another example of someone's conscience getting in the way of their official duties, some of you might remember this story of the Chicago police officer who, because of his Catholic beliefs, refused to accept assignments to police protests at abortion clinics. Now, this is an even more egregious and outrageous example of dereliction of duty. Here, you have a public employee, being paid with taxpayer dollars, deciding just which taxpayers deserve his protection.

The legal outcome of that case is here, and it's kind of annoying. The officer was offered the chance to move to another district, but he refused. I don't think he should have been given that opportunity. He should have either accepted what showed up on the daily duty roster, or his sorry ass should have been fired. Frankly, I'm fed up with this "reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs" bullshit. If you're a public employee, you do your job as it's handed to you, or you find another job. But, hey, that's just me.

ADDENDUM 2: If you want to read more about this type of idiocy, what you should be searching for is the phrase "conscience clause", perhaps along with "American Pharmacists Association" if you specifically wanted to keep reading about the pharmacist controversy. As one example that should set you to grinding your teeth, you can read this piece, in which a Denton, Texas pharmacist refused to fill a morning-after pill prescription for a woman who had just been raped. Mercifully, his employer, Eckerd Drugs, fired his worthless, bigoted ass within a week. But if more states enact conscience clauses, this is just the sort of thing you should expect to see more of.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Sometimes, people get pissed off for a reason.

Like this.

John Kerry: still without a clue.

From this piece in the Washington Post:

Democrat John F. Kerry plans to use his Senate seat and long lists of supporters to remain a major voice in American politics despite losing the presidential race last Tuesday, and he is assessing the feasibility of trying again in 2008, friends and aides said yesterday.

Mother of God, what will it take for Kerry to figure out that he just ain't the man for this job? He lost to George W. McRetard, for crying out loud. Let it go, John. One sign of maturity is to recognize when you get your ass handed to you, and move on. It's someone else's turn next time. Maybe someone who actually has a real reason to run for the position.

Wingnut logic 101

From this article, we have newly-elected Republican senator and complete loon Tom Coburn:

"Why do you think we see the rationalisation for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That's a gay agenda."

Um ... abortion being part of the gay agenda? How exactly does that work again?

Monday, November 08, 2004

Pretentious Christian comic relief.

The original pic. And after John got through with some photographic touchups.
I'm not sure I can keep this up

It's what you would call "outrage overload". I'll probably write a long post in the next day or two getting into this in more detail but, essentially, it's getting harder and harder to psyche up to generate content which is just a depressing catalogue of how, just when you think the Republicans can't get any more greedy, venal, arrogant, dishonest, corrupt, despicable or loathsome, they still manage to surprise you.

As just one example, John over at AmericaBlog has this tasty tidbit, about how Chief Justice Rehnquist may have timed his cancer announcement to boost Bush's re-election chances. Now, I think we all know that, if the Dems had done something like this, there would have been no end of fuming, sputtering outrage from the right. But when the Repubs pull something like this, they seem almost proud of how devious and underhanded they can be.

And the other reason for waning enthusiasm is, frankly, I'm just fed up with the Democrats. I'll almost certainly write a longer post expanding on this but, really, can there be any doubt that the Dems are, these days, a party of complete incompetents? I didn't think so. There's nothing wrong with being driven by outrage against something but, for balance, you really need to be in favour of some kind of alternative for psychic health. And, from where I sit, perhaps the one good thing that will come out of this election is the thorough evisceration of the Democratic Party.

One can only hope that, from the ashes of the Dems, there will arise something worth cheering for and supporting, because the Dems themselves just aren't worth shit any more. I mean, if your opponent is a smirking, incoherent, inarticulate, dry drunk, arrogant, AWOL frat boy and lifelong failure at everything he touches, and he not only stomps you in the election but actually increases his party's grip on power, well, let's face it, you suck.

More later, if or when I get the energy to come up with something to say.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

A draft by any other name ...

Ha ha. This is great. Eight years after he left the reserves. 13 years after he was honorably discharged from active duty. And now being ordered to report to duty. The more I think about it, the more I think that a draft would be just fine, as long as the random selection is weighted proportionately toward those states that voted for Bush. Ideally, of course, as I've written before, only registered Republicans should be eligible, but I realize that's just a fantasy.

A very pleasant fantasy, though.
Say hello to some of your new senators.

Yes, it's the new kids in town. Jeezus, am I grateful to be Canadian.
Sign of the times

Ah, the healing has officially begun.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

And now, for something a little bit different

Just because we all need a little down time, to forget about a world full of Republican assholes.

Anna Quindlen's Villanova Commencement Address

It's a great honor for me to be the third member of my family to receive an honorary doctorate from this great university. It's an honor to follow my great-uncle Jim, who was a gifted physician,and my Uncle Jack, who is a remarkable businessman. Both of them could have told you something important about their professions, about medicine or commerce.

I have no specialized field of interest or expertise, which puts me at a disadvantage, talking to you today. I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know.

Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. The second is only part of the first. Don't ever forget what a friend once wrote Senator Paul Tsongas when the senator decided not to run for reelection because he'd been diagnosed with cancer: "No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office."

Don't ever forget the words my father sent me on a postcard last year: "If you win the rat race, you're still a rat." Or what John Lennon wrote before he was gunned down in the driveway of the Dakota: "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."

You walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree; there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.

People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you've gotten back the test results and they're not so good.

Here is my resume. I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my profession stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I would be rotten, or at best mediocre at my job, if those other things were not true. You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are.

So here's what I wanted to tell you today: get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast?

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over Seaside Heights, a life in which you stop and watch how a red tailed hawk circles over the water gap or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a cheerio with her thumb and first finger.Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Each time you look at your diploma, remember that you are still a student, still learning how to best treasure your connection to others. Pickup the phone. Send an e-mail. Write a letter. Kiss your Mom. Hug your Dad.

Get a life in which you are generous. Look around at the azaleas in the suburban neighborhood where you grew up; look at a full moon hanging silver in a black, black sky on a cold night. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted.

Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beers and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister. All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.

It is so easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the color of the azaleas, the sheen of the limestone on Fifth Avenue, the color of our kids eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of live.

I learned to live many years ago. Something really, really bad happened to me, something that changed my life in ways that, if I had my druthers, it would never have been changed at all. And what I learned from it is what, today, seems to be the hardest lesson of all. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get.

I learned to look at all the good in the world and to try to give some of it back because I believed in it completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this: Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the backyard with the sun on your face. Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness because if you do you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived.

Well, you can learn all those things, out there, if you get a real life, a full life, a professional life, yes, but another life, too, a life of love and laughs and a connection to other human beings.

Just keep your eyes and ears open. Here you could learn in the classroom. There the classroom is everywhere. The exam comes at the very end.

No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time at the office. I found one of my best teachers on the boardwalk at Coney Island maybe 15 years ago. It was December, and I was doing a story about how the homeless survive in the winter months. He and I sat on the edge of the wooden supports, dangling our feet over the side, and he told me about his schedule, panhandling the boulevard when the summer crowds were gone, sleeping in a church when the temperature went below freezing, hiding from the police amidst the Tilt a Whirl and the Cyclone and some of the other seasonal rides. But he told me that most of the time he stayed on the boardwalk, facing the water, just the way we were sitting now even when it got cold and he had to wear his newspapers after he read them.

And I asked him why. Why didn't he go to one of the shelters? Why didn't he check himself into the hospital for detox? And he just stared out at the ocean and said, "Look at the view, young lady. Look at the view."

And every day, in some little way, I try to do what he said. I try to look at the view. And that's the last thing I have to tell you today, words of wisdom from a man with not a dime in his pocket, no place to go, nowhere to be.

Look at the view. You'll never be disappointed.
Canada 2.0, the post-election edition

I think this revised map says it all.
Republicans burying themselves in fuzzy math

More from those fine folks who are bringing you democracy and stability in the Middle East by bombing the cities into rubble and slaughtering the citizens:

"President Bush signaled yesterday that he would add personal investment accounts to the Social Security system, simplify the tax code without raising taxes and cut the budget deficit in half, all before he leaves office in 2009."

"Ambitious as those promises are, they may be mathematically impossible, budget and policy analysts say."

And what's so impossible about it, you ask? Keep reading:

"But in an independent analysis of that budget, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded it would not fulfill that promise.
The deficit in fiscal 2004, which ended Sept. 30, was $413 billion. Under Bush's plan for spending and taxes, the deficit would be $258 billion in 2009. If anything, that may understate the size of the deficit in coming years because it does not include any additional costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon is expected to seek an additional $70 billion early next year."

Yes, only in Chimpy's parallel universe is 258 half of 413. [Whoops, see ADDENDUM below.] And are you surprised by any of this? Remember, these are the folks who don't believe in global warming and reject evolution in favour of Christian fundamentalist creation science. What makes you think they'd be any better at simple arithmetic?

Further thoughts: You really have to read that entire article to even begin to understand how hopelessly unrealistic and/or dishonest Bush is. Think about it -- he's promising to:
  • allow workers to transfer some of their Social Security payments to private accounts,
  • reform the tax code without increasing taxes overall,
  • not cut defense or homeland spending, and
  • increase spending on education
all the while claiming that he'll still halve the deficit by 2009. How stupid do you have to be to believe this? (No, no, don't answer that, it's rhetorical. Really.)

ADDENDUM: Ah, now I see where this administration got their "halving" the deficit fiction. I failed to read far enough into the article. The Bushies are not calculating half the deficit based on its actual, reality-based value. No:

"Chad Kolton, a spokesman for the White House budget office, said the president can and will cut the deficit in half by 2009. But, he said, the deficit in 2009 would be half what the White House first projected it to be for 2004: $521 billion."

In other words, their idea of "half" is half of some fictional, convenient overestimate. Please, dear Lord, just strike me dead now and put me out of my misery.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Houston, we have vote counting problems.

Oh, man, this is just fucking priceless. The salient excerpt

"An error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in suburban Columbus, elections officials said."

But here's the best part -- the explanation as to how this happened:

"The Ohio glitch is among a handful of computer troubles that have emerged since Tuesday's elections...On one of the three machines at that precinct, a malfunction occurred in the recording process, Damschroder said. He could not explain how the malfunction occurred."

Now, I work with computers on a pretty regular basis, and I can assure you that if a voting machine I was working on suddenly and magically gifted someone with 3,893 votes, I would not be allowed to explain that away with something as lame as, "Well, gee, I guess it was just a glitch, beats me."

Rather, I would have my ass hauled onto the carpet to explain, exactly and precisely, where that number came from, and why my software wasn't reliable to 5 decimal places. For someone to shrug their shoulders and not be able to explain this jaw-dropping discrepancy is nothing short of a scandal. And don't let anyone tell you different.

Hmmm ... an apparent surge in immigration inquiries

Now, come on, people, we don't have that much room.
Holy crap! Talk about sore losers.

This is just great. Bush to blue states: you are so fucked now.

The coalition of the ... hey, where'd everybody go?

Don't look now, but there goes another one.
TBogg nails it yet again.

Read yet another depressing story about financially-strapped Bush supporters who are clearly too stupid to make the connection between their president and their precarious financial situation. I hope they're happy with their faith-based poverty.
Arlen Specter: Shit, did I really say that out loud?

Arlen Specter on Wednesday:

"The Republican expected to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee next year bluntly warned newly re-elected President Bush on Wednesday against putting forth Supreme Court nominees who would seek to overturn abortion rights or are otherwise too conservative to win confirmation."

Arlen Specter on Thursday:

“Contrary to press accounts, I did not warn the President about anything and was very respectful of his Constitutional authority on the appointment of federal judges."

So I guess CNN just made all that shit up, did they? Figures.
So make it a Republican draft.

(This post represents a small part of a much longer piece I want to write, but I figured I'd get this part out now since it seems kinda timely.)

Over at Eschaton, Atrios has an amusing post (link to be added here when blogger becomes sane again so, for now, just link over there and find the article "Tax Fairness Act of 2005") regarding getting "deadbeat" states off the dole, so to speak. He gives a list of states that get back more than 110% of what they pay in taxes, effectively making them welfare states and (surprise, surprise!) the vast majority of these states are "red" states -- slightly to strongly Republican. Kind of ironic, when it's the Republicans who are so outraged by the entire concept of welfare, even though they're benefitting from its largesse at the state level. (Yes, you really should go read that article before going any further here. I'll wait.)

Now, in all fairness, Atrios admits that his proposal is "partially in jest", but a lot of commenters think it's a great idea, if only to publicize the ridiculous hypocrisy of all those sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, family values red states slamming liberals while happily living off of their transfer payments. Atrios' suggestion is probably not feasible since it would smack too much of liberals "punishing" Republican states for their appalling voting habits. But don't give up on this idea just yet.

What you want is a way to, yes, in effect punish Republicans for voting W. back into office, but do it in such a way that a)
it targets Republicans directly, and b) they can't really call it punishment without embarrassing themselves. And how exactly do you do that?

The draft.

As many have pointed out, there's really no way that W. can't reinstitute some form of draft, in the form of either a real draft, or stop-loss, or recalling retired Guard members, or something to that effect. Basically, with this administration's dreams of imperialism, they just flat out need more cannon fodder ... uh, soldiers.

But the instant the wheels start to turn on this, the Democratic leadership should immediately propose legislation that praises the idea, agrees completely with its aims, but ... politely and publicly adds a rider that all of this indentured servitude should apply to registered Republicans only.

How could the Republicans object? In the first place, they promised on numerous occasions before the election that there would be absolutely, positively no draft, so this would be an opportunity to point out that, yes, they lied. In addition, given that over 50 million voted Repub in this last election, it's impossible to think that you couldn't find an extra few hundred thousand soldiers somewhere in there. Certainly, all of those peppy, young college Republicans should be just super keen on slapping on a helmet and grabbing a rifle and heading over to Iraq, no? Heck, they were all for Bush's vision of Pax Americana; now they can be an official part of it.

I don't see any believable way that Republicans can complain about this. They'll get all the personnel they need, particularly from that portion of the population that actually voted for them. What's not to like? The military gets what it wants, and the rest of the citizenry can opt out, not by being a conscientious objector, but just by being Democrat.

And you can't even call it punishment. Rather, think of it as being forced to deal with the consequences of your own political preferences. What do the Republicans like to call this? Oh, right. "Taking personal responsibility."

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias has a note on the net negative economy of the Republican-leaning states as well. Funny how more and more people are noticing that or mentioning it.
Bush, already dealing with that pesky economy

As you can see here, fixing a broken economy is hard work. Yup, but Bush is working hard at it cuz', you know, it's hard work. Of course, since I get paid in Canadian dollars, maybe this isn't such a bad thing after all.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

This is what you're up against.

Read this article over at DailyKos, and try to understand the self-destructive tendencies of some voters. Really, what on earth can you say to this?
THIS is why you should be scared.

Want to know what the winners think of the losers in America today? Following a link from TBogg, we have this piece, which nicely sums up what the right wing thinks of reconciliation and bipartisan co-operation. Yes, you really should think about moving to New Zealand.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Son of a bitch

Really, I'm not sure what else to say. How did this happen? Nothing of this sort was predicted by the polls. Even Bush's closest campaign advisers were tellingly glum in the days leading up the election. How the fuck did he win with a 3 million vote advantage?

I'm probably not going to post for the next few days. I'm going to try to figure out what happened, cuz' none of this makes any sense. And TBogg pretty much sums up the way I feel.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Ah ... so more threats of terrorist activity and death is a GOOD thing, then?

From this Yahoo article, we have the Republican response to the recent Osama bin Laden video:

"It's very helpful to the president," contended Bush ally Sen. John McCain ...

Which makes one wonder -- if bin Laden making regular threats via videotape is "helpful" to the Republicans, exactly what motivation do they have to capture him?

Moving on ... I mean, voter suppression is so ... so ... yesterday.

Now it's media suppression. This just gets better and better.