An Online Magazine in the Reality-Based Community.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

News from VA: Del. Drake replaces Cong. Schrock as GOP candidate for VA's 2nd district. So the GOP found someone to run; I wonder if she's as homophobic as Schrock. From
It was almost no contest as Norfolk Del. Thelma Drake easily won the nomination on the first ballot to replace incumbent GOP Rep. Ed Schrock who withdrew Monday after charges he was living a secret gay lifestyle.

...Katherine Cole nominated Drake; next a Norfolk representative nominated Norfolk State Sen. Nick Rerras; and Mark McKinney, chairman of the Virginia Beach City Republican Committee nominated beach Sheriff Paul Lanteigne.

By secret ballot, the 12 nominated Drake by a majority on the first vote. It was anti-climatic - Repubs, and media, some still wondering what the hell happened, left.

...It was Schrock's secret life that set the stage for Tuesday night's vote. For more than 3 years rumors have circulated among the media that he was living a gay lifestyle while voting against the gay agenda.

Finally Mike Rogers of BlogActive.Com 'outed' Schrock with evidence of tape recordings, transcripts and individuals who claimed to have been with him.

The first public news broke on VNS Aug. 20 and Schrock immediately went undercover, stonewalling all requests for interviews or comments. VNS tried multiple times via telephone calls, emails, & fax to his offices to reach him for comment. He refused to deny or confirm the allegations for 8 consecutive days.

Both VNS and BlogActive were waiting for Schrock to deny the allegations before releasing further information. Finally, when it became apparent, the incident would not go away with some public comment from him, on the 10th day following the disclosure, he announced his withdrawal from the race. He yet has not been seen by the media in public nor has he agreed to make any statement.

This is why CNN is going downhill. CNN Refuses Gay Republican Ads. In a letter to the gay Republican group the Cable News Network said that images in the ad are “too controversial.” Tell me how on earth are these images inappropriate:
The ad begins with footage from President Ronald Reagan’s 1992 speech at the Republican National Convention in Houston. President Reagan said, “Whatever else history may say about me when I'm gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears.”

The commercial offers a clear choice for the GOP, the Log Cabin Republicans say: "Either follow President Reagan’s lead by uniting Republicans on common beliefs or follow Jerry Falwell, Pat Buchanan and Rick Santorum’s lead by dividing the GOP with an intolerant social agenda based on fear and exclusion."

The ad closes with images of the Reverend Fred Phelps holding a sign that reads “God Hates Fags,” at the funeral of hate crime victim Matthew Shepard.

If they are being weenies about the Phelps images, they are hypocritical, since they didn't mind showing those signs when covering the Shepard funeral as a news story.

Please. This is absurd. I need to gag. First Lady Promoting Husband As Warrior.
First lady Laura Bush, in a rare foray into foreign policy Tuesday, planned to present her husband as a commanding warrior against terrorism in a prime-time convention speech highlighting his leadership in "the most historic struggle my generation has ever known."

On a night when the convention's overarching theme was to be compassion, the first lady chose to address "the issue that I believe is most important for my own daughters, for all our families, and for our future: George's work to protect our country and defeat terror so that all children can grow up in a more peaceful world."

In excerpts of her speech released Tuesday morning, Mrs. Bush says: "I am so proud of the way George has led our country with strength and conviction."

Repeat after me: The. Pet. Goat.

Did anyone see Stephen Baldwin last night on the MSNBC After Hours program with Joe Scarborough and Ron Reagan? He would be the second-string Baldwin brother (actually third string --after Alec and William). He's a whacked born-again fundie that supports Bush. Though, to be accurate, he wouldn't say he specifically endorses B/C04; he just said something to the effect of "I am a faith-based person and I am going to vote for the candidate who will run this country in a faith-based way -- who do you think of? That's who I'm voting for." WTF? It didn't look like too many neurons were firing.

I love how Schrock's conservative "friends" immediately turned on him. That should teach him about the folks he (figuratively, of course) got in bed with.
[VA] Attorney General Jerry Kilgore said, “I’m sad for Congressman Schrock. It’s certainly was a surprise to me. I’m glad he’s had the courage to say to Republicans in Virginia to move on.”

... “I’m a conservative Christian, and the gay lifestyle is the wrong lifestyle,” said Fred Gerald, a delegate from southern Virginia. “It does not set a very good example for our young people, and it lowers the values in America having gay people in government.”

This is the first I've seen about a possible shake up in the Kerry camp. Al Hunt, of the WSJ:
"As the Bush campaign commands an exquisitely directed convention, the faltering Kerry campaign might be on the verge of a major shake-up," the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt reports. Aides says Kerry is "bouncing off the walls" in frustration.

The campaign "command structure" is "often frozen -- or at least tempered -- by too many chefs, a too-heavy reliance on polls or focus groups and an aversion to risks. As a result, the message often is muddled and the reaction to hard-hitting attacks from Republicans often is slow and unconvincing."

"A few very well-connected Democrats report something will occur in the next few days. One person who might assume more control is Joe Lockhart, a former press secretary to Bill Clinton and a respected public-relations figure, but one who has almost no experience in the high-stakes world of presidential campaigns. Another possibility: veteran Democratic politico John Sasso, currently at the Democratic National Committee."

Update: The full WSJ article is here. There is a not-so-subtle suggestion that James Carville is the answer. Hm.

Rod Paige, Bush's practically invisible sec of education, is being served up as the token black on the podium tonight. They're scraping the barrel for some onstage color. Sam Rosenfeld, of The American Prospect, essays on the fact that the two most visible blacks in the Cabinet, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, are no shows for good reason.
...slotted for a prime-time appearance tonight, after Bill Frist, is none other than Secretary of Education Rod Paige.

Rod who, you ask? You’d be forgiven for not knowing much about the 71-year-old Paige, our first black education secretary. Perhaps you remember reading about a nasty little controversy last winter, when he characterized the National Education Association as “a terrorist organization.” Or maybe you’ve seen the headlines blaring revelations of Enron-style accounting at Houston public schools in the 1990s, when Paige was superintendent. The strict testing and targets regime he imposed there had largely been credited for inspiring the “miracle” of dramatically improved scores and graduation rates across the state under Governor George W. Bush; only in the past year has it become clear the extent to which educational-performance statistics were distorted or falsified under Paige’s watch.

...Now, as Bush makes a frenzied, last-minute pivot from the right to try to reclaim the mantle of compassionate moderation for the last two months of the campaign, the need to showcase a diverse lineup on the prime-time convention schedule is paramount. Unfortunately, Condoleezza Rice, the other black cabinet-level official besides Powell with real clout and stature, has been as tainted as Powell has by the administration’s central policy failure in Iraq. And so that leaves us with Rod Paige, offered up in an unusually transparent public-relations gesture as the token of racial diversity in this year’s edition of a quadrennial GOP dress-up game.

Michael Moore, who was referenced in John McCain's convention speech last night (and roundly booed by the crowd), is covering the GOP convention for USA Today.

Want to see what the locals are saying about Schrock?. From

Monday, August 30, 2004

Patrick Guerriero of the Log Cabin Republicans is apparently hitting his head on the wall and expecting a different result than a headache.

He is quoted in this CNN story as "not expecting to launch a floor fight" over the GOP's hate-filled platform. The LCRs lost on every front in an attempt to get more conciliatory language into the platform and was rebuffed and he STILL doesn't see a need for action, other than a tasteful but tame ad that they are requesting donations for to air in NYC during the convention.

Read this paragraph and tell me why the LCR shouldn't put up a convention fight:
The party's platform, adopted in advance of the convention, rejects not only same-sex marriage but also benefits for same-sex couples. It also rejects letting openly gay people serve in the military, and does not offer a "unity plank," which would encourage respect for Republicans who disagree with the party majority on social issues.

The Schrock story makes the WP. His Republican friends are scrambling to find a replacement to run. Note there's no McGreevey here; Schrock is staying on the DL for now, not commenting.
Rep. Edward L. Schrock (R-Va.) abruptly dropped out of his race for a third term Monday, citing unspecified "allegations" that he said called into question his ability to represent his Virginia Beach district.

In a statement, Schrock, 63, did not address the nature of the allegations, but he said they "will not allow my campaign to focus on the real issues facing our nation and region." His chief of staff, Tom Gordy, refused any further comment last night.

Schrock's announcement came after a gay activist claimed on a Web site on Aug. 19 that Schrock is secretly gay.

Michael Rogers said his claims about Schrock were motivated by anger over what he said was the hypocrisy of the congressman's opposition to gay rights while leading a gay life. He said the purpose of his Web site is to make public the names of lawmakers and other politicians who engage in such hypocrisy.

"Why should my community protect him?" Rogers said. "He's the enemy."

Rogers said on his Web site that Schrock had been recorded several years ago using a telephone service on which men place ads to arrange liaisons with other men. Rogers posted an audio link of an unidentified man placing an ad. Rogers said the man is Schrock, who is married and has one child.


BTW, speaking of McGreevey, Golan "I'm straight" Cipel has decided to drop his harassment lawsuit against the NJ gov. That guy's case fell like a house of cards. Cipel probably got enough advice that he had no case.

And a link to local coverage on Schrock. Schrock had a 92 percent score from the Christian Coalition.
"After much thought and prayer, I have come to the realization that these allegations will not allow my campaign to focus on the real issues facing our nation and region," the statement said. "Therefore, as of today, I am stepping aside and will no longer be the Republican nominee for Congress in Virginia's Second Congressional District.

Playing the tiniest of fiddles for the man.

Boy, I have been waiting for this one. Mike Rogers of Blogactive has been working on the outing of Ed Schrock, an extremely homophoic Congressman from Pat Robertson's district in VA (and sponsor of FMA). He finally delivered the mother lode -- audio of Schrock seeking out gay sex on a phone service. And Mike Rogers is going after more hypocrites. This is huge.
Before we move on to the next member of Congress and highly placed officials in the Bush Administration, here's the news on outed by Congressman Schrock. Ed Schrock in a stunning turnaround has announced he will no longer be a candidate for his House Seat in November. 'The time has come for these gay homophobes to step up or be outed...Schrock is the first...more will follow.'

Remember when a candidate for Congress said he supported eliminating don't ask don't tell so the military could again question recruits about gay experiences?! Well, if you thought it was Ed Schrock who said it, you'd be right!

From the Virginian-Pilot, October 22, 2000: Schrock favors ending the Clinton administration's ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy on gays in the military. He supports asking enlistees whether they have had homosexual experiences in an effort to to try to keep gays from serving. ''You're in the showers with them, you're in the bunk room with them, you're in staterooms with them,'' Schrock said.

Listen to the audio tape... Seems to me that Ed Schrock had no problem serving his country and sharing showers with Navy men for 24 years!

Today's AP Breaking story said, "The [press] release said he would not comment further on his decision, nor did he comment specifically on the allegations." readers know better...Schrock was leading a double life and now we can release the audio file of Congressman Schrock seeking gay sex off of gay sex lines.

And you thought the controversy over Paul Hamm's All-Around gymnastics gold medal was the only story. This, quite frankly, is weird and disturbing. A reporter for the NY Blade, a gay publication, was kept from interviewing the twin brothers. The reporter goes on at length at Outsports:
On their way back from Athens, the Hamms were scheduled to be at Chelsea Piers, the largest sports complex in New York City, on Thursday, Aug. 26, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

...I asked one of the men from the PR agency whether I would be able to talk with them. When he asked me what paper I was from, I told him the New York Blade.

“Uh, I’ll have to check,” he said.

Another reporter I had been talking to – from the New York Daily News – had gotten wind of an interview session with the Associated Press and other print journalists. As the Hamms were walking into the soundproof room, along with several other journalists, I asked if I could sit in on it as well.

The man from the PR agency to whom I had spoken earlier approached Keith Sherman, the head of the agency.

“Can the New York Blade sit in on this?” I overheard him ask.

“No,” Sherman replied instantly.


(writer recounts several other instances during the next hour or so, where reporters actually did get to sit down with the Hamms)

When all was said and done, every print journalist left there had been
allowed into the interview, except for me.

...I left as well, pretty upset and wondering how I could be discriminated against yet again in the sports world. Then the kicker: I saw the Hamms, Shade and Sherman being followed by another man who had come at the very end of their stint at Chelsea Piers. I saw him take out a notebook and start asking them questions. Once he was finished (it was now 11:14), I asked him if he got to talk with them.

“Yeah, I got 90 seconds with them,” he said. That was even more than the time I had initially requested – 60 seconds. He also said he had just gotten there and that Sherman had told him he could interview the young men on their walk to the car – er – SUV.

At the end of it, I was the only person who was rejected for an interview. Sherman said it wasn’t because I was gay, but the writing is on the wall. I was rejected from the group interview because I was from the New York Blade – which every PR person in town knows is a gay paper.

All I wanted to ask the Hamms were two questions.

First: “Thanks to Terrell Owens, people are again talking about gays in sports. How would you feel about having a gay teammate?”

Then: “Long before Athens, you had a strong gay following. What do you think about that?”

If he’s reading this, Sherman is surely very glad that he kept me from asking the Hamms those questions.

There's an interesting discussion about the gay-baiting campaign of Republican Senate candidate Mel Martinez on AmericaBlog, regarding this article. Martinez actually has two openly-gay staff in senior positions there.

Martinez states on the record he doesn't believe in discriminatory hiring practices...from the article:
"There's a big difference between believing in the basic family and believing marriage should be between a man and a woman and who you hire and employ. I've never believed in discrimination in employment,'' he said.

But the fine distinctions about personal privacy and public policy ring hollow to Blade editor Chris Crain. He said politicians who fight gay rights and push for the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage are using public policy to regulate private behavior between consenting adults -- and gay staffers are helping them to do so."

So, that REALLY places these gay hypocrites in a bad light -- they have no defense that they could lose their jobs, so the only reasons they could be working for a gay-baiting homophobe like Martinez are if they: 1) are self-loathing, 2) selling out for a paycheck, 3) have no principles, or all three.

The problem isn't that these gay hypocrites are Republicans, it's that they are working for Republicans that are actively working to make them second class citizens. If they believed so strongly in pro (small r) republican ideals, they could at least be respected, even if one disagrees on political approaches to things. They could try to work to elect tolerant Republicans in their districts. I don't see how they can change a camp like the Martinez campaign from the inside, not with the vitriol spewing from it.

These gay folks need to get a spine. What if all those citizens didn't participate in the the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott (after Rosa Parks was arrested) because having to walk to work would inconvenience them or possibly get them fired? Sometimes the choices we make do matter.

For those of you that are research nuts, has 9/11 video archives.

More on Mary Cheney's betrayal of gay rights movement in this election, even as she is shunned as a speaker at the convention, where all the Bush and Cheney women are slated to be on the podium. Mary has hidden from public view without commenting on her role in the campaign.
Several friends of Ms. Cheney said she has no desire to be a kind of mascot for the gay rights movement. "Mary does not get up in the morning and put on her Chrissy Gephardt or Candace Gingrich hat," said Ms. Matalin, referring to two openly gay relatives of politicians, Richard A. Gephardt, a Democrat, and Newt Gingrich, a Republican. Both became full-time spokeswomen for gay groups.

"When people are open, which Mary is, they are not trying to make a statement,'' Ms. Matalin said. "There are other reasons to be politically active besides your sexual orientation. That is not her raison d'ętre."

Ms. Gephardt said she sympathized. After she came out as a lesbian, she said, "it was all anyone wanted to ask about. But I am more than just a gay person." Her education, she said, is in social work and mental health. But she added that being Mr. Gephardt's lesbian daughter "is what makes me unique."

Ms. Gephardt said gay groups' complaint with Ms. Cheney was not that she was unwilling to speak out about gay issues. It was that she was working so hard for Mr. Bush's re-election.

"This administration wants to impose a constitutional amendment so that she had no right to live her life, and yet she is working wholeheartedly for them," Ms. Gephardt said.

In the past, Ms. Cheney has been more willing to meld her job with her sexual orientation. Before she took a full-time job with her father's campaign, she worked at Coors as its liaison to gays and lesbians, and even persuaded the company to become a major donor to the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization that has fought for recognition of gay unions.

But this wouldn't even be headline news if the DearMary campaign hadn't brought things to the fore.

More articles on the Log Cabin activity at the GOP convention (thanks to AmericaBlog for pointing us there), courtesy of the LA Times:
Pataki, Specter and other top moderates aid cause of angry Log Cabin faction

* Log Cabin fever: The GOP's gay contingent mobilizes in a bid for an inclusive party platform.
The gay GOP organization, which is threatening to withhold an endorsement of President Bush, has scheduled what it calls a "major announcement" today on its response to the platform drafted last week by a committee dominated by social conservatives.

The platform supports, as Bush does, a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. It also includes attacks on civil unions and laws benefiting same-sex couples. Asked about civil unions this month, Bush told CNN he did not mind if states choose to "provide legal protections for gays."

During a week carefully choreographed as a Bush renomination gala and a showcase for party moderates in prime time, the gay unrest is a rare sign of internal discord.

At a reception in Manhattan, Specter urged the Log Cabin group to stand fast. "When you talk about gay rights, you talk about fundamental rights of equality," he said.

I wonder what that major announcement will be, and if it will be well-covered by the sleeping media.

Holy crap, it's the 1960s all over again. The Raw Story/Blue Lemur has pictures of "the Fuzz" taping peaceful protestors in violation of a 1971 law against doing so.
New York City police have violated an agreement which legally prohibits them from videotaping protesters. The photographs, acquired by RAW STORY this evening, show a police officer videotaping protesters who are not engaged in illegal activity.

The photographer submitted the officer’s badge and precinct number to authorities.

Under law, unless there is an actual crime taking place, or reason to believe that one was about to – more than simply the protest march itself – the NYPD cannot videotape activists as a result of a 1971 class-action lawsuit filed by activists who accused police of using dossiers and undercover agents to punish lawful dissent.

Back to Abu Ghraib: Lynndie England's hearing is back on, according to CNN. The list of witnesses she is calling is very interesting...
An Article 32 hearing set to resume Monday at Fort Bragg is to determine whether England, 21, should face a court-martial on 13 counts of abusing detainees, and six counts stemming from possession of sexually explicit photos not involving detainees.

England is the woman shown in now-infamous photographs holding a naked Iraqi prisoner by a leash, smiling and pointing at a hooded detainee's genitals and posing behind a pyramid of nude Iraqis.

If convicted, the Fort Ashby, West Virginia, woman could get up to 38 years in prison.

When the hearing recessed August 8, investigating officer Col. Denise J. Arn was considering a defense request to call more than 160 witnesses. The list ran from Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to a mysterious military interrogator known only as "James Bond" or "Agent 007."

Thank god someone is thinking in FL about these electronic voting machines. A judge has ruled that manual recounts must be able to be carried out.
A state rule barring the 15 Florida counties that use touchscreens from doing manual recounts is at odds with state law, which requires hand recounts in certain close elections, an administrative law judge ruled Friday.

A coalition of government watchdogs and other interest groups sued the state arguing the law requires provisions for hand recounts in every county, no matter what voting technology is used.

Administrative Law Judge Susan B. Kirkland agreed, writing that state law clearly contemplates "that manual recounts will be done on each certified voting system, including the touchscreen voting systems."

With a primary election Tuesday and more than half the state's voters in counties that use touchscreens, it's not clear what each of those counties will do.

Secretary of State Glenda Hood issued the ruling preventing manual recounts in touchscreen counties in April. She could appeal Kirkland's decision, which would automatically keep the rule in place for now. A spokeswoman for Hood said late Friday that she was considering that option.

Atrios pointed out an interesting, if revolting social item in the NYDN:
PARTY PEOPLE: Talk about a power dinner. Rush Limbaugh, Peggy Noonan and Matt Drudge - Republican sympathizers all - hosted a glittering affair at Patsy's last night, headlined by Vice President Dick Cheney and wife Lynne, Gov. Pataki and wife Libby, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and the ubiquitous Mary Matalin (sans her Democratic firebrand husband, Ragin' Cajun James Carville). A restaurant source told me that a surprised guest was CNN anchor Daryn Kagan, who I hear is friendly with recently separated fellow broadcaster Limbaugh.

I'm glad to see that author, blogger and incredibly thoughtful Andrew Sullivan is back online after his August hiatus. I'd been thirsty for his take on Iraq, Swift Boaters, McGreevey, Cheney and FMA, and, of course, the GOP convention. He's a Log Cabin Republican, so I'm curious what he thinks of all the "floor fight" hullabaloo that might occur.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Log Cabin folks are making noise in the WP today. I still don't see that they are all bolting yet, but it sounds like things are at a boil.
The gay Log Cabin Republicans, backed by GOP allies such as New York Gov. George E. Pataki and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), said Sunday that the party has been "hijacked by the radical right" and demanded that President Bush square his actions with his rhetoric of inclusiveness or risk losing their endorsement.

At a "Big Tent" rally in a park blocks from Madison Square Garden, about 450 Log Cabin members from across the country -- and some of about 50 openly gay GOP convention delegates and alternates -- hailed Pataki, Specter and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for their pro-gay rights stand, drawing a contrast with the incumbent president.

Other gay Republicans say they feel conflicted, agreeing as they do with the party tenets of small government, strong national defense and self-sufficiency.

Steve Gunderson, a former member of Congress from Wisconsin who is gay and was active in Bush's 2000 campaign, said, "If the president actively pursues that amendment, no gay Republican with integrity can be supportive of his campaign."

Just to follow up on the First Annual Heterosexual Pride parade, here is the coverage in the Herald-Sun today. Also, there is discussion about it on the blog site.

Seventy gay and lesbian couples took part in a mass wedding in Manchester, England.
The Rev Andy Braunston of the Manchester Metropolitan Community Church delivered the mass service at Sackville Park, in Manchester's Gay Village, as part of the Manchester Pride festival.

"The ceremony was a chance to celebrate our love and campaign for the right to marry so that we are treated equally," Mr Braunston said. "After all, love is not discriminatory."

Gay and lesbian couples have no legal recognition. The Civil Partnership Bill, going through Parliament, will give homosexual couples legal status for the first time.

One Log Cabin Republican, David Catania, DC city councilman and a former DC fundraiser for Bush, officially jumps ship and will vote for Kerry.
...I have had my fill of George W. Bush’s definition of compassion and of his efforts to divide us. As a gay person, I have been insulted and assaulted by this administration.

As an elected official of a major city, I have witnessed this administration’s absolute indifference toward our cities and their populations, particularly the poor. Next month will mark the seventh year since the federal government adjusted the minimum wage, which represents the second longest period in history without an adjustment.
This time around I will not be attending the Republican Convention. And I will not be fooled again by George W. Bush’s promises.

This year I will be supporting John Kerry. As a lifelong Republican, I did not reach this decision lightly.

I believe that Senator Kerry’s record, while perhaps wanting in some respects, is far superior to President Bush’s on issues that matter to me.

More voting disenfranchisement -- in South Dakota, they are intimidating Native Americans with the illegal notion that they need to have a photo ID to vote:
A plastic sign outside a polling place in Andes Central High School on the Yankton Sioux reservation was clear and concise. "Photo ID required," it read.

The only problem, said Charon Asetoyer, executive director of the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center in Lake Andes, South Dakota, was that the sign was illegal.

Sitting in a conference room decorated with a buffalo skull, hand-sewn medicine bags, and a poster that says "Prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome," Asetoyer explains how the law doesn't, in fact, require voters to have a photo ID. If you don't have one, you can sign a personal-identification affidavit.

"The whole issue around denying Indian people the right to vote because they don't have a photo ID puts in people's minds, 'They're not going to let me vote, anyway, so why should I even go to vote?'" she said on June 15, describing what happened at the city election and at a June 1 special congressional election. "It's an intentional act to disenfranchise the Native American vote."

Nobody knows how widespread the problem was on June 1.But at least 21 Native Americans were turned away from the polls because they didn't have a photo ID, says Bret Healy, executive director of the Four Directions Committee, a nonprofit voter-registration organization in Rapid City, South Dakota. He's collected signed statements from all of them.

Totally non-political...Laura Branigan (if you remember the song "Gloria", released in 1982 and it was featured in Flashdance, you know her) passed away from a brain aneurysm on 8/26. She also sang other 80s hits "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You" (uh, yes before the heinous Michael Bolton version), Solitaire and Self Control. Here best of album is on Amazon (where there are comments about her passing already. She wasn't a long lasting success, or even a favorite singer of mine, but for those of us of a certain generation (I'm 41), hearing "Gloria" in your head clearly goes to a bookmark in a particular time in your life.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

The editorial board of the New York Times says that it's time for the electoral college to go, and it makes a compelling case.
The Electoral College got a brief spate of attention in 2000, when George Bush became president even though he lost the popular vote to Al Gore by more than 500,000 votes. Many people realized then for the first time that we have a system in which the president is chosen not by the voters themselves, but by 538 electors. It’s a ridiculous setup, which thwarts the will of the majority, distorts presidential campaigning and has the potential to produce a true constitutional crisis. There should be a bipartisan movement for direct election of the president.

...The majority does not rule and every vote is not equal - those are reasons enough for scrapping the system. But there are other consequences as well. This election has been making clear how the Electoral College distorts presidential campaigns. A few swing states take on oversized importance, leading the candidates to focus their attention, money and promises on a small slice of the electorate. We are hearing far more this year about the issue of storing hazardous waste at Yucca Mountain, an important one for Nevada’s 2.2 million residents, than about securing ports against terrorism, a vital concern for 19.2 million New Yorkers. The political concerns of Cuban-Americans, who are concentrated in the swing state of Florida, are of enormous interest to the candidates. The interests of people from Puerto Rico scarcely come up at all, since they are mainly settled in areas already conceded as Kerry territory. The emphasis on swing states removes the incentive for a large part of the population to follow the campaign, or even to vote.

...The Electoral College’s supporters argue that it plays an important role in balancing relations among the states, and protecting the interests of small states. A few years ago, this page was moved by these concerns to support the Electoral College. But we were wrong. The small states are already significantly overrepresented in the Senate, which more than looks out for their interests. And there is no interest higher than making every vote count.

Well, as promised, here's my report on the 1st Annual Heterosexual Pride parade, sponsored by local pop ClearChannel radio station G-105, which is based out of Raleigh, NC. The parade was held in Chapel Hill.

[The original blog post about this event is here; I also posted a Daily Kos diary.]

Anyway, my partner Kate and I drove into CH from Durham, listening to word of the event from the DJs. Didn't even hear a mention of it until we were driving up and down Franklin Street at 10:45, which was the start time for the parade. There were no signs of activity, other than the usual Saturday traffic and locals strolling and shopping. We turned around and checked the other end of Franklin, toward the Carrboro side. We saw a few balloons and figured this was it and parked just off the parade route. (This was already a sign of things to come -- parking in CH at anytime once UNC is back in session is difficult).

It was a pathetic turnout for Bob and the Showgram (the morning drive time show), even by radio stunt standards. G-105 didn't even bother simulcasting from the "event," and had only a couple of trucks in the parade with smallish logos promoting the station. (the trucks had blow-up sex dolls as passengers), There was a sad little table at the beginning of the parade route with a few T-shirts and merchandise with "Flaming Heterosexual" emblazoned on them. Not a lot of selling going on.

This was IT. Other pictures are here.

Oh, did I mention that about half of the crowd was visibly gay or gay friendly (carrying supportive signs)? That knocks down the straight turnout to just a handful of people.

The poor souls couldn't muster enough people to close down the parade route. Or even the whole street during the procession. The Chapel Hill police held off traffic on one side of the street, for less than a block at a time as they marched about a quarter mile.

I don't think there's going to be a Second Annual Het Pride event.


HUGE. Another Jonathan Pollard-type Israel/US spy scandal is unfolding under the Bush watch.

CBS broke the story, which is somewhat convoluted (as espionage stories usually are), so it may be hard to move this story in a way the general public can digest its gravity. There was also coverage on Nightline about it last night, but they refused to name the person under suspicion. And Rummy knows about it all. The speculation on that program was that Israel had been involved with the (later to be found forged) memo that implied Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. This was a document touted in front of everyone as proof to invade Iraq, with the reason that Israel was/is looking to depose any threats to itself in the region by finding (or creating) "legitimate" reasons to get the US to do so under the rubric of terrorism. This is explosive stuff. The media needs to be all over this.

From CBS:
CBS News has learned that the FBI has a full-fledged espionage investigation under way and is about to -- in FBI terminology -- "roll up" someone agents believe has been spying not for an enemy, but for Israel from within the office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon.

60 Minutes Correspondent Lesley Stahl reports the FBI believes it has "solid" evidence that the suspected mole supplied Israel with classified materials that include secret White House policy deliberations on Iran.

At the heart of the investigation are two people who work at The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

The FBI investigation, headed up by Dave Szady, has involved wiretaps, undercover surveillance and photography that CBS News was told document the passing of classified information from the mole, to the men at AIPAC, and on to the Israelis.

CBS sources say that last year the suspected spy, described as a trusted analyst at the Pentagon, turned over a presidential directive on U.S. policy toward Iran while it was, "in the draft phase when U.S. policy-makers were still debating the policy."

This put the Israelis, according to one source, "inside the decision-making loop" so they could "try to influence the outcome."

Slate has a clip of Bob Dole, who has been used by the Bush machine to try to discredit John Kerry's war record, agreeing with John McCain's nailing of Bush in 2000 of using similar smear tactics in a recent Kerry ad.
The former Senate majority leader and 1996 presidential nominee of the Republican Party made several demonstrably false statements about John Kerry's war record this past Sunday on CNN's Late Edition before saying that "not every one of these people can be Republican liars. There's got to be some truth to the charges."
But Dole also made another statement that day, one that hasn't been aired until now. Of McCain's charge to President Bush during a 2000 debate—"You should be ashamed"—Dole told Wolf Blitzer, "He was right." Dole made the remark off-air, while CNN broadcast the Kerry ad called "Old Tricks," the one featuring McCain's 2000 debate remarks. The campaign stopped airing it recently at McCain's request.

Although the remark was made off-air, it wasn't made off-camera. A CNN employee who asked not to be named made a digital file of the raw camera feed from the Late Edition studio. The footage does not include the graphics or other video, such as the McCain ad, that was shown during the live broadcast. "Once the control room punches the ad, it automatically kills the mics in the studio," the CNN employee told me. "He knows he can speak to Wolf and no one will hear him." Slate has posted the video, so you can see Dole's remark for yourself. (The clip.)

Finally, someone is discussing evidence about that mysteriously under-reported and under-explained plane crash over Queens that occurred two months after 9/11. Canada's National Post reports that it was a member of al Qaeda that used a small bomb, not unlike the Shoe Bomber, Richard Reid, attempted to use on a European flight.
A captured al-Qaeda operative has told Canadian intelligence investigators that a Montreal man who trained in Afghanistan alongside the 9/11 hijackers was responsible for the crash of an American Airlines flight in New York three years ago.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents were told during five days of interviews with the source that Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian citizen also known as Farouk the Tunisian, had downed the plane with explosives on Nov. 12, 2001.

The source claimed Jdey had used his Canadian passport to board Flight 587 and "conducted a suicide mission" with a small bomb similar to the one used by convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid, a "Top Secret" Canadian government report says.

But officials said it was unlikely Jdey was actually involved in the crash, which killed 265 people and is considered accidental. The fact that al-Qaeda attributed the crash to Jdey, however, suggests they were expecting him to attack a plane.

Of course, our government at the time wanted to avoid causing panic in NYC at the time of this crash, frustratingly trying to explain how it was just an accident caused by a defect in the tailfin, freak wind, etc. I have relatives who live in Queens, and trust me, most folks in NY thought it was terrorism and that it was a coverup. The explanations officials gave about the tailfin, defects in the plane, etc. didn't make sense, nevermind that they didn't bother grounding any other planes of the same model from flying either to check them -- there are too many of them out there).

We have seen no evidence of anything other than an accident here," said Ted Lopatkiewicz, spokesman for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. "There has been no evidence found, from what I can tell -- at least that's been relayed to us -- that there was any criminality involved here. It appears, at least the evidence we have, is that a vertical fin came off, not that there was any kind of event in the cabin."

Jdey, 39, came to Canada from Tunisia in 1991 and became a citizen in 1995. Shortly after getting his Canadian passport, he left for Afghanistan and trained with some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, according to the 9/11 commission in the United States.

He recorded a "martyrdom" video, but was dropped from the 9/11 mission after returning to Canada in the summer of 2001. The planner of the World Trade Center attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, claims Jdey was recruited for a "second wave" of suicide attacks.

The FBI issued an alert seeking Jdey's whereabouts in 2002. John Ashcroft, the U.S. Attorney-General, told a news conference in May that Jdey was one of seven al-Qaeda associates "sought in connection with the possible terrorist threats in the United States."

So it is three years later and it is just surfacing that our government had Jday on the an al Qaeda watch list. Why did this never surfaced? Are there no enterprising journalists left out there -- this suspicious incident had to raise investigative journalistic antennae as possible terrorism -- and NO ONE bothered to follow up on it?

Friday, August 27, 2004

Straight or Gay Old Time?
In Chapel Hill on Saturday, G-105, a local pop station, is sponsoring a Straight Pride Parade.

[We are planning to go to the parade tomorrow and I'll have my digital camera to report the goings-on both here and in a DailyKos diary (my original DK post).]

Background: I was scanning AmericaBlog on Thursday, and found out about Straight Pride Parade (I live next door in Durham). There was a misimpression on the blog that the area in which my wife and I live (we were legally married in Canada this July!) is somehow like the backwoods of Appalachia, when it is, in fact, an academic and high-tech belt in the center of NC that is quite progressive. I found it hard to believe that a march of this kind, if they were serious, could be occurring where I live.

IMHO, there's no real need for straight pride, if you think about it, since hets aren't oppressed -- straight culture is the dominant culture. As far as I can tell, hets are pretty proud of being straight anyhow, as I see pix of spouses and sig others on desks at work, and have to hear about someone's wild het weekend from time to time.

So, after perusing the comments at AmericaBlog on the topic, I emailed G-105 station management my thoughts below, passing along some sentiments from others that were curious about the issue.


Subject: Straight Pride Parade -- not a great idea
From: "Pam Spaulding"
Date: Thu, August 26, 2004 12:22 pm
To: (more)

The Triangle area is a tolerant place in the South to be gay (it's why the Christian Exodus movement [] chose SC, not NC for their pet project). I love living here.

This parade, however, is a reckless idea, given the political climate we're dealing with right now -- with one of the major political parties threatening to make bigotry against gays part of their official platform (see

If you want to send the right message with the parade, I suggest that on your web site you might feature statements that are a play on gay pride, such as:

"Gays for Straights are welcome!"

"Straight is Great -- gays should have marriage rights too"

"Gay, but not narrow"

After all, every civil rights march had whites, and every gay pride march has straights there in support of gays -- are gay people welcome to participate openly in the fun?

Gay pride marches originated because homosexuality was illegal and homosexuals were ostracised by mainstream society. If the event is truly a satire of the political follies going on in this realm, then you need to be clear about it up front. A Straight Pride Parade may be "all in good fun" for some, but without clarity on what you are trying to accomplish, for others it will be a license to act out on homophobic feelings (hence the need to say on your G-105 web site: "Just keep it positive and DON'T MENTION OR MAKE FUN OF ANY OTHER GROUP! The idea is a fun, positive heterosexual pride!").

It's clear from your statement that your organization wants to wash its hands in advance for any rednecks/skinheads/yahoos that come to the parade, get drunk and go "fag bashing." This recklessness in itself warrants contacting your sponsors to make sure they are aware of what they might be affiliating with.

I think it's cavalier of ClearChannel to assume only open and clear minds will be participating in this Straight Pride event given how divisive the issue of gay rights is at this time.

--Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Here was the response...


We have received a handful of emails about the parade but yours is without a doubt the best.

You offer some excellent suggestions. If you listen to the show, they have said many of the messages that you mentioned in your email. We have MANY gay listeners and they are joining in the parade (creating shirts / signs with messages like "I'm gay but my friend isn't" or "I'm the gay son of heterosexual parents") We have been VERY clear that this is not an opportunity for any type of bashing or hate...and that message has been repeated over and over. It is satire and very tongue in cheek. And yes, EVERYONE is welcome to attend.

I dare anyone to find a show that has been involved with the gay community. One of our host's friends, Ronnie,is gay and filled in for several weeks on the show. Craig has been a judge at many of our events and is on the show quite often. We've married lesbians on-air who are not allowed to have a legal marriages. There is plenty more examples and I hate to list off things because it seems like we're trying to justify our relationships.

While we know some people won't see the silliness of the parade, most of the people who are complaining are hearing about the event secondhand.

Thank you very much for your input. And thank you for your valuable time. r

3100 Smoketree Court
Suite 700
Raleigh, NC 27604
(919) 874-9861

And I responded:

Thanks for the response, Rick. I wish everyone a fun, friendly, and safe time. I realize we live in the "bubble of tolerance" in the Triangle, but you don't have to drive very far outside of it in any direction to find real anger, fear and intolerance, which is sad.


Want to see what the official accredited RNC bloggers will have to say? Try to keep your food down when you go here.

While the talking heads continue to banter about whether Kerry was nicked to get one of his Purple Hearts, they ignore something really important, which is what happened at Abu Ghraib. Soldiers committing heinous, dehumanizing acts on prisoners, and doctors ignoring their Hippocratic oath and allowing sick and injured inmates to suffer at the hands of these sadists. And, big surprise, it's all true, according to our military, even as they covered up more abuses and approval of the techniques from those higher up.
The techniques approved by General Sanchez exceeded those advocated in a standard Army field manual that provided the basic guidelines for interrogation procedures. But they were among those previously approved by the Pentagon for use in Afghanistan and Cuba, and were recommended to General Sanchez and his staff in the summer of 2003 in memorandums sent by a team headed by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, a commander at Guantánamo who had been sent to Iraq by senior Pentagon officials, and by a military intelligence unit that had served in Afghanistan and was taking charge of interrogations at Abu Ghraib.

The report says the abusive techniques not sufficiently prohibited by General Sanchez included isolation and the use of dogs in interrogation. It says military police and military intelligence soldiers who used those practices believed they had been authorized by senior commanders.

"At Abu Ghraib, isolation conditions sometimes included being kept naked in very hot or very cold, small rooms, and/or completely darkened rooms, clearly in violation of the Geneva Conventions,'' a classified part of the report said.

The passages involving General Sanchez's orders were among several deleted from the version of the report by Maj. Gen. George R. Fay that was made public by the Pentagon on Wednesday.

Why are the Kerry folks not out there in an outrage about this -- it happened under the President's watch, and as of yet, no one of consequence has their head on the chopping block.

Please pay attention NOW. Do you think it's OK for these manufacturers of electronic voting machines to be carousing with election board officials? Many of the machines cannot produce a paper trail of a cast vote. Between 48 million and 61 million Americans will vote this way in Nov. David Corn at The Nation shows you why you should be scared about how your vote is counted, and who's in bed with your local e-board:
"At a time when there is much controversy over electronic voting and some election experts are raising concerns about the integrity of such voting, should the leading manufacturers of electronic voting machines be wining and dining state and local officials responsible for conducting elections? Well, they are. "

According to the [Election] center's program for the conference, the conference's welcoming reception on August 26 was underwritten by Diebold Election Systems. The next day, a scheduled "Dinner Cruise on the Potomac and Monuments by Night Tour" was cosponsored by Sequoia Voting Systems. And Election Systems and Software (ES&S) agreed to pick up the tab for the final day's "Graduation Luncheon and Awards Ceremony."

Each of these firms have had brushes with controversy. Sequoia had their machines rejected in the 1990s by New York City due to concerns about fraud. Earlier this year, Diebold machines malfunctioned in California and disenfranchised thousands of voters. Election officials there accused Diebold officials of lying and misconduct, and Secretary of State Kevin Shelley banned Diebold machines from four counties. Earlier, Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell, a fundraiser for George W. Bush, said in a letter that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver is electoral votes" to Bush. After that letter was revealed, he prohibited Diebold executives and employees from making political contributions. But since 1991, Diebold has handed GOPers $346,366 and Democrats $2700, as Ronnie Dugger recently noted in The Nation, a ratio of 127-1. ES&S is owned by prominent conservatives in Nebraska.

...As gatekeepers, [election board officials] should not be accepting libations, nourishment, and entertainment from the companies they must negotiate with, evaluate, and oversee. The Election Center's board of directors includes the executive secretary-director of North Carolina's board of elections, the secretary of state of Colorado, and the Pennington County (South Dakota) auditor, and the outfit notes, "It is our sacred honor to protect and promote a public trust and confidence by our conduct of accurate and fair elections. As the public's guardians of freedom within a democratic society, we are responsible for the integrity of the process." To maintain that integrity and to promote public confidence, they should not accept gifts from the controversial manufacturers of controversial voting machines. That seems a no-brainer.

An excellent on-the-scene report on how the religiously revised anti-gay, anti-choice planks made it into the GOP platform. Read The Unity Shank — Or Three Card Monte At The RNC.

And there are more poor among us, despite Bush's former message about turning the corner:
The number of poor Americans grew by 1.3 million last year, according to a sobering and politically sensitive Census Bureau report issued Thursday.

The increase marks the third straight year the impoverished population has grown. An estimated 35.9 million U.S. residents were living in poverty in 2003, compared with 31.6 million at the advent of George W. Bush's presidency.

That increase, and a similarly steady rise in the number of Americans without health insurance, immediately cast the otherwise-dry Census Bureau statistics into the white heat of the presidential campaign.

"Today confirms the failure of President Bush's policies for all Americans," Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry declared while campaigning in Anoka, Minn. "While George Bush tries to convince America's families that we're turning the corner, slogans and empty rhetoric can't hide the real story."

While campaigning Thursday in New Mexico, President Bush avoided making specific reference to the latest poverty findings, citing instead more positive economic developments.

"Because we acted, the people of this country are working," Bush said, adding that "there's more work to be done."

ROTFLOL! OMG. This is the best he can do to try and paper over 4 years of economic disaster.


To hammer the point home, the DNC has a great ad, "Broken Record," running here in NC that I saw this AM. It has the camera moving throughout an abandoned factory with Bush's ghostly echo talking about his economic plan while superimposed on the screen are stats about the loss of jobs, the outsourcing of the economy and all the rest of the bad news that has come out of late. Take a look.

The RNC platform committee meeting from Tuesday is on C-SPAN. Now. C-SPAN: Watch LIVE

Bush is gaining ground to Kerry... see the Current Electoral Vote Predictor 2004. Kerry 270 Bush 259. He must be stopped.

Sheer stupidity -- this Raleigh, NC man is suing the gay sports news website Outsports for running a picture of him, taking by a credentialed photographer in a photo gallery from the 2004 LA Marathon (without his name identifying him). This is absurd. His claim:
Harbinson claims he is not gay and that his picture on Outsports caused him to suffer “extreme embarrassment, public humiliation, mental agony and damage to his name and reputation.”

The suit added that Outsports “knew or should have known that false depiction of Plaintiff as gay could subject Plaintiff to the general community’s ridicule, contempt and disgrace (regardless of Plaintiff’s being gay or otherwise), and to the gay community’s ridicule, contempt and disgrace (as Plaintiff was not gay.)”

Outsports is fighting this, for obvious reasons -- the lawsuit is threatening to shut down the site:
At first we were bewildered. When we place a picture of the San Diego Chargers training camp on Outsports, no one sues claiming such publication implies or states any of the players are gay. Is even the remotest association with the word "gay" subject to a lawsuit?

And then the realization hit. We’re not being sued so much for implying the guy is gay; we’re being sued because we are gay. However his attorneys frame it, the bottom line is clear: the same picture in the New York Times would not be litigated. Should we lose, gay publications everywhere would be held to a different standard than all other media. But the most frightening implication is the idea that gay people can’t freely associate with straight people, because it might be defamatory. That thought chills us to the bone.

Yet another sign of ignorance that cannot be ignored. What on earth is this man afraid of (especially given he lives in Raleigh, not a hotbed of gay-bashing)?

If only life and legal reality here were this simple. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary has released its second edition, and it addresses the need to change the definition of marriage to reflect social reality in the Great White North. From the Wash Blade:
...the second edition of the “Canadian Oxford Dictionary” — the country’s bestselling lexicon — includes definitions for the vernacular used by gays for years, from “gaydar” to “lipstick lesbian,” “cruisy” to “civil union.”

It also delineates the word “marriage” in much broader terms as “the legal or religious union of two people” without mentioning “a man and a woman.”

The release of the official Canadian dictionary this fall marks the first attempt to formally sanction gay-specific language and widely introduce it to the mainstream. While publishers of United States dictionaries, such as Miriam-Webster, say they will not likely follow suit for quite some time, Oxford University Press, the house behind several country-specific dictionaries, plans on keeping up-to-date with gay lingo as it progresses.

“Dictionaries just reflect what the actual reality is,” said lexicographer Tom Howell, a lexicographer with Oxford University Press Canadian Oxford.

“If a dictionary says a marriage is the union of a man and a woman, that’s just describing the fact that has been the case for hundreds of years. But if the law changes or society changes or something happens where the word ‘marriage’ comes to apply to same-sex unions, we just change the definition.”

Bush foreign policy, in the NYT:
Saddam = evil, must depose.
Kim Jong Il = madman, dictator, wants (or has the bomb), give him a pass.
The newspaper said "Bush displayed none of the alarm about North Korea's growing arsenal that he once voiced regularly about Iraq."

It quoted him as saying about the leaders of North Korea and Iran: "I don't think you give timelines to dictators."
Bush told the Times he would continue diplomatic pressure. It said he gave no hint that his patience was limited or that at some point he might consider pre-emptive military action.

"I'm confident that over time this will work -- I certainly hope it does," the newspaper quoted Bush as saying of the diplomatic approach.

What? Is this coherent or consistent? No. But did you really expect that?

Theatre in the round. The fearless leader will speak to his flock from a circular stage. The meaning of it all? Check out the spinning (choke):
"We wanted the president to be closer to people and surrounded by people," Mark McKinnon, Mr. Bush's chief media adviser, said. "It sort of reflected his strength and character as the man in the arena."

..."He is not just trapped by a stage," Mr. McKinnon said. "He doesn't have the usual comforts of a stage behind him. To me that says strength, that he is willing to stand out there alone" among all the delegates.

...Up to now, the set design, with its multimillion-dollar stage, has been a closely held secret. Only yesterday did campaign aides disclose their plans, which include a reconfiguration of the convention hall the night the president is in town.

They've got to bring out all the bells and whistles (and smoke and mirrors) to hide the fact that the president is a boob. Lest one forget, remember this performance at a minority journalist's conference, responding to a question of tribal sovereignty.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

When you've got Wall Street fundraisers going soft on Bush, you know he's on the ropes. From the FT:
Wall Street's enthusiasm for US President George W. Bush appears to have cooled as the presidential race tightens and concerns grow about foreign policy and fiscal deficits.

Some leading fundraisers of Mr Bush's re-election bid have stopped active campaigning and others privately voice reservations.

The New York financial community is expected to give the Republicans a lavish welcome when the president's party arrives for its national convention next week. Wall Street has been a big contributor to Mr Bush's record-breaking re-election fund. But one senior Wall Street figure, once talked of as a possible Bush cabinet member, said that he and other prominent Republicans had been raising money with increasing reluctance. “Many are doing so with a heavy heart and some not at all.” He cited foreign policy and the ballooning federal deficit as Wall Street Republicans' main concerns.

The Swift Boat publishing heir is a white supremacist ( surprise that the Bushies are in bed with these folks). From the Blue Lemur:
William Regnery II, heir to the Regnery publishing fortune and a principal player in his father’s company which produced the Swift-Boat veterans’“Unfit for Command,” is a leading advocate of white supremacy and is moving into a business aimed at “providing services and products to white.” His jumping-off point is a planned match-making service for “heterosexual whites of Christian cultural heritage.

This is the tiniest of bones that the GOP is throwing the pro-choice and gay party faithful. It's quite pathetic.
In a few words meant to speak volumes, Republicans have extended a welcome to party members who disagree with elements of their platform, a strongly conservative statement of beliefs that includes an endorsement of constitutional bans on abortion and gay marriage.

Party leaders working with platform delegates on both sides of the abortion issue settled on a declaration Wednesday night that Republicans "respect and accept" that party members can have deeply held differences.

The hooter of the article is a quote from Bill Frist, platform chairman:
"We've worked very hard to be the open door (party) and show respect for other views," said Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist, platform chairman. "It's language I'm very comfortable with."

Sh*t. If it's an open door, when the gay folks walk through it's probably to a Wile E. Coyote free fall to the canyon floor.

More on ballot fraud and voter intimidation. And what is Bush saying about this? N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

The NAACP and other civil rights leaders yesterday charged that recent events suggest the Republican Party is mounting a campaign to keep African Americans and other minority voters away from the polls this November.

In a new report, the NAACP and People for the American Way cite incidents from Florida to Detroit. NAACP Chairman Julian Bond said efforts at intimidation and suppression, once a tool of Democrats in the Jim Crow South, "have increasingly become the province of the Republican Party" as it seeks to counter the overwhelming advantage Democrats enjoy among black voters.

...Among the incidents cited: A Republican state representative in Michigan told the Detroit Free Press that the GOP will have "a tough time" if "we do not suppress the Detroit vote." Detroit is 83 percent black.

In Jefferson County, Ky., the local GOP plans to send poll watchers to Democratic, predominantly black precincts to challenge voters' eligibility. A similar, 2002 plan provoked cries of voter intimidation after a recruitment flier became public. The flier asked for volunteers to protect Ernie Fletcher's gubernatorial campaign against potential fraud by "the black militant division of the AFL-CIO" and the NAACP.

In South Dakota, where Native Americans are a key constituency for Democrats, some said they were turned away from the polls during a special election this summer because they did not have photo-identification The secretary of state has blamed the problems on well-intentioned poll workers who did not understand a new law passed by the GOP-controlled legislature.

In many cases cited it is unclear who is behind the incidents. In Maryland's 2002 gubernatorial election, anonymous fliers were distributed in black neighborhoods in Baltimore gave voters the wrong date for Election Day and told them to be sure to pay parking tickets, overdue rent and outstanding warrants.

Bush needs to be forced to make a public statement on this in order to distance himself a tacit endorsement of intimidation, after all, he was the one "elected" in 2000 on a close vote.

He should be at the head of the line to request that every vote count and that he will not allow this kind of intimidation to occur on Election Day. Otherwise, he's hiding behind the apron of the Jim Crow party -- and the Dems need to call him on it for his silence. This is a real, red meat issue.

Oy. The protests in NYC are beginning.
Also: Climbing activists hang banner on Plaza hotel

(NYC Indymedia) - A group of activists calling themselves “Operation Sibyl,” describing themselves as a concerned group of students and professionals, dropped a banner off of the Plaza Hotel on 58th St. and 5th Ave the morning of August 26. The banner read “Bush” with an arrow pointing one way, and “Truth,” with an arrow pointing in the other direction. Police were slow to respond, and by the time they arrived on the scene the banner was ready to be unfurled. Police attempted to rush up with a team of specialists with climbing gear and stop the banner from being dropped, but arrived too late. A large crowd gathered and media from around the world eventually arrived on the scene.

An excellent essay by Keith Boykin on homophobe (and GOP convention entertainer) Donnie McClurkin.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The tragic cost of the war in Iraq continues, with grief overcoming those experiencing the loss of a child on the front. Bush's mission is nowhere near accomplished.
A distraught father who had just been told his Marine son was killed in combat in Iraq set himself on fire in a Marine Corps van and suffered severe burns Wednesday, police said.

Three U.S. Marines went to a house in Hollywood and told the parents of a 20-year-old Marine that their son died had Tuesday in Najaf, police said.

The father, Carlos Arredondo, 44, then walked into the open garage, picked up a can of gasoline, a propane tank and a lighting device, police Capt. Tony Rode said. He smashed the van’s window with the propane tank and doused the van with gasoline before setting it ablaze.

Now the outrage can begin. The anti-gay plank is on its way. From the WP:
Unless rewritten by the full 110-member platform committee tonight or Thursday, the marriage section will condemn "a few judges and local authorities" who presume to change "the most fundamental institution of civilization." It will say same-sex couples should not receive legal benefits set aside for married couples, and it calls on the Senate to join the House in voting to strip federal courts of the authority to overturn state laws banning gay marriage.

The "protecting marriage" plank's adoption, which stirred comparatively little debate in subcommittee, came a day after Cheney told a questioner at an Iowa forum that Americans should be free to enter "into any kind of relationship they want to." Cheney, who noted he has a gay daughter, made similar comments in 2000. But the Iowa remarks sparked immediate controversy because they put him at odds with Bush only days before the Republican convention opens in New York.

Conservative groups, already working closely with platform delegates here, pounced on Cheney's comments. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told reporters that the vice president's remark "makes it seem the administration is split on the issue" of banning same-sex marriages. Gary L. Bauer, president of the group American Values, said in an interview that Cheney's statement "runs the risk of demoralizing the very people the president and vice president desperately need [in order] to be reelected." Perkins and Bauer hailed the platform language on gay marriage, which they said their groups had helped write.

Some moderate Republicans were fuming, however, saying the party was turning its back on potential swing voters from the political center. Christopher Barron, spokesman for the gay and lesbian group Log Cabin Republicans, called the subcommittee's action "mean-spirited" and "a slap in the face to fair-minded Republicans."

...Frist sought to play down the divisions that echoed outside the various hearings for the five subcommittees in the Javits Center. Cheney's comments, he said, demonstrate that "diversity is a strength in the majority party." He praised the family-issues subcommittee at the end of its session, adding in a soothing voice, "I know not everybody's ideas make it all the way to the end."

Ah yes, the kiss off to the Big Tent. Hope the Log Cabin Reps have finally had enough with these people that are so full of hate.

This is so juicy, I almost had to excerpt the whole thing.
Perkins Issues Ultimatum to GOP: Include Pro-Family, Pro-Life Planks In Platform or Lose in November

By Jimmy Moore
Talon News
August 25, 2004
In an open letter to the members of the Republican Party Platform Committee, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins warned them not to exclude pro-family and pro-life issues as key planks for the GOP Platform if they expect voters who support these issues to vote for President George W. Bush in November.

Sharing his disappointment with a so-called "unity plank" in the Republican Platform being discussed in New York this week in preparation for next week's Republican National Convention, Perkins said he is skeptical about what that means for pro-family, pro-life conservatives.

"Unfortunately, 'unity' as defined by these groups, means not taking a stand for traditional marriage and not promoting a culture of life," Perkins unveiled.

Denouncing the "big tent" mentality of some Republicans, Perkins commented, "If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing."

Concerned about the influence of "several liberal interest groups" within the Republican Party, Perkins said his group will fight to have "the GOP to stand by its pro-family platform if it expects its base, pro-family voters, to show up in November."

Acknowledging that the Republican Party has "people of different races and different religions," Perkins reminded the GOP Platform Committee delegates in the open letter that the party is "united by certain principles, not the least of which are the beliefs that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and that the unborn deserve to be protected."

OMG. He had to acknowledge the anything-but-white, anything-but-Christian crowd in the GOP (as few as there may be)?

This guy's one step above wearing a sheet.

I'm still playing the tiny fiddle for the wingnuts mad at Cheney for yesterday's remarks on gay marriage. Listen to Gary Bauer whining:
But Gary Bauer, a leading social conservative who heads a think tank called American Values, expressed dismay. "My only concern is that in a very close election, his comments could confuse and demoralize voters that President Bush desperately needs," said Bauer, who was in New York for the platform deliberations.

If you go to that American Values web site, it's pretty stale. They have nothing on the Cheney statement; it looks like they haven't posted anything since the end of July. To see why Bauer's crowd is dangerous in its ignorance, check out AV's FAQ on gay marriage.

I'm like a broken record talking about the disaster awaiting us come election day because of electronic voting machines (without a paper trail) and corruption issues with the voter rolls themselves. It really is that important. There is another piece on the fiasco in Florida by Ann Louise Bardach is on Slate:
According to Gallup polls taken yearly since 2000, roughly 50 percent of Americans believe that the election of George W. Bush was either "won on a technicality" or "stolen." Only 34 percent are "very confident" that the vote will be counted accurately in November.

But rather than allay those doubts by selecting an election supervisor of unimpeachable integrity, Gov. Bush seems to have found an equal to Katherine Harris in Glenda Hood, the former Republican mayor of Orlando. True, Hood is not juggling Harris' other job—state chairman for George W. Bush's campaign—but she has done little to assure Floridians that all the votes will be counted this time around.

For one, Hood and Jeb Bush have strongly endorsed the state's Republican-controlled legislature's new rule that outlaws manual recounts. This means that if any of the new optical-scan or touch-screen machines fail—as they did in the 2002 elections; and the recent March primaries; and just last week, when a backup system failed in a test run in Miami-Dade—there will be no recourse for counting votes. A coalition of election-reform groups has challenged this rule, and Rep. Robert Wexler of Palm Beach sued in federal court after a state appeals court dismissed the matter, ruling that while the right to vote is guaranteed, a perfect voting system is not.

Unlike the recent elections in Venezuela, where the new touch-screen voting machine provided every voter with a receipt, Floridians will have to take the word of Hood and Bush that their vote was counted.

What will it take for the mainstream media to listen? It's like they are brain dead with all this swift boat crap.

The AFL-CIO is going to monitor polls in battleground states in Nov. Note in the excerpt from the AP story below that the hullabaloo about the electronic voting machines (over 50 million people will be using them) is a one of the reasons for a need to monitor.
The "My Vote, My Right" campaign is intended to help prevent problems that arose in the 2000 election, including technological glitches with voting machines, confusing ballots, inadequately staffed polls, polls that opened late and closed early, and registered voters erroneously removed from rolls.

Voter advocacy teams have been created in 32 cities in 12 states to help monitor implementation and enforcement of election laws, and to educate voters about the 2002 Help America Vote Act.

...The law mandated provisional ballots for voters claiming to be registered but whose names are not listed on the rolls because of clerical or other errors. If registration is verified later, the ballot gets included in the vote count. The act also requires that newly registered voters show an ID on Election Day if the state hasn't verified their identities.

Already this year, voters in Georgia, Maryland and California encountered problems with electronic voting systems. A software flaw in Florida's touch-screen machines has raised concerns there about a repeat of 2000.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The GOP moves forward an actual platform plank against gay marriage.
Republicans call for a constitutional ban on gay marriage in a proposed election platform headed for a feisty debate in the days before their national convention.

If the plank is approved as expected, it would mark the first time the GOP has gone on record in its statement of principles as supporting an amendment against gay marriage. The issue opens a new point of contention between the party's social conservatives and moderates in platform hearings, who typically tangle over abortion rights each presidential election season.

A draft of the platform was shown to delegates Tuesday night on the eve of those hearings.

..."We strongly support President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage," the draft says. The 2000 platform supported the definition of marriage as being between a man and woman, but stopped short of seeking a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage.

The Log Cabin Republicans, are again the wallflower with no one to dance with at the convention. I hope they do make a stink about this; they are finding little support for their rights within the GOP:
Republicans who back gay rights and abortion rights had little chance of shaping those planks more to their liking. But they hoped, at least, to have the party offer a strong statement declaring its openness to opposing views on those subjects.

The draft's "big tent" language, patterned on words of the last platform, says "we welcome into our ranks all who may hold differing positions" but avoids naming the issues.

We've got some name-calling going on -- everyone out of the sandbox, take your toys and go home.
North Korea called President Bush an "imbecile" and "a tyrant that puts Hitler into the shade" on Monday, unleashing a stream of insults that seemed to rule out any serious progress on nuclear disarmament talks before the American election this fall.

...The Monday tirade appeared to have been set off by a campaign speech in Wisconsin last week by Mr. Bush, who referred to Kim Jong Il, North Korea's hereditary leader, as a "tyrant."

The sad truth is, Kim Jong Il is a madman that is terrorizing and starving his own people -- and he may have the bomb. That country is certainly more of a threat to world peace than Iraq, and he knows it and is taunting Bush. Like Bush could extend our military any more than it is already stretched. This point out the real danger -- stupid cowboy foreign policy -- that puts many more lives at risk.

I love seeing the Right squirm on the Cheney thing, even as I know the man is willing to stay on the ticket with a guy that wants to make his daughter a second-class citizen anyway. Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins:
Unfortunately protection of our values is made more difficult when mixed messages emanate from the White House. We support President Bush's commitment to a constitutional amendment on marriage but we are left to wonder why the Vice President is allowed to depart from this position when the top of the ticket is unified on all other issues. I find it hard to believe the Vice President would stray from the administration's position on defense policy or tax policy. For many pro-family voters, protecting traditional marriage ranks ahead of the economy and job creation as a campaign issue.

"The definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is the bedrock of society and should be addressed in a unified manner just as all other issues will be during the convention. If the Vice President perceives the problem of activist judges and their actions, as he stated in his remarks, then how can he not endorse the same solution the President and his pro-family allies have proposed? We urge Vice President Cheney to support President Bush and a constitutional amendment on marriage.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Playing the tiniest of violins for them.

That bit of glee aside, the Bushies know that letting the states decide on an issue of civil rights at this point in time, is basically guaranteeing restricted rights for gays in most cases -- look at Virginia's anti-gay measures passed this year. It will mobilize the Right even more to get super-DOMAs on the ballot across the country. Everyone knows this crap is eventually going to end up in the Supreme Court. Every civil rights fight does.


Unfortunately Kerry/Edwards pretty much take the same stand on this issue for political cover. They haven't really been pressed on the record to say what they plan to do to ensure the over 1000 federal benefits married couples get are extended to gay unions, if "marriage" isn't an option.

Cheney's officially off the reservation, as it were, on gay marriage.
Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter Mary is a lesbian, spoke supportively about gay relationships on Tuesday, saying "freedom means freedom for everyone."
At a campaign rally in this Mississippi River town, Cheney was asked about his stand on gay marriage an issue for which his boss, President Bush, has pushed for a constitutional amendment to ban such unions.

"Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue our family is very familiar with," Cheney said. "With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone ... People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.

"The question that comes up with the issue of marriage is what kind of official sanction or approval is going to be granted by government? Historically, that's been a relationship that has been handled by the states. The states have made that fundamental decision of what constitutes a marriage," he said.

Bush backs a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage, a move Cheney says was prompted by various judicial rulings, including the action in Massachusetts that made gay marriage legal.

"I think his perception was that the courts, in effect, were beginning to change, without allowing the people to be involved," Cheney said. "The courts were making the judgment for the entire country."

That stand put Cheney at odds with his wife. Last month, Lynne Cheney said states should have the final say over the legal status of personal relationships, a comment that came just days before the Senate failed to back the ban.

It's great that the pressure finally paid off in Cheney speaking publicly about this. Unfortunately, the man is VP, not president, so re-electing that ticket is of no help -- basically he's saying he disagees with FMA, but he's willing to stay on the ticket with a guy that wants to make his daughter a second class citizen anyway.

The question is, who in the Bush camp gave Cheney the go-ahead to say this, since it's putting the issue front and center with the Log Cabin folks about to make noise at the convention.

The whitewash of Abu Ghraib's horrors continue. The official report on this tells you a lot about the lack of responsibility in Washington, even when the evidence is there that top brass gave the orders on unspeakable acts, such as pretending to attack prisoners with dogs, and forcing inmates to do humiliating things, as well as the standard issue torture methods taught to the guards by Rumsfeld's goons.
An Army investigation into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal has found that military police dogs were used to frighten detained Iraqi teenagers as part of a sadistic game, one of many details in the forthcoming report that were provoking expressions of concern and disgust among Army officers briefed on the findings.

Earlier reports and photographs from the prison have indicated that unmuzzled military police dogs were used to intimidate detainees at Abu Ghraib, something the dog handlers have told investigators was sanctioned by top military intelligence officers there. But the new report, according to Pentagon sources, will show that MPs were using their animals to make juveniles -- as young as 15 years old -- urinate on themselves as part of a competition.

...There were two MP dog handlers who did use dogs to threaten kids detained at Abu Ghraib," said an Army officer familiar with the report, one of two investigations on detainee abuse scheduled for release this week. "It has nothing to do with interrogation. It was just them on their own being weird."

Can this be believed by anyone? "On their own, being weird."

The report needs to reveal more than that crap, because Sy Hersh
Seymour Hersh has already found that the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
'The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking,' the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was 'a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher.'


Meanwhile, we've got one of the soldiers from that mess copping a plea, with another still not taking responsibility for his own actions, even if the military brass ordered him to do terrible things to another human being:
U.S. soldier Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick will plead guilty at a pretrial hearing to one or two of the charges against him arising from the abuse of detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, military sources say.

Frederick faces five charges: dereliction of duty by willfully failing to protect detainees from abuse, cruelty and maltreatment; conspiracy to maltreat detainees; maltreatment of detainees; assault of detainees; and committing indecent acts.

Plea bargain negotiations were under way between Frederick's lawyer and prosecutors, military sources in the United States and Germany said.

...In other developments, U.S. Army Spc. Charles Graner, one of the soldiers charged with abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib, lost a legal battle on Monday to suppress the photographs that brought attention to the scandal.

...Graner, who is seen smiling over naked Iraqi prisoners in some of the notorious photographs from Abu Ghraib, could be sentenced to more than 24 years in prison if he is convicted.

Graner has been charged with assault, mistreatment of prisoners, dereliction of duty, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, adultery and committing indecent acts.

...Graner's attorney, Guy Womack, maintained Monday that the soldiers were only following orders from their commanders.

"Military intelligence was orchestrating what was done at Abu Ghraib," Womack said in an interview with CNN's Paula Zahn.

He said Graner is "disheartened that he and the other six MPs have been made a scapegoat as the United States government has tried to portray this as an isolated event by seven rogue MPs."

Even if the abuse orders came from above, this sadist had no one twisting his arm to make him do it -- he probably enjoyed doing it. It's disgusting.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Why the drug industry has our government by the balls. I hope Michael Moore addresses this in his next doco, which will be about HMOs and the pharmaceutical companies. From Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect, with great simplicity:
Instead of debating head-on whether the United States should have a national health program like Canada's, or at least controlled drug prices, the news media have generally accepted the nonsensical premise that the battle is about imports and that the issue is the safety of drugs from Canada. This is the drug industry line, and it's a complete red herring. In fact, there is no documented case of an American getting sick because of tainted or adulterated drugs brought in from Canada. On the contrary, Canadian safety standards are at least as strict as our own. But Bush appointees at the FDA, as a service to their allies in the pharmaceutical industry, have tried to make the public focus on safety. Why? Because if drug imports from Canada became widespread, the domestic structure of drug overpricing would collapse. Everyone would buy from Canada.

I'm not going to breathe easy until election day, but this news is heartening. Kerry crushes Bush in electoral polling, Wall Street Journal to report, 324-214.

Yes! Michigan joins my state (NC) in turning away an anti-gay statewide amendment, keeping it off the ballot in November.

Check out these pathetic headliners at the GOP convention (AP):
Top GOP officials say the duo of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn will perform during the convention at Madison Square Garden, along with country singer Lee Ann Womack, Latin gospel singer Jaci Velasquez and Christian rock band Third Day.

The performers were being announced Monday by Republican national Chairman Ed Gillespie and convention chief executive Bill Harris.

Among other performers who will appear the convention are Christian singer Gracie Rosenburger, rock band Dexter Freebish, country singer Darryl Worley and gospel singer Donnie McClurkin.

Other celebrities scheduled to attend the GOP convention are singer Wayne Newton, actor Stephen Baldwin and actress Bo Derek.

How'd that renegade Baldwin brother get in there. Does Alec know?

Ooops. Job figures plummet in key battleground states.
Twenty-two states reported a drop in payroll jobs last month, double the number for June, according to new Labor Department statistics. Among them were six of the states that could decide this fall's presidential election.

...The battleground states showing job losses in July were Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania and New Mexico, according to Labor Department figures released Aug. 20. Battleground, or swing, states are those expected to be close in this fall's election, and they are drawing the bulk of both campaigns' attention.

The state numbers mirror a recent weakening trend in national jobs numbers. The Labor Department's latest national report on Aug. 6 showed the economy generated only 32,000 new jobs in July, down from 78,000 in June and from an average of 225,000 a month earlier this year.
Bush better run for cover or he might actually get asked a question in one of these states that he doesn't want to hear.

Well finally, he's feeling the heat -- Bush Denounces Ads by Outside Groups. Too bad he's not really denouncing them. More noise.

More from Bob Herbert on the attempts by Jeb Bush in Florida to suppress the vote of likely Democrats. It's funny how few Hispanics were purged from those fleon rolls...It's an outrage and I'm glad Herbert's keeping it up front.
The two ugly developments - both focused on race - were the heavy-handed investigation by Florida state troopers of black get-out-the-vote efforts in Orlando, and the state's blatant attempt to purge blacks from voter rolls through the use of a flawed list of supposed felons that contained the names of thousands of African-Americans and, conveniently, very few Hispanics.

Florida is one of only a handful of states that bar convicted felons from voting, unless they successfully petition to have their voting rights restored. The state's "felon purge" list had to be abandoned by Glenda Hood, the secretary of state (and, yes, former mayor of Orlando), after it became known that the flawed list would target blacks but not Hispanics, who are more likely in Florida to vote Republican. The list also contained the names of thousands of people, most of them black, who should not have been on the list at all.

Ms. Hood, handpicked by Governor Bush to succeed the notorious Katherine Harris as secretary of state, was forced to admit that the felons list was a mess. She said the problems were unintentional. What clearly was intentional was the desire of Ms. Hood and Governor Bush to keep the list secret. It was disclosed only as a result of lawsuits filed under Florida's admirable sunshine law.

Time for down and dirty...DailyKos has blown it open with the fact that Bush will not release his DD214, which those with military experience know reveals precisely under what terms Bush was released from service under in the AL Air Natl Guard. There is even a comparison of the medals awarded to Bush and Kerry (the visual is a hoot), as well as a picture of Bush's medals, which are not corroborated by any miltiary files (ANG22, which are Air National Guard discharge papers).

Fight noise with noise.

This says it all, from the blue lemur: Swift Boat group has nothing to back up claim Kerry fabricated evidence.

Even though it's obvious that the truth eventually comes out, what the Bush campaign knows is that sliming the other guy, whether it ends up to be true or not, works. He used it against John McCain in 2000 to destroy him in SC. What the Bushies know is that making noise works, since the vast majority of the voting public doesn't read the daily paper, and aren't discriminating enough to seek out even a variety of TV news or public affairs programs. They look at commercials, listen to partisan talk radio and form an opinion. This is what they count on.

It's why taking the high road for Kerry is fraught with danger, he doesn't have to get in the gutter, but he needs to get bold and in Bush's face. Kerry's team (or 527s supporting him) need to hit HARD, lest he let Bush off scot-free for all the damage he has done to the economy (oil $50/barrel, negative job growth), civil rights, education, Iraq, Afghanistan. The list of egregious things on his record is enough to hang Bush, if the commercials are creatively and dramatically produced. Why not use the seven minutes of inaction on 9/11 to illustrate why he's incompetent. Many bloggers have come up with creative ideas.

It's easy to predict, if people aren't proactive, that Bush is going to blame protests at the GOP convention on the Dems, so Kerry and his staff better be ready with some political ammo to deflect the shrapnel that will fly.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

This is sad and shocking, courtesy of allspinzone. A member of the NJ Air National Guard returned after 6 months of tough duty:
The NHANG team was stationed at Camp Anaconda in the Sunni triangle of Iraq. They ran over 100 missions in their short time in Iraq. A quick google search on Camp Anaconda turns up many hits - many of them relating stories of mortar attacks, insurgent activities, convoys being attacked (the NHANG team appears to have been largely involved in convoy escort), and the generally crappy conditions in the camp.

48-year old TSgt Dave Guindon gave an interview with his local paper, expressing his happiness at returning home. Less than 24 hours after that, he shot himself. The military is having a hard time letting soldiers decompress and seek counseling to help them adjust to coming home. They have a lack of suicide prevention specialists able to help out the large number of men and women returning with emotional and psychological difficulties from trauma of war.

An aside: I recently had a conversation with someone who briefly served in Iraq and came under fire (and had to fire upon children that had weapons). This person (who does not want to be identified, as they may be sent back over again on no notice) was so traumatized that they are undergoing counseling. What is Bush doing? Cutting benefits for these poor folks.

McGreevey comes clean (enough jokes already!) in the NYT today. Pretty mild stuff.
To all those many thousands of individuals, Republican and Democrat, who called with words of kindness, I simply say thank you. If any good is to come from this episode - as distinct from the accomplishments of my administration - hopefully, it is that New Jersey and increasingly America recognizes that sexuality is an individual imprint and not a statement of competency and capability.

While there are many different and sometimes competing influences, it is my humble hope that my "coming out" could, in some small way, help those gay Americans who have yet to become open with their sexuality. To be gay, for me, was not a choice, but simply stating a reality. Now at peace with arguably one of the most important truths of my life, it is my prayer that I will now be free to live openly and integrate my sexuality with my daily life. This integration will hopefully help my actions, my thoughts and my heart to be in alignment going forward, keeping me from the pitfalls of a divided self or secret truths.

Why the Republicans are beating their chest so hard on the Swift Boat thing. From Andrew Ferguson at The Weekly Standard (not a leftie publication, either):
...Republicans find themselves supporting a candidate, George W. Bush, with a slender and ambiguous military record against a man whose combat heroism has never (until now) been disputed. Further--and here we'll let slip a thinly disguised secret--Republicans are supporting a candidate that relatively few of them find personally or politically appealing. This is not the choice Republicans are supposed to be faced with. The 1990s were far better. In those days the Democrats did the proper thing, nominating a draft-dodger to run against George H.W. Bush, who was the youngest combat pilot in the Pacific theater in World War II, and then later, in 1996, against Bob Dole, who left a portion of his body on the beach at Anzio.

Republicans have no such luck this time, and so they scramble to reassure themselves that they nevertheless are doing the right thing, voting against a war hero. The simplest way to do this is to convince themselves that the war hero isn't really a war hero. If sufficient doubt about Kerry's record can be raised, we can vote for Bush without remorse. But the calculations are transparently desperate. Reading some of the anti-Kerry attacks over the last several weeks, you might conclude that this is the new conservative position: A veteran who volunteered for combat duty, spent four months under fire in Vietnam, and then exaggerated a bit so he could go home early is the inferior, morally and otherwise, of a man who had his father pull strings so he wouldn't have to go to Vietnam in the first place.

I'm laughing at Bush's nephew, George P. Bush (daddy is Jeb and his mommy Columba is from Mexico), campaigning for Bush and getting off message. Apparently he doesn't like the behavior of his uncle's border patrol agents:
called the federal policy of arming U.S. Border Patrol agents with plastic pellet guns "reprehensible."

Speaking in a mix of English and sometimes-halting Spanish, George P. Bush said his uncle was not to blame for the gun policy, which has angered Mexicans. He instead blamed it on "some local INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) guy who's trying to be tough, act macho."

"If there has been American approval for this policy, that is reprehensible," Bush said of the guns, essentially paintball projectiles filled with chile powder. "It's kind of barbarous."

Guess he needs a bit of polish, eh? It gets better when he had to defend Uncle W.'s Iraq campaign, which isn't going over well politically in Mexico.
...[George P.} acknowledged at a news conference that the war in Iraq is not popular in Mexico but defended the military action, saying "we're almost done with it."

Ah. "Almost done". Glad someone has a grasp of when it will be over.

I hope you can read through federal mumbo-jumbo to find out if you are ineligible for overtime pay, thanks to our fearless leader. Here are the new rules.

* The new federal law on overtime pay goes into effect Monday, August 23.
* The Labor Department refers to the changes as the "FairPay" rules.


There is significant disagreement about how many people the changes will affect.
* The Labor Department says as many as 107,000 workers could lose overtime eligibility but about 1.3 million will gain it.
* However, the Economic Policy Institute -- a liberal Washington think tank -- says 6 million people will lose overtime and only a few will gain it.
* The law comes after decades of lobbying by business groups facing major lawsuits about overtime.
* Among those are: Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Radio Shack, Rite Aid and Bank of America.
* Labor Secretary Elaine Chao says the new rules will help stop needless litigation because they clarify who's entitled to overtime.


* The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act set the current standards for pay and overtime and covers about 115 million workers.
* That law requires employers to pay no less than minimum wage $5.15/hour for all hours worked.
* For every hour worked above 40 hours in single workweek, the law mandates that employers pay one-and-a-half times the regular rate of pay.
* But, that law has always had exemptions for certain professions and classes of workers -- meaning some employers do not have to pay time-and-a-half.


* Workers earning $23,660 or below automatically must receive overtime now. That raises the income bar.


* White-collar workers earning $100,000 or more a year.
* In addition, people from a number of professions identified as generally exempt from overtime: pharmacists, dental hygienists, physician assistants, accountants, chefs, athletic trainers with degrees or specialized training, computer system analysts, programmers and software engineers, funeral directors, embalmers, journalists, financial services industry workers, insurance claims adjusters, human resource managers, management consultants, executive and administrative assistants, purchasing agents and registered or certified medical technologists.
Employers are told to make decisions on a case-by-case basis.


* Registered nurses who are paid on an hourly basis should receive overtime.
Those who are paid on a salaried basis, earning more than $455 a week, no longer have to be paid overtime under federal law.


* Emergency workers (including police, firefighters and rescue personnel) will continue to get overtime. The new law clearly states those workers cannot be exempted from overtime.
* Union workers covered by contracts will not be affected by the change. But organizers say the new rules will make bargaining more difficult when contracts come up for renewal.

Barack Obama, senatorial candidate in IL, is kicking wingnut Alan Keyes's rump, according to a newswire report today. By 41 points, a bigger lead than Obama had over Ryan, his original opponent. Hahahahahahaha.

Vote Early, Vote Often. The cover of the NYDN today exposes that thousands of voters are registered in NY and FL (of course it is illegal to vote twice), however, the states have no real way of knowing how to reconcile this -- there's no national or even cross-state registry. You could get 5 years in the clink and a $10K fine for voting twice.
Efforts to prevent people from registering and voting in more than one state rely mostly on the honor system.

New registrants are required to supply a prior address, which kicks in a notification process to election officials in the other jurisdiction. Officials also cross-check change-of-address records from the U.S. Postal Service.

Both procedures largely count on the honesty of the person registering. And neither would catch people who have homes in both places - including the thousands of snowbirds, the term for Northerners who winter in southern climes.

Of course, this problem has existed for who knows how long, but the fact that just over 500 (officially) votes decided the last presidential election, a lot is on the line for either party. The question is, how many states are involved with this problem. I would venture a guess that it's most prevalent in the snowbird states mentioned above, such as FL, AZ, NM. With such a transient nation -- people move all the time -- there's no telling how bad this situation is. If this election is close, I am sure either side will raise the legal foul flag using this reason.
Eliminating the potential to vote in multiple states would require creating a national voter registration system with federally assigned voter ID numbers, said Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University in Washington and a voting rights expert.

"I don't think the country is ready for that," Lichtman said. "It may well be that a few hundred people spilling over and voting twice may be an inevitable friction within the system."

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Since when did blogging your personal life (if you're an Olympian) become a crime? This is the height of stupidity, courtesy of the greedy media, which wants exclusivity to these athlete's performances -- extending to new media:
The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other Web sites.

An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games.

The IOC's rationale for the restrictions is that athletes and their coaches should not serve as journalists -- and that the interests of broadcast rightsholders and accredited media come first.

...To protect lucrative broadcast contracts, athletes and other participants are also prohibited from posting any video, audio or still photos they take themselves, even after the games, unless they get permission ahead of time. (Photos taken by accredited journalists are allowed on the personal sites.)

...The Olympic guidelines threaten to yank credentials from athletes who are in violation as well as to impose other sanctions or take legal action for any monetary damages.

There is clearly no understanding of the purpose or reach of blogs in making the Olympics a truly universal event. Again, it's about profit and loss of control.

Friday, August 20, 2004

OH Sh*t. Bush/Cheney 04, the RNC and the FL GOP are going to be named in a racial discrimination suit, according to John Byrne of The Raw Story. There's not a lot of detail on this yet, other than a federal employment discrimination lawsuit will be filed on behalf of an African-American former state party employee on Monday. The suit alleges both discrimination and retaliation against an African-American GOP employee.

From the AP: This flyer was sent to news organizations Friday, Aug. 20, 2004 by the Kerry campaign after it was spotted by a volunteer for John Kerry in a Bush-Cheney campaign office in Gainesville, Fla. A volunteer for John Kerry said Friday he picked up a flyer in a Bush-Cheney campaign office in Gainesville, Fla., promoting Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group the Bush campaign has insisted for weeks it has no connection to.

Looks like the effort to get McGreevey out before September has failed. It's likely due to the fact that Sen. Jon Corzine expressed no interest in running.

Scary -- whatever happened to the separation of church and state? This is what happens when people forget how important it is... Jerry Falwell is opening his own law school.
''We want to infiltrate the culture with men and women of God who are skilled in the legal profession,'' Falwell said in a telephone interview Tuesday with the Associated Press. ''We'll be as far to the right as Harvard is to the left.''

...Classroom lectures and discussions will fuse the teachings of the Bible with the U.S. Constitution, stressing the connections between faith, law and morality, said law school Dean Bruce Green, who has experience in civil liberties litigation.

Finally, some positive news on the e-vote front from Wired:
The new national elections chairman this week praised computer scientists for calling attention to security problems with e-voting machines and for helping develop new standards for building machines that will be more secure in the future.

"The country owes you a debt of thanks to have taken this challenge of voting systems seriously," DeForest B. Soaries Jr., chairman of the newly formed federal Election Assistance Commission, said to members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, who are in the process of drafting new standards for electronic voting systems.

...More than 55 million U.S. voters in November will cast ballots on optical-scan machines that use a paper ballot and an electronic scanning device, and 50 million more will use e-voting machines that don't produce a paper audit trail to verify votes. The machines were certified under standards established in 1990 and 2002, which failed to adequately address security concerns, critics say. The standards focus primarily on the functionality and resilience of the hardware and software rather than on preventing someone from installing malicious code on the machines to change the votes.

...Congress created the Election Assistance Commission in 2002 under the Help America Vote Act in an effort to reform elections after the 2000 presidential race scandal in Florida. It's the first time a federal agency was established to focus exclusively on voting. The act also allocated $3.9 billion to states for purchasing new electronic voting machines and modernizing the election process.

In contrast to that last post, here is an outrage:
NEPAL: CONCERN AT DETENTION OF 39 GAY MEN French gay rights groups have joined Human Rights Watch and the United Nations AIDS agency in expressing concern over the detention of 39 homosexual men since Aug. 9. The groups called for the immediate release of the men, who were arrested in Katmandu after a Nepalese lawyer asked the Supreme Court to close the Blue Diamond Society, a Nepalese gay rights group, saying it wanted to "to legalize the homosexual activities." David Rohde (NYT)

An action alert with email contacts to the Nepalese govt is posted at Americablog.

The bottom line is that tolerence pays, according to responses to a 2003 Pew Global Attitudes Project. This is a no-brainer. I fully expect to see Virginia, which has passed some severely intolerant laws this year restricting legal rights for gays, to feel the heat of economic exodus.
Perhaps the most surprising result is that attitudes towards homosexuality are highly correlated with economically relevant phenomena such as the ability to attract foreign investment and the level of sovereign bond ratings. The cross-national divergence on this issue is enormous, with 83 per cent of Czechs and Germans supporting societal acceptance of homosexuality, more than 90 per cent of the respondents in six countries opposing it, and three governments - China, Egypt and Tanzania - not even permitting the question to be asked.

The statistical correlation between tolerance of homosexuality and better than expected economic performance echoes similar results obtained previously for US cities, where a higher homosexual share of the population is associated with more high-technology activity. The question is why?

In both the US and international data, there is a correlation between acceptance of homosexuality and other characteristics such as acceptance of immigrants and the absence of a desire to protect traditional culture, which in turn are correlated with improved economic performance. It could be that attitudes toward homosexuality are part of a broader package of social attitudes towards difference and change, especially change that comes from non-traditional sources.

The unhinged and discredited Swift Boat Vets have released their latest ad.

An excellent article on the controversy of Down Low (DL) behavior is at the Southern Voice Online site. A good portion of the article discusses the fact that the CDC is having a hard time quantifying the size of the problem (HIV transmission to black women from men that sleep with men, but identify as straight).

Michelle Malkin is a right wing nutcase that Chris Matthews wiped the floor with on Hardball. She was trying to imply that Kerry had self-inflicted one of his injuries in Vietnam, but had no evidence to back that charge up. When Chris took her to the mat, she looked like a freaking idiot, not able even to give a yes or no answer to the simple question of whether she meant the charge was true. She's licking her wounds on her website, acting like the wounded animal. If she can't take it, get out of the arena. It is called HARDBALL, no?

Yes! Bless Bob Herbert on his slamdunk columns on the FL voting scandal. You MUST read Voting While Black in today's NYT. The FL goons are scaring elderly black voters (ones who would remember the intimidation back in the '50s and '60s). Jeb Bush isn't talking about this:
he smell of voter suppression coming out of Florida is getting stronger. It turns out that a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation, in which state troopers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando in a bizarre hunt for evidence of election fraud, is being conducted despite a finding by the department last May "that there was no basis to support the allegations of election fraud."

State officials have said that the investigation, which has already frightened many voters and intimidated elderly volunteers, is in response to allegations of voter fraud involving absentee ballots that came up during the Orlando mayoral election in March. But the department considered that matter closed last spring, according to a letter from the office of Guy Tunnell, the department's commissioner, to Lawson Lamar, the state attorney in Orlando, who would be responsible for any criminal prosecutions.

The Log Cabin Republicans are attempting to get a "Unity Plank" into the GOP platform, and it looks like they aren't going to get one; in fact it looks like the homophobes are going to literally slam the door in their faces:
The proposed platform plank calls on the party to “recognize and respect Republicans of good faith,” especially those who disagree with the party’s platform on “abortion, family planning, and gay and lesbian issues.”

...Gay journalist Hastings Wyman, editor of the Southern Political Report, said it is unlikely that the platform panel would agree to the unity plank. Given the conservative make-up of the platform panel and the president’s support for a constitutional amendment, Wyman said the party is also likely to approve a new plank backing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

...In 2000, gay U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) appeared as a prominent convention speaker. This year, according to Schmid, Kolbe will not attend the convention, and no openly gay person is expected to speak.

Personally, I understand the desire of Patrick Guerriero and the LCRs to try to work for change from within the other dominant political party in this country. The country benefits from discussion on both sides regarding complex social issues, and over time, there is gradually a meeting in the middle. The problem in this election cycle is the GOP has seen the complete hijacking of its control center to the religious right. LCR has zero chance of being heard, but I give them props for going to the convention. They are sure to receive a hostile reception, or at the very least, be subject to polite protestations and recommendations that they go back in the closet.

Hold it. Kerry said a while back that he didn't back "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Now he's backpedaling. This was from the Army Times in June, and is in a Washington Blade article this AM. Someone needs to hold his feet to the fire and tell him to stop waffling.
“There must be a way for those people to serve somehow,” the newspaper quoted Kerry as saying in response to a question about gays in the military. “It seems to me we are losing a lot of talent for our nation in interpreters, in intelligence, in a lot of different things,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

But the paper, which is not connected to the U.S. military, said Kerry indicated he was “not certain” the policy should be changed.

The NYT has drop-kicked the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth book in an article this AM, connecting the dots between the Bush campaign and its the allegedly independent group.
Records show that the group received the bulk of its initial financing from two men with ties to the president and his family - one a longtime political associate of Mr. Rove's, the other a trustee of the foundation for Mr. Bush's father's presidential library. A Texas publicist who once helped prepare Mr. Bush's father for his debate when he was running for vice president provided them with strategic advice. And the group's television commercial was produced by the same team that made the devastating ad mocking Michael S. Dukakis in an oversized tank helmet when he and Mr. Bush's father faced off in the 1988 presidential election.

...But on close examination, the accounts of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth' prove to be riddled with inconsistencies. In many cases, material offered as proof by these veterans is undercut by official Navy records and the men's own statements.

What a slam dunk. How are Hannity and Rush and Co. going to shake off both this news, plus the WP unraveling of these losers' stories?

From the laughed so hard I could cry dept: remember that judge that got caught pleasuring himself with a penis pump whil hearing a case on the bench? He's retiring. However, I love the quote at the end of the Reuters story (emphasis mine):
"I have greatly enjoyed my public service and offer my gratitude for the public trust reposed in me during the terms I served.

I'm sure he did.

Did you ever think you'd see the day where the rollback of rights to overtime pay would arrive? It's here, courtesy of your fearless leader, GWB (courtesy of AFL-CIO):
The new Bush Administration overtime laws are written such that many workers who currently earn overtime pay in this pay range are likely to lose it. For example:

Concurrent Duties—Under the old rule, an employee who spent a substantial amount of his or her time on nonexempt work but who also performed some exempt supervisory duties generally remained eligible for overtime pay (under old rule 541.116). Under the new rule, that person will generally be an exempt executive, and not eligible for overtime pay. (New section 541.106)

EXAMPLE—An assistant manager in fast-food, grocery or retail may spend most of his or her time performing “line” duties, like burger flipping or ringing up customers, but still be “in charge” of other workers at the same time. Under the old rule, many of these workers still received overtime pay. Under the new rule, they may very well lose their overtime pay, even if they make as little as $23,660 a year—a wage that qualifies a family for food stamps.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Holy crap. BlogActive just outed a Republican closet case homophobe that was a co-sponsor of FMA! He's got the goods on this guy making clandestine encounters via a popular telephone dating service! Good lord this could blow up big time. The site has his 92% Christian Coalition voting record on display.

Joe Conason in Salon has a piece on the pro-Bush doco, The Big Picture, created by the Bush henchman David Bossie of the highly partisan Citizens United. The problem with this flick is that dumbass Bossie is also working on filmed pieces for the GOP convention, and thus he may be running afoul of the non-profit laws govenoring tax-exempt CU:
The next salvo in the cinematic campaign war of 2004 is "The Big Picture," a documentary film attacking John Kerry sponsored by David Bossie's Citizens United, the right-wing group that unsuccessfully sued to stop national advertising of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." But Bossie's latest project could create legal problems for him and his organization -- in part because Lionel Chetwynd, the award-winning director, is working not only on the documentary but also on two shorter films to be screened at the Republican National Convention.

The director's simultaneous involvement in both the convention films and the Bossie documentary raises eyebrows among campaign finance experts, because Citizens United is a tax-exempt foundation legally restricted from "coordinating" its "independent" political broadcasts or messages with the Bush-Cheney campaign or the Republican National Committee.

Not that I thought Jamaica was a hotbed of progressive thinking, but this is out of control. I'll let the story speak for itself.
In a scandalous tirade against new fashion trends, evangelical pastor Bishop Herro Blair warned young women that skimpy, figure-hugging clothes, were “invitations to rapists”.

And he said men who wear sagging trousers, exposing their underpants, attracting homosexuals.

...He recalled turning a girl away from church doors because she wore a top that exposed her belly-button. “I said to her, ‘You are a prime candidate for a rapist’. It is a serious situation and nothing to laugh about.

“The way some boys are walking with their pants down on their hips means they are heading for it. Homosexuals like to see men’s bottoms.”

The one thing I always wondered about, when I returned to visit NY a few years after moving to NC in 1989, was where did all the homeless go? Giuliani must have shipped them out. While Abe Beame and David Dinkins were mayor in the 70s and 80s, there was no shortage of people to step over in the streets or in the subways.

Anyway, it appears that whatever few homeless remain in Bloomberg's NY are being swept off the subway environs because of the GOP convention. The Village Voice feature, The Ghosts of Penn Station, talks about the street people that are "disappearing".

Bush's liaison to the Catholic community has resigned for his dirty past -- apparently "for kissing and fondling two underage students and engaging in public sex with a third, all in one night", according to the revealer. He's an intolerant man, not mainstream at all, so this bomb should be going off all over the media. One would think so, anyway, given the sex angle. Let's wait and see if the media will play this out fairly, given the McGreevey scandal coverage.

Not sure what to think of this. Your friendly neighborhood Costco is giving you deep discounts on coffins.

$8.8 BILLION. That's how much in funds seems to have evaporated in this story.
At least $8.8 billion in Iraqi funds that was given to Iraqi ministries by the former U.S.-led authority there cannot be accounted for, according to a draft U.S. audit set for release soon.

The audit by the Coalition Provisional Authority's own Inspector General blasts the CPA for "not providing adequate stewardship" of at least $8.8 billion from the Development Fund for Iraq that was given to Iraqi ministries.

The audit was first reported on a Web site earlier this month by journalist and retired Col. David Hackworth. A U.S. official confirmed the contents of the leaked audit cited by Hackworth ( were accurate.

The development fund is made up of proceeds from Iraqi oil sales, frozen assets from foreign governments and surplus from the U.N. Oil for Food Program. Its handling has already come under fire in a U.N.-mandated audit released last month.

Among the draft audit's findings were that payrolls in Iraqi ministries under Coalition Provisional Authority control were padded with thousands of ghost employees.

This is unreal -- though with Alan Keyes parachuting into the IL Senate race (after Mike Ditka was romanced by the IL GOP) and Ah-nold out in CA, Joe Piscopo considering a run to replace McGreevey as governor in NJ, anything is possible. Man, it's literally political theatre today.

Woohoo! Michael Moore has signed a deal with Simon and Schuster to publish letters sent to him by US troops in Iraq. That should be a bombshell, as it is expected to drop in November. Another big bonus for F9/11 fans:
The Viacom-owned publisher is additionally releasing "The Official 'Fahrenheit 9/11' Reader" to coincide with the documentary's DVD/home video rollout in October. The "Reader" contains the full transcript of the film, released by Lions Gate Films, IFC Films and Bob and Harvey Weinstein, as well as additional material.

Got this tip from Americablog. I screenshot it (below) because I'm sure Amazon will purge this review of The Little Goat by "W". Of course this may not be the right book, which I believe was The Pet Goat.

Speaking of the seven minutes. Buzzflash has the video of the infamous time-and-brain lapse by Bush on 9/11.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

No surprise here for the lying Golan "I'm straight" Cipel. I figured it was only a matter of time before another man he slept with would come forward to blow away Cipel's story that NJ Gov. McGreevey was hitting on him/sexually harrassing him.
The mystery man, a college professor from northern Jersey, called the governor's office to assert he and Cipel had been romantically involved, sources said.

If true, the new lover could blow apart Cipel's claims that he is straight and seriously damage Cipel's credibility as a victim of McGreevey's unwanted sexual advances.

The governor's office was taking the claim seriously enough to have private investigators vet the allegations as part of McGreevey's efforts to repel a potential civil suit by Cipel, sources said yesterday.

"There have been at least three people coming forward, and this person seems the most credible," a source familiar with the inquiry said.
. It doesn't excuse McG's bad political judgment, but it does show what an evil blackmailer Cipel is. Whatever civil suit he has should be tossed out. Also, maybe Cipel does think he's straight -- and still sleeps with men. Men on the DL say this all the time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Eureka! I've found a video clip of the infamous Bush "Tribal Sovereignty" Q&A at the Unity: Journalists of Color conference. Here is what ahappened:
A Native-American editor from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer asked, “What do you think tribal sovereignty means in the 21st century?”
BUSH: “Tribal sovereignty means that—it’s sovereignty,” he stammered. “I mean, you’re a—you’re a—you’ve been given sovereignty and you’re viewed as a sovereign entity.”

This is proof that the media doesn't want to dig into Bush's AWOL status. The Raw Story had him cold, but no major media will pick it up.
More than two weeks after Raw Story ran an article documenting that President Bush was absent without leave from the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970s, not a single newspaper has reported the story.

A senior investigative reporter said he even agreed that Bush had never made up five months in 1972, but that he ‘effectively’ wasn’t AWOL because his commanding officers ignored that he never completed his service.
He declined to acknowledge the fact that not even the Secretary of Defense has legal authority to allow guardsmen more than two months of unexcused absences – or that even if they did ignore Bush’s absences, he would still be AWOL.

“If the commanders ignore it, that’s their problem,” said Reagan Assistant Defense Secretary for Manpower, Logistics and Reserve Affairs Lawrence J. Korb. “That doesn’t change that you’re absent without leave.”

It's sad when an organization representing political dissent (that's still a first amendment right AFAIK) is getting threatened by Bush. Perhaps soon MoveOn will be elevated to "terrorists". Slammed by Bush's henchment as "Extremists": Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt called MoveOn "an extremist organization" making "completely baseless attacks." Schmidt said, "They have continued that tradition with this one, impugning the honorable service of the president in the Air National Guard." Noting that the campaign has praised Kerry's military service, Schmidt repeated Bush's call for both campaigns to denounce all ads by independent "527" groups, far more of which have aired in support of Kerry. But he did not denounce the content of the Swift boat group's ad.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Cronkite, the 'Newspaperman,' Lays Down His Pen. Just noting that this man had a great impact on me as a child. My mom told me this funny story. I was always fascinated with news and politics, even as young as 5 or 6 (which would be the late 60s). She said I used to watch the CBS Evening News every evening, and would always ask her "can 'Uncle Walter' come over for dinner?" I wanted to listen to him tell stories about current events. He definitely had an air of authority and calm that made this curious little Tar Heel girl wonder about the world.

The presidential debate schedule is up.
First presidential debate:
University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL
Thursday, September 30
Jim Lehrer
Anchor and Executive Editor, The NewsHour, PBS

Vice presidential debate:
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH
Tuesday, October 5
Gwen Ifill
Senior Correspondent, The NewsHour, and Moderator, Washington Week, PBS

Second presidential debate:
Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis, MO
Friday, October 8
Charles Gibson
Co-Anchor, ABC News Good Morning America

Third presidential debate:
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ
Wednesday, October 13
Bob Schieffer
CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent, and Moderator, Face the Nation

Mark your calendars for that VP debate. I want to see them pull out the defibrillator for Cheney.

Check out the Electoral Vote Predictor. Looks like a blowout at this point, but anything can change.

F9/11 is coming out October 5 on DVD. Here are some of the extras.
DVD Features:
"The Release of Fahrenheit 9/11" featurette
Montage: The people of Iraq on the eve of invasion
New scene: Homeland security, Miami style
Outside Abu Ghraib Prison
Eyewitness account from Samara, Iraq
Extended interview: More with Abdul Henderson
Lila Lipscomb at the Washington, D.C. premiere
Arab-American comedians: Their acts and experiences after 9/11
Condoleezza Rice's 9/11 Commission testimony
Rose Garden press briefing after 9/11 Commission appearance
Widescreen anamorphic format

Would love it if Porter Goss's "I am too stupid to run the CIA" footage was included.

The morons at Christian Exodus, the folks that want to infiltrate SC and ultimately secede from the union to form a Christian state, have made the news. This group is so sick. I do, however, love the reference to NC's more liberal tendencies, lol:
Cory Burnell, Christian Exodus' founder and president, told FOX News that the group narrowed its focus to the Bible Belt state based on an electorate that is already "Christian-leaning," has its own ports and — unlike its neighbor North Carolina — is no hub of liberalism.

Christian Exodus' mission, according to its Web site, is to scrap the "tyrannical authority" of federal government in favor of a constitutional republic, with the Ten Commandments rather than the U.S. Constitution as government's guide.

Phase One of the group's "plan of action" in breaking down the wall between church and state is to enlist groups of 1,000 members to move into 12 designated House districts in South Carolina, with the goal of voting 12 "Christian sovereigntists" into the state government by 2008.

Articles on "the down low" life (men self-identified as straight, who sleep with men) are resurfacing again, probably with the McGreevey story adding a multiculti twist on the matter. Here's a take in Salon.

A must read about whether "character" or "intelligence" is more meaningful in a president is excellently covered by Matthew Yglesias in 'The Brains Thing', The American Prospect, Axis of Drivel". A sample:
Intelligence matters. The job of the president of the United States is not to love his wife; it’s to manage a wide range of complicated issues. That requires character, yes, but not the kind of character measured by private virtues like fidelity to spouse and frequency of quotations from Scripture. Yet it also requires intelligence. It requires intellectual curiosity, an ability to familiarize oneself with a broad range of views, the capacity -- yes -- to grasp nuances, to foresee the potential ramifications of one’s decisions, and, simply, to think things through. Four years ago, these were not considered necessary pieces of presidential equipment. Today, they have to be.

The most egregious consequences of Bush’s lack of intellectual curiosity have come in regard to foreign policy. But domestic policy making has suffered, too. Indeed, Bush’s disengagement has arguably been more severe in this arena. Abroad, one can at least say that Bush made some choices he believed at the time to be the right ones. But on the home front, the president’s lack of commitment to any idea (beyond a blind faith in the power of tax cuts to cure all) has turned the policy process into a joke and consistently marginalized serious analysts in favor of the entirely political counsel proffered by Karl Rove and other hacks. “It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis,” as former faith-based-initiatives coordinator John DiIulio famously put it.

The pressing issue in this piece, however, is the fact that the media (as well as the left, especially post-9/11) basically didn't question Bush's intellectual capabilities when they should have. There were clearly warning signs, since the man definitely is a delegator and self-proclaimed "clean desk executive" without interest in policy papers. As opposed to Clinton, who probably was on the opposite end of the spectrum, to his detriment, reading volumes of background and endlessly ruminating over issues when he could have stood to delegate some tasks to aides.

Blast from the past: Ed Koch, former mayor of NY (a Dem and suspected closet case) is backing Bush. Can I vomit now?

More reason to have a paper ballot if you are one of the 60 million that may cast your vote on a touch screen device.
When Sequoia Voting Systems demonstrated its new paper-trail electronic voting system for state Senate staffers in California last week, the company representative got a surprise when the paper trail failed to record votes that testers cast on the machine.

That was bad news for the voting company, whose paper-trail, touch-screen machine will be used for the first time next month in Nevada's state primary. The company advertises that its touch-screen machines provide "nothing less than 100 percent accuracy."

"It goes to our point that a paper trail is very much needed to (ensure) that the machine accurately reports what people press," said Susie Swatt, chief of staff for state Sen. Ross Johnson (R-Irvine), who witnessed the glitch in the Sequoia machine.

Speaker line up comparison, Dems and GOP, courtesy of DailyKos. Note the contrast in what the parties allowed the public to see. It's clear the GOP is hiding all their fundamentalist friends, most not even invited to the shindig at all:

Democratic National Convention
Bill Clinton -- former president
Jimmy Carter -- former president, vet
Al Gore -- popular vote winner, 2004 presidential election, vet

(not televised by networks)
Theresa Heinz Kerry
Ron Reagan -- Son of Pres. Ronald Reagan
Barack Obama -- Future senator, future president

John Edwards -- NC senator, VP nominee
Elizabeth Edwards
General John Shalikashvili -- former chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff

John Kerry -- MA senator, prez nominee, war hero
Max Cleland -- Former GA senator, war hero
Vanessa and Alexandra Kerry

Republican National Convention
(not televised by networks)
John McCain -- target of vicious Bush attacks in SC in 2000, gay, er, tolerant, war hero
Rudy Giuliani -- serial adulturer, pro choice, gay friendly, did not serve
Michael Bloomberg -- unpopular NYC mayor, pro choice, gay friendly, did not serve

Arnold Schwarzenegger -- sexual harrasser, pro choice, gay friendly
Rod Paige -- secretary of education, did not serve
Laura Bush

Zell Miller -- GA senator, turncoat, vet
Dick Cheney -- War coward. Eats babies. Shouldn't he headline the evening?
Lynne Cheney -- author of steamy anti-men lesbian romance novels.

George Bush -- GOP prez nominee, hid in TX ANG during Vietnam, went AWOL, falls off bicycles.
George Pataki -- NY governor. Pro choice (at least rhetorically), gay friendly, did not serve

The Bush Administration is quashing people's first amendment rights. I guess it is like the Vietnam era all over again. F.B.I. Goes Knocking for Political Troublemakers

Holy shit. Officials in FL caught red handed trying to intimidate elderly black voters. The New York Times > Opinion >Bob Herbert's piece details why we need to be worried about Nov.
State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly volunteers and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote in November.

The officers, from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which reports to Gov. Jeb Bush, say they are investigating allegations of voter fraud that came up during the Orlando mayoral election in March.

Officials refused to discuss details of the investigation, other than to say that absentee ballots are involved. They said they had no idea when the investigation might end, and acknowledged that it may continue right through the presidential election.

"We did a preliminary inquiry into those allegations and then we concluded that there was enough evidence to follow through with a full criminal investigation," said Geo Morales, a spokesman for the Department of Law Enforcement.

The state police officers, armed and in plain clothes, have questioned dozens of voters in their homes. Some of those questioned have been volunteers in get-out-the-vote campaigns.

I asked Mr. Morales in a telephone conversation to tell me what criminal activity had taken place.

"I can't talk about that," he said.

I asked if all the people interrogated were black.

"Well, mainly it was a black neighborhood we were looking at - yes,'' he said.

He also said, "Most of them were elderly."

When I asked why, he said, "That's just the people we selected out of a random sample to interview."

Back in the bad old days, some decades ago, when Southern whites used every imaginable form of chicanery to prevent blacks from voting, blacks often fought back by creating voters leagues, which were organizations that helped to register, educate and encourage black voters. It became a tradition that continues in many places, including Florida, today.

Not surprisingly, many of the elderly black voters who found themselves face to face with state police officers in Orlando are members of the Orlando League of Voters, which has been very successful in mobilizing the city's black vote.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Who are the holdout Bush supporters? See this person's list. It hits all the theories I've thought about in trying to figure out why this election is close at all.
After pondering four years worth of my own interactions, pro-Bush postings at various webstes, and the comments of callers to rightwing talk shows and C-SPAN, I have identified and compiled the following list of Bush supporter types.

1. Scared, under-informed, and disempowered women who have been brainwashed into believing that there are Al Qaeda bogeymen behind every door and only G. W. Bush can save them.

2. Scared, under-informed, and disempowered men who have been brainwashed into believing that there are Al Qaeda bogeymen behind every door and only G. W. Bush can save them.

3. People making over $100,000 per year whose primary focus in life is "getting theirs" (as in "who cares if anyone else does?")

4. Homophobics

5. Black people who hate themselves and wish they were white

6. Just about any minority people who hate themselves or at least hate one other minority group.

7. White people who hate all minorities.

8. People brainwashed into believing that the world revolves around just two issues: guns and abortion

9. Executives whose companies spew toxic wastes into the air, soil and water.

10. Developers who would turn anything - from farmland to nature sanctuaries - into parkinglots and strip malls if they could.

11. Co-dependent women who want a pat on the head from their patriarchal husbands or boyfriends for voting for HIS favorite candidate.

12. Angry white males who believe that only white males have a right to health, wealth, and the pursuit of happiness and thus don' want to share the resources

13. People who cannot find the capitol of the next state on a map, let alone Afghanistan or Iraq

14. People who believe that they will be one of the 144,000 "chosen" who will be sucked up into heaven following an accelerated Armageddon provoked by Bush

15. People who eat Freedom Fries

16. People who claim to be pro-life while cheering on the slaughter of innocent men, women and children in poor countries.

17. People who claim to be pro-life while promoting the extinction of dozens of species by endorsing the removal of environmental protections

18. People who claim to be pro-life but promote the often prolonged and painful deaths of thousands of fellow human beings by opposing affordable health care policies or the use of federal funds for clinics in poor nations because they may offer abortion..

19. People who think female breasts are nasty objects and should be hidden permanently from view, if not banned altogether.

20. People too unread, unimaginative, and unintelligent to grasp concepts that cannot be presented as "tiny sound bytes" and simple-minded slogans

21. People who believe "liberal" is a dirty word because that's what Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the simple-minded slogansmiths have hammered into their heads.

22. People who believe that what really counts in a leader with the power to determine the course of events for hundreds of millions of people on Earth is whether you can picture having a beer with him.

What will Bush do about this? Reservists returning from Iraq are losing their jobs when they return home.
The Labor Department, which has subpoena power, asks employers to justify firings or reduction of benefits and can refer complaints to the Justice Department for filing of civil lawsuits. Only a small percentage of cases get that far.

While the 1994 law strengthened previous protections, it doesn't help doctors, lawyers or small business owners who depend on maintaining a client base. It doesn't save jobs eliminated by plant closings or budget cuts. And it doesn't help injured troops who can no longer perform the work they once did.

Reservists and guardsmen who returned to the Prince George's County government outside Washington, D.C., were among those who fell into a gray area.

The county required that they exhaust their leave before receiving a county salary supplement that bridged the gap between military and civilian pay. This meant some employees had to count some of their time in a war zone as vacation days or forfeit the extra pay.

"Our members were not able to decompress," said Percy Alston, president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge representing the county's police officers. His members have challenged the policy through labor grievance procedures and expect an arbitrator will decide the matter.

Bush never had to worry about sacificing his livelihood when he was dodging the war in the reserves.

This is so wrong. An Iranian judo wrestler refused to compete against an Israeli.

I'm looking forward to reading the Boston Globe's four-part article on gay marriage. This state has a couple of years to think about whether to retract gay marriage when its discriminatory amendment comes up for a public vote. This will tell us if time to think about this in a measured way can change hearts on this issue.

Alan Keyes is a crackpot, of course, but this is unbelievable: Keyes Wants to End Election of Senators.

As you can see, the slimeball that was blackmailing McGreevey, the NJ governor that outed himself on TV last week, was a greedy bastard. He wanted $50 million from the gov to keep the affair under wraps. How sleazy. I think that should put things into perspective, not excusing the closet case problem that led McG to make some really poor decisions.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Finally some families are fighting the "Stop Loss" orders, which many consider a "backdoor draft" -- not allowing those eligible to retire or leave after enlistment, or pulling former military out of the mothballs to serve in Iraq because it is short on bodies.
Attorneys for a decorated combat veteran serving in the Army Reserve will announce Tuesday the filing of a petition challenging a "stop loss" order that requires the reservist to remain in the military beyond the term of his enlistment for possible duty in Iraq. The reservist is identified as "John Doe" for reasons of privacy. Doe's case is the first legal challenge to Army's current "stop loss" program.

Under the program, tens of thousands of soldiers have been prevented from retiring or leaving the military upon completing their enlistment terms so that they may be deployed to Iraq. The petition asserts that the program is arbitrary, unfair, and unauthorized by law. The stop loss program has been widely criticized as a "backdoor draft."

Speaking of the hurricane, it looks like NC is going to get blasted. As of this writing, it seems to be a category 1, but could intensify if it is out in the water. I lived through Fran in 1996, and I had mild PTSD for quite some when there were severe thunderstorms. Fran kicked central NC's ass because it was so large. We had 85 mph winds in Durham, even though the eye was all the way on the coast.

Was out at the NC Gay and Lesbian Film Fest yesterday (it's running all weekend, hurricane Charley be damned). I personally like documentaries vs. the drama and comedies, since the quality of the shorts in particular is pretty marginal, if not downright awful. The best film so far is Tying the Knot, director Jim de Sčve's moving and extremely timely (more on that later) doco about the legal journey of gay marriage. Synopsis:
When a bank robber’s bullet ends the life of cop Lois Marrero, her wife of thirteen years, Mickie, discovers a police department willing to accept the women’s relationship, but unwilling to release Lois’s pension. When Sam, an Oklahoma rancher loses his husband of 25 years, cousins of his deceased spouse challenge his will and move to evict Sam from his home. As Mickie and Sam take up battle stations to defend their lives, Tying the Knot digs deeply into the meaning of marriage today. This timely documentary film uses archival footage, news clips and heartfelt interviews to make a compelling case for gay marriage.

What did I mean by timely? De Sčve actually edited his film on the fly before the showing I attended to include the latest news from this week about the 4000 same-sex marriages in San Francisco that were annulled.

It's a must see. De Sčve plans to have a wider release soon, and if it does well, it may come back our way. There will also be a DVD release. This is one of those films you want to add to put in a time capsule so that 50 years from now, people will wonder what was wrong with people that oppose gay marriage.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Excellent essay on the closet (referencing the McGreevey case) by Hank Stuever of the WP:
The closet is weird. It used to be a normal refuge (and deeply personal place) in which gay men and lesbians could live their entire, long, parallel lives, and it sometimes went by the quaint name of 'privacy.' But the closet has evolved in the post-gay 21st century as a place to find the strangest and most pitiable of the modern queer realm, and there's a name for him, a rude and despicable name, usually uttered by hip, out, mostly well-adjusted gay men to describe the sad, latent gay man we've met time and time again: Closet case.

And he goes on to highlight the recent "outing" campaigns of socially out gays that work for anti-gay politicians. It hits the nail on the head:
Lines have been drawn in these line-drawing times, and the message seems to be that either you're out or you're in but you can no longer be both: Gay activists are trying to out perceived closet cases on the Hill who toil for Sen. Darth Vader (R-Death Star), and even that kind of desperate political action seems so 1991, once the staffers retort with something like: "I told him I'm gay, and he says it's okay, and I've chosen evil, now leave me alone."

Collecting his thoughts. That is what your president said on Larry King Live last night in response to the query about the infamous seven minutes he spent reading My Pet Goat after being told the country was under attack.
“I had just been told by (Chief of Staff) Andrew Card that America was under attack and I was collecting my thoughts,” he explained.

“I was trying to understand exactly what it meant.”
He said: "I made the decision there, that we would let this part of the program finish and I would calmly thank the children and the teacher and go and take care of business."

“It didn’t take me long to figure out that we were at war. It didn’t take me long to develop a plan that we go after al Qaida.”

Please tell me how in the world this is supposed to reassure anyone in America that Bush is up for the job.

Read Bill Maher's observation on how Bush blew it the morning of 9/11.
Republicans are tying themselves in knots trying to defend Bush's actions that morning. The excuses they put forward are absurd:

He was "gathering his thoughts." This was a moment a President should have imagined a thousand times. There is no time in the nuclear age for a President to sit like Forrest Gump "gathering thoughts" after an attack has begun. Gathering information is what he should have been doing.

From the White House press secretary: "The President felt he should project strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening." I agree that gaining a better understanding of what was happening should have been his goal. What I don't get is how that goal was reached by just sitting there instead of getting up and talking to people. Is he a psychic? Was he receiving the information telepathically?

"He didn't want to scare the children." Vice President Cheney has said of Kerry, "The senator from Massachusetts has given us ample reason to doubt the judgment he brings to vital issues of national security." So Kerry's judgment is suspect, but at a moment of national crisis, Bush's judgment was: Better not to scare 20 children momentarily than to react immediately to an attack on the country!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Michael Moore has his video of Porter Goss extolling his lack of virtues to run the CIA. This was footage for F9/11 that ended up on the cutting room floor.

How does Bush defend these quotes about Goss -- "He knows the CIA inside and out" and "He's the right man to lead this important agency at this critical moment in our nation's history." Priceless.

The sad part about NJ Governor James E. McGreevey's resignation, is that he needed to be in the closet in the first place, and that his wife (if she didn't know/have an inkling) is going through heartache.

One of the positive aspects of this is that he knew he had to come out, and didn't do some half-ass attempt at trying to remain in the closet and call the whole thing "spurious allegations". Of course, then all kinds of evidence to the contrary would arise (another "Monica's blue dress"), making the whole episode even more excruciating.

The small victory here is that he was able to hold a public press conference and say "My truth is that I am a gay American". I don't think the climate would have allowed him to feel able to do this even just a couple of years ago. He wasn't ashamed of being gay, but realized that he left himself open to political blackmail by trying to remain closeted in an attempt to salvage his career and public identity.

That said, it doesn't excuse the adultery or inappropriately giving a squeeze a job, and those "sins" are committed by a whole host of elected officials all the time, both Dem and Rep who also try to ride out those scandals when they become public.

Transcript of the press conference.

A real howler from Patriotboy on Bush withdrawing "turned the corner" from his repertoire.
Please join Our Dear Leader in supporting these upcoming catchword phrases:
* 43/41 or Fight
* Free Networks, Free Street Sweeping, Free Ammo, Privatize the Rest
* A full Dinner Combo
* Return to normalizationcy despite the terrorist alerts
* He kept us out of war in Iran
* Keep it nucoolar with W
* Peace and Prosperitarianism
* George Bush. Now more than then.
* Are you better off now than you were when Clinton's penis was always on television?
* It's cocktail time in America
* Bridge-building back to the 19th Century

I agree with this article, which is an essay on workplace exposure to differences in co-workers leads to more tolerance.
The workplace, the most powerful institution in a modern capitalist economy, is the great melting pot in America today. Many of us spend more time with colleagues than with family or friends. And what matters at work is whether you are a competent, trustworthy colleague, not your sexual orientation or gender. The bias toward meritocracy, the belief that equality of opportunity improves the bottom line, shapes the daily rhythms and strategic initiatives of companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

And this is doubly true when your workplace has non-discrimination rules, in particular, ones that allow gay people to come out without fear of reprisal, officially or unofficially. When you have a bubble of tolerance, which is how I refer to the RTP area of NC, you find a critical mass of local employers with economic clout that forces those who would discriminate, including elected officials, to think twice because of the impact to local taxes and ability to attract new businesses and talent to the community. I believe it's why there was a groundswell of resistance (and ultimately, success) to keep a super-DOMA off the November ballot.

In the end, I hope Virginia, which has passed a super-DOMA, preventing same sex partnership legal agreements of any kind, is going to find a mass exodus of gays and lesbians of influence and talent to areas of more tolerance. Legislation will change when that govt finds the tax coffers are emptying.

Sadly, they did it. The CA Supremes annulled San Francisco Gay Marriages.

White House Backs Off Bush Sales Tax Quip. They had to rein in the dumbass, who said a couple of days ago that a national sales tax was "an interesting idea that we ought to explore seriously."

And the ground forces are reaching the breaking point. Reporting on how many Marines see no point in their mission, and their frustrations with the non-stop violence.

Bush's "Turning the Corner" is officially over:
Shortly after the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, Bush hit the campaign trail to express his optimism about the country's future.

"Turning the corner" or a variation of that was his phrase of choice. At the time, campaign aides had highlighted the phrase as part of Bush's late summer message.

That refrain was repeated on other campaign stops. But this week, the "turning the corner" line has disappeared from Bush's speech, as Democrats seized on the words to charge that the president was out of touch.

"The last time we had a president who talked about turning the corner and ran on the slogan of turning the corner was Herbert Hoover,' Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, said during a July 31 stop in Greenberg, Pennsylvania. Hoover was in the White House as the country sank into the Great Depression in the 1930s."

California's Supreme Court is going to rule today on whether SF Mayor Gavin Newsom illegally allowed same-sex couples to marry earlier in the year. Of course, I don't know what they're going to do about the thousands of marriage licenses already granted.

Michael Moore strikes again on the nomination of the self-identified unqualified candidate to lead the CIA. Porter Goss comes off as a real dunce, as does the Bush nominating staffers. NYT:
``I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified,'' the Florida Republican told documentary-maker Michael Moore's production company during the filming of the anti-Bush movie "Fahrenheit 9/11.''

"I don't have the language skills. I, you know, my language skills were romance languages and stuff. We're looking for Arabists today. I don't have the cultural background probably,'' Goss is quoted in an interview transcript.

"And I certainly don't have the technical skills, uh, as my children remind me every day: 'Dad you got to get better on your computer.' Uh, so, the things that you need to have, I don't have.''

Yes. Yet another blunder of enormous proportions -- it would be funny except that this man is supposed to be leading intelligence gathering efforts to secure our country.

I was posting on Americablog this AM on a thread about subtle (or not so subtle) racism the poster was encountering in Kentucky.
A few weeks ago, my wife called the guy who installed some tile flooring in our bathroom to ask if he knew any contractors in the area. 'I sure do,' he said. 'He's local and he does good work. But I should let you know he's a colored guy -- is that a problem?'

We were floored.

A couple of days later I read in the Lexington Herald Leader a story about a cross burning just north of here. The suspects were apprehended -- and then released into the custody of their grandparents.

Several responses pretty much slammed KY for being in the South, and therefore "what did you expect". I had to counter the steamroller with some factual info about NYC's own "little problem":

"Again, for those in the "big cities" that think the south (or border states like KY) are where most of the violence, hatred and general racial misunderstandings occur, let's remember a few other incidents, all of which occurred in NYC not that long ago (I was living there during this time period). And the incidents were more than a symbolic cross burning:

* a gang of white teenagers stomped to death Black transit worker Willie Turks, [in Gravesend, Bklyn] who was unarmed. One of these thugs got a manslaughter conviction, two others got misdemeanours.
* Moses Stewart, father of Yusuf Hawkins, who was senselessly murdered by a white mob in Bensonhurst in August 1989.
* A vigilante group in Howard Beach in 1986 spotted Michael Griffith and chased him to his death.

A good article on the ethnic tensions in NYC:

And I've not heard of stories like that (or seen such segregated neighborhoods) in my part of NC since I've been living here (1989).

Something to think about -- it's everywhere.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I'm glad that I won't be in NYC during the GOP convention. It will literally be a police state:
At least 20,000 law-enforcement officers from agencies as diverse as the Secret Service and Connecticut-based civilian units of the Army National Guard will help secure the convention. Considering that the convention will attract 48,000 visitors, from delegates and lobbyists to the media horde, that amounts to one security officer for every 2.4 civilians at the convention.

This platoon of protectors will prowl the avenues and train stations, many sporting bulletproof vests and hoisting weaponry that is the stuff of video-game fantasies, casting a watchful eye over a city that is primed to be emptied of many of its inhabitants and workers through the steamy final days of August.

And you better lock up, my family...
Compounding the problem is the fact that the U.S. Open is taking place, and both the Mets and Yankees are playing at home that week. "Many sources tell me that they are stretching their resources well past their limit," says City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., the chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee. "Other areas of the city will be covered by bare-bones shifts. I monitor some of the local precincts’ radios, and the other day, when they had to pull out officers for the security threat at the Citicorp building, we had one patrol car in my district."

These concerns have led to speculation that those vast swathes of the city that aren’t in lock-down might be vulnerable to anything from terrorist attacks to break-ins, as was seen recently in Davenport, Iowa, where three bank robberies occurred while George W. Bush and John Kerry were campaigning there simultaneously.

Why I like Costco. Wal-Mart = Bush. Costco = Kerry. Costco's Winning

Some good news...the first black woman to be nominated to the Senate from GA moves closer to filling Zell Miller's old seat:
In Georgia, first-term Rep. Denise Majette crushed a millionaire businessman to win a Democratic runoff for the seat being vacated by retiring Georgia Sen. Zell Miller. She became the first black candidate ever nominated to the U.S. Senate in Georgia.
Majette will be a heavy underdog against GOP Rep. Johnny Isakson in a state that has tilted Republican in recent years. Majette would make more history if she prevails in the fall: There have only been two black senators since Reconstruction.

Majette, 49, easily defeated the well-heeled Cliff Oxford, a 40-year-old technology company founder who was recruited to run by former President Carter. With 99 precincts reporting, Majette had 59 percent, or 160,913 votes, compared with Oxford's 41 percent, or 109,589 votes.

More dumb policy...your president wants a national sales tax. That should really balance out that tax cut he gave us. As anyone with a brain would realize (and the article points out), the wealthy, with more disposable income, wouldn't be as hard-hit as the poor and middle class.

Think Bush was ever a nice guy? Take a look at this unsportsmanlike conduct on the rugby field during his Yale days.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Bush says he takes care of "the men and women in the military bravely serving this great nation." he isn't, according to this injured soldier, who received a Purple Heart, but cannot get the disability benefits he's entitled to.
"They told me, 'You don't have anything to worry about. You're going to be taken care of for life,'" Black said of the Army officials and doctors who set up camp beside his Walter Reed Army Medical Center bed in Washington, D.C., upon his return to the United States in early 2002. "They said you'll get at least 80 percent (disability)."

A soldier's disability rating, based on the seriousness of an injury, is decided on by the military's Medical Evaluation Board and sets the amount of a service member's monthly disability check.

Black was originally given a 40 percent rating, which would have meant a $454 check every month, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs' Web site. But he appealed the decision only to find out six months later his rating had been reduced to 20 percent.

A soldier's disability rating must be at least 30 percent to qualify for any federal benefits, and a disability rating of 80 percent, which is what Black had expected, would have meant $1,195 per month.

"I didn't know what to do," Black said on Thursday, shaking his head as he sat on the couch of the Beaufort home he shares with his brother.

I told you so -- VA is now going to feel the brain drain after its passage of extremely harsh anti-gay restrictions.
Virginia Gays Packing Up & Leaving
by The Associated Press

Posted: August 10, 2004 12:01 am ET

(Richmond, Virginia) A number of gays and lesbians have begun moving out of Virginia, the result of a new state law that restricts the rights of same-sex couples. The latest prepare to leave is a biology professor at Virginia Tech University.

In a letter to Virginia Tech President Charles Steger, Lynn Adler says she will leave Tech to take a position with the University of Massachusetts in Amherst this fall.

She says she is 'sad and sorry' to be leaving Tech, but felt it was necessary because the laws of Virginia make it difficult for her to have a long-term future in the state.

Her partner does not have health insurance working part-time at Tech, and she says the state will not recognize them both as parents if they decide to have children.

She says the last straw was a law passed earlier this year that prohibits contracts between same-sex couples that purport to bestow the obligations of marriage.

The law is considered to be the harshest anti-gay measure in the country.

Adler says she was instrumental in bringing over a $500,000 in federal grants to Virginia Tech from the National Science Foundation.

Tribute to Kate's survival of several rounds of wearing the Bridesmaid Dresses From Hell. These had to be worse than what she's been forced to wear. :)

You know the situation is bad when the US has to have an international team observe this fall's election to make sure there isn't fraud.

Love it, love it, love it! Bush is such a dope. Read this story about one of his campaign stops in VA. He actually blows what little cover he has about taxation and the rich (his "base). No truer words have passed through his lips...
Bush criticized Kerry's plan to eliminate the tax cuts for those making more than $200,000 a year, saying that the "the rich in America happen to be the small business owners" who put people to work.

Bush also said high taxes on the rich are a failed strategy because "the really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."

Asked about that comment, Jonathan Beeton, spokesman for Kerry's campaign in Virginia, said "George Bush can speak with authority about really rich people. ... That's his base, so I'm sure he knows what he's talking about. But that doesn't make it right."

Monday, August 09, 2004

Check this out for a bit of truth... The Top Ten Conservative Idiots, No. 165 - Democratic Underground

Just so you know...Alan Keyes's views on gays:
...he defended his belief that gay marriage is wrong, brushing aside a suggestion from an interviewer that sexual preference might be biologically determined.
'We as human beings cannot assert that our sexual desires cannot be controlled,' Keyes said. He said such a claim would 'consign us to the real of instinctual animal nature and we are not there.

More for voters to compare... here are The Broken Promises of George W. Bush, a side-by-side comparison of promises boasted on the Bush-Cheney campaign 2000 web site versus today's reality four years later. It's devastating. A sample:

"To restore confidence in government, [George W. Bush] will...attack pork-barrel spending." --[Source: Bush-Cheney 2000 website]

Since assuming office, President Bush has failed to veto a single bill, despite the enormous amount of pork that has crossed his desk. Even conservatives are getting frustrated. The Heritage Foundation recently wrote, "Budget discipline clearly isn't a priority of this administration, so why pretend it will get tough on frivolous measures like these?" -- [Source: Heritage Foundation, 6/28/04]

There is so much evidence out there that Bush is a moron, but this made me laugh till I cried. This link is to actual audio (courtesy of Air America's Majority Report) of the "Leader of the Free World" answering a question about Indian tribal sovereignty issues at a minority journalist convention.

Just stunning. Please tell me why there is 50% of the population willing to vote for this embarrassment.

This story should scare the hell out of voters everywhere.
Florida Court Dismisses Lawsuit Seeking Paper Trail for Touchscreen Voting Machines
A state appeals court dismissed a lawsuit that sought a paper trail for Florida's new touchscreen voting machines, ruling Friday that voters are not guaranteed "a perfect voting system."
U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., had argued that the new machines will not allow for an accurate manual recount - such as the one needed during the 2000 presidential election fiasco. He sued Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore to force them to add a paper trail to the computerized machines.

Wexler's state lawsuit was dismissed Friday, but he is pursuing a similar complaint in federal court.

"Victory is for God": Alan Keyes' entry into the IL Senate race (against Barack Obama) is official. The GOP couldn't resist putting this right-wing whack job out there. Apparently he has a hotline to the Big Guy Upstairs:

"The battle to fill the seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald would be difficult, said Keyes, who has never won a federal election. If he wins, 'the victory is for God,' he said.
Critics in the state Democratic Party dismiss Keyes as an opportunist, and described the GOP selection as 'sad.'

'Twelve and a half million people in our state, and the Illinois Republican Party was unable to come up with one person to run for the United States Senate,' said Sen. Richard Durbin (news, bio, voting record) (D-Ill.). 'Their selection process made it very clear that when it comes to the future of the Republican Party, moderates need not apply.' "

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Excellent editorial criticizing the use of the Terror Alerts as a political game.

I'm just back in NC after a week in NYC (purposely without internet and TV, for my own sanity).

BTW, what I call the "orange-plus" alert up there had everyone that I ran into pissed at Bush. These were just random folks chatted up on the bus and subways. Not one person felt comforted by the "extra security". Went down Saturday to ride the Staten Island ferry and we had to walk through the terrorist bullseye that is Wall Street. I guess they figure the area isn't a target on weekends, since we saw a single lonely officer at the NYSE with an automatic weapon, two sleeping (bomb-sniffer) Labs, and a couple of cops shooting the breeze.

They finally eased up on the bridge vehicle searches while I was there because businesses were taking such a hit because of delays and searches (the alert meant only the Manhattan Bridge was open to commercial traffic). For instance, a 40 minute trip from Manhattan to Brooklyn for a delivery vehicle could take 6 hours.

What a joke. The Bush/Tom Ridge fright exhibit only snarled traffic and caused local businesses to lose who knows how much money.

My cousins that work in Manhattan plan to get the hell out of there when the GOP convention comes to town. Midtown will be a living hell to get around in for locals.


Just saw that, as I thought, Alan Keyes will run against Barack Obama for the Senate seat in IL. As I said in my earlier post on this, it will at least provide intelligent debate, even as it shows the GOP's desperation to get a candidate in the field.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The folks at are trying to ensure that voter fraud doesn't occur. It's been in the news that paperless voting systems are an easy way for either political party to make mischief and our right to vote isn't something to play with. Even in Jeb Bush's Florida, the GOP there is telling people to use absentee ballots to "make sure your vote counts," so we don't need to be asleep at the wheel on this one.

Here's the NYT today on the politicized terror alert. Snippet:
Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terrorist plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way.

...The comments of government officials on Monday seemed softer in tone than the warning issued the day before. On Sunday, officials were circumspect in discussing when the surveillance of the financial institutions had occurred, and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge cited the quantity of intelligence from "multiple reporting streams'' that he said was "alarming in both the amount and specificity of the information.''

The officials said on Monday that they were still analyzing computer records, photos, drawings and other documents, seized last month in Pakistan, which showed that Qaeda operatives had conducted extensive reconnaissance.

"What we've uncovered is a collection operation as opposed to the launching of an attack," a senior American official said.

Sigh...when will the political BS end? We know Al-Qaeda wants to hit financial targets...THEY DID. NY + DC = targets. What dumbass needs more info than that after 9/11? It could happen any time, and our govt is probably not going to be able to stop it, but they don't want us to know that. And we'd be stupid to think they could stop any and all terrorism on home soil, certainly not Bush and his clowns.

And we're off to NYC in a few hours! :)

Monday, August 02, 2004

They're faking it, as we all suspected. The DRUDGE REPORT, not one to be progressive, says the WP and NYT have uncovered that these new alerts are based on REALLY old info:
Much of the information that led authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the NY and D.C. areas was 3 or 4 years old... NYT Tuesday Page One Splash To Claim: Intelligence and law enforcement officials 'had not yet found concrete evidence that a terror plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way'... WASH POST Page One: Alerts Stemmed from Pre-9/11 Acts ... 'There is nothing right now that we're hearing that is new,' said one senior law enforcement official who was briefed on the alert. 'Why did we go to this level?... I still don't know that'... POST: 'Most of the information was compiled prior to the Sept. 11 attacks and that there are serious doubts about the age of other, undated files'..."

I lived through Hurricane Fran back in 1996, and that's one bad memory that will never fade. That was a doozer. But it looks like I'll be getting out of town before Alex swipes the Carolina coast.

Interesting development in the IL Senate race, where Barack Obama, the big hit at the DNC, was running unopposed (Republican Jack Ryan dropped out after a sex scandal). Since that drop out, the GOP has had no luck in finding anyone with more than a couple of brain cells to run. Mike Ditka, most notably, flirted with the idea. However, now it looks like they have been secret talks with neo-con Alan Keyes to run agains Obama. I don't agree with Keyes' politics, but it would at least raise the level of debate -- two articulate black men running for the Senate in opposition. Keyes is certainly more articulate than either of the numnuts on the GOP presidential ticket.

Want to take a look at the electoral map? Here 's the Current Electoral Vote Predictor 2004.

Missouri to vote on gay marriage ban. I don't have an idea about how close the vote may be, but it's worth watching. The other states that are going to vote on state amendments: Louisiana (Sept. 18); Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah vote on Nov. 2. Initiatives are pending in Michigan, North Dakota and Ohio.

"We are a nation in danger," Bush said as he announced his position during an appearance with top administration national security figures in the White House Rose Garden. OK. Well what about telling us to "travel, have fun, visit Disney World, etc." Can't have it both ways and make us succumb to the culture of fear.

As a matter of fact, I'll be offline for a while, as Kate and I are going to NYC tomorrow for a week, off to the bullseye of the raised terror alert.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

It's hard to tell if this story is 100% accurate, but if it is, you have to be worried even more about leadership in the White House: Capitol Hill Blue: Sullen, Depressed President Retreats Into Private, Paranoid World. It would explain a lot of the behavior of this campaign -- making attendees sign a "loyalty pledge" to vote for Bush, asking members of the Press to identify their race. This is an administration teetering on the edge of sanity.
Bush’s erratic behavior and sharp mood swings led White House physician Col. Richard J. Tubb to put the President on powerful anti-depressant drugs after he stormed off stage rather than answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay, but White House insiders say the strong, prescription medications seem to increase Bush’s sullen behavior towards those around him.

“This is a President known for his ability to charm people one-on-one,” says a staff member to House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert. “Not any more.”

White House aides say the West Wing has been overtaken by a “siege mentality,” where phone calls and emails are monitored and everyone is under suspicion for “disloyalty to the crown.”

“I was questioned about an email I sent out on my personal email account from home,” says one staffer. “When I asked how they got access to my personal email account, I was told that when I came to work at the White House I gave up any rights to privacy.”

Falwell and his minions are in more hot water for trying to endorse Bush from the pulpit and fundraising for a federal PAC from Falwell's website.
The Campaign Legal Center on Monday filed a complaint with the FEC alleging that Jerry Falwell Ministries and a related entity, the Liberty Alliance, both corporations, violated campaign finance laws by endorsing President George W. Bush and soliciting funds for a federal PAC on their public website. Corporations are prohibited from making political communications to the general public, or raising PAC contributions from the general public.
' This is not an instance of a pastor in a pulpit preaching to his or her congregation, but instead, a corporate entity using undisclosed corporate funds to engage in campaigning and political fundraising with the general public. Campaigning by incorporated entities is blatantly illegal. This content on the Jerry Falwell Ministries website, aimed at getting the general public to contribute and vote for a federal candidate, shows complete disregard for the federal election laws ,' said Gerald Hebert, director of Litigation at the Campaign Legal Center.

Great response from Catholics for a Free Choice to the Pope's recent 37-page document on women's place in society and the role of feminism. The document said basically that modern feminism is "undermining the traditional concept of family." I love this quote:
Frances Kissling, president of the U.S.-based Catholics for a Free Choice, said she thought she had "passed through a time warp" when she read the document.

"I thought for sure I was the 1960s and Archie Bunker had been appointed theologian to the Pope," she said, referring to the character in an old American TV series whose bigoted views included opposition to any form of women's rights.

...Such observations could only be made by men who have no significant relationships with women and no knowledge of the enormous positive changes the women's rights movement has meant for both men and women," Kissling said.

Is your vote going to count on Nov 2? If your voting machine doesn't have a paper trail, it's open to question. From The Nation:
...millions of Americans will cast their votes for President in computerized voting systems that can be rigged by corporate or local-election insiders. Some 98 million citizens, five out of every six of the roughly 115 million who will go to the polls, will consign their votes into computers that unidentified computer programmers, working in the main for four private corporations and the officials of 10,500 election jurisdictions, could program to invisibly falsify the outcomes.

...About a third of the votes, 36 million, will be tabulated completely inside the new paperless, direct-recording-electronic (DRE) voting systems, on which you vote directly on a touch-screen. Unlike receipted transactions at the neighborhood ATM, however, you get no paper record of your vote. Since, as a government expert says, "the ballot is embedded in the voting equipment," there is no voter-marked paper ballot to be counted or recounted. Voting on the DRE, you never know, despite what the touch-screen says, whether the computer is counting your vote as you think you are casting it or, either by error or fraud, it is giving it to another candidate.

BlogActive, one of the main architects of the "de-closeting" campaign, has exposed the fact that Trent Lott (R-MS), one of the most homophobic members of the Senate, has a gay man working for his New Republican Majority Fund. Why would this gay man work for a senator hell-bent discriminating on gays? You've got me. Lott lumps being gay with kleptomania:
"Yes, it is... in America right now there's an element that wants to make that alternative lifestyle acceptable. You still love that person and you should not try to mistreat them or treat them as outcasts. You should try to show them a way to deal with that problem, just like alcohol ... others have a sex addiction or are kleptomaniacs. There are all kinds of problems and addictions and difficulties and experiences of this kind that are wrong. But you should try to work with that person to learn to control that problem."