Sunday, October 31, 2004

Power failure - literal and figurative

Count us among the 272,000 people in Michigan who lost power this weekend. It was truly a three-dog night, illuminated only by little battery-powered lanterns. A metaphor for the power failure felt by the left? Which of the two Yale Skull and Bones pro-war candidates do you prefer?

Friday, October 29, 2004

You can run . . . and you can also hide

There is no little irony in the fact that George Bush once applied his "you can run . . ." rhetoric to Bin Laden and now applies it to Kerry. Perhaps once Wednesday morning dawns, George will be able to spend all of his time searching for Osama, just as O.J. continues to hunt the real killers.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

BBC reports FL Bushies plan secret black vote challenges

In a story that has not yet broken in the US, the BBC reports there is a document that shows the Republicans in Florida have a secret plan to intimidate black voters by challenging them when they try to vote. Though the new laws allow challenged voters to cast a provisional ballot that is sorted out later, not only does this slow down the voting process in black districts on election day, there are armies of Bushite lawyers who will try to claim victory before any provisional ballots can be counted.

No wonder arry Setzer (on Wonkette) said when he was arrested for trying to run down Katherine Harris that he was just exercising his "political expression."

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Online VotePairing for Nader

Ralph Nader deserves my vote. Not only does he have a track record of speaking truth to power, he continues to do so today, as the only anti-war candidate we have.

At the same time, I live in one of those second-tier battleground states that drives Slate nuts, as it shifts from red to blue to purple (or grey in their case). What if my pitiful little vote really could make the difference between four more years of born-again macho bravado and a Boston brahmin? Can I really stand four more years of "he can run . . . but he cannot . . ."? (I shudder at the thought.)

So I have decided to opt for the political version of having my cake and eating it, too. I signed up at VotePair where they will now match me with a Dem in a solidly red state whose vote literally doesn't count and we will agree that I will vote Kerry while they vote Nader for me.

That way, Kerry gets what could be a precious vote in a battleground state, while my counterpart in one of the horrid Bush states can translate an otherwise useless vote into a vote for Nader. Maybe a groundswell of such votes persuades Kerry to stop running as Republican lite and become more progressive? Hmmm, investing my belief in the Easter Bunny might make better sense (at least I might get some chocolate out of the deal).

I suppose there is really no hope that Kerry will become radicalized again once in office. Did you see the frail Mr. Clinton gain strength yesterday hammering conservative themes? Both he and Kerry are card-carrying Democratic Leadership Council members. You remember the DLC, don't you? It'st he group that has ruined the Democratic Party by pandering for corporate cash? You could tell that Clinton was almost sorry he had passed welfare "reform," so that he didn't have his own welfare queen to kick in the hope of scaring up a few more suburban votes.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Here we go again

In my previous post, I talked about how Florida Republican Katherine Harris depressed the Democratic vote in 2000 by sending polling places an intentionally flawed list of supposed felons to remove from the rolls. Now we see Bush's brother Jeb pulling the same trick (click here). Does anyone know when it was that we decided to become a Banana Republic?

Provisional ballots - the election night nightmare

David Boies -Courting Justice
David Boies' new book Courting Justice
How many of you think the election will produce a solid winner on election night, raise your hands? Now think again. Remember these two words -- provisional ballots. Keep them in mind while watching Tim Russert tote up the votes in the battleground states with his grease pencil and whiteboard -- these are the ballots the election officials must give you to fill out if you think you were wrongly purged from the voter rolls. In battleground states, Republicans are engaged in trench warfare to ensure that few, if any, provisional ballots are ever counted.

Republicans know that there are more registered Democrats than Republicans, so anything that suppresses the overall vote is peachy keen with them. (That's why election day is not a national holiday or held on a weekend -- the goal is to make it harder for working-class people to get to the polls. And again, I ask, why have the Democrats refused to fight for these reforms?)

Better yet for the Republicans is when they can suppress an entire category of voters. In Florida last time, Republican operatives passed out flyers in black churches that said you couldn't vote if you had a parking ticket. Ed Rollins let slip the fact that Republicans routinely funnel money to black preachers to depress voter turnout, only to find that the truth is not a defense against bi-partisan attacks.

In 2000, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris was warned by the company she hired to purge the rolls of convicted felons that her requested approach would knock thousands of eligible voters off the rolls. Harris then ordered them to use the flawed formula anyhow. After all, that was the idea. The fewer the merrier in Republican eyes.

After the last presidential election debacle, provisional ballots were endorsed as a reform that would ensure voters cannot just be turned away. The rule now is that any voter who is rejected can request a provisional ballot that must be kept on hand by law until the outcome of the election is certified. In a tight race, the determination about the validity of those thousands of provisional ballots in battleground states could make the difference.

That's why the Republicans are fighting so hard to make this reform as useless as possible. In some places, Republicans are instituting rules where a person who picks the wrong precinct is simply not told that he is registered elsewhere and that is used as justification to discard the ballot.

For all the rhetoric about how we want free and fair elections, the Republican tricksters are out there wreaking havoc wherever possible. The height of hypocrisy is having Republican operatives fund efforts to put Nader on the ballot -- then the court fights delay printing absentee ballots -- and then having the Republicans spin the delay as a Democratic plot to deny our brave soldiers the vote.

David Boies, who fought for Gore the last time, has a new book detailing what happened -- along with an army of lawyers on both sites just itching for a fight. Forget putting on the coffee. Unless it's a blowout, we won't know squat on November 3.

The rise of the gummer revolutionaries?

When Bonnie was a hippie
I hope this time we can dress warmer
Facilitating a discussion last night after a campus showing of Control Room, the documentary on Al Jazeera's coverage of the Iraq War, it was clear that those who stayed were at least over 40, maybe mostly over 50. Without a draft to compel them to pay attention to this war, younger people today have better things to do on a Saturday night than talk politics.

Looking around the group, it seems clear that my generation wants another shot at the -isms -- imperialism, materialism, fundamentalism. Are the radicals of the Sixties ready to emerge from their chrysalis of raising families, building careers and paying mortgages? Are we up to the challenge of battling the establishment again? When I was lining up interviews for my anti-Drug War Movie, I found myself talking again and again to Boomers over 60 who had taken an early retirement to work for causes they cared about. There's the retired teacher fighting for medical marijuana. The retired police detective trying to end the drug war.

One man last night talked about what we should have learned from Viet Nam, singling out a slick military PR official in the movie named Lt. Rushing as a prime example of a "REMF" (a Rear Echelon M-----F-----). Rushing is the smiling fascist who sells the world the war as liberation, not occupation. He's the superb actor who knows how to stay on message while pretending that he's listening to the other side.

One woman talked of our own media's collusion -- CNN & company tell us the number of U.S. soldiers killed every day, yet they never even estimate the number of dead Iraqis.

Imagine what a force a band of energized gummers could be! We would have the time in retirement to fight for the unpopular causes that others won't touch. Many of us have also gained skills and even clout far beyond what we possessed in the Viet Nam era. A Woodstock-type love-in might not be a sight I would be eager to see, but I for one am eager to dust off those love beads and make one last effort to change the paradigm from war to peace, from fear to freedom, from unrestrained greed to caring for the planet.

In this election, the question is, which of the two war candidates do you prefer? We can do better than that if the duffers get off their duffs. Age of Aquarius? How about the age of Social Securitarians? It's time. It's time. Let's just hope it's not too late.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

No pearls from Shrummy?

I thought the only thing Bob Shrum was supposed to bring to Kerry's table was singing rhetoric. So why nothing at the end with any lyricism or lilt? Bush's godawful mush about the cowboy painting at least offered some feeble attempt at offering an inspiring image. Kerry just repeated same stuff, different day. Kerry makes Nader look warm and fuzzy.

Bush sure loves No Child Left Behind

Whenever he was trapped, Bush cited the No Child Left Behind act as the solution. Ask him about jobs, he tells you that NCLB is really a jobs bill. Outsourcing? NCLB will is the answer. Raise the minimum wage? Don't bother because the next generation is getting all this great education. NCLB and a few Pell grants and we can fix global warming as well.

Dress code? Thought code?

Same red ties with tiny figures. Same suit, same flag in the lapel, same white shirt. Same patronizing attitudes toward the little ladies. Why no women on the ticket, boys?

Same stuff, different day

I have yet to hear anything that I did not hear during the last debate. I know what was is George Bush's back -- it is the string you pull to get him to say the same thing.


I am old, so I remember a time when Bobby Kennedy, a patrician if there ever was one, became radicalized by seeing the devastation that poverty wreaked on the people who lived in Appalachia. Today instead we get two Yale skull-and-bonesmen who never spend any time with people who are struggling. They have never seen up close what it's like to live in public housing, what it's like to come home to a trailer broiling in the heat, without quite enough food to keep the kids happy.

Both men traipse through the countryside shielded by their respective bubbles. The Bush people even go so far as to handpick the crowds so that George can mug and whinny and issue one-liners without anyone telling him he hasn't a clue.

Here were are a half-hour into the debate and Schieffer has given both men softballs that they have bobbled. Not because they don't have the facts, but because they don't understand the impact of policy on the lives of real people. The issue for most displaced workers isn't a Pell grant, it's extending unemployment benefits and insurance so that they don't end up on the street.

Atheist that I am, all I can think is - god save us from them both.

A little help from our friends?

According to the Financial Times of London, Germany "might deploy troops" to Iraq if circumstances change. Just as Don Imus is ranting about how no country in Europe would be dumb enough to do so and that Kerry is therefore lying, this new article appears. Imus, of course, says that he's a Kerry supporter, but he takes every opportunity to trash him. In the latest Newsweek, Imus also says Bush will win because he's so much better at connecting with people. With friends like these . . .

Monday, October 11, 2004

Answering my own question

In my previous post, I asked whether Abu Ghraib will be mentioned at all during any debate. I will now answer by own question, since it offers further proof that we now have a one-party system with two wings.

It is easy to see why Bush will avoid any mention, but why won't Democratic "challenger" Kerry take Bush to task? It can only be because Kerry fears the those security Moms whose votes he wants are now willing to tacitly condone torture as a way to keep us safe. We don't want to say it out loud, but go ahead and waterboard Sheik Kahlil Mohammed and any others who don't look and talk like us. A country so willing to give up its own civil rights can hardly be expected to worry about theirs. And John Kerry who once had our respect for being willing to tell truth to power now panders with the rest of them.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Abu Ghraib forgotten?

I have been waiting for someone -- moderator or citizen -- to ask a question about Abu Ghraib. But it appears we may get through all four debates without anyone holding Bush accountable for tortures committed on his watch. Does the "new normal" mean we simply don't give a damn?

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Watching the Debates with Chris Matthews

Why do I continue to watch Chris Matthews on MSNBC? I suspect it’s because I want to see the moment live when Chris finally slips into a full-blown testosterone-induced psychotic break. (Hide the pointy objects.)

Watching Chris provide instant analysis of the debates is like watching a serial killer on the couch talk about his daddy.

Like much of America (the part that scares me), Chris speaks from the gonads rather than the brain. Instead of an authentic blow-by-blow account, round by round, as MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann does with his liveblogging, mixing style points with the content points, Chris cares only about strength versus weakness -- Who’s your Daddy? Who strutted the most? Who shouted loudest? Who threw the best manly punch?

The only damper on Chris during the first debate was that Bush’s arrogant performance made it harder for him to fall in love with Bush (as he does again and again). But within seconds after the vice-presidential debate ended, Chris made it clear that Darth Vader had won handily by bitch-slapping the Breck girl.

The meaner Cheney got, the more Chris “respected” him. I cringe watching the tortured Mr. Matthews play out the psychodrama of his upbringing, where his Catholic guilt and his undoubtedly anguished relationship with father obviously set the stage for his adult love/hate of all male authority figures.

But just about the time I feel sorry for Chris for exposing himself like this on TV (and it's clear he worries a lot that his is smaller), I remember that he surrounds himself with men on the panel by choice.

Last night, Chris sparred with “objective analysts” like Ben Ginsburg, Pat Buchanan, and Ron Silver. (Can you imagine having dinner with that crew?) For hours, the only woman on screen was Andrea Mitchell, normally a competent woman who begins to stutter uncontrollably like a domestic violence victim waiting for Chris to assault her whenever she opens her mouth.

Apparently, Chris’ idea of a fair, balanced, and complete panel consists of a succession of male Republican hacks and one lone female reporter. Does Chris really believe that Andrea somehow represents both gender balance and a voice for the left? How many Lefties do you know who get the hots for Allen Greenspan? (Andrea's married to him.:

Speaking of looks on a person’s face, I saw Matthews go blank when another woman reporter said that Bush wasn’t manly but rude when he shut down Charley Gibson. Shouting, cutting off anyone who challenges you, these are the reasons Bush is dangerous, not reasons to revere him.

I watch Matthews and his fellow phallus worshippers in the same way I watch the hurricanes that periodically threaten our coast – because it is important to keep an eye on them in case you have to evacuate. Canada O Canada.